Saturday, May 24, 2014

After reading the hard copy of your hometown newspaper, please consider "liking" us on Facebook and following us on Twitter. Our digest of, and commentary on today's Florida political news and punditry follows.

Map Games - Part I: FlaGOP Operative Asked: "Weren’t you the fella?"

"A Republican Party of Florida official testified Friday that maps he drew and gave to a GOP redistricting consultant were identical to a map submitted by a member of the public, significant parts of which were used by lawmakers in the final congressional map."

"The testimony of Frank Terraferma, director of House campaigns for RPOF, came as lawyers for a coalition of voters are trying to show in circuit court that 'legislators and staffers collaborated' with political operatives to conduct a 'shadow' redistricting process. The groups. Led by the League of Women Voters, are challenging the state’s congressional map and accusing legislators of violating the 2010 constitutional amendment requiring them to draw districts that do not protect incumbents or members of a party."
"Terraferma testified that he drew maps for GOP consultant Rich Hefley using special map-making software obtained by the party, but he could not explain how an identical congressional map had been submitted by Alex Posada, a Florida State University student during the redistricting process."
Terraferma was shown his maps side by side with maps turned in by Posada. He said seven of the proposed congressional districts he drew on July 27 were identical to the Posada map, which House redistricting records show was submitted Nov. 1. But Terraferma denied knowing that his maps would eventually be submitted by the public.

“I agree without any doubt I drew those maps,’’ he said.

During the Legislature’s June 20 public hearing on redistricting, Posada, an economics student and a member of the FSU College Republicans, commended legislators for their open process, legislative records show. . . .

Plaintiffs have yet to explain how they believe the map got from Terraferma to Posada but their questions have implied that Heffley played a role. They argue the he and other operations conducted a separate redistricting process "that was not only apart from the public process — but actually perverted the public process itself.”

Terraferma denied that he coordinated with Heffley to devise maps but said that he frequently talked about redistricting with him. Heffley, a close adviser to Gaetz, was paid $10,000 a month by the RPOF for redistricting work, records show.

Plaintiffs’ attorney David King showed Terraferma an email from Heffley in which he writes, “attached is a copy of the Central Florida Hispanic district…I say we just drop this baby into our map with the deviations cleaned up and go from there.”

King asked what Heffley meant: “Weren’t you the fella who was supposed to drop the baby into the map?”

Terraferma, who was combative and edgy during his testimony, told King to ask Heffley [who will testify Tuesday] what he meant.

"GOP official doesn't know why his maps match public plan, final proposal". See also "House aide: Giving maps to consultant was ‘a mistake’" and "Fla. Senate President Gaetz defends political maps".

Map Games - Part II: Republican judicial appointees come to the rescue of ... well ... Republicans

"In a major blow to challengers of the state’s congressional districts, a state appeals court sided with Republican political consultants Thursday in ruling that 538 pages of maps, emails and memos are confidential “trade secrets” that may not be entered as evidence in the ongoing redistricting trial."

The ruling by the First District Court of Appeal was a setback to League of Women Voters and seven Florida voters who are suing the state for violating the law that prohibits legislators from protecting political parties and incumbents when redistricting the state’s congressional boundaries.

The plaintiffs allege that “legislators and staffers collaborated” with political operative Pat Bainter, of Data Targeting, and other partisan operatives “to conduct a separate redistricting process that was not only apart from the public process — but actually perverted the public process itself.”

Circuit Court Judge Terry Lewis had ordered Bainter to turn over thousands of documents and said that 538 pages could be entered as evidence in the trial. But Bainter’s lawyers, who are being paid by the Republican Party of Florida, said the release of the documents would result in irreparable harm.

They appealed Lewis’ ruling, claiming he had a First Amendment privilege not to release what he considered proprietary information. The appeals court agreed. . . .

The three judges who signed the ruling, Joseph Lewis, Simone Marstiller and Scott Makar, were each appointed by Republican governors — Jeb Bush, Charlie Crist and Rick Scott.

"Appeals court rules that political documents may not be made public in redistricting trial". See also "Appeals court quashes Lewis ruling in remapping case" and "Court: Redistricting Documents Should Remain Secret."

Map Games - Part III: Gaetz claims "secret meeting" was "entirely proper"

Earlier in the week, Senate President Don Gaetz testified "that it was 'entirely proper' for him to meet in secret with House Speaker Will Weatherford to reach a deal over a congressional map as part of the Legislature’s once-a-decade redistricting process."

Meanwhile, plaintiffs have shown that both Gaetz and Weatherford allowed for redistricting-related emails to be deleted, even though legislators expected that their maps would be challenged in court. Gaetz was asked about the policy Wednesday by plaintiffs attorney David King.

“I’m not sure I know how to delete emails,” Gaetz replied, and if they were deleted it was “not by me.”

Gaetz repeated claims made by Weatherford during his testimony on Tuesday that the process was the most “transparent” and inclusive in state history and that legislative leaders were not going to allow political consultants to influence the process.

"Senate president defends secret meeting in redistricting deal." See also "Gaetz denies political tricks in redistricting."

