FLORIDA POLITICS
Since 2002, daily Florida political news and commentary

 

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Welcome To Florida Politics

Thanks for visiting. On a daily basis we scan Florida's major daily newspapers for significant Florida political news and punditry. We also review the editorial pages and political columnists/pundits for Florida political commentary. The papers we review include: the Miami Herald, Sun-Sentinel, Palm Beach Post, Naples News, Sarasota Herald Tribune, St Pete Times, Tampa Tribune, Orlando Sentinel, the Daytona Beach News-Journal, Tallahassee Democrat, and, occasionally, the Florida Times Union; we also review the political news blogs associated with these newspapers.

For each story, column, article or editorial we deem significant, we post at least the headline and link to the piece; the linked headline always appears in quotes. We quote the headline for two reasons: first, to allow researchers looking for the cited piece to find it (if the link has expired) by searching for the original title/headline via a commercial research service. Second, quotation of the original headline permits readers to appreciate the spin from the original piece, as opposed to our spin.

Not that we don't provide spin; we do, and plenty of it. Our perspective appears in post headlines, the subtitles within the post (in bold), and the excerpts from the linked stories we select to quote; we also occasionally provide other links and commentary about certain stories. While our bias should be immediately apparent to any reader, we nevertheless attempt to link to every article, column or editorial about Florida politics in every major online Florida newspaper.

 

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The Blog for Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Jeb "a 'moderate'? Don't be silly"

    Orlando Sentinel columnist Scott Maxwell touches on some - only a handful - of the reasons Jeb Bush is no "moderate," not even close. He begins with the usual list:
    Jeb Bush is a union-busting, school-voucher-promoting, tax-cutting, gun-loving, Terri Schiavo-interfering, hard-core conservative.
    He continues:
    As governor, Jeb Bush was pro-guns and anti-unions.

    He pushed tax cuts for investors and opposed equal rights for gays.

    He expanded school vouchers and hatched "devious plans" to fight voters' calls for smaller class sizes.

    Jeb Bush isn't conservative in the libertarian get-government-out-of-your-life kinda way. He's conservative in the I-want-government-to-impose-my-values kinda way.

    He embraces the death penalty, opposes choice for women and fought embryonic stem-cell research.

    When Terri Schiavo lay in a permanent vegetative state and her husband wanted to honor her wishes to let her die, Jeb tried to force a feeding tube back inside her body — until a court told him it was none of his business.

    Moderate? Please.He also champions Common Core — which hard-liners won't tolerate either.

    "Jeb Bush a 'moderate'? Don't be silly."

    Maxwell only scratches the surface - over the next few weeks, we at this website will be reminding readers of some of the reasons Jebbie will be a wonderful candidate, at least for Dems: let's start with Jeb's Bushy tendency for gaffes: e.g., "When Jeb Bush speaks, people cringe" and "Jeb Bush slips on Spanish history" (Jeb "also pronounced "Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar's name incorrectly.")


    "Jeb Bush Steals a March"

    "By announcing he was 'actively exploring' running for president, Jeb Bush stole a march on other Republicans looking at 2016." "Jeb Bush Steals a March on the Other 2016 GOP Hopefuls."

    More: "Saying He Will 'Actively Explore' Running, Jeb Bush Nears the Starting Block for 2016," "Jeb Bush says he’ll ‘actively explore’ presidential run," " Jeb Bush's announcement to 'explore possibility' of presidential run shakes up political maneuvering," "'Onward': What Jeb Bush's campaign message says about 2016," and "Jeb Bush's long campaign begins?"

    The Jeb! cheerleaders comprising the Tampa Trib editorial board are harder to take than usual this morning in "Bush eases toward the starting line."

    "Jeb Bush, who is seriously considering a 2016 presidential bid, has sprinted to the front of the Republican field in a new McClatchy-Marist Poll." "Poll: Jeb Bush, Romney lead GOP field for 2016 presidential bid."


    Run, Marco, run!

    "Marco Rubio shares many of the same political supporters and financial donors in Florida as Jeb Bush. But Rubio says Bush’s decision to explore a 2016 presidential bid won’t influence his own plans." "What will Marco Rubio do? Jeb Bush’s 2016 announcement puts pressure on Rubio."


