"Poor Mike Haridopolos. Our very own state Senate president is becoming a national joke. Everyone from Fox News to the Washington Post is now scrutinizing the Merritt Island Republican." "Taxpayers paid $152,000 for a single copy of a book".
Florida's "Isolated GOP Governor"
The Huffington Post's Sam Stein: "Down in Florida, Gov. Rick Scott's steadfast opposition to a national high-speed rail project has put him squarely on an island, with federal, state and even local officials all petitioning him to change course. "
The latest chapter in the saga came on Tuesday, when leading Republican and Democratic state Senators formally sued the governor in Florida Supreme Court in an attempt to salvage the high-speed rail plans. Just hours later, the Court announced Scott had until noon on Wednesday to respond in kind. His office responded to the lawsuit (not the Court) with a statement from the governor declaring that his "position remains unchanged.""Rick Scott Competes With Scott Walker For Most Isolated GOP Governor".
And why not? Scott has, if anything, shown remarkable imperviousness to political pressure on this front, continually insisting the plan would cost the state an additional $3 billion in overlays -- a number defenders insist is pure fiction. While in D.C. for a national governor's convention on Friday morning, he met with Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood at LaHood's office in the southwest corridor of the city. A long, frank discussion ended with the governor promising to provide a list of what he needed to support the high-speed rail project by the end of this week. So far, Transportation officials confirm, he has not provided it.
Unlike Walker -- who still retains the backing of Republican office-holders in state -- Scott has engendered the opposition of GOP lawmakers in state and federal office. And on Monday night, the mayors of three affected cities -- Orlando, Tampa, and Lakeland--gathered privately with the governor to pitch him, once again, to accept the plan.
"Two Florida senators filed suit against Gov. Rick Scott in the Florida Supreme Court to stop him from killing a Tampa-Orlando bullet train." "Sens. Arthenia Joyner, Thad Altman sue Gov. Rick Scott over high-speed rail". See also "Senators sue Scott over rail money", "2 lawmakers ask high court to force Gov. Rick Scott to take high speed rail money" and "State lawmakers sue Scott over rail funding".
"Just short of three months on the job, Gov. Rick Scott is being challenged in court by two senators, one a fellow Republican, over his rejection of $2.4 billion of federal funds for a high-speed rail project. The Florida Supreme Court put the case on the fast track Tuesday, giving Scott just 24 hours to respond to the lawsuit filed that morning by Sens. Thad Altman, a Viera Republican, and Arthenia Joyner, a Tampa Democrat." "Supreme Court fast-tracks Fla. senators' suit to stop Scott from refusing federal rail money".
The rich are different
"Gov. Rick Scott: Leaving on His Own Jet Plane".
Obama soils himself
"President Barack Obama will share a political stage at a Miami high school Friday with former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, giving the president’s education initiative a bi-partisan boost. The Republican governor, who last summer criticized Obama as 'childish' for continuing to blame the sluggish economy on former President George W. Bush, will join the president and Education Secretary Arne Duncan at Miami Central Senior High School where Obama is to deliver remarks on his push for improving U.S. schools." "Jeb Bush teams up with Obama to promote education reform". See also "President Obama, Jeb Bush to tour Miami high school noted for turnaround".
Republicans distancing themselves from Rivera
"The investigations into Rep. David Rivera’s finances have top House Republicans worried and looking to distance themselves from the freshman lawmaker." "House leader 'concerned' over investigation of Rep. Rivera".
Scott goes after state employees
"In Florida's budget, most of the money is in salaries and benefits for state employees and public school teachers as well as the state-federal Medicaid health care program for low-income and disabled people. So that's where Republican Gov. Rick Scott and the GOP-controlled Legislature have been looking for savings in the face of a forecast shortfall of $3.6 billion or more for the budget year beginning July 1." "Florida budget cutters focus on public employees".
While the rest of us were sleeping
"A wildfire on the southern end of Volusia County quadrupled in size Tuesday, burning more than 16,144 acres in Volusia and Brevard counties. However, parts of Interstate 95 and U.S. 1 that had been closed Monday were reopened, and firefighters said Tuesday night they were moving toward the 'mop up' phase." "Wildfire grows but firefighters move toward 'mop up' phase". See also "'Iron Horse' brush fire 25 percent contained as crews search for hot spots" and "16,000-acre brush fire 25 percent contained".
Turning the couches upside down
The Daytona Beach News Journal editorial board: "You know the economy is shaky when lawmakers begin to turn the couches upside down for spare change. That is essentially what is happening now, as Florida legislators consider adding advertising to some taxpayer-owned assets. The idea has been floated in Tallahassee at the same time lawmakers are considering legalizing online poker at dog tracks, horse tracks and jai-alai frontons. In the face of a $4 billion budget shortfall, lawmakers such as State Rep. Irv Slosberg, D-Boca Raton, are being aggressive. Slosberg suggested selling naming rights to the Florida Turnpike." "Ad revenue is tempting for state lawmakers".
Not do bright
The Sun Sentinel editorial board: "Bright Futures reform needed".
Death penalty lawsuit
"State Rep. Michelle Rehwinkel Vasilinda wants to abolish Florida's death penalty." "Rehwinkel Vasilinda files bill to abolish state's death penalty".
