"Backers of the anti-gerrymandering constitutional amendments passed by Florida voters in November have filed a federal lawsuit to force Gov. Rick Scott to submit the amendments for federal approval."
Shortly after talking office as governor, Scott quietly withdrew the state's application to the U.S. Department of Justice for preliminary approval of the amendments, called "pre-clearance.""Redistricting backers sue to force Scott to seek pre-clearance".
That's an opinion by the Justice Department that the amendments conform to the Voting Rights Act, which governs changes in Florida elections procedures.
Former state Sen. Dan Gelber, attorney for the amendment backers, said the Voting Rights Act requires that election changes be submitted for approval "as soon as possible after they become final."
The amendments became final, the lawsuit says, on Nov. 16, the day the election results were certified. Former Gov. Charlie Crist filed the application for pre-clearance shortly before that.
Wingnuts running wild in Tally
"Using as ammunition a Florida judge's ruling this week that the federal healthcare law is unconstitutional, state officials are wasting no time stepping away from the controversial overhaul."
Their latest move: rejecting a $1 million federal grant awarded to the Agency for Health Care Administration to plan a system required by the law where consumers can comparison shop for health plans. It's the second federal healthcare reform grant rejected by Florida this week."Florida rejects another $1 million grant".
Tuesday, Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty returned a $1 million grant that would have provided a resource for consumers to monitor insurance-rate changes and how premiums are spent.
"A majority of Floridians approve of the job performance of their two U.S. senators, but are split on their opinions about President Barack Obama, a poll released Thursday shows."
Forty-two percent of 1,160 registered voters surveyed by Quinnipiac (Conn.) University favored an unnamed Republican challenger for president next year compared to 40 percent who prefer Obama."Floridians like their senators, but mixed on Obama".
Democrats favored Obama by 83 percent to 12 percent, but Republicans opposed him 84 percent to 14 percent. Independents were split. Obama won the independent vote in 2008.
Although 49 percent said they have a favorable opinion of Obama, 48 percent said he does not deserve to be re-elected while 45 percent favored the country's first African-American president for a second term.
Sens. Bill Nelson, a Democrat seeking a third term in the Senate, and newly elected Republican Marco Rubio enjoyed a 2-to-1 favorable to unfavorable standing.
But the news wasn't all good for Nelson, a career politician who was elected to the Senate in 2000.
Despite his respectable 45-21 job approval rating, only 43 percent said Nelson deserved re-election. He was, however, favored by 41 percent to 36 percent for an unnamed Republican challenger in next year's general election.
More: "Poll: Most voters waiting to form opinion of new governor".
Public employee haters drag their knuckles
The Tampa Tribune editorial board, although conceding that "it should be remembered that most state employees, including teachers, social workers and law-enforcement officers, work hard for modest salaries", nevertheless write that "Scott right to target pensions".
"Florida's shameful uninsured rate of 17.8"
The Orlando Sentinel editorial board: "Florida's health-care systems for kids received a new rating on Wednesday. About the most encouraging thing that we can say regarding its dismal showing from the Commonwealth Fund is, well, it could have been worse."
Florida didn't finish dead last. That's only because Texas, Arizona, Mississippi and Nevada elbowed the Sunshine State out of the dubious distinction as worst in the nation. Talk about a Pyrrhic victory."For kids, doctor isn't in".
Over the past decade, a significant national expansion in children's health coverage reduced from 11 to three the number of states saddled with uninsured-kid rates of 16 percent or more. Florida's among the lagging trio with a shameful uninsured rate of 17.8, trailing only Texas' 18 percent.
As "Florida lawmakers are seeking ways to stop Cuba from drilling for oil off its shores, ... environmentalists and others knowledgeable with Cuba's plans suggest the United States should instead develop an emergency response agreement with its Cold War nemesis, against whom it has enforced a five-decades-old trade embargo." "Cuba oil bid a bad idea, Florida says".
Legal Scholars or Ink Stained Wretches?
The Daytona Beach News Journal editors - who imagine themselves legal scholars - dazzle us with their expertise in constitutional law: "Some news stories noted that the split appears to follow political lines. The two judges who ruled against the law are Republican appointees; the two who upheld it were appointed by Democratic administrations. But this is a superficial analysis that fails to take into account the breadth and incisiveness of Vinson's ruling. His well-reasoned critique of the law likely will influence future court decisions, including the expected showdown in the Supreme Court." "Ruling doesn't bode well for health care law".