    Fact-checking Jeb Bush

    "PolitiFact Florida has fact-checked Jeb Bush 20 times on our Truth-O-Meter. We’ve rated five statements True, seven Mostly True, two Half True, four Mostly False, one False and one Pants on Fire." "Fact-checking Jeb Bush, possible 2016 presidential contender."


    Will clerks be arrested for issuing marriage licenses?

    "Lawyers for Florida’s 67 clerks of court are warning that those who issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples will be 'subject to criminal penalties,' including arrest and imprisonment."

    The Florida Association of Court Clerks and Comptrollers on Tuesday released the revised legal opinion from its attorneys.

    Some clerks had been preparing for same-sex unions after a federal judge in Tallahassee declared the state’s ban on those marriages unconstitutional.

    "Clerks association warns against issuing gay marriage licenses."


    Scott basks in the sunshine of Obomanomics

    "Florida economists now say they expect the state surplus to more than double next year — from $366 million to almost $1 billion." "Economists project nearly $1 billion surplus for Florida budget."


    Usual suspects

    "Gov. Rick Scott continues to flesh out his team for a second term, relying on familiar faces in his administration as he readies for the next four years." "Rick Scott Turns to Familiar Faces for Second Term."


The Blog for Monday, December 15, 2014

All of them?

    "Jeb Bush to release 250k emails." See also "Why Jeb Bush Is Releasing a Giant Batch of E-Mails From His Years as Florida Governor." The reporter aptly points out that Jebbie was a "very conservative governor," but Jebbie of course sidesteps the observation.


    Money rolling in

    "When St. Augustine Republican John Thrasher left the Senate last month to become president of Florida State University, his departure created a domino effect that will lead to three special legislative elections in early 2015."

    But it hasn’t taken long for campaign donors in Northeast Florida and Tallahassee to start pouring money into the races, newly filed finance reports show.
    "Perhaps the best example is Palm Coast Republican Paul Renner, who moved to Flagler County after barely losing a Republican primary in August for a Jacksonville House seat. Renner is now running in another House district as he seeks to replace Rep. Travis Hutson, an Elkton Republican who is bidding for Thrasher’s Senate seat."
    From Nov. 10 to Nov. 30, Renner collected $76,500 in contributions for the special election in House District 24, which includes Flagler and parts of St. Johns and Volusia counties. The new reports show Renner received money from some of the most-prominent donors from Jacksonville to Daytona Beach, including businessman Tom Petway, developer John Rood, lobbyist Marty Fiorentino and companies headed by developer Mori Hosseini.
    "Special Election for House: Renner Hauls In $76,500. His Three Opponents Combined: $355".

    Putting aside the massive disparity in this race, does money matter? "Who Wants to Buy a Politician?" But see: "The New York Times Downplays The Influence Of Money In Politics."


    Will the Seminoles Unionize?

    "Will the Seminoles Unionize their Florida Hard Rocks?."


    Florida Reps In a Walk in 2016

    "Pundits Don't Think Florida Congressional Reps Will Be Sweating in 2016."


The Blog for Sunday, December 14, 2014

A North-South FlaDem schism?

    Adam C. Smith: "As Florida Democrats continue their perennial soul searching over how they lost another critical election, most of the talk from the Charlie Crist camp has been about how Rick Scott and the Republicans outspent them by nearly two-to-one." Former state Democratic Party chairman Rod Smith of Alachua points out that,
    In the five TV markets north of Orlando — Jacksonville, Gainesville, Tallahassee, Pensacola, and Panama City — Scott beat Crist by nearly 250,000 votes.

    "We simply cannot write off a quarter of a million votes, and have a chance," said Smith.

    Translation: For all the talk by Democratic strategists about the importance of driving up turnout among Democrats in South Florida — especially minorities — Democrats will never be successful if they don't also improve their standing among voters in North Florida, especially white voters.

    We heard a remarkably similar assessment from Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, who may already be the frontrunner for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in 2018. He appears today on Political Connections on Bay News 9, and along with questions about a Tampa Bay Rays stadium in Tampa, we asked him why he did zero to help Crist this year and what Democrats need to do next time.

    "Democrats have to have a candidate that can compete in areas other than the traditional Democratic areas. If you cannot compete, and if you don't have a compelling message, and if you aren't looked upon as someone who is pro-business, who is centrist, who is all about getting things done, north of Orlando you don't stand a chance," Buckhorn said.

