CNN: "Flames kill 2 Florida firefighters, injure 2 others".
"Officials say two Division of Forestry firefighters died and two others were injured while fighting the Blue Ribbon Fire in north Florida. The deaths occurred Monday in Hamilton County. The agency has not released the names of the firefighters." "2 firefighters killed battling Florida wildfire". See also "2 firefighters killed battling Florida wildfire".
Teachers sue over pension changes, seek injunction
A "lawsuit by the teachers union, join by unions for police and state workers, says the state violated its contractual obligation when it cut 3 percent of their salaries and shifted the money into the Florida Retirement System. " "Teachers sue Scott over pension".
"Before state and local governments take the first dime from the paychecks of teachers, police and state workers to put in the state pension plan, three unions filed suit Monday against Gov. Rick Scott and other trustees of the state retirement plan, alleging the move is an unconstitutional violation and a taking of their personal property." "Teachers sue state over ‘unconstitutional’ pay cut to balance the budget". See also "FEA files suit to block state from requiring employees to pay into pensions" and "Florida unions fight pension reform". See also "Union files lawsuit to block state pension overhaul" and "Public employee pension 'contributions' are unconstitutional". More: "Teachers' Union Sues State Over Pension Reforms" and "PBA supporting FEA suit against Scott, state on pension changes".
FEA president Andy Ford explains "Why the FEA is suing the State of Florida".
Gimenez bags further debates
"Saying he wants to spend the last week of the campaign meeting voters, Miami-Dade mayoral hopeful Carlos Gimenez has pulled out of debates scheduled this week against rival Julio Robaina." "Gimenez withdraws from remaining mayoral debates". See also "Teachers union sues state over new pension law". Meanwhile, "Miami-Dade voters: Ousting Alvarez was worth it".
New education commissioner
Update: "FL Board picks Robinson for education commissioner".
"The five finalists to become Florida's next education commissioner pitched themselves to the State Board of Education on Monday during a five-hour meeting at the Tampa Airport Marriott."
The finalists are:"Finalists for Florida education commissioner make their pitch".
• Loretta Costin, Florida chancellor of career and adult education.
• Thomas P. Jandris, dean, Concordia University Chicago.
• Gerard Robinson, Virginia secretary of education.
• Bret Schundler, former New Jersey education commissioner.
• Stacia Smith, superintendent of the Clark County, Ohio, Educational Service Center.
"Hard to say whether the Suncoast Tiger Bay Club is drawing ever more Democratic members or if its membership has just become fed up with Tallahassee politicians. Maybe both."
The club has skewed Democratic in recent years, but it's striking just how overtly hostile members have been lately to Republican state legislators."Tiger Bay becoming lion's den for GOP". See also "First hearing on Florida redistricting draws complaints about lack of proposed maps".
State Rep. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, found a tough crowd when he appeared recently, and Republican Pinellas members repeated groans and scoffs last week from the crowd.
County Commissioner Ken Welch asked a good question: Grade the performance of the Legislature and Gov. Rick Scott.
Among the Republicans, state Reps. Larry Ahern of St. Petersburg gave both A's, prompting astonished groans from the crowd. Jim Frishe gave the Legislature a B, and passed on the governor. Ed Hooper gave the Legislature a C and Scott an incomplete, since he's only been in office six months. ("Too long!" someone shouted.) Peter Nehr gave the Legislature an A for fiscal discipline. And state Sen. Jack Latvala graded the Legislature "below average," Scott "improving."
Among the Democrats, state Reps. Rick Kriseman and Darryl Rouson both gave the Legislature and governor F's.
Ricky's plays on astroturf
Scott Maxwell: "For a guy who claims not read newspapers — or care what the polls say or the public thinks — Rick Scott sure is putting a lot of effort into trying to score some good publicity. In fact, if regular old rank-and-file Floridians won’t write nice things about him in letters to the editor, Scott has decided to write the words for them." "Rick Scott pre-writes letters of praise".
Fred Grimm: "Starting a fake fan-letter campaign, of course, would represent a pathetic turn in character" for Rick Scott.
[However, a] website provides convenient links that whisk letters to The Miami Herald, Sun-Sentinel, Palm Beach Post, Orlando Sentinel, Tallahassee Democrat and the Florida Times-Union in Jacksonville. With a blank for the writer’s name. If enough editorial page editors publish wavering and enthusiastic letters celebrating Rick Scott, they’ll create an illusionary groundswell. Unless somebody notices all that unwavering support has been expressed in identical language."Dear editor: Give Fred [Grimm] a raise. (Hey, it worked for Rick Scott)".
Back when he ran for office, Scott was the only serious gubernatorial candidate in memory who refused to meet with the editorial boards of the state’s major newspapers, so I suppose it’s encouraging that his operatives now reach out to the editorial pages, however obliquely.
Savvy political consultants often orchestrate mendacious grassroots campaigns featuring work-a-day folks, many of them also named Sally, rising up from the boonies in spontaneous support for something or someone with as much actual popular support as the 1985 Yugo. (Rick Scott’s poll numbers, lately, have been Yugoesque.) Grassroots fakery, known as Astroturfing, shows up as faux folks sending thousands of identical letters to politicians and newspapers. In South Florida, lobbyists herd Astroturf crowds into city and county commission meetings, often in identical T-shirts, to demonstrate passionate grassroots support for overwrought projects despised by everyone not on the developers’ payroll.
