January 28, 2015

Gov. Rick Scott proposes $150 million for Everglades

@jenstaletovich

 

Standing outside a Miami airboat attraction with some of the state’s top environmentalists and a caged panther named Harley, Gov. Rick Scott on Tuesday proposed spending $150 million in his next budget on Everglades restoration and habitat preservation.

Scott also wants lawmakers to designate a quarter of Amendment 1 money — the measure overwhelmingly approved by voters in November for land and water conservation — for restoration work. If the Legislature agrees, the move could raise $5 billion for Everglades projects over the life of the 20-year amendment, an amount that could cover the state’s projected costs.

“We have the opportunity to continue to invest,” Scott said, pointing to a stronger economy. “And this is the right way to invest.”

Environmentalists say the measures, if endorsed by lawmakers, could guarantee the chronically stalled work gets done.

More here.

Commission on Ethics: O'Toole failed to disclose voting conflict

Marleneo'tooleThe Florida Commission on Ethics found that Rep. Marlene O’Toole, R-Lady Lake, failed to disclose a voting conflict when she voted on the 2013 budget.

As the Times/Herald reported in 2013, O’Toole didn’t disclose her dual roles as chief operating officer of a nonprofit called “Take Stock in Children” and vice chair of the House education appropriations committee that approved $6 million for the Miami nonprofit.

Take Stock in Children was awarded an additional $9.1 million from the state’s $200 million mortgage settlement. O’Toole voted on both matters. In neither case did she disclose that she was paid $50,000 a year by the nonprofit.

Here’s the announcement from the Commission on Ethics.


The Commission found probable cause to believe that H. MARLENE O’TOOLE, Florida Representative for District 33, failed to disclose a voting conflict when she voted on the 2013 General Appropriations Act that included a specific appropriation for her employer. Probable cause also was found to believe that she failed to follow disclosure requirements when she voted regarding the disbursement of a settlement fund that inured to the special private gain of her employer.

 

Gov. Scott wants 'removal' option for Cabinet agency heads

Gov. Rick Scott has proposed a series of changes in handling of appointments and job reviews of Cabinet-level agency heads in the wake of the fiasco last month in which his office forced the ouster of a top state police executive without the advance knowledge of the three Cabinet members.

Scott's office maintains that his staff told Cabinet members' staff that he wanted "new leadership" at FDLE and that staff members "raised no objection."

Scott's proposal is a reworked version of a proposal advanced last week by Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam. It will be discussed at the next Cabinet meeting set for Feb. 5 at the Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa (the governor's office confirmed Wednesday that the meeting will be held in Tampa as scheduled).

Scott's one-page proposal would reduce the job security of those officials by creating a new "annual Cabinet leadership review" that would allow for an agency head's "removal for any reason by an appropriate vote." Under the Scott proposal, he or any Cabinet member could annually make a motion for "affirmation or removal" of Cabinet agency heads, which include the commissioner of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, state insurance commissioner, banking regulator, tax collector and executive director of highway safety, among others.

The proposal states in part: "Prior to the end of each fiscal year, the performance and tenure of each executive director, director or commissioner appointed and serving under the direction and supervision of the governor and Cabinet shall be reviewed."

The proposal also would give Scott the authority to appoint an interim replacement at the head of an agency "in the event of a vacancy," which Scott did last month when he alone selected FDLE's Capitol police director, Rick Swearingen, as an interim replacement for the ousted FDLE Commissioner Gerald Bailey.

Scott also is proposing a nationwide search for qualified candidates for those offices. Earlier this month, Scott's office solicited a resume from a Louisiana state official, Ron Henderson, as a potential replacement for Kevin McCarty, who has headed the Office of Insurance Regulation since 2003.

 

Joyner raises concerns about possible insurance regulator

Senate Democratic Leader Arthenia Joyner raised questions Wednesday about the man being considered by the governor's office to be Florida's next insurance regulator. 

"Who is this person that our governor wants to bring in from Louisiana?" said Joyner. "If somebody's supposed to be a consumer advocate, and the person who's the founder of a national insurance organization and now insurance director for the Consumer Federation of America doesn't know him, I think we got a problem." 

Gov. Rick Scott is reportedly considering Ron Henderson, Louisiana's deputy insurance commissioner for consumer affairs, to head the Florida Office of Insurance, a position held for more than 10 years by Kevin McCarty

Joyner called the replacement unnecessary. 

