"Jack Latvala, a moderate Republican from Clearwater, says he has been giving a lot of thought to seeking the leadership post for the 2014-16 term."
The next Senate president will be Republican Don Gaetz of Niceville, who will be formally designated in Tallahassee on Sept. 19. After Gaetz's coronation, the jockeying for his successor for the 2014-16 term will intensify. Just wait and see.
"Latvala weighs Senate presidency".
Latvala says it's premature to be counting votes in a Senate leadership race until it's known who will be elected in 2012.
Sen. Andy Gardiner of Orlando has been seeking the job for more than a year and said Friday he is pleased with his level of support from GOP senators. But he hasn't declared victory.
"Business-first, everything else a distant second"
The Orlando Sentinel editorial board: "Scott's finally getting out more. Appearing at events other than those aimed at Tea Party enthusiasts. Talking to the press. Doing some workday stints in places he hopes will resonate with the public. Last week Scott worked inside a Tampa doughnut shop."
Scott's overtures might be driven by some profoundly low poll numbers. This month, only about one in three Floridians surveyed said they approve of the governor.
"Gov. Rick Scott's new image needs new policies". The same words from the Sun Sentinel editorial board: "Political makeover needs policy moderation".
But Scott's makeover won't win over more Floridians unless he moderates his business-first, everything else a distant second approach to governing. Florida's hurting. Here are just a few places where Scott could make a considerable difference, and consequently see his poll numbers rise.
Ricky wants toll-taxes and privatization. The best he can do?
Aaron Deslatte: "Scott has seen the transportation future of the state, and it is a paved and tolled re-hashing of the past."
In case you missed the news, the governor's Department of Transportation announced last week that Florida would be embarking on an expanded road-building plan that will emphasize building new corridors that could fuel residential development, and tolling the people who move there. Sound familiar? ...
"Aaron Deslatte: Scott's future of roadways relies on tolls".
And he wants to privatize -- bridges, roads, even South Florida's Tri-Rail commuter system, if he can find a buyer.
"Scott weighs in on health care ruling". More: "Florida reacts to today’s health care ruling".
Grayson into the lions den
"A group of Democrats in this giant senior community will host former U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson at an event Saturday." "Alan Grayson to speak Saturday in Villages".
"In Florida, Perry is expected to instantly compete"
"Perry is expected to declare his candidacy on Saturday afternoon at the conservative RedState Gathering in Charleston, S.C. Florida Gov. Rick Scott is slated to speak at the gathering tonight and Republican U.S. Senate candidate Adam Hasner of Boca Raton is scheduled to speak Saturday, a few hours after Perry."
Florida could provide an early test of Perry's viability as a candidate. Once he's officially declared, the Republican Party of Florida will invite Perry to next month's Presidency 5 conference in Orlando, which features a nationally televised debate and a straw poll.
"As Perry prepares presidential announcement, Florida politicos ponder his odds".
The American Conservative Union is also hosting a three-day Orlando gathering, featuring the Republican presidential candidates, at the same time as the Florida GOP convention.
Nationally and in Florida, Perry is expected to instantly compete with GOP frontrunner Mitt Romney.
"Brain drain astounding"
"'Brain drain astounding' as dozens depart water district under state cutbacks".
"The crackdown is welcome"
The Saint Petersburg Times editorial board: "The practices of some of the nation’s largest for-profit colleges are less than upstanding. A lawsuit joined by the Justice Department and a handful of states, including Florida, will give the public a clearer picture of this shady side of the for-profit, publicly traded education business. The crackdown is welcome." "For profit, not always for learning".
State's former top watchdog for long-term-care facilities sues
"The state's former top watchdog for long-term-care facilities has filed a civil lawsuit against the Florida Department of Elder Affairs and two industry groups, alleging 'retaliation' against him for merely doing his job."
In Florida, the ombudsman leads a program that sends volunteers into long-term-care facilities to try to ensure residents are treated properly and to investigate their complaints. Jim Crochet took over the job in May after being recommended by the head of the Florida Assisted Living Association.
