Friday, July 18, 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.

Crist Names Running Mate

William March: "In an unusually early announcement, likely Democratic nominee for governor Charlie Crist has named Miami businesswoman and Democratic fundraiser Annette Taddeo as his running mate."

Taddeo, of Colombian and Italian heritage, symbolizes the battle between Democrats and Republicans over the increasingly important Hispanic vote. Gov. Rick Scott last year chose Carlos Lopez-Cantera as the state’s first Hispanic lieutenant governor and his 2014 running mate.

Taddeo could also help Crist appeal to women voters, now 54 percent of the state electorate, and provide a South Florida ally against former state Sen. Nan Rich of Weston, who’s challenging Crist in a Democratic primary in six weeks. . . .

In 2008, Taddeo ran unsuccessfully against Republican U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen in a Republican-leaning district. She ran unsuccessfully for a Miami-Dade county commissioner’s seat in 2010 — a race with a crowded field of candidates that was won, she said, by a tea party-style candidate.

"Crist names Hispanic businesswoman Taddeo as running mate." See also "Charlie Crist turns to South Florida for running mate."

Feds intrude on Walmart's "freedom" to trash rare endangered wildlife habitat

"A developer building a Walmart on a tract of disappearing forest between two national parks in south Miami-Dade County should stop all work until a survey of endangered wildlife is completed, federal officials warned this week."

In a strongly worded letter sent to Ram Realty Services, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said at least eight threatened species, including the federally protected Florida bonneted bat and two endangered plants, could inhabit about 140 acres of pine rockland north of Zoo Miami off Coral Reef Drive. . . .

Just two percent remain of about 165,000 acres of pine rocklands that once stretched from Homestead to the Miami River on an upland ridge. The rare rocklands occur in just two places in the world — Miami-Dade County and the Bahamas — and provide habitat for a host of animals, insects and plants found no place else on earth.

"Feds ask developer to stop work on Walmart in rare Miami-Dade forest."

Dominoes Begin to Fall: Monroe County Judge Overturns Marriage Ban

"A judge ruled that gays can marry in Florida’s most gay-friendly county, siding Thursday with same-sex couples in the Florida Keys who challenged a voter-approved ban as discriminatory. But an immediate state appeal quickly silenced their wedding bells." "Ruling allows same-sex marriages for Florida Keys."

See also "Ruling allows same-sex marriages for Florida Keys," "Judge declares Florida's ban on gay marriage unconstitutional," "Monroe County Judge Overturns Same-Sex Marriage Ban" and "Judge’s ruling on gay marriage celebrated in Tampa."

Threats to fire employees if Obama won fall by the wayside

You remember the creepy "CEO who built himself America's largest house [yet] threatened to fire his employees if obama's elected." Scott Maxwell brings us up to date: "Congratulations to time-share magnate David Siegel, who seems to have mounted quite the comeback."

In the past few weeks alone, Siegel has made headlines for buying a football team, the Cocoa Beach pier — even a big new casino in Las Vegas.

Nicely done, David! It's all especially impressive, considering you told us that, if Barack Obama were re-elected, you might have to abandon your business — maybe even leave the country.

You remember that, right? It was in 2012 when you made national news for telling your employees that, before they voted, they should know that re-electing Obama might cost them their jobs.

You were sure Obama was bringing new taxes your way. And if he were re-elected, you told your workers: "My motivation to work and to provide jobs will be destroyed and with it, so will your opportunities."

"If that happens, you can find me in the Caribbean sitting on the beach, under a palm tree, retired and with no employees to worry about."

Yet, miracle of miracles, you somehow manage to not only stay in this great country and keep your doors open, but even buy an Arena Football League team!

"Take that, Obama! Time-share king David Siegel thrives."

"Proudly claiming he was a geek"

Jeff Henderson: "All of a sudden, [Ted Yoho's primary opponent, Jake Rush, an attorney who served as a deputy for the Alachua County sheriff’s office] went from contender to pretender against Yoho. After the news about Rush's role-playing -- and more importantly the photos -- went public in April, all momentum was sucked out of his campaign. Rush never quite knew what to do about how to handle the negative publicity. Sometimes, Rush embraced it, proudly claiming he was a geek and even appearing on Stephen Colbert’s show to weigh in on it. Other times, Rush said the Yoho camp was behind it as a dirty trick." "Move Over, Buffy! Ted Yoho Looks Like a Vampire Slayer."

