"Two weeks after Florida defied a U.S. Department of Justice order to stop trying to purge as many as 182,000 people it suspects are non-citizens from voter rolls, the state and U.S. governments both fired the legal equivalent of live rounds Monday."
The Justice Department said it will sue Florida in federal court for violating two federal laws that prevent states from suppressing voters. The state will be subject to "enforcement action," the agency said in a curtly worded letter. Hours earlier, Florida filed a lawsuit of its own against the federal government. Secretary of State Ken Detzner, who oversees elections, sued the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, accusing the agency of denying access to a federal database with information about immigrants. The lawsuit claims the federal agency forced the state to run afoul of at least one of the two federal voting laws the Justice Department accuses it of flouting."The lawsuits set in motion a formal legal battle between the state and federal governments and could unleash a protracted and politicized struggle between Florida and outside advocacy groups. The conflict will almost certainly restore the glare of national attention on a state elections apparatus disgraced for its role in the 2000 presidential election." "Rick Scott: Florida Suing Federal Government Over Voter Purge".
See also "Florida, Justice Department both sue over voter purge", "Justice sues Florida over voter purge", "Feds, Florida in dueling lawsuits over voter purge", "Federal government, Florida trade lawsuits over voter purge" and "Florida and feds sue each other over noncitizen purge controversy".
A good question
When, if ever, will an intrepid political reporter ask Mitt Romney if agrees or disagrees with Rick Scott's voter purge and related actions?
"Florida is defying federal law and jeopardizing the voting rights"
The Tampa Bay Times editorial board says "There is no debate about this:"
The Republican governor appears determined to systematically suppress the vote of Democrats, minorities and low-income Floridians who don't support him or his narrow-minded policies."Don't be fooled by the governor, who has transformed his assault on voters' rights into a political assault on President Barack Obama."
Scott whipped up a tea party rally Sunday in Tallahassee and urged supporters to demand that the Obama administration provide access to a Department of Homeland Security program that checks various federal databases. That inspired a tea party leader to warn that Democrats have been known to steal elections. The governor's rhetoric about illegal voting and noncitizens is stirring up his support among conservative, predominately white groups for a purge of voters who are disproportionately minority and poor. Florida deserves better leadership than that.
"Behind rhetoric, voter suppression".
Despite Scott's attempt to deflect blame for this fiasco from his administration to Obama's, there is no evidence that the Homeland Security system is the magic solution for Florida's problem. ...
The issue is that the governor of Florida is defying federal law and jeopardizing the voting rights of U.S. citizens.
TeaBaggers go for Mini-Mack
"FreedomWorks, a national tea party organization, is wading into Florida's U.S. Senate race with a strong call to support U.S. Rep. Connie Mack's bid to knock off Democrat Bill Nelson."
Oh, the horror:
FreedomWorks found that of 158 bills co-sponsored by LeMieux, 88 were authored by Democrats.
"FreedomWorks' Tea Party Stirs Senate Race for Connie Mack".
LeMieux even co-sponsored 11 bills with Nelson, and his voting patterns most closely mirrored Graham's, considered, at best, a middle-of-the-road Republican by conservatives, and Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Neb.
State files brief in FRS case
The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "In a brief filed with the Florida Supreme Court, the state's lawyers contend Leon County Circuit Judge Jackie Fulford erred in her interpretation of a 1981 opinion when she struck down 2011 laws that reduced cost-of-living adjustments in the Florida Retirement System and required employees to contribute 3 percent of their salaries toward their retirement." "State pushes back against lower court ruling on pensions".
Rubio drooling for Veep
"Marco Rubio insists that he has no desire to be Mitt Romney’s running mate but he is taking on one of the main roles of the vice presidential candidate -- that of attack dog." "Marco Rubio Shows He Can Fill One VP Role -- Attacking Obama".
GOPers fight to replace Wise
Kevin Derby: "The battle for the Florida state Senate seat currently held by term-limited Sen. Steve Wise, R-Jacksonville, is heating up as the two leading Republicans in the race unveiled major endorsements on Monday." "First Coast Republicans Take Sides in State Senate Primary".
