In Ricky Scott's version of Upstairs Downstairs, Ricky decides to "Blame the help":
Protesters should not have been removed from a state budget signing ceremony in the Villages last week, a spokesman for Florida Gov. Rick Scott said Friday."Scott staff backtracks on kicking out critics". See also "Scott spokesman acknowledges protesters shouldn't have been chased from budget event".
Spokesman Brian Burgess said the governor did not order anyone to be kicked out of the May 26 event. But he said Scott would take responsibility.
"There appears to have been confusion among event staff, including an employee of the Governor's Office, about whether the event was public or private," Burgess said.
The admission was an about-face from Scott's office. Press secretary Lane Wright said a week ago that no one from Scott's office played a role in the ordeal. ...
The statement did not include an apology to the people barred from the event.
Corrections officer layoffs begin
"The Florida Department of Corrections announced Friday that 190 prison guards in training will lose their jobs in a move the department estimates will save $8.8 million. " "DOC lays off 190 guards".
"Every Florida Republican in Congress voted to end Medicare"
Stephen Goldstein reminds us that "Every Florida Republican in Congress voted to end Medicare and for Vouchercare:"
Sen. Marco Rubio and all House members, including those from South Florida (Allen West, Mario Diaz-Balart, David Rivera and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen). Thanks to Senate Democrats, their assault on Medicare was defeated — for now."Seniors will pay dearly for Republican attack on 'Obamacare'".
But the effort to repeal Obamacare — and end its benefits for current Medicare seniors — is under a relentless, three-pronged attack in Tallahassee. First, Florida Republicans, who of all elected officials should protect seniors, took the lead in a multi-state lawsuit, eventually headed to the U.S. Supreme Court, to get Obamacare declared unconstitutional. Second, Gov. Rick Scott is now leading the charge against Obamacare. He founded Conservatives for Patients' Rights and provided $5 million to run ads and pack town halls with people protesting health care reform. It is reasonable to assume that, from his perch in Tallahassee, he can orchestrate health-care policy so he can recoup the $73 million he spent to get elected, after he leaves office. But his personal gain will be every Americans' loss. Third, Florida's almost-all Republican Legislature has put a constitutional amendment on the ballot in 2012 to exempt Floridians from Obamacare.
If the U.S. Supreme Court rules Obamacare unconstitutional and seniors lose solid Medicare benefits, thank Florida Tea Party/Republicans. And you'd better hope that drinking tea can cure you of all your aches and pains, because, if Paul Ryan & Company ever succeed in putting you into Vouchercare, that's the only "medicine" you'll be able to afford.
"Weekly Roundup: Scott Signs Bill, Opponents Hire Lawyers". See also "The Week in Review for May 31 - June 3". See also "On Medicare, GOP plan could be its problem".
Professor Haridopolos can't handle the heat
"It's not that the radio host failed to press Mike Haridopolos. Over and over the Republican U.S. Senate candidate was asked whether he supports the GOP plan to restructure Medicare."
"Again, I don't have all the information to make that decision yet,'' Haridopolos limply responded."Congressional Democrats such as Ted Deutch of South Florida have mailed newsletters to voters' homes detailing the proposal. 'When it comes to your Medicare, a coupon just won't cut it,' it states. Other Democrats are sending their own."
"How could you possibly not have all that information, you're running for Senate?'' asked "Ray Junior," the exasperated host in St. Augustine.
"Ray, I thought you wanted to talk about what we had accomplished, not about a hypothetical," said Haridopolos, the Florida Senate president, referring to the recent session.
The dodging went for more than four minutes. "Okay, get him off my phone," the host finally declared. "I don't want anything to do with this guy. Get rid of him."
Medicare: big, complicated, endangered — and the latest proving ground for Republican candidates.
More than a few House Republicans worry about implications next November and are trying to avoid the topic and hoping it fades. But for now the party is presenting a unified public face."On Medicare, GOP plan could be its problem".
"I know. The Democrats know. The White House knows. The situation has to be addressed," said U.S. Rep. Bill Posey of Rockledge. "I'll take my shots, I'll take my licks. But somebody has to have the courage to stop this country from going bankrupt."