Continue reading "Joyner raises concerns about possible insurance regulator" »

January 27, 2015

Senate bill attempts to impose new penalties for inmate abuse and neglect

Julie JonesAs Florida’s prisons face increased scrutiny about suspicious inmate deaths, cover-ups, and questionable medical care, a state Senate committee is proposing new safeguards for prisoners.

The Senate Criminal Justice Committee will take up a broad piece of legislation when it meets next Monday that the chairman says is “a first step” aimed at resetting a prison culture in rife with allegations about excessive force and negligent medical care. 

“I thought we should memorialize certain ideas that would help the Department of Corrections do a better job of being safety and protecting inmates as well as corrections officers, staff, and residents of the state,’’ said Sen. Greg Evers, a Crestview Republican and chairman of the committee.

The committee will also hear from Julie Jones, the governor's newly-appointed secretary of the department, who has vowed to "fix what needs fixing" at the troubled agency.

The Senate proposal, SB 7020, doesn't wait for Gov. Rick Scott and his administration to make changes, however. It imposes penalties on employees caught using inappropriate force against inmates,  punishes doctors and nurses working for the private companies that provide inmate medical care when their negligent medical care results in the harm of an inmate, and attempts to prevent retaliation for those who speak up.

Evers added, however, that the bill is only a “starting point” and it is likely to change “as other issues come up.”

The Senate has taken an aggressive look at Florida’s prison system after a series of reports in the Miami Herald revealed details about a series of  suspicious inmate deaths, agency cover-ups and an increase in the use of force by prison guards that led to thet agency’s deadliest year in 2014.

As part of his committee’s probe into prison allegations, Evers surprised officials at Jefferson Correctional Institution and Suwannee Correctional last Thursday when he and his staff conducted surprise inspections at the two troubled two North Florida prisons.

He has also asked Jones to appear before the committee to report on changes she has implemented and Evers has demanded that Chief Inspector General Jeff Beasley appear to also answer questions. A DOC spokesman said he will be there. 

Beasley is a named defendant in a whistleblower lawsuit alleging the cover-up of the death of inmate Randall Jordan-Aparo, who was repeatedly blasted with chemicals after complaining about an ailment at Franklin County Correctional. As a result of the reports of inmate abuse, the U.S. Department of Justice has begun an investigation into whether the Florida DOC violated the constitutional rights of inmates.

The proposals focus on improving both inmate safety and better communication of negligent medical care and excessive use of force. Those suggestions are supported by one of the most outspoken critics of the state prison system, George Mallinckrodt, a former psychotherapist in the transitional care unit at Dade Correctional Institution for three years and offered the committee several suggestions for reform.

Continue reading "Senate bill attempts to impose new penalties for inmate abuse and neglect" »

Freshman Miami congressman assigned to aviation, maritime transportation subcommittees

@PatriciaMazzei

Members of the new 114th Congress already know which committees they'll be serving on. But still up in the air, at least for some panels, was who would sit on which subcommittee they'll sit to consider legislation.

U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo, Miami's only freshman congressman, said Tuesday that he's been assigned to three Transportation & Infrastructure subcommittees of particular importance to South Florida: Aviation; Economic Development, Public Buildings, and Emergency Management; and Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation, where he was appointed vice-chairman.

"Our airports and seaports drive South Florida's economy and are of major significance to the country," Curbelo said in a statement. "These important subcommittee assignments will afford me the opportunity to work in a bipartisan manner to increase our area's economic potential by expanding our transportation and infrastructure capacity. This will mean more opportunities and a higher quality of life for Florida families."

In the Education and the Workforce committee, Curbelo has been assigned to two subcommittees: Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education; and Higher Education and Workforce Training.

Longtime advocate: Insurance chief from Louisiana could be bad news for consumers

Robert Hunter has spent decades in the insurance industry as a consumer advocate. When he heard the name of the man being considered for the state's insurance regulator job, he was "shocked." 

Gov. Rick Scott's office confirmed Monday that Ron Henderson, Louisiana's deputy insurance commissioner for consumer advocacy, is being considered as the replacement for Kevin McCarty, who has been commissioner of Florida's Office of Insurance Regulation since 2003 (and is favored by Hunter, incidentally).

"It's really shocking to me that a guy who's supposed to be in consumer advocacy I haven't heard of," said Hunter, who was Texas insurance commissioner and founder of the National Insurance Consumer Organization before his current job as insurance director for the Consumer Federation of America. "I know everyone who's done anything in consumer work." 

