Scott Maxwell: "Florida is stepping back into the dark ages when it comes to nursing-home abuse and neglect. The industry is facing fewer regulations. Staffing requirements are being lowered. The watchdog program is being neutered. The state is even trying to muzzle the watchdogs who dare to speak up for the elderly. And all of this is happening while cases of horrid abuse — the likes of which you would barely believe in a Stephen King novel — are on the rise." "Florida is taking elderly down a dark, deadly path".
"The search for Florida's next education commissioner has narrowed to about a half dozen potential candidates, though it remains to be seen whether recruiters will be able to lure them from top jobs to tackle one of the country's largest school systems." "Search narrows for Fla. education commissioner".
"Scott's taking an active interest in SunRail"
The Orlando Sentinel editors: "Scott's taking an active interest in SunRail, according to several regional business leaders and politicians who've met with him, precisely because the more he looks, there's more for a businessman like Scott to like." "Scott warming to SunRail?"
"Toward the end of this year's legislative session, state lawmakers seemed near tears as they explained why they had to cut so much from public schools, nursing homes and hospitals. The leaders, however, managed to find money in the $68 billion state budget for a dozen or so pet projects, in the process pumping up the budgets of a few state colleges and universities." "Lawmakers spare pet university projects".
"The appellate judge who orchestrated the construction of the elaborate "Taj Mahal" courthouse was charged Tuesday by the Judicial Qualifications Commission with abusing his authority as a judge, destroying public records and conduct that demonstrates he is unfit to hold office." "JQC charges 'Taj Mahal' judge".
Ricky'st education tantrum
"Gov. Rick Scott warns he may veto more than a hundred million dollars in college construction projects in the new state budget." "Gov. Rick Scott threatens veto of college construction projects".
Rick 'da man
"During the legislative session, lobbyists are sent scurrying all over the Capitol to marshal votes for their clients’ bills. Now that session is over, interest groups have just one man to lobby -- Gov. Rick Scott." "Unsatisfied Groups Turn to Gov. Rick Scott After Session".
Bondi rightly balking?
The Orlando Sentinel editorial board: "Attorney General rightly balked at a government mandate to devalue mortgages".
"Gov. Scott poises with veto power -- over his own party's spending plans".
Friends of Ricky multiply
"The number of lobbying firms that reported earning a least a half-a-million dollars in the first quarter of 2011 rose from seven to 11. Among those firms that reported earning money was The Rubin Group, the firm led by long-time lobbyist William Rubin. Rubin is a friend of Gov. Rick Scott." "".
Ricky's a never ending PR stunt
"Don't call it a comeback: Scott launches campaign to tout successes".
Florida GOP presidential primary up for grabs
"A poll released on Monday shows that Florida is up for grabs in the Republican presidential race, with more than 40 percent of likely primary voters either undecided or backing a candidate who has decided not to run for the nomination."
With Florida set to have an early primary in 2012 and the Republican Party of Florida heavily promoting its Presidency 5 straw poll in Orlando in September, the poll from Republican firm Sunshine State Communications finds that the field of candidates needs to familiarize itself with voters in the Sunshine State. The poll finds that 32 percent of those surveyed were undecided -- easily surpassing any of the candidates included in the poll."Florida Up for Grabs in GOP 2012 Race, Poll Shows". Background: "State GOP girds for 2012 brawl ".
Former Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts leads the field of candidates with 16 percent and former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich of Georgia is right behind him with 15 percent. With former Gov. Mike Huckabee of Arkansas announcing Saturday that he is not running for the Republican presidential nomination, his supporters can play a pivotal role in the primary battle.
The poll was taken before Huckabee made his announcement and showed the former Arkansas governor took 11 percent of those surveyed. Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, who has downplayed talk about running for the Republican nomination in 2012, took 9 percent while former Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska, who is still considering whether to run, stands at 8 percent.
The rest of the field trails the leaders.
"The Federal Election Commission has found 'no reason to believe' that Rep. David Rivera violated campaign finance law during the 2010 election by coordinating a campaign attack." "FEC clears complaint against Rep. Rivera".
Update: "Gov. Rick Scott signs sweeping property insurance changes into law".
"With a sweeping property insurance reform bill awaiting Gov. Rick Scott's signature, supporters and opponents of the proposal continue to battle." "Sides battle over Florida insurance bill as it awaits Gov. Rick Scott". See also "Insurance Reform Post-Session Battle Begins".
"Gov. Scott offers a personalized welcome to state".
"Nothing fair or fiscally conservative about it"
The Saint Petersburg Times editorial board:
Leaders in the Florida Legislature frequently talk about their fiscal conservative principles. But in passing four bills that would make it harder to bring personal injury cases and cap the damages that courts can award, lawmakers have closed or curtailed access to the courts for thousands of injured Floridians. That makes it far more likely that the cost of catastrophic injuries due to medical malpractice or a faulty vehicle design will shift to taxpayers. If Gov. Rick Scott signs the bill he will signal he would rather let wrongdoers off the hook and shift the burden to taxpayers."Devaluing the lives of poor, elderly".
"Bits and Pieces"
Kevin Derby's "Political Bits and Pieces".
Cancelling the last day of Miami-Dade early voting?
