Sunday, July 19, 2015

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

FlaGOP Congressman and Jeb supporter claims Trump is a Dem Plant

"Miami is a hotbed for phantom candidates, complete with four federal criminal convictions in two separate cases to prove it. So perhaps it's no surprise that a local Republican congressman thinks Donald Trump's bid for the GOP presidential nomination could be a similar ploy."

Miami Rep. Carlos Curbelo, whose district saw two phony candidates run in a pair of elections before he took office, has taken to Spanish-language media to suggest that Trump's campaign could be a Democratic scheme to hurt the Republican Party.
"A Trump spokeswoman did not respond to a request for comment regarding Curbelo's remarks. But the Florida Democratic Party, which had chastised Curbelo in a statement before the interviews took place, did."
"The only thing more absurd than Donald Trump's conspiracy theories is Congressman Carlos Curbelo's theory that he is some secret Democratic plant," Communications Director Max Steele said.

"Curbelo's bizarre claim is an insult to the intelligence of his constituents and goes to show just how much damage Trump is doing to the Republican Party's brand. Unfortunately for Curbelo, Trump is only gaining in the polls.

"Miami Republican congressman posits Donald Trump candidacy may be Democratic plot."

Curbelo forgets that "Donald Trump Isn’t the Exception. He’s the Republican Prototype."

Weekly Roundup

"Weekly Roundup: Redistricting, Elections Heat Up."

"'Pastor Protection Act' Weds Spurious Scenarios With Homophobia"

"The proposal is aimed at safeguarding clergy members from being forced to perform gay-marriage ceremonies even though they're categorically protected from doing so by the First Amendment." "Florida’s Impending 'Pastor Protection Act' Weds Spurious Scenarios With Homophobia."

To Replace Murphy

"Carla Spalding Enters Crowded GOP Primary to Replace Patrick Murphy."

"Lawmakers hiding information from Floridians"

The Orlando Sentinel editorial board: "The Florida First Amendment Foundation has issued a score card that stamps a red, frowning face on bad bills the Legislature approved during this year's regular session. The score card contains four of those scarlet visages — each denoting a new instance of lawmakers hiding information from Floridians about their government." "Time for Scott, Cabinet to commit to sunshine."

"Kissing Latino vote good-bye"

The Miami Herald editorial board: "If Republicans don’t reject anti-immigrant rhetoric, they can kiss Latino vote good-bye" "Set the record straight."

"Florida Loses 47,000 Jobs"

"Florida Loses 47,000 Jobs, But Shrinking Labor Force Lowers Unemployment."

Bush "woefully misinformed"

"Jeb Bush has created a flap with another statement about American workers. In an appearance in Council Bluffs, Iowa, on Tuesday, he said Barack Obama’s proposal to expand overtime pay to millions more managers and white-collar workers would result in 'less overtime pay' and 'less wages earned'."

Numerous economists attacked Bush’s statement, calling him woefully misinformed. And several studies on the rule contradict Bush’s assertion that the overtime rules would “lessen the number of people working”.
"Jeb Bush 'should be embarrassed' by his overtime pay claims, economists say."

Jeb closing in on Trump

"Mr. Bush’s support has jumped by about four percentage points in the Real Clear Politics average of polls, rising to 15.5%. Mr. Trump’s support has bumped up more than 10 points since mid-June, to 15% as of Friday." "Trump Surge Leaves All but Jeb Bush in Donald’s Dust."

Robert E. Lee loses another one

"A sign that depicted Gen. Robert E. Lee has been taken off his namesake middle school in Orlando at the direction of the Orange County school superintendent. Superintendent Barbara Jenkins also plans to ask the Orange County School Board whether Lee Middle School should be renamed, with the Confederate general's moniker retired, said board member Nancy Robbinson on Saturday."

Lee Middle opened in 1956, with its sports teams nicknamed the Rebels.

It was one of a number of schools across the South named for Confederate leaders by white-run school boards after the U.S. Supreme Court's landmark 1954 school desegregation case.

They were part of a "resurgence of Confederate identity" that emerged as part of the South's resistance to the Brown v. Board of Education, said Bill Link, a history professor at the University of Florida, during a 2013 interview with the Orlando Sentinel.

Stonewall Jackson Middle in east Orlando, named for another Confederate general, could face the same discussion about whether its name should change, Robbinson added.

"Robert E. Lee mascot sign taken off Orange's Lee Middle School."

Perhaps Florida should form an independent commission to draw districts

Paula Dockery: "In news that shook the political world, the Florida Supreme Court ruled 5-2 that the Legislature needed to reconvene to redraw congressional districts before the 2016 elections. Specifically, the court gave them 100 days to redraw eight congressional seats in a manner consistent with the Fair District Amendments."

Does this sound familiar? It should. Last August, the Legislature held a special session to change two congressional districts at the directive of Leon County Circuit Judge Terry Lewis. Lewis wrote a scathing opinion on the role of political operatives in drawing the tainted maps and chastised the Legislature for deleting redistricting emails.

The Legislature will meet, at taxpayer expense, to try for the third time to meet the criteria set forth in the Fair District Amendments.

Meanwhile, a challenge to Florida Senate districts is working its way through the courts. Subpoenas are being issued to senators, staff and political operatives in preparation for a September court date.

On the federal level, another important redistricting milestone was taking place. Overshadowed by eagerly awaited decisions on marriage equality and the Affordable Care Act, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Arizona's independent redistricting commission — and by implication those in other state — were constitutional.

Perhaps Florida should readdress forming an independent commission to draw congressional and legislative districts.

"Is it time for an independent redistricting commission"

Florida Standards Assessment flop

The Orlando Sentinel editorial board: "Widespread problems with the [Florida Standards Assessment] led lawmakers this year to require that the tests be evaluated before results get released. That will delay scores from going out until at least September, three months behind schedule. The evaluation will add another $600,000 to the $220 million that the state is spending over six years on the FSA." "Use cheaper, more reliable school tests."