Archives for 


In USA Today editorial, Scott blames “complete dysfunction” in D.C. for stalled funding of Zika fight

 Gov. Rick #Scott blames Washington for failing to finance fight against Zika virus Gov. Rick Scott wrote a guest editorial for Thursday’s USA Today, blaming the “complete dysfunction in Washington” for blocking critical funding to fight the Zika virus. &8220;When you travel around and talk to voters all across the country today, they will tell […] Continue reading →

Republican governor; Democratic mayor: Throw in power outages and sparks fly

 Gov. #Scott pauses to speak with Tallahassee residents during cleanup after Hurricane Hermine Hurricane Hermine left most of Florida’s capital city in the dark last week, but that power outage also sparked a still-smoldering power struggle over recovery efforts, pitting the state’s Republican governor against the city’s Democratic mayor. On social media and in front-yard […] Continue reading →

Florida economists deliver sobering news: Money is tight

 Posted From:

Florida's dollars tighten.

Florida’s dollars tighten.

Florida economists delivered some sobering news Wednesday to state lawmakers: Money is tight.

Citing rising costs — especially in Medicaid spending where pharmaceutical costs have been climbing — economists forecast a $1.3 billion budget shortfall by 2018, when Gov. Rick Scott will be entering his final year as Florida’s chief executive.

Next year, the state should have just enough money to meet what economists consider Florida’s basic, critical and high priority needs. But after that, rising Medicaid and K-12 school costs, combined with the cumulative loss of state dollars from years of tax cuts, will be felt.

Scott’s successor as governor — whoever it is who takes office in 2019 — could be greeted by a looming $1.8 billion shortfall if nothing is done soon, according to the three-year financial outlook presented this week to the Legislative Budget Commission.

What it all means is, lawmakers will probably begin making selective budget cuts next year — to stave-off the deeper hole forecast.

If so, Scott’s drive for another round of robust tax-cutting could be shelved.

Incoming Senate President Joe Negron, R-Stuart, also will likely have a tougher time selling fellow lawmakers on his plan to pump another $1 billion into higher education and buy land south of Lake Okeechobee to ease flood-preventing releases that are polluting nearby waterways.

Signs of the money crunch became public last month, when state economists shrunk revenue predictions by $267 million for this year and next.

The state’s current $82 billion budget looks on course to close out next June 30 with a significant surplus. But rising costs will eat that up — fast, economists found.


Continue reading →

Donald Trump campaign changes Florida leadership

 Posted From:

Susie Wiles at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, where she represented the Donald Trump campaign's interests on the convention Rules Committee.

Susie Wiles at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, where she represented the Donald Trump campaign’s interests on the convention Rules Committee.

Veteran Florida Republican operative Susie Wiles will be heading Donald Trump‘s campaign in Florida while Karen Giorno, who had been Trump’s top aide in the crucial Sunshine State, will move to a “bigger role” with the national Trump campaign as chairwoman of coalitions.


The changes happened late Wednesday.


Karen Giorno, who had been the top Trump campaign official in Florida, will become chairwoman of coalitions for Trump's national campaign.

Karen Giorno, who had been the top Trump campaign official in Florida, will become chairwoman of coalitions for Trump’s national campaign.

“I would say we’re moving the chairs around a little bit,” said Wiles, who only last week was tapped by the Trump campaign to oversee communications for battleground states such as Florida, Ohio and North Carolina.


“I was asked if I would change and come to Florida and relieve Karen Giorno to do this bigger role, which is the coalitions role,” Wiles said.


Giorno couldn’t immediately be reached. Giorno spearheaded Trump’s successful Florida primary campaign, which saw the part-time Palm Beacher win the state and knock Sen. Marco Rubio out of the race.


Wiles last year was named co-chair of Trump’s Florida campaign, a largely ceremonial role. She also was one of two Florida representatives on the Republican National Convention Rules Committee, which beat back efforts by Trump foes to unbind convention delegates.


Wiles said her immediate tasks will include opening about two dozen field offices around the state in cooperation with the Republican National Committee. The Clinton campaign has about 50 such offices while the Trump campaign opened its first one — aside from its headquarters in Sarasota and three RVs that are traversing the state — on Tuesday in Winter Garden.