Continue reading "Longtime advocate: Insurance chief from Louisiana could be bad news for consumers " »

UPDATE: What are the odds: Husband of top House aide lands six-figure gig at DOE

The husband of Florida House Speaker Steve Crisafulli's chief aide was handed the top legal job at the state education department last week.

He filled a vacancy created five months ago by the same aide -- House Chief of Staff Kathy Mears -- when she hired away the education department’s lawyer.

DOE officials won’t say if the $120,000 general counsel job that went to Matthew Mears on Jan. 20 was advertised or if there were other candidates. Mears and House officials said they didn't advertise the general counsel position that was awarded to Matt Carson from the DOE, leaving the vacancy filled by Mears’ husband. But they did say it was a formal process in which one other attorney, Stuart Williams, was interviewed. Two other attorneys were asked if they were interested in interviewing, according to the House, but they declined.

Mears, who said she only learned about her husband applying for the DOE job in December, said she didn't know at the time she hired Carson that her husband would eventually apply for his old job.

"I had no idea Matthew would be interested in a job at the Department of Education or that he would apply for the job four months later," Mears said in an email Tuesday. In an emailed statements to the Times/Herald, Crisafulli said that he did not know that Mears' husband would later apply for Carson's old job until December.

"Kathy told me that her husband was offered the job at the DOE in December, prior to him accepting the position," Crisafulli said. 

But to outsiders and ethical experts, the role Kathy Mears played in ultimately creating an opportunity for her husband raises questions about how lucrative state jobs are awarded.

“This doesn’t seem open and transparent,” said Carla Miller, president of City Ethics, a Jacksonville non-profit that provides governments with advice. “You don’t want it to look like you have a tight little circle and that you’re choosing from an in-group. You can do that with a corporation. But people expect their government to be fair.”

The chronology puts Kathy Mears at the center of the hiring process for two key legal positions at powerful state governmental entities, underscoring the power she holds in state government. At 44, Mears has a legislative resume that dwarfs the experience of Crisafulli and his predecessor, Will Weatherford. Since the 1990s, she’s served as a trusted advisor to a number of high ranking Republicans: former House Speaker Daniel Webster; former Senate presidents Tom Lee and Kenneth Pruitt; and Gov. Charlie Crist.

She makes $152,000 as Crisafulli's chief of staff. She hired Carson for a position that oversees a chamber that helps draft policy and the $19 billion state K-12 education budget. Meanwhile Matthew Mears, who quit his job at Holland & Knight to work for DOE, is now chief counsel at a state agency that lobbies the House.

It’s a unique situation that isn’t apparently covered by state law. Agencies are prohibited from allowing relatives to hire each other, but Kathy Mears doesn’t work for the DOE. Nor did she hire her husband.

She did start the chain of events on Aug. 6 by hiring Carson as the House’s new general counsel, paying him $121,000, an $11,000 increase in what he was earning as the DOE’s general counsel.

Having served as the DOE’s general counsel since Feb. 11, 2013, Carson gave no reason for his departure in a resignation letter to Education Commissioner Pam Stewart dated Aug. 5.

"As you know, today will be my last day as General Counsel for the Department of Education," Carson wrote. "I have enjoyed working with you, [Chief of Staff] Kathy [Hebda], and the rest of your staff, and am grateful to you for this opportunity."

The Department of Education declined to say if Carson's departure was related to Mears' hiring on Jan. 20. The department also declined to say if the job vacancy had been posted, if a search was conducted, and how many other candidates had been interviewed for the position.

"Matt Carson was not forced to resign," Department of Education spokeswoman Meghan Collins said. "In fact, the commissioner [of Education Pam Stewart] wanted him to stay. He accepted a job with the House, and his reason... was that he thought it was the best thing for his family and his career. She commended him. She was confident that he would do a good job at the House. He did a good job at DOE, and we're confident in our new general counsel."

Collins declined to provide any details on Mears' hiring.

Mears said she hired Carson because he came highly recommended by the previous general counsel, Daniel Nordby. 

Nordby, who left to join the private law firm Shutts & Bowen, said he did recommend Carson to Mears.

“We were in law school together at the University of Florida,” Nordby said. “I’ve known him in legal practice here and we both worked at the Department of Education. I talked to a few people who I thought would be interested and Matthew Carson was one of the names I recommended.”

