First deal in the once-a-decade redistricting battle
"Legislators have reached their first deal in the once-a-decade redistricting battle: Senators will draw Senate maps and House members will draw House maps."
It sounds like an obvious agreement — each chamber knows its own territory better than the other — but, in practice, it means that House and Senate leaders both have a better chance of making incumbents happy.
"From the Panhandle to Miami, there have been few complaints from Senate Democrats or Republicans about the proposed map. ... Here are some of the hot spots:"
The first proposal for Senate boundaries is a good example. It's modeled after a redistricting map submitted by the Florida State Conference of the NAACP, packs Democrats into districts to strengthen neighboring Republicans seats and gives incumbents on both sides of the aisle a good shot at re-election, a Times/Herald analysis shows.
• Republican Sen. Joe Negron's Stuart-based district would stretch along the coast east of Interstate 95, slicing through Martin and St. Lucie counties, while a Polk County-based seat, District 17, would reach over to pick up the western edges of those counties.
"Early agreements on Florida redistricting favor incumbents".
• Polk County and the city of Lakeland are chopped apart to include a winding district that includes the home territory of former state Rep. Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, who is hoping to replace Sen. Mike Bennett, a clear disadvantage to Galvano's expected opponent, former state Sen. Pat Neal. The map consumes the current district held by Sen. Thad Altman, R-Viera, and pushes him into a district being vacated by Senate President Mike Haridopolos.
• Most of Altman's former district would become the new District 24, which would wind from southern Orange County through Osceola and Polk counties and include a 50.5 percent Hispanic population. It is being eyed by state Rep. Darren Soto, an Orlando Democrat.
• To make room for a proposed District 24, proposed District 19 must divide the city of Orlando to take in the home territory of Sen. Andy Gardiner, R-Orlando.
• In Jacksonville, the map appears to boost the candidacy of former state Rep. Aaron Bean, who is seeking to replace Republican Sen. Steve Wise in the Senate.
• State Rep. Denise Grimsley, R-Sebring, would be the beneficiary of the new District 17.
Fla-baggers, Jebbites in a dither
"A new political race has begun: the Herman Cain primary. The implosion of the one-time Republican presidential frontrunner leaves his voters — and his political organization — up for grabs."
Right now, national and Florida polls show that Newt Gingrich is benefiting most. He's also trying to pick up some of Cain's campaign team.
"Herman Cain supporters: Where do they go now?". See also "Cain supporters ask: Where do we go now?".
But nothing's certain in a race in which there have already been five frontrunners. ...
Kathleen Shanahan, a former chief of staff for Jeb Bush and a top Cain supporter in Florida, said she will focus on helping with the Republican National Convention rather than jumping aboard another campaign. ...
Patricia Sullivan, a Lake County tea party organizer who was part of Cain's campaign, said the candidate left a legacy that spoke to the power of the grass roots.
"What I'm doing is I'm taking a step back and I'm reassessing what I want from a candidate," she said. "Because what I wanted I can't have. I wanted a champion for the people."
When asked who was definitely off her list, Sullivan listed Romney, Paul, Jon Huntsman and Michele Bachmann. That leaves Texas Gov. Rick Perry, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum and former House Speaker Gingrich.
"Miami-Dade to redraw boundaries for 13 county commission districts".
"Remarkable turnaround from earlier this year"
"Heading into a crucial election year, Florida Gov. Rick Scott won't be pushing any further changes to the state's massive $100 billion plus pension plan."
Scott is releasing his budget proposal for 2012 later this week and the governor will ask for a small amount of tax cuts, enough money to avoid potential cuts to schools and higher health insurance premiums for state workers. While he has not said much about it so far, Scott has said it will be a "tight budget" given a nearly $2 billion shortfall. ...
"Gov. Rick Scott goes slowly on more changes to pension".
But emails obtained by The Associated Press show that while Scott wants more changes to the state pension plan, he and his staff agreed to wait until 2013 before pursuing them.
That's a remarkable turnaround from earlier this year when Scott pushed for extensive changes to the Florida Retirement System that covers roughly 900,000 current or retired firefighters, teachers and other public employees. ...
Brian Burgess, a spokesman for Scott, said Monday that governor remains committed to making the pension plan "fiscally sound" and looking for a "path forward on pension reform."
