Florida Democratic Party News Clips — March 6, 2013
RICK SCOTT'S STATE OF DENIAL: ELECTIONEERING, BROKEN PROMISES, AND EMPTY RHETORIC
Governor Rick Scott Says "It's Working," But Florida Disagrees [Huffington Post] "During Rick Scott's ‘State of the State’ address today in Tallahassee, he made a claim that few Floridians would agree with: 'It's working!' By 'it' he must have meant the policies that have made him one of the least popular governors in the country. It is hard to say what he meant by 'working' because whatever he is doing is clearly not ‘working’ for working Floridians...The fact is: Rick Scott is unpopular because his policies are not working. Last minute political stunts won't change the hardship that working Floridians are facing, the boarded up business they drive past, or the foreclosed homes that litter their neighborhoods. Rick Scott stated today that he wants ‘a war on failure.’ If so, then let's start with the failed policies of our Tallahassee politicians."
Scott Highlights Jobs, Schools in State of State [AP] "Gov. Rick Scott, who was elected to office with the slogan 'Let's get to work,' proclaimed several times 'It's working' during his State of the State address Monday...'Some say they are afraid raises to all teachers may mean that a teacher doing a bad job gets rewarded. But thanks to our work, we are now in a better position than ever before to reward good teachers and move bad teachers out of the classroom,' Scott said. 'We don't want a war on teachers, we want a war on failure.' Democrats responded more enthusiastically to the idea than Republicans. Rep. Geraldine Thompson, an Orlando Democrat, said she was 'elated' to hear Scott talking about the concerns of working class folk. 'You know, connecting to regular people, he should do more of that,' she said. 'That's the Rick Scott seeking to stay in the governor's mansion.'"
Where Scott's Speech Doesn't Work [Gainesville Sun] "[...] The leaders of the Senate and House are, like Scott, conservative Republicans, but there was little indication that they are on the same page...Scott begins his third year in the governor's mansion...Yet on Tuesday he twice tried to declare that he is not a politician...Once again, Scott injected Texas Gov. Rick Perry, a Republican, into a speech. Scott in the past has fawned over Perry's job creation efforts...Given that Perry is now known as a failed GOP presidential candidate who has trouble remembering lists of three, it might not have the impact Scott intended...Scott bashed public policy in Illinois, California and New York, saying taxing policies there hindered those states' growth and helped make Florida more attractive to business leaders. Yet New York and California both reported gross state product - a measure of economic activity equivalent to a national gross domestic product - that dwarf Florida's. And Illinois' GSP increased more in 2011 than Florida's, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. While Florida's economic situation is improving, it is far from matching up to the economic engines of California or New York."
Editorial: Scott plays nice and safe [Tampa Bay News] "[...]Scott's speech failed to address the state's voting debacle or the need for ethics reform — which the Senate unanimously approved Tuesday afternoon. The governor also was silent on property insurance and on utilities collecting hundreds of millions for nuclear plants that may never be built. Applying the sales tax to all Internet sales, or the controversial 'stand your ground' law? They never came up."
Rick Scott: What he says; what it means [Orlando Sentinel] "[...]Big winners: Corporations. No real surprise here...In Florida, every time a legislative gavel bangs, a corporate lobbyist's dreams come true. This year, Scott wants to once again lower corporate income taxes (98 percent of for-profits already pay nothing)...The line [From Scott's Speech]: 'We came into office saying we wanted to create an environment that would encourage businesses to add 700,000 jobs over seven years.'...This is unmitigated hogwash. Scott vowed to create 700,000 jobs 'on top of what normal growth would be' — meaning 1.7 million new jobs, according to state economists. But Scott quickly learned he couldn't meet that goal. So he's been walking back his promise ever since."
DEMOCRATS: It's Not Working
Democrats Respond to Scott, Push Medicaid Expansion [Tampa Bay Times] "Immediately after Gov. Rick Scott concluded his "State of the State" speech, Senate Minority LeaderChris Smith and House Minority Leader Perry Thurston took to the airwaves to respond. During brief remarks on the Florida Channel, both men outlined their session priorities in similar fashion: education, healthcare and election reform. Smith pointed out areas where he agrees and disagrees with Scott, and on Medicaid expansion it appears to be a bit of both. Smith, a Fort Lauderdale Democrat, agrees with the governor that the state should accept federal dollars to expand Medicaid. But Smith doesn't think Scott is taking the right approach by not making this issue one of his top priorities this legislative session. 'He needs to walk the halls, remind members he is the governor, the head of the party and the top of their ticket,' Smith said. Thurston said Medicaid was not only a health care issue, but an economic one. 'Expanding Medicaid under the federal Affordable Care Act is not just an achievable approach to ending Florida’s problem of a vast uninsured populace; It’s also a means of accelerating Florida’s economic recovery to restore our shared prosperity,' Thurston said."