Heck, why not a Beer Lobbyist?
"Frank Brogan: UF Shouldn't Limit President Search to Academic World".
Industry groups insist they have the right to pollute
"The Florida Department of Environmental Protection wrapped up a series of workshops across the state on Monday. Some industry groups are concerned that the sharp reductions to meet a goal for mercury levels in waterways will be applied to industrial pollution permits." "Reducing mercury in fish will require sharp reductions in pollution, DEP says".
The Week Ahead
"The Week Ahead for June 11 to June 15".
Big of 'em
"Don’t expect a state university seeking the maximum 15 percent tuition hike to get the full request, State University System Chancellor Frank Brogan said Monday." "Frank Brogan: Don't Expect Those Big Tuition Hikes". See also "Higher education task force hears raising tuition could be tough".
"Salacious saga of defrocked Florida Republican Party chairman"
Daniel Ruth asks: "Ultimately, brothers and sisters, what should we take away from the salacious saga of defrocked Florida Republican Party chairman Jim Greer — who turned his stewardship of the state GOP into one big, fat Bacchus feast of expense accounts — begging for mercy?"
There are probably many lessons. For example, it is probably a good idea before you hire someone for a fancy-pants political job like state party chairman to subject them to a vetting process more vigorous than holding a mirror under his nose.
"As the former deputy mayor of Oviedo, Greer was plucked from anonymity to run the state party. Now he faces numerous felony charges stemming from his time as state chairman, including allegations he schemed to divert $200,000 in party funds to a fundraising company he created."
Because former Gov. Charlie Crist, along with other party mandarins, asserted less due diligence than picking a head of lettuce before settling on Greer, the former chairman's upcoming corruption trial risks being turned into a Bravo Network reality show.
But what could be viewed as a fairly simple, run-of-the-mill case of greed has evolved into much more. Greer has argued that highly placed party officials such as Crist, state Sen. John Thrasher, House Speaker Dean Cannon, Senate President Mike Haridopolos and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio were all aware of what he was doing and nobody raised a peep of protest.
"Bile and trial for Florida's GOP".
So Greer's scheduled trial next month could easily result in some potentially embarrassing moments for the state's most prominent politicians. Memo to Greer: Elevator shafts — avoid them.
Virtually no participants would be able to afford the premiums
The Florida Center for Fiscal and Economic Policy: "The Medically Needy component of the Medicaid program provides short-term coverage to Floridians who are over income for regular Medicaid but have catastrophic medical expenses."
On April 26, the state requested federal permission to require, for the first time, that all Medically Needy participants enroll in a managed care plan and pay monthly premiums, purportedly to ensure their access to continuous coverage. However, failure to pay those premiums, which could absorb up to 90 percent of a participant's household income, would end their eligibility for Medicaid altogether.
"Changes to Medically Needy Program Will Push Most Out of Coverage". Here's the Florida Center for Fiscal and Economic Policy report (.pdf)".
Virtually no Medically Needy participants would be able to afford the premiums, and the inevitable result would be loss of access to Medicaid and harm to hundreds of thousands of the most vulnerable Floridians.
"Apathy over protecting seniors"
The Sun Sentinel editorial board: "Apathy over protecting seniors has gotten old".
"Plan to grease the wheels for business interests at the expense of wetlands"
"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.
"3 Florida officials out in wake of environmental land 'bank' controversy".
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.
Joe Henderson: "You may have believed we heard the last of Florida Polytechnic when it was hijacked – uh, given its independence – from the University of South Florida. You may have even wished for that, figuring if an independent Poly was the price for never hearing the name of JD Alexander again, so be it."
Somehow you knew better though, didn't you? And so it is that the state may stop construction on the new Poly campus in Lakeland, which could leave everything about the fledgling university's future in limbo.
"Latest Poly twist shows need for open discussion".