"Former nursing-home watchdog's lawsuit: I was fired for doing my job".
Lee's ouster drew widespread attention, in part because of reports that Gov. Rick Scott was involved in the firing and because Lee's previous performance evaluations were "stellar," as the lawsuit notes. The U.S. Administration on Aging has been investigating Lee's dismissal and whether it violates federal law against political interference in the program.
The investigators' report has yet to be made public.
The civil lawsuit includes a series of allegations related to industry officials clashing with Lee or seeking his dismissal.
After a Jan. 20 meeting with a Florida Health Care Association lobbyist, the lawsuit says Lee reported to his supervisor and the department's inspector general that he had been subject to a "willful attempt to interfere with the performance of the ombudsman's duties.''
A week later, Lee sent letters to all Florida nursing homes seeking information about their ownership and directors — a move required under the federal government's health-care overhaul policies. The request was rescinded by Lee's successor after industry protests, though Lee and others say that nursing-home owners sometimes create webs of hard-to-track companies to avoid lawsuits.
Lee was forced to resign Feb. 7.
The Week in Review
"The Week in Review for Aug. 8-Aug. 12".
"Local families struggling as much as ever"
The Saint Petersburg Times editors: "While economists talk of recovery, local families appear to be struggling as much as ever as unemployment hovers around 11 percent. Last month, one in five residents of Hillsborough County, for example, relied on food stamps. When lawmakers talk of plans to further cut social spending to solve debt issues — but steadfastly refuse to entertain any revenue increases — these are the neighbors who will feel it most." "Tougher times for struggling families".
"Tampa Bay area property owners will get a chance to speak out against the controversial rate increases proposed by Citizens Property Insurance." "Sinkhole insurance hearing coming to Tampa".
"West Palm transition team urges salary and benefit cuts, and slams former mayor Frankel".
Protesters greet Ricky at Walmart
"Protesters greet Rick Scott during Walmart visit".
"Bondi is facing a management crisis"
"Eight months after she took office as a first-time elected official, Attorney General Pam Bondi is facing a management crisis replete with allegations of old-fashioned political interference in cases and a revolving door between lawyers and the companies they investigate."
An outside investigator is looking into the circumstances surrounding the May firings of foreclosure fraud investigators June Clarkson and Theresa Edwards. This week, another investigator abruptly resigned after giving the media a 16-page memo noting that two other high-profile lawyers in the attorney general's office had taken jobs with companies under investigation, and accusing top management of interfering in an investigation of a prominent Tampa car dealership.
"Accusations of impropriety rock Pam Bondi's office".
So far, most of the allegations of impropriety in Bondi's office remain just that: allegations. Many of the individuals involved are not giving interviews, and documentation is sparse. Nonetheless, they've posed – at the least – image problems for Bondi, a 45-year-old former Hillsborough County prosecutor who in January was sworn in as the state's first female attorney general.
The latest blast came from Andrew Spark, who resigned from Bondi's Tampa economic crimes office and said in a 16-page, memo that he was speaking out because the public deserved "fair and honest government, independent of personal connections and powerful interests."
Florida country clubs improperly rejecting local applicants in favor of pliable foreigners
The Palm Beach Post editors write that "the federal visa program that Palm Beach County resorts and country clubs manipulate to replace local workers with foreigners seems rife with fraud and abuse. Fortunately, the federal government agrees."
Concerned about a litany of abuses, the U.S. Labor Department has proposed changes to the H-2B visa program for importing temporary workers that will raise the wages these workers earn and require employers to try harder to find local workers before looking overseas. These proposed rules also would give local workers a real chance to apply for the more than 1,500 of these local seasonal jobs by no longer requiring them to submit applications months in advance. ...
"Fewer visas, more U.S. jobs".
The Labor Department has found alarming evidence of widespread abuse of this program. A federal auditor investigating employers of H-2B workers around the country found that more than half of them were violating program guidelines by, among other abuses, underpaying workers, lying about how many workers were needed and improperly rejecting local applicants in favor of pliable foreigners. ...
