Thursday, August 14, 2014

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

Google to disclose FlaGOP accounts

"Internet giants Google and Yahoo must disclose who established several email accounts held by Gov. Rick Scott, along with his current and former employees, as part of a lawsuit pending in Tallahassee that claims the governor routinely circumvented the state’s open records law, a court ruled Wednesday."

Tallahassee Circuit Court Judge Charles A. Francis ordered the companies to respond to a limited request by lawyer Steven R. Andrews to explain who created the Gmail and Yahoo accounts and when they were established. . . .

Andrews has produced evidence that Scott and his staff have used the Google and Yahoo accounts to conduct some government business but, when asked to produce the documents, the governor’s office replied that “no responsive records were located.” Florida law requires emails used for state business to be retained and not destroyed.

"Lawsuit seeks disclosure of private email accounts of Gov. Rick Scott, staff." See also "Judge rules against Scott in records lawsuit."

HD 44

"Political newcomer challenges incumbent in House District 44 race."

Just in time for the election

"Florida is speeding up six major road projects across the state. Gov. Rick Scott said Thursday that the state will push up the timing of $806 million worth of highway construction projects across the state." "Scott: Florida will speed up major road projects." See also "Florida will speed up several major road projects."

Florida's fightin' judge

"After tussle, Brevard judge accused of violating code."

Map challenges likely

"The Florida Legislature’s special session to redraw the state’s congressional districts has ended now that lawmakers passed a new set of maps. However, Democrats and others, argue the maps still mirror Florida’s actual political makeup." "GOP-Led Legislature Passes New Congressional Maps, But Challenges Likely To Follow." See also "Scott Maxwell: Redistricting Q&A: Explaining Florida's latest scandal."

HD 61

"More endorsements announced in HD 61 race."

More Mitt

"Former Gov. Mitt Romney, R-Mass., went to bat for a Republican congressional hopeful in Florida this week and will turn his attention to flipping a seat for the GOP in the U.S. Senate in the days to come as buzz continues that he will make a third try for the White House in 2016." "Mitt Romney Active in Florida, Other States, Amid Buzz of 2016 Run."

Enuf' of them activist judges

"Lawsuit blocks abortions at Planned Parenthood's Kissimmee clinic."

Trib laff riot

The wingers on the Tampa Trib's editorial board think you should "give Scott credit for revisiting his positions. He may never be a Sierra Club favorite, but Scott has shown increasing concern for natural Florida." They write that Scott has magnanimously, in the midst of a re-election campaign no less

pledged to spend $1 billion on restoring the Everglades and Apalachicola Bay, cleaning polluted springs, protecting the Florida Keys, safeguarding water supplies and other efforts.

Critics dismiss this as a campaign gimmick, and no doubt politics is involved. But we believe that Scott, a relative newcomer to Florida when elected, also has come to better appreciate its natural gifts and understand how they are threatened.

"Keep Florida on right environmental path."

Charlie's big yellow bus

"Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Charlie Crist kicked off a three-day, five-media market 'Restore the Cuts' bus tour Wednesday featuring the former Republican governor literally riding a school bus across the state." "Crist launches 'restore the cuts' bus tour." See also "Crist's school bus tour rolls through Orlando."

The best they can do?

We'll say it: Alan Grayson is surely muffling a chuckle as these three empty suits go at it:

The Republican primary race in Congressional District 9 is heating up again, with candidate Jorge Bonilla reminding voters that one of his opponents has a 25-year-old arrest record on a bad check; and that candidate, Peter Vivaldi, responding by calling the reference a low blow.

Bonilla's campaign sent out mailers this week comparing him with Vivaldi and the third GOP candidate, Carol Platt. The mailer makes note of Vivaldi's 1989 felony arrest, arguing that it makes him unelectable. . . .

The winner of this primary faces U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Orlando, and Bonilla argues that beating Grayson will be tough enough in the district without the GOP nominee also having to overcome any voter concerns over an arrest record, however old it might be.

"Bonilla mailer riles rival Vivaldi in CD9 Republican primary race."


