A morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics.
Today’s Rise and Shine Fact-iversary is brought to you by Sachs Media Group, the firm best known for smart, strong and strategic counsel across the diverse and ever-changing media landscape:When folks in neighboring states talk about the “Old South” they’ve got nothing on Florida, where today St. Augustine celebrates its 449th birthday! On this date in 1565, Spanish Admiral Pedro Menendez de Aviles established the first permanent European settlement in the New World, and now St. Augustine is in a one-year countdown to a major celebration like no other in the nation. They’re gonna need a LOT of birthday candles for that one!
Now, on to the ‘burn…
OBAMA PUNTS ON IMMIGRATION UNTIL AFTER ELECTION via Carrie Budoff Brown of POLITICO
White House officials said Saturday that “Obama will delay plans to issue an executive order on immigration until the end of the year … [That heeds] warnings of Democratic senators who feared a voter backlash ahead of the November elections. The decision is a major reversal from June, when the president … pledged to make fixes to the immigration system by the end of the summer.
The White House began informing Capitol Hill, immigrant advocates and other outside interest groups early Saturday, only hours after Obama returned on a flight from the NATO summit in Wales. Friday, he told reporters he would use the flight to study his options. Senior administration officials are telling their allies that it would be harmful for the policy itself and the comprehensive reform effort over the long haul to do it now.
WHY OBAMA RETREATED ON IMMIGRATION
The clock was ticking on the September deadline for immigration reform. The White House blamed Senate Democrats for insisting on acting quickly in the first place — and suddenly, the president was losing more Senate Democrats by the day.
Little had gone right since Obama announced in June that he would take unilateral action to fix the immigration system. But a flurry of calls for delay, delivered privately to the White House and publicly through the press, made it impossible for Obama to move forward, according to senior administration officials, congressional aides and immigration advocates.
The announcement that executive action on immigration reform would be pushed until after Election Day was the end of a slow-motion unraveling that began with five words in June, when Obama pledged to act “before the end of summer.”
Worried about alienating Hispanic voters, few Democrats publicly voiced their concern about making such a potentially controversial move as Democrats fought to retain control of the Senate. But the anxiety — confined, at first, to the most vulnerable Democratic incumbents — spread far beyond the key battleground states.
Public and private polling showed that unilateral action on immigration would harm Democrats locked in tight races in Arkansas, Louisiana, North Carolina and Alaska. If Democrats lost control of the Senate, immigration would be blamed for the defeat, the newly-installed Republican Congress would attempt to overturn the order and the rest of the Obama presidency would look even bleaker.
Democrats also thought they risked doing long-term damage to immigration reform, similar to the way a controversial gun control law was blamed for 1994 Republican landslide or health care law contributed to the loss of the House in 2010 — forever polarizing the issue.
It was a stunning turnaround from two months ago.
OBAMA DISAPPOINTS, AGAIN via Edward-Isaac Dovere of POLITICO
President Obama has one person to blame for looking indecisive, dithering and cowed by bungled political calculations: Barack Obama.
He’s the one, after all, who strode into the Rose Garden to announce that America couldn’t wait forever on immigration reform and pledging to move forward with a set of executive actions “before the end of summer.” He’s the one who spent that afternoon lighting into Republicans in Congress for punting and punting and punting again.
Now he’s the one punting.
… This is a reoccurring theme for Obama: repeatedly delivering bold speeches that set dazzlingly high bars for action, then slowly backpedaling into a muddle and letting the issue — and his poll numbers — fade away.
From his 2008 campaign pledge to ban lobbyists in his administration to the speech he gave at the Newtown memorial service saying he was finally going to do something significant about gun control, the announcement was another little splinter in the heartbreak for many Obama true believers.
SEN. BILL NELSON’S REAX: “Correct decision by the president. There’s no way anybody was going to listen to an informed debate on immigration while House Republicans are scared of tea party members before the election.”
TWEET, TWEET: @MarcACaputo: Alt hed: Is there a more-spineless creature than a Senate Democrat?
NATIONAL SNAPSHOT via Charlie Cook
Now that Labor Day is behind us, the most remarkable thing about this midterm election is how little has changed since Memorial Day. In the closest and most crucial contest, for control of the U.S. Senate, only the race in Kansas looks fundamentally different than it did three months ago.
