"Sign of how unsettled contest is for the Republican Senate nomination"
"Chris Ruddy, CEO of the influential West Palm Beach-based conservative publication NewsMax, has ruled out jumping into the 2012 GOP Senate race."
But the fact that Ruddy was encouraged to consider running by Republican pollster Tony Fabrizio ("flattering," says Ruddy) is a sign of how unsettled the contest is for the Republican nomination to challenge Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson.
"NewsMax's Chris Ruddy rejects suggestion he run for GOP Senate nomination".
Additional confirmation comes from last week's Quinnipiac University poll that showed 53 percent of Republican voters undecided in the Senate primary and Plant City tree farmer and retired Army Reserve Col. Mike McCalister leading the current four-candidate field with a meager 15 percent.
Trailing McCalister were former appointed Sen. George LeMieux (12 percent), former Ruth's Chris Steakhouse CEO Craig Miller (8 percent) and former state House Majority Leader Adam Hasner of Boca Raton (6 percent).
"Forced out while investigating companies with strong Republican ties"
The Saint Petersburg Times editorial board: "June Clarkson and Theresa Edwards, two lawyers who worked in the attorney general's economic crimes bureau focusing on foreclosure fraud cases, were forced to resign in late March after being accused of poor job performance. "
The women claim otherwise, insisting they were forced out of their jobs while investigating two companies with strong Republican Party ties, Jacksonville-based Lender Processing Services and Tampa-based Pro-Vest. Lender Processing Services donated $40,000, mostly to Republican candidates, in 2010, including Bondi, and another $36,500 to the Republican Party of Florida.
"Forced resignations should be investigated".
Under Bondi's predecessor, Bill McCollum, both Clarkson and Edwards had received positive job evaluations from the attorney general. At least on the surface, it is curious that the two veteran staff lawyers' job performance could so badly deteriorate only two months into Bondi's time in office to justify their forced resignations.
"Fair District reforms collide with minority interests"
"Pushed by the progressive left, Fair Districts' reforms collided with minority interests at the state's redistricting road show in Central Florida." "Minorities, Liberals Falling Out Over 'Fair Districts'". See also "Minorities, liberals falling out over ‘Fair Districts’".
Romney in the money
"If money talks, Mitt Romney has to like what he is hearing out of Florida so far. Not only is Romney way ahead of all other GOP presidential contenders in most public polling in Florida, but he is also way ahead in the money game statewide and locally." "Floridians' wallets open for Romney".
Republican vs. Republican
"Florida redistricting could pit Republican vs. Republican".
Harrington wants rematch
"With U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schulz being named as chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), the South Florida congresswoman is raising her profile on the national level. Karen Harrington, meanwhile -- a restaurant owner who was Wasserman Schulz's Republican opponent in 2010 -- is looking for a local rematch."
"While Harrington may face other Republicans in a primary -- activist Joe Kaufman and businessman Joe Goldner -- there are other signs that conservatives across the state are getting behind her. Rep. Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala, announced Thursday that he will be hosting a fundraiser for Harrington in Ocala on Wednesday. Baxley, a former chairman of the state Christian Coalition, is one of the leading conservatives in the Florida House." "Karen Harrington Tries to Take the Fight to Debbie Wasserman Schultz".
"Enviro battle brews"
"An environmental fight is brewing over plans by Port Everglades to blast and dredge a deeper entrance channel to accommodate the super freighters that are beginning to dominate the world's trade routes." "Environmental battle brews over Port Everglades dredging plan".
The Rick and Rick pray-fest
"After some earlier speculation that he would participate in the event, Gov. Rick Scott issued a proclamation (.pdf) encouraging “all citizens to pray” on Saturday, and submitted a video message". "Scott’s video message for Rick Perry’s prayer event".
Dreams of Ricky
Nancy Smith thinks (hopes) "The governor just might have turned a corner."
"So, how come Rick Scott is bucking a negative trend he virtually set all by himself three months ago? Observers around Tallahassee account for his [whopping increase in the polls of] 6 points because of a number of reasons. Here's what they tell [Smith]:"
The governor makes a conscious effort to bypass the filter in the Florida Press Center. Since he's taken office, he has participated in more than 100 in-state radio interviews. He's talking to people directly in towns like Boca Raton, Tarpon Springs, Ocala, Titusville, Lake City, Destin -- and often they're the kind of programs that welcome listener questions. These radio "appearances" are bringing Scott closer to Floridians and their problems. They're beginning to have an effect. And the governor is getting credit for his forthright approach, for reaching out with real candor.
"Are Voters Seeing Rick Scott Morph Into the Real Deal?".
Scott's biggest numbers came from his Republican base. There, he climbed from a 51-to-61 percent approval rating -- mostly, say GOP observers, because he's finally managed to cajole the diehard Bill McCollum faithful who had a tough time accepting him as the party's No. 1.
He promised to champion an immigration bill, see it through to passage, during the 2012 legislative session. It's likely to be a sticky issue again with his plurality of friends in the business community. But for now, that issue alone -- that promise -- is helping him recapture the tea party folks who did the most to put him in office.
Scott is no longer test-driving the office. He's wearing his safety helmet, he's strapped in, he's gripping the wheel with both hands. Those close to him say he's getting better advice these days. They give some of the credit to Steve MacNamara, his new chief of staff. They claim that for the last month at least, he's felt more comfortable in his skin, as if he enjoys what he's doing, as if he fears no one, not even the voracious press corps -- which, for the first time last week, he plied with doughnuts in his office. It's infectious, they say -- this new relaxed Rick -- and voters are beginning to sense it.