An email from Crisafulli spokesman Michael Williams stated that when Nordby announced he was leaving his job on Tuesday, an announcement was made to the House staff directors and senior administrative staff with a request for assistance with potential candidates for his replacement. Mears said she called attorneys Rick Figlio and Andy Bardos and asked them if they would like to be interviewed. They declined. 

After Mears interviewed Carson and Stuart Williams, Crisafulli let Mears decide who to hire, according to Williams' email.

Crisafulli and Mears said Carson was not hired to make room for Matthew Mears.

 

 

Miami Beach mayor clears up his relationship status in Tallahassee

@doug_hanks

On a recent trip to Tallahassee, Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine was joined by Scott Robins, his longtime collaborator on  real estate projects. There was some confusion, though, when Levine said to a prominent politico in the state capital: "Let me introduce you to my partner."

Recalling the story in front of the Miami-Dade Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, Levine said he received a surprised look from the politician, whom Levine declined to name but said was "very well-known" and spoke with a deep Southern accent. Robins told Levine afterwards that he had made it sound like the two straight men were a couple. 
 
"I'm not the openly gay mayor of Miami Beach," Levine said to laughter from the chamber crowd. "I'm the the openly single mayor of Miami Beach." 

Stat about GOP presidential races bodes well for Jeb Bush

As he moves toward formally entering the 2016 presidential race, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is hammering home the notion that Washington needs a "fresh face."

It’s a two-edged critique aimed at potential Republican rivals such as former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, and at Hillary Clinton, the former Democratic senator and first lady who is gearing up for 2016.

The Clinton-Bush era in the nation’s capital is well known -- from 1980 to 2004, Jeb’s father (George H.W. Bush) or brother (George W. Bush) or Bill Clinton won their party’s nomination for president or vice president. Hillary Clinton, of course, nearly made the top of the Democratic ticket in 2008.

But there’s a more sweeping claim making the rounds on social media -- and various websites -- as the 2016 race takes early shape.

This is how Washington Post Wonkblog reporter Matt O’Brien put it:

Republicans haven’t won a presidential election without a Bush or Nixon on the ticket since 1928.

Turn to PolitiFact Wisconsin for the answer. 

Facing down a constitutional amendment, FPL plans three new solar plants

By Ivan Penn, Tampa Bay Times @Consumers_Edge 

Florida's largest investor owned utility announced plans Monday to build three new solar farms that would nearly double the state's solar capacity.

In its announcement, Florida Power & Light said it had found a "cost-effective" way to expand solar power in Florida and proposed to install the systems at three sites in its service area. The utility proposes to add 225 megawatts of solar to the state's current 229 megawatts by the end of next year in Manatee, DeSoto and Charlotte counties.

FPL is still refining the details of the project so the utility did not provide cost estimates. But the company said there would be no significant impact on customer rates.

"Over the past decade, we have continuously focused on advancing reliable, affordable, clean energy for our customers," said Eric Silagy, president and CEO of FPL. "In particular, we have been working especially hard to find ways to advance solar energy in Florida without increasing electricity costs, and we have developed what we believe will be a cost-effective plan.

But FPL utility noted in a news release that "solar power — even the most economical large-scale installation — is generally not yet cost effective in FPL's service area."

Continue reading "Facing down a constitutional amendment, FPL plans three new solar plants" »

Taxpayers take it on chin in Miami Lakes mayoral fight

@jayhweaver

Pity the poor taxpayers of Miami Lakes.

By the time a judge resolves the legal tussle over who should be mayor — Wayne Slaton or Michael Pizzi — the town’s tab could total hundreds of thousands of dollars.

But Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Gisela Cardonne Ely made it crystal clear at a recent hearing that she wants to decide the bitter dispute as quickly as possible.

“The bottom line, as I read this case, is that former mayor, Mr. Pizzi, says that he is entitled to be the mayor as opposed to Mr. Slaton,” the judge declared at last Thursday’s hearing, involving 11 lawyers, with each charging $200 to $375 an hour. “Period. End of report, unless there is some other mysterious thing out there.”

Pizzi’s 2013 suspension from the mayor’s position was revoked in December by Gov. Rick Scott after he sued him, following his acquittal on federal bribery charges. Pizzi argues he is now entitled to his old job under Florida law.

But Slaton, who won a special election to fill Pizzi’s position during his suspension, refuses to give it back, citing the town’s charter.

