Dorworth bankrolls "underhanded ... sleaze"
The Orlando Sentinel editorial board writes: "Pat Bates got re-elected mayor of Altamonte Springs this week, but she had to survive a stealth political attack late in her campaign to do it. The virtually anonymous and vitriolic tactics in this small city's nonpartisan race, and the heavyweights who turned out to be behind them, are a dismal commentary on politics in Florida. Thank goodness voters didn't fall for it."
A shadowy group calling itself the Small Business Advocacy Council, created just three weeks before the election, paid for a series of misleading attacks on Bates delivered to city voters in mailers and robocalls."The council is an electioneering communications organization, or ECO, an entity lawmakers created to circumvent $500 contribution limits to candidates. The money bankrolling an ECO often gets laundered through multiple political fund-raising entities — one group contributes to a second, which contributes to a third, etc. — making it nearly impossible for voters to figure out who's financing whom."
The first word most voters got of who was really behind those attacks didn't come until Election Day, when the Sentinel reported that the Small Business Advocacy Council had been bankrolled by political committees chaired by none other than Republican state Reps. Chris Dorworth of Lake Mary and Matt Gaetz of Fort Walton Beach. Because of the council's late birth, it wasn't required by law to file a campaign finance report until Nov. 4, four days before Election Day.
While ECOs can run ads to influence voters, they can't endorse a candidate. But in a two-candidate race like the one in Altamonte Springs, an attack on one might as well be an endorsement of the other. If there were any doubt, both the Dorworth and Gaetz committees also made direct contributions at the $500 limit to the campaign of Bates' opponent, CSX lobbyist Bob O'Malley.More here: "Sneak attacks show worst of Fla. politics".
The fact that Dorworth, in line to become Florida House speaker in 2014, chose to bankroll underhanded attack ads in this local nonpartisan race — ads O'Malley tried to distance himself from — speaks volumes about his priorities and politics.
Shouldn't he be above this sort of sleaze?
Aaron Deslatte says get used to it: "Altamonte Springs race previews what's in store for 2012 campaign". See also "Dorworth flops as local kingmaker".
Cain leadership team replete with Fla-Baggers
"Leading in national polls and doing well in Florida, businessman Herman Cain announced on Friday that he has leadership set up in all 67 counties in the Sunshine State. The Cain team released a list of new county leaders on Friday and their county chairmen in Florida include many campaign veterans, tea party activists and local Republican leaders." "Herman Cain Builds His Team in Florida".
BOG makes plans
"Board of Governors Studying Plan for Higher Education Reform".
"Thinly veiled GOTV push for religious right"
"Saturday, 34 churches in Florida will host a viewing of 'One Nation Under God,' which is being promoted as a 'two-hour premiere DVD event featuring top American thinkers and political leaders who will bring the truth about God and America to people gathered in homes and churches across the nation.' The event is a thinly veiled national get-out-the-vote push for the religious right."
According to the event’s website, speakers include some big names in the Christian right: David Barton, James Dobson and Lila Rose of the anti-abortion group Live Action, to name a few. Presidential candidate Newt Gingrich is listed, as well. ..."Religious right get-out-the-vote event takes place at 34 Florida churches".
John Stemberger, president of the anti-abortion and anti-gay Florida Family Policy Council, is also listed as a participant in the event. Stemberger recently attended the Florida Renewal Project’s Pastors’ Policy Briefing. The “briefing” was aimed at getting churches and religious leaders involved in elections. Media outlets were barred from the event and a reporter was even escorted away from the meeting between presidential candidates Rick Perry and Gingrich and pastors.
Right Wing Watch reported that Stemberger recently appeared on a conference call for Champion the Vote, a California-based religious voter mobilization effort. During the call, Stemberger reportedly promoted “One Nation Under God” and warned that America is being “fundamentally transformed into a different type of culture, a different country” and said that “we will lose this beautiful thing we call America” ....
League of cities goes off deep end
"Rarely on friendly terms, the Florida League of Cities and the Police Benovolent Association are duking it out in court, trying to force the other to give up information both insist is private. Palm Beach County PBA President John Kazanjian this week was sued by the group that represents the state’s municipalities. It wants a judge to force him to give up personal emails it insists are public records." "Police union, cities take pension feud to court".
"Interest in gambling to run amok"
The Sun Sentinel editorial board: "Barrel racing isn't exactly the sport of kings, and Weston isn't clamoring for a new jai-alai fronton. Both, though, stand to become thorny challenges to those seeking to curb the spread of gambling in Florida. At the moment, interest in gambling is starting to run amok."
"It's easy to pick through and find flaws in the recently filed casino bill that its sponsors, state Rep. Erik Fresen, R-Miami, and state Sen. Ellyn Bogdanoff, R-Fort Lauderdale, insist is necessary to curtail seedier and widespread gambling outlets. The real culprit, though, is a gambling loophole the Legislature created roughly three decades ago, and which could prove big enough to drive a gravy train through." "State needs to fix gambling frenzy".
