Friday, June 06, 2014

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

Herald: Bondi Should Launch Criminal Investigation into Redistricting Shenanigans

The Miami Herald editorial board: "A historic redistricting trial, which some have called the Sunshine State’s version of 'Game of Thrones' between Democrats and Republicans, ended this week."

The troubling testimony by key players was at times jaw-dropping and gave the public a unique front-row seat where they saw what looked for all the world like political shenanigans behind the U.S. Census-driven, once-a-decade process of redrawing political districts — in short, the slicing and serving up of power. In this instance, to ensure the election of Republicans throughout the state.
"Why were we naive enough to think that this would be done in a democratic way? Consider these questionable acts revealed at the trial:"
• House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, and Senate President Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, acknowledged they met out of the public eye to reach agreement on a final congressional map. Is this legal? Sounds unethical, at the least.

• A map identified as coming from a member of the public was touted by legislators as the inspiration for Districts 4 and 5. But at the trial, Jose Posada, 24, testified that his identity was misappropriated. He was identified as the creator of the map, the foundation for as many as seven districts in the final version. If Mr. Posada was telling the truth, who stole his identity?

• A legislative staffer admitted to giving a flash drive of maps to a GOP political operative two weeks before they became public.

• Legislative leaders acknowledged that they met secretly with their staffs and political operatives to discuss strategy. . . .

State Attorney General Pam Bondi . . . has all the evidence that she needs to launch a criminal investigation.

"Investigate redistricting shenanigans". See also "Redistricting trial ends but conclusion is far from certain" and "".

Backlog of bills for Scott

"More than a month after the annual legislative session ended, about two- thirds of the bills passed still haven’t been sent to Gov. Rick Scott’s office." "Legislature has backlog of bills for Scott."

Conservatives don't like Amendment 1

Nancy Smith argues that "passing Amendment 1 will not -- repeat, not -- guarantee a no-tax-increase future for a clean water supply, or anything else, in Florida as its proponents claim. Quite the opposite. In a state where population is projected to grow to 30 million by 2035, there is no sure-thing magic bullet to funding every priority in 67 counties." "Amendment 1 a Nightmare for Conservative-Thinking Floridians." But see "Florida-Loving Conservatives Have Many Reasons to Support Amendment 1."

Scott claims state has right to inspect federal facilities

"After six rebuffed attempts to inspect Veterans Affairs hospitals in Florida this spring, the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration filed suit in federal court Thursday trying to force the federal agency to allow state inspections." "Florida sues Veterans Affairs seeking right to inspect VA hospitals".

"Session was a light lift"

Paul Flemming: "With the wisdom of a month's hindsight, we can characterize the 2014 legislative session: The Light Lift. Here's the evidence." "This year's legislative session was a light lift."

Wingers go after Garcia

Kevin Derby: "The Libre Initiative, a conservative Hispanic group, waded into one of the most competitive congressional races in Florida this week, launching efforts in Spanish against U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia, D-Fla., for saying 'communism works.'" "Conservative Hispanic Group Targets Joe Garcia".

Ros-Lehtinen can't give it up

"The Obama administration says it is not negotiating for the release of Alan Gross, the U.S. government contractor arrested in Cuba in 2009 on alleged spy charges." "Despite administration denials, U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen thinks Obama wants Cuba spy-swap."

Backroom Briefing

"To the delight of his handlers, Gov. Rick Scott departed from his much-mocked, on-message, talking-point mantra last weekend during a gaggle with a handful of reporters after a Republican Party of Florida meeting."

Scott revealed his softer side when asked about how campaigning for re-election is different from his first time on the stump four years ago.

Scott immediately mentioned his wife Ann, who was perpetually by his side in his 2010 bid for governor. This time around, the first lady is traveling the state on her own, Scott said, promoting reading at schools and visiting children in hospitals.

That and more at the "Backroom Briefing."