Rubio strides world stage
"Sen. Marco Rubio Elevates Florida Role in Latin America Policy".
Attack on Florida unions unabated
Over at Daily Kos, a diary discusses
HB1023, which has just been introduced in the legislature by Rep. Scott Plakon (R-Longwood). The remarkably short little bill aims to decertify all -public- -unions- (actually all unions, whether public or not) (excepting police and firefighters) that do not have at least 50% membership as of July 1, 2011. ...The writer continues on "a bright solidarity note, [pointing out that]the President of the firefighters union in Orlando has released a statement protesting their [firefighters] exclusion from HB1023:"
HB1023 is just one of the several bills being discussed in committees right now, although it's the one I'm most concerned about. Two (SB830 and HB1021) look to remove the ability of members to have dues automatically deducted form their paychecks, while another (HB1025) requires unions to send out annual financial statements including information about how members can go about getting their unions decertified.
Dear Representative Plakon"Florida legislature still happy to go after unions". (See the letter and discussion of it at the Florida Today newspaper site here" (Underscoring supplied). Background from Bill Cotterell: "Lawmakers take aim at unions" ("Bills would effectively wipe out collective bargaining").
I'm writing in response to House Bill 1023 (HB1023) which you have sponsored. First, I want you to know I oppose this Bill for all the obvious reasons. More importantly, I want you to withdraw firefighters as an exclusion from your Bill. As a firefighter for almost 30 years and the President of Orlando Professional Fire Fighters IAFF L-1365, a labor union, we do not wish to be excluded from your attack on unions. Although I do not speak for the entire State of Florida and it's firefighters, I do speak for Orlando Fire Fighters IAFF L-1365 and know that many firefighter union leaders share the same opinion of HB-1023 and object to the exclusion of firefighters unions.
Professional Fire Fighters are proud labor unionists and we stand with the rest of labor during this unjust and ideological attack by you and the right wing of your party. To exclude us is a mistake, we will not show favor to those who attack labor and the working class, excluded or not. I would prefer you not hide behind firefighters in your ideological and self serving attack on labor and the working class of this State.
Steve Clelland, President
Orlando Professional Fire Fighters IAFF 1365
"Ferlita to face Buckhorn in runoff; Greco edged out". The Tampa Tribune editorial board: "A last hurrah and a fresh start".
It's Obama's fault!
"Rising Gas Prices: All Signs Point to Obama".
Does Scott administration wants a fight with the Legislature?
"E-mails obtained by the Florida Tribune show that members of Gov. Rick Scott’s own staff were suggesting that state lawmakers needed to sign off on the sale of the state’s two airplanes. Additionally, the former head of the state agency responsible for the planes cautioned late last year that the elimination of the state’s aircraft service itself could require a change in state law." "E-mails show Scott's own staff suggested legislators needed to approve plane sales".
Debtors prisons next?
"Bill would garnish wages of public employees with unpaid fines".
Never mind them judges
"Bankers want to do an end-run around the judicial system, which is backlogged and choked by fraud." "Hays says bill would help stem "coming tsunami" of commercial foreclosures".
"This year's 'dirty water bill'"
"Business group lobbyist says bills seek to avoid duplication but one environmentalist says they represent this year's 'dirty water bill.'" "Bills filed to streamline state permitting processes".
Will Scott back up his words?
"A sweeping bill meant to boost the power of the state’s ethics commission has been filed by Sen. Mike Fasano. But it remains unclear whether or not the GOP-controlled Legislature will pass the measure since it includes ideas that have been previously rejected. Fasano’s bill is modeled after the recommendations that came from a critical grand jury report that said the state needed to toughen up its ethics laws in order to battle corruption. Gov. Rick Scott has previously voiced support for carrying out the changes recommended by the statewide grand jury." "Sweeping bill would boost power of ethics panel to investigate elected officials".
Thank you, President Obama"
"A dam good fix for damaging Glades canals".
Braynon routs Celestinin a special election
"Democrat Oscar Braynon II handily won a seat to the Florida Senate Tuesday, defeating Republican Joe Celestin in a rout in a special legislative election. With a majority of precincts reporting, unofficial results gave Braynon an easy victory, expected in the heavily Democratic district." "Braynon defeats Celestin in Florida Senate race".
We urge Boehner to attend a Florida bargaining session
"Boehner: Unions Have 'Machine Gun' Pointed At 'Heads Of Local Officials'".
Funny that ...
Regarding the potential NBA labor fight (more precisely, the owners (a delicious double entendre) preventing the players from working (via a lockout) the Orlando Sentinel editorial board finds the "thought of rich players and even-richer team owners squabbling over money is hard to stomach, especially when much of America is still struggling to recover from the Great Recession." "NBA lockout would be Orlando's Loss".
Funny how the editors were unable to put pen to paper about the recently concluded labor negotiations involving more 20,000 lowly paid Disney employees. It would have been nice to read something like this: "The thought of the immensely rich Disney company squabbling over money with lowly paid central Florida Disney employees is hard to stomach". No such luck.
Bus drivers have temerity to participate in political process
"County bus drivers are part of a 12-member 'education' committee created in January by the transit union, which supports Mayor Carlos Alvarez. One driver was at an early-voting site Tuesday passing out leaflets in favor of the mayor." "Role of transit workers in Alvarez campaign questioned".