Tally Teabaggers plumbing the depths
"Florida Gov. Rick Scott's approval rating has dropped to a new low, although he's been on the job for less than five months."
A poll released Wednesday shows Florida voters disapproved of the way Scott's been doing that job by a 57 percent to 29 percent margin."Florida poll: Scott approval rate hits new low".
The Quinnipiac University poll, though, shows the Republican governor has plenty of company.
Voters rated the GOP-controlled Florida Legislature about the same. They disapproved of lawmakers' work 56 percent to 27 percent.
Scott managed to accomplish "the worst score of any governor in the states surveyed by Quinnipiac University"
Even Scott's support among Republicans is relatively weak, with 51 percent of GOP voters approving and 37 percent disapproving of his job performance. Disapproval is 72 - 13 percent among Democrats and 57 - 28 percent among independent voters. Both sexes are down on Scott: Men disapprove 53 - 35 percent and women disapprove 60 - 24 percent. "May 25, 2011 - Florida Voters Turn Thumbs Down On Gov. Scott 2-1, Quinnipiac University Poll Finds" ("From May 17 - 23, Quinnipiac University surveyed 1,196 registered voters with a margin of error of +/- 2.8 percentage points. Live interviewers call land lines and cell phones.")
Schools cut, turkeys stuffed
"Lawmakers crafting this year's state budget slashed nearly $4 billion from last year's spending level, cutting from public schools and services to the elderly and laying off thousands of state workers."
But they still found room to lard the $69.7 billion budget with $203 million in pork - at least according to Florida TaxWatch, a business-backed government spending watchdog. ..."TaxWatch 'turkey' list blasts state spending on local projects". See also "Negron blasts TaxWatch ‘hackneyed’ turkey list" and "TaxWatch 'Turkeys' Close Up".
Nearly half of the 105 items tagged by Calabro's group were slipped into the budget during conference committee meetings, when House and Senate negotiators are expected to resolve their differences rather than insert projects not previously considered.
That process indicates the items were selected more for political purposes than policy reasons, Calabro said Tuesday. "It creates a serious question of integrity in the budget process."
But Senate Health and Human Services Committee Chairman Joe Negron, R-Stuart, called TaxWatch's list an outdated "media gimmick" and defended the spending plan.
TaxWatch's "added in conference" category is "a flimsy basis to disparage a budget expenditure," said Negron, a former House budget chief.
Second amendment stoopid
"Man brings gun to Smokey Bones: 4 hurt in accidental shooting".
"The race to be the next Miami-Dade County mayor is down to two, after voters threw their support behind former Hialeah Mayor Julio Robaina and former County Commissioner Carlos Gimenez but failed to give either candidate more than 50 percent of the votes required to crown a winner." "Julio Robaina and Carlos Gimenez in runoff for Miami-Dade mayor".
"Gov. Scott set to sign a $70 billion state budget".
PSC "forced departure a 'private matter'"?
Update: "The saga of the Florida Public Service Commission took another turn Tuesday as commissioners formally accepted the resignation of Executive Director Timothy Devlin, submitted Monday under pressure from the five-member board. Commission Chairman Art Graham, who reportedly helped to push Devlin out, praised his 35-year tenure with the PSC." "PSC Intrigue Continues as Executive Director Tim Devlin Resigns".
"The Florida Public Service Commission named an interim executive director Tuesday after accepting the resignation of Timothy Devlin, saying his forced departure was a 'private matter.'"
Curt Kiser, the agency's general counsel and a former senator from Pinellas County, will serve as the executive director until the commission finds a new director. Commissioner Julie Brown will lead a nominating committee for a permanent replacement. "Florida Public Service Commission names Curt Kiser interim director".
PSC Chairman Art Graham, who earlier this month asked for Devlin's resignation, offered no explanation for why he sought Devlin's departure after 35 years at the utility regulatory board.
"I had a private conversation with the executive director, and if he wanted to go public with it we would have,'' Graham told reporters during a break in the daylong PSC meeting. "I think with his wishes we'll just keep it private. He tendered his resignation, and I think that's enough said."
Devlin did not attend the meeting and did not respond to requests for comment.
Background: "Director of Public Service Commission resigns, says Chairman Art Graham wants him out" ("The Miami Herald reported [Tuesday] that Graham wanted Devlin out.") More: "PSC executive director resigns before he's pushed out by chairman".
Trust fund raid
"Several groups joined on Monday to deliver a petition of nearly 3,600 signatures and a letter asking Gov. Rick Scott to veto a proposed $150 million transfer from the state's road-building fund. This marks the third year in a row that a trust fund transfer has been proposed." "Transportation groups step on pedal in calling for veto of trust fund sweep".
"Where the jobs are"
Jackie Bueno Sousa: "Public transit needs to go where the jobs are".
Florida labor case prompts review of employer obligation to supply info
"A telecommunications company's decision to expand its work force in Florida has triggered an investigation by the Obama administration's National Labor Relations Board. While the probe doesn't specifically target the firm, CenturyLink, it could set sweeping 'new standards' for every company that intends to move jobs."
Much like Boeing Co., which plans to shift work from Washington state to South Carolina, CenturyLink figured it made good business sense [read: a low wage, compliant work force] to move jobs out of Nevada and into the Sunshine State.Meanwhile, Florida's union haters are running wild:
Last month, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi co-authored with eight other attorneys general a letter opposing the NLRB’s pending complaint against Boeing for unfair labor practices. "Florida Call Center ".
