"Under pressure from Gov. Rick Scott's office, Florida prison officials quietly terminated a $180,000, 10-month contract with a Washington, D.C. woman hired to oversee the state's planned privatization of health care for prisoners."
Department of Corrections Secretary Edwin Buss hired Elizabeth "Betty" Gondles almost immediately after his appointment to head the state prison system by Scott in January. Buss and Gondles had worked together during his tenure as prisons chief in Indiana.
"Scott's office overrides Florida prison system contract for second time in a week".
Last week, Buss' agency yanked five requests for bids to privatize medical services at all of the state's prisons, which house more than 100,000 inmates. Corrections officials said at the time they were canceled the requests for proposals pending further review.
But on Monday, Gondles -- who had at least two months left on her contract as the department's interim health care authority -- was let go.
The cancellation of Gondles' contract is the second time in a week that Scott's office has overridden one of Buss' decisions.
Wingers cross their fingers on Scott
"A poll released Monday, unveiled by the Associated Industries of Florida (AIF) and taken by [by Republican pollsters] McLaughlin & Associates, finds Gov. Rick Scott on the comeback trail with voters in the Sunshine State." "With Floridians Backing His Positions, Rick Scott's on the Rebound". See also "Associated Industries of Florida says survey shows support for Scott's policies".
Scott investigates himself ... wanna guess the result?
"The Florida Department of Law Enforcement opened an investigation Monday into missing e-mails from Gov. Rick Scott's two-month transition amid a complaint from former Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink about a possible conflict of interest."
Ms. Sink has a point:
The head of FDLE, Gerald M. Bailey, is employed at the will of Scott and the Cabinet. That relationship could pose a conflict for the department's investigation, Sink said.
"Scott e-mail inquiry opens".
"This is outrageous," Sink said. "Clearly there were laws broken. There should be an independent investigation into why these transition e-mails disappeared into thin air."
He was for it before he was against it
Mike Thomas: "Progress Energy has been billing us for two planned nuclear plants since 2009. Given the history of such projects, call it the Pay and a Prayer Plan."
The Legislature and Jeb Bush signed off on this scheme, and I agreed at the time.
"Florida's nuclear power gambit is upping the ante".
The idea was to jump-start construction of a new generation of nukes in Florida. By putting more financial risk on customers, the utilities hoped to attract big Wall Street investors.
In 2006, the plants were estimated at $5 billion, with the first one operational in 2016.
Given the price and time frame, charging in advance seemed reasonable. ...
But the new nuclear industry is beginning to look a lot like the old nuclear industry.
The best they can do?
"An 82-page consultant's report issued Friday lays out recommendations for the new Department of Economic Opportunity and its mission of encouraging job creation in Florida." "Reports provide recommendations for new Department of Economic Opportunity".
"Wild West obsession with guns"
The Tampa Trib editors publish a NRA press release: "The United States is often lambasted by foreign commentators for having the highest prison incarceration rate in the world, nearly 750 inmates per 100,000 population. And it frequently is ridiculed for a Wild West obsession with guns. But in contrast to the chaos taking place around the globe, the United States criminal justice system, however imperfect, is looking pretty good, as is its support of gun rights.". "Tough crime laws work".
Emulating Texas' failed higher ed scheme
"Patterned after reforms being championed by Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who recently announced he's running for president, Scott is looking at changing the way professors are paid and moving toward a merit-pay system with limits on tenure."
Texas has been debating such changes to save money and bolster professor productivity — going so far as to consider tying professor pay to how many students they teach and how much research money they bring in.
"Tom Auxter, president of United Faculty of Florida, the state's faculty union, said the plan is alarming. Florida public universities would become diploma mills with professors taking in as many students as they could, he said."
Instructors would get annual bonuses as high as $10,000 a class if they rated highly on student satisfaction surveys. Even the assignment of faculty offices and parking spaces would be based on their performance.
Such reforms were designed to move Texas colleges toward more of a business model in which students are viewed as consumers purchasing a product — a college degree.
While the proposals have made the Lone Star State a lightening rod in higher-education circles nationwide, Scott said at least some of the ideas might be a good fit for Florida too.
