Sunday, November 08, 2015

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

FlaGOP political division "has driven the three past legislative sessions to failure"

"Politics is a messy business, so messy that in Florida it has divided Republicans and driven the three past legislative sessions to failure."

There were days not too long ago when members of the Legislature would show courtesy and consideration to each other when discussing ways to somehow mesh different political beliefs with policy that made it to the governor’s desk. But today’s Legislature does not show much of that, Republican strategist Mac Stipanovich said.
"Acrimony reaches a peak in Legislature."


"Hispanic workers in Florida have almost made up the ground lost during the recession."

"Rubio must have something to hide"

What's this Marco - credit card - fuss?

Marco Rubio must have something to hide. There was a reason the presidential candidate wasn’t letting people see his long-secret Republican Party of Florida American Express bills. He spent too lavishly and frivolously, and used his party card for personal business. It was, Donald Trump said, a political “disaster” waiting to happen.

That was the conventional wisdom and hype in Florida political circles for years.

On Saturday, Rubio released his 2005 and 2006 statements that showed he only spent $65,000 on party business. That’s far less than other Republican leaders who succeeded him in the Florida House. And it’s just about half of the $117,000 Rubio himself charged on his party credit card after he became Florida House speaker in 2007-08.

"New Rubio credit card information shows less spending than successors."

"American Express records made public during Marco Rubio’s 2010 U.S. Senate race didn’t cover his first two years with a Republican Party of Florida card. He disclosed the rest of the statements, along with personal charges listed in them." "Under pressure from rivals, Rubio releases past Florida GOP credit card statements."

See also "Marco Rubio, seen here after filing paperwork for the New Hampshire primary last week, says some of the personal charges were a mistake. Marco Rubio campaign releases previously undisclosed GOP credit card statements."

The fracking "wrong signal"

"Legislature’s green light on fracking is the wrong signal."


"Ben Carson plugs new book in South Florida" and "Jeb Bush hopes to turn around presidential campaign with help of new email book."

"They’re getting much done"

"Just because the Legislature has been in town doesn’t mean they’re getting much done." "Many Florida House, Senate panels not meeting, voting on legislation."

Disney "is leaving its hometown in the dust"

Scott Maxwell on "Disney's new reality."

It can cost a family of four $5,000 for a week's vacation that includes only moderate-level accommodations and dining.

Single-day tickets — now $105 a day at the Magic Kingdom — have nearly doubled in the past decade, far outpacing inflation and wage growth.

Frommer's — one of the world's best-known travel authorities — has described the trend as the "The one-percenting of Disney."

The Washington Post penned a piece titled: "How theme parks like Disney World left the middle class behind."

Well, if Disney is leaving most of America behind, it is leaving its hometown in the dust.

Metro Orlando, after all, ranks dead last in wages among major metro regions.

That means many of those who live in the shadow of Cinderella Castle can't afford to go inside.

"Yes, Disney prices out many families. Why? Because it can."

Scott's courageous "tax cut tour"

Steve Bousquet: "Building the Rick Scott brand with a new statewide 'tax cut tour'."

"The Dark Ages, Florida-style"

Carl Hiaasen: "Welcome backwards to the Dark Ages, Florida-style."

The term “torture chamber” is outdated, but torture still occurs in our state prisons and mental hospitals.

Some types are more subtle than others. One person might get beaten or raped. Another simply gets sick and is left to die. Nobody in charge seems outraged or ashamed, least of all Gov. Rick Scott and Attorney General Pam Bondi, who’s too busy attacking clean-air and water regulations on behalf of industrial polluters. Human horrors inside state institutions aren’t a priority of this administration. What cannot be covered up is merely swept aside.

"The latest exposé of abuse and neglect comes from the Tampa Bay Times and Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Not surprisingly, the culprit agency is the dysfunctional Florida Department of Children & Families, which among many responsibilities is supposed to oversee state-funded mental hospitals."
Brutal budget cuts in recent years have made life more medieval at Florida’s mental hospitals, which were never a national model for enlightened treatment. The troubled patients in these places have been forgotten by most lawmakers, despite the high long-term cost to taxpayers of warehousing the mentally ill.
"FBI should probe Florida’s mental hospitals."

"Painfully obvious"

The Orlando Sentinel editors: "How much longer will citizens have to wait, and how many more of their dollars will be wasted, before their leaders in Tallahassee concede what events have rendered painfully obvious? The time has come for legislators to turn over responsibility for redistricting to an independent commission, an approach adopted in at least a half dozen other states." "Hand duty for maps to commission."

"Nowadays some even bring their pets!"

Even the Miami Herald editors - who grovel every day before the entrenched power of the Cuban-American right - recognize that "the nature of Cuban migrants arriving in this country 'has undeniably changed'":

They see the 1966 law more as an inducement to migrate to this country in search of a better life and rarely, if ever, consider the political situation in Cuba. Nowadays some even bring their pets!

The latest exodus, using Guatemala and a route through Mexico as a trampoline to bounce across the U.S. border, was amply documented in a recent Miami Herald series.

As with most migrants from Cuba over the last decade or more, they are young, motivated and desperate for a chance to obtain something better than what they have in Cuba. But political persecution is rarely mentioned as a factor.

And those Cubans who are, in fact, targets of persecution — prominent dissidents like Berta Soler, Antonio Rodiles, and Jorge Luis García Pérez (“Antúnez”) — are free to come and go from Cuba, usually. In most cases, they have made the courageous decision not to leave permanently, regardless of the painful consequences.

These facts should compel a reconsideration of the Cuban Adjustment Act, whether it still serves a useful purpose and whether the law conveys benefits no longer justified by current circumstances.

"Ironically, the case could be made that it is precisely the victims of political repression that the Cuban Adjustment Act was designed to help who are not using it."
And those who are not motivated by political considerations are the ones most likely to take advantage of it.

And take advantage they do. Flagrant abuses of the most generous provisions of laws designed to help Cuban migrants have prompted Cuban-American members of Congress from Miami to consider changes. Now is the time.

"Rethinking the Cuban Adjustment Act’s goals."

Term limit tomfoolery

The Sun Sentinel editors: "No need for term limits for judges."