Rick Scott's "perpetual campaign"
"Florida’s governor is still collecting donations from special interests with a stake in legislation, even though he’s term-limited from running for governor again." "The perpetual campaign of Gov. Rick Scott."
Desperate for a story
Desperate for a story, the New York Times gives us this claptrap: "They use words like 'historic' and 'charismatic,' phrases like 'great potential' and 'million-dollar smile.' They notice audience members moved to tears by an American-dream-come-true success story. When they look at the cold, hard political math, they get uneasy." "A Hillary Clinton Match-Up With Marco Rubio Is a Scary Thought for Democrats."
And then there's this: "GOP has tough road appealing to Florida Jewish voters."
"Tale of Two Justices"
Scott Maxwell: "In March, Attorney General Pam Bondi announced she had nailed someone for Medicaid fraud."
The culprit was a 49-year-old home-health worker from dirt-poor Gadsden County, accused of bilking the state out of $13,000."A few years earlier, the state accused three hospitals of bilking the Medicaid system as well … only this time, it involved millions."
For her crime, Melissa Letica Simmons was ordered to spend six months behind bars — and repay all the money she stole from taxpayers.
Six months. For $13,000.
Yet no one was criminally prosecuted. Or even ordered to repay all the money. Instead the hospitals settled — without admitting wrongdoing — and repay taxpayers pennies on the dollars. . . ."Health-care fraud: Little guys get jail; big guys get deals."
This, my friends, is the Tale of Two Justices.
The small-time thieves get prison sentences.
The big-time thieves get deals.
"Weekly Roundup: Feds Give the Word on LIP."
Propping up the FlaGOP's Tally flop
The Tampa Trib does its best to prop up the FlaGOPs nevervending Tallahassee flop. They write, "Here is what you usually read about the Florida Legislature’s dispute over Medicaid:"
The House leadership refuses to expand Medicaid as called for under the Affordable Care Act while Senate leaders want to comply with Obamacare."A conservative plan to help the uninsured."
That interpretation does not do justice to the Senate’s position, which by no means is meekly going along with Washington’s dictates.
The Senate is trying to protect Florida taxpayers while also addressing the needs of the working poor. It offers a plan that is more fiscally responsible — and conservative — than doing nothing.
Non-traditional public sector candidates
"Non-traditional candidates sought in public sector."
Marijuana scares Florida lawmakers
Bill Cotterell: "Usually, if 58 percent of the voters say they want something done, Florida legislators will do it."
And if they see something coming at them, the politically smart thing for legislators is to hurry up and do it themselves before the issue runs over them. Even if it’s something they don’t want to do, they’ll usually work out some half measure before the public imposes its undiluted will at the polls."Marijuana, even medical, still scares Florida lawmakers."
And when the issue is something that’s proved beneficial in about half of the states, Florida usually gets on board in a few years. There’s safety in numbers.
But there must be Usually, if 58 percent of the voters say they want something done, Florida legislators will do it.
"Still think Rick Scott doesn't know what he's doing?"
Rick Scott cheerleader Nancy Smith claims victory; she writes: "Still think Rick Scott doesn't know what he's doing?"
The Scott team won a big one this week."Does anybody really believe that without the Scotties' lawsuit bluster, without the governor's health-care-commission showmanship and his trip to Washington and his ideological kinship with the House speaker, the Feds would be proposing $1 billion for LIP next year?"
No way. Clearly, they intended to kill LIP here and now. Months ago, and several times since, the Obama administration told the state the funding for hospitals to serve low-income people would end this year."LIP: Chalk One Up for the Scott Team."
Clinton cranks up Florida campaign
"Jean Monestime, who has already been fund-raising for Hillary Clinton, could represent a way for her presidential campaign to reach Haitian-American voters." "Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign woos Miami-Dade’s first Haitian-American commission chairman."
"Pawns to get votes"
The Tampa Trib thinks "using teachers and students as pawns to get votes. Think about that the next time you hear Tallahassee lawmakers arguing to divert increasing amounts of money away from public schools and into for-profit charter schools." "State had no choice but to concede defeat on school testing."
