"Adam Putnam — former congressman, current commissioner of agriculture and widely viewed as the future of Florida politics — became a very rich man in 2005 when taxpayers spent $25.5 million on 2,042 acres of his family’s ranch that had been valued at $5.5 million a year earlier, The Palm Beach Post has learned."
The South Florida Water Management District needed only 600 acres of the ranch in Highlands County for environmental purposes. But it bought all 2,042 acres and did it in a way that arranged for the Putnams a lucrative tax break, while allowing the family to continue grazing cattle on the land rent-free until the district needed the land. After paying the family’s attorney $3.9 million in legal fees, the total deal cost taxpayers nearly $30 million."Seven years later the district has used only 150 acres and has no plans for the rest. The Putnam cattle graze on, courtesy of Florida taxpayers."
Putnam, a congressman at the time of the deal, said he was careful to not involve himself in it to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest. Congressional ethics rules do not bar such real estate transactions as long as Putnam did not use his position to sweeten the deal. Records show Putnam was not on any committees that would have allowed him to do so."Ex-congressman got millions in land deal".
Rubio's VP prospects gaining momentum
"An ABC News poll released Friday found that unlike other top-mentioned picks — Jeb Bush and Ohio Sen. Rob Portman — more Americans view Rubio favorably than unfavorably." "Rubio's prospects as Romney running mate gaining momentum".
Scott's poll numbers hit bottom
"Only 31 percent of Florida voters approve of Scott's performance and 56 percent disapprove. And this is stunning: 86 percent of voters don't know enough about Broward County state Sen. Nan Rich to have an opinion about her — the only Democrat already announced for the 2014 race — but she still would overwhelmingly beat Scott today, 47 percent to 35 percent." "Scott scraping bottom".
"Incessant head-pounding barrage of mindless negativity"
Fred Grimm: "The political noise over these next five months will be like nothing before in American history, an incessant head-pounding barrage of mindless negativity and underhanded advertising blaring from your televisions, packing your mailboxes, interrupting your evening with robocalls. By November, our collective heads will be ready to explode. The only surviving sentiment will be anger. Voting, by Election Day, will become less about democracy and more about retribution." "The political season of our discontent".
Romney leads in Florida by whopping 0.2%
"Floridians, brace yourselves. The average of recent polls compiled by RealClearPolitics shows Romney leading in the country's biggest battleground state by a whopping 0.2 percentage points — 46.2 percent for Romney and 46 percent for Barack Obama."
Partisans can choose their preferred poll from last week. Democratic PPP's May 31-June 2 poll (margin of error plus or minus 3.9 percentage points) found Obama leading in Florida 49 percent to 46 percent. The president was leading among women by 18 points, among Hispanics by 25 points, and among independents by 8 points."Take your pick".
Meanwhile, the May 31 through June 5 bipartisan Purple Strategies poll of Florida (margin of error plus or minus 4 percentage points) found Romney leading Florida 49 percent to 45 percent. It showed Romney leading among independent voters 54 to 34, and among women 48 to 46.
"A Herald/Times review of voter information from Florida’s largest counties, however, has identified only six noncitizens as having voted". "Busted: The 6 Florida voters who shouldn’t have". See also "Scott administration says 86 non-citizens removed from voting rolls since purge started".
Hastings in a laffer
"Veteran anti-abortion activist Randall Terry launches no-party challenge to Rep. Alcee Hastings".
Young GOPers don't like Mini-Mack
"Fla Young Repubs straw poll: LeMieux 70%, Mack 19%, Weldon 9%".
"Jeb!" sycophant can't give it up
Myriam Marquez, who once compared "Jeb!" to JFK, with "vision" as clear and electrifying as th[e] day's cobalt-blue sky", tells us yet again how amazing "Jeb!" is: "Jeb’s ‘grand bargain’ a lesson for GOP".
Land "bank" scandal
"An attempt by investors to start an environmental-land 'bank' in Florida, a business initially valued at more than $100 million that would profit by replacing wetlands destroyed by developers, has left in its wake three state officials forced to resign or suspended after they objected to the project."
