"One of Gov. Rick Scott’s first hires worked on Scott’s campaign digging up dirt on his opponents and sat on the board of a South Florida anti-immigration group tagged by civil rights advocates as an 'extremist' organization. Scott hired 23-year-old Anthony Bonna of Port St. Lucie as the State Department’s legislative affairs director, even though Bonna’s sole work experience has been on political campaigns. Most recently, Bonna worked on Scott’s gubernatorial campaign 'to compile a master document of opposition research, find background on policy proposals, craft attack response and identify/assess vulnerabilities,' Bonna wrote on his state application form." "Scott hire drawing the ire of anti-discrimination group".
"It is getting uglier by the day"
"It might be the most important election for Florida GOP chairman that Republicans have had in decades, and it is getting uglier by the day."
First, opponents of Hillsborough County Republican chairwoman Deborah Cox-Roush spread the word that the leading candidate for state party chairwoman was arrested for drunken driving six years ago and had financial problems. Now someone is going after another leading candidate, former state Rep. David Bitner of Monticello."Race for GOP chairman becomes nasty".
An anonymous packet dropped at the St. Petersburg Times shows that in 1999 Bitner's wife, Wendy, requested a domestic-violence injunction, accusing Bitner of "pushing her around his office'' in Tallahassee and leaving bruises on her arms. The petition, later dismissed at Wendy Bitner's request, says that in 1997 Bitner also pinned her to the floor and choked her "to the point of near unconsciousness.''
"I can tell you those things did not happen. It [the court petition] was done on a heated day and in a heated moment. I was very young, and I was irresponsible,'' Wendy Bitner, who recently celebrated the couple's 20th anniversary, told the Herald/Times on Thursday. "It did not happen. I was upset, and it's a shame that someone is sensationalizing problems somebody had in their marriage.''
By many accounts, Bitner and Cox-Roush are the leading candidates heading into the Jan. 15 election for state party chairman. Also running are Tony DiMatteo, a state committeeman from Pinellas County; Palm Beach County GOP Chairman Sid Dinerstein; and Sarasota County Chairman Joe Gruters, each of whom has his own base of support among the more than 250 party activists and elected officials who are eligible to vote.
Million Air's publicity stunt
"Scott himself won't have to worry about travel: He owns a personal jet. For his first official road trip Thursday, a flight to Miami, he boarded his seven-passenger, twin-engine plane with a tail number ending in his initials, RS, at a private aviation center called Million Air." "Will Scott's move to ditch state planes fly?". See also "Scott plans to use his own jet for business travel".
The Daytona Beach News Journal editorial board: "Scott puts clamps on high-flying officials". Related: "Will Selling State Aircraft Drive Down Costs?".
Scott flip-flopping on casinos
"Gov. Rick Scott said Thursday he is open to allowing Las Vegas-style casino resorts in Florida, opening the door for promoters to move swiftly ahead with legislation this year that would end the decades-old ban on the high stakes games."
Promoters expect a hearing as early as next week in the Florida Senate on the proposal that could bring "destination casinos'' to Miami Beach, Tampa and as many as three other locations. The term refers to the high-end casinos being built around the globe that feature entertainment, retail malls and convention space in addition to blackjack tables, roulette wheels and slot machines. ..."Las Vegas casinos are in play for Florida".
Scott said Thursday he is open to the proposals even though while running for governor he rejected the expansion of gambling.
"Though they are both relative newcomers to Capitol Hill, U.S. Reps. Tom Rooney, R-Tequesta, and Ted Deutch, D-Boca Raton, have been key positions in the 112th Congress that convened Wednesday." "Whip It: Reps. Rooney (R), Deutch (D) named to party whip teams".
"2,500 gallons of sewage in Boynton Beach spills into Intracoastal Waterway".
The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "State Rep. William Snyder, R-Stuart, says more than 60 people have signed up to speak at his forum tonight in Palm City seeking public comment on the Arizona-style immigration bill he's drafting. He attributed the interest - his and the public's - to the "seismic" nature of the issue. We're glad that he wants to hear criticism, because there's a lot to criticize about the approach his developing bill takes to immigration enforcement." "At a time of budget cuts, do Floridians want local officers doing federal government's work?".
Developer to regulate developers
"Scott picked an executive of one of Florida's largest land development companies to head the agency that oversees growth, a move that angered environmentalists." "Developer to head state agency managing growth". See also "Scott's appointments signal sea change in state government".
The Orlando Sentinel editorial board: "The governor's pick to lead DCA is Billy Buzzett, a developer, whose St. Joe Co. has turned Panhandle forests into residential and commercial developments. Mr. Buzzett's mandate is to approve more development. Mr. Scott is proving that destroying the DCA may not require eliminating it." "Rick Scott's recent hires".
Right-wing rail "study", Haridopolos flip-flops
"The 24-page report, written by two members of the Libertarian nonprofit think tank Reason Foundation, concluded that Florida should either cancel the $2.7 billion project or write a contract that prohibits the state from contributing any tax dollars to it."
Meanwhile, Haridopolos flip-flops: "State Senate President Mike Haridopolos, R-Merritt Island, who in 2009 voted to approve the state spending for the train, said Wednesday that he had changed his mind. The state, he said, cannot afford it." "Study: Cost overruns, fewer passengers in Orlando-Tampa high speed train's future". Related: "Report By Scott Adviser Recommends Canceling High-Speed Rail Project".
The Saint Petersburg Times editors: "Legitimate questions are being raised by businesses in Tampa Bay and elsewhere that are on the losing end of the BP claims process. Their frustration stems from not being told specifically why their claims were denied and the appearance of inconsistent standards. " "Oil claims need fair hearing".
Charter school follies
"Rick Scott and adviser Michelle Rhee praise Miami charter school". Related: "Billionaire to open private high school at former JCC site".
The Palm Beach Post editors: "As a candidate, Rick Scott accused Alex Sink of mishandling Florida's pension funds. He should have aimed at a different target." "Ask about insider dealing: New trustees have 120 billion reasons to be interested".
Plenty of hires in Scott's inner circle
"There were some surprises in the executive suite. Scott hired Spencer Geissinger, the advance man who worked in the campaign and set up this week's inaugural galas, as his director of external affairs. And Carrie O'Rourke, a fund raiser for former Attorney General Bill McCollum's campaign, will be a deputy chief of staff." "Governor's office names staff members".
Behind the scenes with Bondi
"Behind the scenes, a team of close advisers brought promising prosecutor out of obscurity". "Tampa Trio Charted Bondi's Path to Victory".
Deutch joins DWS in House leadership
"As Democrats get used to being in the minority in the U.S. House, two members from Florida were named to roles in the Democratic leadership." "Two Floridians Will Help Lead Dem Minority in Congress".
Scott Maxwell: "Good for politicians who actually get to work!".