"Workers laid off during the recession haven’t made up lost ground"
"Unemployment has ticked up slightly in Miami-Dade County, but it’s still at nearly its lowest level since 2008. Even so, some workers laid off during the recession haven’t made up lost ground." "Some South Florida workers still feel left out of recovery."
"Floridians deserve far more"
The Orlando Sentinel editorial board: "Floridians deserve far more from their representatives in Tallahassee. A short lifeline from Washington doesn't relieve lawmakers of their responsibility to come up with a long-term solution to the chronic problem of providing care to nearly a million Floridians who don't have health insurance." "Fla. needs long-term health cure."
Background: "Understanding LIP funding and Florida’s budget crisis."
More: "Feds suggest possible hospital funding to end Florida’s budget standoff." See also "Temporary aid on health care."
Grayson on a verbal tear
"In the past three weeks, U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson of Orlando has been on a verbal tear." "Grayson's fiery comments put possible Senate campaign in spotlight."
Deep thinker, and hawkish chickenhawk (who courageously "considered conscientious objector status" to avoid the Vietnam war (which ended before he became eligible for the draft)), Jebbie Bush, has now "blamed the Democratic president for allowing the rise of the violent extremist group that has captured vast parts of Iraq and Syria." "Jeb Bush blames unrest in Iraq on Obama."
A mere shift, or a full-on flop?
"Politifact Florida: Marco Rubio’s statements on Iraq have shifted but not flipped."
That's our Jeb
"A video production company had no idea its bilingual 2013 Toyota Corolla spot used the former Florida governor’s residence as a backdrop — until Jeb Bush drove up to the house." "That time Jeb Bush’s Coral Gables home made a cameo appearance in a Toyota commercial."
Jax returns to South Georgia roots
"Former Republican Party of Florida Chairman Lenny Curry defeated Democratic incumbent Mayor Alvin Brown on Tuesday with help from powerful friends like Sen. Marco Rubio and former Gov. Jeb Bush." "Former state GOP chairman elected Jacksonville mayor." See also "Lenny Curry Edges Alvin Brown in Jacksonville Mayoral Election."
Corporate voucher dance
The Tampa Trib editors extol "Another victory for corporate vouchers."
Florida government shut down would be "doomsday scenario"
"If the budget stalemate continues and Florida resorts to a bare-bones spending plan as suggested by Gov. Rick Scott, results could be dire for every Floridian." "If government shuts down, a doomsday scenario would emerge in Florida."
"It has been less than a month since the U.S. Treasury Department approved the first licenses for ferries to carry Americans to Cuba. The ferry companies have not announced what U.S. ports they’ll use and the Cuban government has not agreed to allow any boats access yet." "New federal licenses mean cruises to Cuba may be close." Related: "Tampa delegations exploring trade return from Cuba."
Rubio's stature "troubling" among young Republicans
"A new national poll by Pew Research Center reveals some early strengths and weaknesses among several key Republicans running for president, including the observation that U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida might have an age issue."
Rubio did far better than any of the other candidates with older Republicans. A whopping 75 percent have a favorable opinion of him, and just 11 percent have an unfavorable opinion, Pew found. But Rubio’s numbers fall among middle-age Republicans: 50 percent like him, 21 percent don’t. And the response appears troubling among young Republicans: 39 percent like him, and 23 percent don’t."Pew Poll: Rubio may have an age issue (not the one you think)."
Scott's health-care commission meets today
"As Gov. Rick Scott's newly created health-care commission prepares to meet Wednesday to begin sifting through data about hospital funding, the governor's request for information has been met with hospitals essentially telling him to go look it up." "Hospitals to Rick Scott: You Look up Financial Data."
"A federal agency has proposed fines of $152,200 for nine contractors building million-dollar homes for the Shoma Group at Oasis Park Square." "Nine contractors cited for worker-safety violations at Doral residential project."