Wiles managed Republican outsider Rick Scott‘s victorious GOP primary campaign in 2010, stunning party establishment favorite Bill McCollum. She lives in Jacksonville and is a partner in the powerhouse Ballard Partners lobbying firm. Lead partner Brian Ballard is Trump’s Florida finance chairman.






Continue reading →

Scott Offers Short-Term, Interest-Free Loans to Hurricane Damaged Businesses

 Posted From:

Gov. Rick Scott activated Florida’s Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program through the Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) on Tuesday. Scott said the state needs to support local small businesses impacted by the storm — a storm emergency personnel categorize as causing more flooding and damage than North Florida has seen from a hurricane in a generation.

Continue reading →

Your Call: Did the Governor Step up to the Plate after the Hurricane?

 Posted From:

September 6, 2016 – 5:30pm

Gov. Rick Scott spent most of Labor Day weekend touring damaged areas in Hurricane Hermine’s path and working with the State Emergency Operations Center to muster as much help as quickly as possible to restore power to thousands of homes in Leon and Wakulla counties.

Continue reading →

Scott and Gillum Disagree on Tallahassee's Hurricane Recovery Speed

 Posted From:

September 6, 2016 – 6:00am

Power crews and debris clearers worked through the night trying to restore power to Tallahassee and Leon and Wakulla County homes where thousands of residents were in their fourth day without electricity.

The situation created a verbal sparring match between Gov. Rick Scott, who called the situation disappointing, and Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, who characterized it as a near-miracle of restoration against all odds.

Continue reading →

State’s woes piling up for Gov. Rick Scott, who scraps today’s Zika trip to deal with outages

 Posted From:

Kissimmee Utility workers area among those helping restore power in Tallahassee.

Kissimmee Utility workers area among those helping restore power in Tallahassee.

Florida problems are piling up for Rick Scott.

The governor scrapped plans today for being in Washington, D.C., when Congress returns from its summer recess — so he could lobby again for the House and Senate to settle its differences over funding to fight the Zika virus.

Since Congress broke in July, the mosquito-borne virus has spread in Florida, with a handful of locally-transmitted cases occuring.

But with Tallahassee still struggling with thousands of homeowners and businesses without power in the wake of Hurricane Hermine, Scott’s office said the governor will postpone the trip to the nation’s Capitol. The Republican governor has taken a hands-on approach to the outages in Florida’s Capitol dueling with Mayor Andrew Gillum, a Democrat, over whether the city has accepted all the help being offered by the state’s investor-owned utilities.

Tallahassee’s power is supplied by a city-owned utility. By late Monday, more than 18,000 customers had been without power for four days.

State officials also made plans late Monday for workers at a half-dozen state agencies without electricity to work remotely or at other offices.

Continue reading →

Rick Scott: 'Florida Is Resilient' … Hermine Couldn't Beat Us

 Posted From:

September 2, 2016 – 8:30pm

Following the landfall of Hurricane Hermine Thursday night, Gov. Rick Scott on Friday remained in constant communication with state and local leaders who are working to ensure the state is responding to any impacts from the storm. Throughout the day Scott visited communities impacted by the hurricane to meet with Floridians and assess damages.

Continue reading →

Alcee Hastings says Hillary Clinton needs less TV, more ground game in Florida

 Posted From:

U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Delray Beach, at Thursday night's Palm Beach County Democratic Party meeting.

U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Delray Beach, at Thursday night’s Palm Beach County Democratic Party meeting.

Donald Trump‘s campaign has yet to open field offices in Florida while Hillary Clinton has dozens, but Democratic U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings of Delray Beach told party activists Thursday night the Clinton camp and its allies need to invest more in “ground game” activities in the Sunshine State rather than pouring money into TV ads.


Hastings held forth in fiery fashion on a variety of topics at a Palm Beach County Democratic Executive Committee meeting Thursday night west of Delray Beach.


Democratic Reps. Lois Frankel and Alcee Hastings at Thursday night's Palm Beach County Democratic Party meeting.

Democratic Reps. Lois Frankel and Alcee Hastings at Thursday night’s Palm Beach County Democratic Party meeting.