"The House of Representatives and the Senate passed a bill that required the Elections Department to cancel the last day of early voting in the 2011 Miami-Dade County Special Election. Gov. Rick Scott is expected to sign this bill and the vast majority of it will become law on or before May 21." "Early voting in Miami-Dade special election ends May 21".
"Builders are struggling to compete with waves of foreclosures that have forced down prices for previously occupied homes. The weakness is weighing on the economy." "Homebuilders missing
out on economic recovery".
"Confusion at polls"
Jackie Bueno Sousa: "Ignorance leads to confusion at polls".
"The daughter of a super lobbyist"
"It pays to be the daughter of a super lobbyist, but things can get complicated."
In the final days of the legislative session, lawmakers amended a bill to protect children from sexual abuse that gave $1.5 million to Lauren's Kids, a nonprofit run by the daughter of Ron Book, the Tallahassee uber-lobbyist from Miami."Nonprofit run by lobbyist Ron Book's daughter nets $1.5 million, but not for what they asked for".
The problem is, according to all accounts, neither of the Books asked for the money. The bill, HB 215, says the money must be used to finance a 24-hour abuse hotline and pay for sexual abuse prevention education in schools — programs already offered by Lauren's Kids without state funding.
The money the Books did ask for but did not receive: $3 million to finance the cost of relocating victims of sexual assault who are too threatened to remain at home. Instead, the late-session allocation was tacked onto a bill victim advocates had worked on all year. Among other things, the bill limits a defendant's access to child pornography evidence, allows the admission of prior sexual crimes as evidence and ensures the HIV testing of sex offenders.
If anyone knows who came up with the idea of steering the money to Book's hotline and community awareness program in a year when $3.8 billion was being slashed from the budget, they are not saying. Nor is anyone claiming credit.
"U.S. Rep. West urges drilling to tap U.S. oil in Gulf, and greater pursuit of all other energy sources".
"LeMieux's mixed message"
"From his U.S. Senate office, George LeMieux declared he would have voted against the $787 billion stimulus. But behind the scenes, LeMieux was trying to secure hundreds of millions." "George LeMieux sends mixed messages on spending, earmarks".
At least 1,400 Broward teachers canned
"More than 1,400 teachers won’t be coming back to their Broward classrooms in August. And hundreds of more will likely be laid off as the school district grapples with a $140 million deficit." "1,400-plus teachers losing jobs".
Rubio wants a refund
"Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio introduced a proposal Tuesday that would allow states refusing federal funds to direct those monies to help pay down the national debt." "Marco Rubio Offers Proposal to Pay Down National Debt".
"Jeb!" sycophants run amuck
"Jeb Bush left the governor's office in 2007, but his influence still holds sway in Tallahassee, and now in state capitols from New Jersey to Oregon, where lawmakers are eager to adopt his education reform efforts." "Jeb Bush's education reform ideas draw national attention".
Brown goes sideways
"Democrat U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown again aligns with GOP in Florida redistricting battle".
"Florida nuclear reactors pass inspection in wake of Japan disaster".
The Saint Petersburg Times editorial board: "Florida State University President Eric Barron should stop defending an indefensible arrangement with a private foundation to fund and approve faculty positions in the economics department. Barron needs to either cut ties with the Charles G. Koch Foundation or convince it to rescind its restrictions." "FSU: For Sale University".
Under fire "for an unusual deal that gives a billionaire donor control over some faculty positions, Florida State University president Eric J. Barron has insisted that his institution's academic freedom has not been compromised."
But internal FSU e-mails show that top academic officers who reviewed drafts of the 2008 agreement with the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation had precisely those concerns."Internal FSU e-mails show academic officers were concerned with Koch's control over financial gift".
Despite those fears, the arrangement — which was hoped to raise $6.6 million but ultimately yielded only about $3.5 million for the college's economics department — went through only minor changes.
"Planning a twofer"
Fred Grimm: "Appalachian oxy junkies have made that thousand-mile trek down I-95 or I-75 in such astounding numbers that doctors in the Fort Lauderdale area have become the most prolific dispensers of oxycodone in the nation. You’ve heard the stats. In 2009, Florida could claim all 50 of the nation’s top 50 docs excelling in that particular specialty — 33 of them working of Broward County. Oxy tourism sustains some 183 pain clinics in South Florida. But why here? Visitors are not, I’m guessing, planning a twofer — a stroll through the art galleries along Las Olas Boulevard after stocking up on oxy scrips." "Why South Florida is Candyland for oxycodone buyers".
RPOFers stick heads in sand
"Four hundred scientists gathered in Copenhagen this month to talk about the warming temperatures in the arctic. Their conclusion:"
The arctic's glaciers are melting faster than anyone expected due to man-made climate change. "Once a major issue in Florida, climate change concerns few in Tallahassee".
As a result, the world's sea level will rise faster than previously projected, rising at least 2 feet 11 inches and perhaps as high as 5 feet 3 inches by 2100, they said.
In low-lying Florida, where 95 percent of the population lives within 35 miles of its 1,200 miles of coastline, a swelling of the tides could cause serious problems. So what is Florida's Department of Environmental Protection doing about dealing with climate change?
"DEP is not pursuing any programs or projects regarding climate change," an agency spokeswoman said in an e-mail to the St. Petersburg Times last week.