“Florida has a vested interest in ensuring that businesses are not unfairly prevented from expanding their operations in right-to-work states, like ours,” Bondi said.
U.S. Sen Marco Rubio, R-Fla., joined 34 other Senate Republicans in co-sponsoring the Job Protection Act (S 964), designed to ensure that companies can operate where they want and speak freely about costs linked to having unionized work forces.
Drawing up companion legislation in the House, Republicans say the NLRB's attempt to compel Boeing to shift production of its new 787 Dreamliner away from the roughly $750 million factory it has built and staffed in South Carolina could deter companies from establishing operations or expanding in the United States out of fear the agency will meddle. ...
Michael Mahaffey, spokesman for U.S. Rep. Tom Rooney, R-Tequesta, said the congressman concurs and considers the NLRB's action a "travesty."
"Congressman Rooney not only has serious constitutional questions about the NLRB's decision, he believes its action poses significant threats to job creation and economic growth in states like Florida," Mahaffey said.
George Cecala, spokesman for U.S. Rep. Bill Posey, R-Rockledge, said the congressman believes that the NLRB has "stepped far beyond its bounds by questioning the right of states to establish their own labor laws."
The above-quoted Sunshine State News headline - referring to the "Wrath of Obama's Labor Board" - is a bit overheated. The General Counsel for the NLRB has simply asked (via an internal memo) its Regional Directors to send to the Division of Advice all cases involving union information requests related to certain business relocations; in an appropriate case the General Counsel may initiate litigation relating to such information requests to refine the scope of the law.
How appropriate ... the Biltmore hotel
"A day after telling Iowans their beloved ethanol subsidies will have to go, Republican presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty used a stop in senior-heavy Florida to call for reining in Social Security and Medicare benefits for future retirees. The former Minnesota governor, who launched his campaign Monday, talked about entitlement reform during a 30-minute Facebook town hall and in a question-and-answer session with reporters at the Biltmore hotel." "Stand of Pawlenty: presidential candidate in South Florida, calls for cuts to retiree benefits". See also "Tim Pawlenty Hits the Sunshine State -- While Dems Hit Him".
"Hillsborough public single-gender schools get $200,000 from voucher supporters".
School bus cuts painful
The Saint Petersburg Times editorial board argues "School bus cuts painful, but necessary".
We don' need no stinkin' reger'lations
"Vermin infestations and other critical violations of state sanitation and safety laws determined by inspectors at two South Florida restaurants last week prompted the Florida Department of Business & Professional Regulation to temporarily close them." "Two S. Fla. restaurants briefly shut by inspectors".
The best they can do?
"Rick Santorum to speak at Lincoln Day Dinner".
Teachers protest cuts, mismanagement...
"Ringing bells, carrying signs and shouting slogans like "Yes, we can," teachers clogged the sidewalks Tuesday around the Broward School District headquarters to protest job cuts, district mismanagement and a lack of raises." "Broward teachers protest job cuts, demand raises". See also "Hundreds protest school cuts".
Top down democracy
"A new law has made it easier for the Legislature — but harder for citizens — to change Florida's Constitution."
When state lawmakers tried last year to propose constitutional amendments to voters concerning property taxes, the new federal health care law and the redistricting of political boundaries, they ran headlong into challenges at the state Supreme Court, which removed all three from the ballot. "Law tilts ballot battles".
It was a maddening blow to the GOP-controlled Legislature, which passed legislation this year sharply restricting opponents' ability to fight legislative ballot proposals.
The new law, which took effect when Gov. Rick Scott signed it Thursday, gives opponents just 30 days to challenge ballot questions approved by the Legislature. Even if a court challenge does succeed, the state attorney general will have new authority to rewrite the ballot language so it can still reach the voters.
The Legislature's experience at the Supreme Court last year "created a question," said House sponsor Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala: "What can we do to make sure voters get to see these items?"
The same law is less generous, however, to citizens seeking to amend the state constitution. Petitioners now have only two years, rather than the previous four-year window, in which to gather enough signatures to add a question to the ballot
Mack strives to at least sound relevant
"Florida Republican Congressman Connie Mack, chairman of the House Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, called for greater cooperation with Mexico to combat the flow of illegal drugs and to stem the number of Mexicans illegally entering the United States." "Connie Mack Calls for Greater Cooperation from Mexico to Secure the Border".
Red state AGs get pressure from clergy
"Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s refusal to push for mandatory mortgage principal reductions as part of a multistate group designed to combat foreclosure fraud is generating a protest and prayer vigil this week from Florida church leaders."
PICO United Florida, an ecumenical group of Central Florida religious leaders, will gather in the Capitol courtyard Thursday to protest Bondi’s stance."Bondi Takes Heat from Church Leaders Over Mortgage Stance".
“When Pam Bondi was running for attorney general she touched on the fact that a lot of Floridians had lost their homes,” said Rev. Errol Thompson of New Fellowship Baptist Church in Orlando, and one of the leaders of PICO. “But once she became attorney general it appears that she’s backing away from this.”
Thompson is taking issue with the stance Bondi and the attorneys general of Texas, Virginia and South Carolina have taken against using the Mortgage Foreclosure Multistate Group to force mortgage servicers to reduce the principal on loans to financially troubled homeowners.