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The Buzz

From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Winner and loser of the week in Fla politics

Winner of the week

Pinellas County. There will probably never be so perfect a patron of pork for Pinellas as the late C.W. Bill Young, but it certainly doesn't hurt the county that Young's successor, U.S. Rep. David Jolly, R-Indian Shores, has landed a plum seat on the U.S. House Appropriations Committee.

Loser of the week

Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown. Florida Republicans have placed a giant target on Jacksonville's Democratic mayor, who is up for re-election in March — on the heels of Republicans turning out in far greater numbers than Democrats earlier this month. Last week, Brown was caught up in the uproar about rape allegations against Bill Cosby. Brown agreed to return money raised at a September fundraiser in Manhattan that was headlined by Cosby.

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New documents show GOP consultants steered Republican lawmakers in redistricting

By Kathleen McGrory, Michael Van Sickler and Sergio Bustos, Times/Herald Tallahassee Bureau …

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Political Connections video: Remember when Jim Greer was poised to blow up Crist campaign?

Jim Greer, the former state GOP chairman and best friend of Charlie Crist who went to prison for stealing money from the state party, was expected to be a player in the governor's race, dredging up stories that Crist would not want told. A tell-all book by best-selling author Peter Golenbock came out just as Greer was released from prison.

Turns out Greer was barely mentioned by Crist's critics, who did not want to highlight the ugly things he said about other Republican leaders, from Marco Rubio to John Thrasher. And Greer, trying to get his life back on track, declined media interviews after his release.

Today on Political Connections on Bay News 9, Golenbock discusses the Greer saga. It airs in Tampa Bay at 11 and 8 p.m. and later on-demand on Ch. 999. Here's a clip.

 

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Rubio campaigns for Cassidy in Louisiana

Rubio campaigns in Louisiana

Cassidy campaign

Rubio campaigns in Louisiana

Sen. Marco Rubio is in Louisiana today to campaign for Bill Cassidy, who is in a runoff with Sen. Mary Landrieu.

The flier put out by Cassidy suggests Rubio is a bigger draw than fellow Sen. David Vitter and Gov. Bobby Jindal.

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High court won't suppress secret redistricting documents

The U.S. Supreme Court won't keep secret documents used in Florida's redistricting case out of the public eye.

Gainesville political consultant Pat Bainter had asked the high court to keep the documents sealed while he appeals a Florida Supreme Court ruling mandating their release. But Justice Clarence Thomas denied the request Friday.

The documents will be made public on Dec. 1.

The emails and trial transcripts were part of a legal challenge to the Florida Legislature’s 2012 redistricting plan. In that case, Circuit Court Judge Terry Lewis rejected the Congressional map and said Republican consultants like Bainter had engaged in a "secret, organized campaign" to create gerrymandered districts.

Several voters rights groups asked for the documents to be unsealed. But Bainter has been fighting to keep them private, arguing that their release would both reveal trade secrets and violate his first First Amendment rights.

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Fla transportation leader is Public Official of the Year

Governing Magazine has named Florida Transportation District 1 Secretary Billy Hattaway one of its Public Officials of the Year for 2014. The annual award recognizes excellence in state and local government.

“Hattaway has been beating the drum for walkability and pedestrian safety for more than 20 years,” said Governing Executive Editor Zach Patton. “Everyone else has now caught up to him, and Florida has made huge gains in improving the safety of its streets.” Hattaway and this year’s eight other honorees from across the country will be profiled in the December issue of Governing.

“These nine men and women are outstanding examples of the tremendous achievement that’s happening in state and local government right now,” Patton said. “Especially when the federal government is plagued by partisan fighting and gridlock, these dedicated individuals have shown that real change is possible. We’re honored to recognize their contribution to public service.”

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FSU trustees praise Thrasher's response to campus shooting

In the same room where he was jeered and heckled by Florida State students as a candidate for university president, John Thrasher drew widespread praise Friday for being a reassuring presence in the aftermath of Thursday's shooting at the campus library.