To further exploit the issue, Senate Democrats staged a May 25 vote on the Ryan plan knowing it would fail. Most Republicans voted with their House counterparts, including Florida Sen. Marco Rubio. A handful of moderate Republicans voted no, however, underlining the risk.
Scott in a Teabag bind
The Saint Petersburg Times editors: "With the painfully slow economic recovery experiencing a hiccup, or perhaps worse, the importance of states spending the remaining federal stimulus money promptly and prudently has never been more critical. Despite his opposition to federal stimulus money, even Gov. Rick Scott has finally recognized their efficacy by signing a state budget that includes $370 million in stimulus funds. Now Scott needs to do more with the remaining federal dollars at his disposal." "Florida needs more stimulus".
Scott "beyond hypocritical"
The Miami Herald editorial board: "That Gov. Rick Scott had the temerity to cast the $615 million in projects he vetoed as 'shortsighted, frivolous, wasteful spending' is insult enough. To have the budget-signing ceremony held at a town square 'leased' by the Republican Party of Florida and then to sic sheriff’s deputies on a dozen or so people sitting quietly in the back because they were wearing 'Vote Democratic' T-shirts or carrying signs that did not laud the GOP governor is an assault on democracy and free speech."
"And, then, for the governor to claim at the budget-signing ceremony last Thursday in the 'private' public square of The Villages in Central Florida that 'school funding is far more important' than the vetoed $615 million projects is beyond hypocritical." "Governor or emperor?".
655,000 public employees to get pay cuts
"For more than 655,000 public employees in the massive Florida Retirement System, the rules are about to change. Immediately and most universally, the new law means the first July paycheck of every teacher, state worker, county employee, judge, cop and lawmaker will be smaller. That's because all those public employees will be required to pitch in on their own retirement plans. Now, those contributions are made entirely by employers." "FRS rules are about to change; get prepared now ".
Where you been?
"After a disturbing visit to one of Florida’s most troubled assisted-living facilities, a leading lawmaker said the state is leaving its most vulnerable citizens to fend for themselves in deplorable conditions." "Top lawmaker stunned by conditions at assisted-living facility".
Scott sued over 'voter suppression'
"A pair of liberal-leaning groups sued Gov. Rick Scott on Friday to block an elections law that they say amounts to 'voter suppression.'"
The ACLU of Florida and Project Vote filed the suit in the hopes that it would stop Miami-Dade County from shortening the number of early-voting days before its June 28 mayoral elections."Rick Scott, the Pro-Life Governor of Florida". See also "ACLU, voting rights group sue to stop implementation of new Florida elections law" and "ACLU sues to stop enforcement of new elections law ".
The new law shortens the early voting days – but not necessarily the number of total hours – from 14 to eight days. It also requires an out-of-county voter who tries to change his voting precinct on Election Day to cast a provisional ballot, which can be more easily challenged. Also, the law cracks down on third-party registration groups.
One of the plaintiffs, Tampa Sen. Arthenia Joyner, said the bill passed by the Republican-led Legislature is an example of a “rank partisan agenda” that disproportionately hurts minorities.
"It is un-American to make it a burden to vote. Too many people fought and died for this right," Joyner, a Democrat said. "This is an abomination. And it’s unconscionable."
But the sponsor of the legislation, Rep. Dennis Baxley, a Republican from Ocala, said the state needs to ensure there’s no fraud.
The lawsuit is the fifth one to name Scott as a defendant in his role as governor. The other suits relate to drug-testing state workers, high-speed rail, constitutional amendments over redistricting and an executive order that froze state rules.
"Blindfolding the experts"
Bill Cotterell: "Maybe it's just a coincidence that the Legislature took a giant leap into prison privatization right after companies running prisons for profit pumped nearly $1 million into Florida campaigns."
And it could be pure happenstance that the same Legislature decided to tightly muzzle its own watchdog, the Office of Program Policy Analysis and Goverment Accountability."It's accountability with an asterisk ".
The performance of privatized prisons might be charitably described as spotty, so you'd think lawmakers would want more documentation of whether they really operate 7-percent cheaper than state-run slammers. But, for reasons known only to legislative leaders and party campaign treasurers, lawmakers decided we can save money by blindfolding the experts who see if we're saving money.
