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Crist calls on Scott to stop defense of gay marriage ban

Charlie Crist is calling on Rick Scott to pull the plug on the state's efforts to defend its constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.

"Courts throughout Florida are endorsing the principle that government ought not deprive an entire class of citizens the right to marry simply because of whom they love. Florida deserves a governor who will stand up for all of the people of this state," Crist wrote in a letter to Scott released to the media.

The former Republican governor, who used to support banning gay marriage in Florida, recalled when an appeals court four years ago ruled Florida's ban on gay and lesbian adoption unconstitutional.

"When the ruling came down, I believed it was my job as governor to exercise the authority vested in me by the people and our Constitution. The day the judge ruled, I declared Florida's adoption ban over. Gay and lesbian parents began adopting the children they loved immediately," Crist wrote. "It is one of my proudest moments as an elected official."

Scott has offered no response.

FSBA award declined

Senate Education Committee Chairman John Legg, R-Trinity, declined an award for Legislator of the Year from the Florida School Boards Association on Friday — one day after the organization announced plans to challenge the school voucher program in court.

"It is now apparent to me that the association's stance on educating low-income students and access to choice in education is too conflicting with my own," Legg wrote in a letter to FSBA executive director Wayne Blanton. "It saddens me that the FSBA would take a position that looks to eliminate customization in education, an approach which is widely viewed to be essential to improving student learning."

Bush group not happy

Jeb Bush's education foundation last week issued a strong rebuke of the Lee County decision to opt out of state-mandated tests, a pillar of Bush's legacy.

"We are deeply disappointed by the Lee County School Board's vote to abandon Florida's academic tests and with it, their responsibility for the success of the community's students," Patricia Levesque, CEO of the Foundation for Excellence in Education, wrote in a statement. "Not only do these academic checkups provide an honest assessment to parents of how their children are progressing in school, they also prepare students for the future because tests are a part of life.

"Measuring student achievement is the cornerstone of a strong accountability system that allows our children to learn to their full potential and be competitive with their peers across the state, nation and around the globe. Tests also shine a light on where school systems need to improve, where they need to invest more resources. Without them some schools and students would fall through the cracks."

Congemi for president

You heard it here first. Paul Congemi, the two-time candidate for St. Petersburg mayor probably best known for thundering against homosexuality and being banned from a KFC for belligerence, told The Buzz he is running for president in 2020.

Bondi: Let's debate

Minutes after George Sheldon won the Democratic nomination for attorney general Tuesday night, Republican Pam Bondi's re-election campaign sent an email calling for a debate.

"The voters will have a clear choice between candidates in this election and they deserve to hear directly from us on the distinct difference in visions and leadership that each candidate will offer," the email said. "This can be accomplished through thoughtful and respectful dialogue worthy of our great state."

Sheldon's response? Let's do five debates: "The choice of attorney general every four years deserves more than one debate," Sheldon said in an open letter to Bondi. By Friday afternoon, it wasn't clear whether Bondi would debate that many times.

Alex Leary, Kathleen McGrory and Michael Van Sickler contributed to this report.

Winner of the week

Charlie Crist. The puny turnout did not exactly signal Democratic enthusiasm, but Crist's 3-to-1 primary victory over Nan Rich should tamp down chatter about Democrats not being ready to embrace the former Republican.

Loser of the week

Jeb Bush. The Lee County School Board voted to opt out of Common Core. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, a presidential contender, sued the federal government over Common Core, while Rick Scott is scrambling to distance himself from Common Core and standardized testing. Bush's strength as a presidential candidate looks much more dubious today than a few months ago, amid widespread backlash against education accountability policies closely associated with him.

Crist calls on Scott to stop defense of gay marriage ban 08/30/14 [Last modified: Saturday, August 30, 2014 7:47pm]
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