Sunday, June 29, 2014

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

"Troubling fault lines in explosive growth of charter schools"

Even the Tribune Company charter school cheerleaders acknowledge that "troubling fault lines have appeared in the explosive growth of charter schools in Florida."

An alarming number of charter schools are closing within a year or two of opening, leaving students behind, families distressed and taxpayer money lost.

In the past two years, a Sun Sentinel investigation found 15 charter schools have shuttered in Broward, and another seven have closed in Palm Beach County. This represents an unprecedented failing in the 18-year-old industry and demands a thorough examination by Florida lawmakers and Gov. Rick Scott.

Eight of these schools closed within a year; five closed in less than 90 days. And local officials bearing witness to this train wreck have been forced to sit on their hands because state law is skewed to favor bad apples.

"Leaders needed in charter schools to fix mess" (subscription required).

GOP gets desperate at Leadership Blue

"The Florida Republican Party made an appearance at the Democratic Party’s Leadership Blue event this afternoon with a plane towing a banner chiding gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist for not releasing his wife’s tax returns: #WhatsCristHiding."

The plane buzzed the beach outside the Westin Diplomat Hotel, where the daylong event is being held. At a brief press conference by the pool, Republican Party chairwoman Leslie Dougher criticized Crist, a former Republican, for not releasing his wife’s tax returns, while Scott has released he and his wife’s return.
"Where’s Charlie? Dems and Republicans question Crist’s absence at event."

"Florida Democrats are taking political gamble"

"Florida Democrats are taking a political gamble, placing all their chips on Charlie Crist. The spin from most of the 1,000-plus Democrats from across the state convening Saturday in South Florida for their state party's annual fundraising gala and strategy session is sunny optimism." "Florida Democrats placing heavy bet on Charlie Crist"

FlaBaggers in a dither

"'Duck Dynasty' star's book tour stops in Florida."

FlaDems "daunting challenges"

"Even as former President Bill Clinton fired up party activists and donors in Broward, Florida Democrats have daunting challenges in this year’s election and beyond." "Bill Clinton fires up Florida Democrats, who face big election-year challenge." See also "Florida Democrats update their brand, jettison Jefferson and Jackson," "Bill Clinton rallies Florida Democrats at Hollywood party gathering," "Bill Clinton Says Dems Need to Get Voters to Show Up," "Cheered by Bill Clinton, Florida Democrats see victory ahead" and "Get voters to polls in mid-terms, Bill Clinton tells Fla. Democrats."

"Why Jeb Bush might not run for president"

We think this is a bit harsh, from the conservative Daily Mail: "Why Jeb Bush might not run for president."

Good luck with that

"Florida religious leaders are calling on Gov. Rick Scott and state officials to restore the civil rights of former felons. A group of clergy and activists will lead a march through Opa-Locka on Sunday to highlight Florida's status as one of three states that permanently deny ex-offenders the right to vote unless restored by the governor or a clemency board." "Clergy call on Gov. Scott to restore voting rights."

The best they can do?

Nancy Smith: "Really? Carole Crist Whose Husband Wants to Be Governor Owes Florida Money?"

Muckraker takes on paper pusher

"Alan Cohn has a better-known name and face than a typical political newcomer, thanks to three years as a local television investigative reporter whose career has included significant scoops exposing public corruption."

His long TV journalism career gave him experience with politics and public issues. He says it also showed his commitment to public service.

But all that won’t elevate him from his position as a decided underdog as he moves from television into politics, challenging incumbent U.S. Rep. Dennis Ross of Lakeland for a congressional seat.

"TV reporter challenges U.S. rep."