The Buzz

From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Who's that big shot Dem campaigning for GOP Fla House candidate?

Steve Schale and Chris Latvala


Steve Schale and Chris Latvala

Whoda thunk you'd see Democratic consultant Steve Schale pounding the pavement in Pinellas County on behalf of Republican state House candidate Chris Latvala? Schale, after all,  is one of the brightest lights in Florida Democratic political circles, having helped Obama win Florida twice and now helping Charlie Crist, try to unseat Gov. Rick Scott. And House District 67 at least on paper should be one of the more competitive districts in Florida, one in which some credible Democrats are running.

"Lord. Chris is a friend. That's all it is," Schale responded when asked if he was wearing his senior Crist advisor hat, his lobbyist hat, or his idealist, bi-partisan advocate hat while knocking on doors for Latvala. (Chris' whose father, Republican Sen. Jack Latvala could become Senate President, and also prove helpful to Schale and his clients).

" I'm walking for Karen Castor this weekend. Both were friends before I put on any Crist or lobbying jerseys.  And yes, there is an element of trying to do my very small part to reduce the partisan temperature," Schale said. "I remain an idealist, even after nearly 20 years in the business." …

Full Story

Bob Gualtieri, Drug Free America worry about broad medical marijuana language

It’s not that Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri is against access to the potential medical benefits of marijuana; He’s worried about the side effects.

During a visit to the Tampa Bay Times editorial board Wednesday, Gualtieri expressed dismay about Amendment 2, the medical marijuana initiative on this November’s ballot. Gualtieri, constitutional attorney Susan Kelsey and Dr. Rafael Miguel of the Sarasota Memorial Institute for Advanced Medicine’s Pain Medicine Program, were representing Drug Free America’s campaign against the amendment.


The sheriff said the broad language of the proposal leaves plenty of room for potential pitfalls, not the least of which is making access to marijuana easier for addicts. He added he wasn’t sure that the state Department of Health would be able to institute sufficient controls to manage cultivation and distribution of the drug within the time frame specified under the amendment.


Full Story

Common Core support declining

Public support for Common Core, the education standards supported heavily by Jeb Bush, has suffered as more people learn about it, according to a new poll.

While 80 percent of Americans have heard about Common Core, 60 percent oppose requiring teachers to use the standards to guide instruction, states the survey by PDK/Gallup.
Opposition among Republicans was at 76 percent. Among Democrats, it was 38 percent, and independents 60 percent.

“For the 33% of Americans who favor the Common Core, the most important reason is because it will help more students learn what they need to know regardless of where they go to school,” a polling memo reads. “For the 60% of Americans who oppose using the Common Core, their most important reason is that it will limit the flexibility that teachers have to teach what they think is best.”

Other polls have shown declining support for the standards used by dozens of states. Florida adopted the standards but, under fire, made some tweaks and scrubbed the controvesial name. They are now called the Florida Standards.

The new poll includes comments from the public, including Abby Scott Goff, a mother of two from St. Augustine. …

Full Story

About those scandalous Charlie Crist billboards

Here's the billboard image provided by the Crist campaign, showing a disclaimer in the lower right

Charlie Crist campaign

Here's the billboard image provided by the Crist campaign, showing a disclaimer in the lower right

The Republican Party of Florida filed a complaint with the the Florida Elections Commission against the Charlie Crist campaign this week for allegedly failing to include the mandatory prominent disclaimers  that tell people who is paying for the ad. Yawn. Seemed like yet another petty complaint that nobody other than a couple partisan operatives cares about.

To us, the real scandal would be if the Charlie Crist campaign actually spent money to erect big billboards near his hometown where his name ID already is 99 percent. Turns out, the billboard were in-kind donations from W.S. Media Inc. of Sarasota, an outfit connected with chiropractor and longtime Crist ally Gary Kompothecras and Jay Burmer, another longtime Crist friend and political operative who works with Mr. 1-800-Ask-Gary.