Scott losing his grip
"When Gov. Rick Scott ordered state agencies to come up with a list of 'critical needs' just in case state government shuts down this summer, he got a defiant response from many: Everything we do is critical." "Gov. Scott’s ‘critical needs’ demand gets defiant responses."
Republican front group hands out awards
"Fiscal Watchdog Group's 'Champs' and 'Chumps' in Tallahassee."
Clinton hooks up with Morgan
"Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is coming to Central Florida for a fundraiser May 29 at the home of Democratic rainmaker and lawyer John Morgan. The event will take place at Morgan's Heathrow mansion, at a time to be determined later." "Hillary Clinton coming to Orlando for $2.7K per fundraiser."
Miami-Dade and Broward toss tests
"Empowered by a new state law, education leaders in Miami-Dade and Broward counties announced Tuesday they won’t use the results of the new Florida Standards Assessment to hold students back — one of the most polarizing issues when it comes to how Florida uses tests in high-stakes decisions." "Miami-Dade, Broward schools won’t use controversial statewide test."
Miami one of least affordable
"New study shows that college graduates can afford fewer than one in 100 apartments on the market in Miami-Dade County." "Report: Miami one of least affordable housing markets for recent grads."
"Jeb blows off Iowa"
Howard Kurtz: "Jeb blows off Iowa straw poll."
"Jeb’s fumbling start"
The Tampa Trib's Joe Henderson, like a lot of people "figured 'Jeb The Undeclared' was the man to beat for the GOP presidential nomination, even as we wait for the formal announcement that he is in the race. That’s despite the fact he is lagging in a lot of polls, and he isn’t paying homage to Iowa by participating in the state’s straw poll."
Jeb hasn’t had to campaign in more than a decade, and the rust is showing, as the Fox debacle showed. A few more goofs could put his undeclared campaign into a spiral that is unrecoverable."Jeb’s fumbling start could reshape GOP race."
Not long ago, it was hard to see anyone who could beat Bush for the nomination. Then he opened his mouth and silly words popped out. How quickly things turn.
So, "How serious is [Bush's] Iraq War flub?"
He's not what you would call "cognitively dexterous"
"Marco Rubio just doesn't seem like the most cognitively dexterous contender for the Republican nomination." "Florida Man."
"First it was Jeb Bush. [And then on Sunday], Marco Rubio seemed unprepared and uninformed for the question of the week on Iraq" "Marco Rubio is toast: Fox News trips up another Republican with simple Iraq war question."
"Marco Rubio Struggles With Question on Iraq War." See also "Rubio Stumbles Hard on Iraq War ‘Mistake’ Question on Fox," "Marco Rubio Struggles To Explain Whether He Thinks Invading Iraq Was A 'Mistake'" and "Marco Rubio Melts Down On Fox While Refusing To Admit Iraq Was A 'Mistake'."
"Rubio cashed out retirement funds"
"Sen. Marco Rubio cashed out most of his retirement savings while preparing to launch his bid for the Republican presidential nomination, records released Friday show." "Rubio cashed out retirement funds before presidential run."
Jeff Henderson: "Democrats Have Good Reason to Want Alan Grayson Out of Senate Race." Background from more Grayson-haters: "Alan Grayson erupts as Senate bid looms."
"Florida has no plan to deal with rising seas"
The Tampa Trib editors: "Florida is surrounded on three sides by water and has 1,800-miles of coastline. About 75 percent of its 20 million residents live in coastal counties."
So you would think the possibility of sea level rise would concern Florida leaders. But The Associated Press finds state government has no plan to deal with rising seas and has made no attempt to coordinate local efforts to deal with the possibility."Don’t ignore possibility of sea level rise."
"A friend and more"
"A complaint filed by the former recruiter for a for-profit college says the college had a friend and more in an employee of the schools’ regulatory commission." "The close ties between a for-profit college and its watchdog."
Jeb gets his Gay-hate on
"Jeb Bush Says Christian Business Owners Can Refuse To Serve Gay Weddings." See also "Jeb Bush Takes Tougher Stance Against Same-Sex Marriage."
