Friday, December 18, 2015

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

"Rubio a boy-toy for billionaires?"

"Republican operative Roger Stone, who says he is no longer working for Donald Trump but continues to back his presidential campaign, is launching a super PAC to attack leading rivals, particularly Florida Sen. Marco Rubio."

Mr. Stone said he has not talked to Mr. Trump or his campaign about the Committee to Restore America’s Greatness. Mr. Trump has been an outspoken critic of super PACs and frequently claims to be self-funding his campaign, though he has received and spent millions of dollars in donations.
"Mr. Stone describes Mr. Rubio as a tool of special interests and wealthy donors."
“Would Rubio simply be a boy-toy for the billionaires?” he asks.
"GOP Operative Launches Super PAC to Sully Donald Trump’s Rivals."

Senate lawyers beg judge: anything but voting-rights groups' proposed voting districts

"The final state redistricting trial in a nearly four-year legal battle over Florida's political boundaries ended with both sides trading charges of partisan gerrymandering, some of them the same accusations that have been hurled in court since the beginning."

In closing arguments Thursday before Leon County Circuit Judge George Reynolds, lawyers for the state Senate and a coalition of voting-rights groups made final pitches for their versions of a map for the Senate's 40 districts.

The existing map was set aside this year under a legal settlement in which the Legislature admitted the plan would likely have been struck down under a voter-approved ban on gerrymandering. Reynolds will select a plan to recommend to the Florida Supreme Court from among five maps --- one offered by the Senate and four from the voting-rights groups --- or draw his own.

In fact, lawyers for the Senate all but urged Reynolds to craft a new redistricting plan if he decides to rule that the Senate's proposal is still colored by partisan political intent.

"Trial Ends with Speculation Judge Could Draw Senate Map."

"Florida's fabled but withered wilderness"

"A proposal with broad political support would spend at least $200 million a year in state money to restore the Everglades, South Florida's fabled but withered wilderness." "$200 million in state land-buying funds may help restore Everglades."

Raw political courage

"A statewide revision to stabilize court funding in 2009 changed the way the Legislature distributes money to the elected clerks of court, basing it entirely on fees they collect. Since then, the clerks have seen budget cuts, dealing with them through reductions in staff, hours and branch offices. Now, another round of cuts is coming unless lawmakers come up with some remedies when the Legislature convenes Jan. 12." "Budget cuts mean longer waits for help from court clerks."

Lie down with dogs

The Tampa Trib editors: "Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri has taken a perfectly reasonable stand against proposed legislation to allow the open carry of firearms in Florida."

And that has unleashed the usual broadsides from the pro-gun forces in favor of allowing the state’s 1.4 million holders of concealed weapons permits to walk down the streets and into businesses with their guns on full display.

Gualtieri has testified against the proposed law. He believes it is unnecessary and will lead to dangerous and perhaps deadly confrontations. Deputies responding to chaotic situations won’t be able to tell the good guy from the bad guy.

The sheriff is right. The law is unnecessary, and it could lead to fear and confusion among the public and damage Florida’s family-friendly image.

But try telling that to groups that treat every proposed gun law as an assault on their freedoms. They have distorted Gualtieri’s comments and taken to social media to call for his resignation, an absurd response that reveals much about gun zealots and their intimidation tactics.

"Editorial: A ridiculous response to Sheriff Gualtieri’s opposition to open carry law."

NASA rising?

"NASA nabs major funding in new federal budget."

New corporate welfare chief

"Cissy Proctor, who has served for nearly a year as chief of staff at the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, was named Thursday by Gov. Rick Scott to run the jobs agency." "Chief of staff promoted to lead state jobs agency." See also "Rick Scott Promotes Cissy Proctor at DEO."

Lopez-Cantera grubs for Cuba dead ender vote

"Running for the Republican nomination in the U.S. Senate race in 2016, Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera came out swinging at President Barack Obama’s effort to normalize relations with Cuba." "Carlos Lopez-Cantera Slams Obama's Cuba Policy."

Meanwhile, recent polling shows that even "exiles now support the president’s decision to recognize Cuba" and "a majority of Cuban Americans favor lifting the U.S. embargo." "Poll: Cuban-Americans warming to Obama’s policies toward the island."

Rich likes Murphy

"Broward's Nan Rich bestows liberal seal of approval on Senate candidate Patrick Murphy."

"What's hot, crazy or shady about politics in the Sunshine State"

Marc Caputo: "The Rubio-jitsu of Cruz – Medical marijuana makes the ballot; solar amendment flames out – Stone leads Trump super PAC – POLL: Cuban exiles back Obama’s Cuba deal – FL is ground zero for Sandy ‘Hook hoaxers’." "Florida Playbook."