"A loose connection between shady politics and voting in Florida"
Robyn E. Blumner: "Here we go again. Another tight presidential election, another Florida voter purge. "
This time Republican Gov. Rick Scott's appointed secretary of state, Ken Detzner, is targeting suspected noncitizens. The purge list, according to a review by the Miami Herald, is heavy with Hispanics, Democrats and independents, who will have to prove their citizenship and fast. Otherwise, they lose their vote."This is part of a pattern."
The process raises uncomfortable comparisons to the Jeb Bush-era error-ridden felon list. That purge list was used to prevent thousands of legitimate voters from casting ballots in the 2000 presidential election — an election decided by 537 votes. ...
Obviously noncitizens don't have the right to vote and shouldn't. But local supervisors of election are wondering about the suspicious timing of this purge and the imperfections in Detzner's list. Already some of the 2,700 noncitizens on the verified purge list are proving to be citizens. Which leads to the question of whether this is a pure effort to clean up the voter rolls or is there an element of suppressing minority votes?
Republicans actively gin up voter fraud claims to justify turning voting into an obstacle course to dissuade Democratic-leaning constituencies. It's what happened in Florida last year when the Legislature used voter fraud as an excuse to cut early voting days and make it harder for renters and college students to vote a regular ballot. The most disgraceful part of the law imposes steep penalties and fines on groups conducting voter registration drives that fail to meet burdensome bureaucratic rules and turn forms in within 48 hours, causing the League of Women Voters to cancel its drive."An odd time to purge voter rolls".
The law so impacted minority voting that the Justice Department is opposing the controversial changes in federal court. Florida has five counties that must receive preclearance under the Voting Rights Act before changes in voting rules go into effect.
Meanwhile, there was no attempt by the Florida Legislature to tighten rules for absentee voting, which is probably the easiest way to produce a fraudulent ballot since there is no way of knowing who fills it out. Maybe this lack of interest stemmed from the fact that absentee voters tend to lean Republican, while early voters typically lean Democrat.
Trust on election issues is something Florida Republicans squandered a long time ago. This ham-handed move against alleged noncitizens is just another example of why.
Marc Caputo reminds us that it is "easy to draw a loose connection between shady politics and voting in Florida — especially in Miami-Dade County. Because it’s election season, loose connections abound."
After all, Miami-Dade is the county where voter fraud marred a 1997 mayoral election. Then, three years later, Miami-Dade shut down a ballot recount amid the so-called “Brooks Brothers riot” of conservative activists."Florida’s voter purge: A drive for accuracy but lots of wild cards".
Also in 2000, the state’s Division of Elections tried to purge the voter rolls of felons and could have blocked thousands of lawful voters in a presidential election decided by 537 votes.
Vern denies he's a crook
Kenric Ward publishes Vern's version of the latest allegations: "Democrats' Smoking Gun Misfires on Rep. Vern Buchanan".
Local government carving out room for Tallahassee lobbyists
"In total, millions of dollars in public funds are spent statewide to influence decisionmakers in Tallahassee. A Times/Herald analysis of lobbyist compensation reports for the first three months of 2012 shows that spending by local agencies will fall somewhere between $3.1 million and $9.2 million. (Lobbyists are required to provide only ranges of their compensation.)" "To get a voice in Tallahassee, local governments pay lobbyists".
Chamber's "Pants on Fire!"
"The chamber is trying to scare the pants off Florida seniors in this one, but this statement is Pants on Fire!" "PolitiFact: Chamber Medicare claims twist the truth".
"Modern-day slavery does still exist"
Bill Maxwell: "The fields, where slavery endures".
"The shocking case of Marissa Alexander"
Nancy Smith: "The shocking case of Marissa Alexander of Jacksonville gives the state the perfect excuse to go beyond "Stand Your Ground" and poke around in the controversial, 12-year-old 10-20-Life law. Talk about a law that needs tweaking." "Please, Governor, Clemency for Marissa Alexander". Related: "Chris Smith: Battered Women Not Protected by 'Stand Your Ground'".
"Florida Ports Wrongly Seen as Threat"
"Florida Ports Wrongly Seen as Threat to West Coast Trade".
