"With backing of [B-1] Bob Dornan ... Conservative writer and activist Marielena Montesino de Stuart entered the increasingly crowded Republican primary Monday to take on Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson in 2012. Born in Cuba, her family fled from Fidel Castro’s communist regime in the late 1960s after standing against that tyrannical government. Stuart, whose writings have regularly appeared on conservative website RenewAmerica, currently lives in Ave Maria." "Conservative Writer Marielena Stuart Enters Senate Race". Related: "No clear GOP candidate emerging to challenge Nelson".
The Rickster's glamor shot
"Rick Scott's office has been working on softening his image lately and now wants to literally change the governor's image. In a release, the office sent a photo it wants the media to use, one of Scott without a tie and from a slight angle that shows no hint of his characteristic wide eyes." "Scott asks media to change his image -- literally". See also "" and "".
Another GOPer jumps in against Castor
"Hillsborough County Commissioner Mark Sharpe said Monday he'll run against U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor for Tampa's District 11 congressional seat."
Age 51, Sharpe is a South Tampa resident, a U.S. Navy and Naval Reserve retiree and a Florida State University graduate with a master's degree in strategic studies from the University of South Florida. He and his wife have three children.
"Sharpe will challenge Castor for congressional seat". See also "Sharpe will challenge Castor for seat in Congress".
Prior to being elected county commissioner in 2004, he was a private school teacher and administrator.
He ran unsuccessfully for the same congressional seat in 1992, 1994 and 1996 against former Rep. Sam Gibbons, coming within 3 percent of winning in 1994. But Sharpe said he has a better chance now.
"Sharpe does not have a clear path to the Republican nomination. Adams, who was the nominee in 2006 and 2008 and lost to Prendergast in the 2010 primary, is looking to take on Castor yet again. Tea party activist Josh Kiernan is also running in the Republican primary." "Mark Sharpe Looks to Take on Kathy Castor".
Flabaggers in a dither about Perry"
"Florida's Presidency 5 straw poll looms ever-larger now that Rick Perry is in the race and Tim Pawlenty is out. Pawlenty figured to make a strong showing in the Sept. 24 poll of 3,500 GOP delegates in Orlando. The former Minnesota governor had lined up support from top Sunshine State politicos, including the next three speakers of the Florida House, former Jeb Bush staffer and money man Phil Handy, and omnipresent political guru Justin Sayfie."
But when Pawlenty bowed out after finishing a distant third in the Iowa straw poll, the P5 field opened up.
Meanwhile, the teabaggers are in a dither about Perry:
Perry is expected to compete in the P5 straw poll, along with U.S. Reps. Michele Bachmann and Ron Paul, the first- and second-place finishers in Iowa. ...
"The landscape changed this weekend. With Bachmann's strong showing, there are a lot of great candidates to make P5 a pretty important event," Hughes said.
Perry spokesman Mark Miner would not confirm Monday that the governor will vie in the straw poll, but Perry got a boost when the father-son duo of state Sen. Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, and state Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Shalimar, endorsed him.
Reps. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, and Clay Ingram, R-Pensacola, also jumped on board.
Pawlenty backers are keeping their powder dry ... for now.
Perry's reception among tea partiers has been mixed while Bachmann has been dubbed the "queen of the tea party" movement nationally.
"Iowa Poll, Pawlenty's Fall Set Stage for GOP Brawl in Orlando".
"[Perry] has been making my head explode. The same guy who ushered in the Dream Act for the great state of Texas, and was a liberal Democrat not too many years back ... I did not trust his recent prayer shenanigans for a second," said Danita Kilkullen, who heads Tea Party Fort Lauderdale.
Tom Gaitens, Florida field director for the Washington, D.C.-based FreedomWorks tea party group, said the movement is "very much split."
"Bachmann is well-liked, but Paul has great sympathies among tea partiers. Perry would be a third choice, but growing."
Gaitens predicts that "mainstream establishment GOPers will go to Perry or Romney" and that will result in a "three-horse race" among Perry, Bachmann and Romney.
