Our review of today's Florida political news and punditry follows.
"Since the state has banned touch-screen voting in favor of paper optical-scan ballots, Mr. Browning says, it's 'goofy' to have a recount law that never requires a hand-recount of all ballots. The current law requires a machine recount if the difference between top vote-getters is less than one half of 1 percent."
...the hand-recount under the 'goofy' election law does not apply to all ballots..."If the difference, after a machine recount, is one-quarter of 1 percent, an abbreviated hand-recount is required. In 2000, George Bush defeated Al Gore by 537 votes out of nearly 6 million cast, a difference of less than one tenth of 1 percent. But the hand-recount under the 'goofy' election law does not apply to all ballots. The law requires election officials to identify and manually count only the undervotes - when no candidate is selected - and the overvotes - when more than one candidate is selected." Write new recount law for new voting method".
"A lawsuit by state House Speaker Marco Rubio against Gov. Charlie Crist over Indian gambling in Florida has brought a growing political rift between the two into the open. Neither side wants to talk openly about it, but Crist and Rubio clearly are emerging as leaders of divergent groups in the Republican Party. Rubio is building a power base representing the conservative side, while Crist has angered some conservatives by taking the party and the state on a more moderate, bipartisan path." "Suit Widens Crist, Rubio Rift".
"A moral disgrace"
The St. Pete Times editors: "The farmworkers couldn't really afford to miss a day of pay in Florida's tomato fields, but they showed up anyway. On Friday, hundreds of farmworkers and their supporters marched to Burger King headquarters in Miami to pressure the fast-food giant to pay them an extra penny for each pound of tomatoes they picked. ... It is a moral disgrace that the exchange is standing in the way of the penny-per-pound agreements that already have been signed. This is an arrangement that should be expanded, not choked to death at the expense of farmworkers who took the initiative to better their lives." "Growers callously pinching pennies".
"The governor is putting his popularity and fundraising skills behind the Jan. 29 vote." "Crist lobbies voters for tax plan".
The Orlando Sentinel editors: "The moon and Mars program, known as Constellation, would maintain U.S. leadership in space exploration. It would spur the kind of scientific and technological advances essential to staying competitive in the world economy." "Wrong strategy".
"Front-line political warriors"
A significant story today in the St. Pete Times: "TV isn't everything in Florida politics."
For most of the past year, the Giuliani and Romney campaigns have been waging aggressive, mostly unseen campaigns to identify and mobilize voters and key opinion leaders to build excitement, momentum and infrastructure to win Florida's Jan. 29 primary."Candidates count on field marshals".
In the end, all elections come down to the largely mechanical endeavor of persuading the voters to actually show up at the polls. Especially in a primary. That's why field field operations are so important.
The Democratic campaigns are doing nothing to organize the state, as the candidates boycott Florida's Jan. 29 primary because it violates the national party's primary schedule. That has many Democratic strategists worried the Republicans' head start could have repercussion in the general election.
"The Seminole Tribe wanted roulette and craps, and the chance to build multiple casinos on some of its reservations. The state wanted to limit games to slots but get smoking bans and millions of dollars up front." "Diplomacy won gambling pact with Seminoles".
"Grounding the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer"
"A team of 500 scientists from 16 countries has spent the past decade building a $1.5 billion space experiment to help solve a celestial puzzle: how the cosmos has evolved since shortly after the big bang, more than 13 billion years ago."
But there's one hitch.NASA refuses $1.5B space experiment, riles Sen. Nelson, others".
The experiment was designed to work aboard the international space station. But despite earlier agreements, NASA leaders now say they will not transport the device aboard any of the 13 remaining space-shuttle flights -- potentially grounding the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer.
The Orlando Sentinel editorial board: "It's time to stop laying so much blame on the electorate for such poor turnout in local elections. A lot of the blame, at least in Orange County, has got to go the candidate pool itself. Or, rather, the lack of one. Incredibly, and distressingly and embarrassingly to anyone who believes in democracy, fewer than half the 22 mayoral and council races in that county next month will be contested." "People can't be expected to vote when elections aren't contested.".
The People's plate
"Donald Trump will join Crist at Trump Tower in New York Thursday at a $1,000-per-person fundraiser for the 'Yes on 1 - Save Our Homes' organization working to pass the Jan. 29 tax initiative." "It's about the people - at $1,000 a plate".
"Before leaving St. Petersburg Thursday for three fundraisers in southwest Florida, John McCain bemoaned the 'crazy' compressed primary schedule, even as he promised that as the nominee he'd restore all of Florida's delegates to the Republican national convention." "McCain says he'd restore our delegates".
"Under a Florida lawmakers' proposal scheduled to go before voters in January, Cynthia Pelton and other residents on the move could carry with them accrued tax savings up to $500,000." "Property tax portability rewards longtime residents".
"Unique -- and often misunderstood"
The Miami Herald editors: "Sixty years ago, what some Floridians considered a huge nuisance that ought to be drained instead became a national park with unique attributes. Unique -- and often misunderstood." "Happy anniversary, Everglades National Park".
"Protesters march to courthouse".
Florida's Verdun battlefield
This kinda reminds one of the French farmers or still come across - and are sometimes killed by live WWI ordinance at the old Verdun battlefield ("WWI Claims Another Victim"): "A landscaping crew [in Key West] about to grind a tree stump stumbled across 30 World War II mortar shells buried in the ground on property once owned by the U.S. Navy. A worker hit and broke one of the live shells Friday, but it did not detonate." "Workers stumble on explosives".
The Sun-Sentinel interviews Senator Geller about property tax reform: ". . . Sen. Steve Geller".
The rules are different (for Marco)
"Think Florida's two-year-old ban on gifts from lobbyists to lawmakers affects everyone equally? Well . . ." Case #1, a Demo:
Last week, state Sen. Larcenia Bullard, D-Miami, was rebuffed by the chamber's chief lawyer when she asked for permission to raise money from lobbyists for a charity named the Rachel and Edward Bullard Jr. Foundation.Case #2, Saint Marco:
Because the gift ban precludes lawmakers from accepting checks from lobbyists for charities they create or control, and Bullard had hired the lawyer who filed the paperwork creating the charity in 2004, "it appears to me you 'created' the foundation while you were a member of the Florida Senate," general counsel Steve Kahn wrote Bullard.
Therefore, no dough.
But House Speaker Marco Rubio can get away with raising money for another nonprofit called 100Ideas Inc. Though it was created last August by GOP supporters, it is built on the "100 Innovative Ideas" brand name Rubio created and marketed last year."Money: Not for everyone".
"The phrase '100 Ideas' has become very closely associated with you because of your work around the state of Florida in recent years," the House's chief lawyer, Jeremiah Hawkes, wrote to Rubio in October.
...Rubio can get away with raising money...He mentioned the Web site bearing Rubio's image, and the book he wrote by the same name. But, "since you did not establish or control the charity, you would not be violating [House rules or state law] should you choose to solicit funds on behalf of the charity."
Translation: Bank's open.
"Speculation is growing that Crist's chief of staff and top political strategist, George LeMieux, will leave the administration by Jan. 1 and return to the practice of law. Here's one revealing sign: His old law firm, Gunster Yoakley & Stewart, has established an office in Tallahassee." "Setting the stage to leave the Crist camp?"
"The Democratic presidential candidates may be boycotting Florida's Jan. 29 primary, but that's not stopping some of their Florida supporters [including Sandy Freedman and former gubernatorial candidate Bill McBride] from organizing the state. Tampa's Hillary Clinton supporters have launched 'Tampa for Hillary Steering Committee' Web site (www.tampaforhillary.com) where Clinton supporters can get involved.".