Sunday, September 07, 2014

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

Scott "retreats into squishy equivocation" and "contradictory gibberish"

Fred Grimm"You can hear it in Rick Scott’s answers, as the onetime champion of Florida's Definition of Marriage Amendment retreats into squishy equivocation."

The governor now mumbles that while he “supports traditional marriage, consistent with the amendment approved by Florida voters in 2008,” he also “does not believe that anyone should be discriminated against for any reason.”

As a policy statement, Scott was uttering contradictory gibberish, but as a gubernatorial candidate, he gave perfect voice to a new political reality: There’s no going back to 2008.

"Certain politicians fear reality of same-sex rights." See also "Pam Bondi says opposition to gay marriage not personal vendetta."

Scott an "environmental disaster"

The Tampa Bay Times editors think Rick Scott's record is "an environmental disaster."

Judicial candidates exchange outrage

"Accusations of underhanded tactics, attack mailers and mutually exchanged outrage: These are all fixtures of the late-summer months during election years in Central Florida. But their appearance in the race for a seat on the Orange-Osceola circuit-court bench riled the local legal community this election season. And now The Florida Bar is investigating a complaint against the winning candidate's tactics." "Fiery judicial campaign riled legal community, sparked Bar probe."

Expect Scott to go after public pensions

Lloyd Dunkelberger: "Riding a strong stock market, the Florida pension fund had a robust year, earning 17.4 percent in returns and rising to $149 billion."

But big changes may loom ahead for the nation's fourth-largest public pension fund, impacting the more than 1 million state workers, school employees, county workers and retirees who rely on the Florida retirement system.

The direction those changes take will depend on the outcome of the governor's race.

If Rick Scott is re-elected, you can expect a renewed push to move more public workers out of the traditional pension plan and into a 401(k)-type plan — which is currently an optional plan in the retirement system. . . .

If Charlie Crist wins, he is more likely to side with major labor unions that are supporting his campaign, including the Florida Education Association, which argue that Florida's pension plan should not be changed.

"Pension for state workers looms big in governor's race."

"Other lobbyists consider him a rat"

"Michael Kesti, who helped the FBI in a corruption sting that led to three convictions, says he doesn’t care that some other lobbyists consider him a rat." "Was Miami-Dade lobbyist a ‘patriot’ or ‘snitch’ in FBI sting of local politicians?."

"Growing insurgency over excessive testing"

The Orlando Sentinel editors write that the Lee County School "board's brief revolt against giving state-mandated standardized tests — including the new Common Core-aligned Florida Standards Assessment exams set to roll out in 2015 — was a first in the state. Members were proxies for a growing insurgency over excessive testing and reliance on the results for school grades, student graduation and teacher evaluations and pay." "Board's revolt signals need for testing timeout." See also "‘Opt out’ policy on state tests urged."

Jebbie laff riot

"As he mulls a presidential run in 2016, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush's friends and associates are urging top Republican fundraisers and strategists to avoid throwing their lot in with another candidate until Bush makes a decision." "Jeb Bush's team signals possible 2016 presidential run." Meanwhile, "Rubio tries to regain conservatives on immigration."

“None of the above”

"With thousands of voters skipping races on last month's primary ballot, some are privately wondering whether it's time to just put a 'none of the above' option on Florida ballots." "Is it time to let voters pick “none of the above”?."

But I'm a lobbyist!

"Students and Faculty Don’t Want Him, But Sen. John Thrasher Makes FSU Presidency’s Short List."

"Who’s up for another tax cut?"

Rick Christie: "Who’s up for another tax cut? Or better yet, who isn’t?"

Apparently, Gov. Rick Scott — now promising $1 billion in tax and fee cuts over the next two years — is once again banking on that sentiment to help him retain the governor’s seat come November. He just hasn’t shared yet how he will make this happen, other than “with the input of the Legislature.”
"Scott’s tax-, fee-cut promise will be hard to keep."

"Many private charter schools are opening one day and closing the next"

The Sun Sentinel editors: "To hear the charter schools people tell it, something is wrong with the administration of Broward County Public Schools that so many private charter schools are opening one day and closing the next." "Dueling visions of the crisis in charter schools."

"Workers must decide whether to skip the water bill"

John Romano: "The minimum wage debate is not a simple one. Neither side has a monopoly on the facts."

Supporters of raising the minimum wage could cite studies from California-Berkeley and MIT that suggest higher pay means a healthier economy. Critics could produce their own studies that warn a higher minimum wage could result in a smaller workforce.

Meanwhile, a generation of workers tries to decide whether it's better to skip the electric or water bill this month.

"Minimum wage debate isn't simple, but the realities are stark."