"Gov. Rick Scott's chief adviser Mary Anne Carter announced her resignation Tuesday, becoming the second top aide to exit the new administration this week and signaling the beginning of a shake-up of Scott's inner circle. Carter's resignation, effective June 30, follows Chief of Staff Mike Prendergast, who will be named head of the Department of Veterans' Affairs at a special Cabinet meeting today. The two essentially shared the responsibility of running the governor's office, sharing the same rank in the office's organizational structure and the same $150,000 salary."
But Carter, who served as the governor's transition director and as executive director of Scott's Conservatives for Patients' Rights before he ran for governor last year, was thought to be his most influential staffer. ..."Shake-up of Gov. Rick Scott's top staff continues". See also "Rick Scott's top policy adviser resigns amid shakeup", "Scott's top advisor steps down amid ongoing shakeup" and "Carter becomes second top Scott staffer to move on".
Carter's and Prendergast's departures come at the six-month mark in the new governor's term. Though he had a relatively successful legislative session, Scott's poll numbers sagged. A Quinnipiac University poll pegged his approval rating in May at just 29 percent, though a survey released Tuesday by a Republican polling shop put that rating at 45 percent.
Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, noted that staff shakeups are a frequent response to low poll ratings.
Florida firemen killed fighting fire identified
"Two Florida forest rangers were killed when a small, smoldering wildfire flared up and trapped them, state officials said Tuesday. Two comrades trying to rescue them also were injured."
Forestry officials and the local sheriff's office are investigating exactly how the fire killed 31-year-old Josh Burch of Lake City and 52-year-old Brett Fulton of White Springs, authorities said. ..."Forest rangers killed while battling wildfire identified". See also "" and "".
Both of the deceased rangers were married. Fulton had two grown children and Burch had young two sons, ages 4 and 5, Ivey said. Burch had been with the department's Division of Forestry for ten years and Fulton for 12 years.
"'Power grab' by Scott"
"A June 16 memo from DEP special counsel Jon Steverson directed the districts to cut regulatory staff, trim salaries and stop buying public lands in response to state budget constraints. While one environmental critic said the memo represents a 'power grab' by Gov. Rick Scott and DEP, a department spokeswoman said the governor wants clear, coherent and consistent statewide water policies." "DEP says memo to water districts is part of a larger strategy".
Money for nuthin'
"The Department of Management Services has agreed to settle a lawsuit with a vendor by paying off two disputed monthly bills plus interest. The lawsuit was first filed against the state in December 2004." "State will pay nearly $500,000 to end long-running contract dispute".
Non-teacher, Jeb poodle selected education commissioner
"Gerard Robinson, Virginia's secretary of education, was tapped this morning to be Florida's next education commissioner."
"Before his appointment in Virginia worked for a group that advocates for school choices outside traditional public schools."
Robinson has limited experience in public education, teaching only one year in a fifth-grade classroom. ..."Virginia schools chief chosen as Florida's commissioner of education". See also "Robinson picked as Florida's next education commissioner" and "Scott praises ‘aggressive’ reformer chosen for top education post".
[Robinson] is part of the Chiefs for Change group, created by former Gov. Jeb Bush's educational foundation. The group of state leaders "share a zeal for education reform."
Shortly after his nomination to the Virginia post in January, 2010, Robinson told the Associated Press that while he is viewed as a "charter school guy," he is a supporter of public education, including traditional public schools.
But in his job at the Black Alliance, Robinson was a strong advocate for what he called a "new kind of educational freedom in America."
Robinson seems to have been hand picked by our failed Governor: "Scott made it clear he favored Robinson, Virginia's education secretary, from a field of five who interviewed with the state's Board of Education on Monday afternoon in Tampa."
Members Roberto Martinez and Akshay Desai said they got calls from the governor asking that they vote for Robinson and indicating he was reaching out to the entire board."Va. official to lead Fla. schools".
Tuesday morning, without discussing other candidates, the board endorsed Robinson unanimously.
Another Miami-Dade car
In the Miami-Dade car dealer fueled election, "a third-party group is trying to tie Carlos Gimenez to Carlos Alvarez over a car deal." "PolitiFact: Alvarez-Gimenez car comparison is ruled only half true".
Mack, Buchanan dumped BP stock
"A recent report by OpenSecrets shows that several high-profile lawmakers (including GOP Reps. Vern Buchanan and Connie Mack of Florida) dumped their stock in BP and Transocean following last year’s massive Gulf of Mexico oil spill. Both Republicans and Democrats gave up significant portions of their holdings in the companies, according to the analysis by the Center for Responsive Politics." "Mack, Buchanan among legislators who sold BP and Transocean stocks following spill".
Scott signs scores of bills
"Scott signs scores of bills into law".
Where "Christian radio portends the Second Coming"
"On the home turf of the state Senate's redistricting chairman, Christian radio portends the Second Coming, politicians refer to the 'Yellow River Code' of being true to your word, and the age-old tension between city and countryside dominates talk of redrawing political lines."
As Florida lawmakers convened their second redistricting hearing a few miles from the Alabama line Tuesday, they listened to a steady stream of contradictory pleas."In Florida Panhandle, legislators defend political redistricting time line".
There was Brett Ward of the local Florida Farm Bureau, which represents Escambia, Okaloosa and Santa Rosa counties, who urged maintaining the line that now divides three western counties along Interstate 10 in order to keep the coastal communities on one side and the inland farm communities on the other.
This just in from way out in right field: "Florida Democratic Party Seeks to Bleach Black Districts".
Country clubbers urged to cease exploiting foreign workers
"Members of Congress serving Palm Beach County on Tuesday pressed employers in the local hospitality and country club industry to import fewer foreign workers and insisted that unemployed Americans can fill those positions." "Florida legislators on guest worker program: Give locals dibs on hospitality jobs".