“I hope 10 Zika mosquitoes bite Rick Scott,” Hastings said at one point of Florida’s Republican governor.


He blasted Republican Sen. Marco Rubio for not returning his calls about getting a congressional medal to honor Lena Horne and said “I will go all over this state and talk about his ass as a result.”


Hastings noted approvingly that a local Democratic activist had spoken earlier in the evening about increasing absentee ballot efforts.


“To date, the Clinton campaign has spent $22.3 million on television (in Florida) — $22.3 million,” Hastings said. “You give me and Terri (Rizzo, the county Democratic chairwoman) and the Democratic Executive Committee of Palm Beach County and the other DECs around the state – you give us $22 million and I’ll produce more votes for you than a damn television ad.”


Hastings, who turns 80 this month, said TV doesn’t reach young voters.


“What’s wrong with us people?” Hastings said. “We got that big old beach over there. And all you have to do is get some liquor and some punk rockers and some rappers and you’ll have all the kids you ever needed. But our old fogy behinds, we continue to not do the things that are necessary. Most of you in here don’t even know what Pandora is. That’s where kids can be found. They hunker down on weekends on social media. They don’t look at MSNBC and Fox and ABC. They don’t get their news that way. What does it take to get that across to all of these candidates and campaigns?


Continue reading →

Bill Nelson on SpaceX, Murphy-Rubio race, Hillary’s negatives, Zika, Rick Scott

 Posted From:

Sen. Bill Nelson today at the Palm Beach County Convention Center.

Sen. Bill Nelson today at the Palm Beach County Convention Center.

WEST PALM BEACH — Florida Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson, who flew on the Space Shuttle in 1986 and is a leading advocate for the space program, said today’s explosion of an unmanned SpaceX rocket at Cape Canaveral is a reminder that “space flight is risky business.”


Nelson spoke to reporters after addressing a Florida Community Health Centers lunch at the Palm Beach County Convention Center.


Sen. Bill Nelson

Sen. Bill Nelson

“Space flight is risky business. The fact is that we have triumphs and we have setbacks and this is a temporary setback. But I am very confident that these commercial companies like SpaceX, they’re going to be very successful,” Nelson said.


“This is all part of space flight. I mean you can’t be perfect in everything when you are pushing the edge of the envelope, and that’s what our space exploration program is.”


Nelson said he expects a close race between Republican Sen. Marco Rubio and his challenger, Democratic Rep. Patrick Murphy of Jupiter, in a contest that could determine which party controls the Senate.


“I think what’s going for Patrick Murphy is that Hillary, I believe, will win Florida by a fairly comfortable margin and I think that will help Congressman Murphy. But you can’t take anything for granted because Sen. Rubio is a very skilled campaigner,” Nelson said.


Nelson said he expects Rubio and Murphy to debate, but didn’t weigh in on Rubio’s call for six debates.


Sen. Bill Nelson calls on the House to pass a Zika funding bill without "unacceptable riders."

Sen. Bill Nelson calls on the House to pass a Zika funding bill without “unacceptable riders.”

Nelson, a longtime Clinton supporter, blamed her persistently high unfavorable ratings on the prevalence of negative campaigning.


“Is it any wonder that both Trump and Clinton both have high negatives? With as much of the scurrilous, scandalous talk that has been going on, I mean, everything’s negative,” Nelson said.


Asked about the Zika virus, Nelson called on the U.S. House of Representatives to approve Zika funding without controversial amendments, such as stripping federal money from Planned Parenthood.


“They’re not being serious,” Nelson said of the House, which rejected a Zika bill that passed the Senate. “We’re going to go back in session on Tuesday. The first vote that we’re going to have is a replay of the same vote that we voted already twice and it’s going to be with all those unacceptable riders on it. I hope people are getting mad enough about this that they’re going to get it across to their members of the House of Representatives.”


Nelson has already said he plans to seek a fourth term in 2018. Republican Gov. Rick Scott is a potential challenger. Nelson punted when asked to critique Scott’s handling of Zika.


“I cannot tell you because he does not confer with me and therefore I cannot give you a good assessment of that,” Nelson said.



Continue reading →

In primary season, Gwen Graham stumping the state — and looking ahead to ’18?

