Sunday, January 04, 2015

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

Scott's most damaging legacy

Martin Dyckman reminds us that DemGov Reubin O'D. Askew issued

an executive order establishing nine-member [judicial] nominating councils — later renamed commissions — to determine who would be considered for appointments. They were put into the Constitution in 1972.

Askew meant them to be beyond anyone's control, including his own.

To each panel, he appointed only three members. The Bar chose another three. Those six then selected three non-lawyer public members.

The purpose, Askew said, was to appoint "only the most qualified, conscientious and dedicated persons" to the bench.

He meant it. For 30 years, under four governors, and with only a handful of questionable exceptions, the nominating commissions lived up to what Askew and the public expected of them.

"That changed in 2001 when the Legislature gave Gov. Jeb Bush the power to appoint all nine members of each commission."
The current governor, Rick Scott, has rejected nineteen of the Bar's [nomination] lists. Scott makes no secret of wanting commissioners — and judges — who share his conservative, pro-business and pro-development policies. He wants no dissents on the commissions. He doesn't care much about diversity on the bench either, and minority appointments have dwindled sharply.
This this will allow Scott to leave perhaps his most damaging legacy:
Although voters defeated an amendment that would have let Scott pack the court with replacements for three justices who must retire at the same time his term ends, he already owns the nominating commission that will recommend their successors. So whoever is the next governor will be bound by Scott's whims on the matter.
"Florida lawyers must purge politics from state's judiciary."

Even the wingnuts . . .

Even the Tampa Tribune editorial board . . . "Several months after Gov. Rick Scott called for a comprehensive review of standardized testing in public schools, the state’s education commissioner is finally getting the effort underway." "Editorial: Standardized school testing review long overdue."

"Curry Dodges a Bullet"

"Lenny Curry can breathe a little easier as he ramps up his bid to challenge Alvin Brown in the Jacksonville mayoral race." "Lenny Curry Dodges a Bullet: Mike Hogan's Out of Jacksonville Mayoral Race."

"Florida’s public records laws' interpretation under assault

"Public records advocates say that while Florida’s public records laws remain strong, enforcement and interpretation are under assault." "Florida keeping records under wraps."

"And fall it shall"

Joe Henderson: "Florida is about to join what Hillsborough County Circuit Court Clerk Pat Frank called “the ranks of rationality.” That is a great way to phrase it, because starting Tuesday the state’s legal barrier against same-sex marriage is scheduled to fall. And fall it shall." "Florida to take a step toward fairness and equality."

Meanwhile, "Rural county at center of gay marriage fight."


The privatization freaks think it is great to divert what otherwise would be tax dollars to religious schools; they buy into the sophistry that

parents, not the state, decide whether their child is best served by a religious or secular private school. There is no promotion of religion.
"Encouraging voucher victory."

"A modest set of priorities"

"Scott will take the oath of office as Florida’s 46th governor, then set out a modest set of priorities for his term." "More seasoned Rick Scott plans low-key ceremony to start second term as Florida governor."

Our Wal-Mart Gub'ner

"A business lobbying organization, health-care companies, casino operators and Wal-Mart are among the latest contributors helping to cover the cost of Gov. Rick Scott’s inauguration activities Tuesday." "Wal-Mart, casino, AIF among latest inaugural donors."

"Bondi is sustaining furious criticism"

Bill Cotterell: "Bondi is sustaining furious criticism by advocates who insist she puts her own feelings ahead of the law, justice and fairness. It's become personal, with gay activists bringing up Bondi's own marital history — as if being twice divorced disqualifies her from defending parts of the Florida Constitution she is sworn to uphold." "Playing your cards right means knowing when to fold 'em."