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Florida Democratic Party News Clips - March 27, 2013

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FORMER RPOF CHAIR GETS SENTENCED TODAY, FACES UP TO 35 YEARS BEHIND BARS

Former Fla. GOP Leader Faces Sentencing [AP] "The former chair of the Republican Party of Florida is facing sentencing, completing the fall of a man who was once one of the most powerful political figures in the state. Jim Greer could face a prison sentence of 3 1/2 to 35 years when he goes before a judge Wednesday in Orlando. He pleaded guilty to four counts of theft and a single count of money laundering last month, right before his trial was scheduled to start."

 

Former Florida GOP Chairman to be Sentenced Today [Orlando Sentinel] "Today, Jim Greer, who was one of the most powerful political figures in Florida four years ago, will appear in an Orlando courtroom and learn whether he's going to prison. He is to be sentenced for five crimes he committed against the Florida GOP while serving as its chairman. Six weeks ago, he entered a surprise guilty plea to four counts of theft and one count of money laundering, tacitly admitting that he had stolen $125,000 in party funds in 2009."

 

SCOTT’S CONTROVERSIAL TAX INCENTIVES QUESTIONED AFTER 'BOONDOGGLE'

Legislative Leaders Were Informed of $20 Million Digital Domain Deal; Similar Incentive Boondoggle Could Happen Again [Florida Times Union] "Despite public claims to the contrary, legislative leaders were notified of a $20 million taxpayer-funded incentive package that flowed to a now bankrupt company, according to an inspector general’s report. In September, Gov. Rick Scott requested his Inspector General to examine $20 million in incentives -known as Quick Action Closing Funds - doled out to now-defunct Digital Domain, a digital production company."

 

WOEFUL POLL NUMBERS  DOG GOV. SCOTT BEGINS REELECTION 

Gov. Scott Beginning to Campaign For Reelection [News Service of Florida] "If there was any question, Gov. Rick Scott is in re-election campaign mode...Still, Scott appears to have a job to do. Two recent polls have shown Crist ahead of Scott in a hypothetical governor's race, and while some polls have shown improvement for the governor, he is still hampered by low approval ratings."

 

2014 Gubernatorial Race Shapes Up: What Gov. Scott and Dem Challengers Are Doing [WFSU] "The 2014 gubernatorial race is shaping up, as Governor Rick Scott has released his first campaign ad this week. While Scott has at least one Democratic challenger, other potential candidates are lining up to say 'Don’t count me out.'...According to some polls, Scott would lose to several potential Democratic challengers—with two particular polls, one by Quinnipiac University and another by Public Policy Polling Institute, showing that Scott would lose to former Governor Charlie Crist, a potential Democratic nominee."

 

PARENTS, TEACHERS, SCHOOL DISTRICTS, THE FEA AND PTA ALL AGREE: SAY NO TO PARENT TRIGGER

Rival Groups on 'Parent Trigger' Bill Ratchet Up Pressure [Lakeland Ledger] "With a key vote looming in the Florida House, rival groups ratcheted up their arguments Tuesday on a bill that would give parents a stronger voice in charting a turnaround course for failing public schools...Jeff Wright with the Florida Education Association said later that the bill was being orchestrated by school-choice advocates and has been heavily lobbied by charter school supporters. 'Why are no parents from this state participating in these conversations?' he asked. "And the parents who care here have said, "This isn't what we want." We believe we have the influence back home to tell our school boards what we want done with these schools.'"

 

Debate Intensifies in Parent-Trigger Debate [The Florida Current] "Jeff Wright says there’s more to the story than what's told by proponents of the 'parental trigger' bill. The public policy advocate for the Florida Education Association stood in the back of the room Tuesday while supporters of HB 867 and its companion, SB 862, contended that all the legislation does is give parents leverage to initiate change in a failing public school...In addition to the FEA, the state Parent Teacher Association, school districts and grassroots parents groups are opposed to the bill. It has moved through House committees on party-line votes with Democrats against it. Much of the opposition centers on the fear that it enables for-profit charter-school management companies to take over traditional public schools."

