"A new report shows little change in scores on national standardized tests for students in Florida's low-income voucher program. They attend private schools at taxpayer expense." "Little change in Fla. voucher kids' test scores".
Second amendment stoopid
"The state of Florida is going after a gang of gun outlaws by threatening them with $5,000 fines, firings and lawsuits. So who’s in the gang? St. Petersburg, Brooksville, Tampa, Hillsborough County - and other scattered scofflaws."
St. Petersburg is getting ready to repeal its ordinance against discharging firearms in the city limits. Tarpon Springs made a similar decision in August. Brooksville killed a ban on guns in parks and also deleted a law that could have suspended the sale of ammunition and firearms during emergencies. There are many more.
"Rush to repeal gun laws".
All those ordinances have been illegal for years because state law prevents cities and counties from regulating guns. But a new law, set to take effect Oct. 1, takes it a step further. It allows judgments of up to $100,000 against local governments that enforce such laws. And, in an unusual move, the law also says local officials could be fired and fined $5,000, with no representation from the city or county attorney.
Fred Grimm: "Florida legislators, who rail incessantly about the feds interfering in state business, or healthcare, have given us a law, effective Oct. 1, that prohibits local governments from enacting any firearm restrictions that exceed the state’s tepid laws. Along with legislation making criminals of doctors who inquire about firearms in the home." "Whatever NRA wants, it gets".
Poor lil' gerrymanders
The reliably Republican Tampa Tribune editorial board whines that "the Republicans in charge of drawing new legislative and congressional boundaries in Florida thought they had come up with ways to include voters in the process. The leaders of the redistricting committees – Rep. Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel and Sen. Dan Gaetz, R- Niceville – promised public meetings across the state specifically to hear from the people."
They further opened up the process by using the Internet and social media, giving Floridians the chance to draw proposed maps by going online and using the same tools and data state staffers and lawmakers will depend on when they draw the boundaries.
"Redistricting panel can't win". See also "Sen. Gaetz: Constitutional amendment could ease redistricting process".
But what was trumpeted as something of a goodwill tour this summer to offer people a say in the process has instead turned ugly. People showing up to meetings are in no mood to be respectful. They are accusatory and angry, as apt to lecture the representatives as to absorb information. They get testy when they don't like what they hear, and they're unwilling to cut the lawmakers any slack. Weatherford told the Tribune's Laura Kinsler after a meeting Monday night that he felt like a pinata.
Unfortunately, when the committees rolled out plans for the tour they gave some the impression they wanted to hold off drawing districts for as long as possible, and critics have accused them of taking too much time. These critics say keeping the maps under wraps will make it harder for anyone hoping to challenge an incumbent to develop a campaign strategy or build an effective elections organization
Over time these same critics have moved from insisting that the maps be shaped by public comments to demanding to see proposed boundaries to effectuate a significant discussion.
In truth, the critics don't think it matters what the committee hears or what maps citizens offer. They believe the maps will be drawn behind closed doors under a timeframe designed to stymie any legal challenges sure to follow.
Florida "purges" veterans
"A federal lawsuit filed in Miami may impact an untold number of Veterans Administration pension beneficiaries who have been wrongly purged from state Medicaid rolls in violation of a 1987 injunction by a federal judge." "Suit alleges state wrongly denied Medicaid benefits to VA pensioners".
'Baggers with children
"After a successful summer experience, a tea party-affiliated organization is offering Saturday morning civics classes for children."
Some of the principles taught:
"Tea party organization will offer more classes for children".
• "Blending freedom and responsibility requires virtuous, moral and educated citizens."
• "Our inalienable human rights do not come from government leaders, but only from God."
• "Faith in God was fundamental to the founding of our country and the system provided."
Florida's "risky experiment"
"Florida is pursuing education privatization further and faster than any other state, conducting a risky experiment with the education of 2.6 million public school students and the schools that serve them."
Florida already is the leader among the states in the number of students in voucher programs and public dollars expended for them. The Florida Legislature went even further in its 2011 session, expanding every alternative to traditional public schools—even while it cut public school funding for the fourth year in a row.
"Florida Pursues Risky Experiment Of Education Privatization". Here's the report in .pdf by the Florida Center for Fiscal and Economic Policy.
The state's focus on choice programs hurts the public school system by diverting public money to private schools and for-profit education companies.
Perils of working for the lowest bidder
"Broward County construction workers who said Monday that they have not been paid for several weeks of work at a Fort Lauderdale building project are looking at their legal options to recover their wages. According to the workers, about 50 men have not received wages for anywhere from three weeks to two months after working 10 hours or more a day at the Northwest Gardens project, which consists of 150 new townhomes and apartments designed for working families." "Stiffed construction workers seek legal support, get it from advocate organization".
