Sunday, June 15, 2014

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

Scott campaign worried about "High" turnout

Carl Hiaasen: "The geniuses running the Republican campaign effort in Florida have now decided that stirring opposition to medical marijuana will help Gov. Rick Scott win."

Casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson, a huge donor to pro-Scott forces, recently gave $2.5 million to a new group aiming to defeat a proposed constitutional amendment that would legalize cannabis use for patients with cancer, glaucoma, multiple sclerosis and six other serious diseases. . . .

You might wonder why a rich Las Vegas casino owner is trying to prevent sick people 2,000 miles away from gaining legal access to pot. You think Adelson is genuinely worried that medicinal cannabis is a gateway to total legalization, and that it poses a dire threat to the people of Florida?

The man couldn’t care less. He’s all about getting Republicans elected.

"When asked why the out-of-state gambling tycoon is pouring so much money into the battle against Amendment 2, Scott replied: 'You’d have to ask Sheldon.'"
As if Scott has no clue what his sugar daddy is up to. It’s an organized plan by Republican strategists that has nothing to do with the medical dispensation of marijuana, the statutory sturdiness of the amendment, or the ludicrous fantasy of a “drug-free” Florida.

It’s raw politics. The platform will be a 21st-century version of Reefer Madness propaganda, and the aim will be to scare people enough to make them go vote against Amendment 2. Those are folks who would also likely vote for Scott.

That’s the GOP theory, anyway.

A hyperbolic media campaign against medical marijuana could easily backfire, motivating pro-pot voters in even larger numbers. A high turnout, no pun intended, can only help Crist and hurt Scott.

If a smart person were making his campaign decisions, the governor would have told Adelson to stay out of Florida’s marijuana debate. Amendment 2 is almost certain to pass, so why run commercials that will only propel more of its supporters to the polls?

The result could extend Adelson’s losing streak, and send Scott’s re-election hopes up in smoke.

"High turnout (wink, wink) could hurt Scott."

Weekly Roundup

Kevin Derby: "Political Bits and Pieces." See also "Arrivals and Departures, June 13, 2014" and "Weekly Roundup: Time to Hit Reset."

Eagle Survives

"Dane Eagle turned 31 last month but he’s already survived more than his share of pitfalls -- and it looks like he’s going to dodge another bullet. Despite being charged with DUI during the 2014 legislative session, Eagle is well-poised to return to the Florida House." "Somehow, DUI Charge and All, Dane Eagle Survives."

Voucher madness

"Gov. Rick Scott has until June 28 to sign or veto the proposed expansion of the school voucher program." "Parent, teacher groups urge Rick Scott to veto school voucher bill." See also "Teachers union urges Scott to veto voucher-expansion bill."

Book blasts tea party takeover of FlaGOP

"Jim Greer found a way to get even with Charlie Crist, but the question is how many people will believe it — or pay $32.95 to read about it. The disgraced and imprisoned former chairman of the Republican Party of Florida is the subject of a new book by St. Petersburg author Peter Golenbock."

Greer blamed his downfall on the takeover of the Republican Party by tea party members, whom he calls “crazies,” “wingnuts” and “wackadoos.” He likened them to members of the racist John Birch Society of the 1950s and ’60s, and said their constant calls for his ouster made him physically ill.

Greer says Crist’s undoing as a Republican can be attributed to his embrace of President Barack Obama and to his decision to appoint James Perry, an African-American and a Democrat, to the Florida Supreme Court.

Greer’s spectacularly fast rise to power and fall to personal ruin is one of the most dramatic in the annals of Florida politics.

Greer and his close friend, Delmar Johnson, formed a consulting company, Victory Strategies, that took party money. Greer insisted that the firm’s commissions for raising party money were approved by Crist and LeMieux.

After Greer was charged criminally, Crist said under oath he had no knowledge of Victory Strategies. . . .

Suzanne La Rosa, a spokeswoman for the publisher, New South Books of Montgomery, Ala., said Greer will receive no money or royalties from the book.

“There’s no deal,” LaRosa said. “This is just his story.”

"Jim Greer’s salacious book, 'The Chairman,’ blasts Charlie Crist, tea party." See also "Jim Greer book: Inside Charlie Crist's inner circle."

Politicians rail against first responder pensions . . .

. . . "Slain deputy's family celebrates his life on Father's Day."

Scott's "promised jobs wafted quietly away"

"In 2011, it sure sounded like good news. Gov. Rick Scott announced that a Brazilian entrepreneur would be investing $25 million and bringing 75 jobs to the Port of Palm Beach, each paying an average wage of $62,000."

