Sunday, May 18, 2014

Our digest of, and commentary on today's Florida political news and punditry.

Jebbie Prepping for Preznit Run

It is no surprise to we Floridians, but "King Jeb" - the over-the-hill Texas banker and political wizard whose back-to-back terms as Florida Governor "were marred by frequent ethics scandals [and] official bungling," argues that "immigrants are more fertile," nearly precipitated a "constitutional crisis" in an attempt to have armed state officers kidnap Terri Schiavo from hospice and force feed her, led the charge for "faith-based prisons" and "tax cuts that chiefly benefited business and the wealthy," makes "lesbian jokes," personally championed alleged terrorists, embarrasses himself internationally, pals around with geniuses like Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz and William Kristol and the rest of the Project for the New American Century (PNAC) crowd, and otherwise "makes people cringe" - is preparing his run for Preznit.

If this is what passes for a moderate in today's Republican Party, it is no wonder Florida Democrats are hoping Jebbie will run.

In any event, Alex Leary writes that, as "presidential talk steadily grows around him, a fundamental question lingers over Jeb Bush: Does he, as probable rival Chris Christie recently said, have the 'fire in the belly to do this?'"

Bush remains serious but undecided, according to close friends and advisers, but his conspicuously busy schedule increasingly resembles a pre-campaign, replete with informal outreach to donors and intimate talks with key religious leaders. (He lunched this month at the Biltmore Hotel in Miami with Russell Moore of the Southern Baptist Convention.)

The education policy wonk has widened his message, injecting speeches with more emotion and anecdotes. No one will accuse Bush of having too much charisma, but he’s clearly turning it up.

" 'It looks to me like he’s well along to making the decision later this year that he’s going to run,' said Mel Sembler, a St. Petersburg developer who is a major Republican fundraiser and close to Bush. 'He’s making appearances in the right places.'"
Bush is enjoying a surge in interest, in part due to the troubles Christie faces in New Jersey, having supplanted him as the favorite of the donor class and climbing to the top of polls. Through it all, he is cultivating an image as a big thinker more interested in getting things done than waging the kind of ideological war that has pulled his party to the right — someone eager to avoid the “vortex of a mud fight,” as he recently said.

In a sign of his seriousness and organization, talking points were recently distributed to people in Bush’s inner circle. The private memo, for use when reporters call, reads, “Of the top considerations he has mentioned, Governor Bush has said he wants to know: He can run a campaign joyfully, and bring optimism to the debate when the nation is increasingly pessimistic about politics and government and uncertain about the future. It’s in the best interests of his family.”

The memo seeks to tamp down speculation about Bush’s hectic schedule and fundraising (he’s done it all in the past) and whether he’ll base a decision on what other candidates do, calling him a “methodical, thoughtful person.” . . .

Already Bush’s business dealings have received a fresh look. A front-page story in the New York Times last month catalogued the corporate boards he sits on, including the bankrupt Miami building company InnoVida, as well as $2 million Bush has earned from Tenet Health Care, a major backer of Obamacare. There is no suggestion Bush knew about the InnoVida troubles and a Tenet executive told the Times that Bush made his objections to the health care law known at board meetings.

"Jeb Bush, looking more seriously like a 2016 contender, hits the road."

This piece by Bill Cotterel is truly cringe-worthy: "Florida could get its first president."

"Bad idea"

Carl Hiaasen: "Charlie, this flip-flop’s a bad idea".

"Precedent-setting trial begins Monday"

"After a year of legal skirmishes, a precedent-setting trial begins Monday in Tallahassee in the first test case of the redistricting amendments approved by voters." "Courtroom clash pits Democrats, Republicans in epic redistricting battle".

Small things

"Six months into his campaign, Crist has received 18,332 contributions worth $474,437 from contributions of $100 or less. That’s roughly 86 percent of all individual contributions that have flowed to the Crist campaign between early November,when he announced he was running and April 30, the due date for the most recent monthly report."

Through the first six months of 2010 Democratic gubernatorial candidate Alex Sink’s campaign, she had 2,823 of those contributions worth a total of $187,221.

By comparison, the campaign of Gov. Rick Scott, a Naples Republican, has 368 contributions of less than $100, worth a total of $28,005, campaign finance records show.

"Crist reels in donations at $1 a pop, but war chest pales compared to Scott’s".

Veto Pen

"Waiting on Gov. Rick Scott to wield veto pen".

"Politicization of a state agency"

Nathan Crabbe, the Gainesville Sun's Editorial Page editor writes about what he sees as the "continuing politicization of a state agency under to a governor who pays lip service to protecting springs while gutting protections for them."

Under Gov. Rick Scott and Vinyard, formerly a Jacksonville shipbuilding executive, a department that is supposed to be the guardian of Florida's environment but has been doing the exact opposite.
"State tries to silence springs advocates."

"The difference between 'de facto' and 'de jure'"

Bill Cotterell: "Maybe Florida Highway Patrol Trooper Charles Swindle should have just written a couple of speeding tickets for the legislators he stopped on Interstate 10 about 18 months ago."

Or maybe everybody would be happier if he had just warned them about going 87 miles an hour thorugh Madison County. Either way, nobody would have heard about the FHP’s supposed “unwritten rule” that Florida legislators, who vote on the pay raises and other benefits of state employees, should not get traffic tickets.

The Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles says there is no such policy. Officially, the chairs of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees, with the employee pay-raise papers in their laps and big red pens in their hands, are just as likely to get a ticket as you or I, if we let the speedometer needle edge above 70.

Swindle’s lawyer told an appeals court last week that a colonel went to Troop H and wrote on a chalkboard, “Thou shalt not write tickets to legislators.” Swindle said it didn’t need to be spelled out — that everyone knew the familiar state legislator license tag was a free pass.

Maybe that’s the difference between “de facto” and “de jure.”

"Do you know why I pulled you over?"