Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Protest against Bill Young

Protest being organized against Representative C.W. Bill Young to send a message to tell him to cut taxpayer subsidies to Big Oil, not seniors Social Security and Medicare benefits.

Wednesday, March 4, at 4:30 in front of his office: 9210 113th Street, Seminole, FL 33772.

Florida GOP Legalizes Voter Suppression, Including a Return to Jim Crow

The GOP completely dominates Florida government. Through a sick combination of financial corruption, massive gerrymandering, a very lame state Dem party, and (until very recently) a low information voter epidemic.

They not only have a right-wing felon in the governor's mansion, but hold every statewide office sans one Senate seat.

They completely dominate the state legislature: an 80-39 seat advantage in the House and 28-12 advantage in the Senate. (Gerrymandering is so bad that NO ONE lost their seat in the 2006/2008 blue waves.)

The teabag legislation this session has ranged from funny to frightening. And they don't want anyone to stop their good times.

The ONLY thing that can stand in their way are two factors:

1. The independent court system
2. A very angry, recently awakened electorate.

This week, the GOP teabag lawmakers went after BOTH of them with guns blazing. Priority one is jobs holding on to power.

This was originally going to be a diary on both of those efforts, but I had to split them up or this would be one big hairy diary. Today you will see the Voter Suppression bill, which is poised to pass. Next I will look at their strategy for dismantling the courts.


I have been a poll watcher ever since the 2000 election. One thing I fought hard against were republican poll workers who tried to always give provisional ballots out when they weren't warranted. Why?


According to the Advancement Project, in 2008, 51% of provisional ballots in Florida were not counted.

Naturally, the GOP is determined to give likely Dem voters provisional ballots. Lessee.. women, minorities, and college students.

Here is what the 100+ page Voter Suppression bill does to you:

  • Women. Name change? No vote for you! Since the civil rights era, if you changed your marital status you could update your information at the polls and vote a regular ballot that is guaranteed to be counted. No more. Tens of thousands of newly married women voters in 2012 will be forced to use the shifty provisional ballots.

  • College students. The largest population that requires address changes are college students. If they failed to notify the elections supervisor of their new address long before the election, they too will no longer get a regular ballot. Again, for 40 years you could update your address at the polls. For 40 years there has never been a problem with this.. .until now.

  • Dark skin? Democrat? Gotta love this one:
    There are many other new regulations, several depriving voters of their chance to work out problems at the polls. For instance, if voters are challenged for any reason, they would be required to cast a provisional ballot. And they could not receive legal help while in line, as before.

    The Florida GOP is wasting no time with this one. They are already staging vote caging operations for 2012. Thanks!

Horrified? Thought you would be. But it gets even better:

  • Voter-registration groups would have to register all their volunteers and paid staff with the state’s Division of Supervisors of Elections, which would then create a database. What's the purpose of the database? NO ONE KNOWS. But in a state where they don't want to make a pill-mill database because it violates the privacy of drug dealers have no trouble with a database that records information of people who just want to help others vote.

  • Restrict the ability of news media and bloggers to take video or audio of voters at polling places. Nice. This is a little gift to those vote-cagers we talked about.

  • Volunteers have to turn in registration forms within 48 hours, are face fines and possible criminal penalties. UP TO 1,000 bucks if you turn one in late!!!!!

    Why this? The legislature has tried unsuccessfully in the past to outlaw 3rd party registration groups... so they are trying to eliminate them indirectly. Case in point, the League of Women Voters in Florida said they may have to cease voter registration if this passes.

  • Now non-partisan, elected, county supervisors of elections willl be put under the control of the politically appointed Secretary of State. The Secretary would have the ability to issue orders to these county officials or remove those who do not comply!

  • Cut early voting in half (most early voting is done by Democrats)

  • Cut time for citizen-led initiatives to gain the required 600.000 signatures from four years to just 20 months.

    As a side note, any meaningful reform has come from these citizen initiatives--like Fair Districts (which is under attack). This is just the first step in the eventual elimination of these intiatives.

The GOP was asked by a few in the media why they are so hell-bent on disenfranching voters. They claim it is all an effort to "stamp out fraud".

Interesting, since even our Sec of State had to admit he could find no cases of voter fraud. The former GOP chairman told the media to talk with the election supervisors about all the fraud... except none of them, NOT EVEN THE GOP ONES, claim there has been any.

What can we do?

Contact your legislator. Yes. If GOP it may fall on deaf ears but we've had success restoring funding to disabled kids, stopping the destruction of our parks, and halting the AZ anti-brown people law. They sense the backlash and some may want to pick their battles. If Dem, tell them to fight this in court after they vote against it or contact the DOJ.

In fact, you contact the DOJ. Poll taxes, literacy tests, and other forms of suppression are why the federal govenrnment got involved and review changes in our voting laws under the Voting Rights Act. I strongly feel these attacks warrant intervention.