Ethics attacks in SoFla

Kevin Derby: "Attacks Surround Ethics in South Florida Congressional Race."

Stop the presses! Dems putting their money where their mouth is

"At their annual fundraiser in Hollywood less than a month ago, Florida Democrats heard an earful from former President Bill Clinton about the importance of getting the party faithful -- who historically have been lackluster when it comes to voting in midterm elections -- to the polls."

Now, national Democrats are putting their money where their mouth is.
"Backroom Briefing: Dems Try to Get Voters Out, Hold Court."

"The world discovers what Florida already knows"

Steve Bousquet: "Rick Scott, who ditched his adopted rescue dog Reagan after the 2010 election, and who invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination 75 times in a deposition, once again finds himself all over the Web and cable as the rest of the world discovers what Florida already knows" about Rick Scott

He doesn't like to answer questions.

Name a subject, and Scott won't address it.

Climate change. Problems with the state's jobless claims website. How a sex offender slipped through the cracks and got a state license as a massage therapist. Amendment 1, the land and water proposal on the November ballot.

Scott might well revise his campaign slogan to "Let's Keep Working at Obfuscation."

"His dilemma is that being ridiculed by national media outlets probably is not a surefire path to re-election. When networks use a big-state governor as a pinata, they're also making fun of the voters who put him in office and perhaps planting seeds of doubt in their minds."
Scott made CNN's "RidicuList," as Anderson Cooper said Scott's evasiveness "insults everybody's intelligence."

MSNBC, with its endless fascination for Florida politics, awarded him a place in its "Canned Response Repetition Hall of Fame."

Both channels ran the same video clip of Scott, eyes open wide, a frozen smile fixed on his face, dodging Tampa TV reporters asking why uniformed, on-duty sheriff's deputies were at a Tampa event promoting his re-election last week. It is illegal for public employees to engage in such activity, and illegal for anyone to coerce them into doing it.

"I'm very proud that last week, police chiefs endorsed me," Scott said earnestly, totally ignoring the question. "I'm very proud that 40 sheriffs have endorsed me."

That's a campaign commercial, not a serious reply.

With his very next breath, Scott said: "So we invite them to our campaign events and I'm very appreciative of the ones that came."

There it is: Scott said his campaign invites on-duty cops to campaign events that they should not attend.

"Rick Scott's nonanswers bring national ridicule."

GOPers have private meeting with Scott’s education advisor, talk about it at school board meeting

"Members of the Flagler County Republican Club had a private meeting Wednesday with Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s education advisor, Kim McDougal, regarding the new national academic measures known as the Common Core State Standards Initiative. The date and time of the meeting at the governor’s campaign headquarters in Palm Coast, which was closed to the media, was mentioned by Flagler School Board Chairman Andy Dance during Tuesday night’s board meeting." "Flagler GOP club has closed meeting with governor’s education advisor."

Do Scott's apologists really want to talk Nigeria?

Nancy Smith says, "Hey, Charlie, Introduce Us to Your Nigerian Friend." She "writes,

Charlie Crist's donors get stranger and stranger. The latest is Onajite Okoloko.

He makes Steve Mostyn -- the Houston trial lawyer-cum-fly-boy who donated $600,000 to support Charlie three states away -- look downright common-garden variety.

Onajite Okoloko, 48, is a Nigerian oil executive turned fertilizer manufacturer who has suddenly "emerged" as one of Charlie's biggest donors.

Does Nancy really want to inject Nigeria into any conversation about Florida politics?

Remember Jeb's Nigerian connection?

Just in time for the latest round of Jeb for Prez speculation, the juiciest scandal tied to Florida's former governor is headed back to court. The courts are revisiting a two-decades old charge that a company Bush cofounded spent millions bribing Nigerian officials with federally loaned money to secure a lucrative deal selling water pumps in the African nation.
"Jeb Bush's Nigerian Bribery Scandal Is Back in Court."