The Miami Herald: "Florida election supervisors, at their annual convention in Tampa this week, find themselves focusing once again on a familiar and troubling issue: the accuracy and reliability of the state voter registration database."
It’s not a problem of their making, and that only adds to their frustration."Non-citizen voter database flawed, say elections officials". See also "Elections supervisors question noncitizen voter list". Background: "Hispanics, NPAs more likely to face noncitizen voter purge than whites, GOP" ("state’s quest to get rid of noncitizens voters this election year has turned up 180,000 hits — but it incidentally targets minorities and Democrats while giving white Republicans a pass.")
As the elections officials convene, they are simultaneously seeking to verify the legal status of about 2,700 voters who were red-flagged by the state motor vehicle agency as non-U.S. citizens and thus ineligible to vote. Problem is, some of those can legally vote.
Scott's Spanish junket
"Gov. Rick Scott is off to Spain this weekend, leading a four-day business development mission that will also include a meeting with King Juan Carlos and a whiff of Florida's upcoming quincentennial celebrations. Scott will be joined on the trip by first lady Ann Scott, three staffers from their offices, along with more than 60 officials from various government offices and private businesses on the excursion, focused on increasing opportunities for companies from Spain -- Florida’s 34th largest trading partner -- to invest, grow and create jobs in Florida." "Rick Scott Takes Business Development Road Show to Spain this Weekend".
Hollingsworth - The best Scott could do?
"Sixteen months into the job, Gov. Rick Scott is welcoming his third chief-of-staff in what even allies Monday said began looking like a 'Goldilocks' approach toward running the state's top executive office." "New engineer for Gov. Scott's train; Can Hollingsworth put the gov on track to popularity?"
Bill Cotterell: "Hollingsworth is not a Capitol insider, but knows his way around Tallahassee. He has handled public relations and lobbying for CSX Corp., was appointed by Scott to the Florida Republican Executive Committee and served as staff chief to former Jacksonville Mayor John Peyton. In that role, he oversaw elimination of about 700 non-police jobs and a restructuring of agencies in the big port city."
Hollingsworth heads Parallel Infrastructure LLC, the right-of-way division of the Jacksonville real estate firm Flagler Development Group. As Peyton's right hand, he managed the mayor's daily operations, policy agenda and relations with municipal entities."Scott's new staff chief brings political, lobbying experience".
He left city hall in 2010 to help in Scott's campaign and was credited with helping the "outsider" patch things up with the Republican Party of Florida leadership, which had backed then-Attorney General Bill McCollum for governor in the primary. Hollingsworth also advised Scott's transition team after the general election.
Asked whether he plans to stay on the GOP state executive committee, Hollingsworth said, "That's a decision the governor will consider."
"Veterans Choose Obama Over Romney"
"The veteran vote in the 2012 election is trending toward Barack Obama. A new Reuters/Ipsos poll found that Obama would beat Mitt Romney by as much as seven percentage points in November." "Here's A Shocker: Veterans Choose Obama Over Romney".
The Week Ahead
"The Week Ahead for May 14 to May 18".
Florida's universities among the best in the nation?
Lloyd Brown - former speech writer for Jeb Bush - writes that former mayor of Jacksonville John Delaney, who is now (miraculously) the University of North Florida president, says that the "United States has the best universities in the world, [and he actually believes that] Florida is among the best in the nation, despite cutbacks and being well below the average in spending per student." "Higher Education Task Force Shouldn't Focus Only on Money".
Made in Florida
"George Zimmerman's gun: 9 mm from Cocoa is small, lethal".
Super PAC hits Florida
"A super PAC supporting President Barack Obama is airing a new ad in five states questioning Republican Mitt Romney's commitment to workers. Priorities USA Action is airing the ad in Colorado, Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia. It comes a day after the Obama campaign released a similar ad attacking Romney's past role as head of private equity firm Bain Capital." "Pro-Obama ad backs up case against Romney".
Media does "as ordered by" the Chamber of Commerce
"Seeking to extinguish an issue that burned Democrats in the last congressional elections, Sen. Bill Nelson today asked Florida TV stations to stop running a U.S. Chamber of Commerce ad that says Nelson's 2010 vote for the federal health care law will hit seniors with $500 billion in Medicare cuts."
