The Tampa Bay Times editorial board: "Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi and her legal allies from polluting industries are doing a victory dance over a U.S. District Court ruling that set back the federal effort to clean up the state's waterways."
They might want to read the ruling again, for it amounted to a full-throated rejection of the campaign of falsehoods and fearmongering that monied interests and their Tallahassee enablers have waged at the expense of Florida's environment and economy."Message is clear: Clean up water".
At issue are new standards the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has proposed to reverse the pollution that now taints the state's lakes, springs and streams. Even before taking office last year, Bondi, Gov. Rick Scott and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam signed on to a withering disinformation campaign aimed at browbeating the EPA to drop or weaken its effort. The group threw anything against the wall: The EPA, they said, was jumping the gun, abusing its authority, singling out Florida and using junk science.
U.S. District Judge Robert L. Hinkle, who is overseeing the case, dismissed the assault as mostly bunk in an 86-page order last week.
"The Senate approved a $70.7 billion state budget plan Thursday that restores most of last year's deep cut to public schools while imposing a fresh round of reductions on Florida's increasingly crowded universities." "Florida Senate OKs $70.7 billion budget; stage set for talks with House over $1.5 billion gap". See also "Florida Senate passes budget bill" and "Ready for conference? Senate approves $70.7 billion budget".
And previously it was a left-wing paradise?
"Rick Scott told mayors and community business leaders Thursday that the perception of Florida as being pro-business has improved 'dramatically' in the past 12 months." "Florida's Pro-Business Image Improving 'Dramatically,' Scott Tells Mayors Group".
"'Drill, drill, drill' is a bumper sticker"
"President Barack Obama used the friendly confines of the University of Miami Thursday to push a diversified energy policy and also to attack his Republican adversaries, who he claimed have the same answer to every energy issue." "Obama in Coral Gables: GOP's 'drill, drill, drill' is a bumper sticker, not an energy policy".
"Connie 'The Glass Jaw' Mack"
"This is hardly a point of personal honor, but by the time I turned 45 somehow I had managed get through life without being involved in numerous bar brawls."
And, it appears safe to say I like to drink as much as Connie Mack IV, whose record is 0-4 in road rage/gin mill bouts."Slugging it out for U.S. Senate".
Indeed, it seems weird to see the name Connie Mack in the same sentences that also include "bar," "brawl," "property lien" and "overdraft fees." After all, Connie "The Glass Jaw" Mack is the namesake son of Florida's former Republican U.S. senator.
The elder Mack is a soft-spoken man of courtliness, impeccable manners and understated dignity.
As for the son? This is like discovering Ronald Reagan was the paterfamilias of Dennis Rodman.
"A group of black Broward leaders filed suit this week in federal court, arguing the new County Commission districts restrict the chances of black candidates getting elected." "Black leaders sue Broward over new county districts".
Florida wastes tax dollars on wingnut political stunt
"Seven states, including Florida, have decided to take on President Barack Obama’s mandate that health insurance policies include coverage for contraceptives. The lawsuit, filed Thursday in a federal court, asserts that the requirement violates religious institutions’ First Amendment rights by forcing them to promote a message that contradicts their religious principles." "Florida joins multi-state suit over Obama contraception requirement". See also "Florida joins multi-state lawsuit against birth control mandate".
Carl Hiaasen: "On birth control, GOP shoots itself in the foot".
"Thrasher Not Done Campaigning"
"Gardiner Claims Senate Presidency Won; Thrasher Not Done Campaigning".
"Tourism revival is important in political terms"
"The tourism revival is important in political terms because it’s another sign that Florida’s battered economy is recovering, a trend likely to ease voter anger against whoever is in office. That may help incumbents of both parties and improve President Obama’s chances of winning Florida’s electoral votes again this year."
Democrats lost all six closely contested congressional races in 2010 largely because of a backlash to the incumbent party amid widespread unemployment and economic distress. Florida Democrats noted that the state was run by Republicans, but voters in congressional races still tended to blame Obama and the Democratic-controlled Congress."Florida tourism recovery could help incumbents".
