Sunday, February 28, 2016

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

"Budget battle turns into a heated war of words"

"Florida’s budget battle turned into a heated war of words Saturday, as the state’s top economic development chief accused the Legislature of costing the state 50,000 potential new jobs."

House and Senate leaders agreed Friday to eliminate incentive funding for the Quick Action Closing Fund, a program run by Enterprise Florida, the state’s public-private economic development arm. Its goal is to use taxpayer dollars to lure businesses to relocate or expand in the state.
"Florida jobs chief: No incentives means 50,000 jobs lost."

"A Costello thing"

The Tallahassee Democrat editors: "A report last year by the Corrections Medical Authority last year cited serious deficiencies in the quality of care provided in the prison system."

And just what is the Corrections Medical Authority, you may wonder?

Well, it was part of a settlement the state reached in 1993, ending a 21-year court case known as the “Costello suit.” A convicted killer sued the state in 1972, alleging that extreme crowding, filthy conditions and inadequate medical care violated the U.S. Constitution’s prohibition of “cruel and unusual punishments.”

Through the terms of four governors, three corrections secretaries and a couple decades of litigation, Florida’s prison system was essentially run by a federal judge and appointed court monitors. For years afterward, when law-and-order legislators grumbled about turning prisons into country clubs, hapless administrators would shrug and say this or that reform was “a Costello thing.”

"State prison health care needs to be fixed – fast."

Professor Rubio rakes it in

"Marco Rubio released summaries of his last five years of tax filings on Saturday, revealing him to be a candidate with a senator’s steady annual income of $176,000 who reaped repeated windfalls from book deals. During his first four years in the Senate, Rubio and his wife, Jeanette [a self-proclaimed 'entrepreneur'], together earned an average of $531,000 a year."

The returns Rubio released on Saturday do shed a bit more light on his wife’s business relationship with a family foundation connected to Norman Braman, a wealthy Miami car dealer and Rubio supporter.
"Rubio tax returns show steady salary, boosted by book deals."

And let's not forget the Professor Rubio thing:

He began his teaching at the school as a Visiting Distinguished Service Professor at the Metropolitan Center, the school's urban think tank. That position entailed co-teaching two classes with longtime friend and pollster Dario Moreno, as well as "conducting research, assisting with recommendations and developing a proposal for a demonstration project on affordable housing," according to a release announcing his hire at the time.

For that, he would earn $69,000 — a salary that Moreno told the Miami Herald at the time was considerably more than the $52,000 another part-time visiting professor at the center was making.

It was a salary that raised eyebrows among some FIU professors, prompting questions at an FIU Faculty Senate meeting late last year.

"How do we justify paying him as much as we do to teach one course?" asked Amy Paul-Ward, an associate professor in the Nicole Wertheim College of Nursing and Health Sciences, according to the FIU student paper. "I know there are qualified adjuncts in our school who we have trouble paying $3,000 to teach a course."

According to his office, from August of 2008 - November of 2009, Rubio raised approximately $125,000 for the Center — enough to cover his salary and then some. A sizeable chunk of that, $100,000, came from Norman Braman — the wealthy auto magnate who's been a longtime benefactor to Rubio, is helping to bankroll his campaign and whose charitable foundation employs Rubio's wife.

"Questions Surround Marco Rubio's Role at Florida College."

In Florida, Sanders leads Clinton by 51% to 39% among likely Dem voters aged 18 to 44

So much for that "socialist" bugaboo:

Sanders, who has energized young voters and small donors, leads Clinton by a margin of 51 percent to 39 percent among voters ages 18 to 44.

But Clinton, a former First Lady, New York senator and secretary of state, leads by a margin of 64 percent to 28 percent among voters ages 45 to 64. The gap is even wider among voters who are 65 or older, with Clinton leading by a margin of 73 percent to 21 percent.

Female voters also give a huge edge to Clinton, who is seeking to become the first woman elected to the White House. Clinton leads 69 percent to 24 percent among Democratic women, while Sanders leads by a margin of 47 percent to 43 percent among men, the poll shows.

The poll of 476 likely voters has a margin of error of 4.5 percentage points.

"Clinton holds big lead over Sanders in Florida Poll."

Scott laff riot

"Rick Scott shrugged off speculation about becoming Donald Trump’s running mate Wednesday, but said the billionaire businessman’s booming presidential campaign is 'fun to watch.'" "Rick Scott dodges questions about Trump VP prospects."

How about Joe Shoemaker?

"Confederate Gen. Edmund Kirby Smith is headed to retirement."

The Florida House on Wednesday gave final approval to a bill that would lead to removing a statue of Smith from the National Statuary Hall at the U.S. Capitol. Gov. Rick Scott indicated he likely will sign the bill (SB 310), which had already passed the Senate.

"Just because those who we honor are replaced by future people doesn't mean that the person who was there previously is any less brave or any less valiant," House sponsor Jose Felix Diaz, R-Miami, said. "We just continue to add to the history of Florida. We're certainly not trying to forget the history of Florida."

Each state is allowed two statues in the National Statuary Hall, and Florida is represented by statues of Smith and John Gorrie, widely considered the father of air conditioning. Under the bill, a committee would recommend three prominent Floridians as potential replacements for Smith, and the Legislature would pick one whose statue would be placed in the hall.

"Lawmakers approve replacing confederate statue."

Hopefully one of the three will be a largely forgotten Florida labor martyr, Joseph Shoemaker:

Although Florida Klansmen continued to terrorize African Americans during the depression, "they expanded their targets to include union organizers, particularly in the citrus belt from Orlando to Tampa. One of the most notorious Klan incidents in Florida history occurred in Tampa in 1937, when labor organizer Joseph Shoemaker was flogged, castrated, and tarred and feathered. Shoemaker eventually died from his injuries." "PBS' Florida Terror: The KKK in Florida."

"But the groundbreaking was all bogus"

Pierre Tristam: "The company was Aveo Engineering. "

The promise was of 300 well-paying jobs and a manufacturing plant that would make really cool aircraft lights. Great. So great that Gov. Scott came down, every local government bigwig came out, the county’s economic development folks fell all over each other congratulating themselves, and of course all of us media schmucks, about a dozen of us, came out and gave the occasion lavish coverage.

We had no reason to doubt what we were being told. Aveo CEO Christian Nielsen was projecting construction to begin swiftly, hire 50 people that year and 300 by this year. He signed a 40-year lease six a few weeks later.

But the groundbreaking was all bogus.

"Flagler’s Aveo Pandering: The Artful Way To Do a Groundbreaking, and the Bogus Way."