Monday, February 01, 2016

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

"Transforming school districts into parochial, back-biting, money-wasting fiefdoms"

The Tampa Trib editorial board: "Florida lawmakers, who never seem to tire of blindfolding the public school system and giving it a spin, now want to divide countywide school districts into separate districts for cities and counties. To make this bad idea even worse, they also want to politicize school systems, allowing partisan elections." "Plan to give cities governance over separate school districts a bad idea."

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

Marc Caputo: "Rubio crushes ‘Poor Jeb’ in fundraising – tough talk in CD-18 – DeSantis crows about fundraising prowess – snakes pile up in python hung, but is it enough?" "Florida Playbook."

Scott's surgeon general under fire

"The number of patients served at county health departments has plummeted in the five years since Gov. Rick Scott took office, the state's top health official revealed in a letter to a top senator last week, in a bid to keep his job as Florida’s surgeon general amid rising legislative opposition."

Surgeon General John Armstrong included the data in his reply to a recent letter in which Sen. Don Gaetz, a Destin Republican, had pressed for details on the agency's budget request to eliminate 718 positions, asking if any of the positions were clinical and inquiring about rising HIV rates. . . .

Armstrong came under fire in the Senate last year for refusing to answering Gaetz’s questions about Medicaid expansion and whether expanding the health care program under the federal health care law would improve Floridians' health outcomes.

Eventually, the committee moved to defer a vote on his confirmation. Armstrong, like most of many of Scott’s agency heads, never got confirmed. If the Senate doesn't confirm him this year, he will have to leave his job, where he earns $141,000 annually.

"Care cut back at county health departments under Armstrong."

To Paraphrase "Poor Jeb," "Throw His Ass Out"

"Bush’s supporters feel protective of him and grieved for his sake. They seem acutely aware that he was never supposed to be in this position—mired in the back of the crowded pack of candidates, struggling to be heard, on the edge of being counted out. A campaign that began with a frontrunner’s fanfare now averages less than 5 percent in national polls.

It’s a situation that might be humbling or humiliating for your average governor or senator making a run at the title, but it takes on special resonance for a member of one of America’s royal families." "The Last Days of the Bush Dynasty?"

"Crist is in one mother of a primary fight"

Nancy Smith writes that, "Charlie Crist may still be the favorite. But mark my words, he knows he's in one mother of a primary fight." "Uh-Oh, Is Charlie Crist About to Make It 3 in a Row?."

Anti-choice bill "is about as bad as it gets"

The Miami Herald editors: "Many Floridians were undoubtedly flabbergasted to learn this week that the Legislature, in its wisdom, is considering a bill that virtually bans the practice of abortion in this state. Every legislative session sees its share of frivolous, time-wasting proposals, but this particular one is about as bad as it gets." "Sink this misguided anti-abortion measure."

"Let the budget horse-trading begin. "

"House, Senate unveil $80 billion state budgets."

Wage theft ordinances

"The city’s wage dispute office has been up and running for four months and is working as its supporters predicted it would."

Wage theft typically involves people who are forced to work “off the clock,” are not paid for overtime hours, or are not paid at all. Often they are day laborers or work in hotels, restaurants, health care facilities, or construction and lawn service businesses.

In St. Petersburg, complaints filed thus far have ranged from workers not being paid to how tips are divided for servers at restaurants. Once notified, Epstein said, employers have agreed to pay workers. One case went to mediation and was resolved. Another involved a restaurant that unfairly was dipping into the tips of a server. That case went the next step, to an administrative hearing, where the employer agreed to pay.

"St. Pete wage dispute office gets employers to pay."