Sunday, September 14, 2014

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

Scott pushes "inequitable tax plans"

The Tampa Bay Times editors: "In election season, tax break promises are as predictable as campaign signs. But the details of Gov. Rick Scott's $1 billion tax cut proposal are more piecemeal than most, and the measures could contribute to inequities in Florida property taxes and further tie the hands of local governments that most closely serve residents. Voters should not be fooled by vague promises of unrealistic tax cuts that would do more harm than good."

Scott promised a potpourri of tax breaks on the campaign trail: a $120 million cut in the communication services tax; a $120 break on the $225 initial registration fee for cars; $200 million in sales tax holidays, which require families to spend money to save money; and a trio of breaks for Florida businesses — elimination of the manufacturing sales tax and the phase-out of both the business income tax and the sales tax on commercial leases.

But most troubling is Scott's plan to ask the Legislature to seek voter approval to eliminate one of the tools local governments were able to rely upon to make it through the economic recession. Scott is calling for the elimination of the state's "recapture rule." That ensures that property owners who enjoy extraordinary breaks under the state's homestead or commercial property assessment caps don't forever have significantly lower property tax bills than neighbors who bought more recently. It's the one mechanism that makes a system that treats property owners differently based on when they buy a bit fairer.

"Scott's inequitable tax plans."

"Scott seldom appoints black judges"

"After nearly four years, Gov. Rick Scott has appointed fewer African-Americans to Florida judgeships than either Charlie Crist or Jeb Bush did in the same period of time."

Scott has appointed nine black attorneys to judgeships in nearly four years, according to data from his office. They include reappointments of three judges who hear job-related injury claims and four county judges who decide small claims and traffic cases.

Only twice has Scott appointed black judges to the more prestigious trial court or circuit court, and both are in Miami-Dade: Eric Hendon and Rodney Smith in 2012. Thirteen of Scott's 14 choices for district courts of appeal judges are white and the other is Hispanic.

"Florida Gov. Rick Scott seldom appoints black judges."

Oops! Bondi, like Crist, is a Party-Switcher

Will George Sheldon mimic the FlaGOP's attacks on Crist by attacking Bondi for being a party-switcher? Perhaps he should.

Pam Bondi,

Florida’s first female attorney general, a Republican, was a Democrat from 1984 to 2000, when Democrats controlled power in Tampa. Her late father, Dr. Joseph Bondi, a former mayor of Temple Terrace, was a Democrat until 2004. As an assistant state attorney in Hillsborough, Pam Bondi changed parties soon after her boss, Democrat Harry Lee Coe III, took his own life. “I have always been conservative,” Bondi said during the 2010 campaign when it emerged she had once been a Democrat.
"Charlie Crist’s party-switch is not unusual in Fla. politics."

Weekly Roundup

Kevin Derby: "Political Bits and Pieces." See also "Weekly Roundup: Garnet, Gold and Green" and "Arrivals and Departures, Sept. 12, 2014."

Really? Hunters can now use silencers

"The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission on Wednesday advanced a proposal that would remove a ban on silencers for rifles and pistols when hunting deer, gray squirrels, rabbits, wild turkeys, quail and crows." "State panel backs gun silencers for hunting."

"Bondi has been an embarrassment to this state"

Scott Maxwell: "Since her election, Bondi has been caught taking money from a wealthy celebrity she had been asked to investigate."

She postponed an execution so that she could throw herself a fundraising party.

She ousted two of her top foreclosure-fraud investigators.

And she broke her word when she vowed to investigate a string of wrongful convictions.

Basically, Pam Bondi has been an embarrassment to this state.

And in Florida, that's really saying something.

"Bondi played games with executions, convictions and donations."

Bought and paid for

"The company that paid for Texas hunting trips for Florida Republican leaders has a deal in the works to turn 67 square miles of agricultural land on the northwest edge of the Everglades into housing and businesses." "U.S. Sugar seeks OK for huge development after news it paid for GOP leaders’ trips."

"Jobs and the economy the most important issues facing Florida"

"Jobs and the economy remain the most important issues facing Florida, though they’re declining dramatically as the economy improves, according to a new survey of adults by the University of South Florida." "Job concerns linger in Florida, USF survey finds."

A bit much

"Former Palm Beach County Commissioner Burt Aaronson mentioned woman-punching football player Ray Rice Friday night while criticizing Gov. Rick Scott‘s policies as “an abuse to women” during a campaign rally for Democrat Charlie Crist." "Democrat Aaronson plays Ray Rice card to attack Scott on women."

Half true"

"NextGen ad says Rick Scott trying to ‘hide from’ donation related to drilling project."

Charter madness

"The Southwest Ranches suit said Pembroke Pines improperly approved the school, but Judge Thomas Lynch rejected the argument. The school was one of 19 new charter schools approved last fall." "Judge dismisses city's suit vs charter school."

Going vegan

"Going vegan was winning move for South Florida congressman."

You gotta problem wit' dat?

"The Citizens Property Insurance Corp. inspector general found no improprieties in how three former executives left for employment with private firms that have ties to the state-backed insurer." "Inspector General: former Citizens executives did not violate ethics rules."

Grubbing for Flabaggers

"Bondi appeals gay-marriage rulings."

Flagler SOE kerfuffle continues

"Kimberle Weeks knows how to play to an audience."

The supervisor of elections had one at Friday’s much-anticipated Flagler County Canvassing Board meeting, of which she is a member. Twenty three people turned up–not including two cops, two attorneys, the four members of the board and five reporters–for what would normally not get an audience of more than one or two, if that.