Senators voice frustration at Gov. Scott at rally, “it’s not working” [Orlando Sentinel] "Senators and organizations rallied at the old capitol today to tell Gov. Rick Scott that elections and the education system are not working, despite his State of the State address implying otherwise. Senate Ethics and Elections committee member Sen. Jeff Clemens, D-Lake Worth, voiced his frustrations at the embarrassment of the 2012 elections at the Awake the State rally. 'What we are doing is not working and it didn’t work in 2012 when we had six, seven hour lines for people to be able to vote in the state of Florida,' Clemens said...Sen. Dwight Bullard, D-Cutler Bay, is a teacher and said that Scott has neglected education in previous years, yet now is singing a different tune and hoping people will forget his past decisions. 'As we see our universities face cut, after cut, after cut, including a $300 million cut that the governor made just last year,' Bullard said. 'And clearly, what’s not working…is his memory must not be working because in his very first budget, he chose to cut $1.3 billion out of Florida classroom.’"
Awake the State Rally A Sign of Voter Frustration [Tampa Bay Times] "While House representatives were voting on the Florida Election Code late Tuesday afternoon, a crowd of protestors rallied on the steps outside the old Capital building blasting a flawed 2012 election, with songs, signs and plenty of speeches. The Tallahassee event was part of Awake the State -- Free the Vote grassroots rallies in 23 Florida communities, with appearances by four Democratic senators: Chris Smith of Fort Lauderdale, Jeff Clemens of Lake Worth, Oscar Braynon of Miami Gardens and Dwight Bullard of Miami. Other speakers included Leon County Supervisor of Elections Ion Sancho, students and representatives of the Dream Defenders, Florida NOW, the AFL-CIO and other groups."
Protesters Ring in Opening Day With Boisterous Chants [Tampa Bay Times] "Florida’s lawmakers, elected officials and other dignitaries were welcomed to this year’s legislative session with boisterous protests by more than 100 young people Tuesday, as activists voiced their displeasure with the government. The activists, led by a group called the Dream Defenders, lined up in the halls of the Capitol and sung protest songs and chanted 'the state is ours!' 'We who believe in dreams, cannot rest until it’s won,' the group of protesters sung repeatedly, replacing the word ‘dreams’ with various issues like immigration, students, the future, education, equality and freedom...[Dream Defenders] also supports in-state tuition for children of illegal immigrants and a 'voter access guarantee' voting rights bill sponsored by Rep. Alan Williams, D-Tallahassee.
MORE REACTIONS TO SCOTT'S MOST RECENT ABOUT-FACE
Anger and Kudos as Florida Governor Tacks Left [New York Times] "A few days after Gov. Rick Scott of Florida endorsed a Medicaid expansion, a U-turn so sharply executed that it flabbergasted his supporters, the head of a local Tea Party group typed up a 'breakup note.' 'I’m trying to determine how the Medicaid expansion is going to pay for the surgery to remove the knife planted in my back,' Henry Kelley, the Tea Party leader and an early supporter of Mr. Scott, wrote on his blog. 'This was his issue, his singular core issue,' Mr. Kelley said later in an interview. 'This is why we rallied around him.'...Many Republicans, including members of Mr. Scott’s cabinet, are apoplectic over his support for the Medicaid expansion. A special committee looking at the issue in the State House voted to reject it. The State Senate is still studying the issue, but the House committee vote may have killed it."
The Education Governor – is it Really Rick Scott? [Tampa Bay Newspapers Weekly] "Scott proved to be a virtual nemesis of rank-and-file teachers over the past two years, cutting the state’s education budget and supporting the elimination of teacher tenure. Political realities have set in, and he seems amazed people don’t love him for the job he’s doing. In the wake of fellow Republicans’ drubbing in the last election, Scott suddenly faces the prospect of a very tough re-election...The same political fear that drove Scott might actually get through to enough legislators to give Florida’s teachers boosts in pay and morale. But Rick Scott shouldn’t expect anyone who supports public education to stumble over themselves rushing to thank him."
JEB's IMMIGRATION FLIP-FLOP-FLIP:
"HE MIGHT AS WELL BE ROMNEY!" VIDEO: FL Dems Vice Chair Annette Taddeo on MSNBC's Ed Schultz show to Discuss Jeb's Immigration Flip-Flop
The Mighty Jeb Bush Comes Down to Earth [National Journal] "His waffling and word-mincing on immigration has stunned reformers, frustrated friends, and left Democrats relishing the public-relations disaster. “@JebBush a flip-flop-flip on immigration? Wow,” said Democratic National Party Chairman Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida on Twitter. “I fashioned you more of a baseball player than a gymnast. My bad.”