"Is that really the voice of Charlie Crist on the robocalls going out right now to households all over the state? Yep, it is, but it's not the Crist of 2014. He's a Democrat now. The call features a recording of Crist from 2006 when he was trying to win the Republican primary for governor." "Charlie Crist of 2006 is featured on robocall."

Yes, that Sanford

"Compared to other states, Florida’s health insurance plan for government employees is about average." Yet,

Rep. Jason Brodeur, R-Sanford, introduced a bill during the 2014 session that would have implemented drastic changes to the types of coverage and potentially increased premiums for those who enroll in the most comprehensive plans.
"Health insurance for state employees gets another look."

"Pole dancers for special interests"

Daniel Ruth writes that, "to get away from all the ivory tower jibber-jabber, the more these charlatans can hide from the public scrutiny the easier it is for them to become pole dancers for special interests who want to jam money into their garter belts. And it also explains why occasional efforts to create a more accessible state capital away from Tallahassee have been an exercise in futility. That makes sense. Wouldn't this be a bit like someone on the FBI's 10 most wanted list posting their travel itinerary on Facebook?" "Tallahassee: Breeding ground for corruption." See also "Bill Cotterell: Move the capital to fight corruption?"

Rivera's "Madcap Bid" for Congress

"David Rivera’s roller coaster of a ride to get back to Congress took another strange turn on Wednesday as he unsuspended his campaign against old foe Joe Garcia."

This week, with the primary looming later this month, Rivera announced he was unsuspending his campaign. As Jerry Reed sang in "East Down and Bound," Rivera has a "long way to go and a short time to get there." Curbelo’s lead in the primary seems to have only increased while Rivera was off on the sidelines. Curbelo’s running TV ads across the district and, on Monday, reeled in the support of Mitt Romney. Rivera’s madcap campaign has seemingly done nothing to slow Curbelo down.
"David Rivera Becomes Less of a Factor With his Madcap Bid to Return to Congress."

Media ignoring Dem AG primary

"Democratic candidates George Sheldon and Perry Thurston contend Republican Attorney General Pam Bondi is vulnerable in the November election because she has been a national lightning rod." "Democrats get little attention in primary race for Attorney General."

West keeps his options open

"Allen West keeps hinting that he’ll run for future office and five congressional endorsements he made on Tuesday only raised more questions about what his future aspirations are." "Allen West Keeps His Own Political Future Alive by Shaping National GOP's."

Florida's foreclosure rate highest in nation

"Florida foreclosure rate drops; still leads nation." See also "Space Coast among tops in US for foreclosure rate."

Run, Jeb, Run!

"Jeb Bush says he'll decide this year on presidential run."

"Both Sides Ramp Up Attacks"

Kevin Derby: "Trumpeting her “North Florida Way,” Democrat Gwen Graham took aim at U.S. Rep. Steve Southerland, R-Fla., in a new Web video released on Wednesday. Graham, the daughter of former Gov. and U.S. Sen. Bob Graham, D-Fla., is insisting she is a political outsider despite working as a campaign aide to her father and to the presidential campaigns of former Gov. Howard Dean, D-Vt., and then-U.S. Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., during the 2004 election cycle." "Both Sides Ramp Up Attacks in North Florida Congressional Race."

As for hunting junkets, silencers are golden

Fred Grimm: "For too long, Bambi has been allowed to sneak around, hardly making a sound. When some hunter, possibly under the influence of Jack Daniels, pops off an errant round, a deer — alert to the danger — simply runs like hell and vanishes in the woods."

Surely, you can see the inequity suffered by the huntsman as he strives to keep wildlife from running roughshod over the Florida countryside, terrorizing women and children.

Come Sept. 10, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission intends to right this asymmetrical unfairness. The commission, with a very big nudge from the gun lobby, is posed to allow hunters to attach silencers to their firearms. . . .

Silencers also would appeal to Florida civic leaders like Gov. Rick Scott, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and several members of the House of Representatives hierarchy, who were embarrassed last month by revelations they had been treated to luxury hunting excursions arranged by the state’s sugar lobbyists. The thing about those hunting trips – the politicians wanted to keep them quiet. Very quiet. For these guys, when it comes to hunting junkets, silencers would be golden.

"Silencers for hunting may be overkill in Florida."