A morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics.
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FIRST AND FOREMOST
Happy birthday to Jack Cory’s much better half, Keyna — a true class act.
YESTERDAY IN A PARAGRAPH
House Republicans continued their piece-by-piece approach to reopening the government, this time with a bill to fund Head Start for fiscal 2014. President Obama continued his public-shaming campaign against Republicans over the shutdown and debt ceiling. Markets, largely resolute thus far in the face of Congress’s twin crises, are starting to show signs of cracking. Elsewhere, yet-another study demonstrated that Americans are falling behind in education, and two European physicists got a Nobel Prize for their 50-year-old theory on the origin of matter.
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OBAMA: ‘WE CAN’T MAKE EXTORTION ROUTINE AS PART OF OUR DEMOCRACY’ via the New York Times
President Obama reaffirmed during his hour-long afternoon press conference yesterday that he will only negotiate on issues like the tax code, job policies, or Obamacare if the threat of a government shutdown or debt ceiling is averted. But the president also signaled that a short-term debt ceiling increase could be a real, although unfavored, way forward. Obama called Speaker John Boehner earlier in the day to attempt to move the needle, but it appears the conversation again yielded little progress.
HEARTBREAKING HEADLINE: “Shutdown leaves lawmakers reusing their towels at House gym” via The Hill
MARKETS BEGIN TO LOOK VERY SKITTISH via Matt Phillips of Quartz
For a while, markets acted as if they didn’t think lawmakers would allow for a long government shutdown or seriously flirt with defaulting on the country’s debts, but that confidence appears to be quickly waning. Graphs illustrating sharp changes in the yield on one-month Treasury bills are one alarming indication that “shows the real damage has already been done to the U.S. reputation as a borrower.”
“In recent meetings with Republican lawmakers and Obama administration officials, chief executives of the nation’s largest financial institutions said putting some payments ahead of others would create insurmountable uncertainty for investors, drive up borrowing costs and cause market disruptions … The Wall Street pushback against an idea backed by the House GOP is part of an effort to force a resolution on raising the nation’s borrowing limit, which the Treasury has said it expects to reach by mid-October. If no deal is reached, many outside observers, including debt-ratings firms, assume the government would begin prioritizing payments to bondholders over others, such as Social Security recipients or veterans, rather than risk defaulting on U.S. debt.
Market participants say while the U.S. might not technically default on its debt, missing any type of payment would likely harm the economy. ‘This is going to be permanently damaging for business and consumer confidence if this happens. People will never look at the United States Treasury the same ever again,’ said Tom Simons, money-market economist at Jefferies Group LLC, an investment bank. The fast-approaching deadline, paired with the inability of Republicans and Democrats to make headway in resolving it, is starting to ripple through global markets that until recently had appeared blasé.
MEANWHILE, BACK IN FLORIDA … CITRUS FORECAST PUT ON HOLD
The USDA’s widely anticipated initial citrus forecast, originally scheduled for release Friday, has been delayed until President Obama and congressional leaders resolve their federal budget impasse.
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A PEEK INTO THE FUTURE?
A reader flags that Iowa Electronic Markets investors saw a 44 percent probability of Republicans losing the House in 2014 on Sunday, up from 30 percent at the beginning of the shutdown on Oct. 1. The probability has hovered between 11.1 percent and 32 percent at the close of each month this year – including several months of slow activity – after opening at 77.5 percent on Jan. 1 amid fiscal cliff talks. As the University of Iowa’s Tom Snee reiterates, the market’s predictive power is limited at this stage in the cycle, but “it gives you an insight into what people are thinking about.”
CONGRESS LESS POPULAR THAN COCKROACHES
A new Public Policy Polling survey finds that only 8% of American voters approve of the job Congress is doing as compared to 86% who disapprove.
Hemorrhoids, toenail fungus, dog poop, and cockroaches all might be a little bit gross — but they’re all more popular than Congress. Hemorhoids beat out Congress 53/31 with bipartisan support. On the other three there’s a partisan split: Republican voters go for Congress while Democrats take the alternative but overall it’s a 47/40 victory for dog poop, a 44/41 one for toenail fungus, and a 44/42 triump for cockroaches.