    "The Democrats wrote off everything north of Orlando. I think as a mayor, that pragmatic, practical approach that's focused on results and less concerned about partisan politics potentially could be a winning message, whether it's me or (Orlando Mayor) Buddy Dyer or (Fort Lauderdale Mayor) Jack Seiler.''

    "Big losses in North Florida in the governor's race catch the attention of Democrat strategists."


    "A dead man sniveling"

    Daniel Ruth: "Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor Jonathan Gruber, who earned a Ph.D in mea culpas during his appearance before the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. Larry and Curly didn't get slapped around by Moe with anywhere near the vigor directed at Gruber, a health care economist who served as a consultant to the Obama administration during the drafting of the Affordable Care Act."

    We've seen this Kabuki dance of contrition countless times before. Public official says or does something dopey. Congressmen go into full high dudgeon of outraged frothing. Public official is compelled to appear in the dock of the Capitol to grovel in humiliation. And an indignant time is had by all.

    Still, there was a parallel universe feeling as Gruber, a dead man sniveling, began his Beltway bootlicking tour. Consider that Gruber was compelled to testify under oath that he was indeed a shameless, arrogant, self-promoting, thoughtless huckster who had inflated his own sense of self-importance and belittled the American public as a bunch of morons in an inexcusable spasm of hubris.

    ." "In Congress, it takes one twit to know one."


    Runnin' Gub'mint like a bidness

    "Rick Scott’s choice to run Florida prisons, one of the toughest jobs in state government, will be receiving nearly $10,000 in monthly taxpayer-funded pension payments on top of her $160,000 annual state salary, according to state records." "Taxpayers will pay prison chief twice."


    Primary games

    "Republican party leaders in Florida are signaling they are content for the state to share the spotlight with several other states on what is likely to be a “Super Tuesday” primary day on March 1, 2016." "Florida GOP unlikely to flout RNC orders on 2016’s presidential primary."


    Frack this

    "The drilling process known as fracking holds promise in helping the United States achieve energy independence, but it has also drawn concern for its potential to cause widespread pollution of underground water supplies." "Fracking: State utilities want you to pay."


    Yee haw!

    "Florida gun dealers saw a sharp increase in sales as shoppers flooded stores the day after Thanksgiving."

    As of Nov. 30, there were 1.337 million concealed-weapon or firearm licenses issued in Florida, according to the state Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. The state went over the 1 million mark in December 2012, becoming the first state in the nation to surpass that figure.
    "Gun sales soar in Florida on Black Friday."


    Entrepreneurs in action

    "The Florida Department of Revenue is in a legal battle with hospital giant HCA over claims it owes the state more than $10 million in back taxes."

    "The company is also a big player in Florida politics, giving more than $2 million to candidates and committees during the 2014 election."

    The company in 1994 was known as Columbia/HCA and led by Gov. Rick Scott, who served as CEO before entering politics. A Medicare fraud scandal that led to a $1.7 billion fine forced Scott out of the company in 1997.
    "HCA goes toe-to-toe with Fla. revenue department."


    Where was the Gub'ner?

    "SeaWorld CEO stepping aside as company announces layoffs."


    "Scott's failed promise"

    The Sun Sentinel editorial board: "Gov. Scott's failed promise of transparency."


    Buying access on layaway

    "The Florida GOP says it will release the names of donors to Gov. Rick Scott's inauguration activities weekly. The first to step up? U.S. Sugar Corp., $15,000; Allstate Insurance, $5,000; FCCI Insurance Group of Sarasota, $25,000; Calder Race Course of Miami, $15,000." "Early inaugural donors."


    Jebbie "running as the second coming of Mitt Romney"?

    "As Jeb Bush looks more and more like a soon-to-be presidential candidate,"

    last week ran a tough article about Bush's recent private equity ventures, including offshore tax havens and funds relying on Chinese investors. "Running as the second coming of Mitt Romney is not a credential that's going to play anywhere, with Republicans or Democrats," Republican consultant John Brabender told Bloomberg. "Not only would this be problematic on the campaign trail, I think it also signals someone who isn't seriously looking at the presidency or he wouldn't have gone down this path."
    "Bush's business." See also "Jeb Bush's business dealings come under scrutiny."