One question has become more pressing as Election Day nears: Where is the Republican wave? For Democrats, the good news is that there doesn’t appear to be an overwhelming Republican tide this year; the bad news is that Democrats could well lose the Senate even without such a wave. Six of the most competitive races are Democratic-held seats in states that Mitt Romney carried by 14 points or more. With a map like that, Republicans don’t need to dominate the country; they just have to win some select states.
***Today’s SUNBURN is brought to you by Bright House Networks, a trusted provider of industry leading communications and networking services to businesses of all sizes, from startups to large, multi-site organizations. Our Enterprise Solutions provides the fiber connectivity, cloud and managed services today’s large organizations demand, while our Business Solutions team works with small to mid-size companies to ensure they get the right services to fit their needs and their budget. Find out why so many businesses in your area trust their communications needs to Bright House Networks. Learn more at brighthouse.com/business.***
IN BOOSTING CHARLIE CRIST, BILL CLINTON FRETS ABOUT LOW DEMOCRATIC TURNOUT via Marc Caputo of the Miami Herald
Bill Clinton sounded worried.
“Typically in nonpresidential years, Republicans vote better than Democrats do,” the former president said Friday night at a Miami campaign rally for Crist. “And we’re not going to let that happen, are we?”
The crowd of several hundred shouted back a loud no.
Clinton’s concern cropped up time and again in his 25-minute speech designed to vouch for the Democratic bonafides of Crist and fire up the faithful so that Florida Democrats can win their first governor’s race since 1994.
This year, Democrats are trying in the most-unorthodox of ways — with a former Republican governor who was an independent before becoming a Democrat. Crist faces the weakest incumbent in years, Gov. Rick Scott, whose poll numbers have been poor since the political newcomer barely won office in 2010.
SPOTTED: The Miami Herald‘s Marc Caputo on “Up with Steve Kornacki” discussing the governor’s race.
HOW CLINTON’S VISIT PLAYED
POLITICO, Bill Clinton and Charlie Crist: The odd couple – Clinton will test the strength of a relatively new relationship, with Charlie Crist. CBS Miami, Bill Clinton Campaigns For Crist In Miami – Crist … since been embraced by Democrats, including the same man he once called on to resign. Christian Science Monitor, Why is Bill Clinton campaigning for Charlie Crist in Florida? Four reasons. – Florida. Florida. Florida … Clinton just plain loves politics. We suspect that if a Democratic candidate for dogcatcher called for help, Clinton would be there. Tampa Bay Times, As Bill Clinton returns to Florida tonight to help Charlie Crist, remember the last time he tried? Raw Florida history lesson – How long it seems ago that Clinton was a lead protagonist in an effort to force Kendrick Meek out of the 2010 U.S. Senate race. NewsMax, Bill Clinton Stumping in Florida for Former Critic Charlie Crist – With Hillary Clinton a likely contender for the White House in 2016 … Clinton is making sure the couple have all their bases covered … to buoy her chances of a win. NBC News, Bill Clinton Heads to Florida to Stump for Crist – this continues the complete political reinvention of Crist … Clinton’s visit is providing (Rick Scott) another opportunity to call Crist an opportunist. Naples Daily News, Bill Clinton rallies Democrats for Charlie Crist in Miami – It was replete with issues like climate change, raising the minimum wage and Florida’s decision not to accept Medicaid expansion under Obamacare, all red meat issues for Democrats … It’s likely not the last time Clinton will come to the region.
ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick will join Crist in South Florida for a series of campaign events focusing on education. Crist and Patrick will start off the day with a discussion on the importance of education with a group of teachers and parents beginning 12 p.m. at the Youth Empowerment Center at Gaines Park, 1501 N. Australian Avenue, West Palm Beach. Next, the pair will attend the 2 p.m. opening of Crist’s newest field office at 1005 17 Street in West Palm Beach, followed by a roundtable discussion with parents and teachers at 4 p.m. at 4900 West Hallandale Beach Blvd, Building A in Pembroke Park. At 5:30 p.m., they will be meeting with campaign volunteers and voters at 949 NE 125 Street in North Miami.
SCOTT LEADS CRIST 43% TO 41% IN LATEST MASON-DIXON POLL Full blog post here
New polling shows Gov. Scott leading Crist 43 to 41 percent.
In the survey of 625 likely voters, conducted Sept. 2-4, Libertarian Adrian Wylie also receives 4 percent. The margin of error is also +/- 4 percent.