GOP SHUTDOWN EFFORTS HELPING DEMOCRATS RECRUIT via Greg Sargent
Rep. Steve Israel, who heads up the House Democratic campaign effort, told Democratic lawmakers at a closed door meeting today “that GOP shutdown shenanigans were giving Dems a big recruiting boost, by prompting reluctant Dem candidates to express renewed interest in running in very tough GOP-held districts.”
Israel, the chair of the DCCC, also said that if the 2012 House elections had been held today, with polls showing what they are now showing, Dems would have taken back the House, according to several sources present.
TRITE HEADLINE OF THE DAY: “For Florida GOP, 2014 is a pivotal year” via The Herald Tribune
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DEMOCRAT JESSICA EHRLICH BASHES GOP INCUMBENT BILL YOUNG FOR BUDGET STALEMATE via Janelle Irwin of WMNF Radio
The partial government shutdown responsible for closing national parks and furloughing hundreds of thousands of government workers is now entering its second week. A Democrat running against Republican veteran member of Congress Bill Young is demanding he take leadership among his own party to end the budget stalemate. At a press conference in front of Young’s office Monday, Jessica Ehrlich urged him to support what Democrats are calling a clean budget resolution. Some extreme right conservatives are holding off signing any resolutions that includes funding for President Obama’s signature healthcare law and instead delay any further implementation for a year.
About a dozen of Young’s constituents rallied behind Ehrlich with clouds rolling overhead threatening rain. One community activist, Mike Long, said he is among hundreds of thousands of young people who have benefited from the Affordable Care Act by being able to remain on his parents’ health insurance until 26. But Long’s 26th birthday was ten months ago, and he’s been without coverage since.
Another Ehrlich supporter, William Walker, said delaying parts of the healthcare law would hurt people like Long. Ehrlich ran unsuccessfully against Young last year, but said the budget showdown in Washington is just one more reason she’s not giving up.
PATRICK MURPHY RAISES $500,000 DURING 3Q FOR RE-ELECTION BID via Jonathan Mattise of the TCPalm
Murphy raked in more than $500,000 last fundraising quarter, bumping his bankroll up to $1.4 million for a contentious 2014 re-election bid.
“SENATE SWEEPS” OF CONGRESSIONAL BRACKETOLOGY BEGINS WITH MARCO RUBIO V. BILL NELSON via contributor Karen Cyphers
The first round of Senate Sweeps has started in TrendPo’s “Congressional Bracketology“. this competition pits elected officials against each other in a test of social media prowess, NCAA bracket style. The first round evaluates each of the 64 on all aspects of their social media presence, including Facebook likes, comments, and shares; new followers on Twitter, retweets, and mentions; and YouTube views, likes, and subscribers. Facing off in Round 1 are Florida Senators Marco Rubio and Bill Nelson. Rubio enters the week seeded at No. 7 in the South and No. 18 overall, while Nelson is seeded No. 10 in the South and No. 23 overall.
At the time of seeding, Rubio dramatically exceeded Nelson in Facebook likes (54,993 to 17,508) and Twitter followers (433,600 to 32,467). That said, TrendPo is looking for a change in engagement levels over the week. And with the government shut down and all, this is an unusual week.
According to TrendPo, the shutdown favors Rubio’s stats: “The Rubio-Nelson showdown is one of the tightest matchups in the southern region as the two Florida Senators go head to head to garner the most traction online. It looks like the government shutdown has doomed Nelson. Even though Rubio has been quiet during the shutdown drama, there’s been a lot of speculation about why he’s gone silent compared to other Senate Republicans like Ted Cruz, and as a result Rubio has seen more online engagement than Nelson. Rubio’s rise in Facebook Likes has set him apart and it’s likely he’ll advance to the next round.
The winner will move on to the Facebook Round against either Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky or Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee.
