The Saint Petersburg Times editorial board: "Florida State University's economics department needs to reconsider its relationship with billionaire Charles G. Koch, who pledged $1.5 million to the school as long as professors hired with the money hew to Koch's Libertarian philosophy. The arrangement reeks of pandering and undermines academic freedom, the cornerstone of American higher education."
Under the terms of a 2008 deal with the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation, FSU's economics department is scheduled to receive $1.5 million over six years to hire professors. But faculty members hired with foundation money must be approved by an advisory committee handpicked by Koch. That means Koch effectively holds veto power, an arrangement rarely found in the academic community and that threatens independent thinking."Koch gift too costly for Florida State". See also "Fla St defends grant-for-hire agreement with Koch".
"Miami lawmaker protests state Rep. Scott Randolph".
"That simply wouldn't do"
Scott Maxwell points out that "early voting thrived — until last week anyway, when modern-day Republicans decided they'd had quite enough."
The problem, you see, was that early voting tended to favor Democrats — often working people who wanted to vote on a weekend. Also because of the simple fact that Florida has more Democrats than Republicans.That's the Republican self-serving part of the story. Now, here's the Republican hypocrisy part of the story:
And that simply wouldn't do.
So GOP legislators decided to attack early voting. And voter registration. Any part of democracy that didn't benefit their party.
They shortened early voting from 14 days down to eight. They made it harder for people who have moved in the past year or changed their names to cast ballots on Election Day. And they successfully put groups that register new voters, like the League of Women Voters, out of business.
Even Republican elections supervisors were puzzled by the attack. "I'm not sure the system was, in any fashion, broken," said Seminole's Michael Ertel.
They didn't target all early voting — only the parts that helped Democrats."The real frauds are backers of bad election bill". The Sun Sentinel editorial board: "Democratic process suffers if groups end voter registration drives".
Republicans did nothing to change the rules surrounding absentee voting.
Even though absentee voting is infinitely easier. (Voters needn't leave their house, prove they are absent or even request their own ballots.)
Even though absentee voting lasts much longer than early voting. (Forget eight days. Absentee voters can start casting ballots up to a month in advance.)
And even though absentee voting is more susceptible to fraud. (Absentee voters needn't offer any in-person proof that they cast their own ballot.)
"There is more opportunity for front-end fraud," said Ertel. ...
So why not target absentee voting?
Because it benefits Republicans — a lot.
Absentee votes were credited with delivering George W. Bush his razor-thin victory in 2000. Ever since, GOP candidates have worked the tactic with great success.
In fact, absentee voters gave Republican Rick Scott his victory over Democrat Alex Sink last year.
In counties like Seminole, Scott and Sink ran neck-and-neck in traditional early voting. But Scott received 50 percent more votes among absentee ballots.
Republicans weren't going to derail that gravy train.
So they concocted bogus claims about fraud and then started cracking down … but only on certain kinds of voters.
"Longwood Elementary to close despite protests". See also "Broward Schools: Closing schools might be necessary".
Here's an idea: raise wages to attract workers
Dara Kam writes that"the Republican-controlled state legislature failed this year to pass any immigration bill -- Arizona-like or Arizona-lite -- as Congress, whether controlled by Republicans or Democrats, has failed to do with immigration-related bills offered practically every year since 2004."
Businesses feared that requiring them to use the federal E-Verify system to ensure that workers are in the country legally, as Snyder's bill would have done, would have been costly and unreliable."Fla. lawmakers say business interests played major role in killing immigration control".
Agricultural interests, already struggling to find enough workers, were convinced the plan would be devastating.
Instead of raising wages to attract workers - that old supply and demand thing we claim to worship - Florida business wants to keep its system of "modern-day slavery". We don't like to admit it, but, "slavery is not just the shameful stuff of history books - not in Florida".
The Teabagger state
"Lt. gov to speak to local tea party".
They're just birds
"28 Florida species among 251 feds would consider for endangered species list under deal".
The Chamber-owned Legislature stiffs insurers
"Legislators delivered for most Florida businesses in the 2011 session, as much of their agenda is making it into law. But there was one glaring exception -- insurance companies. Businesses received a windfall of tax breaks and deregulation, but private insurers, whose prices are set by the Office of Insurance Regulation, were not invited to the party." "Insurers See Slight Progress, Missed Opportunity in Session".
Medicare kerfuffle ensnares Rooney and West
The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "Medicare reform was on the table, then off. Now - maybe - it's back on the table. That's where it needs to be."
When President Obama failed to endorse proposals from his own budget-cutting commission or offer any meaningful spending reforms, Republicans filled the void with Rep. Paul Ryan's "Path to Prosperity," which converts Medicare to a voucher system. After the House passed that blueprint, the Democratic Congressional Committee attacked Republicans, including Tom Rooney and Allen West, for "voting to end Medicare" and "raise health care costs" for seniors. Republican protests that their plan leaves Medicare intact for those 55 and older haven't provided much protection as campaigning for 2012 cranks up. Mr. Obama even offered his own vague Medicare plan as a campaign ploy to show him vowing to "save" Medicare."A real problem, not a ploy".