 

MIAMI HERALD EDITORIAL: WEATHERFORD'S ETHICS REFORM 'HEADING IN THE WRONG DIRECTION', NOT 'GENUINE REFORM'

Editorial: Eliminate Slush Funds [Miami Herald] "The drive to change the state’s loophole-ridden campaign finance laws continues to gather steam in the state Legislature...But if the ultimate goal of this effort is to reduce the influence of money in politics — as it should be — lawmakers seem to be heading in the wrong direction...This is not reform...Voters should let their lawmakers know this is not what they consider genuine reform."

 

SEN. BILL NELSON IN N. FLORIDA TODAY TACKLING SERIES OF ISSUES

Florida Sen. Bill Nelson Calls For Investigation of Mortgage Aid Program [Tampa Bay Times] "Sen. Bill Nelson is calling for a federal investigation of Florida's Hardest Hit Fund, a $1 billion mortgage assistance program that has denied aid to thousands of desperate homeowners while helping felons, tax scofflaws and people chronically in debt. Nelson's request was prompted by a Tampa Bay Times investigation that uncovered dozens of homeowners with questionable backgrounds getting aid. It also comes as state officials are moving forward with a plan that could change how some of the money is used. Starting in the Tampa Bay area, they propose spending $50 million in Hardest Hit Fund money to reduce loan principals, a boon to homeowners who owe more than their property is worth."

 

Bill Nelson Visits Silver Springs [WUFT] "Florida Senator Bill Nelson remembers when Silver Springs was crystal clear to its silver, sandy bottom. Now, it’s not. Nelson spent Tuesday afternoon at Silver Springs with representatives from Marion County to bring attention to a problem that is literally growing every day. That problem is algae. A few weeks ago, commissioners from Marion County traveled to Washington, D.C., to speak with Nelson about the problem. With an upcoming trip to Tallahassee already planned, he decided to make a stop at Silver Springs to see the issue firsthand."

 

Sen. Nelson, Scientists to Visit Dozier Wednesday [Jackson County Floridian] "U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson will accompany a team of anthropologists and law enforcement officials to the now-shuttered Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys in Marianna Wednesday as scientists prepare for exhuming an unknown number of bodies believed to be buried at the site. The lawmaker’s office issued a press release Tuesday saying the visit comes along with news he brought Monday from the Department of Justice that there is some $3 million in federal funding available for exhuming and identifying missing persons with DNA."

 

TAMPA MAYOR BUCKHORN DELIVERS STATE OF THE CITY

State of the City: Buckhorn Urges Tampa to 'Think Big' [Tampa Tribune] "A standing-room crowd packed the ground floor of downtown's dilapidated Kress building this morning to hear Mayor Bob Buckhorn deliver his second 'State of the City' address. The mix of city employees, elected officials, community activists and downtown residents listened as Buckhorn painted a picture of a city on the rise. Crime is down 60 percent in a decade, he said. Downtown is booming like it used to decades ago, he said. 'We don't have to settle anymore,' Buckhorn said. 'We don't have to aspire to second best…Tampa, it's time to dream big. It's time to think big.'"

 

Editorial: Buckhorn’s Infectious Enthusiasm [Tampa Tribune] "A revealing moment came during Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn’s spirited State of the City speech, when he acknowledged the city faced a $20 million budget deficit. Given the mayor’s previous litany of promising developments, the acknowledgment was a bit jarring. But it also underscored Buckhorn’s strength as a leader. He confronts the city’s possibilities and problems with the same enthusiasm. So he made the $20 million challenge seem a manageable obstacle — and it no doubt is. Buckhorn faced deficits of $34 million and $26 million his first two years, and crafted budgets that didn’t raise taxes or wreck city services, though they did utilize the city’s budget reserves...This pro-business Democrat offers a winning vision of an innovative, inclusive city that can compete with any urban area in the South. He is approaching his goals methodically...Speeches are not actions, but anyone who shares the mayor’s aspirations for Tampa could not help but be excited and impressed."