The feds even cited a particularly chilling case of employers "conspiring to hold approximately 39 Filipino nationals in forced service to work in H-2B status in country clubs and hotels in Southeast Florida."
These revelations, which come as unemployment in Florida remains about 10 percent, are sadly unsurprising. While visa programs for foreign workers are important for filling legitimate gaps in the workforce, the lax guidelines for hiring have created too many opportunities for abuse and exploitation. These new rules, if approved, would go a long way toward fixing the problem.
"Federal mortgage giants may become landlords to 14,000 foreclosed Florida homes"
"Federal mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac may become landlords to nearly 14,000 foreclosed Florida homes as the Obama administration seeks ways to deal with mounting bank repossessions." "Feds to be foreclosure landlords? U.S. seeks ideas".
Judicial commission appointments
"3 appointed to Fla. judicial commission".
"Miami police rumor mill"
"Miami City Manager Johnny Martinez issued a press release Friday — saying nothing — to tamp down rapidly-spreading rumors regarding the city’s police department: 'There have been no demotions and/or firings at this time. No further comment,' was all it said. Since last week, when Martinez denied Police Chief Miguel Exposito permission to demote three senior officers, rumors have been flying about Assistant Chief Roy Brown and Cmdrs. Jose Perez and Ricardo Roque being demoted." "Miami police rumor mill prompts one-line statement from manager".
Empty suits grub for votes
"Florida Republicans reacted to the newly named members of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction this week while that body prepares to take on the task of cutting $1.2 trillion from the federal government over the next decade. " "Florida Republicans Kick New Committee on Deficit Reduction".
West laff riot
"Allen West Says 'Nanny State' Weakens America".
Ricky insists he's not a hypocrite
"Scott responded to criticism that he participates in Florida’s taxpayer-subsidized health care insurance plan for state employees by saying that he takes part in the same plan as all state workers. Scott, a multimillionaire and former hospital chain executive, is not accepting salary for his job as governor, but is paying less than $400 a year for insurance for himself and his wife." "Rick Scott defends his low-cost government health insurance".
Florida's relevance in GOP nomination at risk
"With its oceans of corn, a fixation with ethanol and an overwhelmingly white electorate smaller than Hillsborough County's, Iowa has long drawn skepticism and scorn for its influence in picking presidential nominees." "With all eyes on Iowa straw poll, state's relevance in GOP nomination at risk".
"Scott defends decision to not implement health care reform"
"Scott defended Florida’s decision to not implement federal health care reform in the state in an interview with C-SPAN." "Scott defends rejection of federal health care money during a C-SPAN appearance".
Runnin' gub'ment like a bidness
"Florida doesn't have one, or even two education commissioners earning a paycheck right now. Try three."
This month, newly hired Education Commissioner Gerard Robinson began his $275,000-a-year job in Tallahassee. Robinson, who now is one of the highest-paid people in state government, was lured away from Virginia after Commissioner Eric Smith resigned under pressure from the administration of Gov. Rick Scott.
"Ex-Fla. education commissioners still on payroll".
But Smith - whose last official day was in June - will keep drawing a state paycheck until Sept. 20. Smith, who was also earning $275,000 a year as commissioner, had 548 hours of unused annual leave according to the Department of Education.
Also getting paid is one-time commissioner John Winn. Winn, who began his career in Florida as a teacher and rose to the position of commissioner under then-Gov. Jeb Bush, was hired to fill in as interim commissioner from mid-June to the end of July.
Winn has since stayed on temporarily to serve as chief of staff and senior adviser to Robinson at a salary that could run up to $228,000 a year. He also already receives a nearly $11,000 a month retirement check from the state.
State "effectively shut out competing health insurers"
"A third of state employees currently covered by HMO plans will need to reconsider their health insurance next month if new statewide contracts go into effect as planned. To trim the state's health costs, the Florida Department of Management Services has awarded health maintenance organization contracts to just one provider per county, effectively shutting out competing health insurers." "State employees may get new HMO plan".