"According to audio recordings of a retreat hosted by the billionaire Koch brothers in Colorado this past June, wealthy donors with Florida ties gave more than $1 million each to the brothers’ cause."
Mother Jones filed a report today about the "unprecedented recordings" that "provide a behind-the-scenes look at how the Koch brothers and their comrades talk when they gather." The Koch brothers are notorious for raising large amounts of cash for their right-wing agenda."Floridians join Koch brothers’ million dollar donor club". Related, and if you didn't know this already: "During Secret Retreat With Billionaires, Koch Lobbyist Admits Tea Party Group 'Designed' To Elect Republicans In 2010".
Among those gathered at the brothers’ shadowy June retreat was Gov. Rick Scott.
According to Mother Jones, the event included "a pair of keynote speeches and remarks by brothers Charles and David Koch, who spell out their political aims and name some of the 'great partners' who have contributed millions of dollars to their causes."
The list of almost 30 "great partners" were John Moran from Palm Springs, Fla., and Rich and Helen DeVos, owners of the Orlando Magic.
Big of him
"Scott promises to look at transaction fee charged by state's web-based vending system".
Scott "appeasing the assisted living facility industry"
The Saint Petersburg Times editorial board: "Gov. Rick Scott is violating the spirit of the law by meddling in a volunteer advocacy program designed to protect the elderly and disabled."
A federal probe by the U.S. Administration on Aging into Florida's Long-term Care Ombudsman Program found it awash in political interference by the Governor's Office and riddled with conflicts of interest. ... "Protect the elderly, not industry".
Political interference in the ombudsman program is illegal. ...
The federal report directs the state to change its policies to allow the ombudsman more independence from the Florida Department of Elder Affairs and Governor's Office in dealings with the media and Legislature. The federal Administration on Aging also says the way the Scott administration used its appointment and removal power to interfere with the ombudsman's work raises "troubling concerns" over the ability of the ombudsman to "independently and effectively advocate on behalf of residents." It is now up to Scott to respond to this withering appraisal by changing course. He needs to demonstrate that the state's most vulnerable residents take precedence over appeasing the assisted living facility industry.
Hubris times ten
After being spanked for being unable to restrain himself viz. his political contributors, Scott has the temerity to say "Obama Jobs Speech Should Give States More Autonomy".
Scott: Never mind what I said about drilling in the 'Glades
"Scott clarifies his position on oil drilling in the Everglades". See also: "Scott seems to back Everglades drilling – but quickly backs off". Background: "Rick Scott says he could support Everglades oil drilling".
Trib editors say some Rickster hypocrisy is OK
The Tampa Tribune editorial board: "Gov. Rick Scott is usually quick to reject federal funds from President Barack Obama's programs, so it may seem a contradiction for Scott to support seeking "Race to the Top" education funds for Florida."
But the governor's stand is appropriate and consistent. Race to the Top promotes the reforms the governor and the Legislature have favored — school accountability, the concept of pay for performance, and tough standards. The goal is to help all schools, whether in poor neighborhoods or exclusive subdivisions, offer students a first-rate education."Don't play politics with preschoolers".
Unless lawmakers play political games, Florida should be well positioned to win as much as $100 million in federal funds in the latest competition for Race to the Top grants.
But to apply for it, as the AP reports, lawmakers must approve a budget amendment accepting $3.4 million in federal funding for a home-visiting program that helps at-risk families. Lawmakers failed to approve the funding last session, but officials say they didn't realize it was tied to Race to the Top eligibility.
"Such thinking is as short-sighted as it is simple-minded"
Scott Maxwell risks his job by pointing out the obvious: "Teachers in Florida have never been paid what they're worth. They've always made less than their peers in other parts of the country. And in the past few years, salaries have dropped even lower."
The News Service of Florida reported last week that the average Florida teacher's salary has dropped by about $1,200 over the past four years — down to $45,723."Public schools, teachers: Worth fighting for".
Even before that drop, Florida trailed states like Alabama, Texas and South Carolina.
Last year, Florida teachers made a whopping $7,000 less than those in Georgia — which raises an interesting point about competition.
Whenever Florida trails neighboring states when it comes to things like corporate taxes and incentives, lawmakers scream: "We must be competitive! We must be competitive!"
And then they break out their (your) checkbook.
Yet, when education suffers, the politicians respond with a collective shrug.
Such thinking is as short-sighted as it is simple-minded.