SHUTDOWN HITS VERN BUCHANAN’S STAFF via Jeremy Wallace of the Herald-Tribune
As the government shutdown rolls into its second week, U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan is having to make do with fewer workers in his offices. Buchanan has had to furlough 4 of his 15 staff members in his district office and on Capitol Hill. More than 800,000 federal workers have been furloughed since Oct. 1, when Congress failed to pass a bill to fund the government. Buchanan has expressed his frustration with the shutdown. He issued a strong statement in opposition to shutting down the government, but has also supported the temporary spending bills that included provisions to defund or delay President Obama’s health care reform law.
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CHAMBER FOUNDATION’S FUTURE OF FLORIDA FORUM TO HOST CABINET, LEGISLATIVE AND BUSINESS LEADERS
The Florida Chamber is hosting a forum on the future of Florida, but its roster of speakers and attendees is a marquee of Florida’s here-and-now. Gov. Rick Scott, members of the Florida Cabinet and the Legislature will gather in Orlando from October 14-16 to attend its annual Forum. These state leaders will be joined by Florida’s leading CEOs, small business owners, international policy leaders, and non-profit representatives to focus on Florida’s major challenges and opportunities.
Gov. Scott, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, CFO Jeff Atwater, Speaker Will Weatherford, President Don Gaetz, and various legislators will be speaking. Summit topics are slated to cover the release of the Trade & Logistics Study 2.0, the unveiling of the Florida Business Alliance for Competitive Healthcare Solutions, the release of the Florida Chamber’s Small Business Survey, and a State of the State Presentation by Bentina Terry, VP of External Affairs and Corporate Services at Gulf Power and Florida Chamber Board Chair.
FLORIDA BOARD OF EDUCATION TO BEGIN TAKING UP GOV. RICK SCOTT’S COMMON CORE REQUESTS via Jeffrey Solochek of the Tampa Bay Times
The Florida Board of Education is prepared to follow Gov. Rick Scott’s play book on standards and assessments when it meets next week in Tampa. The board is scheduled to confirm that it will not adopt the Common Core State Standards Appendices, Common Core Sample Performance Tasks, Common Core Samples of Student Writing, and designed high school math courses — just as Scott asked when he issued his executive order on the subject. Scott spelled out this desire, along with many others, in his letter to board chairman Gary Chartrand. Those decisions should be left to local school districts, Scott pointed out, in a nod to those who worry about a national takeover of Florida’s education system. The state had never intended to adopt those appendices or other items, and had made clear that curriculum and materials selection would remain local.
The board’s action is set to take place just hours before its first of three public forums on the standards, which Scott also requested. Department officials have said they want to hear specific concerns about individual standards, rather than broadside criticisms. Few officials have indicated an intent to move away from the Common Core — in fact, many at the top levels have said they plan to stick with the Common Core — although opposition is rising.
POLICY NOTES via The Florida Current
State Farm Insurance Co.: Will ask the Office of Insurance Regulation for a 35.1% statewide average increase in its rental dwelling policy rates during a hearing at 9 a.m. in Room 116 of the Larson Building at 200 E. Gaines St. in Tallahassee. Agenda can be found here.
Reemployment Assistance Appeals Commission: Holds a meeting at 9 a.m. at 2140 Centerview Drive, Suite 101 in Tallahassee. Agenda can be found here.
Medicaid Webinar: Georgetown University, the Jessie Ball DuPont Fund and Winter Park Health Foundation present a webinar about a policy brief called “Medicaid Managed Care in Florida: Federal Approval and Implementation” at11 a.m. to noon. The brief will explore what is in the waiver agreement reached between the state and federal government in June of 2013 and highlights issues to monitor going forward. Registration information can be found here.
1000 Friends of Florida: Hosts a webinar on green development. The University of Florida’s Mark Hostetler will share strategies to engage policy makers, planners, developers and citizens to create functioning green communities, including the importance of addressing decisions made during the design, construction and post-construction phases of new subdivision development. The webinar will be held from noon to 1:30 p.m.. To register, click here.
Board of Governors Facilities Committee: Meets to discuss new projects during a meeting at the Tampa Airport Marriott. The meeting begins at 12:30 p.m. and will include presentations from 10 universities. The agenda can be found here.
