Friday, December 12, 2014

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

Alligator tears shed, time to gut their pensions . . .

"A key feature of the memorial will be the names of all the firefighters in the state who have died in the line of duty, including six from 2014." "State breaks ground on Fallen Firefighter Memorial."

Now that that's over, time for the pols to get back to work: "Fla. Retirement System in fine fettle, still likely a target of legislative change."

Florida Chamber fights minimum wage increase

"Florida’s lowest-paid workers will get a raise Jan. 1, but a higher minimum wage sought by state and national Democrats doesn’t appear on the immediate legislative horizon. . . . Business groups like the Florida Chamber of Commerce have argued against such proposals, saying the $10.10 proposal will be a problem for small employers forced to absorb added labor costs." "Florida’s Minimum Wage Going Up to $8.05 as Obama’s Push For $10.10 Remains Elusive."

"Dougher is paying the price"

Jeff Henderson: "Leslie Dougher is paying the price for Jim Greer’s mistakes as she tries to keep her job leading the Republican Party of Florida (RPOF)."

Republicans still remember Greer’s run at the RPOF. Hand-picked by Charlie Crist, then a Republican, Greer was the governor’s man at the RPOF but his record there was a disaster with party finances out of control and too many elected officials relying on party issued credit cards for spending. Greer ended up going to jail on theft and money laundering charges after he sent RPOF money to his Victory Strategies firm.
"Rick Scott and his team, including Melissa Sellers, his new chief of staff, are behind keeping Dougher at RPOF."
But RPOF delegates and Republican leaders across the state remember Greer only too well. Nobody thinks Dougher is breaking the law like Greer did but having someone too close to the governor leading the RPOF led to some major problems. Now there are concerns of history repeating itself.

Dougher faces some top-notch challengers as she tries to stay as RPOF chair. Blaise Ingoglia, now a Florida House member after his time as vice chair of the RPOF, is looking to knock Dougher off. So is Eric Miller who Dougher beat earlier this year to lead the RPOF. Kurt Kelly, who has been pretty quiet after losing to Dan Webster in a congressional primary back in 2010, is also in the hunt.

"Jim Greer Specter Haunts Leslie Dougher's RPOF Job."

"Treating the South like the rest of the country"

"Treating the South like the rest of the country makes the most sense for Democrats going forward. A return to presidential cycle turnout patterns should, in any close election, again make Florida, North Carolina and Virginia winnable for Democrats." "It's Time For Democrats To Stop Agonizing Over The South."

In lockstep with Scott

"Hillsborough lawmakers’ priorities in the March-April legislative session largely reflect those of Gov. Rick Scott — jobs and economic development, education funding, implementing a constitutional amendment requiring the state to invest in land and water conservation." "Hillsborough lawmakers hear marching orders for Tallahassee."

Bright Futures

"Florida did not violate anti-discrimination laws by using standardized test scores to award Bright Futures scholarships, the U.S. Department of Education has found." "Feds: Florida scholarship program does not violate anti-discrimination laws."

Jebbie merely edges Hillary in Florida

"The latest proof that Jeb Bush is Hillary Clinton’s top foe in the 2016 presidential fight arrived Wednesday in a new Florida poll that showed only he would beat her in the state he once governed. The Saint Leo University Polling Institute found that in a statewide poll, Bush would top Clinton 43 percent to 42 percent. No other potential GOP candidate comes as close, the institute told Secrets." "Jeb Bush tops Florida 2016 poll, only one to beat Hillary Clinton [in Florida]." More: "Jeb Bush Still the Favorite Son of Florida GOP Despite Common Core, Immigration."

"Jeb Bush says he's close to making a decision on 2016.""

"CIA ‘torture’ report complicates prospect of Jeb Bush presidential run."

See also "Jeb Bush Has a Mitt Romney Problem," "Jeb Bush likened to Mitt Romney over private equity." and "Hillary Clinton or Jeb Bush: Which do millionaires prefer for 2016?"

Taxpayers on the hook for Scott's political stunt

"Taxpayers are on the hook for at least $307,000 — and perhaps much more — to cover legal expenses in Gov. Rick Scott’s repeated failed efforts to convince courts that a onetime campaign pledge to drug-test welfare recipients is constitutional." "Taxpayers’ Bill for Rick Scott’s Losing Battle to Drug-Test Welfare Recipients: $307,000 and Rising."

Meanwhile, Carl Hiaasen reports about

another case arising from the governor's urine crusade, the 11th Circuit also struck down his initiative to randomly drug-test state employees for pot, meth, coke, opiates and PCP.

Among those who would have been excluded from that dope screen were Scott himself and all 160 elected members of the House and Senate. Several times I've offered to pay the cost for each of them to pee in a cup and send it to a lab, yet there's no enthusiasm in Tallahassee for that proposal.

Why not? An impaired public official can do way more harm than an impaired unemployed person.

If the governor and legislators are so worried about drug use by others, they should stand up (or sit down) and do the right thing.

Set an example by giving a sample.

If you can't prove that you're smart, at least prove that you're clean.

"Gov. Scott's drug tests fizzle."

Oh noes, another self-proclaimed "entrepreneur"

"Former state Rep. Jamie Grant of Tampa is one step closer to regaining his old seat now that he has turned in enough valid signatures to get on a special election ballot."

The state’s Division of Elections website on Wednesday showed that Grant, a Republican and tech entrepreneur, had 476 valid signatures on his petition to run. He needed a minimum of 287.
"Grant has enough signatures to qualify for Tampa House seat."

Must kiss up to gubernatorial contenders

Aaron Deslatte makes nice with Adam Putnam: "While environmentalists have long viewed Florida's agriculture commissioner position as a mouthpiece for Big Sugar and agriculture interests, the current occupant is well-respected and an all-but-declared serious gubernatorial contender." "Putnam set for leadership role in conservation debate."

Chickenhawk blues

"U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, blasted Democrats on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence for releasing its 518-page report on the CIA's detention and interrogation program. In a lengthy written statement, Rubio called the report partisan, one-sided and 'unconscionable.'" "Rubio blasts Senate Dems' CIA report."

Bright futures

"Feds: Florida scholarship program does not violate anti-discrimination laws."

Former League of Cities Lobbyist selected to run DEP

"Steverson has prior experience with environmental regulation, and more. He has been a Tallahassee lobbyist, representing the Florida League of Cities . . . He was hired as environmental policy coordinator for the governor’s office , and then went into private practice, where he represented clients “in the areas of water policy, growth and environmental planning, as well as agriculture, transportation and economic development,” according to his official biography. . . . Then Vinyard hired him to be a DEP special counsel, where among other duties he spelled out for the state’s five water management districts just how to slash their budgets to the bone." "Scott appoints new chief for environmental agency" More: "Scott picks 1st woman to lead prisons agency."

Yee haw!

"State lawmaker files bill to allow guns on college campuses."