"Florida needs to be saved it from itself"
"Florida is foundering. Staggered by an anemic economy and plagued by short-term thinking, this state lacks the vision and the will to responsibly address its biggest challenges. Its elected leaders are too cheap to protect the environment or provide quality health care. They are too willing to erode the constitutional rights of Floridians, and they are headed in the wrong direction on issues such as immigration and energy. There is nowhere else to turn. Florida needs Washington to save it from itself." "Memo to Washington: We need help".
Voter suppression, Florida style
Talking Points Memo has made "the nationwide crackdown on voting one of the centerpieces of [its] 2012 campaign coverage." And the story they start with? Fl-or-i-duh.
"Democrats are calling attention to the effect that voter ID laws which have swept through state legislatures this year could have on voter turnout. But voter ID laws aren't the only restrictive measures imposed on the right to vote which civil rights organizations say are going to hurt voter turnout."
Take Florida. Voters there are already asked to show a photo ID when they vote. Now thanks to a law passed by Florida lawmakers, they're less likely to be registered in the first place."Florida League Of Women Voters Drops Registration Plan Over Restrictive Laws".
The bill, HB 1355, shortened the length of the sunshine state's early voting period and stopped voters from being able to change their address at the polls.
But the law's restrictions on third-party voter registration groups could do the most damage, and have already forced one of the oldest voter education groups out of the voter registration game altogether. Such groups would face stiff fines unless they turned in voter registration cards within 48 hours of them being filled out.
The League of Women Voters announced they were dropping their voter registration program just after the law was rushed through by Republicans in the legislature in May.
Still "one of the country's least popular governors"
"In office six months, Gov. Rick Scott has kept his campaign promises and then some: cutting corporate taxes, reducing the size of government, drug testing welfare recipients, making government workers pay into their pensions and privatizing Medicaid. Yet the conservative Republican is one of the country's least popular governors, with only 29 percent of voters saying in one recent nonpartisan poll[*] that he's doing a good job." "Scott keeps word, loses popularity".
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*It is actually even worse than that: only a 27 percent approval rating in a more recent Republican poll.
What's wrong with Hillsborough?
"Rookie South Florida U.S. Rep. Allen West will raise money for Hillsborough County Republicans on Saturday, speaking at an 'issues and ideas' dinner in Plant City." "Hillsborough GOP get".
Florida Medicare scammers escaping to Latin America
"As Medicare crime spreads across South Florida, accused scammers are escaping in droves to Cuba and other Latin American countries to avoid prosecution — with more than 150 fugitives now wanted for stealing hundreds of millions of dollars from the U.S. healthcare program, according to the FBI and court records."
The tally of fugitives charged with healthcare fraud here has tripled since 2008, when The Miami Herald first reported on the phenomenon of Cuban immigrants joining the Medicare rackets and fleeing to evade trial in Miami."Medicare crooks find safe haven in Cuba".
But during the past three years, the FBI has captured only 16 fugitives, reflecting the difficulty in catching Spanish-speaking suspects who head south to hide out. Most of the fugitives were born in Cuba, immigrated to South Florida after 1990 and can easily live under the radar in Latin America with hundreds of thousands or millions in taxpayer dollars fleeced from Medicare.
"Cut the competition"
The Saint Petersburg Times editorial board: "The state's 11 public universities, facing declining state support and rising enrollments, are poaching on each other's territories, duplicating efforts and pursuing high-cachet programs. The state's onetime community college system has morphed into a hodgepodge of 28 two- and four-year schools. And the burgeoning size of the universities begs the creation of a 12th, but there's no clue where the money will come from." "Cut the competition among universities".
Huntsman loses one
"Barely two months after he left Scott's office as director of external affairs to lead Jon Huntsman's political action committee, Spencer Geissinger is leaving the Huntsman campaign." "Florida operative out".
Ballard a Romney Florida finance co-chairman
"Brian Ballard, one of Florida's top Republican fundraisers, is joining the Mitt Romney presidential campaign as Florida finance co-chairman and a member of the national leadership team." "Big state lobbyist backs Romney".
Florida Obama bundlers:
A glimpse of the folks who helped Obama raise $47 million:
Raising $500,000 or more for Obama were Mark and Nancy Gilbert of Boca Raton, Steven Green of Miami Beach and Andrew Tobias of Miami."Who's worth a bundle to Obama 2012".
Bundlers who pulled in $200,000-$500,000: J.P. Austin of Miami, Alex Heckler of Fort Lauderdale, Ben Pollara of Coral Gables and Kirk Wagar of Coconut Grove.
Raising $100,000-$200,000: Mitchell Berger of Parkland, Stephen Bittel of Miami Beach, Joseph Falk of Miami, Andrew Korge of Coral Gables, Chris Korge of Miami, Abigail and F.J. Pollak of Coral Springs, Bobby Stein of Jacksonville and Andrew Weinstein of Coral Springs.
