Sunday, November 22, 2015

My Stupid State Series to End December 2015

The My Stupid State series has been a fixture since early 2011. It documented the tom-foolery of the Tea Party Tallahassee takeover in 2010. (Boom!) It has been wildly successful as far as readership goes, but unsuccessful in stemming the crazy. After all, Rick Scott still won re-election last year. By the way, it's not that Rick Scott has gotten any better, but I haven't been as prolific documenting his misdeeds because he's term-limited, can't be recalled, and the time for action has, frankly, long passed.

Enjoy the quick jaunt down memory lane. We are up to 171 posts. All of those things REALLY did happen to our state.

I might post a few more, as well as the 2015 winner in December. Otherwise, it will remain up for posterity but no new posts will occur after the end of this year.

Really Rick Scott? Secret Contract Payoff to Rap-Star Pitbull with Taxpayer Money

Rick Scott is a huge Pitbull fan. Or at least he says he is. (He's not known for being too friendly with Hispanics, but we’ll take him at his word on this.)

Since early this year, Rick Scott and the FL GOP have showered Pitbull with gifts, presented him a key to the city of Miami, declared Martin Luther King day this year to be "Armando Perez Day" (his given name), and Rick Scott declared him Florida’s Ambassador of the Arts (whatever that means). A GOP state senator and Scott-ally, who also happens to be the president of Doral Collage, also bestowed on Pitbull an honorary degree.

What are the republicans falling all over Pitbull? Or, as this actual title of an article puts it, why are they all over Pitbull’s dick?

To be blunt, it isn’t likely because they suddenly discovered a taste for Latin Hip-Hop music.

For decades, the Florida Cuban-American community has been a reliable conservative voting block. Yet with a new generation shifting towards more open relations with Cuba, coupled with years of GOP insults and racism, has led to a sizable shift towards the Democratic Party.

This trend has been compounded by the rise of Donald Trump in the GOP primary. The FL GOP establishment has been very open about the disaster the Trump campaign has been for the GOP brand in Florida. One state senator pointed out that even if Trump isn’t the nominee, he will still likely get to speak at the GOP convention. Bashing Hispanics might be a winner for deep red states that are mostly white, but diverse states like Florida require a fragile coalition that counts on the Cuban-American vote. The FL GOP can ill afford to lose this group without their house of cards collapsing.

Rick Scott is very worried too. (Well, not worried enough to condemn Trump’s remarks or anything. Rick Scott, in fact, stood up for Trump because, as they say in hip-hop, “haters gotta hate”.)

Man, there has to be SOMETHING the FL GOP can do to win Cuban-Americans that won’t require them to actually change their racist ways or condemn any fascist remark coming out of Trump these days.


Visit Florida, the agency that promotes Florida tourism, received a record $75 million dollars this year. (Rick Scott raised a lot of eyebrows when he asked for $100 million for Visit Florida right after he slashed funding from education and other agencies to the bone.) And now, Rick Scott’s Ambassador of the Arts has become the official Tourism Ambassador of Florida.

And that's all we know.

The reason is because 10 out of the 11 pages of the deal are completely blacked out!! Why? Who the hell knows. The CEO of Visit Florida said because “trade secrets". Some have claimed that Pitbull gave such a great deal that no one can know about it. Others, like myself, who have watched Tallahassee for awhile say-- why the hell do you think they blacked it out?

  • We have no idea how much Pitbull actually got paid. (I’m guessing a million. Sure, it could be less than that—but it could be a heck of a lot more. That would explain why Rick Scott asked for so damn much money!)
  • We have no idea what Pitbull agreed to do for the money.
  • We have no idea who is agent even is.

If this was private money, that would be one thing. But it’s not.

Also, blacking out a public contract with the state is a blatant violation of Florida’s open records law (the “Sunshine Law”). However, since the Rick Scott administration has shown no problem using taxpayer money to pay for over $1 million in legal fees for continued reckless regard for the rule of law, I’m guessing they don't care.

Knowing Pitbull's popularity with the Cuban-American community, the Florida GOP has made no secret about their intense desire for Pitbull to become a republican and support their candidates. For all we know, that could have been part of the deal.

Maybe Visit Florida really and truly thinks that the man the Florida GOP has desperately been courting is the ideal candidate to tell people in other states to visit Disney and Universal. Sure. Or can we just call this contract for what it likely is? A bribe. And a shallow one at that.

After all, a huge payout with our money to an already very wealthy man for favors really does sound like the GOP’s modus operandi. But it’s not going to work. I don't think they could pay Mr. P enough to sacrifice his reputation and street cred to promote a party built on intolerance, hatred for immigrants, and ignorance.

If they bothered to actually listen to his music, they might have gotten a clue and saved their money. His last album was entitled “Climate Change”.

Unfortunately, we are the ones who likely just got burned.

Thursday, November 05, 2015

Don't be Dyslexic in Florida

Florida's Personal Learning Scholarships Accounts (PLSA) Program is administered by state-approved nonprofit Scholarship Funding Organizations that are supposed to help meet the individual educational needs of an eligible child.

Just last week, after many years of lobbying, an activist group finally got our state legislature to recognize dyslexia as learning disability. Unfortunately, this new acknowledgement that dyslexia exists does not mean that they are eligible for the PLSA program.

Rick Scott won't even issue an executive order to exempt people with disabilities from having to take Florida's troubled state assessment. He is hardly a champion of the underprivileged and seems to have a particular affinity for hurting people with developmental disabilities.

This special lady is going broke paying for a special tutor just so her son can learn how to read and write. Her crowdrise page is here if you want to see her story.

Most Tallahassee politicians do not have children in the public school system so they don't have a vested interest in helping. True change in Tallahassee will only come if Democrats ever realize there are elections that occur outside of presidential years.