Agency for Health Care Administration: Holds the second of three public hearings as it formulates a request for a three-year extension of the Managed Medical Assistance Waiver previously known as Medicaid Reform Waiver. Wednesday’s meeting will begin at 1 p.m. at Florida International University Kovens Center, 3000 N.E. 151 St., North Miami.
Florida Surplus Lines Service Office’s Budget Committee: Meets at 2 p.m. at 1441 Maclay Commerce Drive Suite 200 in Tallahassee. Copies of agendas may be requested by contacting Georgie Barrett at firstname.lastname@example.org.
SCOTT’S JOB CZAR MAY GET HEFTY RAISE via Gary Fineout of the Associated Press
Gov. Scott’s top official in charge of recruiting jobs to the state is probably going to get a hefty raise.
Enterprise Florida, the organization set up to lure companies to the state, is expected to approve a new two-year contract for president and CEO Gray Swoope later this month.
The new contract would allow Swoope to make up to $375,000 in salary and bonuses – or a 25 percent increase over what he makes now.
A panel that reviews Enterprise Florida’s budget – most of which comes from taxpayers – approved the new contract on Tuesday. A final vote – which could include Scott- is expected at the end of the month.
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BLOG POST OF DAY: WHY THE ‘NO CASINOS’ VIEWPOINT ISN’T MINE via Nancy Smith of Sunshine State News
At least once a week somebody asks me how, as a conservative, I can defend such a morally verklempt social pastime as gambling. I was just asked the question today: Why not join the No Casinos crowd — especially if destination resort casinos turn out not to be the pot of gold at the end of Florida’s rainbow after all? Easy answer for me. I can keep it short and sweet.
For the record — and I’m talking personally here — the revenue it harvests was never the strongest argument for gambling in general, or destination casinos in particular. The strongest argument for legalizing well-regulated gaming is also the simplest: individual liberty.
A free society where the government bans activities it finds immoral or unseemly is not really a free society. Proponents of gambling prohibition like No Casinos say gambling is an addiction, and often point to stories of addicts who have wagered away the kids’ college fund, lost their house, or turned to crime to pay off their debts.
But foolishness with our own money should not be illegal. We don’t prohibit people from blowing their savings on eBay, taking out mortgages or loans they can’t afford (at least not yet), or frittering away their paychecks on booze, cigarettes or mistresses.
The government has no business policing its citizens’ personal lives for bad habits, particularly when it is happy to exploit those same habits for its own benefit.
SENATORS CONSIDER WITHDRAWAL FROM FLOOD INSURANCE PROGRAM via The News Service of Florida
State lawmakers continue to consider how they can protect homeowners covered by the National Flood Insurance Program from a planned hike in rates, with a focus now on possibly altering regulations so private insurers can have more flexibility in offering the coverage. And absent a private solution, the state may need to consider establishing a state agency as a last resort for the roughly 270,000 Florida homeowners who could face unaffordable insurance under the national program, said Senate Banking and Insurance Chairman David Simmons.
“I don’t think it’s their fault, they bought a home under a national flood insurance program that has now changed the rules on them, in the middle of the game,” Simmons said.
Lawmakers continued to express concern Tuesday about the anticipated end of federal flood-insurance subsidies that Realtors claim could devastate Florida’s economy. State lawmakers have called on Congress to postpone implementation of the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act, which phases out subsidies on older properties in flood zones. The 2012 act calls on the Federal Emergency Management Agency and other agencies to make a number of changes to the way the National Flood Insurance Program is run, including raising rates to reflect true flood risk and to make the program more financially stable.
STAND YOUR GROUND GETS MODEST REWORK BY SENATE PANEL via John Kennedy of the Palm Beach Post
A Senate panel agreed Tuesday to modest changes to the state’s controversial “stand your ground” law, while not ruling out more sweeping steps in the wake of last summer’s George Zimmerman verdict.
The Judiciary Committee voted 7-2 to endorse a measure (CS/SB 130) that requires law enforcement agencies to develop guidelines for neighborhood watch groups and also would demand that they fully investigate any claims made using the self-defense law enacted in 2005.