Walmart runs wild
"A photograph of a rare butterfly on the South Miami-Dade development site in rare pine rockland helped ignite opposition to the controversial project." "Walmart developer demands county records linked to butterfly."
Jeb's stumbles are familiar to Floridians
Seeing that "Jeb Bush’s Iraq stumbles set off alarms in GOP"is not surprising to most Floridians. Indeed, Jeb "Bush’s history of politically unfortunate rhetoric goes back to 1994," although it has largely been papered over by Florida's media.
If one looks hard enough, Jeb!'s record can be found to include these gems: his self-proclaimed "devious plan" to evade a constitutional mandate, his internationally embarrassing "slips on Spanish history, bragging that he would do "probably nothing" for minorities if elected, his having "marked he was 'Hispanic' on his Florida voter form," his infamous "throw their asses out" order, and then there is his penchant for "lesbian jokes".
Jeb Bush's "shoot-first, take-no-advice method of governing" lead one journalist to describe him as an "arrogant, power-hungry ruler who acted as if he had been elected king, rather than governor." As another columnist put it, Jeb's "idea of diplomacy is to throw their asses out, whoever they are."
Lt. Gov. Lopez-Cantera considers Senate Run
"Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera declared he was seriously considering running for the United States Senate in 2016 and then solicited local Republican leaders gathered in Orlando to invite him over to talk." "Lopez-Cantera delivers "strongly considering" campaign speech." See also "Lopez-Cantera 'Strongly Considering' Senate Bid."
Same old, same old
"RPOF Will Mobilize Minorities to Shape 2016 Success."
Scott provides "poor — or no leadership"
"It takes poor leadership — or no leadership — to push a state to the brink of a government shutdown when the governor and strong majorities in both legislative chambers come from the same political party. Unfortunately for Floridians, that's just what Gov. Rick Scott has provided." "Blame health care mess on governor's leadership: Editorial."
"Offering blunt advice"
"The 41-year-old Jeanette Dousdebes Rubio, as poised in public as she is shy, has privately played a major role in Marco Rubio’s rise, offering blunt advice and bearing the responsibilities of raising four children, often as if a single mother." "Marco Rubio’s wife long an unseen presence in his career."
Rubio's book royalties
"Sen. Marco Rubio’s latest financial disclosures show added wealth from book royalties."
"More than 19 months after CONNECT’s troubled launch, the computerized network serving Florida’s unemployed remains problematic." "As technical difficulties with Florida’s unemployment system persist, state seeks more money."
Senators noticeably absent from FlaGOP quarterly meeting
"Four months have passed since Blaise Ingoglia took over as chairman of the Republican Party of Florida in an upset over party favorite Leslie Dougher, but wounds between the Senate and the rest of the party are slow to heal. . . . Not this weekend. Senators were noticeably absent from the party's spring quarterly meeting." "Where Have All the Senators Gone?."
Ed Dean: "Tom Lee, Rick Kriseman Make the Honor Roll; Jeb Bush, Alan Grayson Don't."
Bush, Rubio: Dumb and Dumberer
"Marco Rubio Struggles To Explain Whether He Thinks Invading Iraq Was A 'Mistake'."
Polling place redistribution
"Under the proposed plan, the county’s nearly 1.3 million voters will find out by September if they’ve been moved to a new polling place — a redistribution Miami-Dade has delayed for years." "Miami-Dade plans to finish redrawing voter precincts in advance of 2016 presidential election."
"Weekly Roundup: Whose Special Session Is It Anyway?."
"One big orgy of incompetence and waste"
Scott Maxwell: writes that "Florida is in the midst of a mess of epic proportions."
The Legislature is at a standoff. A government shutdown is possible. House members are prepared to raid state reserves to make ends meet. Legislators are denying ready health care to 800,000 working-class Floridians. And our governor has hired a lawyer — one who sometimes bills more than $1,000 an hour — to sue the feds for even more federal tax dollars."It's one big orgy of incompetence and waste."