Entrepreneurs in action
"Jet-setting CFO gets dual terms for embezzling $15M at tree farm".
Osceola's "consistent pattern of discrimination"
"A shift toward majority-Hispanic commission districts that began four years ago in Osceola County is likely to accelerate next year, potentially changing the balance of political power in the county. In 2007, the U.S. Justice Department cited a 'consistent pattern of discrimination' against minority voters and required reluctant Osceola officials to redraw commission districts. The order required one of the districts to have a majority Hispanic population." "Osceola's new district lines may boost Hispanic political clout".
Craig Miller bags tea in U.S. Senate bid
"Businessman Craig Miller, the newest U.S. Senate candidate looking to challenge Bill Nelson, sat down this week with the Sarasota grassroots group 13 Patriots, Inc, which bills itself as a local, nonpartisan educational organization made up of average citizens who are concerned with the direction our country has taken." "Craig Miller Visits With Sarasota’s 13 Patriots".
Charter schools fail seven times more than traditional schools
"Charter schools, which account for only a fraction of the state's public schools, received half of all the F's when the state handed out its annual letter grades two weeks ago."
Of all the failing grades given to public schools, 15 of 31 went to charters.Meanwhile, "Rick Scott and other advocates are pushing for more school choice — and more charters."
The charters, often billed by proponents as a superior alternative to traditional schools, were seven times more likely than regular schools to get an F in the appraisal of the state's elementary and middle schools.
Financed with hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars, charters also were more likely to earn D's and less likely to earn A's, B's or C's than regular public schools.
This past school year, the state had 348 charters, accounting for 11 percent of Florida's public schools, and this year the number is set to go even higher."Florida charter schools' many F's give ammunition to critics".
With these numbers, it is clear that Florida isn't waiting for stoopid*, they're already here: "During Rick Scott's first week in office, he and school-reform guru Michelle Rhee visited a charter school in South Florida, touting the for-profit academy as a model of how the private sector could better educate children."
"We have to make sure our system does exactly what you are doing here at Florida International Academy," Scott said at the time."Fortunately for the governor, Florida International wasn't the only charter school he highlighted in his quest to transform Florida's schools."
If all schools do, they'll all be F-rated … the grade Florida International's elementary school just received from the state.
When Scott signed a teacher-merit-pay bill back in March, he did so at KIPP middle school in Jacksonville, another charter school that reformers touted as a model.Maxwell continues, writing that
Unfortunately for the governor, KIPP just earned an F, too.
charter schools in Florida failed at a rate seven times higher than that of traditional schools."To help make their case, Florida's controlling Republican Party has embarked upon an intense campaign against public-school teachers — portraying them as lazy, complacent and ineffective."
They also netted fewer A's and B's.
The results fall far short of the sky-high promises by politicians and for-profit executives who claimed that charter schools would do better.
And people are taking notice.
Gone are the days when schoolteachers were respected and praised. In Florida, they've become a political punching bag."Many F's prove charter schools are no sure solution".
By doing this, GOP leaders accomplished several goals. They weakened the teachers unions, which traditionally supported Democratic candidates. They helped the charter-school groups, which often back Republicans. And they furthered their missions of providing more school choice and letting the private sector take over more public-sector duties. ...
Orange County schools Superintendent Ron Blocker said champions of so-called reform should be honest and ethical enough to acknowledge the evidence that simply doesn't support their claims.
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*Recall how former District of Columbia public schools chancellor, and confirmed Jebbite, Michelle Rhee met with Florida lawmakers to, get this, "talk about improving instructional quality." "Ex-DC school chief Rhee visiting Florida lawmakers".
Rhee is a "failed" union-hater in bed with, among others, Ricky Scott's fav, the Wal-Mart Corporation:
The urban education reform movement just got a much-needed reality check as D.C. Democratic primary voters fired Mayor Adrian Fenty, and effectively along with him one of the movement's biggest superstars, District schools chief Michelle Rhee. Chancellor Rhee was as a key, polarizing figure in Fenty's reelection campaign, which ended when he was defeated in the Tuesday primary by his challenger, D.C. Council Chairman Vincent Gray."Why Michelle Rhee's Education 'Brand' Failed in D.C." More about Rhee from the New York Review of Books's "The Myth of Charter Schools", a review of the film flop Waiting for Superman.
Rhee brazenly politicized her job as Schools Chancellor in a way that may be unprecedented for education bureaucrats. Back in the spring, the charitable arm of Wal-Mart and other corporate foundations threatened to yank millions they had donated to break the teacher's union if Rhee was not retained. Then Rhee not so subtly hinted to a reporter that she would not work for Gray. Finally, the weekend before the election, Rhee hit the campaign trail along with Fenty to round up votes in the wealthiest ward in Washington.
D.C. voters responded with a resounding rejection of her, her boss and their education policies.