"When the Florida Senate was looking for someone to put its budget data online, it set aside $5.5 million and turned to the business partner of a close friend of the Senate's chief of staff at the time, Steve MacNamara."
The developer of the program, Anna Jo Mattson, owns a software company with Tallahassee lawyer and lobbyist Jim Eaton, MacNamara's long-time friend. She also owns Spider Data Services, the company that developed the software program licensed by the Senate. She said Tuesday the companies are not related."Scott's top adviser arranged $5 million no-bid contract in Senate".
MacNamara did not respond to requests for comment.
MacNamara negotiated the contract with Mattson in February 2011 when he worked for Senate President Mike Haridopolos. He left the Senate to become Gov. Rick Scott's chief of staff in July. To date, Mattson has been paid $5 million for development of the no-bid project. Another $2.5 million has been set aside in the governor's 2012-13 budget to pay for access to her patented program next year.
$148.6 million in rebates for Floridians, courtesy of the Affordable Care Act
"A recent report from the Kaiser Family Foundation, notes that health insurers in Florida are expected to pay out $148.6 million in rebates to consumers because they spent more on administrative costs than allowed by the federal Affordable Care Act." "Report: Florida health insurers owe $148.6 million in rebates".
Republicans fumble Hispanic outreach
"They were supposed to be introducing the team whose savvy grassroots work would sway the nation’s 12 million Hispanic voters to the Republican Party in six battleground states, including Florida."
Instead, the Republican National Committee demonstrated Tuesday just how far behind it is in persuading Latino voters to pick former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney over President Barack Obama."Democrats, though, were happy to step in with their own definition of Romney’s immigration policy."
When asked what they’d tell voters about Romney’s tough immigration talk, Bettina Inclan, the RNC National Hispanic outreach director, replied: He is "still deciding what his position on immigration is."
Another top RNC official, Kirsten Kukowski, interrupted the meeting to tell reporters that Romney’s position on immigration is, in fact, very clear. After the meeting, Inclan tweeted that she "misspoke," and posted a link to the immigration policy page on the Romney campaign website.
That includes pledging to veto the DREAM Act and his assertion during a debate in January in Florida that undocumented immigrants should "self-deport." He also called parts of Arizona’s disputed immigration law a model for the nation "and has paraded around the country with the nation’s leading anti-immigrant voices," said Gabriela Domenzain, a spokeswoman for the Obama campaign."GOP fumbles Hispanic outreach". See also "" and "Will Obama or Romney win over I-4 Hispanics?".
Over the past year, he has "proven time and time again that he is the most extreme presidential candidate in modern history on immigration," she said. "His position may be inconvenient, but it has been clear. Mitt Romney has decided to be the most extreme presidential candidate on immigration; Hispanics and all Americans have heard it loud and clear." ...
Registered Hispanic voters back Obama by a 67-27 percent margin, according to a mid-April poll by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press. Those findings were consistent with a Pew Hispanic Center survey of 557 Latino registered voters in December, when 68 percent backed Obama and 23 percent Romney.
"The Chamber also recognized 42 House and Senate members as 'distinguished advocates' of business. Recognition was based on voting records reflecting the Chamber positions on bills affecting job creation, economic recovery and Florida's business climate." "Florida Chamber of Commerce commends Cannon, Dorworth for their voting records".
Freedom to pollute
"HB 1263, a Department of Health reorganization bill, repealed a 2010 requirement for septic tank inspections statewide. But the bill still required 19 counties with the largest first-magnitude springs to conduct inspections unless they opt out by Jan. 1, 2013." "Hernando poised to become first county to opt out of septic tank inspections". Meanwhile, "Federal, state negotiators close to deal on Everglades water quality".
Raw political courage
"Jeri Muoio stepped out of her role as non-partisan mayor on Tuesday and into the world of fiery partisan politics. Muoio stumped for President Obama's reelection at a City Center event billed by his campaign as an anti-Mitt Romney speech highlighting the negative side of the presumptive GOP nominee's job creation record. While former Mayor Lois Frankel was identified as a Democrat and served as her party's leader in the State House before being elected mayor, Muoio has never held partisan office." "West Palm's mayor dips toe in partisan waters in speech for Obama".
"It's political prostitution"
Daniel Ruth on when then-Congressman Adam Putnam
recalled a moment when Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke appeared before the Republican caucus to provide a briefing on the spreading financial cancer. Widely regarded as an astute, sober-minded economist, Bernanke was met with ridicule and derision by the Republican House members."Putnam, the pol who proves refreshingly sane".
Putnam was flabbergasted by the show of disrespect. "There were guys (in the caucus) who couldn't count the commas in a trillion dollars talking to Bernanke like he was a dog."