The Blog for Saturday, December 13, 2014

How can Scott cut a billion in taxes while spending more? He can't

    Randy Schultz asks "You might have heard Gov. Rick Scott's pledge to cut $1 billion in taxes over the next two years and thought, 'Great! What's in it for me?'"
    For most Floridians, the best-case answer would be, "Not much." The worst-case answer would be, "Actually, you're paying more, chump."
    "To understand why, let's look at how Florida pays for services and what the budget numbers really mean. . . ."
    How . . . can Scott and the Legislature give a billion in tax breaks while spending more? They can't — if they use honest numbers.

    If not, they might use tricks. When Scott and the Legislature touted nearly $500 million more for education this year, they didn't say the money came mostly from higher local property taxes.

    Tallahassee sets the larger of two rates on your tax bill that finance public schools. They could have lowered this rate but didn't. Next year, with property values still rising, Scott and the Legislature could raise that rate a little and get that added $700 million for education through a tax increase they hope no one will notice.

    In that case, most Floridians would be paying more than whatever Scott and the Legislature might claim to be saving them through lower vehicle registration fees, sales-tax holidays and whatever Tallahassee might do next year. Behind Scott's $500 million tax-cut campaign theme was much creative math. To hit $1 billion, the math could get twice as creative.

    Schultz explains here: "Florida Gov. Rick Scott using creative math as he pledges tax cut."


    Weekly Roundup

    "Weekly Roundup: Everything Old is New Again."


    Jebbie sending strong signals he'll run

    "Jeb Bush and his emissaries are sending increasingly strong signals that the former Florida governor is gearing up for a 2016 presidential campaign, with associates saying he could announce his intentions within a month." "Jeb Bush sending signals that he may be getting ready for 2016 presidential run." See also "George W. Bush Looms Over Jeb's 2016 Decision."


    Crossing the line

    "There are several Democrats who work well with the Republican majority in the Florida Senate but Bill Montford is increasingly standing out from the pack."

    "Despite his background in education, Montford does have connections to the business community. He’s a favorite Democrat for the likes of the Florida Retail Federation, AIF and the Florida Chamber and he has longstanding ties to the Tallahassee Chamber."

    That’s not to say he’s a [total FlaBagger] conservative. Montford has no problem standing against the Republicans on issues ranging from prison privatization to moving state employee pensions in line with the private sector [read: no pensions].
    "Bill Montford: the GOP's Favorite Democrat in Tallahassee."


    FlaBaggers "debate" minimum wage. Really?

    "Minimum Wage to Top $8, but Debate Continues."

    In a remarkably odd response, our Governor seems to think the market should set the minimum wage:

    In an Oct. 21 gubernatorial debate in Jacksonville, Scott supported the idea of a minimum wage, but wouldn't say what the number should be.

    "How would I know? I mean, the private sector decides wages," Scott said during the debate.

    If he wants the market should set the minimum wage, Scott obviously doesn't "support the idea of a minimum wage" as he claims. Those silly FlaBaggers.


    Harvard study finds corruption in the Florida Legislature to be "very common"

    Bill Cotterell: "Two researchers at the Harvard University Center for Ethics rated the states on both 'legal corruption' and 'illegal corruption.'"

    They defined illegal corruption as giving money or gifts to a public official “in exchange for providing specific benefits to private individuals or groups.” Legal corruption is a payoff “in the form of campaign contributions or endorsements by a government official … be it by explicit or implicit understanding.” That’s a more highbrow description than Tammany Hall politician George Washingon Plunkitt used more than 100 years ago for “honest graft.” That meant simply using your connections to get favors from your powerful friends. “Dishonest graft” meant using bribes or blackmail.
    "On a scale of 1 to 5 — from “not at all common” to “extremely common”"
    Our Legislature was rated a 4, “very common,” for the illegal kind of kickback.

    For legal corruption, what is called “campaign contributions” — often with a straight face — Florida reporters said it was “very common” in both legislative and executive branches of government. But reporters tend to be cynical and disillusioned, especially those who’ve been around the Capitol a day or two.

    No matter how many times the lobbyists say they’re only “participating in the system” by giving money to legislators, no matter how solemnly legislators insist that their votes are never swayed by political contributions, nobody believes them. Candidates for governor promise openness and transparency, legislators periodically go through paroxysms of reform, but the numbers just keep getting bigger.