We have Senate Republicans — including many die-hard conservatives — who want to use the health-care dollars to provide insurance to 800,000 Floridians."Promise-breaking pols at heart of Florida's health-care mess." See also "Gov. Scott draws Republicans in Congress into Medicaid dispute."
We have House Republicans who want nothing to do with the Affordable Care Act — and who are willing to raid state reserves to make ends meet.
And we have Gov. Rick Scott, who now opposes Medicaid (after previously supporting it) — but who is also so desperate to get federal subsidies for emergency-room care that he has sued to federal government to keep that gravy train running.
To help him, Scott has enlisted a high-powered attorney, Paul Clement, who has made headlines for charging clients as much as $1,100 an hour. (More than some uninsured Floridians make in an entire paycheck.)
State officials confirmed Tuesday that taxpayers will be footing Clement's bills — but said his fees had not yet been negotiated.
So we have a standoff. And lawsuits. And people uninsured.
Rick plays poker
"A massive tax-cut package and the governor's push for a 'historic' increase in education funding could be in jeopardy as the health care-fueled budget impasse continues in the Legislature." "Rick Scott: Budget Impasse Could Delay Tax Cuts."
"The Florida Supreme Court is turning away a case challenging a law that allows Gov. Rick Scott to use a blind trust instead of providing a detailed accounting of his finances." "Florida Supreme Court turns down case sparked by Gov. Scott."
"Best B-List, Republicrat Speakers"
Nancy Smith: "FDP's Who-Dat Dinner: Best B-List, Republicrat Speakers Ever."
"Scott’s unserious commission"
The Daytona Beach News-Journal editors: "Scott’s unserious commission on hospitals." Background: "Scott names 9-member panel to review hospital funding."
FlaBaggers in a tizzy
"The day that relations between the United States and Cuba are considered 'normalized,' at least by the island nation’s government, might be getting at least a little closer." "Cuban official talks U.S. relations, ferries - and the path to normalization." See also "Tampa facing competition as Florida cities chase Cuba."
"Seminole County criminal defense lawyer and political newcomer Ryan Yadav has announced his candidacy as a Democrat for the Florida House of Representatives District 30, which contends him with Republican incumbent state Rep. Bob Cortes of Longwood." "Democrat Ryan Yadav announces for Florida House 30 race."
ACU's latest Florida scorecard
"Since 1971, the American Conservative Union (ACU), the nation’s oldest grassroots conservative organization, has annually graded members of Congress based on their votes on issues important to conservatives."
Now that it’s 2015, the ACU latest scorecard shows how Florida congressmen and congresswomen and the two U.S. senators performed."Who’s the Most Conservative and Most Liberal Congressman in Florida?."
Jax early voting
"Amid a dogfight between Democratic Mayor Alvin Brown and GOP-challenger Lenny Curry, Democrats now have the lead in early voting but have built a smaller advantage compared to the March election." "Democrats have lead in early voting in Jacksonville, but advantage is smaller compared to March election."
Rubio's "remarkable and unusual patron"
The New York Times: "As Rubio has ascended in the ranks of Republican politics, [car dealer Norm] Braman has emerged as a remarkable and unusual patron: simultaneously bankrolling Rubio's campaigns and legislative agendas, even while subsidizing his personal finances, long strained by heavy debt and big swings in income."
Now, with Rubio vaulting ahead of much of the Republican presidential field, Braman is poised to play an even larger part and become Rubio's single biggest campaign donor, with an expected outlay of about $10 million for the senator's pursuit of the White House.
A detailed review of their relationship shows that Braman, 82, has left few corners of Rubio's world untouched. He hired Rubio, then a Senate candidate, as a lawyer; employed his wife to advise the Braman family's philanthropic foundation; helped cover the cost of Rubio's salary as an instructor at a Miami college; and gave Rubio access to his private plane."Billionaire Norman Braman lifts Marco Rubio, politically and personally."
