"Most reliable allies of Florida Republicans are Florida Democrats"
Randy Schultz: "We see again that the most reliable allies of Florida Republicans are Florida Democrats."
In Tallahassee, the Legislature is redrawing congressional and legislative maps. In large part because of their recent skill at this once-every-10-years event, Republicans have made this a state where Democrats have as much clout as Florida State grads at a University of Florida alumni meeting."Much more here: How Florida Democrats keep GOP in control of state".
In 1990, Florida's then-19-member congressional delegation included 10 Republicans and nine Democrats. Democrats held a 23-17 edge in the Florida Senate and a 74-46 margin in the state House. Today, the 25-member congressional delegation includes 19 Republicans and six Democrats. The GOP holds a 28-12 advantage in the state Senate and an 81-39 majority in the House. Statewide, however, registered Democrats outnumber Republicans by 500,000.
Several factors, such as ineptitude at the Florida Democratic Party and conservative north Florida Democrats who are Republicans at heart, explain this shift. A big factor, though, has been Republicans' ability to pit Democrats against each other. ...
Florida has an inept, selfish Democratic Party. ... Even if President Obama wins Florida, Democrats continue to make the state safe for the GOP.
"Florida Senate presided over by a petulant crybaby"
Daniel Ruth: "This is probably the predictable result when you have a Florida Senate presided over by a petulant crybaby angry over not getting his way."
Senate President Mike Haridopolos, R-The Blue Boy of Apalachee Parkway, got his pantaloons in a wad because one of his minions had the audacity to commit Tallahassee's most egregious of mortal sins — an act of actual governance.Much more here: "Haridopolos plots and pouts".
And for that, fellow Republican Sen. Mike Fasano was stripped of his leadership epaulets and banished from his post as chairman of a budget subcommittee that oversees prisons.
Just what was Fasano's treason? That he attempted to voice his opinion on privatizing prisons. Oh, the treacherous heresy of it all! ...
The New Port Richey senator suspects this is little more than a political air kiss to the Geo Group and the Corrections Corporation of America, deep-pocketed private sector penal colony titans.
If the privatization deal goes through, the two companies would occupy vast tracks of public land, make millions of dollars and only be responsible for guarding the less dangerous and healthiest prisoners. The state would still be responsible for the criminal dregs, the sickest, the elderly and most expensive of inmates to house.
Whatever made Fasano think this was a sweetheart deal?
It was probably just the subtlest of hints that the prison privatization legislation was more greased up than Hulk Hogan when Haridopolos tried to fast track the package through the Senate with less due diligence than the captain of the Costa Concordia.
So much for a sober, deliberate, transparent legislative process. Apparently, President Snagglepuss didn't bother to read his own book, Florida Legislative History and Processes — for which he was paid $152,000 by Brevard Community College — a soporific ode on how Tallahassee works. And now we know. Not very well. ...
Haridopolos had managed to acquire a Tallahassee reputation as the sort of chap who, if you found him sitting at the next barstool, you wouldn't leave your change unattended while you hit the men's room. ...
Fasano may have lost his leadership position. But he still has his self-respect, which is more than the obsequious special interest supernumerary who stabbed him in the back can say for himself.
The Tampa Tribune editors write that "the bullying, rule-breaking attempt by the state Senate leadership to ramrod it through without regard for opponents' reasonable questions smells to high heaven. If the plan is as good as its proponents claim, such heavy-handed tactics wouldn't be necessary. But supporters won't permit a study that would determine the plan's likely savings."
And remember that it all started when "Scott, who supports the legislation, fired his first Department of Corrections secretary after he questioned prison privatization." "Be wary of private prison scheme".
"You can't underestimate the organizational advantage president Obama will have in Florida"
"While most of the political world was still buzzing about Mitt Romney's overwhelming Florida primary win, Ashley Walker rose from her seat to address a room full of Florida field directors for the Barack Obama campaign gathered at the University of Tampa."
"We need to strive for excellence every day. Each day when we get up we need to think about what we can do to earn Florida's 29 electoral votes for President Obama,''."Walker, the Florida director of Organizing for America, told the assembled operatives last week."
For Romney allies, who boasted of five full-time staffers — a fraction of what Obama already has in Florida — and a Florida ground organization that mainly consisted of mailing fliers to absentee votes, the scene in Tampa should be intimidating. Four years ago, Obama won Florida with the largest voter mobilization effort ever seen in Florida. This year's effort could dwarf that."Obama campaign is gearing up for Florida November battle".
"There's never been an operation this size in Florida 10 months out from an election, not for a presidential (campaign), not for a gubernatorial. But we're going to grow," Walker told her Florida lieutenants. "Very soon, we're going to be in a position where the only place we can do trainings is in a hotel ballroom."
Obama, though, may need every last campaign operative in Florida to carry the state again. ...
In the last five presidential elections, Republicans won twice, Democrats won twice, and 2000 was essentially a tie.