The company vanished. And when that happened, Scott did not issue a press release or post to Facebook, and Enterprise Florida issued nary a tweet. The promised jobs wafted quietly away, like a bitter white powder in a warm breeze.
"Caffeine plant for Port of Palm Beach never materialized."

Education "companies cannot make money on long-term student success"

"Fed up and fired up, algebra teacher Josh Katz this spring took to the stage for a 17-minute denouncement of what he called the 'toxic culture of education' in Florida's public schools."

Standardized tests, Katz said, have been used to prove that these students and their schools are "failing," a message pushed by "our super villain: private education companies."

The firms that make standardized tests want to "perpetuate a picture of failure," he said, because "companies cannot make money on long-term student success."

The new Common Core standards in language arts and math that Florida adopted "will do even more damage," in his view, because they are tied to more high-stakes testing and to lessons that aren't appropriate for everyone.

"Frustrated Orange teacher decries 'toxic culture of education'".

Scott slashes Bright Futures

"State Sen. Dwight Bullard said Scott and Republican lawmakers had slashed the Bright Futures budget from $309 million last year to $266 million this year." "Florida Democrats condemn Gov. Rick Scott over Bright Futures cuts".

Greenbelt fraud

"State lawmakers created the greenbelt tax classification more than 50 years ago to protect farms and ranches from disappearing as a building boom boosted the value of all land — and the property taxes that go with it. . . . But more and more, the beneficiaries of this tax break of a whopping 90 percent or more are developers rather than farmers or ranchers." "Greenbelt tax break not just for farms."

Scott has stake in company drilling for oil in Collier County

"Gov. Rick Scott's six-figure stake in a French energy company is angering environmentalists because the firm is involved in oil drilling in Collier County, near the Everglades."

Scott and the Cabinet oversee the Department of Environmental Protection, which regulates oil drilling in Florida, and Scott has invested in businesses that could be regulated by DEP and other state agencies.

Asked if he supports drilling in a county where he owns a $9.2 million home, Scott did not directly answer. . . .

In 2011, the original blind trust showed a $135,000 investment in Schlumberger Ltd., the world's largest oil services company.

Its stock has risen steadily over the past year and trades at $107 a share, but the blind trust prevents the public from knowing whether Scott still has a stake in the company — or whether it has grown.

The leader of a citizens group opposed to drilling is one of numerous people alarmed at Scott's past, and possibly continuing, financial ties to Schlumberger. . . .

Learning of the Schlumberger tie, Mulé said he's [now] more suspicious of DEP's layoffs of dozens of employees charged with regulating polluters in 2012.

"Scott's stake in oil company tied to Collier drilling riles environmentalists".

Equality Florida endorses Crist

"LGBT-rights group Equality Florida endorses Democrat Charlie Crist for governor." More: "The largest gay-rights groups in Florida and the nation endorsed Democrat Charlie Crist for governor." "LGBT-rights group endorses Democrat Charlie Crist for governor." Meanwhile, "Rivals Call Out Charlie Crist's Shifts on LGBT Issues."

Winger frenzy

"Florida Gov. Scott signs late term abortion bill." See also "Scott signs abortion bill, 94 others" and "Florida Gov. Rick Scott signs nearly 100 bills."

Chickenhawk takes on infantry squad leader

Although Jeff Miller's self-proclaimed "service" has been limited to elective office, he is happy to bask in the reflected glory of military veterans and feature militaria on his website. However, this toy soldier bit off a bit more than he could chew in this one sided exchange with a man who served as an infantry squad leader in Vietnam: "Chuck Hagel, Jeff Miller Duel Over Taliban Prisoner Exchange and Bowe Bergdahl."

Nelson: "The radicals won"

"'The radicals won,' Sen. Bill Nelson declared when asked about House Majority Leader Eric Cantor's epic defeat Tuesday in Virginia."

"That's not what our politics needs," the Florida Democrat said of the Cantor slayer, college economics professor David Brat. "This is just another indication of the Republican Party being so split apart. It will probably take another couple election cycles for this to all sort itself out."

Echoing others, Nelson said Cantor's loss could have a chilling effect among Republicans in Washington. "It pretty well kills immigration reform over in the House."

"Nelson on Cantor."

Yee haw!

"The Florida Supreme Court on Thursday upheld the constitutionality of a 2013 law that legislative supporters said would reduce delays in carrying out the death penalty." "Florida high court OKs law meant to speed up death penalty."

"Cost of doing business"

"Miami-Dade Commission donations “a cost of doing business”."