"Miami-Dade County mayoral candidate Carlos Gimenez picked up the endorsement Friday of the biggest vote-getter not to make the runoff in last month’s mayoral election. Former state Rep. Marcelo Llorente, who finished third in the race, threw his support behind the former county commissioner now facing former Hialeah Mayor [and Jebco hack] Julio Robaina in a run-off." "Llorente endorses Gimenez in mayor’s race".
"It takes The Villages to love Gov. Scott"
The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "It takes a village to love Gov. Scott."
Make that: It takes The Villages to love Gov. Scott. ..."A too-private governor".
Founded and controlled by H. Gary Morse and his family, The Villages was singled out by Florida Trend as the 10th-largest political contributor during the 2010 election cycle, with 100 percent of its contributions going to Republicans. Its top lobbyist is Al Cardenas, a former chairman of the Florida Republican Party. His lobbying firm did not respond to requests to identify issues on which The Villages lobbied during the just-concluded legislative session.
Gov. Scott's approval ratings have plunged precipitously, with just 29 percent of Floridians approving of his job performance in a recent Quinnipiac poll while 57 percent disapprove. So the governor was looking for friendly territory on which to sign the $69.1 billion budget, and trumpet his "record" $615 million in line-item vetoes.
Most residents of The Villages share its founder's tea party leanings. Four months ago, Gov. Scott previewed his spending plan at The Villages, then announced his "Highly Anticipated Budget Proposal" not far away in Eustis. ...
Scott's decision to sign Florida's budget in a scripted setting follows similar decisions during his transition and inauguration and when he announced his own budget plan. That might play OK in an ersatz Villages town square. In the real town square of public opinion, it is an insult.
AIF vs. EPA
"Saying Florida needs 'good science to make good decisions,' state Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam suggested Friday that the battle with Washington over water-quality standards might be easing."
The usual - we have the God given right to dump raw sewage into Florida's lakes and streams - suspects
weren't so optimistic or conciliatory."Adam Putnam Sees Hope For Water Truce With EPA".
In a videotape produced for Friday's forum, Putnam's successor in Congress, Rep. Dennis Ross, R-Lakeland, blistered "EPA bureaucrats who never set foot in Florida."
Florida's water utilities, agricultural and business groups have assailed the EPA's numeric nutrient standards as both ineffective and inappropriate. Last December, the state and other concerned parties sued over the EPA's proposed rules.
A brief from the Associated Industries of Florida declared that the "unprecedented federal standards" would require "extraordinary levels of pre-development purity."
"The extremely restrictive criteria that the EPA has adopted are, in many instances, technologically impossible to meet," AIF stated.
"A rigged game"
Randy Schultz: "In Florida, property insurance now a rigged game".
"Details of the new evaluation system emerged this week as school districts submitted their plans and the Florida Department of Education finalized its work on the more controversial part — using test data in teachers' performance ratings." "School districts are revamping teacher-evaluation system".
"A governor ignorant of the state's history"
The Saint Petersburg Times editorial board: "Growth management, an imperfect but noble effort to protect Florida from selfishness and greed, died Thursday (June 2, 2011). The cause of death was legislation passed by a Legislature lacking perspective and signed into law by Rick Scott, a new governor ignorant of the state's history and indifferent about its future." "An obituary for Florida Growth Management".
DCA still kicking
"SB 2156, which has not been sent to the governor, would eliminate DCA and send its Division of Community Planning to a new Department of Economic Opportunity. DCA Secretary Billy Buzzett has named division directors and is working with other agencies on the transition into the new department." "DCA positions being filled even as department appears headed towards elimination".
The Sun Sentinel editors: "Florida better off without Arizona-like immigration law".
Empty suit comes out swinging
"Pointing to a report released Friday showing the national unemployment rate rose to 9.1 percent, Florida Republican Congressman Dennis Ross came out swinging at the White House, calling for House Republicans to play hardball with the Obama administration to get free-trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea." "Dennis Ross to House GOP: Play Hardball with Obama on Free Trade".