Mason-Dixon pollsters cautioned the results are not adjusted for possible turnout spikes and weighted to reflect current Florida registration: 41 percent Democrat, 37 percent Republican and 21 percent other. In midterm elections, Republican turnout often surges at least 4 percentage points higher than Democrats.
Other poll findings: Scott’s lead is strongest in North Florida (54-32 percent) and Southwest Florida (52-32 percent), and smaller in Central Florida (44-38 percent).
Crist’s lead is widest in Southeast Florida (50-35 percent), and smaller in his home base of Tampa Bay (45-38 percent). Scott performs well with Republicans, men, whites and voters over the age of 65. Crist does well with Democrats, women, blacks and voters under 35.
In the 35 to 64 age group, voters are split evenly.
Crist maintains a slight edge with Hispanics (44-39 percent) and Independents (40-37 percent), while undecided voters in both groups remain high.
MY TAKE: Scott up two is about where I currently peg the race.
CAPUTO COLUMN: SCOTT WON’T GO OFF-MESSAGE TO GO ON-MESSAGE
Scott has spent as much as $3.5 million on TV ads excoriating Charlie Crist over a former donor convicted in a Ponzi scheme.
But Scott doesn’t want to talk about it.
“I’m not a pundit,” Scott said last week when asked about his Scott Rothstein-related ads.
“You guys write about this stuff,” Scott said. “You can write about it.”
Reporters are already used to Scott being the most-scripted and least-forthcoming statewide candidate in years. On his campaign bus last week, Scott wanted to talk about tax cuts.
But Scott won’t even go off-message to go on-message about Rothstein.
And that’s what makes Scott’s non-answer so peculiar, the relative silence so deafening. It’s his message. It’s not about other issues he shies away from: gay marriage, the minimum wage, his office’s apparent flouting of public-records laws or the record fraud fine paid by his former hospital company.
… Crist’s response was worse than silence, though. His campaign issued its own ad that claimed Scott has now “teamed up” with Rothstein to smear Crist. PolitiFact rightly called that Crist statement false.
In the second Rothstein spot from RPOF, titled “Swindled,” an unidentified man speaks into the camera and says he’s a victim of Rothstein’s. He says “nobody was closer to Rothstein than Charlie Crist.”
There’s no evidence for that, except perhaps for the word of the convicted schemer or the unidentified narrator.
MEANWHILE, LOOK WHAT’S COMING DOWN THE PIPELINE IN THE AMENDMENT 2 FIGHT here
JUDGE ORDERS GOVERNOR TO STOP FIGHTING RECORDS PROBE via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald
A Tallahassee judge ordered Gov. Scott and Attorney General Pam Bondi to stop fighting attempts to allow Google to turn over basic information about the private email accounts used by the governor and his staff to conduct state business.
Circuit Court Judge Charles A. Francis last month ordered the company to disclose when the email accounts held by the governor and his staff were established and by whom. The action is part of a pending public records lawsuit filed against Scott and Bondi by Tallahassee attorney Steven R. Andrews.
But the Jacksonville attorney hired by the governor to fight the effort refused to agree on the language of the subpoena, delaying it for weeks. Andrews then asked the judge to intervene and Francis overruled Scott’s attorney, Thomas Bishop.
The two-page order allows Andrews to seek subscriber information for the Gmail accounts used by the governor and two of his former staff members, Sarah Hansford and Brad Pipenbrink.
Andrews alleges that the governor’s office encouraged staff to use Gmail accounts to circumvent the public records law. He believes that determining when the accounts were established will help determine who was involved.
Scott has said that his account, [email protected], was used to communicate with his family members, not public business, and that he has “followed the law.”
However, emails to Scott’s Gmail account have surfaced from his former chief of staff Steve MacNamara after MacNamara left the governor’s office.
KING RANCH AD NAUSEUM — U.S. SUGAR PLANS DEVELOPMENT ON LAND FLORIDA WANTED FOR EVERGLADES RESTORATION via Craig Pittman of the Tampa Bay Times
On 67 square miles of sugar land southwest of Lake Okeechobee in Hendry County, U.S. Sugar and Hilliard Brothers of Florida, another sugar company with adjoining property, have joined forces on a project that would plop down 18,000 homes and 25 million square feet of stores, offices, warehouses and other commercial buildings amid the rural landscape.
But the land that U.S. Sugar wants to designate for development is the same land that Florida officials have an option to buy for Everglades restoration. If the sugar companies’ development plan is approved, that land would be worth a lot more — making it more expensive for the state to purchase.
