The Saint Petersburg Times editorial board writes that "Scott's administration has a novel strategy to preserve state election changes that would disproportionately hurt minority voters:"
Get the courts to end the federal process in Florida that could prevent the changes from taking effect in Hillsborough and four other counties. A three-judge court in the District of Columbia should not fall for the misdirection play, and it should not approve the discriminatory voting practices embraced by the governor and the Legislature."The state first went shopping over the summer when it asked the federal court — rather than the Obama administration's Justice Department — to sign off on four controversial provisions of a new elections law that would particularly hurt the poor and minorities. Adopted by the GOP-controlled Legislature this year, the changes reduce the number of days for early voting, make it harder for people who move to cast regular ballots at their new polling places, and put up new roadblocks for voter registration drives and citizen petitions."
The state needs federal preclearance before the changes can take effect in five counties, including Hillsborough. Those five were found in 1975 to have had racial conditions that could have undermined implementation of the Voting Rights Act. It is bad enough the state did a last-minute end run around the Justice Department in search of a more sympathetic venue. But rather than pin all of its hopes on a direct decision, Scott's elections chief, the formerly well respected Secretary of State Kurt Browning, went a step further last week by challenging the federal government's underlying authority to preapprove elections changes in Florida."Don't let ploy hinder voting rights".
The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "At some point, in some Tallahassee tactical meeting, it must have sounded good: Approve onerous new voting restrictions to dampen turnout in next year's election among groups that might vote for the other side. Skirt the new election law's normal approval process at the Department of Justice. Instead, have a federal court screen the restrictions to see whether they comply with the Voting Rights Act. If approval looks grim, argue that the Voting Rights Act is unconstitutional."
It sounds cynical, but it is what Florida Secretary of State Kurt Browning is doing. In court papers filed this week with a Washington federal court, Mr. Browning's office contends that a provision in the Voting Rights Act that lets the federal government screen proposed voting-law changes violates the 10th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. ..."Echoes of '60s suppression".
The 1960s are a half-century gone, but these legal arguments echo the states' rights battle cry. Mr. Browning's call to end these federal safeguards shows why they must remain.
"More than a thousand people have turned up at 'Occupy Wall Street'-style rallies throughout Central Florida this weekend." "'Occupy' Florida protesters march in Central Florida".
"Hundreds of demonstrators marched through downtown Saturday rallying against bank bailouts, government corruption and corporate greed. Middle-aged homeowners, retired veterans, men with dreadlocks, women holding megaphones, tattooed punks and college students drowning in debt walked in solidarity along Orange Avenue, chanting in unison as drums pounded in the distance." "Occupy Orlando demonstrators plan to resume today". See also: "Protesters join ‘Occupy Miami’ demonstration", "'Occupy' rallies gain momentum in Palm Beach County".
Nelson receives Theodore Roosevelt Award
Senator Bill "Nelson has found a real identity with environmental issues. He emerged as perhaps the most out-spoken critic of BP and federal oversight of Gulf oil drilling after the epic spill and over the years has ushered many a D.C. politician into the Everglades and fought for funding. This weekend, Audubon of Florida is giving him its Theodore Roosevelt Award, which goes to lawmakers who champion green causes. Roosevelt was a founder of the Florida Audubon Society and established the first National Wildlife Refuge at Pelican Island." "Nelson recognized with wildlife award".
"'Shadow inventory' of homes"
"South Florida, with some 200,000 homes either already owned by lenders or headed for foreclosure, has one of the nation’s largest collections of unseen inventory. The number of shadow homes dwarfs the 30,000 or so that are listed on the active market. Even as prices have shown signs of stability this year, an impending wave of foreclosures threatens to keep real estate values deflated in South Florida and across the country." "‘Shadow inventory’ of homes could topple real-estate recovery".
Fla-baggers like their Koch
Last week, "a poll of 600 likely Florida Republican voters showed Cain leading Mitt Romney 34 percent to 28 percent." "Cain jumps ahead of Romney in Florida poll".
Why are the Fla-baggers in a dither about Cain? It seems "Cain's economic ideas, support and organization have close ties to two billionaire brothers who bankroll right-leaning causes through their group Americans for Prosperity." "Extensive ties to a powerful Koch group boost Cain".
Leonard Pitts Jr.'s column today is for "those who keep asking what I think of Herman Cain. In particular, it’s for those who want to know what the tea party’s embrace of this black businessman turned presidential candidate says about my claim that the tea party is racist."
I might eat the plate of crow those folks proffer if I’d ever actually made that claim. What I have said, fairly consistently, is something more nuanced: racial animus is an element of tea party ideology, but not its entirety. As I once noted in this space, the tea party probably would not exist if Condoleezza Rice were president."Explaining Herman Cain".
Modern social conservatives, in my experience, do not hate black people en masse. To the contrary, there are two kinds of blacks they love. The first is those, like Rice, who are mainly mute on the subject of race, seldom so impolite as to say or do anything that might remind people they are black. The second is those who will engage on race, but only to lecture other blacks for their failures as conservatives conceive them. And that, friends and neighbors, is Herman Cain all over. ...
In his diminution of African-American struggle, he comes across as a man profoundly at odds with the skin he’s in. He seems embarrassed he’s black.
How the mighty have fallen
"If you want to bury news, you release it Friday afternoon or evening. So presumably, Republican U.S. Senate candidate George LeMieux thought he had little to boast about with his latest fundraising quarter: $403,000 raised in the third quarter, he announced late Friday afternoon." "LeMieux lagging". Related: "Hasner out-raises LeMieux in race for Nelson's U.S. Senate seat; Nelson doubles them both".