A letter from Nelson attorney Kendall Coffey says the new ads are untrue and stations have "a duty to protect the public from the spread of false information and deliberate deception.""Sen. Bill Nelson: Business group ad is 'deliberate deception'".
In Palm Beach County, WPTV Channel 5 rejected Nelson's plea.
"We reviewed the content of the letter and determined that we will continue to air the spot as ordered by the client," [(an unfortunate double entendre if there ever was one)] said WPTV Vice President and General Manager Steve Wasserman.
Two-term Democrat Nelson is up for reelection this year. U.S. Rep. Connie Mack and former appointed Sen. George LeMieux are the leading Republican contenders to face him in November.
The health care law is unpopular in Florida, with 53 percent of Sunshine State voters favoring its repeal in a recent Quinnipiac University poll.
Republican claims that the law will cut Medicare have been called "misleading" by the nonpartisan FactCheck.org.
Another fine Jebacy
"Panicked state education officials will hold emergency talks Tuesday after early results show that about two-thirds of Florida students failed this year's tougher new writing portion of the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test. Locally, at least one superintendent called for an audit of the results and scoring procedures, arguing that it is not possible the scores dropped so precipitously in one year. ... The 45-minute test is scored by two readers from Pearson, a testing firm."
"These results raise serious and important questions about the validity of these scores," [Manatee County Superintendent Tim] McGonegal said. "Why did we have a 54 percent drop? It's not the kid. It's not the teacher. It's something to do with the scoring that Pearson has done.""State FCAT writing scores plummet". See also "FCAT writing scores are a 'disaster'; educators stunned".
Here's a solution - lower the passing grade
Michael Peltier: "In the short term, the [State Board of Education] is proposing to lower the passing threshold from 4.0 to 3.5 -- a reduction that would dramatically increase the number of students having passing scores, but the number would still be significantly less than the 2011 scores." "FCAT Writing Scores Plummet, Force Question: What to Do?" See also "State officials rush to change standards for FCAT after writing scores plunge".
Meanwhile, back at the ranch: "State schools chief Gerard Robinson defends FCAT".
Where does mini-Mack live?
"LeMieux supporters in the Legislature, including two state senators who face term limits -- Paula Dockery, R-Lakeland, and Steve Wise, R-Jacksonville -- and five Republicans in the Florida House: Dennis Baxley of Ocala, Rachel Burgin of Riverview, Larry Metz of Yalaha, Jimmie Smith of Lecanto and Ritch Workman of Melbourne -- sent a letter to Mack demanding he release his travel records. The LeMieux team has looked to score political points by insisting that Mack has more ties to California -- home of his wife, U.S. Rep. Mary Bono Mack -- than he does with the Sunshine State." "GOP Senate Hopefuls Continue to Clash as Primary Enters Last Three Months". Related: "Water records suggest Mack comes home to Florida — sometimes".
"All about Steve"
Daniel Ruth: "This is always the kiss of death. Just a few days ago, Gov. Rick Scott took time out from his hectic schedule of reducing state government to the size of a food truck to praise his chief of staff, Steve MacNamara, who learned the art of executive management from Tony Soprano."
Scott pledged his unshakable loyalty to MacNamara. He said his bureaucratic knee-capper was doing a great job and lashed out at the Tallahassee press corps for being "mean" to the chief of staff. ..."All about Steve: He did himself in".
There is that old adage in journalism about blaming the messenger for the message. The news media didn't hound MacNamara out of office. Reporters merely pointed out that the governor had hired one of Tallahassee's most inside of insiders to provide a tutorial on how to wield power and help lobbyists.
It is always one of the more entertaining Kabuki dances in political life to watch a governor or president confronted with the chicanery of an underling.
Mean? How mean was it for MacNamara to engineer the ouster of the state's film commissioner to make room for the daughter of a friend?
Interfering? How many state agency heads found themselves coming to work and essentially discovering a hologram of MacNamara sitting at their desks?
For a guy who has spent the better part of his adult life manipulating the levers of power in Tallahassee, MacNamara failed to grasp one of politics' most essential truths.