Weeks spent more time addressing the audience than conferring with her fellow-board members: Board Chairwoman Milissa Moore-Stens, George Hanns and Charlie Ericksen sat, stone-faced, through speech after speech that Weeks delivered, facing the audience, to repeat accusations of “interference” and lack of “respect” from Palm Coast and that the city was no complying with an agreement worked out before the election.

"Elections Supervisor Weeks Scuttles Latest Attempt to Resolve Elections Conflicts in Heated Meeting."


"Presidential Hopefuls Flock to Florida to Help Rick Scott and Charlie Crist."

"Big promises"

Aaron Deslatte reports that "state economists are cautioning Florida's housing-market failure still has some humps to get over. The state remains the national leader in 2014 for both the number of foreclosure filings and the rate of foreclosure."

Thanks in part to over-construction of housing in the heat of the bubble, construction and financial services employment remains off its pre-recession peak. Housing construction this year is also off the 2013 pace so far.
"Meantime, Scott has been on a two-week campaign barrage to tout an amorphous, $1 billion tax-cutting plan he says he'll unveil in more detail after the election."
The cuts would appear to heavily tilt toward companies, cutting business and communications services taxes yet again. Scott has also pledged major dollars for environmental spending and increased classroom money.
"Contenders for governor keep making big promises."

Even Hillsborough

"Hillsborough commission to revisit domestic partner registry."

Southerland opens mouth . . .

"Rep. Steve Southerland (R-Fla.) was criticized last week for hosting a male-only fundraiser in March, with his opponent Gwen Graham's campaign calling the event 'offensive.' But Southerland laughed off the criticism to the Tampa Bay Times on Friday, comparing the event to a 'lingerie party.'" "Rep. Steve Southerland Wonders If His Female Opponent Has 'Ever Been To A Lingerie Shower'." "More: Finally! Steve Southerland Lobs 'Beltway Background' at Gwen Graham."

Crist has principles . . . sides against clergy in charter school litigation

"Charlie Crist is siding with the teachers union — not African-American ministers — over a new lawsuit that seeks to dismantle the state’s major school-choice program." "Charlie Crist sides with teachers union over black clergy in school choice program lawsuit."

Meanwhile, the wingers whinge: "‘Bumper Crop of Litigation’ Threatens School Choice in Florida."

"The whole thing is a crock."

Nancy Smith: "Smart move by All Aboard Florida: Announce you've got a builder for billions of dollars in new "train sets," then watch how fast your business pals buddy-up and your opponents deflate like a Bazooka bubble. . . . But read the PR statement carefully. Plain as the nose on your face, the whole Siemens selection thing is a crock." "Siemens Announcement: Real or Ruse?."

Will the haters picket a military base?

"Obama to visit Centcom in Tampa on Wednesday."

"Switching parties is a time-honored tradition"

Crist haters overlook the fact that party switching is common in Florida:

Govs. Claude Kirk and Bob Martinez; Attorneys General Jim Smith and Pam Bondi; U.S. Reps. Andy Ireland, Bill Grant, Charles Canady, Tillie Fowler and Tim Mahoney; and a very long list of state legislators, including Senate President Don Gaetz and former House Speaker Allan Bense, have all switched parties.
"Crist isn’t Florida’s only party switcher; it’s pretty common." Steve Bousquet argues the GOP's case on this issue: "Switching parties is a time-honored tradition in Florida politics, but Charlie Crist is doing it at a time, at a level and in a way never before attempted. Read more here:"

Rivera ethically challenged

"An ethics panel found former congressman David Rivera in violation of seven instances of ethics violations while he served as a state lawmaker in Tallahassee." "Panel rejects delay in Rivera case, asks judge to set penalties for ethics violation."

Desperate GOPers try to make Morgan the issue

"Republicans have tried to make Morgan, who hired Crist to join his law firm after Crist's first turn as governor, into an issue for the Democratic nominee." "Backroom Briefing: In Trouble with the Boss."

The best Scott can do?

Does Rick Scott really think this creep will appeal to Panhandle voters? "Chris Christie offered a morning crowd of Panhandle Republicans a taste of his and New Jersey’s in-your-face style." "N.J. Gov. Chris Christie catches Gov. Rick Scott’s campaign bus, slams Charlie Crist." See also "Christie stumps with Scott in conservative North Florida."

"Act like a man"

"Before David Rivera’s confidante was sentenced in a campaign-finance scheme on Wednesday, a federal judge had some advice from the bench for the former Miami congressman: Act like a man." "Federal judge calls out David Rivera, sentences Ana Alliegro to six months of house arrest."

Libertarian may "swing the outcome"

"Wyllie, 44, a former radio host and IT consultant from Palm Harbor, is taking the longest of long shots by running on the Libertarian Party ticket. But by virtue of a Florida's scorched-earth gubernatorial contest, he may just have a chance to swing the outcome." "Libertarian gubernatorial candidate Adrian Wyllie tries to get noticed."

Jindal offers to throw in a free exorcism

"Louisiana Gov. Jindal helping out Florida GOP."

You remember "Bobby Jindal, the Exorcist." See also "Bobby Jindal’s Secret Past,."

GOPers run wild

"Buoyed by a significant cash advantage and polls that show Gov. Rick Scott either tied or leading, Florida Republicans on Saturday contended they are focused and ready for the November election."

Members of the Republican Party of Florida met at one of World Disney World's most expensive resorts for their annual fundraising dinner. The sellout event that attracted roughly 800 GOP activists as well as prominent donors and lobbyists featured Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal.
"Cash-rich GOP poised for November elections." See also "Florida GOP optimism grows as election approaches" and "Florida GOP makes final push for Gov. Rick Scott."

Lobbyist inserts nose . . .

"Ivory Tower Professors' Opposition to John Thrasher Is Why He Must Be FSU’s Next President."