Florida courts begging for money
The Orlando Sentinel editorial board: "Floridians depend on the judiciary to enforce the law, protect their rights and settle disputes. Courts should never be in the position of begging for money to carry out these essential responsibilities." "Gov. Rick Scott needs to back court funding vow with a plan".
T-shirt shops hiring
"Florida economists say there is no reason to think high unemployment is permanent. But the recovery might be slow, economists say, and workers will have to learn new skills while the economy recuperates." "Florida economists: High unemployment persistent but not permanent".
Try joining your union
"It won't be a big political-action committee with millions of dollars to spread around among powerful legislators and the political parties, but a group of public employees is forming a PAC to speak out for government workers in Florida." "Public workers form their own PAC".
Raw political courage: Rubio opposes slavery
"Marco Rubio: Let's put an end to modern-day slavery".
Miami declared "Financial urgency"
"Miami City Manager Johnny Martinez declared financial urgency Monday, giving the city’s four unions two weeks to negotiate new labor contracts or face cuts imposed by Miami’s five commissioners." "'Financial urgency:' City unions asked to redo contracts".
West ponders nomination for U.S. Senate in 2012
"U.S. Rep. Allen West, R-Plantation, received cheers and a standing ovation from a large tea party crowd on Monday — overwhelming the background of grumbling he has heard since he voted for the deal that raised the federal debt ceiling."
West also said Wednesday that his intention — at this point — is to run for a second term representing his Broward and Palm Beach County district in Congress. But, he said, he is open to the possibility of seeking the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate in 2012."U.S. Rep. Allen West wins cheers at tea party meeting".
Love 4 sale
"Casino operators, utilities, health care companies and agricultural companies shelled out millions of dollars during the first half of the year to lobby the Florida Legislature, Gov. Rick Scott and other top state officials. Many of the corporations that spent the most were those seeking help from the Republican-controlled Legislature to either pass or kill bills during the spring legislative session." "Tallahassee lobbyists raking in big bucks". See also "Lobbying income continues to rebound after down year".
"Dwindling Florida Forever program"
"State looking at millions in land buys paid from dwindling Florida Forever program".
"State workers may wind up in the middle"
"Three HMOs have filed legal challenges to a plan by the Scott administration to limit the number of HMOs state workers can choose. But that challenge may not be resolved by the time state workers are supposed to start their annual enrollment period." "State workers may wind up in the middle of clash over health insurance changes".
Time for Scott to prepare Florida to implementing Obama's health care reforms
The Saint Petersburg Times editors: "By striking down the individual mandate portion of the federal health care reform law, a panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals would hobble the ability of the federal government to address a key problem: the shifting of $43 billion in costs to care for the uninsured onto others. But the ruling has a bright side. The panel upheld every part of the Affordable Care Act except the individual mandate as constitutional. Now Florida Gov. Rick Scott should see that Floridians benefit and better position the state to carry out the reforms."
The court rejected Florida's claim that the Affordable Care Act's expansion of Medicaid to cover all those who fall below 133 percent of the federal poverty rate is coercive. The court said that Medicaid-participating states have their own power to tax and raise revenue "and therefore can create and fund programs of their own if they do not like Congress' terms." ...
"Bright side on health reform".
The 11th Circuit ruling stands in contrast to a recent federal appellate court ruling out of Cincinnati upholding the individual mandate and the rest of the Affordable Care Act. But both appellate courts lean toward all or nearly all of the law being found constitutional. The U.S. Supreme Court will ultimately rule, but it's time for Scott to better prepare Florida for implementing the reforms.
A reminder from the The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "The irony is that the mandate is a Republican idea that candidate Barack Obama opposed. He had to include it in the health care law when politics precluded a government-run, single-payer system. If the Supreme Court sides with the 11th Circuit, such a system may be the only option to cover the millions the health care law is to designed to serve." "Judges get it partially right".