The governor's once-a-month "Let's Get to Work Days," his resurrection of Bob Graham-style workdays, is a popular decision. It was announced and discussed in the right time period to have a possible effect on the Q-Poll's survey results. Last week Scott spent Wednesday morning in a Tampa bakery while protesters gathered outside. Most savvy politicos see these days as one of Scott's smartest moves. As one of them told me, "It's what he's going to learn from middle class Floridians, not so much what they can learn from him. If anything is going to help him get beyond his talking points in interviews, being close to real people with real problems will."
The "strike" word
Bill Cotterell: "What if a wealthy 'outsider' with no government experience, but lots of corporate confidence, became governor and his polices so outraged a large group of vital employees that they went on strike?"
It happened a little more than 40 years ago, when Florida schoolteachers walked out of classrooms across the state. Gov. Claude Kirk, a Republican who came to Tallahassee straight from the corporate world, never really recovered. ...
"The 'S' word pops up in union talks".
Maybe it could happen again, not in the schools but in the prisons.
There's a union election brewing among correctional officers working for the Florida Department of Corrections. And the possibility of a strike — or the impossibility of it — is being bruited about in the run-up to a vote.
Besides being a tall Republican with no prior public service but a successful career in business, Gov. Rick Scott has little in common with Kirk. But a walkout by prison officers would be as tumultuous as the great teacher strike of Kirk's administration.
Scott would probably have to activate the National Guard if enough prison officers struck. He'd probably fire every striker, as President Reagan did with air traffic controllers 30 years ago.
The Florida Police Benevolent Association is currently defending itself against organizing efforts by the Teamsters union and a separate incursion by the International Union of Police Associations. What's at stake before the Public Employees Relations Commission is representation rights for — and dues collection from — about 20,000 prison employees.
Round 1 last week went against the PBA, which tried to dismiss the challenge on grounds that Teamster bylaws explicitly recognize the use of strikes when reason fails. Since the Florida Constitution prohibits strikes by public unions, the Teamsters agreed not to, but the PBA contended that the insurgents were still using strike talk as a tough recruiting tool.
"Six in the Morning"
Travis Pillow's "Six in the Morning: A six-pack of infobits you might have missed".
"The turtle’s existential crisis"
Fred Grimm: "Not that the eastern gopher tortoise doesn’t face oblivion."
The poor turtle just lacks the money to make it official.
"To survive, all these turtles need is cash".
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service decided last month that despite the turtle’s existential crisis, the gopher tortoise would not be listed among species threatened by extinction.
The designation was “warranted,” but the agency decided it was “precluded from doing so at this time due to higher priority actions and a lack of sufficient funds.”
The gopher tortoise, apparently, is not among those threatened entities deemed worthy of a Washington bail-out. (Yet the feds hardly hesitated when big investment banks and car manufacturers tumbled toward extinction.)
"Hunting on Southwest Florida Water Management District land"
The Tampa Tribune editorial board finds it "understandable that horseback riders and others would be reluctant to share the woods with sportsmen [hunters], particularly given the common depiction of hunters as reckless slobs who are intent on killing whatever comes into sight. But the stereotype is false. Most hunters are as devoted to conservation as bird watchers and other outdoor enthusiasts. " "Share the land".
See you in Havana
"Obama’s new rules have uncorked half a century of pent-up demand to visit a land still restricted to American tourists. Virtually any American can now go to Cuba legally through tours run by licensed educational, religious and cultural groups." "It's getting easier to visit Cuba".
"Miami City Manager Johnny Martinez tries to keep complicated job simple".
Scott figures shirt changes will make a difference?
Bill Cotterell: on how "Rick Scott has made moves after the first six months of his administration that indicate he believes it takes a Tallahassee insider to govern."
Gone are the immaculately tailored blue suits, replaced by five pastel dress shirts with open collars and the state seal embroidered over Scott’s heart. Gone are the brusque tea party talking points, replaced by folksy reminiscences about family, his Navy days and business realities learned selling doughnuts and cleaning phone booths.
"Florida Governor Scott gets to work on his own problems".
Gone, too, are four high-level aides who were part of the Praetorian Guard around Scott for six months marked by rigid adherence to message and public relations gaffes that played a part in driving his approval rating to 29 percent statewide in one much-ballyhooed poll.
South Floridians disappointed
"In South Florida, a majority of respondents to a Miami Herald/WLRN query disapproved of the deal — albeit for differing reasons. Many were disappointed in Obama’s handling of it, and many saw the deal as political posturing by republicans. Some even said they would change their vote for president because of the way it was handled." "South Florida readers disappointed by the federal debt deal".
Enough Braman already
"Norman Braman call leads to new Miami-Dade schools program".
"Facing criticisms about the handling of the state's $130 billion investment portfolio, the executive director and chief investment officer of the State Board of Administration tried to reassure Gov. Rick Scott that everything is fine."
Overall, the SBA public records exemption was a topic for less than 36 minutes in a public meeting, according to our review of videos from committee hearings and from the floors of the House and Senate.
"Florida state investment chief says transparency was a big issue for lawmakers in 2011".
Of that, about 25 minutes of the discussion came from one senator, Fasano, during a back-and-forth with Williams and a subsequent committee speech.