U.S. Sugar says this is not a problem, because it’s not inclined to develop its land any time soon — only if the market dictates such development would be worthwhile. If approved, the plan could be developed anytime before 2060, but some land would remain designated for agriculture, the company said.
U.S. Sugar and Hilliard Brothers aren’t the only sugar companies eyeing a future in land development in Hendry County.
In land-use planning parlance, their proposal is called a “sector plan,” which requires a simpler approval process than the more involved “development of regional impact.” But environmentalists say such a major plan would reverberate beyond economically depressed Hendry County.
Texas-based King Ranch, the largest member of the Sugar Cane Growers Cooperative of Florida, came up with its own 23,000-acre sector plan two years ago, calling for nearly 23,000 homes, plus hotels, offices, stores and warehouses. That plan was approved this year. The difference between the two is that the U.S. Sugar land was deemed important to the future of Everglades restoration.
The South Florida Water Management District holds an option to acquire 100 percent of U.S. Sugar’s land through October 2020. The water district, a state agency, also has an option to acquire only 47,000 acres that expires in October 2015.
FSU TO INTERVIEW PRESIDENT CANDIDATES
Florida State University’s Presidential Search Advisory Committee is scheduled to start two days of interviews of applicants. The university is searching for a replacement for former President Eric Barron, who resigned this year to become president of Penn State University.
ICYMI: BIG SUNDAY READS
CONTRACT TO CHEAT: FLORIDA’S CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY RIP-OFF: A SPECIAL REPORT via The Miami Herald
Across the country, roughly 10 million construction workers spend each day in a dangerous and fickle industry. They hang drywall, lay carpet, shingle roofs. Yet in the eyes of their bosses, they aren’t employees due the benefits the government requires.
Employers treat many of these laborers as independent contractors. It’s a tactic that costs taxpayers billions of dollars each year. Yet when it comes to public projects, government regulators have done nearly nothing about it, even when the proof is easy to get.
The workers don’t have protections. The companies don’t withhold taxes. The regulators don’t seem to care.
McClatchy reporters in eight newsrooms spanning seven states spent a year unraveling the scheme, using little-noticed payroll records that show how widespread the practice has become and what it costs us all. More on the Miami Herald/McClatchy special report here.
“This is a widespread, highly organized form of fraud,” said Maj. Geoffrey Branch, who ran the state’s Bureau of Workers’ Compensation Fraud between 2009 and 2013.
Florida’s chief financial officer, Jeff Atwater, has estimated that workers’ comp fraud diverts “nearly $1 billion from Florida’s economy annually and is putting honest small businesses and employees at risk.”
FLORIDA CONDO OWNERS SAY THEY’RE UNDER SEIGE FROM REAL ESTATE INVESTORS via James Rosica of the Tampa Tribune
Condo owners say a 7-year-old change in state law now is forcing them from their homes as investors convert their buildings into rentals.
The situation has become so dire that Gov. Scott is asking the state’s condominium regulators to see what assistance they can offer affected owners, according to a letter his office released Saturday.
The Florida Condominium Act once required agreement from all owners before a condominium pact could be dissolved. In 2007, lawmakers lowered that threshold to 80 percent — even after then-Gov. Jeb Bush vetoed the change a year before.
The change was approved by the first-year governor at the time, Charlie Crist, who then was a Republican and now is a Democrat challenging Scott this year.
Some condo owners say they’re being pressured to sell as investment groups slowly take over whole complexes, often by snapping up foreclosed units. Their goal is to sell the properties at a profit.
“I’m a real estate broker so I thought I was smarter than everybody else,” said Nancy Alexander, who has owned a unit in The Hamptons at Tampa Palms since 2006.
“My mistake was thinking that we had rights,” she said, adding that she hasn’t sold. “I thought nobody could make (us) sell. I was wrong.”
In a condominium, one owns an individual dwelling, such as an apartment, with the building and land owned in common with all the other unit owners.
With the housing bubble burst in 2008 came foreclosures and vacant condo units, followed years later by real estate investors looking to buy low and sell higher.
Under the new law, investors can take over the condo governing board as they acquire more units, Alexander explained. She said the investors in her condo complex haven’t done that — yet.
When it reaches 80 percent ownership, the investment or development company ends the condominium and makes offers to holdouts that they can’t refuse — as little as 30-50 percent of what the owners originally paid.