So here we go again. The landowner who donated 530 acres in Lakeland to be the site of the Poly campus threw in a surprise caveat. Well, we think it was a surprise, since it only came to light last Friday.
The Williams Acquisition Holding Co. may want a "reverter clause" in the deal that would allow it to retain control of the property if the state builds anything there that isn't university-related. If the Board of Governors finds that too restrictive, and it should, work on the $100 million campus might stop.
Even by the bizarre standards of Poly's twists and turns, you may find yourself at this point mumbling, "Whaaaat?"
If construction in Lakeland stops, where would the campus go? Independent Florida Poly is a reality and needs a home.
At least one conspiracy theory has the campus eventually moving to land south of Lakeland, along the path of the proposed Heartland Parkway, which happens to be a pet project of …
Wait for it …
Beth Kassab: "When people talk about the evils of Florida's FCAT, what they're really talking about is the obsessive, over-the-top, irrational focus on the standardized test that's known as 'FCAT frenzy.'" "Obsessive focus on FCAT gives test system a bad name".
"Nearly one in four Florida children lives below the federal poverty line"
"The number of Florida's children living in poverty swelled 35 percent from 2006 to 2010 — an increase that especially hurt black and Hispanic youth — a new report shows. Using the most recent statistics available, the report found that nearly one in every four Florida children, or about 924,000 collectively, now lives below the federal poverty line. Two-thirds of black children live in families classified as low-income, meaning they earn less than $44,100 a year for a family of four." "Poverty, racial divide among Florida children is soaring, study finds".
Agenda 21: This is today's Florida Republican Party
"Demonstrating just how volatile the race to unseat Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson is two months before the Aug. 14 primary, Pinellas County Republicans delivered a surprise straw poll victory to little-known but fiery U.S. Senate candidate Marielena Stuart."
Cuban-born Stuart railed against President Barack Obama, Roe vs. Wade, communism in China and Cuba, and popular tea party targets like Agenda 21 during her 15-minute speech. ...
"Little-known U.S. Senate candidate Marielena Stuart wins Pinellas GOP straw poll".
Stuart, a linguist and conservative online columnist, spoke of an occasion in which she was beaten and abandoned in a field in Cuba by the communists, "and it is America who saved my life." She called herself the daughter of a former political prisoner. She described the country's open borders with Mexico and Canada as the beginnings of a one-world government.
"America has become a socialist nation. And socialism is nothing but phase one of communism," she said.
Her speech brought most of the crowd to its feet. Stuart has no formal campaign staff, relying on her husband Thomas, daughter Elena, 14, and son John Paul, 12, to take pictures and pass out fliers. She said she has been campaigning since the fall.
She's a "female Ronald Reagan," said Kevin Thornhill, a member of the Pinellas Patriots, a 9-12 Project group.
"Legislators across the Old Confederacy show Florida how to cope"
Fred Grimm: "Last year, Florida Atlantic University’s Center for Urban and Environmental Solutions warned that rising sea levels will back up drainage canals, inundate roads, farms and low-lying neighborhoods, cause sewage systems and septic tanks to fail and inject salt water into water wells."
Obviously, something needs to be done. About those damn scientists, of course. Not global warming.
"Banned words in some states: Rising sea levels".
Like-minded legislators and state officials in Texas, Virginia and North Carolina — states with their own coastal vulnerabilities — have shown Florida just how to deal with such annoyances. They erase offending words and passages. They made it flat out illegal for state planners and zoning officials to refer to nettlesome scientific findings that might hurt coastal property values.
Last year the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, which had commissioned a scientific study of Galveston Bay, excised references to rising sea levels. “You can debate climate warming, but sea level is going up; it’s measured globally, with satellites,” the study’s lead author, John Anderson of Rice University, told reporters. “For them to be so bold as to remove it — they actually omitted whole sentences that mentioned sea level rise.”
Legislators across the Old Confederacy have shown Florida how to cope with all this annoying talk of global warming, rising seas, coastal flooding and devastating hurricane surges:
Censor the reports. Change the words. Or pass a law that says to hell with science. And never mind the future.