'Anti-Sharia Law' passes ... haters come out from under their beds
"'Anti-Sharia Law' Bill Passes House Panel; Muslims, ACLU Object".
NBA stars, and even David Stern, like Obama
"President Barack Obama came to the Isleworth mansion of NBA player Vince Carter on Thursday night to talk with basketball stars and a handful of others who could afford the $30,000 ticket about his campaign theme of fairness in America."
In addition to Daytona Beach native Carter — a former Orlando Magic player and current member of the Dallas Mavericks — the crowd included Steve Smith of the Atlanta Hawks and Chris Paul of the Los Angeles Clippers, as well as NBA Commissioner David Stern and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, plus former NBA stars Magic Johnson and Alonzo Mourning."Obama's All-Star party fundraiser pulls in $2.1 million".
Steinberg, D-Miami Beach, probed for possible stalking
"As fellow lawmakers convened Thursday in Tallahassee for the annual session, state Rep. Richard L. Steinberg, D-Miami Beach, has returned home to be with his family in the wake of a federal probe into possible stalking." "State Rep. Steinberg returns home to Miami Beach amid federal probe into texting". See also "South Florida politician admits sending 'sexxxy' texts to married prosecutor".
Florida 18-to-20 somethings likely to support Obama
"Political experts, polling data and students themselves say the 18-to-20 somethings inside and outside Florida are likely to support Obama. But they question whether the Democratic incumbent can generate the same passion as four years ago, when he was seen as a once-in-a-generation transformational figure by many." "Obama seeks repeat with young Florida voters; Republicans try to chip away at his support".
House adopts random drug-testing
Update: "After a roller-coaster ride through the House, a bill that allows state agencies to randomly drug-test their employees was cleared by a final committee on Friday. The House State Affairs Committee cleared the bill (HB 1205) by a party-line vote of 9-6." "Florida House panel OKs state worker drug-testing bill".
"Opponents of drug testing proposal question whether the program would be ‘truly voluntary’". See also "Lawyers for ACLU, union fight Gov. Rick Scott's order for random drug testing of state workers".
Cops in riot gear break up Florida shoe melee
"Cops in riot gear break up shoe melee at Florida Mall | Video, Photos".
1 percenters in charge
Stephen Goldstein: "Since 1999, when Jeb Bush became governor, Florida has been dominated by the Republican Party, the party of the 1 percent — now hijacked by the tea-party extremist fringe. As a result, we have deep-seated, long-standing problems that their short-sighted, ideologically driven solutions have not only failed to solve, but have created and compounded."
"A January 2012 Issue Brief, "The Condition of Florida by the Numbers," from the Florida Center for Fiscal and Economic Policy, tells a tragic tale:"
Poverty: "16.5 percent, or 3,047,373 Floridians, lived below the federal poverty level in 2010 ($17,374 for a family of three)." These are the people that Mitt Romney recently said he wasn't worried about because they had a social safety net."Florida knows all about the 1 percent".
Think about what it would mean for you and two family members to live on that kind of money — and get back to Romney. Almost unimaginably, "1,356,324 [Floridians] lived at 50 percent of the poverty level or less. Among children under 18, 23.5 percent lived in poverty."
Income inequality: "Florida ranked as the fifth-worst state in 2010 on the GINI Index, a measure of income inequality used by economists to measure the gap between those making most of the income and those making the least."
No health insurance: While tea party/GOP Gov. Rick Scott, Attorney General Pam Bondi, and the Legislature continue their relentless fight to kill President Obama's Affordable Care Act but offer no alternative, "21.3 percent of Floridians had no health insurance [in 2010], third-highest in the U.S., and 12.7 percent of children under 18 have no insurance coverage, fourth-highest."
Food Stamps: There were "3,187,157 [Floridians on food stamps] in September 2010, the third-highest total in the nation."