Most recently, wetlands expert Connie Bersok at the Florida Department of Environmental Protection was suspended after writing a memo that stated her "refusal to recommend" the project because it could result in a net loss of wetlands statewide and set a harmful precedent."Land 'bank' tests Florida's scaled-back environmental oversight".
A DEP spokeswoman denied that Bersok was suspended because of the memo, saying the highly rated veteran was investigated for failing to report for work one day and for leaking information about the project to outsiders. Described in her most-recent job evaluation as "a model representative of the Department," Bersok was cleared of the allegations and returned to her post last week, though the spokeswoman refused to allow her to be interviewed.
Akili Moncrief, a former DEP lawyer who is now director of the Environment Florida Research & Policy Center in Tallahassee, said the suspension, which began two days after Bersok sent her memo, was based on "trumped-up" charges meant to punish her for protecting the environment against the actions of top officials appointed by Gov. Rick Scott.
"This is all part and parcel of their plan to grease the wheels for business interests at the expense of the public and Florida's wetlands," Moncrief said.
The focus of the controversy is 1,575 acres of rural land in Clay County that was acquired in 2008 by investors who paid $15 million for 1,800 acres altogether, according to state records.
A 2007 project summary sent by a Jacksonville developer to a private-equity firm, the Carlyle Group, said the land could be worth $116 million as a wetlands "mitigation" bank, according to court documents obtained by the Orlando Sentinel.
A mitigation bank is land that undergoes an environmental rejuvenation as compensation for developers' destruction of wetlands somewhere else. The business is financed by the sale of state-sanctioned credits to developers; the developers use the credits to obtain state permission to drain and pave wetlands at other sites, while the mitigation-bank operator uses some of the income from selling credits to restore part of its property to its natural state, keeping the rest as profit.
"Central Florida 'pastor' hangs Obama effigy"
"Report: Central Florida 'pastor' hangs Obama effigy outside his 'church'". See also "Terry Jones questioned by Secret Service for hanging Obama effigy".
Nelson biding his time
"While U.S. Rep. Connie Mack IV battles Republican primary opponents and conservative organizations spend millions of dollars on issues ads in Florida's U.S. Senate race this spring, their ultimate target is biding his time. U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, a two-term Democratic incumbent, spoke to a Hispanic Business Conference in Orlando on Friday — and never mentioned his re-election, his GOP opponents or the attack commercials that have blistered him on Florida TV for weeks." "In U.S. Senate race, GOP rivals accuse Nelson of campaigning at taxpayer expense".
"Florida Legislature's version of 'fair'"
Scott Maxwell: "As most Floridians know, the fight for Fair Districts wasn't easy. Politicians battled them every step of the way. But the people prevailed. Fair Districts were enacted. And now we are supposed to have legislative and congressional districts that are fair, compact and sensible."
So are they? ..."You call this fair? New districts are still gerrymandered".
Of course not.
This, my friends, is the Florida Legislature's version of "fair" … and it's anything but.
When the politicians couldn't overturn your vote, they ignored it.
"Growing backlash against standardized testing in Florida"
"A growing backlash against standardized testing in Florida could reach an important crossroads this week in Tampa when the Florida School Boards Association takes up the issue." "Fact check: FCAT backlash grows but some claims about test don't hold up".
"Florida's seedy voting rights reputation"
The Orlando Sentinel editorial board: "The state that stirred up an electoral hornet's nest 12 years ago this time is abuzz over Gov. Rick Scott's crusade to purge ineligible voters. Scott insists the measures are meant to ensure fairness and curb fraud. We'd have an easier time believing the governor if it weren't for Florida's seedy voting rights reputation, cemented in the national consciousness by hanging chads."
More recently, we've yet to hear a believable explanation for last year's law that cut back early voting days and scared off voter registration groups."Vetting voter rolls is right move, wrong time".
Crist says claim he is gay are "delusional lies"
"Former Florida Governor Charlie Crist has responded to allegations that he paid two men to conceal gay affairs. Crist told WTSP of Tampa Bay the charges -- revealed in documents relating to the investigation of former Republican Party of Florida Chairman Jim Greer -- are 'a bunch of delusional lies.'" "Charlie Crist Responds To Allegations Of Gay Affairs Revealed In Jim Greer Investigation ". See also "Allegations about Crist".