AIF snaps its fingers ...
"In the 2011 session, Detert’s committee took the lead in revamping the state’s unemployment compensation law. ... Labor advocates have criticized the new law, saying by raising new barriers for eligibility and cutting back on the number of weeks of compensation, it will hurt a struggling workforce where nearly 1 million Floridians are without jobs." "Herald-Tribune Politics reviews the legislators: Nancy Detert".
GOPers in action
Travis Pillow: "Among those leading the charge to eliminate the agency was state Rep. Matt Hudson, a Naples Republican who oversees health care appropriations in the House." "How the Legislature eliminated the state’s prison health care watchdog".
Republican] political to get a hearing
"An appeals court in Tallahassee on Wednesday overturned a move by the Department of Health to suspend the medical license of prominent [Republican] political fundraiser and Broward county eye doctor Alan Mendelsohn." "Appeals court sides with former Tallahassee lobbyist and fundraiser".
"When Gov. Rick Scott moved into the Governor’s Mansion, he left one of the wealthiest parts of the state. His new neighbors are middle-class, ethnically diverse and overall more like the people he now represents."
That’s not to say that the governor’s new Tallahassee digs are shabby. The 15,000-square-foot, 30-room Governor’s Mansion has a swimming pool, cabana, exercise room, tennis courts and a greenhouse. The Greek Revival mansion was designed in the mid-1950s and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
"Scott now living amid regular Floridians".
But it’s hard to compete on the opulence scale when looking at his old Naples neighborhood. There, Scott owns a 1.3-acre residence, purchased in 2003 for $11.5 million. His 3,400-square-foot mansion abuts the Gulf of Mexico and has a swimming pool with a view. To the north is a red-tiled mansion valued at $29 million. To the south is an 8,200-square foot mansion that is for sale for $21.9 million. Other multimillion-dollar mansions stretch up and down his street, Gordon Drive.
"The Florida Elections Commission has found probable cause that state Sen. Gary Siplin broke the law when he spent $13,000 in campaign funds to allegedly pay poll workers without disclosing who they were, and for exceeding campaign-finance limits when he accepted two checks from a phosphate-mining fund." "Siplin faces new elections violation charges".
Good luck with that
"A group of activists seeking better pay for tomato pickers is bicycling to Publix Super Markets headquarters in Lakeland and will ask company leaders to see firsthand laborers' living conditions. The 200-mile trek, organized by the Coalition of Immokalee Workers and its supporters, started Saturday in Immokalee and will end Tuesday with a small rally." "Activists push Publix to pay penny more for tomatoes".
Scott "crooning a new tune"
The Orlando Sentinel editors: "Gov. Scott has thumbed his nose at federal stimulus dollars. And he wrongly refused $2.4 billion that Uncle Sam eagerly tried to give Florida for a high-speed rail project between Tampa and Orlando."
But now, he's crooning a new tune. He wants Florida to make a bid for $100 million up for grabs in the Obama administration's latest federal Race to the Top competition. The Early Learning Challenge is intended to enhance existing early-education programs for young children.
"Seeking federal funds benefits pre-K kids".
The governor rationalizes that it's a one-time cash infusion that won't leave Florida on the hook to create new positions or long-term programs. That's his story, and he's sticking to it.
Critics squawk "hypocrite." His interest in the federal grant, they say, is a cynical example of cherry-picking schemes that he believes are politically popular. And critics may have a point.
Even so, Scott's flip-flop stands to benefit Florida's pre-K program, which in recent years has fallen in quality and funding.
Drilling ban ought to wind up the oil shills
"A Tampa Democrat has filed a Senate version of a proposed constitutional amendment to ban oil drilling within about 10 miles of Florida's coastline. The proposed amendment (SJR 90), filed Tuesday by Sen. Arthenia Joyner, matches a House version (HJR 23) filed earlier this year by Rep. Rick Kriseman, D-St. Petersburg. It would ask voters to put into the Constitution a ban on exploration, drilling, extraction or production of oil in Florida waters." "Proposed Amendment Would Ban Near-Shore Drilling".
Meanwhile, "Debate on Everglades drilling revived by Bachmann".
West kicking himself
"Florida Republican Congressman Allen West said in a national interview Wednesday that he is kicking himself over leaving the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) after comments made by U.S. Rep. Andre Carson, D-Ind., attacking the tea party movement for being racists." "Allen West Calls Out Black Caucus for Attacking Tea Party Movement". See also "West challenges Black Caucus members' 'hate-filled comments'".
"Outgoing GOP Chairman Bitner Passes Torch to Lenny Curry". See also "With national convention nearing, Florida GOP chair resigns, cites health problems" and "Ailing Florida Republican Party chairman Dave Bitner to step down".