If a homeowner owes more than that on her mortgage, she’s out of luck, said state Rep. Carl Zimmermann, a Palm Harbor Democrat. Many condo owners in his Pinellas County district face the problem, Zimmermann said.
He introduced a bill in the spring legislative session to protect homeowners by requiring developers to at least pay “110 percent of the original purchase price … or 110 percent of the fair market value of (a) unit, whichever is greater.”
The measure died in committee, but Zimmermann said he’ll refile it next year. Still, for many condo owners, that likely will be too late.
TWEET OF THE WEEKEND: @WillWeatherford: William Winston Weatherford has arrived! 7 lbs 8 ounces. Mommy is healthy and happy. God is good! #dadlife
***2014 FAHP Annual Conference: Shaping the Future of Florida’s Health Care: We invite you to join us at the 2014 FAHP Annual Conference. This year, FAHP will bring together a distinguished group of thought leaders in national and state health care policy, as well as experts on health care regulation and managed care. These leaders will provide insight on the current and future health care landscape, best practices within the industry and solutions to improve outcomes and support efforts to provide affordable, quality health care to employers and to all Floridians. Together, we can “Shape the Future of Health Care” to promote wellness, improve quality of life and support a productive and healthy workforce in the Sunshine State. To learn more, visit here.***
QUESTIONS ABOUT STATE SEN. MARIA SACHS’ RESIDENCY POP UP IN CAMPAIGN via Buddy Nevins of BrowardBeat.com
State Sen. Maria Sachs’ problems with where she lives have surfaced again.
This time it is a group connected to former Sen. Ellyn Bogdanoff that is reminding voters that Sachs didn’t live in her district for much of her Senate career.
Sachs beat Bogdanoff in 2012 and took over state Senate District 34. Bogdanoff is campaigning to regain her old seat.
The residency issue has dogged Sachs throughout her last two years in the Senate.
Floridians For Integrity In Government, whose registered agent is long-time Bogdanoff backer Todd Richardson, is behind a website and the YouTube video.
It’s the latest twist in the sizzling campaign for Northeast Broward and Palm Beach Senate District 34. Because it is perhaps the only state Senate seat in play, expect a multi-million dollars race.
CHECK OUT THE ANTI-SACHS WEBSITE here.
ONLY IN MIAMI: COPS DRAW GUNS ON CAMPAIGN VOLUNTEERS via Marc Caputo of the Miami Herald
The call came in to Miami-Dade Police on a rainy Saturday afternoon: two males, race unknown, were wearing dark hoodies and driving around in a late-model Buick as they appeared to case homes in the Palm Springs North neighborhood.
When the cops showed up, they quickly spotted a car matching the description. And the occupants, obscured by rain-slicked tinted windows, appeared to reach down for something.
The cops quickly drew their guns with an order to freeze.
But it was a case of mistaken identity.
The occupants were two women wearing bright orange campaign volunteer shirts for Republican state Rep. Manny Diaz, Jr. They were driving from spot to spot to avoid getting too wet as they canvassed the neighborhood for voters. And now, facing police guns, they were as puzzled as they were horrified.
Welcome to Miami, ladies.
“They’re not from Miami; they’re FSU grads from Polk County or something. They’re friends of my campaign guy,” Diaz said. “Their experience was, well — if you’re not from here it might be pretty typical.”
Diaz, a college dean and former teacher, said one of the officers was a former student of his in 1994. He said the officers had the volunteers quickly call Diaz, who drove to the scene and was shown the call log about the suspected burglars in the neighborhood.
Diaz said he didn’t fault the officers and was happy no one was hurt.
TWEET, TWEET: @BillyCorben: @JessStandsOut @RepMannyDiazJr Who’d volunteer for a campaign where the candidate thinks it’s okay for volunteers to be treated that way?
FIRST LOOK: HD 68 candidate Bill Young’s first TV commercial here.
SAVE THE DATE: THE FLORIDA GOP IS GOING FISHIN’
The Republican Party of Florida is hosting a Florida Keys Fishing Trip on Oct. 13 and 14 at the Key West Marriott Beachside Hotel, 3841 North Roosevelt Blvd. in Key West.
