Friday, February 06, 2015

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

"Bondi, Atwater and Putnam conduct master class on cover-ups and buck-passing"

Ousted longtime Florida Department of Law Enforcement director Gerald Bailey "created a firestorm by saying he was forced out, ordered by the governor’s staff to 'retire or resign.'"

He has also alleged, among other things, that the governor’s staff asked him to state falsely that acting Orange County Clerk of Court Colleen Reilly was under investigation for a high-profile prison break that embarrassed the state’s corrections department." "Gov. Scott: I could have better handled Bailey situation."

The cabinet was to address the issue yesterday.

But, as Scott Maxwell put it , "Thursday's meeting of Gov. Rick Scott and his Cabinet members" was as perfectly as perfectly choreographed as a Broadway production.

Bondi, Atwater and Putnam

came vowing to get to the bottom of the scandal over an ousted FDLE chief — who said Gov. Rick Scott's office asked him to fabricate a criminal investigation, campaign on public time and more.

But Cabinet members did none of that.

Instead, Attorney General Pam Bondi, CFO Jeff Atwater and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam conducted a master class on cover-ups and buck-passing.

"Political-scandal theater."

Meanwhile, Gary Fineout points out that Scott "stopped short of saying what he did was wrong in forcing out the head of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement." See also "Gov. Rick Scott on FDLE controversy: ‘I could have handled it better’."

Jeb front group issues a report

"A new report released this week by the Foundation for Florida’s Future and the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice details the very real impact population growth will have on national and state public service budgets in the future." "Baby Boomer Explosion Could Lead to Education Funding Crisis, Report Says."

State imposes "virtual gag order"

"Two days after Florida legislators asked a series of probing questions of the top inspector at the Department of Corrections, the agency has banned inspectors from discussing any investigations, releasing any public records relating to agency probes, or even voluntarily bringing information to outsiders — including legislators."

The virtual gag order requires all employees of the Office of Inspector General to sign a confidentiality agreement and three other documents pledging they will not use the department database for unauthorized use, will not release information on open or closed cases to anyone, and will not compromise their independence while they are working in the department.

Any violation could result in "immediate termination."

The Office of Inspector General is charged with investigating criminal wrongdoing or policy violations in the state's prison system.

"New prison policy punishes investigators who speak out."

"More ridiculous with each passing year"

The Tampa Trib editors: "A growing body of evidence is making Florida’s refusal to accept billions of dollars in federal Medicaid money seem all the more ridiculous with each passing year." "Follow Indiana’s lead in accepting Medicaid money."

Cabinet member wants slave state soldiers in Florida Hall of Fame

"Could the Civil War be coming to the 2015 legislative session?"

This guy is shameless Florida cabinet member Adam Putnam has

Putnam floated the idea of approving the three Confederate nominees [for the Florida Veterans' Hall of Fame] . . . it could fall to lawmakers to decide whether the soldiers who wore gray on the battlefield 150 years ago should be recognized alongside those who fought for the United States instead of against it.
"Backroom Briefing: Legal Gray Area on Confederate Vets."

Grayson ponders Senate run; conservatives on the attack

"Alan Grayson is starting to throw his name around as a possible candidate for the Senate in 2016 -- and that’s bad news for Democrats," or so the severely conservative Sunshine State News thinks.

Grayson is a darling of liberals across the country and he relies on a national fundraising base. The Florida congressman also brings his own sizable personal fortune to the table. Money won’t be an issue if Grayson embarks on a Senate bid, even if Marco Rubio decides to run for a second term.

But Grayson’s acerbic style, insults toward conservatives and endless procession of snide remarks about Republicans often get him in trouble and can turn off moderates and independents. That certainly proved to be the case in 2010 where Grayson was demolished by Republican Dan Webster. After Grayson ran insulting ads claiming Webster’s evangelical faith was anti-women, voters turned against the Democrat despite having elected him two years before. Webster went on to crush Grayson 56 percent to 38 percent on Election Day.

"Alan Grayson Senate Bid a Poison Pill for Democrats Come 2016."

Falling up

"Two years after his resignation amid a prostitution scandal, former state Rep. Mike Horner of Kissimmee is working as lobbyist for the Osceola County School Board."

Horner could not be reached for comment. A two-term Republican state representative, Horner ended his quest for a third term in 2012 after he was named as a client of abrothelin Orange County, though he was not charged.
"Former state Rep. Mike Horner, who resigned amid prostitution scandal, hired as Osceola School lobbyist."

Wonder how the school board will react when a teacher is fired for misconduct.

Entrepreneurs in action: reports of sexual battery at "for-profit group home"

"All four residents at a Leesburg group home where reports of sexual battery emerged last week have been moved, according to state Department of Children and Families spokeswoman Kristin Gray."

After reports that three underage girls living in the for-profit group home may have been sexually assaulted by neighborhood boys, DCF began investigating "allegations of inadequate supervision" in the home.
"Girls removed from Leesburg group home after sexual battery allegations."


The Miami Herald editorial board is "Glad for the Glades."

"45 hours??!!"

Scott Maxwell writes that some of Tally's early efforts to deal with Florida's testing imbroglio

miss the mark. One bill, for instance, wants to limit testing time to 45 hours a year.

First of all, most parents and teachers aren't complaining about the actual testing time. They're irked by all the hoopla surrounding the tests: the drills, the practice tests and all the important curriculum that is cut to make room for the hoopla.

Secondly ... 45 hours??!! Do you realize how long that is? I've seen medical-license tests administered in less time. Should it really be more cumbersome to graduate kindergarten?

"School-testing update."