"Bad news for opponents of national health-care reform"
The Sarasota-Herald Tribune editorial board: "Florida is among 26 states in which Republican officials have sued to invalidate the Affordable Care Act as an unconstitutional intrusion on states' and individuals' rights."
One of the main concerns is the law's mandate that, by 2014, all Americans either have health insurance or pay a tax penalty."Better Medicare, and more".
The mandate is the means by which some of the more expensive, and popular, elements of the plan — such as required coverage of pre-existing conditions — will be paid for.
Without the mandate, Congress would face the controversial choice of either canceling many of the law's most important benefits for finding a new way to fund them.
Would that mean a new tax? An expansion of Medicare to all citizens? A new entitlement?
We suspect that many of "Obamacare's" critics secretly hope the Supreme Court upholds the law. And that would be good news for everyone.
"During [the] U.S. House floor vote on an anti-abortion bill aimed at eliminating coverage of abortions nationwide through the Affordable Care Act, Florida congressional representatives split their votes down party lines."
All 19 GOP Representatives helped pass a bill that opponents say would endanger the health of women by cutting funding (even through private insurance) for medically necessary abortions. The bill also aims to expand the Hyde Amendment to private insurance plans because some could receive public dollars through the 2010 health care reform law. Women’s health advocates have said the Hyde Amendment has consistently burdened low-income women and minorities seeking legal abortions. The bill passed 251-172."Florida delegation votes down the party line on House anti-abortion bill".
Only four out of Florida’s six Democratic representatives showed up to vote against the bill. Both Rep. Corrine Brown and Frederica Wilson were not present.
Is there a right to speak at public meetings?
"Floridians have the right to attend meetings of city councils, school boards and other such public bodies. But does state law guarantee citizens the right to speak at those meetings?"
Not according to the 1st District Court of Appeal in Tallahassee, which surprised and angered open-government advocates with a ruling last year that they say gives government boards everywhere in Florida the right to tell constituents to keep their mouths shut."Do you have right to speak at public meetings? One court says no — another may disagree".
Now a Central Florida case, argued last week before the 5th District Court of Appeal in Daytona Beach, is considered by those advocates as the best hope yet for establishing a statewide legal precedent declaring that Florida's decades-old "Government in the Sunshine" laws not only gives citizens a seat at public meetings but a chance to have their say as well.
Is it really too much to ask?
"Sen. Paula Dockery, R-Lakeland, resuscitated her proposal to prevent lawmakers from voting on legislation that benefits them, their families or business associates. It marks the fifth time she has introduced the ethics bill." "Ethics bill is back".
Can't miss that Tampa Gun Show
"Griffin Perry, 28-year-old son of the Republican presidential candidate and Texas governor, had a busy day Saturday campaigning for dad in Tampa. The schedule [included] ... the Tampa Gun Show with Pasco County state GOP committeeman Bill Bunting". "Perry's son in town".
More about Perry Junior: "Anita Perry blames Obama for son's job loss" ("Rick Perry's wife Anita said Friday that she could sympathize with the plight of the unemployed because her son was forced to resign his job to take a more active role on his father's presidential campaign.")
Et tu Charlie?
"Crist's wife, Carole, recently changed her registration from Republican to Democrat, but Crist told Buzz not to read much into it." "Crist on wife's switch".
Maddox on the move?
Scott "Maddox allies are urging him to run for an open Tallahassee City Commission seat. Others think his best move is to take on U.S. Rep. Steve Southerland, the one-term Republican incumbent from Panama City. The district could get friendlier for Democrats after redistricting, the thinking goes, and Southerland did himself no favors when he recently sounded like his $174,000 congressional salary wasn't worth the hassle of security threats and other sacrifices." "Maddox mulls a move".
"All these wasted lives"
Frank Cerabino "was ready to skewer our beloved governor over his most recent attack on education. ... It ought to be obvious that a liberal arts education is its own reward, and society reaps the benefit of an educated populace. So yes, it would have been easy to mock Scott. ... It would have been too easy to point out the folly of implying that people who study nontechnical disciplines aren't worth the public money invested in them. But then I made the mistake of looking at the academic backgrounds of Florida's lawmakers. And that's when I saw the dangers of encouraging students to study the so-called soft majors."
Turns out "The Florida Legislature is riddled with nontechnical majors."
Sen. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla, R-Miami, majored in philosophy and English literature at the University of Miami."Cerabino: Scott's major gripe has minor ring of truth".
Rep. Jeff Clemens, D-Lake Worth, got his journalism degree at Michigan State University, while Rick Kriseman, D-St. Petersburg, majored in broadcasting at the University of Florida.
Rep. Gayle B. Harrell, R-Stuart, got a Spanish degree at the University of Florida.
Rep. Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala, double majored at Florida State University in sociology and psychology. House Education Committee member Rep. Marti Coley, R-Mariana, was an English major at Florida State. And fellow Seminole, Rep. Clay Ingram, R-Pensacola, was a communication/political science major.
The list goes on. All these wasted lives, the products of bull-major educations at public-supported universities. Very sad.
The Rickster needs to get to work
"A publicly funded law firm that represents poor people who have been charged with crimes is in leadership limbo. Five months after a committee of top lawyers from across the state recommended three attorneys to run the West Palm Beach-based office of the Criminal Conflict and Civil Regional Counsel, Gov. Rick Scott asked it to start again from scratch." "State-backed law firm struggling; Gov. Scott wants to restart from scratch".
"Tired of Tampa Bay Buccaneers games [played at Raymond James Stadium that was built with taxpayer dollars] being blacked out on TV because of inadequate attendance at the games? It's also bugging state Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, and he's looking at doing something about it." "Fasano bugged by blackouts of Bucs games".