Fairness of the tax system: Florida's is the "second-worst in the nation."
State tax revenue: Contrary to all the government-costs-too-much bashing emanating from Tallahassee, "Florida ranked 42nd in state revenue per capita and 46th in state tax revenue as a percentage of the state's total income in 2010."
State employees: Contrary to all the state-government-is-bloated rhetoric, Florida has the "lowest number of state employees per 10,000 population and the lowest payroll costs per resident."
Unemployment insurance: Florida's "average weekly payment was $229.90, 48th in the nation. ... Of the unemployed, only 18 percent received regular unemployment insurance, 51st in the nation."
Education Expenditures: "Over the last five years ... total annual funding for public education declined by $4.4 billion, or 18.4 percent." Florida ranks "50th in per capital state government expenditures for all education."
"Unbecoming behavior continues to thrive in Tallahassee"
Scott Maxwell writes that unbecoming behavior continues to thrive in Tallahassee. "For proof, check out the ongoing campaign to lower the salaries of restaurant workers."
I'm not sure I can recall a more disingenuous campaign."Tolerating malarkey".
Basically, restaurants want to pay their servers less.
Right now, state law requires restaurants to pay them $4.65 per hour. They want to cut that to $2.13
Pretty simple right? That's less.
Yet the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association says this move would guarantee "higher, stable wages."
Of course it would.
The association tries to argue that customers would make up the difference in tips with restaurants promising servers a total of at least $9.98 an hour. But since this plan is optional, the reality is that the only restaurants to implement this would be the ones that want to pay their employees less.
If politicians want to cut the salaries of food-servers — many of whom make poverty wages — I suppose that's their right.
But it speaks volumes about the character of politicians if they can't even be honest about why they're doing it, or the impact on servers. And about this state.
"Dismantling Florida's once respected process for ensuring courts are free from political influence"
The Tampa Bay Times editorial board: "The independence of Florida's judiciary is under legislative assault again. The House may consider legislation today that would give the governor the power to remove a majority of members of the state's 26 Judicial Nominating Commissions, which screen applicants for appointments to the bench. It isn't enough that the commissions already have been transformed from independent panels to glorified patronage committees for the governor. Now this Legislature would make five of nine members on each JNC serve at the governor's pleasure."
This is just another step in dismantling Florida's once respected process for ensuring courts are free from political influence. Before Jeb Bush was governor, Florida had one of the nation's most well-regarded systems for choosing appellate court judges and filling certain trial court vacancies. Candidates interested in a judicial seat would apply to the appropriate JNC that would vet them and send a list of between three and six nominees to the governor who would appoint off the list."Partisanship creeps deeper into judiciary".
The key to this system was the political independence of the JNCs. Each was made up of three members appointed by the governor, another three appointed by the Florida Bar, and a final three selected by those six members. That reduced the likelihood that partisanship would trump merit.
All that changed under Bush, who won the power to appoint all nine members of every JNC. The only nod to independence was a bone thrown to the Florida Bar. The governor would pick four members of each JNC from a list of nominees selected by the Board of Governors of the Florida Bar. But the governor could reject all the Board's nominees and demand a new list of three names for each seat.
It was this highly politicized system that resulted in Bush appointing Paul Hawkes to the 1st District Court of Appeal.
Norman to the rescue
"Tampa Bay found its voice, and Tallahassee got the message. The Florida Senate on Thursday repaired most of the financial damage Sen. JD Alexander threatened to inflict upon the University of South Florida in his quest to transform USF's Lakeland campus into an independent university. The public outrage and a legislative effort led by Sen. Jim Norman of Tampa proved remarkably effective in ensuring the university will be treated more fairly as the debate continues over creating the state's 12th university." "Undoing the damage to USF".
"Favoring the bread-winning spouse"
"The House approved a watered-down version of what began as a rewrite of the state's alimony laws but still contains provisions critics say favor the bread-winning spouse." "In Brief: Revamped alimony bill gets nod from full House".