The main pension plan, worth $114 billion at the end of September, does not right now have enough money to cover all current and future benefits for public employees. It is about 13 percent underfunded though still considered healthy by many financial experts. ...
But additional emails show that Jon Costello, the governor's legislative affairs director, asked other top officials in the governor's office to think twice before sending out the letter to legislators. Costello noted that Scott was "hot about pensions the other day and I am not sure he considered what this may signal when he sends it."
In another email Costello wrote: "Since we don't plan on tackling this in 2012 we are telegraphing a fight that we don't even want to have, furthermore (budget director) Jerry (McDaniel) has indicated that in our budget we likely can fund no more than normal cost, meaning we won't be showing any leadership in our budget on closing the funding gap. I think this is something we tee up post session and then push for further reforms in 2013."
Costello on the same day sent another email: "Spoke with gov. He agrees it probably isn't the right time to send the letter out."
Scott singing a different tune
"This governor, who sought a 10 percent cut in school spending a year ago, appears to have learned an important lesson: No matter how bad the economy gets, cutting money for schools never seems popular."
Once elected, Scott called for that 10 percent cut, after promising to keep state education funding whole. The Republican Legislature passed and Scott signed a budget that cut school spending nearly 8 percent or $542 per student. At the same time, polls showed Scott's disapproval rating steadily rising.
"Gov. Rick Scott now touts importance of school funding". Related: "Florida
As Scott prepares to unveil his next budget proposal, he's singing a markedly different tune when it comes to schools.
"Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., has a book deal. Rubio signed with Sentinel, a conservative imprint of Penguin Group (USA), for a memoir tentatively scheduled for fall 2012. Sentinel announced Monday that the book was currently untitled. " "Sen. Marco Rubio has book deal for memoir".
Classic David and Goliath struggle
Nancy Smith: "All of a sudden a classic David and Goliath struggle is emerging in the Legislature, with the Florida insurance industry muscling up against the minority of physicians in the state who don't send workers' compensation patients to pharmacies but dispense repackaged drugs to injured workers at the point of care -- in their own offices."
The insurance industry claims that physicians overprice for this service. It claims that if the price of physicians' drugs were capped, it would save the state some $62 million in workers' comp rates."Workers' Comp Wrestlemania: the Insurance Industry vs. the Dispensing Physicians".
A fine idea at the time
"While the Republican National Convention is still months away, representatives of Tampa's civic and homeowners' associations are raising concerns about the impact of the weeklong event on residents who live downtown and in surrounding neighborhoods. The concerns range from traffic congestion, road closures and property damage from street protests to residential buildings being locked down for security reasons." "Residents near RNC convention site concerned about event's impact".
"Where do judges come from? From Marybeth Feiss, of course"
"Where do judges come from?"
From Marybeth Feiss, of course.
"The Ponzi thief who picked judges".
Feiss, according to federal investigators, ran the fraudulent political contribution scheme that enabled her bombastic, absurdly grandiose, insanely ostentatious Ponzi thief of a boss, among other outrages, to buy himself a seat on the state judicial nominating committee.
Feiss, 42, was charged last week with bundling hundreds of thousands of dollars in illegal campaign contributions from 2006 through 2009 at the behest of the infamous scammer Scott Rothstein. Some $3 million was funneled to local, state and federal candidates and political parties, much of it illegally, through lawyers and employees (and their spouses) of his now-defunct Las Olas Boulevard law firm, Rothstein Rosenfeldt Adler.
The criminal complaint, filed Thursday (exactly two years after the feds arrested Rothstein), states: “It was the object of the conspiracy that Rothstein and his co-conspirators, including Feiss, aimed to dramatically increase the political influence and power of RRA and become one of the most powerful law firms in the country by utilizing some of the attorneys and administrative personnel of RRA and other persons associated with RRA to unlawfully make prohibited political contributions.” Rothstein reimbursed his minions for the contributions, much of it in the guise of bonuses.
John Gillies, the head of the FBI office in South Florida, put it a bit more succinctly. With Feiss, his administrative assistant, doing what assistants do, Gillies said, “Rothstein tried to buy political influence with the money he stole from the Ponzi scheme to contribute millions of dollars to political campaigns.”
But Rothstein didn’t just try to buy political influence. He outright bought it.