The event begins with a welcome reception Monday, Oct. 13 at 5:30 p.m. followed by a 7 p.m.VIP dinner. The fishing trip begins on Tuesday, Oct. 14, at 10 a.m., with a beachside dinner at 6 p.m. Proceeds support House Majority 2014. For RSVP or more information, contact Kristin Lamb at (850) 222-7920, Ext. 1858, or email [email protected]
HOLLY RASCHEIN, JESSE PANUCCIO AMONG FLORIDIANS NAMED TO MAVPAC “FUTURE 40″ LIST Full blog post here
Republican State Representative Holly Raschein and Jesse Panuccio, Director of the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, are two of nine Floridians included on the second annual “Maverick PAC Future 40″ list.
Floridians named on the 2014 Future 40 list include Panuccio, Gov. Scott’s point man for economic affairs; Raschein, who represents Key Largo in House District 120; and Tampa’s man-about-town, Mike Griffin.
Also on the list are Florida Deputy Director of Federal Affairs Elizabeth Rojas Levi; Berny Jacques, who serves as assistant state attorney in Pinellas-Pasco; Kristin Seay, Corporate Communications Manager at CSX; Republican Future Majority Caucus board member Neri Martinez; attorney Chelsi Henry; and Alex Garcia, Republican National Committee’s Florida Director of Hispanic Initiatives.
Founded in 2005, the Republican-leaning Maverick Political Action Committee now has 20 chapters across the country.
NEW LOBBYING REGISTRATIONS
Brian Ballard, Ballard Partners: Maxim Healthcare Services, Inc.
Sarah Carroll, Southern Strategy Group: CODY Systems; Non-Secure Programs, Inc.
Don DeLoach, Danny Jordan, One Eighty Consulting: Column Technologies
Deno Hicks, Southern Strategy Group: Motorola
Melissa Meeker: WateReuse Association
Diana Padgett: Florida Alliance of Information & Referral Services
WAS MIAMI-DADE LOBBYIST A ‘PATRIOT’ OR ‘SNITCH’ IN FBI STING OF LOCAL POLITICIANS? via Jay Weaver of the Miami Herald
When FBI agents cast a real-life lobbyist in an ambitious undercover sting targeting public corruption in Miami-Dade, they chose a seemingly unlikely lead actor, a B-lister from Palmetto Bay.
Kesti, in a recent interview with the Miami Herald, said he agreed to play the part as his “patriotic duty” to root out what he sees as systemic corruption in local government.
Others — including one of the mayors he helped get indicted last year — describe him in less flattering terms, starting with “paid snitch.” The FBI paid Kesti $114,000 over three years for his time and expenses on the corruption sting and several other operations, including providing him with a leased BMW.
In the end, Kesti’s star turn as an FBI informant code-named “Stingray” produced the unprecedented prosecutions of four mayors and lobbyists, resulting in three convictions and one acquittal.
The biggest name — suspended Miami Lakes Mayor Michael Pizzi — was found not guilty of bribery charges last month.
But three others pleaded guilty, with two going to prison last year for accepting bribes: former Sweetwater Mayor Manuel Maroño and his right-hand man, lobbyist Jorge Forte. Lobbyist Richard Candia, who testified for the prosecution at Pizzi’s trial, faces sentencing later this month.
“They give lobbyists a bad name,” said Kesti, who spoke with the Miami Herald and news partner CBS4 after Pizzi’s acquittal last month. “If you’re part of a club that breaks the law, I don’t want to be part of that club.”
CONTEXT FLORIDA: MEDICAID MONEY, ECONOMIC RAPE, JIM BROWN AND TOURISTS
On Context Florida: Loss of the Medicaid expansion money, Mark O’Brien points out, will mean hospitals must scrap ideas for improvements that would lead to lower costs, better service and long-term improvements. For going on 16 years, Stephen Goldstein says the Florida Republican Party has fiddled and belittled the middle class. It isn’t an act of God that’s destroying the American Dream; it’s petty, self-serving, greedy acts of Man, justified by a perversion of capitalism that’s the equivalent of economic rape. Over the years former Lt. Governor Jeff Kottkamp had the privilege to meet some amazing people. One of the most impressive people was NFL legend Jim Brown, who lived an amazing life as an athlete, civil rights advocate and movie star. When more people visit Florida, it directly results in more jobs for Floridians and a reduced tax burden for the state’s taxpayers, according to Jerry Parrish, Chief Economist and Director of the TaxWatch Center for Competitive Florida.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY belatedly to one of the Top 5 Cates, Chris. Celebrating today are former U.S. Rep. Mark Foley, Sens. Thad Altman and Jeff Clemens, Rep. Karen Castor Dentel, Representative-to-be Ed Narain, and former St. Pete City Councilman Jeff Danner.