Proposals to revisit stand your ground went nowhere earlier this year in the Legislature. But last summer’s acquittal of Zimmerman in the shooting 2012 shooting death of teenager Trayvon Martin has renewed focus on the legislation and Tuesday’s hearing marked the first time lawmakers took a second look at how the law has been applied.
“This has truly been an effort where we have taken this issue…and reached a consensus so far,” said Sen. David Simmons. “If there’s more we can do later, we will do it.”
The House has shown little interest in reworking the law. But Sen. Chris Smith said he still will work toward finding agreement with supporters of the legislation on a provision more strictly defining who an aggressor is when two people meet in a violent confrontation.
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TODAY IN THE LEGISLATURE
Senate Education Committee: Meets at 9 a.m. to hear presentations on enrollment trends for Florida Virtual School, online enrollment in the State University System and the development of the University of Florida Online degree programs which the school will start offering in January. The meeting will be held in 412 Knott.
FACEBOOK STATUS OF THE DAY via Bill Cotterell: “I was interviewing the chairman of the House criminal justice subcommittee, who’s also author of the new “timely justice act” to speed up executions, and noticed today that among the Florida historical photos on his office wall was a shot of several people standing on a black-shrouded gallows in Crestview, c. 1920. … No telling if the space below them was occupied, behind the black curtains. … Something tells me there won’t be a whole lot of liberal bills coming out of his committee, which will hear the “Stand Your Ground” legislation probably next month.”
TWEET OF THE DAY: @rangel4florida: My service in Army, Reserves & National Guard is what sparked my deep commitment to community #activism.
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3Q FUNDRAISING STRONG FOR REPS. ALBRITTON, MORAITIS, AND RAULERSON
Reps. Ben Albritton, George Moraitis, and Dan Raulerson rang in formidable third quarter fundraising totals for their respective 2014 races, each summing at least $22,000 between July 1 and Sept. 30. Moraitis raised the most at $23,250 and is running against Democrat Scott Herman for the District 93 seat. Raulerson and Albritton are both unopposed and reported $22,500 and $22,000 a piece.
BRODEUR ADDS ANOTHER $30K
State Rep. Jason Brodeur collected $30,010 in his bid for a third term in the House, for an overall total of $72,115 according to the latest campaign-finance reports. During the third quarter, Brodeur also spent $18,505.
Brodeur faces a 2014 challenge from Libertarian Franklin Perez and no-party-affiliation candidate Kevin Scott Pinard for the House District 28 seat, which includes parts of Sanford. Perez failed to bring in any money during the current three-month fundraising period, and only collected $620 in total, according to the state Division of Elections.
As for Pinard, he has yet to file a financial report.
LOOK FOR REP. MIKE HILL TO REPORT…
… having raised $48,401 during the third quarter.
MEANWHILE, DEMOCRAT KRISTIN JACOBS’S REPORT BLOWS THE DOORS OFF
Broward County Mayor Kristin Jacobs, who faces term limits recently and is running for District 96, will report raising a whopping $65,588, with another $4,988 in in-kind. That’s quite a haul for a Democratic challenger. She only spent $2,068.
Keep in mind, that Jacobs’ opponent, Steve Perman, who served in the House in 2010-12 until he lost a primary challenge to Kevin Rader, raised just $86,000 for that race.
NEIL COMBEE NETS $30K, RITCH WORKMAN ADDS $25K FOR HD 52 RACE
Rep. Neil Combee received $30,565 in contributions between July 1 and Sept. 30 for his re-election to House District 39, according to the state Division of Elections.
Although Combee has not yet drawn a challenger for 2014, the freshman Republican from Polk City has banked a total of $38,265, while only spending $12,725. District 39 includes sections of Polk and Osceola Counties.
Further down the I- 4 corridor in Melbourne, Republican Rep. Ritch Workman raised $25,350 during the same period for his re-election to House District 52. This pushed his overall total to $60,600 while spending $30,321, according to the Division of Elections.
Workman faces GOP competition in 2014 from 33-year-old James Brandon Lambert.
Lambert’s updated third quarter financial numbers are still pending.
SPOTTED: Bill Young II making the rounds in Tallahassee, with staff from Enwright Consulting and lobbyists from Capitol Insight in tow.
