09/14/14 State Roundup
TALLAHASSEE — After nearly four years, Gov. Rick Scott has appointed fewer African-Americans to Florida judgeships than either Charlie Crist or Jeb Bush did in the same period of time.
Scott has appointed nine black attorneys to judgeships in nearly four years, according to data from his office. They include reappointments of three judges who hear job-related injury claims and four county judges who decide small claims and traffic cases....
Candidates in Florida have been switching parties for decades, so Charlie Crist's unprecedented bid to be the state's first governor to serve as a Republican and as a Democrat may not be as outlandish as it seems.
But study a sampling of those who made the switch — and then won — and it's clear that Crist's candidacy really is unlike any other, for a host of reasons....
UPDATE: Buzz received this statement from Southerland after publication of this blog post: "I regret that my comments are being misused for political gain. I was trying to make the point that some organizations host men-only events and some host women-only events. Gwen Graham should be more focused on explaining her background as a D.C. lobbyist and political insider than she is on mischaracterizing my remarks."...
09/12/14 State Roundup
PANAMA CITY BEACH — Gov. Rick Scott's campaign for re-election got a jolt of partisan energy Friday when New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie fired up crowds in two North Florida cities by mocking Charlie Crist's candidacy.
With his intense style, Christie framed the contest as a referendum on character, with Scott as a steady leader who does his job and Crist as a job-hopping, party-switching opportunist who can't be trusted....
Gov. Rick Scott's two-week campaign bus tour rolled through the Panhandle Thursday, where he cast himself as an economic problem-solver in contrast to the opportunism of his opponent and predecessor, Democrat Charlie Crist.
Riding in a giant blue bus adorned with white "Let's Keep Working" signs, Scott mingled with customers at The Donut Hole in Destin and rallied Republicans, who chanted "Four more years," at a sparsely-attended event at a Crestview Buick dealer. On Friday, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, president of the Republican Governors Association, will help Scott rally the GOP faithful in Panama City....
Gov. Rick Scott is a defendant in a case before the Florida Supreme Court involving a former mayor of Miami Lakes who wants his old job back after being acquitted of criminal charges.
Scott issued an executive order in August 2013 suspending Michael Pizzi as mayor of the Miami suburb after he was indicted on a charge of conspiracy to commit extortion. Pizzi was later acquitted of charges in a jury trial, and he wants Scott to revoke the executive order. Scott refuses, calling it "a local issue" subject to the town charter, not state law, "and the governor has no further role."...
Disability rights groups, backed by one of the state's largest law firms, Holland & Knight, have filed a federal lawsuit against the state Department of Corrections, alleging systematic abuse and discrimination of mentally ill inmates at Dade Correctional Institution near Homestead.
Florida Institutional Legal Services Project and Disability Rights Florida filed the suit in U.S. District Court in Miami. Corrections Secretary Mike Crews is also named as a defendant, along with Wexford Health Sources, the company hired two years ago to provide all inmate health care in South Florida prisons. The lawsuit was filed in the wake of the death of a mentally ill inmate, Darren Rainey. More here from The Miami Herald. ...
Fred Buckine, a former Hillsborough County judge and prosecutor and the husband of Florida Supreme Court Justice Peggy Quince, died Saturday.
He was 75 and lived in Tallahassee. Quince, the first black woman to serve on the state's highest court, was appointed in 1998. They were married for 38 years.
Known for his love of the law and for his public speaking ability, Buckine grew up in Bradenton and served in the U.S. Air Force for 13 years, including two tours of duty in Vietnam. He received his law degree from the Catholic University of America law school in Washington, D.C....
Timing is everything in politics. Ask Gov. Rick Scott.
When Scott ran for office in 2010, he was an outsider with a pitch-perfect message in the depths of a recession: Let's Get to Work.
He spent more than $70 million of his own money on a campaign heavy on TV ads.
He had the enthusiastic backing of the ascendant tea party movement, which you don't hear much about anymore. He had an opponent, Alex Sink, who stirred little enthusiasm among Democrats, especially African-Americans....
Fred Buckine, a former Hillsborough County judge and prosecutor and the husband of Florida Supreme Court Justice Peggy Quince for 38 years, died Saturday.
He was 75 and lived in Tallahassee. Quince, the first black woman to serve on the state's highest court, was appointed in 1998.
Known for his love of the law and for his public speaking ability, Buckine grew up in Bradenton and served in the U.S. Air Force for 13 years, including two tours of duty in Vietnam. He received his law degree from The Catholic University of America law school in Washington, D.C....
As Florida corrections secretary Mike Crews declared a zero tolerance policy on abuse of inmates, two more correctional officers have been suspended following a new allegation of inmate abuse at a North Florida prison.
It happened Aug. 7 at the regional medical center at Lake Butler, not far from the sprawling state prisons at Raiford and Starke. An unidentified inmate said he was sexually assaulted. The same inmate had earlier filed a grievance saying he was assaulted on July 30. "I am not going to continue to take this abuse!" the inmate wrote....
08/29/14 State Roundup
TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Rick Scott is promising Florida voters a $1 billion package of tax and fee cuts in a second term, including new limits on property tax increases and another cut in auto tag fees.
Every one of the proposals Scott will roll out in a two-week statewide tour starting Monday would require the approval of the Legislature, which previously has been lukewarm to Scott's call for a phase-out of the state corporate income tax and a sales tax break for manufacturers....
08/27/14 State Roundup
TALLAHASSEE — As Charlie Crist celebrates winning the Democratic nomination for Florida governor, red flags are flying that raise questions about whether he can defeat Republican Gov. Rick Scott in November.
Crist trounced underfunded rival Nan Rich with 74 percent of the vote, nearly a 3-1 margin. But Democrats in the state's three largest counties, Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach, largely stayed home, displaying a lack of enthusiasm that threatens to hand Democrats a fifth straight loss in the race for governor....
The rural-urban schism between Florida Democrats was glaringly obvious in Tuesday's primary, as conservative upstate voters spoke with one voice: They're decidedly ambivalent about Charlie Crist.
Even though Crist's rival Nan Rich had virtually no money, a liberal voting record and is from South Florida, she received more than 40 percent of the vote in 22 counties. She carried two of them, Holmes and Putnam, and she and Crist broke even in Calhoun....
If South Florida voters are fired up about the 2014 election, they sure didn't show it Tuesday, reaffirming a fundamental fact about Florida politics: The voters Democrats need the most are the hardest voters to get to the polls.
A repeat performance in November is likely to produce another disaster for Democrats, who have lost the past four elections for governor.
Turnout in the state's three largest counties of Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach again trailed the state as a whole as mass numbers of Democrats ignored the election. Those weak numbers will help Republicans reinforce the idea of an enthusiasm gap in this election. ...