Saturday, November 28, 2015

After reading the hard copy of your hometown newspaper, please consider "Liking" our Facebook Page and following us on Twitter. Our digest of, and commentary on today's Florida political news and punditry follows.

FlaGOP whines about "opponents 'operating in the shadows' to help Democrats"

Mary Ellen Klas: "The knock-down fight over the political future of the Florida Senate entered its third round this week as lawyers for the coalition of voting groups accused Republican lawmakers of conspiring again to protect incumbents, while the Legislature’s lawyers accused opponents of 'operating in the shadows' to help Democrats."

The Senate’s map “smacks of partisan intent” because it failed to maximize population and respect political boundaries, “while offering unmistakable benefits for the Republican Party and incumbents,” wrote the lawyers for the coalition plaintiffs, led by the League of Women Voters and Common Cause of Florida.
"But the lawyers for the Republican-led Senate and House blasted the plaintiffs for relying on map drawing experts who had ties to Democrats and therefore drew maps that 'systematically' benefited Democrats."
The sparring legal briefs, filed late in the evening Wednesday, offered a glimpse at the arguments in the Senate redistricting trial scheduled Dec. 14-18, before Leon County Circuit Court Judge George Reynolds. . . .

After Senate leaders conceded that the 2012 map it adopted was gerrymandered to protect incumbents and Republicans, the Florida Supreme Court declared that the burden had shifted from the plaintiffs to the Legislature, which had to defend its map.

But while the Legislature argues in its brief that its Senate map should be given preference, its lawyers do not defend how they drew it or why, instead focusing their argument on attacking the plaintiffs’ map, its map drawers and the process. . . .

This is the third time the court has reviewed the Senate map. The first time was in 2012, when the Florida Supreme Court rejected the map and ordered changes. The second time came in July, when the Legislature conceded it broke the anti-gerrymandering provisions of the state constitution when it enacted the 2012 map and agreed to meet in special session.

Now, after failing to agree upon a map in special session, both sides must present their arguments for how it wants the court to complete the map-drawing in time to establish Senate districts for the 2016 elections.

One of the main obstacles for the Legislature has been the shift of the burden of proof from the plaintiffs — who previously had to show that the Legislature’s maps were gerrymandered — to the Legislature, which now must defend its map as legitimate.

"Both sides make conspiracy accusations in Florida’s redistricting fight."

Friendly territory

"Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is in Sarasota today for a campaign event." "Trump holds campaign event in Sarasota today."

Tally swells pad Jeb's pockets

"Tallahassee may not be known as GOP territory, but it’s giving big to former Gov. Jeb Bush and the super PAC supporting him."

His biggest local donors — including those giving large amounts to the Right to Rise super PAC — are some of the Capital City’s most influential movers and shakers.

About $344,000 from Tallahassee and the surrounding area has flowed into Bush’s campaign, according to the latest Federal Election Commission reports. And about twice that amount — roughly $681,000 — has gone into the coffers of Right to Rise, which can’t coordinate with his campaign but can spend millions on TV ads designed to boost his sagging poll numbers.

"Tallahassee giving big to Jeb Bush."

Batista's last laff

"Lawsuits muddle U.S.-Cuba thaw; nation still owes Florida man $3.2B."

Rubio's attendance excuses are "terribly misleading"

The Orlando Sentinel editorial board: "Rubio's voting record gets worse. Between July and September, he missed 28 of 52 votes, or 54 percent. So far this quarter, he has missed 30 of 37 votes, or 81 percent."

Moreover, The Times reported that because of fundraising demands, Rubio has missed a slew of Foreign Relations hearings and classified briefings.

Rubio spokesman Alex Burgos told the Sun Sentinel this week that the senator had been briefed on the Paris attacks last week during a classified meeting of the Senate Intelligence Committee. He also said some campaign events have been canceled so that the senator could return to the Senate, including a vote to defund Planned Parenthood. And, he said, Rubio "has not missed a vote where his vote would have been decisive."

The part about not missing a decisive vote may be correct, but it is terribly misleading. How a senator votes is part of his record. Hillary Clinton voted for the Iraq war. She is criticized for that, even though her vote wasn't decisive. How a senator votes tells people plenty — whether he casts the swing vote or not.

"Fla. deserves better effort from Rubio."

Might wanna talk to Senator Rubio about that one

"South Florida has $366 billion worth of real estate at risk from flooding." "Report: Miami could lose billions from coastal flooding by 2050."

Meanwhile, "preening patriots" are "worried about a Syrian grandmother moving to Florida"

Daniel Ruth asks, "Would you call this a loophole? Or just loopy?"

If we had a quirk in the law that permitted people on the FBI's terror watch list to legally purchase weapons, those preening patriots in Congress would be tripping over themselves to quickly amend a deeply flawed statute.

After all, we must protect the homeland, just like we did after 9/11 when Washington's fawning politicians boldly adopted the term "Freedom Fries" in the congressional dining room just to show the terrorists we meant business. And let us not forget it's called the FBI's "Terror Watch List." That suggests those who wish to do the nation harm could find a weapon a useful tool. Too subtle?

In the wake of the horrific Paris terror attacks, California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein and New York Republican Rep. Peter King revived long-stalled efforts to address a gaping hole in the nation's gun laws, which still permit someone who has been added to the "Terror Watch List" to legally obtain a firearm.

Consider: If someone is on the list, he or she can be prevented from boarding an airplane but can still buy an assault rifle.

It would seem the concerns of Feinstein and King are well founded. Between 2004 and 2014, the Government Accountability Office estimates suspected terrorists on the "Terror Watch List" have been able to buy weapons 2,043 times. And yet, Gov. Rick Scott is worried about a Syrian grandmother moving to Florida?

"Fix federal loophole in gun laws."