One Man's "Turkey"

"Business-backed Florida TaxWatch Friday singled out nearly $121 million in pet projects lawmakers included in the budget they passed earlier this month as 'turkeys' which bypassed normal review processes." "Tax group: $120.9 million in budget 'turkeys' identified." See also "Taxwatch finds $121 million in 'turkeys', but problem is process not projects" and "Florida TaxWatch Identifies More than 100 Turkeys in the Budget, Costing $121 Million."

FCAT Follies

"Older students do better on FCAT writing." See also "Statewide FCAT Reading, Math Scores Remain Stagnant."

News Flash: Bushco gives FlaGOPers an "A" grade

The Foundation for Florida’s Future Jeb Bush thinks Florida's Republicans are just fabulous. Meanwhile, "all Democrats in the House, however, received failing grades" from Jebbie. "State Lawmakers Get Graded on Education."

"McCline isn't anything like an ordinary congressional candidate"

"He's got political consultants. He's conversant on a range of current issues. He offers a compelling personal story of triumphing over adversity. But Jameel McCline isn't anything like an ordinary congressional candidate." "Candidate hopes to deliver knockout blow to Alcee Hastings".

"Crist thanks the guy who hit him"

Scott Maxwell: "Charlie Crist takes direct hit — then thanks the guy who hit him".

Just politics

"Charlie Crist Calls for Eric Shinseki's Resignation; RPOF Attacks Him for Fundraising Off VA Crisis." See also "Marco Rubio and Bill Nelson Push VA Reform Bill Despite Committee Setback."

"Scott coy"

"A spokeswoman for Gov. Rick Scott's reelection campaign refused to say whom he would back to replace Lenny Curry as Republican Party of Florida chair, but Clay County GOP chairwoman Leslie Dougher is a leading contender for the job." "Scott coy on preference as RPOF looks to replace Curry".

"Out of the Shadows and Into the Light"

Kevin Derby: "This week, U.S. Rep. Ted Yoho, R-Fla., faced fire both right and left for comments he made at the Berean Baptist Church in Ocala during the 2012 campaign. In a video that surfaced this week, Yoho said he was open to the idea of limiting voting to property owners." "Political Bits and Pieces". See also "Week in Review for May 23, 2014," "Arrivals and Departures, May 23, 2014" and "Weekly Roundup: Out of the Shadows and Into the Light."


Nancy Smith: "Really? Jumping all over Rick Scott for not debating Charlie Crist? Really?" "Don't Worry, Charlie, the Media Have Your Back".

'Ya reckon?

"A survey of lawyers by the Bar task force spotlighted a widespread belief that partisan politics often colors the selection of members serving on the Judicial Nominating Commissions that send Scott slates of nominees from which to choose judges, when vacancies occur." "Bar panel calls for "diversity" in judicial nominating process".

"Garcia's Errors Feed GOP Hunger"

Jeff Henderson: "Joe Garcia's Errors Feed GOP Hunger to Toss Him Out in November".

FlaGOPers have 100 percent scores on Chamber issues

"Republicans score perfect voting records in favor of Chamber positions." "Florida Chamber of Commerce gives lawmakers high marks".

Another intellectual giant

"FSU Presidential Search Shortlisted to John Thrasher".

How many times has/will these guys plead the fifth

"Chris Christie Joins With Rick Scott to Attack Charlie Crist on Jobs." See also "Christie says he’ll be a regular on Scott campaign trail."

"Standardized testing nuttiness"

Frank Cerabino: "Standardized testing in Florida will turn your kid gay?"

Seriously? Did somebody actually say this?

Just when you think that the stupidity landfill can't get any deeper in Florida when it comes to standardized testing, somebody drops a big load of "gay agenda" on the steaming pile.

And we're not talking about some lunatic ranting on a street corner into a cloud of bus fumes. No it's a Florida House member, Rep. Charles Van Zant, a Republican from North Florida's Clay County.

"The standardized testing nuttiness reaches a new low."

"Political stubbornness in Tallahassee"

The Tampa Bay Times editorial board: "Don't be fooled by Florida Republican legislators who defend their refusal to accept Medicaid expansion money as a responsible conservative position and criticize the Obama administration for being inflexible. Another conservative Republican governor, Mike Pence of Indiana, proposed last week that his state use the federal money to help provide insurance for low-income Hoosiers. It's not conservative values or rigid Washington depriving poor Floridians of health coverage; it's political stubbornness and insensitivity in Tallahassee." "Tallahassee stubbornness keeps 800,000 uninsured."

The Cuba problem

"Stances on one of the most divisive issues in Florida politics, relations with Cuba, have put both Gov. Rick Scott and his likely re-election challenger Charlie Crist at odds with some of their own political allies. Scott is a staunch supporter of the Cuba trade embargo and an opponent of travel to Cuba — at least by Crist. But many Florida and national business interests, including some that back Scott or other Republicans, favor easing or lifting the embargo. Crist, the former governor who backed the embargo before changing from Republican to Democrat, recently took a stand in favor of lifting it. " "Cuba a problem for Crist, Scott."