Sunday, December 28, 2014

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

Clinton Crushes Bush in Latest National Poll

"Jeb Bush is the clear Republican presidential frontrunner, surging to the front of the potential GOP pack following his announcement that he's 'actively exploring' a bid, a new CNN/ORC poll [.pdf] found."

However, the same poll has great news for Hillary Clinton, who crushes Jeb 54-41.

The survey was conducted by live interview among 1,011 adults nationwide from Dec. 18-21, with a subsample of 453 Republicans and 469 Democrats, via landline and cell phone. The overall sample has a margin of error of plus or minus three percentage points.
"CNN/ORC Poll: Bush surges to 2016 GOP frontrunner."

Imagine what these numbers would be if the media stopped treating Jebbie with kid gloves.

Scott's testing promises have "a fly-by-night feel"

The Tampa Bay Times editors: "Four months after Gov. Rick Scott promised on the campaign trail to take a look at the proliferation of standardized tests in Florida schools, the Department of Education finally announced plans this week to do so, saying it would seek details from the state's 67 school districts. That's a fine start, but the question about standardized testing extend beyond their frequency."

"Fifteen years after Florida's school accountability system started, there remain sincere concerns about how tests are administered, whether third-party testing companies get the answers right, or if the tests are even suited for the purposes they're proposed. Tests can be great tools, but only if they are implemented thoughtfully and are fair."

Education Commissioner Pam Stewart released a statement Monday that her department would conduct an examination of standardized testing in public schools and will analyze the data and produce "information about the number of standardized tests and how each of the test results are used by the state, school boards and teachers." Left unsaid was whether the state would examine its own requirements for standardized testing or its ill-advised rush to implement new tests aligned to the Florida Standards, the Florida-based version of Common Core.
"The state — despite a long history of flawed administration of the FCAT — has continued to fail to heed the growing and unified concern from school boards, superintendents and [God forbid, even the] teachers about the quality of the anticipated assessments. The state bought the tests earlier this year after abruptly resigning from a multi-state consortium. The assessments have only been field tested in Utah, a state with distinctly different demographics from Florida."

"And so far lawmakers are refusing to budge on expanding the one-year hiatus on punitive measures tied to students' test performance, such as holding back third-graders who don't pass or impacting a teachers' evaluations."

It all has a fly-by-night feel. Consider just this month — three months before the tests are expected to begin — the state released details on what kind of calculators students will be able to use on math assessments.
"Hazards of rush on testing."

If you must read them

"Want to read the Jeb Bush emails?"

Insert cash here . . .

"State Sen. Joe Negron, who represents most of the Treasure Coast, ran two political committees that raised more than $2.6 million since 2012 to help his bid to become one of the most powerful politicians in Florida, a Treasure Coast Newspapers investigation found." "Negron political committees raised $2.6 million Which corporations and committees are supporting Joe Negron by donating money to his political committees? Negron political committees raised $2.6 million (subscription)."

Yee haw!

"Death penalty states unmoved by botched execution."

Grubbing for wingnuts

The Tallahassee Democrat editorial board: "Cuba has allowed Florida GOP Sen. Marco Rubio to reclaim the national spotlight that recently had focused on Jeb Bush."

Bush’s Dec. 16 announcement that he will “actively” explore a presidential bid had cast a shadow over Rubio’s own future as a likely 2016 White House candidate. Pundits quickly branded Rubio a loser in the presidential sweepstakes because both he and Bush claim the same political base, and most say Bush has the stronger hold.

Key Florida donors declared their support for Bush, the former Florida governor and scion of a political dynasty. Some even suggested Rubio run another time. Media interest in Rubio, one of the Senate’s most charismatic and eloquent members, started to dry up.

"That changed in less than 24 hours when President Barack Obama said he would move toward normalizing relations with Cuba."
Rubio’s vigorous opposition to the president’s Cuba policy instantly made him a top get for CNN and other news networks, forcing skeptics to re-evaluate his presidential chances. . . .