"A building wave of litigation"
"For the second time this week, the American Civil Liberties Union announced it is hauling Gov. Rick Scott into court -- this time, over a controversial makeover of Florida's election laws -- as another group prepares to sue him over a new law restricting what doctors can ask their patients. More court challenges are expected in what appears to be a building wave of litigation over provocative bills that the conservative state Legislature passed this spring. That could cost the state untold thousands -- even millions -- of dollars in what lawmakers have described as the state's toughest fiscal year in decades." "Court battles over new state laws could be costly".
"Florida's water-management districts are facing big revenue cuts, but the new leader of the state's largest system isn't sweating." "New SFWMD Boss Vows 'No-Brainer' Budget Cuts".
FlaDems to hang Scott around the RPOF's neck
Aaron Deslatte: "Gov. Rick Scott is being portrayed as the most unpopular governor in the country, a toxic political asset for his Republican allies, an alarmingly aloof public servant when it comes to issues Floridians have cherished for decades."
But don't expect the Republican-led Legislature to make him look even worse by overriding a host of his $615 million in budget vetoes this summer."GOP lawmakers can't afford to kick Scott when he's down".
Lawmakers can't afford to make their titular party head appear any weaker heading into a presidential election year, when GOP hopes of re-taking the White House from President Barack Obama will hinge on re-claiming the Sunshine State.
Democrats are eagerly trying to portray Scott as the face of the Republican Establishment and are feasting on the anti-Scott animus to boost their grassroots organizational strength.
Look no further than Jacksonville. Polling from last month's mayoral upset suggests the unpopular governor and the GOP push to cut education funding played a significant role in helping Democrat Alvin Brown win.
Even though Duval County is Republican country, its Democrat-leaning African-American electorate dramatically out-performed white voters. Black voters are 27.26 percent of the Duval electorate, but 41 percent of eligible black voters cast ballots. White voters are 62.6 percent of the electorate, but only 38.4 percent of them voted.
Democrats won the battle for early votes and Election Day turnout. But race appears to have played less of a role than local issues, particularly cuts to education that were beginning to put sports, arts classes, and after-school offerings on the chopping block.
In Democratic polling, education went from being the second-most important issue among Duval voters in January – behind jobs – to the top spot by April, as Tallahassee prepared to impose big classroom cuts.
"It's almost like voters have given up being angry at Congress and are turning that anger toward the Legislature," said Dave Beattie, a Fernandina Beach-based Democratic pollster who worked in the race. "That's very atypical for Florida."
"Florida's biggest long-term problem"
"With fields dry, plants wilting and stiffer water restrictions looming, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam told a room of growers, water managers and business officials on Friday that Florida's biggest long-term problem is not crime, Medicare or the economy." "Repairing Lake Okeechobee dike needed not only to save lives, but crops, ag commissioner warns".
"Life", but only until your "born"
Atrios can't help ripping Ricky's abject hypocrisy with "Rick Scott, the Pro-Life Governor of Florida".
Bondi late to the game
"The nation's second-largest for-profit college company is fighting a lawsuit that keeps growing — with the state of Florida now one of the newest parties to join the case." "Florida joins suit against for-profit college company".
Miami's whiz kids flee
"Miami City Hall’s financial guru is officially out the door — and the city’s top administrator is perhaps soon to follow. On Friday, city Chief Financial Officer Larry Spring confirmed he has submitted his resignation to City Manager Tony Crapp, Jr." "Miami finance chief quits, manager may follow".
"Bill could increase local bribery and corruption"
"Republicans said the bill would return growth control to local governments where it's needed. But Democrats said the bill could increase local bribery and corruption through influence developers wield at the local level and increase the state's vacant housing stock." "Scott signs sweeping growth management overhaul into law".
Another Scott flip-flop
"After initially fighting one of its key provisions, Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed a bill Friday aimed at cracking down on clinics that frivolously dispense pain pills and feed a nationwide prescription drug abuse epidemic." "Scott signs pill mill bill into law". See also "Laws regulating prescription, dispensing of pain pills in Florida now tougher" and "Pill mill bill gets final approval from Scott".