Wednesday, October 01, 2014

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

Suppression Florida style: Our voters wait far longer than in other states

"Voters in Florida waited far longer than those in other states to cast their votes in the 2012 election, hampered by long ballots and cutbacks in early voting options, according to a new report by congressional auditors."

Voters in the state stood in line more than 34 minutes on average, significantly longer than ballot-casters did in any other state reviewed by the Government Accountability Office, Congress’ watchdog.
"The shortest waits? Alaska, at just 1.4 minutes. Three others states had wait times about 25 or more minutes: Maryland, Virginia and South Carolina. But most of the others fell somewhere between five minutes and 20 minutes, on average."
In Florida, the GAO estimated, 16 percent of voters waited 61 minutes or more to cast their ballots — tops among the states surveyed. . . .

The voting-time analysis comparing Florida voters with those in other states was based on a massive survey of more than 50,000 adults, conducted by the Cooperative Congressional Election Study. It included 36 states; the others were excluded because they were vote-by-mail states or because of sample-size issues.

"Report: Fla. voters had country’s longest waits to cast ballots" See also "Sen. Nelson aims to cut wait times on election day." And this is hardly a fix: "Early-voting sites increase; but hours, days drop."

Here's an idea . . . let's give them vouchers

"Wealthier parents have been stepping up education spending so aggressively that they're widening the nation's wealth gap. When the Great Recession struck in late 2007 and squeezed most family budgets, the top 10 percent of earners — with incomes averaging $253,146 — went in a different direction: They doubled down on their kids' futures."

The trend emerged gradually over the past three decades but accelerated during the worst economic slump since the 1930s. Now, enrollments at pricier private schools are climbing. Parents are bidding up home prices in top public school districts. Pay is surging for SAT tutors, who now average twice the median U.S. hourly wage of $24.45. The patterns suggest that the wealth gap could widen in coming years, analysts say.
"School spending by affluent is widening wealth gap." Did you know that gutting the public school system is to help out regular folks: "Florida Parents: Please, Don't Take Voucher Program Away."

SOE runs wild

"The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is looking into whether [Flagler County] Supervisor of Elections Kimberle Weeks secretly recorded two county officials on the periphery of a Flagler County Canvassing Board meeting last month. It is not an investigation. But it is the first step toward one, should an investigation into potential law-breaking be warranted. " "FDLE Looking Into Alleged Secret Taping and Sunshine Violation by Elections Supervisor."

"Kitchen table tour"

"Former Gov. Charlie Crist is launching a 'kitchen table' tour in the final days of the governor’s race." "Charlie Crist launches ‘kitchen table’ tour."

O noes . . . she's a "librul!"

Kevin Derby: "Looking to protect U.S. Rep. Steve Southerland, R-Fla., from a serious challenge from Democrat Gwen Graham, the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) unleashed a new TV ad on Tuesday which brings up her past work for a liberal presidential candidate." "National Parties Battle in North Florida Congressional Race."


"To Beat Crist, Scott's Ready to Turn to Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio."

The Latest Scott Scandal

"When Gov. Rick Scott announced last week that GE Oil & Gas would open a $50 million manufacturing facility in Jacksonville, he talked about how it would create 500 new jobs for Florida."

GE Oil & Gas’s official welcome package: up to $15.4 million in financial incentives, including $10 million from the city and $5.4 million from the state.

Not mentioned in the hoopla was how another division of General Electric, GE Energy Financial Services, has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in publicly traded oil and natural gas partnerships in which Scott had a financial interest.

Financial disclosure records made public by Scott in June show that, as of Dec. 31, he was heavily invested in more than two dozen oil and gas ventures. One was Spectra Energy, which is currently working with Florida Power & Light to build the contentious $3 billion Sabal Trail pipeline in North Florida.

As reported in July, Scott and his appointees at the Public Service Commission backed construction of Sabal Trail despite state ethics laws that generally prohibit public officials from owning stock in businesses subject to their regulation. Scott acquired his Spectra shares via a controversial “qualified blind trust,” which by law allows politicians to hide their investment activity and also affords them immunity from prohibited conflicts of interest.

"Gov. Rick Scott heavily invested in oil and gas ventures."

"Broward elections fiasco"

"Brenda Snipes faces court in Broward elections fiasco."

"Already breaking the law"

"A mailer sent out by a non-profit, independent Election Communications Organization supporting Republican state house candidate Rene Plasencia is leading Democrats to cry foul because the organization is not registered with the state as law requires."

Carlos Smith, chairman of the Orange County Democratic Party and legislative assistant to Saunders, was unconvinced, and blamed Plasencia.

"It's shameful that Republican Rene Plasencia and his supporters are already breaking the law to communicate with voters and prop up his campaign," Smith said.

"Committee errs with Plasencia mailer in HD49 race."

"Bogus Atlantic City scare story"

Nancy Smith: "Amid the uproar of looming November elections, casino gambling policy in Florida has so gone off the boil. But you wouldn't know that by gambling opponent No Casinos (NC) -- still out there, still flogging its bogus Atlantic City scare story." "We Interrupt This Election Program for a Word about Gambling ...."

"Epic duel"

"Like a prize fight between two political heavyweights, the election race between Ken Keechl and Chip LaMarca is an epic duel." "LaMarca-Keechl a rematch between enemies."

The best they can do

"With five weeks to go until the general election, U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Fla., and his Republican challenger former state Rep. Carl Domino continue to try to win over Treasure Coast voters with their latest rounds of television ads."

At the end of last week, Murphy released his latest TV ad, his eighth of the general election. The new ad plays up Murphy’s work in the district including opposing All Aboard Florida’s efforts to build high-speed rail in the area.
"More Ads in CD 18 from Patrick Murphy and Carl Domino."

Never mind

"The law, which Charlie Crist sponsored when he was in the state Senate, requires Florida prisoners to serve at least 85 percent of their sentences, and it continues to affect thousands of people today." "Charlie Crist’s signature accomplishment is one he never mentions." Meanwhile, "Charlie Crist sells himself as regular guy."