Fred Grimm: "David Rivera has so much to be thankful for."
Some might wonder whether his gratitude was worth the $243,000 extracted from campaign accounts for very murky "thank you'' campaigns. But that's exactly why Rivera's so damn thankful."What makes Rivera so thankful?".
Despite discomfiting questions about his mysterious job history, personal finances, a secret $500,000 pro-gambling consulting contract and questionable thank-you campaigns, Rivera was still elected to the Legislature, then Congress. ...
Whatever other expressions of thank you the enigmatic Rivera offered his constituents, they're still waiting for those credible documents. Something. . . anything. . . that might make him believable.
"A roundup of everything that happened in Tallahassee last week that we didn’t have space for." "Your government at work: Notes from last week’s state legislative meetings".
For those of you who just can't wait ...
The Cook Political Report's first, very preliminary look at the way states and their electoral votes might fall in the 2012 presidential election: With 270 electoral votes needed to win, Cook has the race 221 to 219 for the Dems, with 98 EVs rated as toss-ups. In the toss-up category is Florida, with our 29 votes, along with Colorado (9), Iowa (6), Nevada (6), Ohio (18), Pennsylvania (20) and Wisconsin (10). "2012 Electoral Vote Preliminary Ratings" (subscription needed).
Greer writing a book
"Prosecution records: Jim Greer was writing a book that promised 'intimate knowledge of Governor Crist'".
RPOFer "double donors"
"Fundraisers for Rick Scott's inaugural committee did double duty last month, raising money for the new governor's three-day inaugural bash but also asking donors to write a second check to replenish the state Republican party's depleted coffers after the November elections. The result from those double donors:"
$3 million to the inaugural committee and another $3.4 million to the Republican Party of Florida. The money given to the RPOF included 61 checks of $25,000 or more from some of the state's largest corporations."GOP raised millions for Scott, itself".
Scott limited contributions to his inaugural celebration to $25,000, but donors were given a second chance to exceed their contribution -- by donating to the party -- and dozens of them did, according to a review by the Miami Herald/St. Petersburg Times.
RPOFer flip-floppery a comin'
The Orlando Sentinel editorial board: "Scott promised to bring to Florida an immigration law like the one Arizona passed last year, using the issue to bring Bill McCollum to his knees. Arizona's requires police to check the immigration status of people stopped or arrested if police suspect they are in the country illegally."
Mr. Scott, who couldn't stop talking about the Arizona law in his campaign, rarely mentions it lately. Some Florida legislators who echoed him also have backed away, apparently worried about alienating Hispanics and the business community."Immigration overhaul".
Kenric Ward: "Attacked by Hispanics and ridiculed by the mainstream media, Arizona-style immigration legislation appears to be dead on arrival in Tallahassee this year. Meanwhile, a different approach that would give skittish Republicans political cover has emerged. The only question is: Will GOP leaders let it pass?"
The Florida Citizens Employment Protection Act would mandate that all employers use the federal E-Verify program to screen prospective employees' legal status to work in this country. It also would suspend the business licenses of companies that refuse to sign an affidavit declaring they have no illegal aliens working for them."Immigration Bills Fight for Life in Florida".
Supporters say the Citizens Employment Protection Act avoids the legal and logistical pitfalls of racial profiling and turning local police into immigration agents. By targeting employers, the bill would effectively block illegals from the job market.
Gov. Rick Scott has already signed an executive order implementing E-Verify at all state agencies. Now, lawmakers are maneuvering to extend E-Verify to the private sector.
The E-Verify initiative is not new. Last year, the Florida House passed an E-Verify bill authored by then-Rep. Sandy Adams, R-Oviedo. HB 219 cleared the House 112-0, but was bottled up in the Senate, where committee Chairman Jeremy Ring refused to let it come up for a hearing.
Adams has moved on to Congress, but Ring, a Democrat from Margate, is back as committee chair this year, and supporters of E-Verify are bracing for battle.
Try "alleged terrorist" instead of mere "militant"
"A Department of Homeland Security attorney who interrogated former CIA operative and anti-Fidel Castro militant Luis Posada Carriles after he slipped into the United States in 2005 is retaking the stand Tuesday to face cross examination in U.S. District Court." "Anti-Castro militant back in court in perjury case".
The New York Times: "Luis Posada Carriles, who as a Central Intelligence Agency operative waged a violent campaign against Fidel Castro’s regime for decades, is accused of lying to an immigration judge about his role in the bombings at Havana tourist spots in 1997. ... In Venezuela, he remains a prime suspect in the bombing of a Cubana Airlines flight that crashed off the coast of Barbados on Oct. 6, 1976, killing all 73 people aboard. Though he was never convicted, he was imprisoned for nine years in Caracas on charges of conspiring with the bombers. He escaped by bribing a warden and walking out of prison disguised as a priest." "Terror Accusations, but Perjury Charges".
