"Gov. Rick Scott acknowledged Tuesday what his staff had refused to disclose: He flew to Colorado over the weekend to attend a secretive policy retreat hosted by powerful conservative donors Charles and David Koch."
"It was very interesting," Scott said. "They wanted basically to know what am I doing in Florida.""Scott's schedule over the weekend listed no events, unusual because he has worked most weekends."
Scott said he gave an overview of his agenda since taking office in January: education and Medicaid reform, tax breaks for businesses, drug testing welfare recipients and overhauling the public employee pension system.
[Florida Democratic Party spokesman Eric] Jotkoff blasted Scott for flying off to "kiss the Koch Brothers' ring" while wildfires were spreading across the state."Gov. Scott attends private weekend retreat hosted by influential Koch brothers". More: "Fla. Gov. Scott attended meeting hosted by billionaire Koch brothers in Colorado".
If Scott had any class - and he doesn't - he would have nixed the Koch brother's Colorado party and attended the funerals of the two state employees who just last week were burned to death in the line of duty.
Teabaggers dancing in the streets
"Florida Republican leaders may set the state's 2012 presidential primary on a Thursday, Friday or Saturday in early March in hopes of giving the Sunshine State early election clout while avoiding the wrath of national GOP calendar enforcers." "Fla. leaders may set presidential primary for first Thursday, Friday or Saturday in March".
Gimenez it is
"Miami-Dade voters pick Gimenez as new mayor". More: "New Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez faces heavy agenda". See also "Defeat of Jeb’s Machine" and Jackie Bueno Sousa's "For new mayor, now comes the hard part".
"The Reinventing Rick Tour"
Scott Maxwell: "For rail watchers, this is a suspense-filled week. Will Rick Scott keep or kill SunRail? Obviously if Scott were a man of his word, he would kill it."
Which brings us to RickRail.See what Maxwell means here: "If Rick Scott keeps his word, SunRail's a goner".
See, if Scott signs off on SunRail, it will be his project as well.
So why is Scott even considering this project?
Not on behalf of weary Interstate 4 commuters, but rather because Rick Scott's about as popular as a bunion.
He has an approval rating of 29 percent, making him one of the least popular governors in America and in Florida's recent history.
Suddenly, the governor is learning that Tea Partiers alone do not make for a meaningful coalition.
And that an unpopular leader is an impotent leader.
A governor, after all, can issue only so many executive orders. He needs legislators and other leaders help him pass laws.
Yet right now, many politicians would rather be photographed in a compromising photo with a farm animal than shaking hands with Rick Scott.
That's why we're seeing the Reinventing Rick Tour.
Scott's "pro-business agenda" at work
"The Florida Supreme Court is hearing oral arguments in a challenge to Gov. Rick Scott's suspension of state rulemaking. The case being heard Wednesday was filed on behalf of Rosalie Whiley, who is blind. She says the freeze delayed a rule that would have made it easier for her to reapply for food stamps."
Scott froze the process when he took office in January to determine if any proposed rules might conflict with his pro-business agenda."Lawyers arguing Scott's Fla. rulemaking suspension".
"Scott can help swing Florida for Obama in 2012"
"Public Policy Polling (PPP), a firm with connections to prominent Democrats, unveiled a poll Tuesday that shows, after six months in office, Gov. Rick Scott remains deeply unpopular with voters in the Sunshine State and is, for the moment, in bad shape to be re-elected in 2014."
The poll found that 33 percent of those surveyed approves of Scott’s performance in office while 59 percent disapproves of the Republican governor. In March, Scott stood with 32 percent approval and 55 percent disapproval. The poll also found Scott can help swing Florida for Democratic President Barack Obama in 2012. While 26 percent said Scott’s first six months as governor will make them more likely to vote for the Republican presidential candidate in 2012, 40 percent of those surveyed say the governor’s actions are leading them to vote for Obama."Democratic PPP Poll Finds Rick Scott Sinking With Florida Voters" ("The poll of 848 voters across Florida was taken between June 16-19 and had a margin of error of +/- 3.4 percent.")
The poll found that Scott was losing moderate voters -- and even somewhat conservative ones. Scott was severely upside down with the 30 percent of those surveyed who identified themselves as moderates. While 21 percent of the moderates approved of Scott, 71 percent of them disapproved. Of the 23 percent of voters who identified themselves as somewhat conservative, 40 percent approved of Scott but more -- 47 percent -- disapproved of the governor. Only among the 20 percent of those surveyed who identified themselves as very conservative did Scott do well. He won the approval of 72 percent of the very conservative voters and the disapproval of 18 percent of them.
"54.7 percent of the state’s 2.8 million new residents are Hispanic"
"There was little surprise when Census numbers came out earlier this year that Latinos had comprised most of Florida’s explosive growth -- about 54.7 percent of the state’s 2.8 million new residents were Hispanic."