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FUNDRAISER LINE-UP FOR TONIGHT
4:30-6:00 p.m. – Colleen Burton for H-Dist 40 (McKeel’s seat) at Governors Club – Library. Supporting her are: Sen. Grimsley, Sen. Stargel, Rep. Albritton, Rep. Combee, Rep. La Rosa, Rep. McKeel, Rep. Wood
5:30-7:30 p.m. – Bryan Avila, Brad Drake, Eric Eisnaugle, Daniel Diaz Leyva, Maurice Pearson, Scott Plakon at Governors Club – Plantation Room
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: JUSTICES SKEPTICAL OF CAMPAIGN FINANCE LIMITS via POLITICO Influence
The Supreme Court sounded poised Tuesday to deliver another serious blow to the already-reeling four-decade-old system for regulating money in U.S. elections. The court’s conservative majority gave a skeptical reception to one of the least known features of campaign finance law: caps the federal government imposes on the total amount of money any individual donor can give to federal candidates, national political party committees and federal political action committees. Chief Justice John Roberts acknowledged some legitimacy to the Obama administration’s warning that lifting those caps could effectively restore the era of so-called “soft money” that existed before the passage of the McCain-Feingold law in 2002. But Roberts said he wasn’t sure that concern merited or even required that individual donors be prevented from giving maximum donations to just eight federal candidates.
TODAY’S LUNCH MENU AT THE GOVERNORS CLUB
Sweet tea marinated pork loin, frito crusted catfish, fruit platter, caesar salad, tuna salad, chicken salad, broccoli crunch salad, mac n cheese, collared greens, GC bread pudding and cookies & brownies.
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BLOG POST: TIME TO REPEAL LOBBYIST COMPENSATION REPORTING LAW Full blog post here
When lobbyists Ron Book and Guy Spearman filed suit in 2006 to block enforcement of a law requiring lobbyists to report how much they are paid, it probably never occurred to them that the compensation reports they sought to keep private would one day be used as marketing tools.
… It’s little wonder that the quarterly filings are at the center of the most insider-y of debates raging in the state capital.
And the fact is, lobbyists are not under much pressure to open their books to prove they’re reporting accurately.
… The Joint Legislative Auditing Committee was told that the random audits of some two dozen firms could cost the state more than $1 million, according to Aaron Deslatte of the Orlando Sentinel. That sparked criticism from some on the House-Senate panel, while returning the issue to where Book, Spearman, et al were driving it: stopping the legislation.
Because if there’s not the will to regularly audit, then repeal the law.
What was to be a triumph for transparent democracy is, without audits, just another questionable bureaucratic exercise based on the principle of “trust but don’t verify.”
CARLTON FIELDS MERGING WITH JORDEN BURT
Carlton Fields, a major Florida law firm with 300 attorneys and consultants, said it plans to merge with the 70-attorney Jorden Burt law firm. Initially, the name of the combined firm will be Carlton Fields Jorden Burt with 10 offices. Carlton Fields chief executive officer Gary Sasso will serve as CEO of the combined firm.
“The fit between our law firms is natural and powerful,” Sasso said in a statement. “Both firms have strong national practices in class action defense and high-stakes litigation.”
Jorden Burt operates from three offices in Washington, D.C., Miami and Hartford, Conn. The deal, whose terms were not disclosed, is expected to close in early 2014.
NEW LOBBYING REGISTRATIONS
Travis Blanton, Melanie Brown, Amy Christian, Jon Johnson, Blanton & Johnson: No Casinos
Paul Bradshaw, David Browning, Jim Smith, Southern Strategy Group: Scripps Research Institute
Richard Heffley, Kelly Horton, Heffley & Associates: Merck, Sharpe & Dohme Corporation
SSG COMES IN AT #8 ON SSN’S LIST OF FLORIDA’S TOP LOBBYING FIRMS Full profile here
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CONTEXT FLORIDA: OLD WHITE GUYS, ‘THROW EM ALL OUT’ AND A THROWBACK TO FLORIDA’S PAST
Today on Context Florida, there’s Mark O’Brien, a “white guy of a certain age” who in being happy feels a bit “out of step with his peers”; and there’s Pierre Tristam who turns a sharp pen at the Medicare generation for what he considers their disproportionate role in Tea Party opposition to Obamacare.