    Hardly a legislative session goes by that legislators don’t make another run at ethics reforms – tightening reporting requirements, changing the caps on contributions, curbing donations from some sources. They even imposed a “gift ban” on themselves, so a lobbyist can go to lunch with a legislator and deliver stacks of campaign checks from clients – but not pick up the tab for a hamburger.

    "Study ranks Fla. government corruption."


    "Early allies get plum jobs"

    Paula Dockery: "Both Speaker of the House Steve Crisafulli and Senate President Andy Gardiner released their committee structures shortly after being officially sworn in. There were no real surprises at the top."

    Their colleagues who were most instrumental in their leadership races tend to become their top lieutenants.
    "Early allies get plum jobs"


    "Back-to-back miscues by notaries"

    "Paperwork errors have opened the door to a possible gain for school-choice proponents who are supporting a challenger to former state Rep. Reggie Fullwood, D-Jacksonville, in a special Democratic primary on Tuesday."

    Back-to-back miscues by notaries public kept Fullwood, who represented Jacksonville’s House District 13 until last month, from easily winning a third term. His re-election had appeared so certain that he had drawn no opponents by the end of the candidate qualifying period in June.
    "Paperwork errors fuel special-election fight."

The Blog for Monday, December 08, 2014

Scott's Chief of Staff “quick on the draw with both her smile and middle finger”

    "She ran a Texas state House campaign at 19, served as a media coordinator for President George W. Bush’s re-election campaign in her early 20s, and was a top aide to Gov. Bobby Jindal by age 25."
    Now Melissa Sellers can add another top job to her resume at a relatively early age — chief of staff.

    Sellers just completed her first week as Gov. Rick Scott’s chief of staff. The 32-year-old Texas native replaces Adam Hollingsworth and becomes one of the youngest people in Florida to serve in the role.

    Sellers has spent much of her career working in communications or on the campaign trail. She had a reputation in Louisiana as a hard-nosed spokeswoman and was described as someone who was “quick on the draw with both her smile and middle finger” in a 2008 profile of Jindal in Esquire magazine.

    "Scott’s new chief of staff known for hard-nosed approach."


    Never mind

    "Gov. Rick Scott pledged if voters rewarded him with a second term, he would return the favor with $1 billion in tax cuts and more spending on schools and conservation. Now, Scott and lawmakers are sorting out priorities for a dwindling supply of extra tax dollars expected to be available next year." "Scott's $1 billion tax-cut plan may take time."


    Maps? What maps?

    "In his first two years in the Senate, Galvano was put in charge of redistricting after a Tallahassee judge ruled the maps violated the Fair Districts Amendments. Galvano efficiently and effectively helped guide the new maps through the Senate during a special session back in August. What could have been a major disaster for Republicans during election season turned into a yawner and the new maps were approved by the judge. Galvano has to get some of the credit for that." "Bill Galvano's Star Rises in the Florida Senate."


    Florida "House Republicans are politically homogeneous"

    "Dana Young has worked as an attorney, taken time off to be a stay-at-home mom and then was elected a state representative for Tampa. She plans to advocate for the Tampa area this session."

    Some political experts had predicted that after the November election the Legislature would start asserting its independence, at least from lockstep with the governor.

    But with exactly two-thirds of the House in his hands, it’s hard to imagine how Crisafulli’s agenda could go off the rails among his own team, said Lance DeHaven-Smith, a public policy professor at Florida State University.

    Unlike the Senate’s GOP contingent, the House Republicans are politically homogeneous.

    "Tampa’s Young says she’ll lead House GOP but protect home town."


    Has Dubya fallen off the wagon?

    "George W. Bush says that he badly wants his brother Jeb to run for president -- and that if he were to face off against Hillary Clinton, he would 'absolutely' beat her in a 2016 matchup." " href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/12/07/george-bush-jeb-bush-hillary-clinton_n_6284062.html." More: "George W Bush on brother's 2016 presidential aspirations: 'Run, Jeb'."


    ""Could there be a bigger political pariah?"

    Nancy Smith asks, "Could there be a bigger political pariah in corporate Florida than Duke Energy?" "Duke Energy's New Hire Has His Work Cut Out to Rehab the Company Image."


    "Jeb!" depending on the "failure of the American people’s collective memory"

    "Without this failure of the American people’s collective memory, there would be no premise upon which a three-president Bush dynasty could be built. If Jeb Bush were to actually succeed in getting elected two years hence as a “healing” president, America would need to seriously reexamine the political conditions that made that possible. The Bushes, though not among the progenitors of the New Right, have already become its most direct political beneficiaries." "Jeb continues a Bush tradition: Capitalizing on GOP obstruction."