"Florida policy-makers headed to national anti-abortion gala in November".
Delta Airlines shill claims he's "willing to compromise on union issues"
"Mica, the Florida congressman now says he is willing to compromise on union issues and 'rural air service funding along with the number of flights moving in and out of Washington, D.C.’s airports.'" "In on-air interview, congressman says he is willing to compromise on FAA bill".
Hasner grubbing for wingnuts
"Hasner, among the Republicans vying to face Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson in the general election, has done well in getting prominent conservatives at the national level -- including Erick Erickson, the founder of RedState -- behind his campaign and he is starting to pick up steam with right-of-center Floridians such as state Rep. Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala, and state Rep. Scott Plakon, R-Longwood. In his speech in Charleston, Hasner took aim at politics in Washington and slammed the Obama administration. " "Adam Hasner Takes Aim at Obama and George LeMieux".
"Scott's vision for transportation needs scrutiny"
The Saint Petersburg Times editorial board: "Gov. Rick Scott has launched his own stimulus program with the state's smart decision to speed up more than $1 billion in road projects. The move doesn't excuse the governor's decision to kill the federally funded high-speed rail between Tampa and Orlando. But it will create jobs, and it's a good down payment on improving critical links in the state's transportation system, including several vital routes in the Tampa Bay area."
"Scott's larger vision for transportation needs more serious scrutiny. It calls for Florida to depend much more on toll roads, do away with some local transportation authorities and partner much more directly with private business. This could create a two-tiered transportation network — one for more affluent commuters, and a cash-starved network for everyone else. But that is a debate for another day." "Projects pave way for better future".
Fasano continues Citizens fight
"Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, won a small battle last week in the fight against proposed rate increases for state-backed Citizens Property Insurance, but now he’s looking to win the war." "Tampa Lawmakers Hold Rallies Against Insurance Rate Hikes".
Pigs at the public dollar trough
Ignoring that charter schools are demonstrated failures, Mike Thomas applauds the "explosion in charter schools. Last year charter-school enrollment grew to 137,000 statewide. This year there has been a huge increase in applications to create more schools, which are publicly funded but independently run." "Public schools must adapt to choice or die off". See also "While Other Public Schools Moan Over Cuts, Charter Campuses Expand".
For a charter school reality check, see "The Myth of Charter Schools" and, if you're looking for hard "data", see the Orlando Sentinel's "Florida charter schools' many F's give ammunition to critics" ("Charters were seven times more likely than regular public schools to receive F's on state's report card ... 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").
West fancies himself defending Bastogne
"Report: 'NUTS!' is Allen West response to letter".
Standard & Poor's to lower credit rating
"The same new budget-slashing law that resulted in dozens of layoffs at the South Florida Water Management District has also prompted Standard & Poor's to lower the district's credit rating." "S&P lowers water district's bond rating because of new state law requiring tax cuts".
Where will Florida's prison shortcuts come from?
"Florida is moving forward with a timetable to turn over prison operations in the southern half of the state to a private contractor, after the Legislature approved the plan designed to save millions of dollars." "Privatization of prisons aims to save more than $20M".
Scott gets his facts wrong
"Scott is still being asked about rejecting $2.4 billion in federal money for high-speed rail. Recently he said the project would have cost state taxpayers $1 billion. Turns out, that's not true." "Scott gets costs wrong".
The week ahead
"This week lawmakers hold another round of redistricting public hearings, the U.S. Census releases detailed information for Florida, and the unemployment rate for July will be released." "The Week Ahead for Aug. 15-Aug. 19".
Never mind that swim
"Sewage spills into Hudson Bayou".
Florida prescription drug deaths increasing
"New data shows that prescription drug deaths in Florida increased nearly 9 percent last year compared with 2009 despite aggressive efforts by law enforcement to educate people about the dangers and to crack down on illegal distribution." "Deaths in Florida from oxycodone, other pain killers keep climbing". See also "Prescription drug deaths jumped up in 2010".