Scott may reject $7.5 billion for schools, roads other projects
"Scott and top Republicans are sending early signals they could reject the billions in federal aid that could flow to the state under President Barack Obama's jobs proposal."
Despite a 10.7 percent unemployment rate that is higher than the national average, Scott and GOP legislative leaders have criticized Obama's plan. ... Florida could stand to receive more than $7.5 billion for schools, roads and other projects."Scott, GOP may reject Obama jobs-plan money". See also "" and "".
Meanwhile, "Florida business, labor leaders praise Obama jobs plan".
Fair Districts wins round one in federal court
"Two members of Congress from Florida vowed Friday to take their redistricting case to the U.S. Supreme Court after a Miami judge squashed their challenge to a state constitutional amendment limiting how districts are drawn for congressional elections." "Judge dismisses redistricting suit". See also "Judge upholds Florida redistricting reforms", "U.S. judge upholds Florida "Fair District" law voters approved in November" and "Judge throws out anti-Fair Districts lawsuit (Updated)".
Hasner cuts deal with Commission on Ethics
"Hasner is currently a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate. No penalty was recommended because the ethics commission has no jurisdiction over legislators, who write Florida’s ethics laws. Only the House can impose a penalty, but that may be impossible because Hasner is no longer in the Legislature. The former House majority leader was termed out in 2010.
A spokeswoman for House Speaker Dean Cannon, Katherine Betta, said Cannon would review the ethics panel’s finding but could not comment beyond that as to whether the House would take action."
Hasner, who previously had filed his annual financial disclosure statements in a timely fashion, is the third current or former lawmaker in recent months who has run afoul of the disclosure law. The others: Senate President Mike Haridopolos, R-Merritt Island, and Rep. John Tobia, R-Melbourne."Hasner, ethics commission reach agreement". See also "Ethics panel recommends no penalty for Hasner's late financial disclosure".
White House opens meeting with Latino leaders in Orlando
"White House opens summit meeting with Latino leaders in Orlando on Friday to discuss the economy and other key issues as a new poll showed that President Barack Obama's approval rating among Hispanics had reached a new low." "White House staffers open Hispanic summit in Orlando to gather ideas".
"Saying 'no' to salary increases"
"The average salary for teachers in most Central Florida school districts has declined steadily since 2008's economic downturn, and there is little prospect that pay will improve anytime soon. Some school boards are saying 'no' to salary increases even before teachers ask." "Teachers want raise -- districts want cash". Related: "Scott Maxwell: Public schools, teachers: Worth fighting for".
The "values crowd" in action
"Faced with the loss of more than $2 million used to help some of Palm Beach County's neediest children and families, the Children's Services Council of Palm Beach County will tap into its reserve funds and cut administrative costs to keep key social service programs running." "Facing loss of $2 million, Children's Services Council of Palm Beach County cuts five jobs".
The Chamber says "jump!"
The Tampa Tribune editorial board publishes yet another Chamber of Commerce press release: "An employer's prerogative".
GOP blames Nelson for Florida's unemployment rate
"With President Barack Obama calling for almost $450 billion in new federal spending as part of his jobs speech on Thursday night, Republicans in Florida and at the national level are looking to make it an issue in their effort to defeat incumbent Democrat U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson in 2012."
The National Republican Senate Committee is aiming to link Nelson, who is running for a third term in 2012, to the president and big government. Even before Obama’s speech on Thursday, the NRSC was firing away at the Democrat, noting that Florida's unemployment rate is still higher than the national average."Republican Senate Candidates Attack Obama and Bill Nelson on Jobs Plan".
Businessman Craig Miller, the former CEO of Ruth's Chris, also weighed in on the speech on Thursday night. ... Former state House Majority Leader Adam Hasner released a statement on Friday morning.
Florida businesses second only to New York in 9/11 cash
Florida's entrepreneurs never stop working those federal handouts: "An ice cream shop in Miami Beach, more than 1,200 miles from the attacks on the World Trade Center, received a 9/11 disaster loan from the federal government."
So did a discount furniture store in Fort Lauderdale, a boat dealer in Dania Beach and a beauty supply company in Boca Raton."Florida cashed in on 9/11 disaster loans".
In all, Florida businesses received $140 million in low-interest loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration following the terrorist attacks a decade ago. That put Florida second only to New York, where the SBA handed out $533 million, federal records show.
Will Florida GOPers "go wild" over Rick Perry's executions?
"Rick Perry Heads to Presidency 5 Straw Poll With Experienced Florida Team".
Welcome to the modern Republican Party: "Reagan Library Debate Audience Ghoulishly Cheers for Rick Perry's Record Executions". See also "Reagan Library Crowd Goes Wild For Perry's 234 Executions".
Week in Review
"The Week in Review for Sept. 6-Sept. 9". See also "Weekly Roundup: A Sinking Feeling About Insurance".