Start a Citizen Led Initiative to REPEAL this awful soon-to-be-law. Floridians will support it and it will easily make the 60% threshold.

The governor has already made it so people who have paid their debt to society cannot vote for 5-7 years after release, with the sole intention of taking 1 million minorities out of the equation for upcoming elections. The ACLU, noting that this was the original law put in place for retaliaion of the 15th amendment, is taking up that cause after our attorney general said that this somehow didn't apply to the Voting Rights Act.

I can't stop the Voter Suppression bill from becoming law, but I'll be damned if I let this go quietly.

PS... picked up by Racheal Maddow:

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

UPDATE: The bill was signed into law by Gov. Voldemort

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

30 Mill Buys Off Rick Scott: FL ONLY Gulf State to Pull Out of BP Lawsuit!

Today, April 20th, 2011, is the deadline to join a federal lawsuit.

The republican governors of Alabama, Mississipi, and Louisiana not only joined the lawsuit but some even ran public service announcements actively encouraging their citizens to join the lawsuit. Florida prepped as well...under Charlie Crist. A "dream team" of Florida's best attorneys were assembled along with an oil spill recovery taskforce.

Then came the Florida-pocalypse with our criminal, idiot, teabag governor. He summarily dismissed the attorneys, dissolved the taskforce, and just announced that we have no need for a lawsuit.

He said he trusts BP.

Yes, Rick Scott actually had the balls to say that he "trusts BP to do the right thing". Their track record here certainly warrants that trust.

Needless to say, the Democrats in our state legislature are outraged. The right-wing majority is outraged as well...but not at Rick Scott. They are currently going after groups that try to register new voters. (They know who the real enemies of the state are.)

Gov. Monty Burns even took it a step further. He stood with a BP senior vice president to actually PRAISE him for a company grant of $30 million, which was bequethed to several coastal counties who lost a hell of a lot more than that in tourism and fishing. $30 million is even less than half of what Sick Rott spent to buy his office, and comes nowhere close to the billions in damage caused.

One of the dismissed lawyers, who spent eight months last year documenting the short- and long-term damage from the blowout for Florida, says Scott won't even look at the documentation.

"Imagine someone owed you a million dollars and gave you $30,000 and said 'trust me for the rest.' How would you feel?" [Tampa lawyer] Yerrid asked.

"BP has the best legal defense in the world and now Gov. Scott is going to trust them to do the right thing. They should have already done the right thing."

Keep in mind that Rick Scott is the same SOB who refused high-speed rail because he was afraid Florida taxpayers would somehow be "on the hook". This, despite Transportation Secretary LaHood indicating they could have worked out a binding agreement (if Scott ever bothered to ask), and this despite the fact that FDOT drafted the contracts so any overruns would have been taken care of by the contractors. But Scott was so "protective" of the taxpayers he didn't let facts interfere with his fantasy... and killed the fully-funded project to save us taxpayers from the phantom menace.

Yet apparently, Scott has no trouble at all risking Florida taxpayers on BP's word that they will pay up. Neither Scott nor his idiot AG has drafted anything with BP that protects Florida taxpayers from footing the bill for BP's disaster. We just have to be as trusting as Scott and hope and pray that BP will "do the right thing".

How lucky is BP? Seriously. The lawsuit deadline passes today just when we have a governor who happens to have a real soft-spot for fellow CEOs of disgraced corporations (that have to pay out billions for disasters caused by shady practices).

Well done BP, Transocean, and Halliburton. Well done sirs.

Friday, April 15, 2011

FL Supreme Court: Scott Lawyer LIED On THE Critical Fact for High-Speed Rail Decision!

Just yesterday, Scott's general counsel came clean and wrote a letter to the FL State Supreme Court admitting he misled them. Not that he minded, since its too late to change the ruling...


Scott's lawyer admits he misled Fla. Supreme Court in high-speed rail argument

Gov. Rick Scott’s legal counsel Thursday told the Florida Supreme Court that he made an inaccurate representation on the amount of money already spent on the state’s high-speed rail project — a key detail that may have helped cinch the governor’s victory in a constitutional tug-of-war... looks like the ruling may have hinged on a misstatement by a top Scott official.

While Bill Nelson and other Democrats were fighting to actually bring jobs to Florida, Rick Scott used taxpayer money to fight tooth and nail against a fully-funded federal project that would have brought tens of thousands of jobs to our suffering state. Jobs that are now going somewhere else.

His lacky lawyer, Charles Trippe, argued in court that that $110 million of the $130 million authorized by the FL Legislature had already been spent.

In fact, it was only $31 million, not $110 million. Meaning we had 99 million dollars left--quite a difference.

I guess Trippe has the same trouble with rounding numbers as Sen. Jon Kyl does. (Are you SURE you want to cut 3 billion in our education, governor??)

