Sunday, February 01, 2015

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

Jeb Bush an "also-ran" in Iowa poll

"Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is surging, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush is an also-ran and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is dominating in a new poll of Iowans likely to vote in the nation's first presidential nominating contest."

The Bloomberg Politics/Des Moines Register Iowa Poll, taken Monday through Thursday, shows Walker leading a wide-open Republican race with 15 percent, up from just 4 percent in the same poll in October. Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky was at 14 percent and former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, who won the Iowa caucuses in 2008, stood at 10 percent.

Bush trailed with 8 percent and increasingly is viewed negatively by likely Republican caucus-goers.

"Iowa Poll - Walker Surging in Iowa Poll as Bush Struggles." See also "For Jeb Bush, front-runner status comes with caveats" and "xxx".

And then they're the dead-enders: "Jeb Bush Wins Big With Mitt Romney Out of 2016 Race."

"Rubio has missed 45 percent of the votes"

"So far in the current session of Congress, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, has missed 45 percent of the votes. But the session is less than a month old, and nearly all the 49 votes-to-date were conducted in the past two weeks." "Rubio’s trip west gains political allies but blemishes his voting record."

Cabinet aides may have circumvented Florida's Sunshine laws

"Scott's actions have raised questions about whether cabinet aides, working in private, may have circumvented Florida's Sunshine laws." "Turmoil puts focus on Scott, Cabinet."

Bought and paid for

"Fred Karlinsky, a lobbyist for the insurance industry, suggested Scott look at Ron Henderson, the deputy insurance commissioner in Louisiana, to replace Kevin McCarty, who heads Florida’s Office of Insurance Regulation. Karlinsky has donated $10,000 to the re-election campaigns of Henderson’s boss." "Gov. Scott wants to replace top insurance regulator."

Cuba consulate

"Warming Cuba relations may bring consulate back." Meanwhile, a bench-warmer pines for the Batista days.

"A burning question"

"Florida lawmakers are again rolling out legislation in support of medicinal and recreational marijuana use, and decriminalization of the drug that has gained a lot of attention in the past year." "Marijuana in Florida, a burning question."

Meggs giving Scott a pass

Nancy Smith: "Meggs has made no secret of the fact that he's a Democrat who voted for Scott in November."

On top of that, Meggs and Scott's former general counsel Peter Antonacci, the staffer who according to the Times/Herald told Bailey to “retire or resign,” have been friends for some 35 years. Antonacci is a former Leon County prosecutor.

Meggs has neither the stomach nor the heart for this. "If there is a violation, it looks like the entire Cabinet should be arrested," he said, indicating little likelihood an investigation will ever happen.

"Gerald Bailey, Rick Scott and Everybody's Whipping Boy -- Willie Meggs."

Willie, maybe they should be; after all, there are "questions about whether cabinet aides, working in private, may have circumvented Florida's Sunshine laws." Meanwhile, Meggs sits on hands, chowing down "at the governor's mansion with Rick and Ann Scott."

And then there's the state's intrepid chief law enforcement officer, "Attorney General Pam Bondi [who has] said she has 'grave concerns' about the way Bailey was treated, but she suggested the governor's staff — not Scott himself — was responsible." "Controversy continues over ouster of FDLE's Bailey."

"Scott ignored crisis in corrections system"

"In an exclusive interview with the Miami Herald, Former Florida Department of Corrections chief Mike Crews said few people in Tallahassee — and especially not the governor — had any interest in making sure the state’s prisons were safe or fully funded." "Former Florida prisons chief says Gov. Rick Scott ignored crisis in corrections system."

Paula Dockery: "Cleaning up the prison mess."

Rubio "purchased lock, stock and barrel by financial elites"?

U F Prof, Paul Ortiz writes that "Marco Rubio has a decision to make."

He was a star attraction at the recent Koch brothers’ forum in Rancho Mirage, Calif. Priming his base for an entry into the 2016 GOP presidential primary, the senator offered his ideas on taxes, foreign policy and national security. Rubio’s stances pleased the majority of those gathered.

But Rubio will not be able to charm the American people as easily. Convincing Charles Koch that he is qualified to lead the nation is one thing; proving to a majority of voters that he has the ability to be a good president is quite another.

Rubio is already in trouble with constituencies with whom he should be well-connected.

Many Hispanic voters view Rubio as a quitter on immigration reform. . . .

In a nation still working its way out of the Great Recession, the senator’s silence on economic issues is also cause for worry. . . .

If the senator from Florida continues wasting political capital on failed policies — extending the embargo on Cuba, for example — while ignoring the concerns of ordinary Americans, he is going to discover that all of the cash in the Koch treasuries will not buy him a seat in the White House.

Americans are weary of a political system that is purchased lock, stock and barrel by financial elites. Giving them more of the same is not going to win an election

"Marco Rubio needs to straighten priorities."


Scott Maxwell writes that "former Senate President Don Gaetz, a powerful Republican and former school superintendent who voted for many of the [school] accountability measures" now "fears the testing train has jumped the tracks — that we're no longer testing kids simply to see what they have learned, but are forsaking learning in the name of testing."

Bless you, Don Gaetz. For you are listening. You have heard the voices of concerned parents and dedicated teachers. It has grown from a low rumble to a deafening roar.
"Florida's school-testing insanity may soon be curbed."

Haven't the teachers' unions been saying this for years?

Weekly Roundup

"Weekly Roundup: Rick Scott Hopes for An Early Spring."

"Ideologically blinded legislators"

The Orlando Sentinel editors: "Two years ago, an advocate for accepting billions of federal dollars to expand health-care coverage to at least 800,000 uninsured Floridians called the policy 'a compassionate, common-sense step forward.'"

But this year, with an expansion proposal drafted by business leaders on the table, that advocate — Gov. Rick Scott — has lost his voice on the issue. When asked about it last week by reporters, he told them, "I'm going to focus on jobs and education."

Scott's silence could doom the proposal, because it'll need an outspoken champion to win over the ideologically blinded legislators who oppose it — starting with House Speaker Steve Crisafulli, who said his chamber has no plans to consider it.

"Free-market health plan needs boost from Scott."

One Pot

"Money that Florida voters want to use for land and water conservation efforts would go into a single trust fund under a new Senate proposal, but lawmakers are still weeks away from deciding how they will use the money." "Sen. Charlie Dean proposes putting conservation money in 1 pot."