"It has been a rough month for Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi. She faced criticism in late July for the forced resignations of two attorneys leading the state's foreclosure fraud investigations."
Then last week, Assistant Attorney General Andrew Spark released a 16-page diatribe accusing the office of failing to aggressively pursue foreclosure and consumer protection cases.
"Bondi deflects controversy". See also "" and "Florida’s attorney general under attack for personnel issues" ("Democrats are calling for special investigations and introducing legislation aimed at the Attorney General’s office.")
"The people of the State of Florida are entitled to fair and honest government, independent of personal connections and powerful interests, and I have decided to speak out," Spark wrote. He quit the next day.
Democrats are seizing on the controversy, turning what Bondi has characterized as issues with subpar, disgruntled personnel into political embarrassment by calling for independent investigations and introducing legislation aimed at Bondi's office.
Among Spark's revelations: Two top lawyers left Bondi's office to work for companies under investigation, and when he launched an examination of the advertising practices at Tampa's Ferman Motor Cars, his supervisor noted that Robert Shimberg, who helped raise money for Bondi's campaign and served on her transition team, is Ferman's company attorney.
"This appears to be a small case, but the target is a very prominent Tampa business and their long time counsel is Robert Shimberg," wrote Richard Lawson, director of the AG's Economic Crimes Division, in an e-mail after Spark received approval to investigate Ferman. "You should be aware of this in case the AG has any questions. If the case develops into something more significant I will advise accordingly."
A short time later, Spark's direct supervisor suggested that the case be settled by allowing Ferman to resolve the advertising question with fine print.
"Recommended Reading for Thursday, August 18".
"All candidates at Fox News debate will be included in RPOF Presidency 5 poll"
"Mitt Romney and Michele Bachmann say they're skipping the Florida straw vote, but it looks like their names will be on the Sept. 24 poll ballot anyway." "Mitt Romney, Michele Bachmann 'Likely' on Florida Straw Ballot".
"Miami residents urged state lawmakers to use common sense when drawing new legislative and congressional districts, keeping cities and neighborhoods together and avoiding gerrymandering." "Florida redistricting committee hears pleas from cities, minorities". See also "Miami-Dade presents complicated brew for lawmakers" and "Passionate, polite residents greet lawmakers at Miami redistricting hearing".
More: "Round-up of media coverage of redistricting for 8/18" and "The Republican Party’s ‘Traveling Medicine & Redistricting Hearing Show’".
Only 17 percent deemed college ready
"More than 117,000 high school graduates in Florida took the college readiness exam this past year. But only 17 percent were deemed to be college ready in the four subject areas of English, reading, math and science." "Florida's ACT scores rise but the state still lags behind national average".
"Florida is getting older"
"Florida is getting older – according to U.S. Census figures, older populations have been growing in Florida over the past 20 years. Projected figures show that 27% of Florida’s population could be over 65 years old by 2030." "Infographic: Aging in Florida".
Does the Rickster read newspapers?
"In January, the freshly inaugurated Gov. Scott was asked by reporters if he read Florida papers. "No," he answered."
Thus was born Rick Scott, the Governor Who Does Not Read Newspapers."PolitiFact Florida: Does Rick Scott read newspapers?"
"The Scott administration has embraced a new transportation plan that calls for an increased use of toll roads. The first project announced is a $291-million project that is the first part of a proposed outer beltway in the Jacksonville area. " "State announces major new toll road for Northeast Florida".
Florida's undercapitalized banks
"21 Florida banks among nation's 154 undercapitalized institutions".
Florida at the federal teat
"Florida is getting $97.7 million in federal funding for loans to help start new businesses and expand existing ones." "Florida getting $97.7 million for business loans".
"Florida epicenter of foreclosure crisis"
"Florida metro areas dominate the top 25 list for cities with the worst foreclosure rates — including the eight highest in the nation". "Florida is now epicenter of foreclosure crisis, report concludes".
Blame the bureaucrats
Mike Thomas: "The latest Rick Scott assault on all that is good and holy is his vivisection of the state's water management districts. He slashed their taxes, whacked their budgets, lowered their credit ratings and sent their job-killing bureaucrats packing." Thomas continues, saying
wish I could say the two water districts overseeing our region — the South Florida and St. Johns — didn't have this coming."Mike Thomas: Rick Scott goes after bloated, bureaucratic water districts".
"Environmentalists wary outflow of water district staffers will slow Everglades projects".
Ricky can't get his hubris straight
"Scott is trying to take the long view when it comes to Florida’s debt. Consistently railing against the federal government’s $14.2 trillion debt, Scott is also trying to hold the line on debt at the state level." "Amid Downgrades and Market Shakeups, Florida Keeps Cool Head".
Six in the Morning
Travis Pillow's "Six in the Morning: A six-pack of infobits you might have missed".
West admonished by challenger
"One of Rep. Allen West’s 2012 Democratic challengers, Patrick Murphy, recently sent out an email to his supporters criticizing West for his consistently aggressive rhetoric." "Murphy to West: ‘This is Congress, not a professional wrestling match’".
Not so "Secure"
"A rally in Miami brought out activists upset with the federal government’s Secure Communities immigration enforcement program, as well as residents who say they’ve seen firsthand why Secure Communities doesn’t work." "At Miami rally, stories about why Secure Communities doesn’t work".
Ricky on a junket
"Broward Commissioner Sue Gunzburger to join Gov. Rick Scott on Brazil trade mission".
Uptick in hospitality jobs
"Florida tourism increased 7 percent this spring over last year, a boost in visitors that added hospitality jobs and cash to the state's economy." "Florida tourism on the rise, adding hospitality jobs, cash to state's economy".
Crazy train to add another passenger
"Buchanan not ruling out Senate run".
Credit-card debt in Florida has dropped sharply
"While Congress struggles to rein in the nation's deficit spending, many Florida consumers are successfully paying down their credit-card debt and their home mortgages. Credit counselors are seeing a steep decline in household debt over the past year, as anxious consumers try to reduce their vulnerability to the economic slowdown. After decades of borrowing and overspending, many Floridians now appear better prepared to withstand another recession if there is one."
A nationwide survey released Thursday indicates that credit-card debt in Florida remains high but has dropped sharply. Credit Karma — a nonprofit debt-management group that surveyed those seeking its services — said average credit-card balances in Florida declined from $7,726 in July 2010 to $6,442 last month. In addition, the average mortgage dropped from $174,309 a year ago to $161,785 last month, though student-loan debt rose."Amid bad economy, fearful Floridians pay down mortgages, credit-card debt".
Not your science teacher's Republican Party
"Rick Perry says he doesn't believe in global warming".
For-profit charter school buses employees to rally
"A for-profit charter school management company that operates a school system larger than a majority of Florida's public school districts is busing its employees to Orlando Thursday for a rally to kick off the new school year. It's an expense that public school systems facing a budget crisis say they wouldn't even consider in light of funding cuts from the state Legislature." "Charter school rally today to attract thousands, Gov. Scott".
"Do you know where your congressman is?"
"It's August, do you know where your congressman is? Not in Washington. Maybe not even in the country." "Do you know where your congressman is?".