"If it's a close election nationally it may be within 1 point in Florida,'' said Tallahassee-based Democratic strategist Steve Schale, who ran Obama's Florida campaign in 2008. "When push comes to shove, if the race is that close, you can't underestimate the organizational advantage president Obama will have in Florida."
"Casino bill dies in the House"
"Conceding defeat, the House sponsor of a resort casino bill for South Florida pulls it from contention. But wait, resort backers say, it's a long fight." "Casino bill dies in the House - for now". See also "Florida gambling bill falls apart in House", "GOP-sponsored casino bill near death (updated-corrected)", "Florida casino gambling bill 'dead for this year,' House Rules chair says" and "Casino Opponents See Next Battle Coming over State Constitution" ("Opponents of the effort to expand casino gaming in Florida declared victory Friday, but anticipate they will next have to fend off an effort to put gambling venues into the state’s Constitution.")
"Republicans could go three-for-three this fall"
"Republicans could go three-for-three this fall in a trio of newly drawn congressional districts in South Florida, but Democrats contend that their chances improved there under reapportionment." "Three-Way Shuffle Launches Congressional Races in South-Central Florida".
Legislators permitted to hide under their desks about suppression measures
"A federal judge ruled Friday that four state legislators and two staffers cannot be forced to testify in a case that challenges changes to Florida election laws."
After more than 90 minutes of arguments, U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle rejected a request by the League of Women Voters of Florida and the National Council of La Raza, who were supported by the U.S. Department of Justice."Florida lawmakers can't be forced to testify in election lawsuit, judge rules". See also "Judge rules legislators do not have to testify on elections law".
Hinkle said the lawmakers and staffs are protected by a long-standing common-law privilege dating back centuries, as well as later court decisions that said such questioning would be an unwarranted intrusion of the legislative branch.
"Fair Economy Act"
"Flanked by nurses and educators, a group of Democratic state lawmakers held a press conference in the capital yesterday to denounce the GOP-led Legislature’s plans to cut health services in the state budget in order to save money for education."
State Sen. Nan Rich, D-Sunrise, said that lawmakers were presenting “a false choice.”"Florida Democrats working to change budget conversation".
Nurses and and educators showed up in support of Democrats who are pushing for a bill called the “Fair Economy Act.” The measure is an effort among Democratic legislators to change the state’s tax structure. Rich, state Sen. Oscar Braynon, D-Miami, and Rep. Even Jenne, D-Fort Lauderdale, who are sponsoring the legislation, spoke at the event.
Labor groups said at the conference that they resented being “pinned against each other” for state funding.
Healthy Start Coalitions
"The Healthy Start Coalitions of Florida, so far, are not poised to suffer budget cuts this year. Last year, the group saw millions taken from its budget." "Healthy Start spared cuts in House budget".
"Residents hostage in horrifically dangerous conditions"
The Miami Herald editors: "The state Senate, in addition to Mr. Scott, understands that it’s imperative to shut down the ALFs that keep residents hostage in horrifically dangerous conditions [(not exactly a hard call)], improve monitoring of others that can do a better job and allow the best to set a high standard for the rest."
"However, lawmakers in the House, including the South Florida delegation, have yet to get on board. Some have their own conflicts, having received campaign donations from ALF operators." "Is there a hero in the House?".
Mexican workers in Florida to be taught their rights
"The U.S. Department of Labor and the Mexican consulate in Orlando today announced an agreement to offer Mexican workers in Florida the resources to understand their rights." "Department of Labor, Mexican consulate announce workers’ rights education program".
Haridopolos in danger of losing his grip on his chamber
Aaron Deslatte: "Approaching the midpoint of the 60-day session, the differences between the House and Senate are many. And Senate President Mike Haridopolos, by insisting on driving through the prison plan and delaying budget work, is in danger of losing his grip on his chamber." "At halfway point, Florida legislators are 2 houses divided".
"Where Florida higher education stands"
The Tampa Bay Times editorial board points out "Where Florida higher education stands"
In prestige …"Florida can't afford to keep being cheap".
10 Rank of faculty at Florida's public universities, in numbers of members who belong to the prestigious National Academy. Florida has 38 members. No. 1 California has 660. Florida also trails Texas, Washington, Michigan, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Colorado, North Carolina and Virginia.
0 Number of Florida universities, public or private, that made the top 50 of national universities in U.S. News & World Report's annual Best Colleges ranking.
"A parliamentary Hail Mary"
"Hoping the state would find out how Progress Energy botched an upgrade to a nuclear power plant that may never reopen?"
Hoping to stop paying in advance for another nuclear plant that may never get built?"Legislators clash over what to do about paying for nuclear plants".
Don't count on it.
Senate Majority Leader Andy Gardiner told the Tampa Bay Times the Energy Committee, which he heads, would not hold hearings into the events that continue to keep the Crystal River plant off line.
Gardiner also said late Thursday he would not let the committee consider a bill to repeal a law forcing customers to pay in advance for a proposed $20 billion nuclear plant.
On Friday, New Port Richey Sen. Mike Fasano, who sponsored the bill, countered with a parliamentary Hail Mary.
