Sunday, July 20, 2014

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

"Spanking the entire gang of Republican rock-throwers"

Scott Maxwell: "Florida legislators think you're an idiot."

That is why — after being caught breaking the law and gerrymandering political districts — they are asking for permission to draw them again.

Don't be an idiot.

And I mean that with all due respect to hizzoner, Judge Terry Lewis — the guy who will decide what do to with Florida's blatantly gerrymandered districts.

Florida legislators already hoped Judge Lewis would be an idiot once.

They were sorely disappointed.

"Lewis' ruling was the equivalent of bare-bottom spanking for the entire gang of Republican rock-throwers."
Lewis used phrases such as "cunning, ambitious and unprincipled men."

He said some of the operatives involved "made a mockery of the Legislature's proclaimed open and transparent process." And he said the entire case "goes to the very foundation of our representative democracy."

Basically, Lewis said what anyone with one good eye already knew: that the zigzagging, racially unbalanced congressional districts were a politically rigged farce.

The ruling was particularly amusing because GOP legislators had taken the stand with dramatically feigned indignation about how their honor and dignity were on the line.

They went so far as to say the only way the judge could rule against them was to accuse the entire legislative leadership team of being a bunch of liars — that "every single witness, including two speakers of the House ... lied under oath …."

Um, OK, the judge essentially said with his ruling that you're all a bunch of liars.

"Special elections, punishment needed in redistricting scandal."

Counties have latitude setting early voting dates

"Florida lawmakers gave counties latitude in setting dates for early voting, and election superintendents took full advantage. The state’s elections website says early voting is Aug. 16 to 23 for the Aug. 26 primary. But it adds that 'each county Supervisor of Elections may, at his or her own discretion, offer additional days of early voting.'" "Early voting dates can vary county to county."

Sentenced to Life as Juveniles

"The Florida Supreme Court has asked attorneys how a new state law might affect cases dealing with inmates who were sentenced to long prison terms for committing murders or other major crimes when they were juveniles." "Florida Supreme Court Seeks Clarity on Inmates Sentenced to Life in Prison as Juveniles."

HD 64

"Another candidate’s late entry means incumbent state Rep. Jamie Grant now has a Republican primary fight. Miriam Steinberg, a Tampa engineer and political newcomer, filed during the June qualifying week and will be on the August ballot for House District 64. With the entry also last month of a write-in candidate, the primary will be closed to all but Republican-registered voters. " "Engineer faces District 64 incumbent."

"Crist’s pick for No. 2 gets respect"

"The Miami-Dade County Republican Party leader quickly summed up the opposition’s greatest strength."

“The best asset that the Miami-Dade Democratic Party has is Annette Taddeo,” Nelson Diaz, chair of the local GOP, said during a spring good-government seminar arranged by the Miami Dade College faculty union.

“As the Democrat [sic] chair, she’s very involved,” he said. “She worked hard to organize and mobilize the left wing of her party — which is now the party’s base — making them more of a presence. She made us work harder.”

Now, Taddeo has a much bigger role in state politics: running mate for Democrat Charlie Crist, who tapped her on Thursday to become the first female Hispanic lieutenant governor if the ticket can knock off Republican Gov. Rick Scott and Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera.

"Even among opponents, Charlie Crist’s pick for No. 2, AnnetteTaddeo, gets respect."

Scott has an idea: "Jobs for the Next Generation"

"Florida Gov. Rick Scott is pledging to permanently eliminate manufacturing equipment sales taxes and create new incentives to encourage more science and engineering graduates. Scott plans to highlight his 'Jobs for the Next Generation' proposals during campaign stops over the next two weeks." "Florida Gov. to highlight job creation proposals."

Political Pusillanimity

"Jeb Bush, Rubio lay low on border crisis."

"Scott’s either clueless, or lying"

Carl Hiaasen, writes "Here’s a really clever idea:"

Let’s run express passenger trains 16 times round-trip every day between downtown Miami and the Orlando airport. That’s right, the airport.

Except the trains won’t go straight there, but will stop first in Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach, then head up the seaboard to Cocoa and hang a hard left 40 miles west across the middle of the state.

Oh, and the trip will take at least three hours one way.

Leaving aside the fact that you can inexpensively drive from downtown Miami to the Orlando airport in about the same time (or fly commercially in only 42 minutes), the project grandly known as All Aboard Florida raises other elementary questions.

Like, “Why?”

"As it waddles down the tracks, this turkey enjoys the robust blessing of the Republican-led Legislature and Gov. Rick Scott, who said the following to a reporter last month:"
“It’s all funding that will be provided by somebody other than the state. It’s a private company.”

Scott’s either clueless, or lying. All Aboard Florida is a future train-wreck for taxpayers. With the possible exception of the Hogwarts Express, passenger rail services almost always lose money and end up subsidized by government. . . .

Only three short years ago, playing the tea party scrooge, Scott killed a proposed high-speed train project between Orlando and Tampa. In rejecting about $2 billion in federal funds, the governor asserted that Florida taxpayers would have ended up paying to operate the rail service once it was finished. He was right.

Now he’s yodeling a different tune, perhaps because his latest chief of staff, Adam Hollingsworth, formerly worked for one of the companies connected to All Aboard Florida. (When a reporter asked Scott if he’d talked to Hollingsworth about the project, he didn’t answer.)

"Florida taxpayers about to be railroaded."

New questions about whether Jeb will run

"Former Florida governor Jeb Bush (R) joined with a team of bankers to create a private equity investment firm, a development that raises new questions about whether he will run for president in 2016."

The news comes as Bush is viewed as a potential frontrunner for the Republican nomination for president in 2016. Polls show him running well in key states and many Republicans view him as party's strongest possible nominee. . . .

The private equity industry became a focal point in the 2012 campaign. Democrats repeatedly painted Republican nominee Mitt Romney's private equity career in a negative light, in an effort to portray him as out of touch with the concerns of ordinary Americans. If Bush runs for president in 2016, he could face similar attacks.

"Jeb Bush created private equity firm."