He worries that some of the state's most talented and prestigious faculty, who sometimes have small classes that work on specialized projects, would leave.
"Scott exploring changes in higher ed with Texas as model". Related: "University overseers find solution to schools' territorial competition" and "New university regulations aim to stop academic turf wars".
"People are just mortified by it," Auxter said. "The devil is alive and well in those details."
The Texas report also recommends that colleges provide students with "learning contracts" that specifically disclose information about their degree programs, including graduation rates, class sizes and expected starting salaries for their majors. ...
Texas A&M, where Perry graduated, was the first university to road-test one of the Texas proposals. The university came under fire after it posted a spreadsheet online comparing faculty pay against the income they generated either through tuition or research funding.
The move prompted a letter late last year from the Association of American Universities, urging Texas A&M officials to resist "these ill-conceived calls for 'reform.'"
For more on the silly Texas "reforms see "Texas A&M to Revise Controversial Faculty Rewards Based on Student Evaluations", "Texas A&M's Faculty Ratings: Right and Wrong" and "Professors Compete for Bonuses Based on Student Evaluations" ("Texas A&M plan to 'empower students' raises fears of grade inflation among faculty members vying for big bucks.")
FMA tiptoes around Medicaid deform
"A Florida Medical Association letter to the federal government opposing the expansion of Medicaid managed care statewide has fallen short of some doctors' expectations." "Broward doctor faults Florida Medical Association effort on Medicaid reform".
"Recommended Reading for Tuesday, August 23".
West deprives Floridians of laff riot
"After flirting with entering the U.S. Senate race, U.S. Rep. Allen West officially shut the door on that race Monday and said he will instead seek re-election." "West closes door on Senate bid".
Rubio rewarded for simply "Being There"
"A national boomlet keeps building for Marco Rubio, with no encouragement from the Florida senator."
While the Republican presidential contest remains wide open, a consensus is forming for the junior senator as the party's vice presidential candidate, according to an oft-quoted political scientist.
"Momentum Builds for Rubio as VP; Senator Says He Won't Be On Ballot".
Sabato said Republicans are mindful that their party must at least remain competitive for Hispanic votes if they hope to knock off President Obama.
"The 2008 Hispanic vote [was a] blowout for Obama and it's almost certain to go 10 percent or higher. The GOP has to get at least 40 percent to win a national election," Sabato calculated.
Nelson talks tuff
"U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., had a blunt message for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Monday as rebels in nearby Libya stormed through the capital, all but replacing a decades-long dictatorship: You're next." "Sen. Bill Nelson to Syria: You're next".
"Redistricting process becoming more contentious"
"As lawmakers move toward the end of their statewide tour to gather voters' input on the once-a-decade redistricting process, the timeline for the next step in the redrawing of the state's political maps is becoming more contentious."
A coalition of voting-rights groups, led by the League of Women Voters and supporters of the Fair Districts amendments, is pushing legislative redistricting committees to move forward with drawing proposed maps as quickly as possible.
"Timeline For Redistricting Drawing Fire". See also "Round-up of media coverage of redistricting".
Critics of the Legislature's somewhat vague timeline say mass chaos could follow if lawmakers don't approve maps soon enough to give the attorney general, Florida Supreme Court and Department of Justice enough time to review the plans well in advance of the June 18 opening date for qualifying.
Otherwise, would-be candidates will essentially have qualifying week -- from June 18 to June 22 -- to look at final maps and decide whether they want to make a bid.
"Six in the Morning"
Travis Pillow's "Six in the Morning: A six-pack of infobits you might have missed".
Fred Grimm: "After the Rothstein affair, Florida’s legislators reacted by once again legalizing unlimited contributions to political slush funds. After the Shapiro affair, college sports with its multimillionaire coaches, millionaire assistants and athletic directors making more than college presidents, with huge TV contracts and tax-deductible luxury suites, will come down hard on those greedy football players." "Why hold athletes to a higher standard than pols?"
While newspaper editors eat donuts
"Gainesville Regional Utilities reports that the man was working for a private contractor on private property. [A]t least one other worker was shocked when they tried to help the man." "Worker electrocuted by underground power line".