The Koch brothers grade Florida legislators
"This week, Americans for Prosperity[*]-Florida (AFP-FL), the state chapter of the national conservative organization that calls for restraining the scope of government in the economy, released its 2011 report card for members of the Florida Legislature."
All of the Democrats in the House received “F” grades from AFP-FL with the exception of Rep. Leonard Bembry of Madison."Americans for Prosperity Grades Florida Legislators".
While every Democrat in the Senate received “F” grades from AFP-FL -- with the exception of Sen. Larcenia Bullard of Miami, who missed much of the session due to poor health and therefore was not graded -- Republicans in the upper chamber earned mixed marks.
Six Republicans in the Senate -- President Mike Haridopolos of Merritt Island, incoming President Don Gaetz of Niceville, Majority Leader Andy Gardiner of Orlando, J.D. Alexander of Lake Wales, Joe Negron of Palm City and John Thrasher of Jacksonville -- received “A+” grades from AFP-FL.
Twelve Republicans in the Senate -- President Pro Tempore Mike Bennett of Bradenton, Ellyn Bogdanoff of Fort Lauderdale, Miguel Diaz de la Portilla of Miami, Greg Evers of Crestview, Anitere Flores of Miami, Rene Garcia of Hialeah, Alan Hays of Umatilla, Jack Latvala of St. Petersburg, Jim Norman of Tampa, Garrett Richter of Naples, David Simmons of Altamonte Springs and Stephen Wise of Jacksonville -- received “A” grades.
Eight Republicans in the Senate received “B” marks. They were Thad Altman of Melbourne, Lizbeth Benaquisto of Wellington, Charlie Dean of Iverness, Nancy Detert of Venice, Dennis Jones of Seminole, Evelyn Lynn of Daytona Beach, Steve Oelrich of Gainesville and Ronda Storms of Brandon. Two Senate Republicans -- Paula Dockery of Lakeland and Mike Fasano of New Port Richey -- garnered “C” grades from AFP-FL.
AFP-FL also named their “Legislators of the Year” on Wednesday. Negron, who represents all of Martin County and parts of Indian River, Okeechobee, Palm Beach and St. Lucie counties, received the Senate version of the award. Besides garnering an “A+" grade from AFP-FL, Rep. Scott Plakon, R-Longwood, who represents parts of Orange and Seminole counties, won the award in the House.
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*"Americans for Prosperity (AFP) is a group fronting special interests started by oil billionaire David Koch and Richard Fink (a member of the board of directors of Koch Industries). AFP has been accused of funding astroturf operations but also has been fueling the 'Tea Party' efforts."
The Sarasota connection
"The former U.S. senator responsible for investigating 9/11 called Friday for a renewed inquiry into links between Saudi Arabia and the hijackers in light of revelations this week that a Saudi family living in Sarasota was meeting with the terrorists."
Citing a similar case in California, former Florida Sen. Bob Graham said the previously undisclosed Sarasota case may be part of a pattern of families who were close to terrorists and fled the country before Sept. 11."Sarasota link to 9/11 terrorists prompts call for investigation".
Graham called on President Obama to conduct a full accounting of the "Saudi involvement" in supporting 9/11 hijackers and an explanation of why the U.S. government withheld information on the Sarasota family and others with ties to the hijackers from Congressional investigators.
"I think it's a total outrage," said Graham, who chaired the joint Congressional inquiry into 9/11.
The Sarasota family, Abdulazzi and Anoud al-Hiijjii, abruptly left Sarasota to return to Saudi Arabia shortly before Sept. 11, but Congressional leaders were never told of the incident. They also were not told of the family's connection to the hijackers, who visited the al-Hiijjii home several times, according to security gate records compiled in a previously undisclosed FBI investigation that was leaked to browardbulldog.org this week.
Ballard hits the bricks
"Bob Ballard, brother of Tallahassee lobbyist Brian Ballard, resigned following months of questions and controversy involving state lands. DEP faced controversy earlier this summer when the department proposed putting RV campgrounds at four state parks, and Gov. Rick Scott vetoed funding for the Florida Forever land-buying program housed at the department." "Top DEP official Bob Ballard abruptly resigns".
Wingnuts in a dither
"A few months ago, reports surfaced that the Florida Legislature was rejecting grants from the Affordable Care Act — some of which provided money for child abuse and neglect prevention."
Initially, child advocates were upset over a missed opportunity to reconcile budget shortfalls in programs run by Healthy Families Florida and Healthy Start Coalitions. Both organizations carry out home visiting programs for at-risk families. In the past two years, both groups had suffered immense budget cuts. Representatives of the organizations said the $3.4 million from the federal Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting grant would have been a big help."How the GOP-led Legislature lost a fight with the feds".
