In the News

Florida Democratic Party News Clips – May 10, 2013


Gov. Scott’s underwhelming leadership during legislative session [Sun Sentinel] “With the legislative session over and the dust of lawmakers departing Tallahassee barely settled, Gov. Rick Scott this week took to the campaign trail for a victory lap that was more a display of uninspired leadership than a cause for celebration…But on the key issues of the day, the governor’s performance this session can best be described as underwhelming. Too often when leadership was called for, Gov. Scott demurred…Gov. Scott let the Legislature decide the details of healthcare reform in Florida. And in the end, nothing happened. So now, in a state where one in four people lacks health insurance, Florida plans to reject $51 billion over the next decade, money meant to help poor people see a doctor. Instead, our tax money will go to help people in other states…Gov. Scott had the opportunity to fight for far more than teacher pay raises and a sales tax exemption, but rather than address enduring and sizable problems, he set low expectations. No much-publicized meetings with the House Speaker and Senate President. No arm twisting of influential committee chairs. And definitely no pleas to the public to call their legislators to do the right thing…Gov. Scott got what he wanted out of the legislative session, and now he’s basking in victories that simply don’t measure up.”



DOJ sues hospice firm founded by Gaetz [AP] “The Department of Justice is suing the hospice company founded by Florida’s Senate president, accusing it of submitting tens of millions of dollars in fraudulent Medicare claims for more than a decade, including while Don Gaetz was vice chairman of the board. Vitas Hospice and Vitas Healthcare submitted claims for emergency services for patients that weren’t needed, weren’t provided, or were provided to patients who weren’t eligible under Medicare requirements, according to the DOJ. The companies set goals for the number of crisis-care days to be billed and pressured their employees to submit more claims so it would get more revenue, the lawsuit said. The agency said Medicare payments for crisis care can be hundreds of dollars greater than typical hospice care payments…Gaetz was vice chairman of the board during part of the time that federal investigators allege the fraud took place…Medicare fraud costs taxpayers an estimated $60 billion a year and federal officials frequently point to Florida, particularly South Florida, as ground zero for the complex scams. Florida Gov. Rick Scott was ousted from his role as CEO of Columbia/HCA after a Medicare fraud investigation led to the company paying a $1.7 billion settlement.”



Editorial: Delay Florida’s teacher evaluation system until federal judge rules on union lawsuit [Palm Beach Post] “A Leon County Circuit Court judge has ruled that the teacher evaluations ordered up in 2011 by Gov. Rick Scott and the Legislature do not violate the Florida Constitution. So now they’re legal, but they’re still absurd. The Florida Education Association had asked the court to rule that the law requiring local school boards to tie pay to evaluation results violated teachers’ right to collective bargaining. The judge found, however, that meaningful negotiations can happen within the framework of evaluations. Too bad the evaluations themselves aren’t meaningful. Politicians and education bureaucrats continue to pretend that they can isolate the teacher’s role in a student’s success or failure from other variables that affect learning…As teachers have emphasized, one aspect of Florida’s evaluation system is even more nonsensical. Because state-approved high-stakes tests are given in limited years in limited subjects, most teachers are evaluated at least in part based on scores of students they don’t even teach and/or in subjects they don’t teach…Gov. Scott and Florida Education Secretary Tony Bennett should lead a push to delay implementation of the evaluation system until it can be shown to be valid. If they won’t protect Florida teachers, the federal courts should.”



School safety funding left largely unchanged [Herald Tribune] “Despite the talk of increasing school safety after the Connecticut elementary school shooting last December, Florida lawmakers left safety funding largely unchanged when they finished their annual session last week. he $74.5 billion budget bill that Gov. Rick Scott received on Thursday contains the same amount of school safety money — $64.5 million — that is in the current budget. Lawmakers did set aside an additional $1 million for a safety survey at each of Florida’s schools, looking for ways to improve security.”



Candidate for state House owed nearly $12,000 in unpaid taxes [Tampa Bay Times] “Tax Collector Sally Daniel was one of several well-known Hernando County Republicans who stood behind Blaise Ingoglia on Wednesday when he announced he was running for the state House of Representatives. At the time, Ingoglia owed Daniel’s office $11,864.75 for two years’ worth of delinquent property taxes on his Spring Hill home, records show. He also has been late paying taxes on the property several previous years.”



PPP: FL backs pro-citizenship-path candidates 49-29 percent. GOP voters? Not so much. [Miami Herald] “Florida’s Hispanic voters, the fastest-growing segment of the state’s electorate, are the most likely to support candidates who back a path to citizenship for those illegally in the country, a new poll from a Democratic-leaning firm has found. Seven in 10 Hispanic voters said they’d be more likely to vote for a pro-pathway candidate, compared to 49 percent of African-Americans and 47 percent of non-Hispanic whites, the survey from Public Policy Polling shows. Overall, 49 percent of Florida voters overall said they’d back a pro-pathway candidate and only 29 percent said they’d be less likely to do so. But the poll also indicates that Florida congressional support for an immigration-reform bill is no sure thing due to Republican concerns with a pathway to citizenship…’No matter how you might color it, amnesty is amnesty,’ Rep. C.W. Bill Young, R-Indian Shores, said, summing up opposition.  But comments like that also concern Republican leaders in Florida and the nation. The electorate is becoming less white, and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney lost a large percentage of the Hispanic vote to President Obama.”

New poll: Floridians support pathway to citizenship in immigration reform [Orlando Sentinel] “Two out of three Floridians support or strongly support the idea that immigration reform should include a pathway to citizenship for some undocumented residents, according to a new poll. The political activism group Project New America with support from a related group Florida New Majority, also commissioned identical surveys in four I-4 corridor congressional districts and found similar results among the constituents of U.S. Reps. Dan Webster of Winter Garden, Gus Bilirakis of Tarpon Springs, Dennis Ross of Lakeland and Tom Rooney of Tequesta…The survey also found a strong plurality of voters statewide and in each district who said they would be more likely to vote for a candidate who supported a pathway to citizenship than a candidate who opposed such a pathway.”

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