Teabaggers to convene in Daytona, Bondi tospeak
"The tea party is coming to town for what's being billed as a state convention exactly one year before the 2012 presidential election. Up to 2,000 convention-goers are expected for a weekend of events Nov. 4-6 at the Ocean Center, organizers said, with hopes that Gov. Rick Scott and a panel of Senate and even presidential candidates will also show." "Tea party convention planned for November at Daytona's Ocean Center". Here's the Teabagger convention web site, you'll enjoy reading the slate of speakers, including one Pam Bondi, as well as a collection of esteemed wingnuts.
Meet one of the Teabaggers pulling Scott's strings
"Mary Anne Carter is the most powerful person you've never heard of in Florida's government."
Seated at Scott's right hand for every senior staff meeting, she oversees all matters of budget, policy, communications and legislative relations."Scott's media team is often blamed for his tanking approval numbers. But some problems for the nascent administration are rooted in the application of its policies."
But Carter remains unknown to many Capitol insiders. She does her work behind closed doors, almost never travels with Scott and eschews e-mails to avoid state open records laws.
Those who know Carter describe her as spunky, intelligent and outgoing. Told that no one would put criticisms on the record for fear of reprisal, Carter laughed. ...
She dismisses reporters as liberally biased and treats them like political opponents, researching their marital status, number of children and building a matrix of stories they write. Meanwhile, she is married to Michael Silence, a Knoxville News-Sentinel political reporter.
When Carter wanted Scott to highlight their work to eliminate a running deficit at one state agency, the decision was made to cut spending on the care of developmentally disabled. It resulted in a protest in Scott's lobby by children in wheelchairs."Carter formed important relationships on the Dole campaign, where she met Fabrizio and bonded with one of her research team members, a recent Harvard Law School graduate named Enu Mainigi."
"Could we have softened some of the sharp ends? Maybe," said pollster Tony Fabrizio, the architect of Scott's campaign. "But at the end of the day, it wasn't one or two groups upset about what was done.
"We were, in effect, p------ off everybody."
Carter acknowledges missteps within the administration. But says there is nothing she would change.
"My role was to push the governor's agenda. And that's what I did," Carter said of her $150,000-per-year job.
Mainigi returned the favor more than a decade later when she introduced Carter and Fabrizio to a former hospital executive eager to spend millions in an attempt to derail President Barack Obama's health insurance proposals. ..."Florida Gov. Rick Scott's most influential staffer is a mom from Tennessee".
Carter and Fabrizio became the core of Scott's Conservatives for Patients Rights, an advocacy group Scott funded to help whip up tea party rage in the summer of 2009 and defeat the so-called "public option" in Obama's health insurance plan. The pair also was the nucleus of Scott's campaign for Florida governor.
Scott's transition from Election Day to inauguration splintered the campaign team, leaving Carter as one of the only senior staffers to move into the administration.
Week in Review
"The Week in Review for June 13-June 17". See also "Weekly Roundup: Worries -- Drug Test Problems, Granny Dumping".
"Raw politics to the core"
"Florida legislators begin three months of public hearings Monday to hear what voters have to say about their once-a-decade task of realigning the state's political maps to reflect shifts in population and growth."
Redistricting is raw politics to the core — often fostering unusual alliances of ideologically opposite legislators whose goal is to preserve their own political careers and broaden their party's power. ..."The most obvious changes will come in the districts that have seen the most growth in the past decade, or whose stagnant growth makes them smaller than the new ideal district."
The House and Senate redistricting committees will begin their so-call "listening tour" of 26 cities in Tallahassee Monday with some basic facts:
• Florida grew from 15.98 million in 2000 to 18.8 million in 2010, enough to reward the state with two new congressional districts — a total of 27.
• The rebalancing of population will mean that the "ideal" sized congressional district will grow from 639,000 people to 696,000. The 40 districts in the state Senate will grow in population from 399,000 to 470,000, and the 120 state House seats will expand from 133,000 to 157,000.
That includes the super-crowded district of freshman Congressmen Richard Nugent, R-Brooksville, which is 33.5 percent overpopulated. The district of U.S. Rep. Connie Mack, R-Cape Coral, is 23 percent overcapacity and U.S. Rep. Dennis Ross, R-Lakeland, has seen his district grow 21 percent."Florida starts lengthy, contested process to redraw state's political maps".
In the state Senate, the districts of Republican Sens. Alan Hays of Umatilla, Ronda Storms of Valrico and Paula Dockery of Lakeland also will have to shrink. Rep. Stephen Precourt, an Orlando Republican, has the dubious distinction of having the most bloated district in state government, having grown 61 percent over capacity in the last decade.
Weatherford, the House's designated speaker in 2012, has a district that must lose 55 percent of its population. Down state, freshman Rep. Greg Steube, R-Sarasota, has to lose 54 percent of his district.