Members of the state Legislature wouldn’t budge, citing a legal fight with the federal government over the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act — and a host of other reasons — as reason to reject the grants.
But the U.S. Department of Education decided to tie the very grants the Legislature was dismissing to millions of dollars in federal Race to the Top early learning dollars. One of the eligibility requirements for the competitive education grants is participation in Affordable Care Act’s home visiting programs. Up to $100 million was at stake if the Legislature did not accept the home visiting grant.
That convinced Gov. Rick Scott — normally opposed to federal spending — to fight for the grant money. ...
State Sen. Joe Negron, R-Palm City, said multiple times that the home visiting programs provide no “tangible services.” He also said that these home visiting programs were “amorphous assistance.” ...
State Rep. Denise Grimsley, R-Sebring, told her colleagues she is completely against the Affordable Care Act, saying it is an example of the government taking a role that is meant for churches. ...
“The feds want to shove this down our throat,” Grimsley said.
Negron and Gaetz maintained that they would vote no.
When the decision was brought to a voice vote, the measure passed.
"Don't tug on Superman's cape"
"Michele Bachmann, the Republican presidential candidate, flew into South Florida last week to campaign and quickly stepped into swampy water. In Sarasota, in response to a reporter's question, Bachmann said she would be open to drilling for oil in the Everglades if it could be done responsibly. Bachmann made sure to hedge her position by stressing she did not support irresponsible drilling in the 'River of Grass,' but it was too late. The remarks set off a small media firestorm."
Even the Daytona Beach News-Journal editors get it: "Jim Croce, the late musician, once sang that you don't tug on Superman's cape. In Florida, there is another rule: You don't call for more drilling in the Everglades." "Romney's plan leaves out specifics on Medicare".
"Commission on the Status of [Some] Women"
"The Florida Commission on the Status of Women describes itself as a 'nonpartisan board.' The governor, the speaker of the House of Representatives, the president of Senate and the attorney general appoint four members; the Chief Financial Officer and commissioner of agriculture appoint three each. According to the Commission’s website, the organization’s 'mandate is to study and make recommendations to the Governor, Cabinet and Legislature on issues affecting women. These recommendations are presented in the form of an annual report that is distributed in the first quarter of each year.'" "Commission on the Status of Women adds anti-abortion bills to report".
"Florida ranks 44th in the U.S. for long-term care"
"According to a new report, Florida ranks 44th in the U.S. for long-term care."
The AARP, the Commonwealth Fund and The SCAN Foundation have released a report titled, “A State Scorecard on Long-Term Services and Supports for Older Adults, People with Physical Disabilities, and Family Caregivers.”"Florida ranks 44th in the nation for long-term medical care".
According to the report (.pdf), the study is a “a multidimensional approach to measure state-level performance of long-term services and supports (LTSS) systems that provide assistance to older people and adults with disabilities.”
The study examines state performance in four areas: (1) affordability and access; (2) choice of setting and provider; (3) quality of life and quality of care; and (4) support for family caregivers.
Florida was ranked in the bottom quartile overall. According to the study, many of the “lagging states [that] scored in the bottom half of states on most dimensions … are in the South, and have among the lowest median incomes and highest rates of both poverty and disability in the nation.”
Scott hires "fewer black, Hispanic and Asian workers"
"Gov. Rick Scott’s lieutenant governor is the first African-American to hold that job in Florida, but records show Scott has hired fewer black, Hispanic and Asian workers than his predecessor or fellow statewide elected officials."
“I’m not going to appoint people that don’t believe what I believe in,” Scott said.In the meantime, Scott has delegated Lt. Gov. Jennifer
State Sen. Tony Hill, a member of the legislative black caucus, bristled at Scott’s position.
“There is not a talent deficit in the minority communities, there is an opportunity deficit,” said Hill, D-Jacksonville. “If diversity is not a priority at the top of his office, it’s not going to happen.”
Carroll [to making] phone calls to leaders in the minority community in search of potential hires."Scott’s minority hiring lags behind Crist’s".
"Seniors may see a decrease in access to health care"
"With hopes dimming that a congressional 'super committee' can devise a plan to fix the federal deficit, Florida officials already are bracing for $1.2 trillion in budget cuts that automatically would go into effect if policymakers can't reach an agreement by year's end."
What gets cut, and who is affected, is largely undecided. But there is growing concern that the cuts could lead to lost jobs in the defense industry, further contractions at NASA's Kennedy Space Center and delays or worse for projects such as beach restoration and Everglades preservation.In addition, seniors may see a decrease in access to health care"
because of a likely 2 percent across-the-board reduction in payments to providers, such as doctors and hospitals. Nationally, that could cost hospitals an estimated $45 billion during nine years, with a significant chunk — likely more than $1 billion — coming from Florida."Federal budget cuts in Florida likely to hurt".