"The state Constitution requires a two-thirds vote by the Legislature for mandates with some exceptions, including laws which have an 'insignificant fiscal impact.' A circuit judge in Tallahassee last year struck down 2009 growth law changes, ruling that the cost for cities and counties was not insignificant."
The Legislature has interpreted insignificant fiscal impact as being 10 cents per person within a defined jurisdiction. A year ago, a circuit judge in Tallahassee struck down the SB 360 growth law changes in 2009 after he determined that the amount spend by local governments to comply with the law would not be insignificant."Growth law challenge leads to recommendation to clarify 'unfunded mandates'".
The lower court ruling was overturned earlier this year by the 1st District Court of Appeal. And the Legislature went on to rewrite the law and make other significant growth law changes.
Still, the ruling created a need to clarify state law, according to the Senate Committee on Community Affairs staff. The interim report issued last week says the Legislature should write the 10 cents per person interpretation into statute.
"Report says Environmental Regulation Commission should be kept despite limited role".
"Old goal, new knife"
Bill Cotterell: "Budget cutters have old goal, new knife".
Jebbites sniffing around Perry
"[G]iven the number of Florida fundraisers still on the sidelines, it's a bit surprising not to see more top-tier presidential bundlers on the list. Of the 41 names on the list, for instance, we could find only four Bush-Cheney Pioneers or Rangers from Florida who raised at least $100,000 in 2000 and/or 2004".
People may attribute that to the supposed ill will between the George W. Bush and Perry camps, but there's little evidence that former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush harbors any animosity to Perry. Some of Bush's most loyal supporters, in fact, have visited with Perry in Texas in recent weeks. The more likely explanation is that Perry has yet to close the sale with some of Florida's most elite money men and women."Texas Gov. Rick Perry has yet to tap many of Florida's elite campaign fundraisers".
"General Half-track" can't handle the question
"McCalister flubs VA question".
"The ghost district phenomenon"
"Call it the ghost district phenomenon: The once-a-decade drawing of new congressional maps has thrust some candidates into an awkward limbo, with at least a dozen running for seats that don’t yet exist but that will be crafted in the months to come."
“I’m running in the in-limbo district,” laughed Tammy Hall, a Florida Republican who is seeking one of the state’s two yet-to-be-drawn seats. “It is kind of hard to articulate to folks.”"No district? No problem".
“People running for districts that don’t exist? That’s me,” said Paige Kreegel, a Florida state representative who has launched a campaign for what he expects to be a new House seat in the southern part of the state. “There is a question on everyone’s mind: Where is your district?” ...
For Hall, who’s worked with GOP Rep. Connie Mack on southwest Florida-centered issues ranging from Everglades restoration to water improvement, waging a primary against her own congressional representative simply isn’t an option.
“I have no desire to run against Rep. Mack,” said Hall, a Lee County commissioner. “I’d have to have fundamental disagreements with Rep. Mack and [believe] that replacing him would be the best option. I don’t believe that.”
"Florida state lawmakers on Wednesday will review a new three-year financial outlook for the state." "Fla. lawmakers to go over state's finances".
Chickenhawks of a feather ...
"During Sept. 11 attacks, then-Rep. Adam Putnam was with President George W. Bush".
Haridopolos video attacking Obama "promoted and defended with taxpayer resources"
"Politifact recently was tasked with either affirming or debunking the claim that Florida Senate President Mike Haridopolos used taxpayer funds to create and distribute a video attacking President Obama and praising Florida GOPers for moving Florida 'in the right direction.'"
The last point is what gives Kriseman’s statement some credence — when he says the video is being distributed by the Florida Senate using your tax dollars. That said, the video itself was produced and made using private resources and on private time. (As an aside, we wonder if Haridopolos got the rights to use the image of Obama and other images in the ad?)"PolitiFact: Haridopolos video is being 'promoted and defended with taxpayer resources'".
We considered rating Kriseman’s statement — "This campaign video is being distributed by the Florida Senate using your tax dollars" — on the Truth-O-Meter. But we decided to hold off, thinking it might actually make things murkier. In short, the video was made without taxpayer dollars but is being promoted and defended with taxpayer resources.
Scott couldn't find someone who sent their kids to public school?
"Scott on Tuesday announced the appointment of former Jeb Bush chief of staff and political strategist Sally Bradshaw to the Florida State Board of Education. Bradshaw, 46, of Havana, Fla., served on the board from 2003 to 2004. ... Bradshaw previously chaired the board of trustees at Holy Comforter Episcopal School and was a board member of Faith Presbyterian preschool." "Scott appoints old Bush hand".