"Selling an illusion"
"Resort casinos would boost state coffers next year by about $155 million, mostly from licensing fees, but the net benefit to the state once the resorts are in full swing in 2015 would be only between $4 million and $102 million a year, according to state economists." "Florida economists: Casino revenue would be mild boost to state coffers". See also Fabiola Santiago's "Gambling industry is selling an illusion".
Will South Florida home prices rebound?
"NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun says South Florida home prices will rebound by 10 percent in the next two years. John Tuccillo disagrees. Tuccillo, a Sarasotan and former NAR chief economist, attended Yun’s speech ... at the National Association of Realtors convention and told me at its conclusion that Yun 'got it wrong.' Distressed inventory will keep prices from going up much, Tuccillo said. Look for 5 percent appreciation — at most." "Lawrence Yun, Realtors’ economist, expects South Florida price rebound".
Runnin' gub'ment like a bidness
"For the second year in a row, Florida is giving up on collecting more than $100 million in taxes, fees and fines owed the state."
Last year Florida wrote off more than $109 million as uncollectable. But new data collected by a state agency shows that the state forgave $110.5 million for the fiscal year that ended June 30 despite a budget shortfall."Florida forgave $110.5M in taxes, fines in FY11".
A large portion written off by state officials was unpaid taxes, including sales taxes, corporate income taxes and unemployment taxes owed by businesses.
"A virtual clown brigade"
Beth Kassab: "It turns out a virtual clown brigade has been minding the $1.7 billion Florida has promised to companies in exchange for creating jobs and investing in the state."
How else do you explain the flow of wrong and misleading information out of the Department of Economic Opportunity in recent weeks?"State must quickly clean up incentive data".
It would be comical if it wasn't true. ...
Before lawmakers even think about giving these programs more money, at the very least they need to ensure that the public has access to reliable information about how well, or poorly, incentives are working.
"Whodunit over a political contribution"
"In a sign of the fight for the Jewish vote, Sen. Bill Nelson’s campaign is embroiled in a whodunit over a political contribution made by an Islamic activist who has branded Israel a 'terrorist state.'"
Nelson’s campaign says it rejected a $500 donation made at an Oct. 22 fundraiser by activist Ahmed Bedier due to his strident criticisms of Israel."Whodunit over Sen. Bill Nelson donation says much about fight for Jewish vote".
But Bedier said he never gave the contribution in the first place. So nothing was rejected. The host of the event, Ocala pharmacist Manal Fakhoury, said Bedier is telling the truth.
“He did not give money,” said Fakhoury, who held the fundraiser for 60 people at her home. “I saw the list’’ of donors.
Regardless of who’s telling the truth, the controversy exposes the tightrope politicians walk when they even appear with Islamic activists in a state with a strong and influential Jewish population, which leans heavily Democratic.
Republicans have been feverishly trying to turn more Jewish support to the GOP, claiming Democrats are too soft on Israel.
Some kiddies really like that greed stuff.
"The chairman of the Seminole Tribe broke his silence and vowed to oppose any effort to bring new resort casinos to Florida because they would end the tribe's gambling monopoly and breach its revenue-sharing agreement with the state." "Seminole Tribe vows to oppose resort-casinos proposal".
"War is raging over absentee ballots"
"In the fierce Hialeah mayoral race, a war is raging over absentee ballots. Part of the problem: There is no penalty for violating Miami-Dade’s ordinance regulating absentee ballots — though that may change." "In Hialeah, accusations fly over absentee ballots". A little history from Fred Grimm: "Absentee ballots still source of election fraud".
Funny how the GOPers aren't insisting on tightening up one of the few sources of real election fraud - absentee/mail ballots. Not how to figure why that is: the Florida Republican Party always has plenty of cash to operate high cost absentee ballot programs.
"A collective gasp swept across the room"
"A collective gasp swept across the room."
Michael Long, the lone student member of the Florida Board of Governors, had just told the audience that Sen. J.D. Alexander threatened to stop supporting higher education if the board didn't make the University of South Florida Polytechnic the state's 12th public university."The David to senator's Goliath".
Heads turned to Alexander, sitting right behind Long. The senator remained silent.
"He is leveling his power in the Legislature," Long said. "I do not feel very well represented by J.D. and his comments."
It was an intense moment in a debate filled with fireworks. The board that oversees the state university system was about to decide whether USF's campus in Lakeland should become independent — a move, pushed by Alexander for months and opposed by students, faculty and a slew of community members.
There had been whispers that the bullish Alexander tried to intimidate the board members before the meeting. But of the 15 at the table, the 20-year-old New College sophomore was the only one to directly speak out.