Tuesday, September 30, 2014

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

Are Rick Scott’s state funded letters to Floridians an improper use of state dollars?

"The pro-Scott letters [at state expense] began in earnest in 2013. In various forms, they have been mailed to thousands of Floridians who have children who did well on tests; children who recently graduated from college or attend college; people who received new business licenses; and law school graduates who passed the Florida Bar. Each time, the governor’s office denied Scott was campaigning on the state dime because cheering on citizens is part of the governor’s job."

A governor who leverages his office for maximum political benefit is nothing new, but the scope and scale of the Scott-touting notes from agencies and boards under the governor differs from those of his predecessors, Crist and Jeb Bush.
"Some of the language used in the letters is almost identical to what Scott says today on the campaign trail." "Are Rick Scott’s letters to Floridians part of his reelection campaign or part of his job?"

School districts overwhelmed by testing

"Florida school superintendents say their districts are being overwhelmed by state-required testing, and on Monday, they asked the Board of Education for help." "Florida school superintendents ask for relief in testing."

"Best-kept secret in elections"

"The easiest solution is voting by mail. Traditionally referred to as absentee voting, voting by mail no longer requires you be "absent" from your community. It is the most convenient, private, secure and peaceful (more on that in a moment) way to vote."

How it works: Call the Supervisor of Elections office at 352-374-5252 and tell them you want to request an absentee ballot. It will be mailed to you within days and up to 30 days prior to Election Day. You have plenty of time to research the issues and candidates before making your decision. Then, in the privacy of your own home, mark your ballot and mail it back in the return envelope provided.
"The best-kept secret in elections."

Road show

There were "several stops in September where Scott was joined on the campaign trail by members of the Florida Cabinet. All four Republicans — Scott, Bondi, Putnam and Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater — are up for re-election this year." "GOP incumbents travel as a team."

"Florida became a national punch line"

"A year after far-reaching election reform, Florida's election supervisors are deploying more early-voting sites but fewer total hours and days than in the last nonpresidential-year election, an analysis shows."

Florida's massive election-law rewrite happened last year in the wake of the chaos that ensued after the Legislature and Gov. Rick Scott reduced early voting in 2011.

After Florida became a national punch line over its hours-long lines at the polls during the 2012 presidential contest, lawmakers scrambled to lengthen the days, hours and locations for early voting. But they also provided more flexibility for counties to reduce early voting if they wanted to do so.

"Early-voting sites increase; but hours, days drop."

Meanwhile the Supreme Court charmers have issued an "order staying [a] district court’s order preventing various cutbacks in early voting (including a cutback from 35 to 28 days, and elimination of one of the two early voting days on a Sunday, a day African-American churches had been using for “Souls to the Polls” voter drives)." "Breaking: Supreme Court, 5-4, Blocks Extension of Early Voting in Ohio: Analysis."

Voucher madness

"Florida Parents: Please, Don't Take Voucher Program Away."

Ugly visual: "Rubio Muscles Up"

"Marco Rubio Muscles Up, Taking a Page from Newt Gingrich's Playbook."

Weatherford's legacy: 1 million Floridians without health insurance

Weatherford's "legacy will be as the man who said ‘no’ to Medicaid expansion. Two years in a row, Weatherford successfully blocked the state from taking federal money under the Affordable Care Act to insure about 1 million Floridians — those still considered poor but making enough to put them over the poverty line." "Power brokers see bright future for departing house speaker Weatherford."

Jeb not "a genuine contender"

Jeb Bush drew a pathetic 180 supporters at a Kansas fundraiser for struggling Sen. Pat Roberts. "Jeb Bush says GOP would 'fix a few big things'." Meanwhile, even the Jebbites on the Miami Herald editorial board agree that Jebbie is not a genuine contender: "Republican elites want a champion. But in Jeb Bush, they don’t have a fighter, they have a Fred Thompson. For a genuine contender, they'll have to look elsewhere." "Jeb Bush’s struggle to win over GOP’s conservatives."

Libertarian laff riot

"He wants to cut the state budget by 30 percent; abolish environmental regulations, marriage licenses and property taxes on homesteads; fully legalize marijuana; and convert the state to a kind of gold standard. Florida, he says, should pay all its bills with gold or silver coins." "Libertarian in governor’s race fears totalitarian state."

Even the Herald sees it

The Miami Herald editorial board:"World leaders came together at the United Nations last week to plan for climate change around the globe. Now it’s South Florida’s turn to get ready." "Climate change is now."