Raw political courage
"Scott said he'll propose lowering the state's corporate income tax rate from 5.5 percent to 3 percent, a reduction of slightly less than half the $1.8 billion the tax produced last year. He also said he'll recommend cutting $1.4 billion from school taxes over the next two years, a cut of about 1 mil, or slightly less than 20 percent of the state's 5.3-mil rate." "Scott plans to cut school taxes but promises to make up the funding". See also "Gov. Scott says budget will include $2 billion in tax cuts".
"The tax cuts and proposals to reduce spending and regulations are designed to make Florida more business friendly in the hope that'll bring more jobs to the state. Scott campaigned on a promise to create 700,000 new jobs over seven years. That's besides the 1 million job economists expect Florida to add as its economy recovers over that span even if the state does nothing." "Scott stumps for Fla. tax cuts at Tampa factory".
"Another 548 shuttle workers to be laid off".
"The tyranny of the anecdote"
Orlando Sentinel employee Scott Maxwell acknowledges that, regarding the various proposed pension changes out there, "some of this talk sounds more like civil-servant bashing than reform. And it's high time some of these worker-bashers got their facts straight."
Florida does not generally overpay its workers. In fact, the Legislature's own policy-analysis division determined just last year that the average state worker earns less than his counterpart in the private sector."From Tallahassee pensions to Ethiopian health care".
And the average salary? About $35,000. Hardly extravagant.
Not only that, Florida spends less on state workers — in terms of both payroll expenditures and employees per resident — than most every other state in the U.S., according to the Department of Management Services.
There are absolutely examples of waste and excess in government jobs. Heck, this very newspaper is often the one to expose such things!
But beware of the tyranny of the anecdote.
Because the majority of government workers are hard-working civil servants who aren't paid particularly well and haven't had a raise in three or more years.
So anyone who's trying to demonize them as the enemy not only lacks class — but also the facts.
Daniel Ruth: "No room for silliness in candidates' parade".
Early voting for a pair of special elections
"Following a short and not-always-sweet campaign, early voting begins Monday in portions of Broward and Miami-Dade counties for a pair of special elections prompted by Democrat Frederica Wilson's jump to Congress." "Early voting starts for House District 103, Senate District 33". See also "Early voting starts Monday for special state House election".
"Ex-Congressman Dishes on Scott"
"Old politicians never go away, they just become political 'experts.' Remember Lou Frey? Maybe not. After a 10-year stint in Congress that ended back in 1978, the Floridian ran for Senate and lost. Ran for governor and lost. Ran for Senate again and lost again. Now Frey is running his mouth, advising the Florida media to 'work around' Gov. Rick Scott." "Ex-Congressman Dishes on Scott -- Media Eat It Up".
Cannon announces reorg committee
"With Gov. Rick Scott looking to reorganize the state government, House Speaker Dean Cannon announced Thursday that he will create a new House committee to tackle the issue." "Dean Cannon Forms New House Committee to Push Government Reorganization".
Alleged journalist whines about overstaffed fire departments
Alleged journalist Mike Thomas complains that fire departments are overstaffed, with "six firefighters handling one heart attack".
He gleefully reports that "Scott obviously didn't get the memo from Republican headquarters. You can zing the teachers, bash the bureaucrats and demagogue the size of government. But thou shall not mess with police and firefighters."
This is a bipartisan, time-honored tradition at all levels of government."Can Rick Scott's pension ideas get past GOP?"
It is why we have one child-abuse investigator handling 50 cases and six firefighters handling one heart attack.
Arisone-style debate continues
"New report said Florida had most dramatic decrease of illegal immigrants in nation." "Dramatic drop in illegal immigration unlikely to stall debate".
"Gov. Rick Scott touts tax plan as a model for President Barack Obama".
Scott's "wholesale rollback of appointments"
"The calm that has overtaken the once-embattled Public Service Commission in recent months ended abruptly Wednesday when Gov. Rick Scott withdrew from confirmation four of the five members of the state's utility board."
The move was part of a wholesale rollback of appointments made by Scott's predecessor, Gov. Charlie Crist."Gov. Rick Scott upends PSC by rescinding appointments". Related: "Scott says PSC members can continue to serve through session", "PSC Commissioners Can Still Serve Despite Scott Recall" and The Sun Sentinel editorial board: "Approve SB 212 to apply judicial code to PSC".
Entrepreneurs in action
"Ron Saunders says Miami-Dade, Broward rule the country in Medicaid fraud".