Colombia Free Trade Agreement challenged after union leader murders
"AFL-CIO urges Obama to postpone Colombia Free Trade Agreement after union leader murders".
Romney's Florida problems
The Daytona Beach News Journal editorial board: "Mitt Romney's time in the Florida sunshine left him looking like the candidate Republicans will put up against President Barack Obama this fall. Even so, the former Massachusetts governor would be wise not to bask in the glow of his victory. ... Romney and his campaign team need to think about the following:"
- Yes, he won convincingly in Florida, getting 46 percent of the vote against three opponents, but he still failed to top the "Not Romney" column. Despite having an impressive campaign team, previous experience as a presidential candidate and a huge advantage in campaign money, Romney wasn't able to claim a majority of the votes in the January primaries and the Iowa caucus."Romney's win revealed some major weaknesses".
He should be troubled by exit polls that showed almost 40 percent of Florida GOP primary voters wanted another choice on the ballot. The "not Romney" vote remains a problem for the front-runner's campaign.
- The "not Gingrich" vote may have made the difference in Florida. Romney ran essentially a negative campaign, warning voters about former House Speaker Newt Gingrich's history of ethical missteps and business association with controversial mortgage giant Freddie Mac.
According to some accounts, Romney and his allies ran an incredible 12,000 TV ads in Florida's media markets -- and most of them made Gingrich look like a combination of Attila the Hun and Boss Tweed. ...
- Romney won in Florida and in New Hampshire without giving voters a clear, succinct summary of his ideas and principles. His main pitch is that he is a businessman who knows how to fix the economy. That message has appeal for Americans bogged down in the slow economic recovery, but it doesn't inspire voters or give them a clear choice in the contest of ideas and philosophies. ...
- Finally, the Plastic Man problem. Romney tends to come across as somewhat stiff and a bit over-rehearsed for the role of presidential candidate. Obviously, he isn't a natural politician like Reagan or former President Bill Clinton.
"The Florida House voted along party lines for three redistricting maps Friday that proponents say reflect the state's growing diversity and meet new antigerrymandering standards." "House passes Florida redistricting maps in party line vote".
Meanwhile, Florida's Republi-baggers claim that it is the "Democrats Playing Politics with Redistricting Process".
Sierra Club greased?
"Sierra Club officials in Florida aren't talking, but the environmental group is taking heat over revelations that it took more than $25 million from a gas-drilling company."
The nation's oldest and largest "green" organization accepted the donations primarily from Aubrey McClendon, CEO of Chesapeake Energy, one of the biggest gas-drilling companies in the country, and a firm heavily involved in the controversial practice of fracking, Time magazine reported this week."Fracking Driller Greased Sierra Club With $25 Million in Gas Money".
Sierra Club said the contributions -- received from 2007 to 2010 -- stopped with the installation of Michael Brune as executive director of the national organization in 2010.
"Norman declared victory anyway"
"A state ethics panel found Sen. Jim Norman should be prosecuted in connection with a half-million-dollar gift to his wife from a prominent Hillsborough County businessman. The Florida Commission on Ethics ruled Friday that there was probable cause to show Norman should have disclosed the "investment" when he ran for Senate, and failed to do so."
Meanwhile, and true to form,
Norman declared victory anyway; The commission dismissed three other complaints that alleged that the gift created a conflict of interest."Jim Norman faces fines over $500,000 Arkansas home gift".
The Tampa Tribune editorial board: "Norman's lapse".
"Weekly Roundup: Know When to Fold 'Em".
Peterman gets $5,000 fine and public censure
"The state Commission on Ethics on Friday ordered a $5,000 fine and public censure and reprimand for Frank Peterman for travel abuses when he was Florida's secretary of juvenile justice under former Gov. Charlie Crist."
The 4-3 vote followed a lengthy discussion during which a motion to throw out the entire case against Peterman failed on a 4-3 vote."Ethics commission slaps ex-Rep. Frank Peterman with $5,000 fine".
Bondi's investigation into foreclosure lawyers collapses
"The Florida Bar's investigations into foreclosure fraud by its members jumped 63 percent in the past year, but no disciplinary actions against attorneys have been levied since complaints began to mount in the fall of 2010."
The responsibility to hold lawyers accountable for foreclosure misconduct now rests solely with the Florida Bar after the state attorney general's investigation into high-volume foreclosure law firms collapsed this week."Foreclosure lawyer probes left up to Florida Bar".
Say hello to "unregulated out-of-state carriers"
"Florida's mammoth state-run insurance company is looking to downsize, with lawmakers turning to unregulated out-of-state carriers to help with the effort."
The state House passed a bill on Friday that would allow so-called "surplus lines" carriers to take over policies from Citizens Property Insurance Corp., if they meet certain criteria."House approves bill to allow unregulated insurers to take over Citizens policies".
Surplus lines carriers are not regulated by the Office of Insurance Regulation and can differ greatly from the state's admitted insurers, a point that opponents of the bill pushed repeatedly.