Then, Ed Moore shares his morning revelation that “spreading like kudzu is the sentiment ‘THROW THEM ALL OUT!'” but warns that while this feels good, assuming it would solve anything is foolhardy.
Rolling back in history and away from today’s turmoil, Gary Mormino offers the second in a four-part series on Florida Gov. Millard Caldwell and Florida’s 1944 gubernatorial race.
Visit Context Florida to dig in.
POLITIFACT GETS CHECKED BY ACADEMIC STUDY, IS SHOWN TO DETER FALSEHOODS via contributor Karen Cyphers
The Tampa Bay Times PolitiFact project has earned a Pulitzer and plenty of accolades, but here is one that could not have been said before: its work actually deters outright falsehoods. Political scientists Brendan Nyhan at Dartmouth and Jason Reifler at the University of Exeter conducted a field experiment to test whether state legislators mislead the public less when they are aware that fact-checkers are watching. Turns out, this is so.
Nyhan and Reifler looked at a group of randomly selected state legislators in nine states including Florida that have PolitiFact affiliates, and divided them into three treatment groups. One group received letters informing them about the study and reminding them about the work of PolitiFact. A second group were sent letters informing about the study without mention of PolitiFact. A third group got no letters at all. Then, during the 2012 election cycle, Nyhan and Reifler watched for PolitiFact ratings. During that time, the group of legislators who had been reminded about PolitiFact were 55 percent less likely to get a negative rating from the organization, and the odds that their statements were questions by PolitiFact or other media fell by a dramatic 75 percent.
That said, it is rare for state legislators to be fact-checked. Just 23 (2%) of the 1,169 legislators in this study were subject to a fact check at all. And maybe that is enough. Maybe knowing that watchdogs are out there is all it takes to foster more honest dialogue.
Here is a follow-up study that Nyhan and Reifler could do with their data: controlling for other factors, did being fact-checked matter for the election outcomes or vote margins for these 23?
“While fact-checking of state legislators is still regrettably rare, these results suggest that state legislators who are reminded of the electoral and reputational threat from fact-checking do change their behavior,” Nyhan and Reifler conclude. How would PolitiFact rate the truthiness of this study? A safe guess, not ‘Pants on Fire’.
THE SCENE AT THE CHALLENGER LEARNING CENTER’S SCREENING OF KIDS FOR CASH via Florence Snyder
The 287-seat IMAX theater was remarkably full (Monday) night, considering that the Legislature is in town and the Mint Lounge was spitting distance away.
The half-dozen lawmakers in attendance, along with the rest of the audience, could have used a stiff drink for the screening of KIDS FOR CASH, a new documentary from award winning producer-director Robery May.
May was here for the screening, hosted by the James Madison Institute; the MacArthur Foundation; FSU’s Project on Accountable Justice; the Southern Poverty Law Center; and others united in the belief that jailing kids for offenses that used to be dealt with in the Principal’s office is a grotesque waste of taxpayer money and a moral evil of Biblical proportions.
The sordid details of the scandal are available on Wikipedia. Two Pennsylvania judges are serving time for their role in building a juvenile detention center and keeping it full of kids who didn’t need to be there. Visit Florida may or may not like the scenes filmed in Jupiter, where one of the miscreants awaited sentencing in luxurious surroundings purchased with public funds he pocketed destroying families.
The heroine of the film was also at the IMAX and joined May to answer audience questions following the screening. Marsha Levick and her team of Philadelphia legal aid lawyers reversed the convictions and expunged the records of 2,480 youths.
For Levick, there’s a bigger picture. “People saw [what what the disgraced judges were doing] and said nothing. People knew and didn’t act,” she said.
Kids for Cash is a chilling meditation upon the sin of silence. It will be in general release early next year.
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HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Rep. Janet Adkins, my new friend Ben Diamond, and Senator Joe Negron.