The Saint Petersburg Times editorial board: "The opening day of the 2010-2012 Florida Legislature felt more like an extension of the Nov. 2 election contest than the start of a new Florida future."
Enjoying a vetoproof majority, the Republican leadership spent more time settling old scores and railing against Washington and the courts Tuesday than explaining exactly how it will dig Florida out of a $3 billion budget shortfall, improve schools or truly affect Florida's unemployment rate."Settling scores, bowing to big money".
High mark for Hubris in Tally
"The Florida Legislature christened a new era of conservative government Tuesday, flexing its newfound muscle by overriding eight vetoes in a half-day special session." "8 Crist vetoes overridden".
"Michael John Haridopolos and Roy Dean Cannon Jr. were installed as the new Senate president and House speaker, respectively. Together, the two men will preside over the first Republican-led, veto-proof Florida Legislature since Reconstruction." Cannon, who claims to be a lawyer,
used his speech to take shots at the federal government and the Florida Supreme Court."'We will spend less,' says Senate President Mike Haridiopolos". See also "Cannon Puts Heat on Supremes", "New-look Florida Legislature: Cannon blast Supremes; Haridopolos promises cuts" and "Cannon expands on his judicial bashing".
Cannon blasted Congress for "taking over banks and financial institutions,'' "socializing medicine'' and "trampling the property rights of citizens and the sovereignty of states.''
Cannon said the Supreme Court's decision to strike several constitutional amendments - crafted by the Legislature - from the statewide ballot would "endanger its reputation for impartiality.''
"These are just a few examples of threats to freedom and the cost that the loss of liberty has occasioned, but there are many others,'' Cannon said.
More: "Lawmakers override 7 of Crist's vetoes", "GOP-led legislature repudiates out-going Crist with Florida's first veto overrides in 23 years", "Lawmakers vow new conservative era in Legislature", "Lawmakers vow new conservative era in Legislature", "3 [Daytona Beach] area lawmakers earn top leadership positions", "Florida Legislature Overturns Crist Vetoes" and "New legislative leaders take shots at Florida Supreme Court".
Meanwhile: "Bills affecting the environment, regulation a focus of the legislature’s special session".
The last bulwark
A motley crew of Dems are left to stand against the right wing forces that have seized Tallahassee:
"Everybody talks about bipartisanship," said Rep. Elaine Schwartz, D-Hollywood. "I think 'bipartisan' means 'do it my way or here's the door.' I don't think that I or the [minority] caucus will be effective, except to try to communicate, and let everyone know what's really happening here.""Democrats unsure of their impact with emboldened GOP".
Republican leaders emboldened by their new, veto-proof majorities in the House and Senate delivered speech after speech in ceremonies on Monday and Tuesday promising to slash spending, shrink government and, more to the point, to steer the state Legislature further to the political right.
He really couldn't do any worse
It was reported yesterday that Scott was employing two odd balls from the economics world to advise him, Arthur Laffer and his disciple, Donna Arduin:
The Scott transition advisory team also includes Arthur Laffer, who worked in the Reagan Administration and for whom the Laffer curve, which illustrated that in certain cases lower tax rates could increase tax revenues, is named. The idea is the underpinning of supply-side economics. "Rick Scott names more of his transition team".
Donna Arduin, a partner of Laffer's at Arduin, Laffer and Moore Econometrics, who was a top economic advisor to Jeb Bush and is credited with helping craft his budgets.
We've written about these two laffers before: See "Marco's Muse" (scroll down) and "The Real Culprit". See also "Political stunts aren't tax reform".
Laffer really got worked over in The Daily Pulp yesterday. Read it all here: "A Real Laffer: Rick Scott's Economic Guru Is 'Trickle Down' Man".
What "lurks behind this spontaneous desert populism"?
Fred Grimm catches Governor Ricky shilling for the delightful Corrections Corporation of America. Grimm writes Scott's "notion of requiring state and local policemen to lock up suspects who have no proof they entered the country legally also fit nicely with the tea party insurgency erupting across the country."
Politicians in at least a dozen other states, including Florida's Gov.-elect Rick Scott and U.S. Sen.-elect Marco Rubio, have talked of emulating Arizona's rebellion. "Let's get to work, and bring the Arizona law to Florida now,'' Scott said during his gubernatorial campaign.Much more here: "Fred Grimm".
Something else lurks behind this spontaneous desert populism. Something not so very spontaneous.
A National Public Radio investigation has traced the origins of SB 1070 to a template contrived at a December meeting in Washington, D.C., by the American Legislative Exchange Council, a corporate-sponsored "information'' gathering that most of us would mistake as a plush junket for state lawmakers, financed by corporate lobbyists.
NPR found that one of ALEC's corporate sponsors, Corrections Corporation of America, which operates private prisons in 19 states, was particularly interested in pushing the get-tough immigration legislation.