Only 10 days on the job, Thrasher attended his first meeting of FSU's board of trustees Friday, a day after troubled gunman Myron May shot and wounded three students, one critically, before being shot and killed by university police. Thrasher has met numerous times with FSU students, attended a candlelight vigil and personally reopened Robert Manning Strozier Library Friday morning as 100 students waited to get inside to study for pre-holiday exams.

"I remember this room," Thrasher said at the Turnbull Conference Center in opening comments to the trustees who endured criticism for hiring a lawyer with a conservative record best known for a long career as a legislator, lobbyist and political insider. "The campus, in my opinion, is coming back together. We hurt. We all hurt for the folks that are there in the hospital." …

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Secret redistricting docs to remain secret for 10 days

The clock is running out on political consultant Pat Bainter.

The Florida Supreme Court has ordered the release of emails and trial transcripts used in the recent redistricting case -- documents Bainter considers private and has been battling to keep out of the public eye. 

Earlier this week, Bainter asked the court to keep the records sealed so he could appeal the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court. 

But Florida's high court is giving him just 10 days, according to an order issued Thursday. 

The order states that "no further stay will be granted."

"This court has unanimously concluded that the documents and testimony must be unsealed, and the public's right to view these materials that the trial court relied on in rendering its final judgment has been delayed long enough," Justice Barbara Pariente wrote in a concurring opinion.

That means unless a further stay is granted by the U.S. Supreme Court, the records will be unsealed at 3 p.m. on Dec. 1.

In her opinion, Pariente seemed doubtful that the nation's high court would take the case. …

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Police say FSU gunman was 'in a state of crisis'

Myron May FSUMyron May, the 31-year-old Florida State University graduate who died in a hail of police fire early Friday, was "struggling psychologically" and "in a state of crisis," Tallahassee police said Thursday.

May was shot and killed by police after he returned to the library of his alma mater in the middle of the night and started shooting students and a library desk clerk. Police say he acted alone. 

“Mr. May had a written journal and videos where he expressed fears of being targeted and he wanted to bring attention to this issue of targeting,'' said Tallahassee Police Chief Michael DeLeo at a news conference 15 hours after the shootings.

"Preliminary review of these documents and videos demonstrate that Mr. May was in a state of crisis,” DeLeo said. His "sense of being" in the community "was not what people would say is normal status and he was searching for something.”

The initial investigation by Tallahassee police and the FSU police department concluded that May had attempted to enter the library just before 12:30 a.m. on Thursday morning but never got past the front desk. He shot Strozier employee Nathan Scott in the leg, and then headed outside where he was immediately confronted by police. 

What happened next is not clear, and police say is the timeline is still under investigation.

Photo: Myron May, FSU student ID

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Police describe FSU gunman as 'in a state of crisis'

Myron May FSUMyron May, the 31-year-old Florida State University graduate who died in a hail of police fire early Friday, was "struggling psychologically" and "in a state of crisis," Tallahassee police said Thursday.

May was shot and killed by police after he returned to the library of his alma mater in the middle of the night and started shooting students and a library desk clerk. Police say he acted alone. 

“Mr. May had a written journal and videos where he expressed fears of being targeted and he wanted to bring attention to this issue of targeting,'' said Tallahassee Police Chief Michael DeLeo at a news conference 15 hours after the shootings.

"Preliminary review of these documents and videos demonstrate that Mr. May was in a state of crisis,” DeLeo said. His "sense of being" in the community "was not what people would say is normal status and he was searching for something.”

The initial investigation by Tallahassee police and the FSU police department concluded that May had attempted to enter the library just before 12:30 a.m. on Thursday morning but never got past the front desk. He shot Strozier employee Nathan Scott in the leg, and then headed outside where he was immediately confronted by police. 

What happened next is not clear, and police say is the timeline is still under investigation.

Photo: Myron May, FSU student ID

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Rep. Matt Gaetz remembers gunman May as 'caring individual'

State Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fort Walton Beach, knew Myron May, the man identified by police as the gunman in the FSU shootings, from their days working together in student government at Florida State.

May was a member of the Student Senate and Gaetz was president of the Insight political party on campus. The Insight party was focused on community outreach programs, and May got involved in the party’s community service committee.

