"Obama’s one-on-one presidential campaign gains steam in Florida"
"Though the polls are tough and the Republicans are even tougher on him, President Barack Obama has launched a massive person-to-person campaign strategy that may be key to winning Florida — and therefore a second term — in 2012." Much more here: "Republicans beware: Obama’s one-on-one presidential campaign gains steam in Florida".
"Obama’s math problem"
"There’s good news for President Barack Obama in Florida, where barely four in 10 voters approve of his performance: He can lose the state’s 29 electoral votes and still comfortably win re-election in 2012."
Thanks to the expanded political playing field he helped create three years ago, even a long-standing presidential election axiom — whoever wins two out of three between Florida, Pennsylvania and Ohio wins the White House — is out the window."Obama could lose all three of those mega battleground states, 67 electoral votes combined, and still have more than enough to win the required 270. That’s because in 2008, Obama overwhelmingly won the electoral vote, 365 to John McCain’s 173."
Now the bad news for Obama: It’s absolutely plausible nearly one year out from the election that he will lose all three of those states — and a whole lot more. His approval ratings in Pennsylvania and Ohio are just as bad as in Florida, and his poll numbers are grim throughout the Midwest and mid-Atlantic regions.Much more here: "Obama’s math problem: winning election if he loses Florida". Related: "Joe Biden: 'We Can't Win Without Florida'".
"2014 gubernatorial race is starting to rumble"
"Even as all eyes are on the presidential race, the Florida Democratic Party's 2011 state convention at Disney World this weekend offered plenty of signs that the 2014 gubernatorial race is starting to rumble." "Scott has Florida Democrats all riled up at state convention". See also "Vice President Biden scolds GOP as 'obstructionist' in two Central Florida speeches", "Biden fires up Florida faithful in Orlando", "Florida Democrats united in their criticism of Gov. Scott", "Fla. Dems: GOP is driven by far right extremists" and "Florida Democrats point fingers at Gov. Scott, GOP lawmakers". Related: "Florida Democratic Party wraps up 3-day convention".
Florida's voter fraud team to the rescue
"A Florida Panhandle teacher who registered students to vote but turned in their applications late may be fined for violating the state's new election law, which has drawn fire from critics who say it will suppress voting."
Secretary of State Kurt Browning asked Attorney General Pam Bondi to investigate and seek applicable fines in a letter Thursday."Fla. teacher may be fined under new election law".
Dorworth goin' down?
Scott Maxwell writes that the Orlando Sentinel was inundated with hundreds of calls, letters, emails and online comments from readers incensed about last weekend's column raising questions about aspiring state House Speaker Chris Dorworth's newly disclosed wealth."
The overwhelming reaction: Dorworth needs to come clean about how he came into a newly listed $713,000 stake in an out-of-state corporation — as well as his financial ties to other insiders, government officials and those who profit off government deals."Slimy political tricks, truly charitable treats". See also "" and "".
The reaction crossed party lines, with many Republicans ticked that their party hasn't offered up a better speaker candidate for 2014 … and wondering why other party leaders sit idly by, providing fodder for Democrats.
Still no response from Dorworth. (You can read the 21 questions [Maxwell] sent him at OrlandoSentinel.com/takingnames.)
Florida employers like "cut-rate labor" living in "virtual peonage"
Fred Grimm: "They’re the veritable saviors of the hospitality industry, aren’t they? Foreign guest workers, recruited from distant places, 7,276 of them last year, to rescue Florida’s hotels and restaurants and country clubs and amusement parks and other businesses so very desperate to fill vacant jobs."
Without these recruits — officially designated H-2B temporary non-agricultural guest workers — these hapless businesses would have been forced to find help among Florida’s piddling pool of 977,000 unemployed citizens."For guest workers, hard labor is “cultural experience”".
Of course, H-2B employers must first attest that they can’t find actual Americans to fill these American jobs. But everyone knows that unemployed Americans disdain the very idea of laboring in the Dickensian miseries of air conditioned luxury vacation resorts.
Perhaps employers also like the idea of cut-rate labor. They pay no unemployment compensation or health benefits for H-2B workers. And H-2B workers are bound to a single employer for the life of their visa, up to three years. This set of workers is barred from receiving raises over the modest “prevailing” wages set for their particular job by the U.S. Department of Labor (like, say, $8.95 an hour for an amusement park worker). Those wages also have the added benefit of depressing the pay of regular American workers at the same workplace.
“A scandal,” Gregory Schell, managing attorney for Florida Legal Services, called the H-2B program. Schell has represented a series of foreign workers, brought over on H-2B visas by labor contractors, who found themselves in virtual peonage.
"Weekly Roundup: Mack Attack in GOP Senate Race". See also "The Week in Review for Oct. 24 to Oct. 28".
"A powerful jolt of jobs and money"
"A proposed casino resort would deliver a powerful jolt of jobs and money to Southwest Florida, according to statistics from a economic consulting firm. Some Lee County government officials and business owners said the casino would be a formidable engine of economic growth; others weighed the good versus the ill effects they say the project would bring."