Several legislative districts, however, won't contract, but will have to expand — potentially pitting incumbents against each other. The districts that are now smaller than the ideal size are those of Republican Sen. Dennis Jones of Seminole and Reps. Larry Ahern of St. Petersburg, Ed Hooper of Clearwater, Jeff Brandes of St. Petersburg and Erik Fresen of Miami. Democratic Reps. Rick Kriseman of St. Petersburg, Daryl Rouson of St. Petersburg and Daphne Campbell of Miami Shores also must cover more geography to reach the district population goal.
"Obama's 2012 game plan begins where 2008 did"
"Obama's 2012 game plan begins where 2008 did: in the legions of youthful, passionate supporters who redefined grass-roots campaigning, online political communication and fundraising. The campaign is training more than 1,500 organizers who have pledged to work 20 to 40 hours a week this summer as part of a lofty goal to reconnect with every Obama backer from 2008."
In Tampa, where Obama's campaign arm Organizing For America has remained since the last election, more than 80 volunteers were trained on a recent weekend. They have spread out across Florida to conduct small group meetings and begin walking door to door."For Barack Obama in 2012, a different kind of hope".
Volunteers have been coached on not just the broad highlights of Obama's term (health care, financial reform) but also victories like more funding for student loans and the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act — the first bill Obama signed into law — which gives more freedom for workers to sue for wage discrimination. They will tell voters about green energy initiatives funded by the stimulus.
The emphasis will shift to the future as a Republican nominee emerges. "The volunteers are going to lay out what's at stake, 'This is our vision; this is theirs,' " said Mitch Stewart, the battleground states director.
Outside the office Stewart shares with national field director Jeremy Bird in Chicago, three-dozen campaign workers sit at long desks, picking at salads and chicken nuggets, earbuds in, typing on laptops or talking on phones — the beginning rhythms of a campaign.
On the far wall hang maps of a dozen states, including Pennsylvania, Ohio, North Carolina and Florida. (They happen to be key swing states, but don't read into that, a staffer says.)
"Haridopolos got blasted"
"Republican U.S. Senate candidate Mike Haridopolos got blasted with hostile questions about the recent legislative session and personal ethical issues, including a controversial book contract with Brevard Community College, during a Tiger Bay Club appearance Friday. Questioners, some of them prominent Democrats, implicitly or explicitly accused Haridopolos, who's president of the state Senate, of selling out for political contributions, abandoning environmental protection and balancing the state budget at the expense of education and help for the needy." "Tampa Democrats blast Haridopolos' stances, actions".
"Senate President Mike Haridopolos says he has been keeping a busy schedule lately, spending as many as six days a week speaking to people across Florida about the Legislature's accomplishments."
And that's what he started to talk about Friday as the lunch guest of the Tiger Bay Club of Tampa."Haridopolos faces tough questions".
But then came the questions. Though the group bills itself on its website as "Hillsborough County's premier bipartisan political club," Haridopolos, a Republican from Merritt Island running for the U.S. Senate, said the queries left him feeling like most of the 72 in attendance were "a little left of center, or far left of center."
Perhaps the most pointed question came from club member William Frye, who asked Haridopolos about his controversial deal with Brevard Community College, in which he was paid $152,000 to write a book, and about his failure to accurately disclose his finances on state ethics forms.
Rooney accuses Obama of violating Constitution
"Tom Rooney: 'Obama Is in Clear Violation of the War Powers Resolution and Constitution'".
"AHCA has finally become more aggressive"
The Saint Petersburg Times editorial board: "After years of ineffective action in the face of abuse and neglect of elderly and disabled Floridians, the Agency for Health Care Administration has finally become more aggressive when confronted with clear evidence of egregious mistreatment." "Abuse finally gets state's attention".
"Teachers union prepares for legal fight"
"Teachers union prepares for legal fight with Scott administration".
Try that with your parking tickets
"The Florida Commission on Ethics walked away Friday from almost $200,000 in fines owed by dozens of public officials - acknowledging the scofflaws had outlasted a four-year statutory limit on the penalties." "Florida ethics panel drops $200,000 in fines owed by 168 officials after time limit passes".
Pay no attention to the loaded pistol
"Scott signed more than 40 bills into law Friday, including a pair of wide-ranging education measures that establish a gift ban on school board members and require school districts to put budget information on their websites. ... Among the other bills signed into law Friday:"
• HB 330 makes it a criminal offense to for someone running for office to lie about military experience."Gov. Rick Scott signs more than 40 bills into law".
• HB 421 exempts farm lands from water management district control over decisions to divert surface water. The law will allow agricultural property owners to divert surface water and make other diversion changes without having to get a water management district permit. Environmentalists opposed the bill, citing concerns it would adversely affect wetlands.
• SB 88 and SB 224 cap severance and bonus payments for local government officials and require that local governments post proposed budgets and budget amendments on a website two days before a public hearing.
• SB 234 clarifies laws related to concealed weapons permit holders. The new law says it is not a violation if a concealed gun permit holder's weapon accidentally becomes visible.
"Deep skepticism permeates state's plan to shift 3 million Medicaid recipients"
"Deep skepticism permeated a series of recent public hearings across Florida on the state's plan to shift 3 million Medicaid recipients, including nursing home residents, into managed care." "Skeptics question Florida's Medicaid plan".