Jeb Bush Immigration Move 'Undercuts' Reform Effort [Huffington Post] "Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), one of the members crafting an immigration bill in the upper chamber, said Tuesday that former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush's opposition to a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants could damage their effort...Bush, a Republican, and lawyer Clint Bolick wrote in a newly released book,Immigration Wars, that undocumented immigrants should be denied a pathway to citizenship. However, the former governor had previously said he would support a pathway. 'It is absolutely vital to the integrity of our immigration system that actions have consequences -- in this case, that those who violated the law can remain but cannot obtain the cherished fruits of citizenship,' they wrote. 'To do otherwise would signal once again that people who circumvent the system can still obtain the full benefits of American citizenship.' Graham differs on that point, as do the rest of the members of the "gang of eight" working on an immigration reform plan. Their framework would allow undocumented immigrants already in the country to become citizens, but only after border security metrics were met and the immigrants went through a long process."
RPOF HIRED GROUP ADMITS TO VOTER REGISTRATION FRAUD
Florida Finds Evidence of Voter Registration Fraud [Miami Herald] "Two employees of a company once aligned with the Republican Party of Florida admitted to law-enforcement authorities that they forged voter registration forms...The Florida Department of Law Enforcement reported Tuesday that the two ex-employees were charged with a third degree felony. But prosecutors back in January decided to place both of them on probation because neither has a criminal history. Strategic Allied Consulting was hired by Republicans to do voter registration drives in Florida and other states. But last fall, the state party fired the company and took the additional step of filing an election fraud complaint against the company with state officials."
HYPOCRISY ALERT: WEATHERFORD'S SAFETY NET STORY FULL OF HOLES
Fla House Speaker Opposes Medicaid Expansion. But His Dad Says Medicaid Helped His Family [Tampa Bay Times] "In outlining his opposition to expanding Medicaid on Tuesday, Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford told an emotional story about how his family relied on existing safety nets to provide health care for his 13-month-old brother...He left out one detail, the name of the safety net. According to his father, it was Medicaid. The federal-state health care program for the poor covered more than $100,000 in Peter's medical costs, Weatherford's father told the Times/Herald. 'There was no way I could pay that,' said Bill Weatherford, 62, when reached by phone in Odessa. The House speaker, asked later, said Medicaid did not help cover his brother's hospital bills and that he thinks his father was mistaken. He said he would look into the matter."
‘Safety net’ of Weatherford’s anti-Medicaid expansion tale apparently hospital charity [Palm Beach Post] "[...] Weatherford said he believes in providing a safety net for the poor — because his own family benefited from it when facing staggering medical bills. But when pressed later to explain the help given his family, Weatherford was at a loss. Later, however, a Weatherford staffer called The Palm Beach Post to acknowledge that charity care apparently covered the family’s expenses...Hours after his speech, when asked to expand on his story, Weatherford told reporters that his family didn’t receive Medicaid. He also initially declined to answer whether medical professionals wrote off the family’s cost as uncompensated charity care. 'I don’t want to get into the specifics of what my parents had to deal with,' he said. A staffer later said Weatherford believes the care his family received probably was uncompensated."
HOUSE ELECTIONS REFORM DOESN'T GO FAR ENOUGH
House Approves Subpar Voting Bill [News Service of Florida] "[...]We are not moving forward,' said Rep. Jose Javier Rodriguez, D-Miami. 'If anything, we're just getting back to the starting point to begin the discussion of, how do we make things right here in the state of Florida.' Or, in the words of Rep. Cynthia Stafford, D-Miami: 'This bill is not where I want it to be, but thank God it's not where it used to be.'...Florida Democratic Party Executive Director Scott Areceneaux flayed the measure in a statement. 'House Republicans today failed to pass serious and substantive elections reform with the passage of HB 7013,' Arceneaux said. 'Rick Scott and the GOP are responsible for breaking Florida's elections system with the passage of the voter suppression law and today's vote shows their unwillingness to undo the damage they caused.'"
Editorial: Short-sighted land deal [Tampa Tribune] "A short-sighted measure in the Florida Legislature would essentially put an end to the state and local land conservation programs, making it impossible to preserve the natural treasures that are the foundation of the state's appeal. Credit Sen. Alan Hays of Umatilla and Rep. Charlie Stone of Ocala for this scheme. Their legislation would prevent the state or any local government from buying land for conservation unless an equal amount of land was sold by the public authority. This is sheer idiocy. The two Republican lawmakers should talk to former Republican Gov. Bob Martinez, who with lawmakers in 1990 launched Preservation 2000, the comprehensive land-buying program that continues today as Florida Forever. It has preserved more than 2.2 million acres, and Florida is far the better for it."