The Crist campaign of course scoffed at the complaint and sent an image of their billboard clearly showing the disclaimer. That should put the matter to rest, right? It would, but the image released by the Crist campaign is nonsense. In reality, the billboard's disclaimer is virtually invisible.

Does it matter? Not a bit to normal voters. It might to the Florida Elections Commission, however.

Full Story

Rubio to raise money in Buffalo

The Buffalo News reports that Sen. Marco Rubio will appear at a Sept. 14 fundraiser at the East Aurora home of businessman Jeremy Jacobs Jr.

"That date also happens to coincide with the appearance of the visiting Miami Dolphins at Ralph Wilson Stadium against the Buffalo Bills, with several sources indicating they expect the Floridian to attend the home opener at Ralph Wilson Stadium before his evening event in East Aurora.

"According to a copy of the invitation obtained by The Buffalo News, the event will be hosted by Jacobs and fellow businessmen Anthony H. Gioia, Patrick P. Lee and Mark Hamister, along with their wives. Tickets for the “general reception” are listed at $2,500, and $5,000 for a 'private dinner' at the Jacobs home."

Full Story

Video: Gov. Scott maintains silence as scientists urge him to commit to action on climate

Gov. Rick Scott listened to five of Florida’s top climate scientists Tuesday as they urged him to show leadership and develop policies to offset the impact of human-induced climate change to the state. Story here.





Full Story

Corrections officials announce new reforms after inmate deaths

Florida’s Department of Corrections, embarrassed by reports of a mentally ill inmate killed by guards — allegedly when they locked him in a brutally hot shower and left him — says it is instituting a series of system-wide reforms.

The measures will be unveiled Wednesday morning at a news conference at Everglades Correctional Institution.

“Stories report we have fallen short in specific instances with regard to facility leadership, safety, security, training and services for mentally ill inmates,” said Mike Crews, secretary of the department. “We’re fixing the problems that have been identified and as we identify new issues, we will fix those too. Our department should be held to the highest standards, and I have zero tolerance for anything less.”

Two years ago in June, 50-year-old Darren Rainey was marched into a locked, closet-like shower and left there for as long as two hours, until he collapsed and died. The shower was used on several occasions as a form of punishment for mentally ill inmates, fellow inmates have told the Herald. Story by Julie K. Brown here. 

Full Story

Fact-checking claims about education in the race for governor

School was out for most students this summer, but education attacks in the race for governor never took a vacation. PolitiFact Florida has been monitoring the claims and has a report card on how education spending changed under both Charlie Crist and Rick Scott. Both Scott and Crist cite numbers for education funding, but they omit context, including a historic recession and the role of the Legislature or the federal government. Read PolitiFact Florida's full report.

Full Story

Rick Scott releases first Creole-language radio spot

Gov. Rick Scott started his Spanish-language media outreach earlier than ever -- especially for a Republican -- and now he's doing the same with Creole speakers.

Today, the Republican Party of Florida unveiled its first Creole radio ad that, like most of Scott's English- and Spanish-language spots is about one major thing: jobs. The ad's title: "Lap Travay," literally translated as "it works," is an echo of the Scott campaign's "it's working" motto.

"We should expect from our elected officials that if they make a promise, they keep it," a female narrator says. "In 2010, Governor Rick Scott promised to fix Florida’s economy and get the state to start creating jobs.  Today, Florida has created over 600,000 private sector jobs."

The ad then pivots to Scott's track record on tax cuts and education spending (PolitiFact check to follow). …

Full Story

Fla poll: Rick Scott 44%, Charlie Crist 41%, Adrian Wyllie 4%

The latest Survey USA  robo poll for WFLA-8,shows Rick Scott leading Charlie Crist, but within the 4.2 percent margin of error. From WFLA:

Gov. Rick Scott has a 3-point lead over Democrat Charlie Crist, heading into the week before the primary election, according to the latest News Channel 8 poll.