But the numbers also contained a subtle shift in the Latino population. In 2000, Puerto Ricans and Mexicans accounted for a total of about 5.3 percent of the state’s population, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, putting them on equal footing with Cubans, who made up 5.2 percent of the people in Florida."Change in Latino Population Could Alter Florida's Politics".
A decade later, Puerto Ricans and Mexicans are 7.8 percent of the state’s residents, eclipsing the 6.4 percent that Cubans account for. And many of those new residents -- more than 365,000 of them -- are Puerto Ricans.
Perhaps nowhere is the growth more pronounced than in Central Florida. In Orange County, Puerto Ricans now account for 13 percent of the population and a quarter of the total population growth since 2000, according to the Census Bureau. In Osceola County, the increase has been even more notable. Almost 44 percent of the population growth has come from Puerto Ricans, who now account for more than a quarter of the county’s total population.
Not all of us have private jets
"Facing an end-of-the-week deadline to decide the fate of a controversial commuter rail project, Gov. Rick Scott on Tuesday sent his top transportation adviser to Central Florida to warn local officials that they'll be on the hook if the project ultimately fails." "Scott warns on SunRail as his decision nears". Related: "FDOT SunRail Tour Draws Cheers and Jeers".
The Saint Petersburg Times editors: "Scott has another opportunity to define himself this week. He can add credibility to his claims that he places principles over politics by canceling the expensive SunRail commuter rail project in the Orlando area. Or he can bow to pressure from Central Florida and let the project go forward like just another calculating politician." "Scott's SunRail test".
The Orlando Sentinel editorial board: "Dear Gov.: Let SunRail roll"."Florida chooses ignorance"
The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "Officially, Florida stops examining the state's death-penalty system on Friday . Practically speaking, the problems with that system will continue." "Florida chooses ignorance".
The Sun Sentinel editorial board: "Bolster integrity of death penalty process to maintain support".
Florida for sale
"A controversial proposal to let private contractors build and operate campgrounds at Florida state parks, including allowing recreational vehicles at Honeymoon Island State Park in Dunedin, is drawing fire from fresh quarters this week." "Proposal to put privately run campgrounds in Florida state parks draws opposition". See also "Resistance building to state plans to add campgrounds in four state parks".
"DCF, Department of Juvenile Justice will suffer most of the staff cuts." "Florida expected to lay off 1,600 state workers by Friday". See also "Florida expected to lay off 1,600 state workers as new budget year begins Friday". See also "Tallahassee Braces for Government Worker Layoffs" and "Pink slips flowing throughout state government".
21,700 Haridopolos books to go ...
"'The total number of books sold as of today is 70 and the total royalties awarded to Brevard Community College is $487.90,' Pinar Eskicirak, the college's budget coordinator, wrote on June 21. ... Haridopolos was paid $152,000 to write the book. So the college only needs to sell about 21,700 additional copies to break even." "Haridopolos' book a tough sell".
"Former first lady Carole Crist sold her four-bedroom, four-bath Fisher Island condo for $3.5 million, the Sun-Sentinel reports." "Former first lady sells Fisher Island condo for $3.5M".
Scott getting desperate
"For the first time anyone can recall, Gov. Rick Scott has the state GOP paying for regular recorded calls touting his day-to-day accomplishments." "Looking for support, Gov. Scott gets on the phone — and dials you". See also "Robocalls from Gov. Rick Scott jangle some Floridians".
Scott the least popular Governor in the country
Aaron Deslatte: "In the deluge of data over Gov. Rick Scott's lagging popularity, the Democrat-aligned Public Policy Polling has released a new survey showing the first-term Republican governor's popularity at 33 percent -- and suggesting if former Gov. Charlie Crist switches to the Democratic ticket in 2014, he could "crush" the current governor." "Poll: Crist as a Democrat could crush Rick Scott".
One trick pony
"Marking his final bill action of the 2011 session, Gov. Rick Scott on Tuesday signed a bill that creates a state-funded, statewide boarding school for at-risk youth, but added a caveat that he was concerned about the cost to taxpayers." "Statewide boarding school approved by Gov. Scott".
"The American Conservative Union will announce today that it plans to hold the first regional Conservative Political Action Conference this fall in Orlando, potentially making 'CPAC FL' a key stop in the 2012 presidential primaries. ACU will host the event on Sept. 23, a day after the Fox News debate in Orlando and in the middle of the Republican Party of Florida’s Presidency 5 summit." "ACU plans regional CPAC in Orlando".
Entrepreneurs in action
"Reacting to a St. Petersburg Times report on investors paying only nominal prices for homes seized to pay back homeowner association fees, state Sen. Michael Fasano said Tuesday that he plans to propose legislation to give banks a chance to pay the delinquent fees or kick-start their own foreclosure actions." "Fasano wants loophole closed".
Lax nursing home standards in effect Friday
"Advocates for nursing home patients and the workers who care for them are calling on facilities to maintain their current staffing levels even though more lax standards go into law Friday." "Groups call on nursing homes to maintain staffing". See also "Scott vetoes measure that would have eased assisted living facility reporting requirements".