The Justices responded positively to that claim:

"So the issue (as) to whether his actions affect the $130 million, you would argue - and of course we have very limited to no factual record here - but that is de minimis right now?" [Justice] Pariente asked.

Trippe agreed, suggesting lawmakers were arguing over a trifling amount of cash.

"It is not only de minimis, but the statute itself provides for a carryover of it by the end of the year if the money hasn't been spent. So he is not in violation of this appropriation," Trippe told the court.

This "misstatement" was absolutely critical to the case. The two state senators who brought the case against Rick Scott, one Democrat and one Republican, were justifiably outraged:

"We were approaching the end of the fiscal year. And if he spent $110 million out of the $131 million, how do you allege he's not implementing the law? He spent a vast majority of the money," Altman said. "But if it's only $30 million, and there are only four months left in the fiscal year, it's a stronger case."...

"There was a big misrepresentation of the facts. Would this be a legitimate reason to reopen this case and reassert that the governor misused his authority? Certainly, clearly it shows either his office didn't know what was going on or they misrepresented the facts," Altman said. "What is the bigger and more important question is the misuse of executive authority and not faithfully implementing the law. That applies not only to rail, but many other things."

WHO could have guessed that dishonesty would be a hallmark of our governor's office??

Our governor, who can't even admit his own signature, just can't stop the lying.

He is now, incredibly, trying to take credit for helping stop the federal govenrment shutdown by saying it happened because he said "Thanks, but NO THANKS" to the HSR project.

Even though that money is just going to other states...

Even though it was an entirely different budget...

And even though he never said he wanted the money to go back to Washington...Sick Rott forgot his own reasons for saying he didn't want rail, which included asking LaHood to use that money for other pet projects such dredging ports and widening the interstate...

At least his slimy lawyer came clean, even if it was after the fact. But that's more than I can say for his boss.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Florida Chamber of Commerce Thinks We're Stupid: Runs Ad Saying Teachers/Firefighters HATE Their Unions!

Imagine how this would go over in Madison: An ad featuring Scott Walker, surrounded by fake teachers, saying collective bargaining actually hurts them and needs your help fighting their evil unions. That would be funny, right?

Conservatives would have to be out of their mind to try something like that-- Something to convince people that public employees actually hate their unions.

Welcome to Florida:

Thank you FL Chamber of Commerce for stepping up! Every time Scott Walker does something stupid, I usually count on Rick Scott to up the ante. But you stepped in this time. Way to represent! This is MY STUPID STATE Beee-yotch!!! In your face WI!

The Florida Chamber of Commerce is running this ad all across our state because firefighters, police and teachers are still very popular here. (Hey, its not like they could feature the real people who want these union-busting measures to pass.)
So the FL CoC sees nothing wrong hiring FAKE firefighters, police and teachers for an ad favoring a union-busting measure that will help decimate benefits and protections for... REAL firefighters, police, and teachers.

The bill in the ad is quickly moving its way through our right-wing legislature. It explicity FORBIDS a state employee from VOLUNTARILY deducting money from thier paycheck to a union. (So much for "deregulation".)

Even though here in Florida, no employee has to join a union or pay dues (which the ad disingenuously implies). Even though less than 6% of our workers belong to any union, public or private. Even though the public employees of this state WANT the convenience of being able to deduct their dues from their paychecks, as they are allowed to deduct anything else in every other instance.

This is all about silencing the working class, period. But the GOP legislators can't even think up a good excuse to push this bill through. The senate sponsor, Sen. Thrasher, tried to say that the paycheck deduction is about costing the state money, which is a lie. His house co-sponsor, Chris Dorworth, even admits that cost has nothing to do with it. They tried some argument about fairness, but that doesn't fly either. Corporations will still be able to deduct money from employees’ paychecks for corporate political action committees, which can then donate funds to candidates hand-picked by the company executives.

Unions are speaking out against this type of "help". The Florida State Fraternal Order of Police:

The Florida Chamber of Commerce aired a TV commercial using actors as police and fire officers against the payroll deduction for unions. The Chamber has been supporting the anti-union bills under consideration. This being the last straw, the Florida State Lodge cancelled our membership in the Greater Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce and demanded a full refund of our dues.

The Florida CoC is going to be very busy. There are dozens of anti-worker bills that they have been asked to support. Besides eliminating the allowance of paycheck deductions, here is a sample of some others:

  • Bill to cut workers’ pensions
  • Bill to cancel tenure for teachers
  • Bill to shut workers out of politics
  • Bill to force public-sector unions out of existence, unless a union can show more than 50 percent membership in a workplace, each and every year.

    At the very least, I hope that future ads won't insult my intelligence by trying to say that public employees want any of this crap.

