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Florida Democratic Party News Clips - August 5, 2013

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ELECTIONS OFFICIAL CALLS RICK SCOTT'S VOTER PURGE "INACCURATE" AND "DISGUSTING" 

Renewed 'scrub' of Florida voter list has elections officials on edge [Tampa Bay Times] "Gov. Rick Scott will soon launch a new hunt for noncitizens on Florida's voter roll, a move that's sure to provoke new cries of a voter 'purge' as Scott ramps up his own re-election effort. Similar searches a year ago were rife with errors, found few ineligible voters and led to lawsuits by advocacy groups who said it disproportionately targeted Hispanics, Haitians and other minority groups. Those searches were handled clumsily and angered county election supervisors, who lost confidence in the state's list of names. 'It was sloppy, it was slapdash and it was inaccurate,' said Polk County Supervisor of Elections Lori Edwards. 'They were sending us names of people to remove because they were born in Puerto Rico. It was disgusting.'"

 

WILL RICK SCOTT SHOW LEADERSHIP OR CONTINUE TO BE "JEB BUSH'S ERRAND BOY" AFTER BENNETT'S RESIGNATION

Gov. Rick Scott has a chance to get education right [Tampa Bay Times] "What you have before you today, Gov. Scott, is a chance to reshape education in Florida, a chance to restore confidence in public schools and a chance to prove you care more about people than policies. Either that, or you can look like Jeb Bush's errand boy. It really is that simple. It's been nearly seven years since Bush left Tallahassee, but he still looms over classrooms like some sort of education Godfather. You already know that because you know three former Bush chiefs of staff have served on the state's Board of Education since he left office. And you know the last two education commissioners hired on your watch — neither of whom lasted more than a year — have been devoted Bush disciples."

 

RICK SCOTT'S COMMITMENT TO "GET TO WORK" FALTERS

Rick Scott apparently has had enough Let's Get to Work days [Tampa Bay Times] "Best we can tell, Gov. Rick Scott hasn't had a "Let's Get to Work Day" since January. Back in 2011, the governor announced that he was mimicking Gov. Bob Graham's work days as a way to travel the state, meet people, learn what they do and -- this is us talking -- get some easy, noncontroversial publicity. But those work days seem to have stopped after his January visit to Goya Foods, Scott's 15th work day. Graham reportedly totaled 408 work days."

 

PAM BONDI ATTEMPTS TO RUN AND HIDE FROM ALLIED VETS DEPOSITION  

Attorney General Pam Bondi seeks to avoid deposition in Allied Veterans case [Florida Times Union] "Prosecutors and defense attorneys in the Allied Veterans of the World case are disputing whether Attorney General Pam Bondi must answer a subpoena and testify. Court records show the state has asked a judge to quash a subpoena for Bondi, who is scheduled for a deposition next week by attorneys for several defendants in the gambling and money laundering case. Bondi argued in her motion that her testimony is no different from what other witnesses could offer and she is entitled to 'testimonial immunity' due to her rank. Defense attorney Curtis Fallgatter argued in court documents that Bondi was briefed on Allied Veterans’ business model for its gaming centers, and accepted a hand-delivered contribution for $25,000 addressed to the state of Florida but intended for her campaign in 2010."

 

PALM BEACH POST: GOP LEGISLATURE, NOT OBAMACARE, TO BLAME FOR INSURANCE RATE INCREASE

If health insurance rates rise, blame Tallahassee, not Obamacare [Palm Beach Post] "When The Post reported on Tuesday that health insurance policies in Florida’s individual market will rise 30 percent to 40 percent when the Affordable Care Act takes effect next year, one reader asked, 'What happened to "This will bend the cost curve down?"' That was the response state legislators hoped for last spring, when they suspended for two years the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation’s authority to approve health insurance rates. Legislators wanted consumers to blame President Obama and the law. Consumers should blame Tallahassee...While Florida GOP legislators — most of whom enjoy cheap, taxpayer-subsidized health coverage — stick it to consumers to make the law look bad, other states are doing the opposite. Maryland insurance regulators cut proposed rates by as much as a third for health plans on that state’s exchange, citing flawed data and unreasonable assumptions. Floridians buying policies on our exchange won’t know if the jacked-up prices are unreasonable or not. That’s not a health care law problem. It’s the politics over people problem in Tallahassee."

 

FCIR: WEATHERFORD HAS UNDISCLOSED CONNECTION TO CITIZENS CONTRACTOR

House Speaker Will Weatherford connected to Citizens contractor [Florida Center for Investigative Reporting] "State House Speaker Will Weatherford is a founding member and former director of a Texas company that since 2008 has received $826,676 from Florida's state-run insurance company, according to records obtained by the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting. Weatherford, a Republican who represents Wesley Chapel, has never disclosed his and his wife Courtney's relationship with Mt. Pleasant, Texas-based U.S. Cat Adjusters, which has been a contractor for Citizens Property Insurance for five years — while Weatherford was a member of the Florida House of Representatives."

 

BENNETT'S RESIGNATION CALLS INTO QUESTION VALIDITY OF A-F SYSTEM

Tony Bennett scandal sparks new discussion on validity of school grading [Tampa Bay Times] "The national push to grade schools has slammed into an unexpected roadblock, causing even supporters to question the validity of the widely celebrated A-F system that Florida started 14 years ago. Thank former Florida Education Commissioner Tony Bennett. 'This conversation was coming,' said Anne Hyslop, an education policy analyst for the nonpartisan New America Foundation. 'The actions of Tony Bennett and his staff, and what happened in Indiana, made it come sooner...What happened in Indiana undermined a lot of the accountability principles that Tony Bennett seemed to want to uphold.' In his zeal to ensure the credibility of a fledgling grading system in Indiana, Bennett decided to tweak the formula as state superintendent in 2012 when it became clear that one school — run by a political supporter — wasn't on track for the A grade he believed it deserved."