At Thursday’s hearing, attorneys representing the town and Slaton said they first wanted to pursue a motion to dismiss Pizzi’s lawsuit to unseat the current mayor and then deal with the legal issues surrounding his claim for reinstatement.

The judge did not seem amused with their delay tactics.

“I’m not giving you an hour and a half on a motion to dismiss,” Cardonne Ely told the town’s attorney, Raul Gastesi. “File the motion. I will read it. I’m going to schedule it for 30 minutes very quickly.”

She scheduled a hearing on the motion to dismiss for Feb. 11. No date has been set for the legal question of Pizzi’s claim to his old job.

Meanwhile, Pizzi’s legal team agreed to drop the town clerk, Marjorie Tejeda-Castillo, as a defendant in his suit. But lawyers for the town and Slaton still had not agreed to it.

The result: More delays and legal costs for Miami Lakes taxpayers.

--JAY WEAVER

January 26, 2015

WASH POST: Koch-backed network aims to spend nearly $1 billion on 2016 elections

Washington Post's Matea Gold writes ...

RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. -- A network of conservative advocacy groups backed by Charles and David Koch aims to spend a staggering $889 million in advance of the next White House election, part of an expansive strategy to build on its 2014 victories that may involve jumping into the Republican primaries.
    The massive financial goal was revealed to donors here on Monday during an annual winter meeting hosted by Freedom Partners, the tax-exempt business lobby that serves as the hub of the Koch-backed political operation, according to an attendee. The amount is more than double the $407 million that 17 allied groups in the network raised during the 2012 campaign.
    The figure comes close to the $1 billion that each of the two major parties' presidential nominees are expected to spend in 2016, and it cements the network's standing as one of the country's most potent political forces. With its resources and capabilities -- including a national field operation and cutting-edge technology -- it is challenging the primacy of the official parties. In the 2012 elections, the Republican National Committee spent $404 million, while the Democratic National Committee shelled out $319 million.

READ STORY HERE

Consumer advocate: Gov. Scott shouldn't replace Kevin McCarty

Gov. Rick Scott confirmed Monday that he's looking at replacements for insurance regulator Kevin McCarty. But former Insurance Consumer Advocate Sean Shaw is not pleased. 

After news started to spread that Scott's office was considering Louisiana Deputy Commissioner of Consumer Advocacy Ron Henderson to lead the Office of Insurance Regulation, Shaw issued a statement defending McCarty and calling out the governor for circumventing the cabinet. 

“Kevin McCarty has only been doing right by policyholders," Shaw said in the statement. "His job should not be in jeopardy, nor should Governor Scott be attempting to circumvent the constitutional obligations of the Florida Cabinet again. This isn’t how our government is supposed to work.”

Continue reading "Consumer advocate: Gov. Scott shouldn't replace Kevin McCarty" »

Miami-Dade mayor cautions lawmakers about governor's proposed communications-tax cut

@PatriciaMazzei

Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez asked county lawmakers Monday to be careful if and when they adopt Florida Gov. Rick Scott's proposal to cut taxes on cellphones, cable and satellite television.

Without taking a position on the proposal itself, Gimenez said the Legislature should make sure local governments continue to get the same amount of communications taxes as they do now in spite of the cut.

Scott, a Republican, has pushed a 3.6 percent cut that he says would save the average Floridian about $40 a year. The cut is not intended to affect cities and counties, which receive a share of those tax dollars. Gimenez, also a Republican and a Scott supporter, stressed the importance of keeping municipal budgets whole.

"The actions that you take should be done in a thoughtful manner," he said. Otherwise, the county could be facing a $40 million gap next year, according to Gimenez -- which would likely hit hardest in unincorporated areas, especially in terms of police service.

Scott spokeswoman Jeri Bustamante said in a statement Monday afternoon that the governor's proposal was created "so every Florida family could save real money."

Continue reading "Miami-Dade mayor cautions lawmakers about governor's proposed communications-tax cut " »

Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine wants to ban local casino operators from bid for proposed convention center hotel

@joeflech and @doug_hanks

Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine wants to ban any operator of a Miami-Dade casino resort from running a headquarters hotel for a renovated Miami Beach Convention Center.

On Monday, Levine told the Miami Herald he does not want the developer or hotel operator for the proposed convention center hotel to be involved with any gaming operations now or in the future in Miami-Dade County.

“The city of Miami Beach is anti-gaming,” he said. “Anyone can bid on this project, as long as they align philosophically with Miami Beach.”