Tipping point? Maybe. It's one thing to be designated a leader. It's quite another when you are expected to lead a pitchfork of zealots who are in denial over reality.
As 2010 rolled around, Putnam took a pass on re-election, returned to Florida and won the job as agriculture commissioner, trading in one barnyard substance for another. Indeed Putnam may be the first politician to leave office "to spend more time with the family" who actually spent more time with his family.
Putnam returned to a vastly changed Tallahassee political culture from the one he experienced as a state House member from 1996 to 2000. Unbridled partisanship grips the Florida Legislature, too, Putnam noted.
Stricter ethics laws have made it more difficult for bipartisan collegiality. And term limits make sure members rarely develop any expertise on their assigned committees, only enhancing the influence of lobbyists.
"The eight-year (term limit) time frame virtually guarantees the likelihood of someone spending more than one term as a committee chair is almost nil because it suggests you are ineffective," Putnam said. And so the rush is always on to move up to higher-profile, influential committees that have greater fundraising potential.
That's not governance. It's political prostitution.
Just months shy of 38, Putnam is hardly without a vast array of elective options.
There is a sense that with Rick Scott's approval ratings somewhere between the Taliban and the Greek Parliament, there might be a young, attractive, articulate, popular Republican who isn't crazy lingering in the woodpile willing to take on an incumbent governor in 2014.
Perhaps there is, but it won't be Adam Putnam, who insisted that he's quite content where his political life has taken him these days.
Ah, but 2018 might be an entirely different story. By then the Opie of the Apalachee Parkway will still only be a mere child of 44.
Did Rubio pay his college loans with his GOP credit card?
"Florida senators voted along party lines Tuesday as Republicans blocked a tax-raising Democratic bill that would have driven up Social Security and Medicare payroll taxes for some -- in exchange for keeping interest down on federal student loans. Bad bill, insists Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Miami, who sided with the GOP in the 52-45 vote." "GOP, Marco Rubio Block Democrats' Election-Year Bill on Student Loans".
"The true battleground is Central Florida"
Scott Maxwell: "Politico recently quoted Democratic operatives as saying they have calculated 1,024 possible outcomes among those 10 states. Of those 1,024 scenarios, only 85 allow Romney to win."
Of those 85, all 85 require Romney to win Florida.See what he means here: "Central Florida may decide the presidency".
If you don't believe the Democratic operatives, listen to the Republicans.
Just this week, the Republican Party of Florida sent members a letter that declared: "Florida isn't just a battleground state. It's THE battleground state which will determine who wins the White House." ...
Everyone agrees: Florida is ground zero.
But it gets more specific than that.
South Florida is full of Democrats. North Florida is full of Republicans.
That means the true battleground is Central Florida — your backyard.
Yes, the part of the country that brought America Casey Anthony will decide who inhabits the Oval Office.
Oh, but it gets even more specific than that.
Survey after survey shows that most people already have their minds made up. A big segment simply won't vote for Obama. Another big chunk won't vote for any Republican.
So now you have the tiniest of slivers — independent-minded voters … in Florida … who live along the Interstate 4 corridor.
If you are one of those folks, you are very powerful this year.
Desperately seeking vote fraud
"Thousands of foreign citizens — particularly in South Florida — might be registered to vote in Florida and could have unlawfully cast ballots in previous elections."
Over the past year, the Florida Division of Elections has begun identifying potential foreigners on the rolls in coordination with the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, Division of Elections spokesman Chris Cate told The Miami Herald. He said the state has forwarded the names to county elections supervisors, who are in charge of the rolls."State probes possible voting by foreigners in Florida".
One of Scott's top accomplishments flawed
"A state agency issued a memo Tuesday aimed at fixing a flaw in Florida's new auto insurance law, which Gov. Rick Scott has hailed as one of the top accomplishments of the 2012 Florida Legislature. The state's Agency for Health Care Administration said in the three-page memo that it intends to eliminate a six-month gap in eligibility for health care professionals that potentially would allow insurance companies not to pay some personal injury protection (PIP) providers such as doctors, chiropractors, medical schools and dentists." "State issues rule to fix error in new car insurance law".
"May 9 is 'D-Day' for Sarasota Congressman Vern Buchanan"
"May 9 is 'D-Day' for Sarasota Congressman Vern Buchanan. That's the day he finds out if the U.S. House of Representatives Ethics Committee will pursue charges against him. Although the wealthy Republican dodged a bullet on charges he violated federal election laws, regardless of what the Ethics Committee decides, Buchanan faces other severe legal problems."
"We're talking about thousands of fraudulent transactions, thousands," said consumer advocate Duane Overholt."Whistleblowers and former employees say Congressman Vern Buchanan broke the law at his car dealerships".