 Posted From:

Two generations of Grahams at this summer's Democratic National Convention

Two generations of Grahams at this summer’s Democratic National Convention

With primary day capturing much of the state’s political focus Tuesday, U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham appears already looking ahead to the Florida governor’s race two years from now.

Graham, a Tallahassee Democrat who chose not to seek re-election in her redrawn congressional district, spent the day on the algae-plagued St. Lucie River. She was joined by her father, former governor and U.S. Sen. Bob Graham, along with area activists and scientists for a water-testing work day.

Graham last month asked Gov. Rick Scott to call a special session of the Legislature to tackle the algae bloom. He didn’t.

Graham plans to cross the state Wednesday for an appearance with state Rep. Amanda Murphy, D-New Port Richey, and take part in a campaign phone bank. Murphy wasn’t challenged for the Democratic nomination in her district, but faces Republican Amber Mariano in the November election.

Graham plans to spend primary night at U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy’s expected victory party  in Palm Beach Gardens. She also joined the Democratic U.S. Senate contender earlier Tuesday in Miami Gardens.

On Thursday, she’s set to be in Tampa and Gainesville, for appearances with U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Tampa, and Rod Smith, the former Democratic state senator making a comeback bid this fall.

Continue reading →

Rick Scott Warns Floridians to Prepare for Five to Ten Inches of Rain from Tropical Storm

 Posted From:

August 30, 2016 – 5:00pm

The clock is ticking as Floridians prepare for a tropical storm which threatens to dump heavy rains and strong winds on the Big Bend and Gulf Coast areas later this week.

Tropical Depression Nine, which is slowly growing in the Gulf of Mexico, is expected to become a tropical storm later Tuesday and will make landfall on Florida by Thursday. The next named storm on the 2016 Atlantic Hurricane Season list is Hermine.

Continue reading →

Floridians grade state’s fight against Zika virus as fair-to-poor

 Posted From:

Gov. Scott's fight against Zika virus includes many round tables.

Gov. Scott’s fight against Zika virus includes many round tables.

With Gov. Rick Scott hosting another day of Zika virus round tables today, state officials are getting mostly fair to poor marks for how they’re handling the outbreak, a new poll shows.

Mason-Dixon Polling & Research said Monday that 22 percent of Floridians say the state is doing a poor job in trying to control the spread of the virus, while another 37 percent rated the effort as fair. While 35 percent statewide called the state’s performance good or excellent, in South Florida that dips to 29 percent.

The state has reported 42 cases of non-travel related Zika virus — all but one coming in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties. Scott is hosting huddles with local business leaders and tourism officials today in Naples and Boca Raton.

Statewide, 48 percent of poll respondents said they were somewhat or very concerned about contracting the illness. Concern is greater among women than men about contracting the virus, which among pregnant women, can cause profound birth defects.

Older Floridians are the most concerned about the virus, along with residents of Southeast Florida, the survey showed. Mason-Dixon questioned 625 Floridians last week, and the poll has a margin-of-error of plus-or-minus 4 percent.

Continue reading →

Scott to open week with another Zika virus round table in Palm Beach County

 Posted From:

Gov. Scott met earlier this month in Delray Beach with school officials on the Zika virus

Gov. Scott met earlier this month in Delray Beach with school officials on the Zika virus

Gov. Rick Scott travels to Palm Beach County for another round table Monday on the Zika virus, a move prompted by last week’s report of a second local case of the mosquito-borne illness.

Scott is set to meet with community officials, business leaders and tourism representatives at 1:30 p.m. in the Boca Raton Resort and Club’s Mizner Room. Those looking to attend the event are being asked to respond to: [email protected]

Scott has been touring the state, hosting Zika virus events for weeks. The events seem to follow a pattern, where Scott and state health officials provide the latest updates on the spread of Zika and detail the efforts underway to reduce the mosquito population in areas where the cases have been identified.

There are 42 Floridians who have contracted the illness within the state. Cases have been identified in Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach and Pinellas counties. More than 600 cases of residents with non-travel Zika have been reported — with victims having contracted the virus outside Florida.

Scott earlier Monday plans to host a similar discussion in Naples, at the Collier County Health Department.

Continue reading →