Continue reading "Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine wants to ban local casino operators from bid for proposed convention center hotel" »

Denied conflict-of-interest waiver, lobbying firm drops Miami-Dade County to represent Uber

@PatriciaMazzei

Tally at least one victory for Uber Technologies over Miami-Dade County.

The ride-for-hire service remains illegal under county rules. But Uber has hired away one of Miami-Dade's outside lobbying firms. 

Ballard Partners has given up its county lobbying contract to represent Uber in Tallahassee, according to a letter the firm sent Monday to County Commission Chairman Jean Monestime.

"It has truly been an honor to represent Miami-Dade County for the last several years and we hope that we will be able to do so in the future," firm president Brian Ballard wrote.

Last week, the firm asked the county for permission to work for both Uber and the county, given that Ballard doesn't directly represent Miami-Dade on ride-for-hire matters and no legislation has been filed -- yet -- that would put the two sides at odds in the state Capitol. Commissioners rejected the request, following advice from the county ethics commission.

"He is wonderful. He is incredible," Commissioner Rebeca Sosa said of Ballard. "But at the same time, we have a situation here."

That left Ballard with a decision to make. He chose the presumably more lucrative Uber gig over the county's annual $50,000 contract, mentioning that his firm "believes strongly" in Uber's technology.

As a parting note, Ballard pointed out that most of Miami-Dade's outside lobbyists represent a variety of interests at the same time without issue. During last week's meeting, Ballard's senior counsel Sylvester Lukis had referenced another county lobbyist in the room -- "his majesty, Ronnie Book," Lukis said -- who works for myriad interests in Tallahassee.

"The point is that Miami-Dade County should take a second look at its policies regarding its lobbyists and potential conflicts," Ballard wrote. "Clearly in those cases where the lobbyist is responsible for covering specific matters, they should not be allowed to represent interests in direct conflict with those matters. On the other hand, in those cases where the lobbyist is not responsible for a matter, it shouldn't be restricted to assist other clients that might be promoting a position that the County doesn't support."

FL GOP senator files major medical-marijuana bill

@MarcACaputo

Seriously sick Floridians and those who can’t find adequate prescription drugs would be allowed access to "medical-grade" marijuana under a major cannabis bill filed Monday by a top Florida Republican state senator.

St. Petersburg Sen. Jeff Brandes’ 28-page legislation, the most far-reaching of its kind by a top legislative leader, seeks to regulate the cultivation, distribution and use of medical marijuana in Florida.

The bill mirrors parts of a proposed constitutional amendment that garnered 57.6 percent of the vote. That amendment, which failed because it didn't meet a 60 percent threshold for approval, has been redrafted and could appear on the 2016 ballot.

Brandes said he opposed the amendment, largely because he thought the Legislature should be in charge of making such a major change to healthcare and criminal law in Florida.

 

Continue reading "FL GOP senator files major medical-marijuana bill" »

Gov. Scott eyed Louisiana official as possible McCarty replacement

An online news service that covers the insurance industry reports that Gov. Rick Scott's office contacted a Louisiana insurance regulator as a potential replacement for Florida insurance regulator Kevin McCarty two weeks before Scott first publicly suggested McCarty's removal from office.

UPDATE: Scott's office confirms it asked Henderson for his resume and did not float the idea on a staff level with the three Cabinet members who also oversee the Office of Insurance Regulation (OIR). Scott's office issued this statement: "As we made the transition to a second term in office, Ron Henderson was brought up as a possible candidate for Commissioner of OIR. We reached out and asked for his resume.  We did not discuss Mr. Henderson with other Cabinet staff. As the governor said last week, the next Cabinet meeting would be a good time to discuss a process to begin a full search for new candidates to lead OIR, OFR and DOR. The governor believes government needs to be more like business and frequently change leadership to bring in new ideas and fresh energy.”  

Continue reading "Gov. Scott eyed Louisiana official as possible McCarty replacement " »

January 25, 2015

Priebus and Wasserman Schultz mislead on immigration, but Dems have political edge

One of the most bipartisan aspects of immigration reform is the inability of the Republican and Democratic leaders to talk honestly about it.

Simply look at how Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus and his Democratic counterpart, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, handled the issue last week.

Rather than provide hard facts, they reverted to the political parties’ default position: Recrimination for political point-scoring. The problem for Republicans, though, is the issue benefits Democrats more in presidential election years.

More here