Rubio hood ornament strategy could backfire
"Republicans hope Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) can help them reach out to Hispanic voters but any debate on immigration reform could end up alienating the bloc they are courting."
Groups that want to stem the flow of illegal immigration say a bill Rubio has crafted could become a vehicle for other proposals, such as legislation requiring employers to verify the immigration status of workers and revoking birthright citizenship."Rubio's effort to reach Hispanics could backfire on Senate floor".
Votes on these controversial proposals could hurt Republicans with Hispanic voters but may also rally the GOP base, which wants the federal government to do more to combat illegal immigration.
Rubio will soon unveil a plan to grant legal residency to illegal immigrants who came to the country as children if they meet certain requirements. It would serve as an alternative to the Democrats’ DREAM Act, which grants a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. at a young age.
“I suspect it will become a vehicle for all sorts of amendments,” said Ira Mehlman, spokesman for the Federation for American Immigration Reform, in reference to Rubio’s bill.
Rubio said he is waiting to get “final figures from the Congressional Budget Office” about how much the bill would cost and how many immigrants it would affect.
He believes many Democrats would vote for his legislation, which will put pressure on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to schedule a vote.
Rep. Luis Gutierrez (Ill.), a leading Democratic proponent of immigration reform, predicted last month that as many as 95 percent of Democrats could support Rubio’s bill if it “stops the deportations and is sensible and reasonable,” according to Talking Points Memo, a digital news organization.
Rubio’s bill could give a small group of conservative colleagues a chance to force a vote on ending birthright citizenship.
Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) has sponsored the Birthright Citizenship Act, which would amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to consider a person born in the U.S. a citizen only if his or her parent is a U.S. citizen, a lawful permanent resident or an alien serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.
Republican Sens. John Boozman (Ark.), Mike Lee (Utah), Jerry Moran (Kan.) and Rand Paul (Ky.) have co-sponsored Vitter’s bill.
Vitter’s proposal would draw support from other Republicans if it reached the Senate floor.
"Politically motivated actions are crippling Florida’s future"
The Miami Herald editorial board write that, "when our elected leaders get their mitts on taxpayers’ money, it’s waste, waste, waste. Ultimately, their politically motivated actions are crippling Florida’s future."
The Government Efficiency Task Force, created by state Constitution and appointed by the governor, convenes every four years to study how the state can save money. It again has dug deep and found the state is neither acting responsibly on residents’ behalf nor is it intent on creating a Florida that can compete.But there’s also an aggravating subtext: Lawmakers lack the political will to do what’s best for Florida, caving in to special interests that grease their political campaigns; often seeking to protect their turf even if the bottom line means more costs for taxpayers; and looking to bolster their own political longevity at any cost.
Lawmakers have hamstrung the Department of Management Services, barring it from seeking competitive bids for legal, health and education services, and substance-abuse and mental-health contracts. These ridiculous exemptions waste the public’s money, but no doubt keep lots of politicians’ cronies on the gravy train."Invest in Florida’s future".
And few in the Republican-controlled Legislature have the backbone to suggest that Florida sends too many low-level offenders to prison for too long, and that it costs too much money — $19,000 a year — to house them. Rather than be branded “soft on crime” come reelection time, lawmakers continue to make a fiscally boneheaded decision to withhold jobs-skills classes. That serves only to usher many felons back to criminal activity when they are release
Stephen Goldstein: "Exceptionalism? More like hypocrisy".
South Florida's 5 hottest races
"Here are South Florida's 5 hottest election races". Meanwhile, "Voters won't have say in key local races".
Wind farms don't mix with birds
"A proposal to build a wind farm in Palm Beach County, Florida’s first, is creating a stir. ... The site, 13,000 acres of private sugar land between Lake Okeechobee and the Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge, is located in the main flight path for North American migratory birds. And that has led to opposition from an unlikely source: the nature-loving local Audubon and Sierra Club chapters." "Florida wind farm’s antagonists: environmentalists".