EPA won't scrap standards for DEP
"EPA won't scrap inland water standards for state DEP".
Florida's preschool program backsliding
"Florida's pre-K classes will see more kids and less money in the coming year, a combination that means backsliding for a preschool program once heralded as a potential national leader in early-childhood education." "Florida's pre-K program takes big budget hit".
Scott names environmental violator to water board
"One of Gov. Rick Scott’s new appointees to the South Florida Water Management District board ran a garbage incinerator in Miami-Dade that two decades ago was branded an 'environmental nightmare' ago by state regulators and slammed with a then-record fine."
The sooty smudge on the resume of Juan Portuondo — a former president of Montenay Power Corp., which operated the county-owned waste-to-energy plant in Doral for several decades — has drawn criticism from some environmentalists."Portuondo also popped up in a 2005 Miami-Dade County inspector general’s audit"
"By any yardstick, Portuondo’s qualifications are bizarre for an appointee to a government agency whose major mission is fixing the polluted Everglades," wrote Alan Farago, a long-time activist and president of Friends of the Everglades, on his Eye on Miami blog.
questioning contracts doled out by Brown and Caldwell, a company hired by the county to inspect waste facilities. The audit, according to a Herald story at the time, found a “very troubling” $68,000 contract for Portuondo to inspect the Montenay plant at the same time he was being paid as a company lobbyist."New water board member defends environmental record". The Eye on Miami post: "On the appointment of Juan Portuondo to the water district governing board: "R" is for Rick Scott and the Race to the Bottom".
But solid waste department head Kathleen Woods-Richardson filed a response denying any overlap in time between the two jobs. Portuondo, in his email, also denied any ethics conflict, saying he was hired after leaving Montenay to help the county and the company "streamline the inspection process."
Portuondo, an assistant Miami city manager in the 1980s, didn’t campaign for Scott or donate to his race. But he still has solid political connections in Miami. He’s a former president of the Miami Rowing Club, which has included many movers and shakers among its members.
"Fiercest year ever for Florida wildfires", but Scott still "a climate-change denier"
Fred Grimm: "Across the state, state and local firefighters are facing more than 330 wildfires — four new ones bursting out in the Big Cypress National Preserve just Wednesday. About 200,000 rain-starved acres have been affected across the state."
And 2011, after bringing record-high temperatures through the spring, begins to look like the fiercest year ever for Florida wildfires. Of course, if the high temperatures and drought were local, isolated instances, no one would suggest that South Florida’s burning muck fits into a global weather pattern."In this fire, even the dirt is burning".
But this hot, dry spring comes after the globe’s hottest year on record. NOAA reports that nine of the 10 warmest years known to science have all occurred since 2002, with the 12 warmest years on record coming since 1997. And 2010 ranks as the hottest year ever.
Weather extremes on the global scale certainly seem the new normal. Climate scientists wouldn’t say that some bit of local weather was spawned by global warming. But they have been warning, loudly, that warmer global temperatures will bring exactly the extreme weather events that have afflicted the world lately. ...
Of course, our governor, a climate-change denier, won’t connect Florida’s wildfires to global weather patterns.
"Gov. Rick Scott on Friday appointed Ronald Swanson of Pensacola and Stephanie Williams Ray of Tallahassee to vacancies on the 1st District Court of Appeal."
Ray, 41, has been chair of the Florida Public Employees Relations Commission since 2008. Before that, she worked at Florida State University's College of Law as an associate dean and in other roles. Earlier, she worked in private practice at Tallahassee's Ausley & McMullen firm. She graduated, with honors, from the FSU law school."Scott appoints Swanson, Ray to fill vacancies at 1st DCA".
"Throughout her career, Commissioner Ray has demonstrated an ability to analyze complex legal issues while also taking on significant management responsibilities," Scott said in a release. "Her record of decisions as a PERC Commissioner is impressive and reflects respect for and adherence to the rule of law."
Ray's appointment opens up a very critical vacancy on the Public Employees Relations Commission.
"Labor landscape appears to be slowly improving"
"Florida's battered labor landscape appears to be slowly improving, with the statewide unemployment rate dipping to 10.6 percent in May — two-tenths of a percentage point lower than April's rate and the lowest level since August 2009. The statewide jobless rate represents about 980,000 unemployed workers in a labor force of 9.2 million." "Florida unemployment dips to 10.6 percent".
Although he has done precisely nothing, Scott is quick to take the credit: "Scott said the jobless rate has gone down each month since he took office Jan. 4. He predicted that repealing the corporate income tax, junking burdensome regulations on business and reforming the liability lawsuit process would help bring more jobs to Florida." "Gov. Scott says Tallahassee must diversify its economy". See also "Florida added more jobs last month than any other state".
Robaina and Gimenez head down home stretch
"Early voting begins Saturday at 20 locations across Miami-Dade County, as the candidates for county mayor, Julio Robaina and Carlos Gimenez, head down the home stretch toward the June 28 runoff election." "Early voting for county mayor begins Saturday".