Background: "Palm Beach County employers not seriously seeking local labor, activists charge" and "Use of guest workers in Palm Beach County draws fire".
Rubio heads to the fringes
"Marco Rubio Takes the Lead in Defending Parental Notification Laws". See also "Rubio introduces ‘Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act’".
What if a Legislator asks "Where's my check?"
Daniel Ruth shares his thoughts about redistricting: "Being the dedicated public servants of the people that they are, members of the Florida Legislature have begun a grand tour of the state to gauge the hearts and minds of the citizenry, which, of course, they treasure about as much as the CIA seeking out the advice of the Pakistanis on how to track down terrorists."
The purpose of the road show is to gather public input on redrawing the district maps for state and congressional legislative seats. This means some people will gain power, while others lose some juice. It also means the elected folks in charge of this process will embrace it with all the fervor of contemplating a bowl of cold peas."Silence! The enemies of the voters at work".
But not to worry about your voice being heard. Rep. Will Weatherford, R-Marcel Marceau, who will become speaker of the House after the 2012 elections after serving for all of 20 minutes in Tallahassee, insists everyone's vote is of incredible value, especially on Republican ballots.
That probably explains why your voice may be the only thing that's heard, since current House Speaker Dean Cannon, R-Emmett Kelly, and Senate President Mike Haridopolos, R-Be Vewry, Vewry Quiet, have ordered their members to take a vow of silence during the public redistricting hearings. ...
Whew, for a minute there one might have suspected these glad-handers were trying to cook the books.
The gag order on the legislators is predicated on fears if they say anything at all, such as: "Where's my check?" or perhaps even nod in the general direction of a constituent, the remark will only fuel the expected legal challenges to the new maps.
Opt-out provision for MediCaid providers?
"Florida’s Agency for Health Care Administration (aka AHCA) is finishing proposals for the state’s Medicaid overhaul to send to the federal government for approval. Among the contentious provisions is one that allows Medicaid providers to opt out of providing family planning services on 'moral or religious grounds.'" "Legality of family planning opt-out for Florida Medicaid providers still in question". Related: "Planned Parenthood will petition AHCA, feds to remove family planning opt-out from Medicaid reform".
FlaDems urge rejection of election law deforms
"State House Democratic Leader Ron Saunders and Democratic Speaker-Designate Perry Thurston have joined the ACLU and the NAACP in calling for the federal Justice Department to reject proposed changes to Florida elections laws contained in House Bill 1355." "State House Democratic leaders call on Justice Department to reject election law changes".
"Religious Freedom" amendment debate heats up
"Set to appear on Florida’s 2012 ballot: an amendment that would repeal language in the state constitution that bans using public money to fund religious organizations. Opponents of the amendment say it would break down an important wall between church and state. Proponents such as Thomas Wenski, the archbishop of the Catholic Archdiocese of Miami, claim the Legislature is ending a law that discriminates against Catholics." "Archbishop of Miami defends ‘Religious Freedom’ amendment".
"The Wall Street Journal reported that U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings , D- Miramar, is being investigated by a congressional ethics panel because of a sexual harassment allegation by a member of his staff." "Report: Congressman Alcee Hastings facing ethics review over sexual harassment allegation".
Too busy Teabagging
Scott Maxwell writes that "some politicians — including Attorney General Pam Bondi — have talked a good game about tackling" Florida's wrongful conviction problem.
Bondi's office said Tuesday that she has appointed a deputy attorney general to look into the cases."Why doesn't state's attorney general put more effort into reviewing possible wrongful convictions?"
That sounded promising. But, in talking with the office, the goal of this inquiry seemed vague. In fact, no one could even guarantee the in-house investigation would even yield a written report.
That's not good enough.
A proper vetting means reviewing every single case in which Preston testified and determining whether his testimony was key to the conviction.
Bondi's office says it already found more than 30 such cases. A final report should explain why each and every one of those convictions was just — or worthy of further investigation.
The stakes are too high to do anything less.
Pammy is apparently too busy sucking up to her Teabagger constituency: "Has Bondi confirmed her attendance at this event?"
Wingnuts whine about FEA lawsuit
"Conservatives and taxpayer groups are lashing back at a teachers' union lawsuit challenging Florida's new pension law."
"They should count their blessings, and realize that the world has changed, even if the retirement system has not," Florida TaxWatch President and CEO Dominic Calabro said of public employees who will be required to make a 3 percent contribution toward their pensions."Union Challenge to Florida Pension Reform Stirs Backlash".
Calling the state's current noncontributory system "so out of whack, so unlike the way the governed live," Calabro derided the legal challenge by the Florida Education Association and other public-employee unions. ...
Bob McClure, president of the [union hating] conservative James Madison Institute, said that school employees, who constitute roughly half of the 655,000 active employees in the Florida Retirement System, should take a hard look at their union brass.
"One way to ensure that teachers have greater take-home pay after these retirement changes go into effect is for the Florida Education Association to lower its dues -- and the salaries it pays union officials," McClure said.
GOP poll shows Floridians think Scott is fabulous
Aaron Deslatte: "A Republican polling shop released a survey Tuesday that suggests Gov. Rick Scott isn't nearly as unpopular with likely Florida voters as some previous surveys have found."
The "Viewpoint Florida" survey found Scott sitting at 45 percent approval among "likely 2012 general election voters," while 51 percent disapproved, cutting largely along party and gender lines."The Viewpoint Florida research effort is the product of two Republican political consulting shops, Data Targeting Inc. and Public Concepts, LLC, both of which have worked for the Republican Party of Florida." "Maybe Rick Scott's not so toxic after all".