Teabaggers make empty threats
The Teabaggers are desperately trying to shed their well deserved reputation as RPOF pool boys: "The wave of tea-party outrage that Republican lawmakers rode into veto-proof power this year could come back to haunt them, tea-party activists warned as lawmakers met at the Capitol on Tuesday." "Tea party activists warn they are watching GOP lawmakers".
"Haridopolos' base display"
The Saint Petersburg Times editorial board: "It’s no wonder the public holds politicians in such low regard. In Washington and Tallahassee, scandalous conduct that would get an average person ousted from a job, if not arrested, is treated with a big shrug or a tap on the wrist." The editors point out
Senate President Mike Haridopolos' base display of protecting one of his own. Haridopolos rewarded disgraced freshman Sen. Jim Norman, a Republican from Tampa, with a committee chairmanship."Ethical behavior not required".
Norman, a former Hillsborough County commissioner, was appointed chairman of the Joint Administrative Procedures Committee, not the most powerful body but still a prize. Haridopolos apparently doesn't care that Norman is under investigation by the FBI and faces state ethics complaints for failing to disclose that his wife purchased a lakefront Arkansas home with $500,000 from the late Ralph Hughes, a businessman with close ties to Norman.
Instead of isolating Norman as ethically tainted, Haridopolos gave him a coveted leadership spot. The communication is clear: Ethics infractions will be overlooked for someone loyal to the party. Rules don't apply.
Only Knuckle-draggers need apply
"Gov.-elect Scott looking for a few good outsiders ready to work".
"Nothing scares them more than a fair fight"
Scott Maxwell wonders who is behind the apple-pie titled "Florida Leadership Alliance" and "Citizens for Housing and Urban Growth", the groups funding the litigation against the fair-districting amendments overwhelmingly approved by the voters. Turns out that
The Florida Leadership Alliance is run by state Sen. Don Gaetz.Maxwell continues:
Citizens for Housing and Urban Growth is controlled by a cluster of legislators, including Sen. Mike Bennett of Bradenton and state Rep. Ron Reagan of Sarasota.
In other words: The state lawmakers you elected are helping fund a lawsuit filed by the federal lawmakers you elected … all in attempt to overturn the amendment you approved.
If you're wondering where the state legislators got their money, well, that's many of the usual suspects: Power companies, law firms, builders, you name it — all the people who benefit from the status quo.
It doesn't stop there.Much more here: "Follow the money: Pols try to undermine your vote".
Gaetz — the guy who's funding the fight against fair districts — was recently appointed to head the Senate committee that's in charge of — guess what? — redistricting!
Yes, our new Senate president, Mike Haridopolos, made that happen.
Not to be outdone, the new House speaker, Dean Cannon, put another vocal opponent of fair districts, Will Weatherford, in charge of redistricting in that chamber.
Ain't politics grand?
"Hard future times for low-income Floridians"
"Scott on Monday announced a group of ardently conservative and notably controversial economic thinkers who will advise him on his first budget proposal. The high-profile list includes the economist who inspired Reaganomics, a fiscal fix-it expert who has advised four Republican governors, and a budget analyst from the influential, Washington D.C.-based libertarian think tank, the Cato Institute. Critics say it's a troubling combination of economists who have promoted flawed theories in the past and will surely lead to hard future times for low-income Floridians or those who rely on social services." "Governor-elect Rick Scott's critics fear cuts to Florida social services".
Anthony Man: "More than 1,400 people were treated to a dose of conservative commentary from syndicated radio talker Lou Dobbs, the former CNN star. He spoke and answered audience questions posed by South Florida's most prominent conservative radio talker, Joyce Kaufman." "Joyce Kaufman, Lou Dobbs discuss politics, policy". More: "Video: Lou Dobbs at the Coral Springs Center for the Arts".
"Miami Republicans back DREAM Act for immigrants".
"Ron Saunders, House Dems Get Ready for GOP Supermajority". See also "Dems name Sen. Nan Rich minority leader".
Collective action works
"The Florida Tomato Growers Exchange — a trade group representing 90 percent of the state’s tomato producers — has agreed to a penny-per-pound wage increase and new labor standards for workers throughout the state. This is the latest victory for the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, who have led efforts over the last two decades to pressure both producers and purchasers of tomatoes in Florida to improve working conditions and provide fair wages, spearheading successful campaigns in recent years against Taco Bell, Burger King, McDonald’s, Aramark, and Subway." "Tomato growers, laborers strike deal in ‘watershed moment’".
Dual role dole
State Rep. Jim Waldman's dual roles as public servant and Keiser University's lawyer raise questions"".
"Webster wants Congress emulate the Florida Legislature"
The ultimate empty suit, Dan Webster, briefly lost his mind the other night: "Webster was awed Sunday night when GOP leaders opened Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol for a welcome dinner in honor of the new class of Republican freshmen. The veteran legislator who beat bombastic one-term Democrat Alan Grayson became — just for a moment — a latter-day Mr. Smith in Washington."