Jeb continues to dance around "marriage equality" issue
Jeb Bush recently declared:"'I believe in traditional marriage,' said Bush when Hannity asked him whether he's changing his position on the issue." "Jeb Bush Reaffirms He Does Not Support Marriage Equality."
Jeb is now going sideways on the issue - "Jeb Bush courts evangelicals, defends religion in public life in Liberty University speech". See generally: "Marriage equality: The headache Jeb Bush can’t avoid."
How Health Care Blew Up the Session
FlaglerLive: "A review of the events of the regular session — including interviews with some key players in the House-Senate row — show how negotiations broke down: Dramatic miscalculations of each other’s motives and willingness to force a showdown conspired with the tight deadline of a 60-day session to derail lawmakers’ plans."
"And it gives indications of the pitfalls the Legislature must avoid if it hopes to end the month of June with a budget and avoid a shutdown that could further sap Floridians’ faith in the ability of their elected officials to lead." "How Health Care Blew Up the 2015 Session."
"Preening arrogance" of the Legislature
The Tampa Tribune editors: "Years from now, history will cruelly judge this colossally dysfunctional Florida Legislature — but not primarily because of the Senate and House conflict over Medicaid, which caused Speaker Steve Crisafulli to abruptly adjourn early in a fit of pique."
Granted, the action made the House leadership look ridiculous. But childish antics are not novel in the political world. Neither are bitter standoffs over difficult issues."Historic contempt for voters."
What will distinguish and disgrace this Legislature is the preening arrogance with which lawmakers dismissed a clear directive from voters.
Last November, 75 percent of voters passed Amendment 1, a constitutional ballot initiative that requires the state to spend more on land conservation. It won the support of Democrats and Republicans alike.
But lawmakers have, so far, shown they don’t care what the people of Florida want. They will do as they — or the special interests that call most of the shots in Tallahassee — please.
Grubbing for wingnuts
"Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush on Saturday condemned the Obama administration’s use of 'coercive federal power' to limit religious freedom as he courted Christian conservatives at a Liberty University commencement ahead of a likely presidential run." "Jeb Bush: Stronger 'Christian voice' needed in world."
"A well-worn political adage"
"A well-worn political adage is that you can’t win the White House without Florida, and you can’t win Florida without the Interstate 4 corridor."
Between 2008, when President Barack Obama was first elected, and 2013, the most recent reliable census figures, the population of the I-4 corridor increased by about 7 percent. The Hispanic population increase in the same swath was 20 percent.Much more here: "I-4 corridor Hispanics seen as road to political wins."
“Any time you have a demographic like that, it’s significant. It’s a big deal,” said Steve Schale, a Democratic strategist who successfully directed the 2008 Obama-Biden campaign in Florida.
And in the past, it has been a Democratic big deal.
Obama carried Florida’s Hispanic vote in 2012 by 60 percent to 39 percent, an improvement over his 57 percent to 42 percent showing in 2008, according to the Pew Hispanic Center. Gov. Rick Scott won re-election last year despite opponent Charlie Crist’s 58 percent to 38 percent advantage among Hispanics.
"The emptiest of empty suits . . . Coming soon to a Wawa near you"
Carl Hiaasen points out that Tally Republicans are "ripping at each other like addled meerkats." Hiassen asks, "where was the newly reelected Republican governor, leader of the party?"
Gone is where he was — jetting to crucial functions such as the grand opening of a Wawa gas-and-convenience store in Fort Myers and the debut of a humongous Ferris wheel in Orlando.
"But Scott isn’t a functioning governor. He is the emptiest of empty suits — no talent for leadership, no muscle for compromise, no sense whatsoever of the big picture."
When the going gets tough, Scott heads straight for the airport. This is what happens when you elect a guy with his own private jet. . . ."Rick Scott no help in time of crisis."
In fact, he has been laser-focused on the future — not Florida’s future, but his own. He’s looking ahead to a possible bid for the U.S. Senate in 2018.
(We’ll pause here while you choke on your cornflakes.)