It's not exactly a glowing endorsement, especially when you're talking about a U.S. representative. Overholt is talking about the car dealerships owned by Buchanan. "How many people would conceive that a U.S. congressman who took an oath to protect the consumer, his voters, would break the law? Well, he had according to the whistle blowers and, according to the documents, he has?"
Overholt has compiled thousands of documents, complaints, and lawsuits filed by former employees and customers. Some of the lawsuits have been settled out of court and some are working their way through the system. Buchanan denies any wrongdoing.
"More political jockeying than a legitimate concern"
The Tampa Bay Times editors: "The dust-up over using state employees to finalize election ballot paperwork for the merit retention of three Florida Supreme Court justices is more political jockeying than a legitimate concern over lawbreaking."
A conservative legislator upset with the court is exploiting the situation by calling for a criminal investigation. In fact, public employees commonly notarize election documents, and a cursory review should suffice. Gov. Rick Scott should not inappropriately politicize the merit retention election in November by overreacting."Lewis, Pariente and Quince are facing organized opposition from Restore Justice 2012. The tea party-backed group denounces the justices as 'activists' because of a 5-2 ruling that removed a misleading constitutional amendment from the 2010 ballot. The amendment purportedly allowed Floridians to escape the requirements of the individual mandate under federal health care reform."
The amendment had been sponsored by state Rep. Scott Plakon, R-Longwood. Plakon seized on the notarizing incident to ask Scott for a law enforcement investigation into whether the justices illegally used state employees for electioneering purposes during working hours. Scott is reportedly considering the request, but he should deny it. ..."Cursory review of three justices' acts will do".
If the governor ordered the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to investigate, the result could be a long, open investigation that puts the justices under an unnecessary cloud and provides campaign fodder for those looking to oust them for political reasons.
Workers fired after forming a union committee
"Hallandale Beach Police say about 100 protesters blocked the west entrance to keep patrons from entering the casino. Police and casino officials warned them they were trespassing. The protesters who refused to leave were arrested. The Herald reports the 10 former workers are union organizers for a local chapter of UNITE HERE. They were fired in November after forming a union leadership committee. Police say the protesters were arrested peacefully." "Police arrest 23 union protesters at Fla. casino".
Bid challenge upheld
"An administrative law judge is siding with the Florida Department of Health's decision to reject all bids for a contract to provide laboratory services to the state's 67 county health departments. In a 33-page recommended order on Monday, F. Scott Boyd of the Division of Administrative Hearings wrote that Laboratory Corporation of America (aka LabCorp) had not met its burden to prove the department had acted improperly when it decided to reject all the bids and restart the procurement process after finding flaws in its solicitation." "Judge sides with Department of Health in contract dispute".
Florida closely behind Mississippi and Texas
"The number of Floridians who have gone without medical care they needed because they couldn't afford it has increased to 1 in 4 over the past decade, according to a study released today."
Florida — where 25.1 percent of residents said they did not have their medical needs met because of cost — ranked third worst in the nation for that category, following closely behind Mississippi and Texas."Cost blocks access to medical care for 1 in 4, study says".
"White supremacists trained with AK-47s, planned for 'inevitable' race war, affidavit says".
Expensive publicity stunts
"Accompanied by staff and security, Gov. Rick Scott and Cabinet members descended on the Florida Keys Monday night, 590 miles from their Tallahassee base. The elected officials are in Marathon, one of the northern Keys, to discuss water quality and emergency management, among other things. It's the second time this year the Cabinet is vacating Tallahassee to interact with citizens around the state, said Lane Wright, a spokesman for the governor's office. These Florida field trips aren't cheap, especially when home is the out-of-the-way Tallahassee, where flights are often expensive and inconvenient." "Florida Cabinet trip to the Keys doesn’t come cheap". Related: "Cabinet in Keys: Gimme shelter plan".
Mini-Mac's "troubling socialite image"?
"In a new attack on his GOP Senate primary opponent, George LeMieux charges — without concrete evidence — that Connie Mack IV doesn't spend much time in Florida and has a 'troubling socialite image.'" "LeMieux lobs unsubstantiated claims at Mack". Related: "GOP Senate Candidates Battle for Position".
"Florida's voter-approved ban in the state Constitution"
The Tampa Bay Times editorial board: "While Vice President Joe Biden made news over the weekend by declaring that he is 'absolutely comfortable' with same-sex marriages, that issue is off the table for now in Florida because of a voter-approved ban in the state Constitution." "Cities and Pinellas should pursue registry for unmarried couples". The Sarasota Herald Tribune editorial board: "States of denial".