"Down payments on politicians"
Scott Maxwell: "Companies that give to both sides of a race aren't doing so because they care about any sort of lofty issues for society at large. They're trying to make down payments on politicians — investments that often pay off." "Free speech, my ...".
"Assault on unemployed"
"Lawmakers unveil fix for jobless benefits that is called 'assault on unemployed.'".
"Not safe for swimming and/or fishing"
"According to its report, over 97 percent of the state’s bays and estuaries and over 42 percent of its streams are in poor shape and identified as being 'impaired and not safe for swimming and/or fishing.' Though the number of impaired waterways in Florida is striking, it has done little to squelch the dozens of lawsuits and attacks aimed at the EPA for its attempts to implement a set of numeric nutrient standards that would place harsher restrictions on utilities and agricultural agencies in the state. Industry executives have long come out against the standards, arguing that they would cost Florida jobs and money. But environmental agencies, including the conservancy, argue that the standards are not only necessary, but mandatory for the health of Florida’s largest asset — its water." "Conservancy of Southwest Florida: 97 percent of bays and estuaries 'impaired'".
Funding fake "crisis pregnancy centers"
"Plans to rewrite the law governing Florida’s 'Choose Life' license plates have led pregnancy centers currently receiving funds to worry that portions of the new law would be not only unenforceable, but unfair. Planned Parenthood says the law could 'open the floodgates' for organizations falsely advertising themselves as 'crisis pregnancy centers.' Now, the Florida branch of the ACLU says that a rewrite is not only unneccessary, but that it could allow for the funding of 'anti-abortion propaganda.'" "ACLU of Florida: ‘Choose Life’ law change could help fund ‘anti-abortion propaganda’".
"The Florida circuit"
"In recent months, nearly every likely Republican 2012 presidential candidate has made his or her voice heard in Florida, courting potential campaign donors at big-ticket speaking engagements and invitation-only dinners." "Likely 2012 GOP hopefuls hit the Florida circuit".
As the door revolves ...
"Gov. Rick Scott named a familiar face with experience in the department to head up the Florida Lottery on Wednesday, choosing Cynthia “Cindy” O’Connell to be its secretary. The governor focused on O’Connell’s communications background when he made the announcement." "Rick Scott Names Cindy O'Connell Lottery Secretary".
"Two Democratic leaders in the Legislature announced Wednesday they will fight to pass the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) in the 2011 session -- even though the measure has been stalled in Tallahassee for more than 25 years." "Two Dem Legislators Reintroduce ERA Measure".
"LeMieux considers bid for U.S. Senate".
"Foley slowly regaining acceptance with Republicans"
"Former Republican U.S. Rep. Mark Foley, a pariah with many in the GOP after he abruptly resigned in a 2006 Internet sex scandal, is slowly regaining acceptance with some local Republicans." "Ex-U.S. Rep. Foley returns to GOP scene, four years after grounding in scandal". See also "Mark Foley Appears With Local Young Republicans, Allen West".
Scott "brags that he doesn't read Florida newspapers"
Lucy Morgan: "Show me a man who brags that he doesn't read Florida newspapers, and I'll show you a man who is not well informed about what's going on in this state."
And, yes, I'm talking about you, governor."Scott walls off the press".
If you hear only the news that those around you want you to hear or what you can find on television, you will never be completely aware of all of the things you should know about the state you have been chosen to run.
"Florida — several steps up from Zimbabwe"
"Apparently [Joe Negron] grew tired of hearing people complain about health-care woes in Florida during a budget meeting this week."
So he admonished the fretters to "stop the self-flagellation" and suggested that Florida should actually earn kudos for not treating the poor like underdeveloped countries. "I don't think they have a KidCare program in Ethiopia or India," he said,"We're no Ethiopia!"
Really, Senator? That's where we are in this state? Reduced to boasting that we have better health care than Ethiopia? ...
Hey, maybe there's a new state slogan in it for us: "Florida — several steps up from Zimbabwe."
Miami-Dade County Commissioner makes getaway
"With the clock ticking before her legal challenge to her recall election is heard in court, Miami-Dade County Commissioner Natacha Seijas walked out of her scheduled deposition Thursday, refusing to answer questions because a reporter was in attendance." "Seijas bolts before her testimony over recall".
"Bondi calls for tougher laws on 'pill mills'". See also "AG Pam Bondi wants to crack down on 'pill mills'" and "Democrat Aronberg will wage Republican Bondi's pill-mill fight as Fla. drug czar".