The report was prepared by The Innovation Group of Winter Park, hired by a group headed by Miami Heat president Pat Riley that’s working to bring a casino to The Forum, a mixed-use development just east of Interstate 75 between Colonial Boulevard and State Road 82 in Fort Myers."Casino study boasts jobs in Southwest Florida".
Would-be casino developers from across the state are jockeying for position as the Legislature starts work on a bill that could expand gaming in the state.
The casino proposed for The Forum would bring a construction project with $1.2 billion in spending and 8,783 construction jobs, plus a workforce that would reach 4,959 jobs with a $136.2 million annual payroll by 2018, the Innovation Group report states.
Tax revenues by 2018 would total $29.2 million a year: $4.3 million from a voluntary 1 percent local gaming tax; $5.6 million in bed tax; and $19.3 million in property taxes.
That wouldn’t come at the cost of other local industries, said Phil Nichols of Atlanta-based Whitestar Strategies, a consultant working with developer Champion Development Corp.
“We’re not going to cannibalize existing tourists,” he said, adding 80 percent of guests would be new tourists who wouldn’t have come without the casino.
"Tuition bias against true Floridians"
The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "Little-known state rules say if a college applicant lives with her parents and can be claimed as a dependent under federal tax law, she needs to prove her parents live legally in Florida in order to qualify for in-state tuition. If she can't, she pays out-of-state rates, even if she's Florida-born and raised."
The Southern Poverty Law Center is suing the state ... The lawsuit argues the state is violating their constitutional right to equal protection under the law since they are being treated differently from other citizens whose parents are legal residents."In-state tuition bias against true Floridians".
The class-action lawsuit is compelling, yet Florida's students should not have to wait for it to wind its way through the federal courts. The state Department of Education and the state Board of Governors, which respectively oversee state colleges and universities, should revoke this rule and stop discriminating against Floridians who deserve the same rights as their classmates.
A Democratic state lawmaker from Jacksonville has responded with a bill that would eliminate this fundamental unfairness, but his bill's prospects in the Republican-controlled Legislature are tenuous at best. And, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center attorney who filed the lawsuit, the residency requirement is not even mandated by state statute. The requirements arose, the attorney says, in regulations set up by the Department of Education and the Board of Governors, which flesh out general state laws with administrative rules.
"The best education is never the cheapest"
The Saint Petersburg Times editorial board: "no one in Tallahassee's majority party seems willing to acknowledge is that the state, not just students, must invest more in higher education if Florida's universities are ever going to rank among the nation's best and help diversify the economy."
The governor frequently claims his goal is to provide the best higher education in the nation. But the governor has yet to define that, other than to suggest universities need to expand science, technology and math degrees. The Legislature cannot allow Scott to fuse a solution for improving STEM education with a mission to cut spending elsewhere. If all Republicans do in the coming legislative session is reallocate measly resources in the name of economic development, the state will only lose more ground academically."Universities shortchanged".
Florida universities need more investment, not less. And they need state leaders who understand that the best education is never the cheapest.
The Orlando Sentinel editors: "Florida has made extensive changes to boost academic rigor in public schools and buff its national reputation, but benchmarks such as the National Assessment of Education Progress show that Florida's still eating the dust of pacesetters like Massachusetts." "Lift school standards but don't cut funding".
"Cuban-American’s perspective on Rubio's latest tall tale"
Patrick Monteiga, editor of Tampa’s La Gaceta newspaper, writes that when "Rubio’s mom came back it seems the whole family falsely embraced exile status saying they fled Castro and who knows, maybe they even accepted the welfare that was offered to the exile community. My grandfather came back and was ostracized by many of the exiles, while Rubio’s family, because of their lie, was embraced." "Why Marco Rubio’s lies matter". See also "Buzz's 5 Questions: Luis Garcia questions why Marco Rubio's parents returned to Cuba".
Of course, for Rubio's political allies and apologists, his lies are irrelevant: "Forget the year of arrival, Cubans are exiles". See also Antonio Fins' "Rubio's family in exile — just ask Cuba". And no surprises from Myriam Marquez: "On Rubio, exile is more than a date of departure" ("to turn this slip of a date into a 'gotcha' visa-gate insults most Cuban Americans.")
Nelson "walking on volatile and unfamiliar political territory"
"If you're Sen. Bill Nelson, you must feel good about the campaign year ahead: flush with $7.5 million in your campaign account; President Barack Obama preparing a massive get-out-the-vote campaign for Florida Democrats; a crowded Republican primary lacking any titans and promising to be bloody."
But spend a little time chatting with Florida's senior senator, and it's clear the state's most durable politician is walking on volatile and unfamiliar political territory."Florida Sen. Bill Nelson in unfamiliar political territory".
An aggressively cautious middle-of-the-roader, Nelson, 69, now lives in the tea party era where hyper-partisanship reigns. The Orlando Democrat is far and away the longest-serving statewide politician, with four decades under his belt. This at a time when voters say they're fed up with incumbents and, especially, Washington politicians.