The poll shows Scott with 44 percent of the vote compared with 41 percent for Crist, the former governor now running as a Democrat. Crist takes on former state senator Nan Rich in the primary election August 26, but has focused his campaign against the current governor.

Scott's lead over Crist widened slightly from a 2-point race in the previous poll on August 5.

More here

Full Story

Scott listens but won't commit to climate change appeal by scientists

Scott and climate changeGov. Rick Scott listened to five of Florida’s top climate scientists Tuesday as they urged him to show leadership and develop policies to offset the impact of human-induced climate change to the state.

But the governor whose campaign strategy has been to say nothing on the issue except that he is "not a scientist," stayed true to his plan. He would not comment, question or commit to whether or not he believes the warnings by the experts deserve his attention.

"Thank you all,’’ Scott said as the scientists finished their presentations within the 30-minute time period set aside to meet with them. His policy aide, Noah Valenstein, thanked the scientists for attending, and the governor exited the room. Next on the governor’s schedule was "staff and call time,’’ his aides said.

The scientists, who are the top in their fields at the Universities of Miami, and Florida State and Eckerd College had asked for the meeting a month ago to explain the urgency of developing a more activist set of policies to mitigate the impact of global warming.

Scott initially announced that his staff would meet with the scientists, he agreed to personally meet with them after former Gov. Charlie Crist, a Democratic candidate for governor and climate change believer, announced he would have a meeting with the experts.

Photo: Eckerd College Marine Science Professor David Hastings speaks to Gov. Rick Scott and his aide, Noah Valenstein, about why Florida should take action now to offset the impact of climate change.Full Story

Annette Taddeo raising money in St Pete

Charlie Crist's younger sister Catherine Kennedy will host lt. Gov. candidate Annette Taddeo at her Placido Bayou home in St. Petersburg Wednesday evening. The minimum suggested contribution is $250 to attend the  "Women for Charlie" reception .

Full Story

David Rivera named co-conspirator in campaign finance case

The following is from the Miami Herald:

Miami congressional candidate and ex-U.S. Rep. David Rivera was officially named as a co-conspirator Tuesday in federal court when his friend and confederate pleaded guilty to criminal campaign-finance violations

That defendant, Ana Alliegro, didn’t name Rivera — that was done by a federal prosecutor at the urging of a judge who wanted to know the identity of a man previously identified only as a “co-conspirator.

According to prosecutors that person, along with Alliegro, secretly funded the 2012 Democratic primary campaign of ringer candidate Justin Lamar Sternad, who has been sentenced to seven months in prison

Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Mulvihill initially declined to name Rivera, but then did so at the direction of U.S. District Judge Robert Scola. Court records had already indicated that Rivera, a Republican, was unnamed “Co-Conspirator A.” Sternad and his attorney had also named the former congressman.

Rivera did not immediately return a call to his cellphone Tuesday. His voice mailbox was full. (full story here)

Full Story

Third time's the charm for Florida's newest parole commissioner

It took Rick Davison three times, but the veteran state criminal justice official achieved his goal Tuesday. Gov. Rick Scott and the Cabinet appointed him to a plum position as a state parole commissioner on the newly-renamed Florida Commission on Offender Review.

Davison will serve a six-year term through 2020 and replaces Bernard Cohen, whose term expired. The full-time position pays about $92,000 a year and is subject to Senate confirmation in the 2015 session.

Davison, 51, has a law degree from the University of Florida. He's a former high-level administrator in the departments of corrections and juvenile justice and worked as a prosecutor in the Office of Statewide Prosecution. Voting records show he's a registered Democrat, and he had applied twice before for a seat on the three-member panel.

Florida abolished parole in 1983 but the commission lives on and continues to hear petitions for parole from inmates who were sentenced before then.


Full Story

Patrick Murphy seeks to run back to Washington

Here's a catchy ad from Rep. Patrick Murphy. The Democrat runs along a path as he talks about rejecting congressional perks, like use of a gym. We'll soon know which Republican will face him in the general election but in general, Murphy looks a lot stronger than he did only months ago.

Full Story