Gov. Rick Scott and the Cabinet on Tuesday appointed Bruce Meeks as the first inspector general of Citizens Property Insurance Corp. Meeks was one of the four finalists for the newly-created position, which was authorized by the Legislature in the 2013 session.
Meeks is a long-time state government employee, having worked as a personnel director and deputy attorney general under former A.G. Bob Butterworth, and he also served as the inspector general of the State Board of Administration, which oversees the state's investments....
Will Christmas come early for the man who runs the Florida Retirement System? Gov. Rick Scott and the three elected Cabinet members will answer that question Tuesday.
Ash Williams, the affable, bespectacled, bowtie-wearing executive director of the State Board of Administration, is up for his annual job review, formally described as a reaffirmation of his status as steward of the nest eggs of more than 300,000 beneficiaries. The four trustees of the pension fund are Scott, Attorney General Pam Bondi and CFO Jeff Atwater. The third Cabinet member, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, is not a trustee of the pension fund....
A report issued Monday by a liberal-leaning watchdog group ranks the best and worst counties in Florida for voting in the 2012 presidential election. The findings mirror earlier conclusions by The Advancement Project, as well as extensive Florida media coverage of problems at the polls, most notably long lines at early voting sites in Hillsborough and Miami-Dade counties....
12/06/13 State Roundup
First of three parts
Gov. Rick Scott has staked his political future on his ability to bring jobs to Florida, but the first comprehensive review of his efforts shows few successes and hundreds of unfulfilled promises.
The Tampa Bay Times and Miami Herald reviewed public information for 342 job-creation deals that involve various tax breaks since Scott took office in 2011. Among the findings:...
TALLAHASSEE — Pinellas County's chief elections official firmly put Gov. Rick Scott on notice Monday: She will refuse his administration's order and will continue to urge voters to drop off their absentee ballots at satellite locations.
Supervisor of Elections Deborah Clark said her 6-year-old system of drop-off sites is "in full compliance with the law" and the state has known about them because they are included in plans she sends to the state to get federal voter education money....
Elections supervisors in Florida think of themselves as being in the customer service business.
Their customers are voters.
This simple fact seems lost on Gov. Rick Scott's administration, which again stands accused of trying to make it harder for people to vote in Florida. This time, the accusations come directly from some elections supervisors.
They should know, right?
"Anti-voter," said Pasco Supervisor of Elections Brian Corley....
Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections Deborah Clark put Gov. Rick Scott's administration on notice Monday: She will continue to use remote drop-off sites so that voters can return their absentee ballots in the upcoming special election for an open congressional seat without driving longer distances in the elongated county.
Clark responded to a Nov. 25 directive from Scott's chief elections official, Secretary of State Ken Detzner, who said supervisors "should not solicit return of absentee ballots at any place other than a supervisor's office," in effect ruling that drop-off sites are illegal. Detzner's directive set off an intense debate among supervisors, who were not consulted in advance and didn't know the order was coming....
When Secretary of State Ken Detzner told election supervisors Monday that they can't encourage voters to drop off completed absentee ballots at drop off sites or early voting sites, it touched off a furor, in part because of the timing.
The state ruling would seem to have its biggest impact in Pinellas County, where Supervisor of Elections Deb Clark is so aggressive in promoting voting by mail that she has a system of secure remote drop-off locations to make it easy for voters to return absentees. If Clark can't use those sites, she said, the turnout likely would be lower in the upcoming special election to replace the late U.S. Rep. CW Bill Young....
Secretary of State Ken Detzner's directive to election supervisors on the return of absentee ballots has set off a fierce debate with some of them criticizing Detzner's action and others coming to his defense.
Detzner issued an order to supervisors Monday, telling them they "should not solicit return of absentee ballots at any place other than a supervisor's office." The directive appeared to take dead aim at one supervisor, Deborah Clark in Pinellas, who aggressively promotes voting absentee and has a small network of remote drop-off locations to make it easier for people to turn in their absentee ballots. (Clark may formally respond to Detzner's order Wednesday)....
TALLAHASSEE — Florida Gov. Rick Scott's chief elections official issued an order Monday to all 67 elections supervisors that imposes new restrictions on how and where voters can return completed absentee ballots.
Secretary of State Ken Detzner said people who vote by mail should return ballots to elections offices only, calling for an end to remote dropoff sites used as a convenience for voters. He said his directive is necessary to maintain uniformity in how election laws are carried out....
The state successfully defended its new execution drug in court on Monday, reports Bill Cotterell of the Florida Current:
Circuit Judge Phyllis Rosier, who held an evidentiary hearing ordered by the Florida Supreme Court last week, ruled that midazolam hydrochloride is not just sufficient to render condemned killers incapable of feeling pain -- it could kill them itself, in high enough doses. The drug is used as the first of three in execution, an anesthetic followed by a paralytic chemical and then a heart-stopping drug....
TALLAHASSEE — Seminole County Sheriff Don Eslinger on Monday formally declined Gov. Rick Scott's offer to be considered as a possible lieutenant governor, becoming the second person on Scott's four-person short list to turn him down.
As a result, Scott is down to two known candidates for the job, both from Hillsborough County: state Sen. Tom Lee, R-Brandon, and Hillsborough County Commissioner Sandy Murman....
Seminole County Sheriff Don Eslinger on Monday formally declined Gov. Rick Scott's offer to be considered as a possible lieutenant governor, becoming the second person on Scott's four-person short list to turn him down.
Eslinger sent an email to his staff saying he was "flattered and honored" to be considered but that he will keep the job that he was first elected to in 1990. Last week, St. Johns County Superintendent of Schools Joseph Joyner also rejected Scott's offer, saying that accepting it would "render me ineffective."...
Gov. Rick Scott's chief elections official issued an order Monday that imposes new restrictions on how and where voters can return completed absentee ballots in future elections. (See the directive here.)
At least two county election supervisors, Brian Corley in Pasco County and Deborah Clark in Pinellas, are troubled by the decision, say they were never consulted by the state and predicted that it could depress turnout. Pinellas is also the county where voters will soon elect a new member of Congress to replace the late C.W. Bill Young....
TALLAHASSEE — Florida Gov. Rick Scott wants to cut taxes by $500 million next year, trim state agency budgets by $100 million and appeal to voters in an election year with another hike in school spending.
Even though tax receipts are rising and state economists project an $846 million surplus in 2014, the math won't work.
While the Republican governor is asking agencies under his control to cut waste and reduce spending, they are asking for nearly $1 billion more on everything from child abuse investigators to prison beds to state troopers, in some cases to patch budget cuts made in previous years....