"Nebulous gap between public and private employment"
"When it comes to negotiating for better pay and working conditions, the firefighters who protect Walt Disney World say they fall in a nebulous gap between public and private employment."
As public workers, the firefighters, who are employed by the Reedy Creek Improvement District, are forbidden by Florida law from striking. But appealing directly to elected leaders or the general public isn't much of an option, either, because Reedy Creek elections are decided entirely by Disney."Reedy Creek firefighters at Disney World want end to ban on picketing".
Now, they are trying to gain a little leverage in another way.
"Florida simply isn't doing enough"
"[M]any child advocates say the state's children are still struggling to keep from falling through the cracks in the state's education, health-care and public-safety systems, and that Florida simply isn't doing enough." "Scott's pro-child gestures lack follow-up, advocates say".
"A strategy that included direct pressure on Crist"
"Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp — not George LeMieux — was Gov. Charlie Crist's first choice for a U.S. Senate appointment in 2009."
But LeMieux convinced Crist to reverse that decision, using "a strategy that included direct pressure on Crist,'' says former state Republican Party Chairman Jim Greer in an account partially confirmed by Kottkamp."Did LeMieux pressure Crist to get Senate seat?"
Greer, now facing criminal charges in a party fundraising scandal, said he knows what the pressure involved, but wouldn't describe it. "There's a lot more to this story that someday may be told, but I'm not ready yet to tell it," he said.
"The Republican convention will be held in late August in Tampa. The Democratic convention will be in Charlotte, N.C., in early September." "Senator wants parties to refund convention money".
Scott disrupting state's relationship with election supervisors
"Recent actions by Florida's secretary of state and his Division of Elections staff have left county elections supervisors smarting."
Last month, Secretary of State Ken Detzner released, then backed away from, the results of a self-survey that graded the 67 supervisors based on items ranging from how quickly they submitted January presidential primary results to how fast they turned in the survey questionnaires."Florida's election chiefs stung by state moves".
A few weeks later, Detzner's office released a list of 2,600 names it wanted scrubbed from the voting rolls, contending the voters in question were not citizens. But supervisors have found the list included the names of some U.S.-born voters and naturalized citizens. ... the supervisors had voted in favor of continuing to work with Detzner's office on the survey, the brainchild of Republican Gov. Rick Scott and his advisers. ...
But some were still simmering. One supervisor, a Republican, threatened to quit the association over the vote.
Those objecting to the survey contend that, with the exception of Miami-Dade County's supervisor, the county elections chiefs are constitutional officers elected by voters and do not answer to the governor. Some said they believe the survey was designed to shame certain supervisors, including Susan Bucher of Palm Beach County.
In the November 2010 gubernatorial election, a delay in the Palm Beach County results, long after the rest of the state's tallies were in, left Scott in limbo overnight. He eventually claimed victory in Florida's closest governor's race, winning by fewer than 61,000 votes.
This year, for the first time, elections officials will be required to submit preliminary results to the state within 30 minutes of polls closing on election night.
"Tampa Bay the most financially stressed metropolitan region in the nation"
The Tampa Bay Times editorial board: "A recent survey by the Consumer Distress Index measuring unemployment, net worth, creditworthiness and household budget constraints lists Tampa Bay as the most financially stressed metropolitan region in the nation."
Tampa Bay even beat out Detroit on the distressed meter. Detroit? Adding to the stress, Tampa Bay also leads the country in foreclosures, according to RealtyTrac. Last month, notices for auctions and bank repossessions in Tampa Bay reached a whopping 59 percent of the 4,295 filings. Nationally, Florida ranks as the fifth most economically distressed state. California, for all its woes, is only 14th. ..."If Florida has a cold, California has the flu".
Like the Golden State, the Sunshine State has a diverse population, Mickey Mouse, the beaches — and plenty of challenges ranging from the budget crunch to higher education to a depressed real estate market. On a brighter note, Florida's unemployment rate has dropped to 8.7 percent, whatever that means since the state still lost 2,700 jobs in April. California's unemployment rate is 10.9 percent, well above the national average of 8.1 percent, and lost 4,200 jobs in April.