Wednesday, June 04, 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.

Expert: "virtually impossible" to have drawn districts without intentional political bias

Scott Maxwell writes that the ongoing Tallahassee trial over Florida's political districts exposes Florida legislators as "a bunch of low-down, scheming, email-deleting, secret-meeting-holding, money-wasting, constitution-violating, voter's-will-ignoring, snake-in-the-grass phonies."

Instead of sensible districts that follow geographic boundaries and keep communities intact, legislators drew snake-like districts that slither through as many as eight counties.

But now we have gobs of witnesses, evidence and testimony to prove it.

"Among the courtroom revelations:"
•Former Speaker Dean Cannon's office deleted emails related to redistricting.

•Lawmakers routinely staged secret meetings — while proclaiming the process "transparent."

•Lawmakers' offices shared internal data and drafted maps with political consultants before finalizing them.

•Some of the districts — which legislators had claimed were drawn and submitted by an average citizen — appear to have actually been created by a GOP operative and submitted under a phony name.

•One political scientist testified that it would have been "virtually impossible" for legislators to have drawn the warped districts they did without intentional political bias.

•Another expert — one who has studied gerrymandered districts all over America — called Florida's districts the most biased he had ever seen.

"It went on and on. And keep in mind: Some of the most damning evidence came from people who worked for and with the legislators."
Afterward, House Speaker Will Weatherford still tried to claim the redistricting process was "extremely open and transparent." His pants immediately burst into flames.
Much more here: "Florida redistricting trial reveals secrets and schemes." See also "Fla. redistricting trial coming to an end" (closing statements on Wednesday).

Brown attends redistricting trial

"With her district essentially on trial in a Tallahassee courtroom, Democratic U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown ripped into a lawsuit brought by a coalition of voting-rights groups challenging the state's congressional districts."

Brown, whose sprawling district has emerged as the central focus of arguments against the map drawn by the Legislature in 2012, appeared in a Leon County courtroom as the trial in the lawsuit continued for a 10th day.

"If they called your names as many times as they've called mine, you would show up," Brown told a reporter who asked why she had decided to attend Monday's court session.

"Rep. Corrine Brown attends trial, blasts redistricting lawsuit". See also "U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown blasts challenge to her…" and "".

Bondi responds

"Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi responds to editorial on same-sex marriage." See also "Pam Bondi Defends Traditional Marriage Law, Opponents Plan to Ignore It."

Miami-Dade Democrats singing out of different hymn book

Jeff Henderson writes: "Annette Taddeo-Goldstein, the chairwoman of the Miami-Dade Democrats, is singing out of a different hymn book than most of her party’s leaders across Florida."

Right now, there’s only one major Democratic challenger running against a sitting Florida senator. Few Republicans in the Florida House are facing credible Democrats.

But Taddeo-Goldstein is trying to put up a fight in South Florida. On Tuesday, she announced every Miami-Dade Republican in the Florida House would face competition this year. Seven Democrats filed to run for seats currently held by Republicans on Tuesday -- with some of them offering somewhat credible threats to sitting House members.

Here's an overview of the contested races: "Miami Dems Want to Take the Fight to GOP House Members."

Conservative coalition booted from gay marriage case

"Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Sarah Zabel ruled that a conservative coalition can’t become co-defendant in the county’s gay marriage case. . . . Florida Democratic League, Florida Family Action and People United to Lead the Struggle for Equality (PULSE) asked [Judge] Zabel to let them join the case. Tuesday, she said no." "Judge: Conservative coalition can’t legally defend gay marriage law".

"FSU Committee Pauses Again"

"FSU search opens, Thrasher no longer exclusive." See also "FSU Committee Pauses Again, This Time on John Thrasher Interview."

Scott appointee to plead guilty to sunshine violations

Rick Scott appointee to the Orlando expressway authority board, "Marco Peña will plead guilty Wednesday to breaking state open-records laws as a grand jury considers more charges in its probe of the agency, State Attorney Jeff Ashton said Tuesday." "Former Orlando Expressway Authority board member Marco Peña to plead guilty to violating open-records laws."