    Illegal immigrants flock to Florida

    "While opponents of President Obama’s Nov. 20 executive action are decrying the plan’s legal consequence and calling attention to the scourge [sic] of illegal immigrants in the country, the numbers are saying the problem is actually not as severe as in years past."

    Florida, however, is one of only two states to show increased numbers.
    "Illegal Immigrants (Except in Florida) Are Going Home in Record Numbers."


    Somehow appropriate

    "Satanic Temple display approved for Florida Capitol."


The Blog for Sunday, December 07, 2014

Trust Us, He's a Knuckle Dragger

    Florida Republicans are getting in the way of Jebbie's makeover: they want the Teabaggers to know that Jeb Bush can drag his knuckles with the best of 'em. "Florida politicians say Jeb Bush is a true conservative."
    Respected Ronald Reagan biographer Craig Shirley told the Washington Examiner recently that Jeb Bush is the latest in a line of Bushes who oppose Reaganism. Radio host Mark Levin has dismissed Florida’s former governor as “a very good moderate Democrat,” while pioneering conservative activist Richard Viguerie for at least two years has been trashing Bush as a dangerous, big government Republican.

    Meanwhile, much of the speculation about the 2016 presidential race lately centers on whether a moderate is a viable contender for the Republican nomination.

    "Jeb Bush, a moderate squish?"
    The governor who treated trial lawyers and teachers union leaders as enemies of the state? Who stripped job protections from civil servants? Who slashed taxes? Whose passion for privatization included enacting the nation’s first statewide private school voucher program and extended to privatizing health care for the poor, prisons and child protection services?

    This “very good moderate Democrat” defied court after court to try and force the reinsertion of feeding tubes for brain-damaged Terri Schiavo and consistently backed more restrictions on abortions and fewer on gun ownership. He fought for reduced entitlement spending and, deriding nanny-state impulses, repealed the helmet law for motorcyclists in Florida and vetoed a GOP-backed bill requiring booster seats for kids in cars.

    “For us who live in Florida, who experienced the eight-year Jeb Bush governorship, it’s almost laughable and maybe even hysterical for people who live outside of Florida to claim that he’s a moderate,” said former House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, himself a conservative Republican who led the opposition to Florida accepting federal money to expand Medicaid to more than 800,000 people.

    "Florida politicians say Jeb Bush is a true conservative."

    Poor "Jeb!," even the wingers say he "is more about big government crony capitalism than concern for children’s education."


    Powerful new documentary exposes Publix greed

    Scott Maxwell reminds us that Publix

    is one of the big holdouts in the corporate movement to ensure that tomato pickers get decent wages and working conditions.

    [Even] Wal-Mart has agreed to pay an extra penny a pound to lift these impoverished wages.

    So has McDonald's, Chipotle, Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, Taco Bell and others.

    All of these companies agreed to pay a tiny amount extra — voluntarily — because they thought it was the right thing to do.

    "Publix, however, refuses, and is now the focus of a powerful new documentary called 'Food Chains.'"
    Narrated by Forest Whitaker and produced by "Desperate Housewives" star Eva Longoria, the movie takes place in Florida's sun-baked tomato fields — and in front of Publix's Lakeland headquarters, where executives refused to speak with farmworkers.

    The movie lays bare this country's long record of shoddy treatment of farmworkers, particularly immigrants. It shows a segment of Edward R. Murrow's famous "Harvest of Shame" report aired by CBS way back in 1960.

    Things have gotten better. But sorry working conditions — and even crimes — persist.

    The Coalition for Immokalee Workers says farmworkers make about 50 cents for every 32-pound bucket of tomatoes they harvest. That means a worker who harvests 2 tons of tomatoes in a single day — 125 buckets, or 4,000 pounds — would make about $62.

    Florida's fields also are littered with cases of abuse. They range from the criminal (workers being beaten) to workplace problems such as sexual harassment and insufficient shade, water or breaks.

    The Fair Food Program changes all that — through voluntary cooperation.

    Companies agree to pay an extra penny a pound. That money — which costs the average tomato-buying family about 40 cents a year — then goes into an audited fund that makes sure pickers get raises and that workplace-safety practices are in place.