    For my Wisconsin readers: Very first screen on this video-Does that "teacher" at the top look at all familiar? Remember this?. I guess she really did move to Florida! Just kidding...she's as fake as that ad was.
  • Sunday, April 03, 2011

    FAIL: Rick Scott Can't Get AZ Law Passed! (Even With White People Exemption!)

    Rick Scott made Arizona's Anti-Brown People law a cornerstone for his election. His only qualm about it was it didn't go far enough. He was so obsessed with it that even Jeb Freaking Bush told him to knock it off.

    Never mind that Florida has no immigration problem. Our biggest problem with "illegals" are Europeans who overstay their visa. We don't border Mexico, and our Hispanic community is mostly Puerto Rican (sorry guys, US citizens) and Cuban (granted asylum if they touch land..not illegal).

    None of this stopped Slick Rick from running million-dollar ads demanding an AZ-style law here: even demanding Charlie Crist call a special session to implement one. But for once, he didn't get his way. Just recently, the FL legislature dropped it from their immigration reform bill.

    Oh, how I wish I could say that Rick Scott's FAIL was due to Florida Democratic leaders finally showing some spine and speaking out. But no, they were too busy honoring him with an award.

    (God, we are so fucking lame.)

    No, it failed because Big Business cracked the whip on the old-school GOP in the legislature. Several business associations, including the all powerful Florida Chamber of Commerce, let it be known that bashing minorities is wicked fun for elections, but since Florida has no real industry except tourism, a boycott in this state would make Arizona's 90 million dollar loss seem like chump change.

    Not that Rick Scott or his teabag allies gave a fuck about that. They wanted the Arizona law here now! And figured the high hurdle in the state legislature wouldn't be that it was racist, but actually thought IT WASN'T RACIST ENOUGH!

    That's why Rick Scott strongly supported a bill by the chairman of the House Judiciary committee, William Snyder. Snyder's bill not only allowed police to harass people "suspected" of being here illegally, it EXPLICITLY EXEMPTED CAUCASIANS from being harassed!

    So under the proposed law, Canadians and Western Europeans will simply be presumed to be here legally, and they are not required to document it. “That language makes it clear that police are targeting only a specific minority,” Susana Barciela, policy director at the Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center, told the New Times.

    This was the absolute closest they could get to saying "white people exempted". The sponsor of the bill even admits his bill was not about "the rule of law" or even "jobs". He just plain don't like the brown folk:

    My feelings for this issue and my passion for this issue is not just for the rule of law,” said Rep. William Snyder, R-Stuart. “It’s not just about jobs – which it is to some extent – it’s about what we’ve allowed to occur in our country.”

    This is the bill Rick Scott really wanted and promised to sign if it made it to his desk. But even in this backward state, that was too much for even this GOP to justify.

    He then threw his support behind GOP State Senator Mike Bennet's bill, which would have required all LEGAL immigrants to carry their papers with them at all times.. and fine them up to $100 and a 20-day jail sentence if they don't have their papers with them.

    But the State House, probably discovering that Rick Scott is as popular as asbestos, decided to go with a more sensible approach. Last week they dropped the requirements of an AZ-style bill. The current one moving through only requires police to check the immigration status of a person who is under arrest or is the subject of a criminal investigation.

    Don't feel too bad for Rick. Why, just this week he was able to simultaneously kick disabled kids in the teeth AND give out huge bonuses to his cronies (h/t Jaxpagan).

    Besides, Rick Scott will still manage to profit from this... like he always profits from what he attacks. He hates Big Government, but will make billions from it. He hates Government-Run Healthcare, but made his entire fortune (so far) from Medicare (and from stealing from it). He hates illegal immigration, but according to those ultra-liberals at REDSTATE, he is making a handsome profit from a company that supplies a critical part of the illegal immigration infrastructure.

    Even so, its a defeat for Rick Scott and a small victory for sanity in Florida. And living here these days, I take whatever I can get.

    Friday, April 01, 2011

    Gov. Voldemort Uses Emergency Powers TO CUT PROGRAMS FOR DISABLED

    This just couldn't wait. Providers weren't even informed of the cuts that take effect today:

    Florida Gov. Rick Scott ordered deep cuts Thursday to programs that serve tens of thousands of residents with Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, autism and other developmental disabilities.

    Though a range of state services face cuts from this year's Legislature, the governor invoked his emergency powers to order the state Agency for Persons with Disabilities to immediately roll back payments to group homes and social workers by 15 percent — an amount providers say could put them out of business and threaten their clients' safety.

    "lt's not like, 'Gee, does this mean I have to skip a vacation this year?'" said Amy Van Bergen, executive director of the Down Syndrome Association of Central Florida. "Potentially, these cuts have life and death implications for these people."

    How about an emergency bill to cut your 300+ billion dollar executive budget that you doubled this year?! That would help a lot of peope!

    You, sir, are a scumbag.

    Happy April Fools Day... the joke is on the disabled, I guess.