"I thought that was pretty awesome," said the 61-year-old Webster, who had his picture taken with one of the hall's 100 statues: a marble likeness of another Daniel Webster, the famed 19th-century senator. The moment had him thinking — albeit briefly — of one day being enshrined there too. ...Meanwhile, Sandy Adams is considering
Webster, [also] said he would like to see Congress emulate the Florida Legislature.
whether she should join a caucus — one of the informal groups of lawmakers that band together on certain issues. Among the possibilities were caucuses tied to the Tea Party, space issues and boating. "Jockeying begins as Dan Webster, Sandy Adams go to Washington".
'Ya gotta problem wit that?
"GOP's Top Tax Guy: Republicans Will Block Permanent Middle-Class Tax Cut".
The boy from Panama City
"Joe Scarborough May Be Eyeing 2012 Run".
Raw political courage
"Top lawmakers promise to close loophole that allows felons to run summer camps".
Wingnuts run wild
"Leading a veto-busting supermajority of Republican lawmakers, House Speaker Dean Cannon would appear to have the cat by the tail. But in a job that former Speaker Johnnie Byrd once impolitically likened to herding sheep, Cannon faces many potential political pitfalls." "House Speaker Dean Cannon: Herding Cats or Sheep?".
Lighter than air
"Rubio chats with Nelson during D.C. visit". See also "Rubio helps choose Republican Senate leadership".
Your wagon or mine?
"Anti-tax group pledges $250,000 to fight regional rail agency".
Entrepreneurs in action
"Customers beware: Big-bank fees have hit record highs".
"A former University of Central Florida professor has filed a lawsuit against the school after she said she was let go because she refused to use a textbook that 'contains antiquated and offensive racial, ethnic and other stereotypes.'"
The lawsuit lists several specific examples of allegedly [sic] stereotypical depictions of particular races or ethnicities:"Former professor sues UCF, says she was fired for complaining about textbook".
•In the third chapter, titled "People of African American Heritage," authors Larry D. Purnell and Betty J. Paulanka explain that, "Because significant numbers of African Americans are poor and live in inner-cities, they tend to concentrate their efforts on day-to-day-survival."
•The text says that in the black community "being overweight is seen as positive," asserting that, "It is important to have meat on one's bones to be able to afford weight loss during times of sickness."
•The chapter states that African-Americans tend to be loud, "high-keyed, animated, confrontational and interpersonal." The text includes "voodoo doctors" among a list of "folk" healthcare practitioners common to African-American culture.
•The lawsuit lists similar commentary on numerous other groups. Traditional Italian-American families, the text states, "recognize the father's authority as absolute; nothing is purchased, and decisions are not made without his approval."
•The text claims that Japanese wives "care for husbands to a great extent. Japanese men are presumed not to be capable of managing day-to-day matters."
•It explains that, in the company of Jewish people, jokes "that refer to the Holocaust or concentration camps" or "implying that Jews are cheap or pampered" are inappropriate.
"'Allegedly' sereotypical"? C'mon, Mr. reporter, get out there on a limb ... these are stereotypical.
"Alvarez is in trouble"
Michael Putney: "Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Alvarez is in trouble. Possibly career-ending trouble. It's mostly of his own making, but also due to forces beyond his control. Those include staggering local unemployment of almost 13 percent, falling home values, a continuing flood of foreclosures, a shaky economy and generalized distrust of government and dislike of incumbents. Then there were things under his control like handing out generous pay raises for his staff while demanding sacrifices from other county employees. Like his chief of staff moonlighting in Panama. And the big one -- pushing through a baseball stadium without voter approval." "Stadium, pay hikes endanger Alvarez".
The sacred franchise
"Anti-Norman write-ins go for Carl Crawford, Peter Pan and others".
Mack begins his Senate campaign
"Connie Mack: Will Bill Nelson support extending tax cuts?".
"Dirty water more of a threat than pollution rules"
The Tampa Tribune editors point out that "politicians, including House Speaker Dean Cannon, want to continue to fight the EPA, but dirty water is more of a threat to Florida's economy than pollution rules. As long as the EPA's cost estimates are correct, the state should cooperate." "EPA wise to delay water quality rules". The Orlando Sentinel editorial board adds: "Florida's misplaced outrage towards clean-water rules".
"Nothing but a mockery"
The Miami Herald editorial board: "Florida's new legislative leaders dropped a plan to move control of the Department of Management Services from the governor's office to the Cabinet. That was the right decision -- made under the wrong circumstances. ... making the decision out of the sunshine turns Mr. Haridopolos' ballyhooed open-door policy into nothing but a mockery" "Right call on DMS".
Second amendment stoopidity
"Florida law protects Miami-Dade man who pointed gun at FPL workers, judge rules".
As Florida burns ...
"Gov. Charlie Crist said he has made up his mind and will pursue a posthumous pardon of rock icon Jim Morrison of the Doors, who was convicted of exposing himself during a Miami concert in 1969.." "Gov. Charlie Crist will pursue pardon of Doors rocker Jim Morrison".