"After being ostracized from Indian politics the last eight years, a former Seminole chief is once again going to head the tribe." "Billie's back: Political exile over for Seminole chief".
We don' need no stinkin' reger'lations
"A company representative said 97 percent of the underground chemical mass will likely be gone in three years, but it could take 80 years to finish the cleanup." "Raytheon neighbors will live with pollution for years".
To replace Bovo
"With Esteban Bovo having resigned his seat at the end of March, during the middle of the legislative session, to run for the Miami-Dade County Commission, three Republicans and a write-in candidate have filed to claim the seat."
A special primary election on May 24 and a special general election on June 28 will decide the winner. The seat represents parts of Miami-Dade County. "Three Conservatives Square Off in Special Election to Represent Miami-Dade in the House".
The CEO of the Oliva Cigar Company, Jose Oliva, has his eyes on the Republican nomination. With roots in the community and having called the district home since 1974, Oliva has chosen to play up his conservatism. According to Oliva’s campaign team, their candidate will fight for "lower taxes, small and accountable government, conservative family values and to make Florida a business-friendly state." ...
Rafael “Ralph” Perez is also seeking the Republican nomination. Perez is no stranger to politics, having served as an aide to Marco Rubio during his time in the Florida House and as a deputy chief of staff under former Speaker Johnnie Byrd. Perez ran in the Republican primary for another House seat representing parts of Miami-Dade County back in 2008, but he came up short to another former legislative aide -- current Rep. Erik Fresen, R-Miami. ...
Looking to capitalize on his background in the community and in city government, Frank Lago is also running for the Republican nomination. Lago’s background is in city government: managing the Parks and Recreation Department of the city of Sweetwater before serving as chief of staff to Mayor Manny Maroño.
Vern stands up for torture
"Vern Buchanan Demands Obama Call Off Investigation of CIA Agents Accused of Torture".
Jax reluctantly agrees to recycle some sewage
"North Florida during the late 2000s waged legal warfare on Central Florida for wasting a lot of water, including treated sewage, even as the Orlando area sought permission to pump large volumes from the fragile St. Johns River. On Tuesday, the tables were turned somewhat when JEA, Jacksonville's municipal utility, was roundly criticized for seeking a huge permit for water use while agreeing to increase its recycling of sewage to a level that would be considered puny in Central Florida." "Jacksonville criticized for not recycling wastewater as Central Florida does — but still gets large water-use permit".
Medicaid gravy train
"In a potentially huge change, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida plans to enter the Medicaid program and compete in what likely will become a statewide managed-care system."
Meanwhile, last year's federal health law will change Medicaid eligibility standards in 2014. That move, which is part of the Obama administration's effort to make sure almost all Americans have health coverage, will increase the number of beneficiaries in Florida."Blue Cross to enter Medicaid program".
About 2.9 million Floridians are enrolled in Medicaid, with about 1.3 million already in managed-care plans, according to AHCA figures. That managed-care total likely would more than double under the legislation passed last week --- and could go even higher based on the federal eligibility changes.
Teabagger grabs Scott appointment
"Gov. Rick Scott today appointed a four new faces to the nine-member board that oversees the South Florida Water Management District, the largest and oldest of the state's five water management districts."
In are Daniel DeLisi (who replaces Charles Dauray, a Crist appointee who wanted his job back), Daniel O'Keefe, Timothy Sargent and Jim Moran."Scott names four new members to state's largest water mangement district". See also "Governor names four to South Florida Water Management board, two from Palm Beach County".
Moran and his daughter, Marianne Moran, run the Tea Party in Action. During Scott's primary campaign last summer, Marianne Moran organized a protest of then-Gov. Charlie Crist's deal to buy U.S. Sugar/Everglades restoration deal outside the SFWMD and featured Scott as the keynote speaker.
Public employee pay slashed
"The new requirement that state and county workers contribute to their pensions is deeply reducing Palm Beach County's budget woes next year, chopping tens of millions of dollars from its expected shortfall, county officials say." "Lawmakers' decision to force government workers to contribute to pensions eases county budget woes".
"More than 100 people, including five Democratic state lawmakers, showed up west of Delray Beach Tuesday afternoon to protest the policies of Gov. Rick Scott and the Republican-controlled legislature. ... organizers around the state said the broad sweep of budget cuts, partisan legislation and social agenda votes have made the opposition to Gov. Rick Scott and the Republican-ruled legislature more diverse." "Republican agenda victories stir Democratic protests across Florida".
"Nearly everything they wanted"
"With nearly 15,000 businesses off the tax rolls, less regulations and red tape to get through, and a move to consolidate and streamline state government bureaucracies, Florida businesses got nearly everything they wanted in the 2011 legislative session." "Florida Businesses See 2011 Session as Shot in the Arm".
A real yawner
"Jon Huntsman Jr., diplomat and Utah's reform-minded former governor, whose potential as a presidential candidate has long worried Barack Obama's advisers, courts Republicans in St. Petersburg." "Potential presidential candidate visits".