Sooner or later, if you mug enough people, it's all going to come back to haunt you. And when the governor promises he has your back, it's only to better position the knife.
The Miami Herald editorial board: "Miami-Dade must balance protection of natural resources with economic-development goal". "Don’t abandon the environment".
Miami to Orlando train proposal
"A Coral Gables development company expects to have a study completed next month that could determine whether it builds a privately funded $1 billion train linking Miami with Orlando. If the ridership study finds enough demand, Florida East Coast Industries could begin construction next year, Husein Cumber, executive vice president of Florida East Coast Railway, an affiliate of FECI, said Monday." "Miami to Orlando train proposal rolling down the planning tracks".
"Executive office of the governor is a mess"
The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "Rick Scott campaigned as a CEO type who would turn around that floundering enterprise known as state government. After 16 months of Rick Scott, the executive office of the governor is a mess."
On Saturday, chief of staff Steve MacNamara resigned, following multiple reports by Mary Ellen Klas of The Miami Herald/Tampa Bay Times Tallahassee Bureau that he had used the office to help his friends and punish those who annoyed his friends, while injecting himself into aspects of state government outside of his authority. Mr. MacNamara had been recruited 10 months ago as the Tallahassee insider - staffer to legislative leaders, lobbyist - Gov. Scott needed after first surrounding himself with aides who had worked on his national campaign to oppose President Obama's health care reform but knew nothing about Florida and state issues."Shake-ups shaking Florida".
Barely a week ago, Gov. Scott had said Mr. MacNamara was "doing a great job." Now, the governor will start over with a third chief of staff, Adam Hollingsworth. Mr. MacNamara's cover story is that media distractions are forcing him to leave early; he was to depart at the end of the year. No cover story, though, can change the image of a governor who is trying to remake Florida at a time when he can't even manage his own department.
Statewide email consolidation
"Scott vetoed a measure that would have eliminated the statute calling for statewide email consolidation, but there is still language in the budget that blocks new money going to the project. That means the state will either have to work out an arrangement to keep the system in place for more than 5,000 employees who have already been moved into the new system, or begin moving them out." "State may need to start undoing email consolidation".
Is Scott returning to his Fla-Bagger roots?
Lloyd Dunkelberger: "Here are four questions in the wake of the resignation of Gov. Rick Scott’s chief of staff Steve MacNamara, who will step down on July 1. He will be replaced by Adam Hollingsworth, a former chief of staff to a Jacksonville mayor and a key campaign adviser during Scott’s 2010 election."
1. Does this mean Scott is returning to his Tea Party roots, which spurred his run as an outsider lambasting the “dealmakers” of Tallahassee?Dunkelberger's answers here: "Key questions following resignation of Scott's chief of staff".
MacNamara’s résumé made him the ultimate Tallahassee insider. In fact, MacNamara’s departure was hastened by criticism that his past relationships were unduly influencing administration policy, particularly among the governor’s numerous agencies.
On the surface, the appointment of Hollingsworth, who was part of Scott’s anti-Tallahassee campaign, may signal an effort by Scott to re-center his administration.
But Scott, like all governors, is finding campaign promises are not always so easy to achieve. His record has been a mixed bag when it comes to curbing state government.
He amplified his Tea Party connection last year by killing the federal high-speed rail system for Florida. But at the same time, he approved the SunRail system for Central Florida, which may prove to be a costly venture. ...
2. Will MacNamara’s departure hurt Scott’s relationship with the Legislature?
3. Will Scott take a more contentious stand with the media?
4. How does MacNamara’s departure impact Scott’s re-election plans?
"Manatee approves all-girls charter school".
GOP plan: dumb 'em down and get them to the polls
"Florida is among eight key states targeted by Crossroads Generation, a new venture to sway the youth vote to the GOP."
Crossroads is an effort from the College Republican National Committee, Young Republican National Federation, Republican State Leadership Committee and American Crossroads. ..."GOP Super-PAC Aims to Educate Youth Vote in Florida".
In the last three general elections -- 2004, 2006, and 2008 -- young voters have given the Democratic Party a majority of their votes, and for all three cycles they have been the party's most supportive age group, according to the Pew Research Center.