    Many companies decided it's simply the right thing to do. Florida's largest grocery chain, however, refuses.

    Publix says none of this is the chain's concern. It says suppliers are free to charge them more for tomatoes, which Publix would gladly pay.
    But the movie calls baloney on that. So does common sense.

    If Publix would happily pay more money, the suppliers would happily take it.

    "Publix remains a holdout in fair-wage farm debate."


    "Hard to tell what the Florida Legislature has the most disregard for"

    The Miami Herald editors: "It’s hard to tell what leaders in the Florida Legislature have the most disregard for: the environment or the voters who overwhelmingly told them in November that they wanted the state’s natural resources to be protected and preserved." "The voters spoke on Amendment 1."


    Except for the part it won't be a mid-term election

    Bill Cotterell: "Florida Republican Party leaders happily celebrated their sweep of state elections and gains in Congress Saturday, then turned their attention to expanding GOP majorities and winning back the White House in two years."

    “The 2016 campaign begins today,” state GOP Chairwoman Leslie Dougher said at the first quarterly board meeting since the elections. “The preparation must start now.”

    She and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., said Democrat Hillary Clinton will probably run a tough, well-financed campaign with the online and volunteer forces President Obama organized to win Florida’s 29 electoral votes twice. They said 2014 “was a great year” for Republicans, with the re-election of Gov. Rick Scott and all three Cabinet officers, a gain of six seats in the Florida Legislature and winning control of the U.S. Senate — as well as electing governors in such heavily Democratic states as Massachusetts and Illinois — but that turnout will be much heavier for the presidential election in 2016.

    Scott said “there is no reason” his state party can’t duplicate, in a presidential year, the off-year turnout efforts that won for him and the state legislators in 2010 and this year.

    "Republican Party leaders celebrate wins, look ahead."

    Except, Rick, for the part it won't be a mid-term election.


    Solar power

    The Tampa Tribune editorial board: "It seems only natural that solar power will play a meaningful role in providing for Florida’s future energy needs. The price to produce solar power is dropping as the technology for harnessing and storing the sun’s energy advances." "Clear the dark clouds over solar energy production in Florida."


The Blog for Saturday, December 06, 2014

Bondi laff riot

    "Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi said the lawsuit isn’t about politics but about President Barack Obama overstepping his authority by circumventing Congress on reforming immigration." "Florida joins 17 other states in lawsuit against President Obama’s executive immigration plan."


    Not a joke

    "House Republicans are making a final push this month to give schools a temporary break from healthier school meal standards." "GOP pushes waiver from healthier school lunches."


    Ros-Lehtinen and Mario Diaz-Balart

    "Three Democrats joined Republicans in voting for it, and seven Republicans voted with Democrats against it. But in a joint statement after the vote, Mario Diaz-Balart and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen stressed the need for comprehensive immigration change."

    "Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Mario Diaz-Balart vote with Democrats to oppose GOP-led immigration bill."


    Weekly Roundup

    "Weekly Roundup: Wait 'Til Next Year."


    Vern on the move

    "This week, Florida’s only member of the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee expanded his portfolio, taking a seat on a congressional subcommittee with jurisdiction over Social Security." "Paul Ryan Adds Social Security to Vern Buchanan's Portfolio."


    Same-sex marriage licenses

    "" "Tampa Bay area prepares to issue same-sex marriage licenses." See also "Florida clerks association: When will it be legal for us to marry gay couples?."


    "An astronomical hosing"

    "Here's the really short version of how the latest big decision about our power bills played out in Tallahassee:"

    Power companies: Hey, Florida, remember when we said we wanted to help customers save energy by encouraging rooftop solar panels?

    Florida: Sure do. And some homes are more energy efficient now. Congratulations!

    Power companies: Yeah, well, that's costing us a boatload. And it's bad for business. Wall Street wants us to increase demand, not reduce it. We'd like for you to go ahead and help us kill those efficiency programs.

    Florida: No problem! We're only the third biggest electricity user in the country. What do we need to save power for?

    "Hard as it is to believe, Florida has managed to launch an even more irresponsible energy policy than it had in the first place."
    We're talking an astronomical hosing of power customers
    "How the PSC is letting you down (again)."


    The best they can do

    "John Couriel, Jose Pazos Try Again to Get to Tallahassee."