“I knew him as a sensitive and service-oriented person,” Gaetz said. “You just have to wonder what happens in people’s lives that can lead to such depravity.”

May’s Facebook page noted that he was a member of Phi Beta Sigma, an African-American fraternity, where the identities of new pledges were kept secret until a public ceremony. Gaetz recalled May wore a shirt with the nickname “Sensitive Joe” across the back at a Sigma pledgeship ceremony.

“He was such a caring individual,” Gaetz said. “Of all the people I knew at Florida State, he would be at the bottom of my list of someone who would be aggressive in any way.”

 

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Florida reaction to President Obama's immigration action

Florida reaction to President Obama's immigration action:

Sen. Marco Rubio, R: “We need immigration reform. But the right way to do it is to first bring illegal immigration under control by securing the borders and enforcing the laws, then modernizing our legal immigration system. After we do these things, we will eventually have to deal with those here illegally in a reasonable but responsible way. The President’s actions now make all of this harder and are unfair to people in our immigration system who are doing things the right way.”

Sen. Bill Nelson, D: "We passed a comprehensive and bipartisan immigration bill by an overwhelming margin last year in the Senate.  But you just can't get some of the reactionaries in the House of Representatives to move. So I think the president should have done this. He certainly has the legal authority. The bottom line is this: we need to act fairly toward our people and also to help keep the economy moving." …

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Political blogger threatens legal action for comments on his blog

Screen shot on Facebook

Jeff Testerman

Screen shot on Facebook

We're a bit late to an unusual little drama playing out another political blog, SaintPetersblog, whose creator seems not to appreciate the views of someone frequently asessing his work. Blogger Peter Schorsch is now threatening legal action unless award-winning investigative reporter Jeff Testerman stops commenting on Schorsch's blog. Testerman has been raising questions about Schorsch's ethics and apparently getting under the skin of Schorsch, whose business is financed by some of Tallahassee's most prominent lobbying and PR firms, as well as politicians.

Testerman already helped Schorsch reveal himself to be a man who calls women the C-word - as in "never leave a comment on my website again, you crusty ol' c---" (under comments here)

In fairness and full disclosure, we should note that Testerman is a celebrated Tampa Bay Times alum and friend, and Schorsch is a frequent Tampa Bay Times critic who has lately celebrated the departures quite a few of our talented and committed Times journalists.

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At education summit, Jeb Bush seeks balance on Common Core under 2016 glare

WASHINGTON — This town is lush with speculation about who will run for president so when Jeb Bush took the stage Thursday morning at his Foundation for Excellence in Education summit, there was great interest in what he had to say.

The former Florida governor stuck to the wonky contours of education policy — it is why he is here, after all — but in doing so Bush also tried to finesse a major issue that would confront him if he decides to enter the hunt for the 2016 Republican nomination: Common Core.

Bush said the debate over the education standards has been "troubling" and Common Core should be "the new minimum in classrooms."

But he readily added, "I respect those who have weighed in on all sides of this issue" and said states choosing another path should "aim even higher, be bolder."

"Even if we don't all agree on Common Core, there are more important principles for us to agree on," he said. "We need to pull together whenever we can." …

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AP: FSU gunman was alumnus and lawyer

Myron MayFrom the Associated Press: 

The gunman who shot three people at Florida State University's library early Thursday before being killed by police was a lawyer who graduated from the school, a law enforcement official told The Associated Press.

The official said the shooter was Myron May, who graduated from Florida State before attending Texas Tech University's law school. The official requested anonymity because he was not authorized to release the name.

May was fatally shot early Thursday after he shot three people at the Florida State library. Two are hospitalized and one has been released.

Abigail Taunton, who runs a foster home in the Florida Panhandle, told the AP that May had recently been staying at a guest house she owns. She said police interviewed her husband, David, after the shooting.

"He's just a boy our kids grew up with that we let stay in one of our guest houses for a while," she said. "He's moving back home from Texas and we were trying to help him get on his feet.

"It's horrifying."

Photo: Myron May, Facebook

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