In interview after interview, Rubio, the 43-year-old son of Cuban immigrants [not 'exiles,' mind you,] passionately defended the former U.S. policy of isolating Cuba diplomatically and economically, and vowed to block anyone Obama nominates as ambassador to the communist country. Bush offered similar criticisms, but Rubio quickly became the face of the opposition to the president’s stunning move. . . .

But simply opposing the president's decision appears unlikely to score many political points among voters nationwide. A Washington Post-ABC News poll conducted last week, after Obama's announcement, found 64 percent of Americans support establishing ties with Cuba.

Miami lawyer Al Cardenas, a former Florida Republican Party chairman who mentored Rubio and is close to Bush, said Bush’s potential candidacy certainly complicates Rubio’s decision-making.

That observation was confirmed by a Tampa Bay Times survey, conducted after Bush's announcement last week, of more than 150 of the state's most plugged-in political players — veteran campaign professionals, lobbyists, fundraisers and political scientists.

Eight in 10 said Bush would be stronger than Rubio in the Republican presidential primary, while nine in 10 said the former governor would be stronger in the general election. Most also doubted Rubio would be able to raise enough to be competitive if Bush were also in the race. Rubio doesn’t need to run for the White House to speak out on Cuba, Cardenas said. The senator will get that platform starting next month, when he becomes chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere.

"Cuba shift puts spotlight on Rubio."


"The Florida Legislature will have to balance privacy and openness in 2015 as members again have filed bills creating exemptions to the state’s public records law, still considered the nation’s best." "Lawmakers will again consider loopholes to state’s open records law."

Jebbie plays pretend

"Jeb Bush’s presidential ambitions are looking healthier now that he’s dropped Obamacare."

Bush announced Wednesday he would resign from Tenet Healthcare Corp.’s board of directors, effective Dec. 31.
"It’s a significant move because Tenet CEO Trevor Fetter has said Obamacare swelled the ranks of people seeking care at the company’s hospitals, driving revenue and directly profiting Bush, according to The Los Angeles Times."
The company paid Bush $2.3 million from 2007-13, not including lucrative stock worth several million more, according to American Thinker.
"Jeb Bush resigns from company that cashed in on Obamacare." See "Jeb Bush to resign from board of health care company."

Idiot wind

"The Florida congressional delegation had a busy 2014 and as the year ends, there are a few new faces representing the Sunshine State in Washington, D.C." "2014 a Big Year for Florida Delegation and Presidential Hopefuls".

Funny how that works

"During his campaign for Florida’s 26th congressional district, Rep.-elect Carlos Curbelo wasn’t shy about collecting thousands of dollars of campaign contributions from individuals directly tied to corporations that benefited from his vote on the Miami-Dade School Board." "Curbelo’s campaign got big boost from Miami-Dade School Board vendors."

"Cuban-American Political Donations Lowest in Years"

"Anti-Castro Cuban-American Political Donations Lowest in Years."

"Shame on the PSC"

The Miami Herald editors: "Florida Power & Light paints a glowing portrait of a proposal to charge customers some $191 million a year over decades as an investment in natural gas purchases from an Oklahoma company engaged in fracking." "Shame on the PSC."

"Low-key inauguration"

"Fresh off his statewide 'jobs jamboree' victory tour, Gov. Rick Scott is getting ready to be sworn in for a second term." "Scott gets ready for a low-key inauguration." See also "Republicans raise $500k for Scott inauguration."

Jax Firefighters Targeted in Drive By Shooting

"Jacksonville firefighters are taking extra precautions after a firefighter was injured when shots were fired at firefighters fueling up a fire truck." "Jacksonville firefighters take precautions after [apparently targeted in the drive-by] shooting." See also "Jacksonville Firefighters Targeted in Drive By Shooting."

Americans comfortable with political dynasties

"Between Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton, the two potential rivals have three presidents and a U.S. senator in the branches of their family trees. And three governors, as well." "Americans appear comfortable with Bush, Clinton political dynasties."