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3 posts from May 19, 2014

May 19, 2014

FL Rep. Van Zant: Common Core-tied testing firm will make kids as "homosexual" as possible


Rep. Charles Van Zant, R-Keystone Heights, garnered some attention Monday for a video in which he said Florida's new state tests would promote homosexuality among children.

"These people that will now receive $220 million from the state of Florida unless this is stopped will promote double mindedness in state education, and attract every one of your children to become as homosexual as they possibly can," Van Zant said of the American Institutes for Research, which won the bid to design the state's new standards-based assessments.

As reported by Politifact, AIR does research on LGBT youth issues. But the non-profit does not promote a gay or lesbian lifestyle.

The Florida Democratic Party wants Gov. Rick Scott to condemn Van Zant's remarks.

"All of Florida’s children have the right to grow up, go to school, and earn an education without fear of being judged for who they are," Chair Allison Tant said. "Anti-gay bullying has no place in the classroom, let alone in the Florida House."

Legislative redistricting battle begins with Reichelderfer under the gun

Florida’s two-week redistricting trial began Monday with Marc Reichelderfer, GOP political consultant and lobbyist as the first witness called to the stand.

He acknowledged that on December 2010, Republican lawyers and operatives met after passage of the Fair Districts amendments to see how they could be involved in the process.

Under questioning from plaintiff's lawyer David King, Reichelderfer denied that he was trying to skirt the new law. 

"I wanted a seat at the table and still comply with Amendment Five and Six,'' he said under oath.  

Court documents show that Reichelderfer had been given a copy of the redistricting maps proposed by the Legislature even before they became public. He  testified to his companies, particularly his consulting company, Landmarc Strategies, and how he was a long time consultant to former House Speaker Dean Cannon, R-Orlando as well as Sen. John Legg, R-New Port Richey. 

Reichelderfer was asked by King if he wanted the redistricting process to favor Republicans? 

“My desire through the redistricting process would be, yes sir,’’ he said.

Reichelderfer acknowledged that he was close to Alex Kelly, the staff director of the House Redistricting Committee, as each had worked for the Florida Republican Party.

Continue reading "Legislative redistricting battle begins with Reichelderfer under the gun" »

Florida's redistricting battle opens again in court: A game of thrones

If the legions of lawyers were armed with swords and clad in medieval dress, the state’s latest redistricting fight could be Florida’s Game of Thrones.

The epic struggle for the control of Florida’s congressional map comes to center stage in a Tallahassee courtroom on Monday, complete with intertwining plot lines, side battles and, like any ancient drama, the quest for power — getting it and keeping it.

The 2012 congressional map drawn by the Republican-controlled Legislature is being challenged by a coalition of Democratic-leaning groups and seven individuals led by the League of Women Voters — referred to as the “League of Women Vipers” in emails from Republican political consultants.

But this is no fantasy tale. Experts say it is likely to be one of the most precedent-setting trials in state history as the court takes on a new role as the extra eyes on the redistricting process because of the Fair Districts rules etched into the Florida Constitution by voters in 2010.

For the first time, the rules prohibit lawmakers from drawing maps to benefit incumbents or political parties, and the new districts must adhere to geographic and political boundaries. The court will decide if the Republicans in power will hold onto the political boundaries for the rest of the decade, or be forced to draw a new one that could favor more Democrats.

“Florida voters said to the Legislature: you get to keep the pen, but we’re going to have the court looking over your shoulder,’’ said Justin Levitt, a redistricting expert at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, who maintains the website, All About Redistricting.

Story here. 

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/05/18/4123261/courtroom-clash-pits-democrats.html#storylink=cpy

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/05/18/4123261/courtroom-clash-pits-democrats.html#storylink=cpy