Not "Jim Crow"
"Reasonable people can disagree about the wisdom of the new laws, but they would not return the United States to Jim Crow. Saying so offers more heat than light. And that's why PolitiFact rated her claim False." "Do voter laws bring back Jim Crow?".
"The American Civil Liberties Union of Florida and the Florida NAACP have both filed public comments with the U.S. Department of Justice asking them to reject a new state law overhauling state elections, alleging that the new law is discriminatory." "ACLU, NAACP file objections with feds over voting law".
Scott shakes up his staff
"Scott begins shakeup of administration". See also "Mike Prendergast Out as Rick Scott's Chief of Staff, Heads to VA".
Florida Supreme Court attacked
"A study criticizing a series of closely contested decisions by the Florida Supreme Court is boosting a campaign to oppose three high court justices in the 2012 election. 'The 'Activist' Journey of the Florida Supreme Court,' by Colleen Pero of the American Justice Partnership, declares:"
"Nowhere is [the] pattern of judicial activism more prevalent than in the state of Florida. Examples of the Florida Supreme Court making law can be found as early as 30 years ago, but over the past six to eight years, the court has increasingly ventured into areas commonly considered to be within the exclusive purview of the Legislature.""Study Rips 'Judicial Activism' at Florida Supreme Court".
Pero, writing for the conservative Lansing, Mich.-based AJP, examined and commented on several high court rulings, including:
Hoffman v. Jones (1973). "The adoption of comparative negligence over contributory negligence by judicial fiat."
Armstrong v. Harris (2000). "By adding an 'accuracy requirement' to the Florida Constitution, the Florida Supreme Court declared a constitutional amendment passed by 72.8 percent of the voting public unconstitutional." The amendment dealt with death-penalty issues.
Delgado v. State (2000). "Adding the word 'surreptitiously' to the burglary statute resulting in the setting aside of two murder convictions."
D’Amario v. Ford Motor Co. (2001) (joined with General Motors Corp. v. Nash). "Comparative negligence applies in product liability cases, yet not in crashworthiness cases."
Bush v. Holmes (2006). "By creating a new constitutional mandate, the court held invalid a scholarship program allowing students in chronically failing public schools an opportunity to either attend a better performing public school or receive a voucher to attend a private school."
Applying a set of "activist indicators," such as "the use of vague or general constitutional language to defeat the clear will of the voters or acts of the Legislature," Pero's study blisters the court.
Luvin' Mr. West
"Broward County Mayor Sue Gunzburger said she didn't expect to like Broward's new congressman, U.S. Rep. Allen West, R-Plantation. But she does. A lot." "Broward's liberal Gunzburger gushes over tea party-ist Congressman West".
"Hostility and distrust"
"Florida legislators were greeted with both hostility and distrust Monday as they opened the first of 26 redistricting hearings in the state’s capital, a company town where Republicans control government but Democratic voters are a majority." "Florida redistricting meeting draws fire". See also "Critics bash Florida lawmakers' redistricting process", "At first redistricting hearing, lawmakers hear the cons", "Lawmakers Kick Off Lengthy Redistricting Process" and "Legislative leaders get earful in first redistricting public hearing".
In the meantime, "Tea Parties Drawing New District Maps for Legislature, Congress".
"Threats of deep cuts"
"In the midst of a record-breaking drought, the agency responsible for South Florida's water supply also was hit last week by threats of deep cuts to its management force and drastic directives from top environmental officials in Tallahassee." "South Florida water district's management staff to be cut by 61 percent".
"No connection between drug use and financial need"
The Sun Sentinel editorial board: "What's not debatable is the order for so-called 'suspicion-less' drug testing of all state employees is offensive, and ripe for legal challenge. ... Also, previous research by the state of Florida found no connection between drug use and financial need, a fact which didn't seem to matter to Gov. Scott. The governor, who seems to have a fixation with drug testing for no logical reason whatsoever, would do well to suspend the mandatory drug tests for welfare recipients, before the courts tell him to do it." "Scott needs to end all needless drug tests"
"DEP tells districts they must examine their structure and activities to ensure they are meeting their 'core mission responsibilities.' But Audubon of Florida's Eric Draper said the directive represents a "power grab" by the governor and DEP from the five water management districts that were established by the Legislature." "DEP tells water management districts to cut staff, stop buying land".
BBC: "Jeb Bush is the son who was groomed for the presidency. He was the one most Republicans expected to succeed his father into the Oval Office. And today, looking at their, let's be frank, lacklustre field, many Republicans still wish he would do just that." "Jeb Bush: No run in 2012, but I don't rule out 2016".
A lotta GOPers
"The 2012 Republican National Convention is still more than a year away, but even early preparations suggest its sheer scale and complexity. With each television network and 13,000 to 15,000 journalists in attendance, it is expected to use more cables and fiber connections and draw more electricity than anything ever held in Florida." "2012 Republican National Convention in Tampa prepares for surge of power and press".
"The cost of college just went up by an unexpected $1,500 for some of Florida’s top students." "Scholarship cut for 1,400 of Florida’s top students".