Have another beer
"Newly elected U.S. Rep. Steve Southerland predicted Monday night that growing Republican power in Washington will restore competitive economic values and government accountability that he said President Obama's administration has eroded." "Southerland: Accountability on the way".
"The state GOP's image as a haven for on-the-make hucksters"
Daniel Ruth writes that "the very first thing [David] Bitner pledged to do after he was elected chairman of the Republican Party of Florida over the weekend was to promise to find out who had taken the country, go to wherever they were keeping it and get it back as soon as possible."
You certainly have to give Bitner credit for thinking big. After an acrimonious campaign for the chairmanship that involved backstabbing, innuendo and anonymous e-mails promising doom and despair no matter who won the job, you would think the incoming leader of Florida's Republicans would be preoccupied with replenishing the party's coffers and rehabilitating the state GOP's image as a haven for on-the-make hucksters."The curious case of a missing nation".
But not David Bitner, the great country hunter, who promised the grand quest to track down Butte and return it posthaste.
"It starts now," Bitner proclaimed. Well, you can hardly argue the new chairman has time management problems.
Narrowing down the list of usual suspects for Inspector Bitner could be problematic. The country, it might be argued, could have been purloined by any number of people — trial lawyers, teachers unions, tree huggers, Democrats.
Bill Cotterell: "Payroll audit is a gift to the governor".
Republican front group demands respect
"Dave Bitner isn't the only incoming Republican chairman who needs to assure tea parties. New RNC boss Reince Priebus raised the hackles of some tea partiers who feel they're not getting enough respect." "Tea Parties Keep Wary Eye on GOP Leaders".
The Sarasota Herald-Tribune editors: "Florida's education commissioner has recommended reductions in pending fines against school districts that failed to meet the state's strict class-size limit" "Erase school fines".
Slowly but surely
"Former Florida congressman Mark Foley, who toyed with his own possible run for mayor of West Palm Beach, says he's backing City Commissioner Molly Douglas." "Foley backs candidate in West Palm mayoral race".
Rubio suddenly an expert
Rubio couldn't make a house payment last year, and he's suddenly an expert on internationall affairs: "Rubio spent the weekend in Pakistan and Afghanistan and said he found encouraging signs, but he criticized the Obama administration's goal of beginning to withdraw U.S. troops this summer." "Sen. Rubio visits Afghanistan".
"Representing almost 2.3 million Catholics in the Sunshine State, the Florida Catholic Conference unveiled its goals for the 2011 legislative session, promoting policy that will win the backing -- and the opposition -- of liberals and conservatives alike." "Florida Catholic Bishops Unveil Legislative Agenda".
"If we had a real Republican running this state"
Mike Thomas: "If we had a real Republican running this state, like New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, he would go on Fox News, kill the train, bask in the outrage, and then disband the teachers union for an encore."
Florida Gov. Rick Scott is noncommittal, even after one of his libertarian advisers came out with a study that said the train would cost a lot more than $2.7 billion and carry a lot fewer than 2.4 million passengers every year. ..."High-speed rail: One deal Florida can't turn down".
A year ago, Obama gave us $1.25 billion to build it. That didn't quite cover half the cost. Still, very tempting.
In October, Obama sweetened the pot with another $800 million. That covered 83 percent of the cost. More tempting.
And then last month, we got another $342 million. That covered about 90 percent of the cost. Most tempting!
The last check came with a not-so-subtle message. That money had been going for rail projects in Ohio and Wisconsin. But their Republican governors rejected it, saying they wanted to use the money for roads instead.
They got no trains. They got no roads. They got no ObamaBucks. They got no federal jobs.
If Rick Scott follows their example, Obama simply will give our money to train projects in Illinois and California.
"A victory for common sense and fairness"
The Tampa Tribune editorial board: "The policy change is a victory for common sense and fairness. The next goal should be to eliminate the travel ban entirely so any U.S. citizen can visit Cuba openly as a tourist without having to sneak through a third country." "Opening the door to Cuba". The Saint Petersburg Times editors: "Breaking barriers to Cuba".
"A Democratic and a Republican lawmaker have proposed bills to lengthen terms for Florida lawmakers." "Proposal: longer term limits for Florida lawmakers".
"Any future court building will have to be approved by the State Courts Administrator, and that office will assign someone to monitor the project, under an order issued Monday by Supreme Court Chief Justice Charles Canady in response to the controversy over the new district appeals court building in Tallahassee." "Chief Justice Canady: No More Buildings Like 1st DCA".
"Plans for a South Florida memorial to the victims of 9/11 are being reconsidered after an outcry from taxpayers." "Fla. 9/11 memorial may be nixed after complaints".