(Photo: Martha Jackovics, from The 5 Spot, Seattle, WA.)
Yesterday while Mitt Romney was busy staging his campaign event disaster relief event in Ohio, (cough-cough) reporters asked him 14 times if he still stands by his statement that he would get rid of FEMA, handing disaster relief back to the states, but he ignored them, refused to answer, and kept loading a truck with items the Red Cross neither needs, nor wants, so they could drive that truck to an undisclosed location somewhere in New Jersey.
A fair question right before people are expected to vote for him and it deserves an answer, but I guess Romney expects votes based on just how awesome he tells you he is, since he hasn't answered reporters questions, nor given an interview in weeks. Still, voters deserve an answer.
The entire region was under flood warnings, but the problem was especially acute along the Merrimack River, especially in the city of Lowell, where Romney's response was considered, well, leaky. The right-leaning Lowell Sun was particularly displeased:
We find it inconceivable that Gov. Mitt Romney claims the state can do nothing to help those residents still struggling to rebuild homes and businesses after the May flood. Massachusetts is sitting on millions in unspent emergency funds from Hurricane Katrina and more than $1 billion in cash reserves, yet Romney has failed to even respond to the Lowell delegation's requests to discuss additional aid for victims. The governor's spokesman — since Romney can't be bothered to comment now that the photo opportunities have dried up even though some residents' basements haven't — said the state will not consider spending its own money for flood victims until it's clear how much cash the federal government will give.....
....Look, America, we here in the Commonwealth (God save it!) may not know much, even though we occasionally act like we know everything, but, trust us. We know this guy. There's a reason why he's going to lose this state by more than 20 points. The only thing about him that you can depend on is that there's never any room in the lifeboat for The Help.
On top of this, just try to imagine a President Romney gutting FEMA and
turning over disaster relief to the states. Can you imagine what would
happen in Florida? How would Gov. Rick Scott handle disaster relief when
the next hurricane hits our state? The last time there was the threat of one, Scott showed up about three days later to tell people to "be prepared" after the threat had passed for the most part.
When a hurricane, or other disaster hits Florida, do you really want to hear "we're Mitt Romney and Rick Scott, and we're here to help?"
On second thought, they would probably never say such a thing, much less do it.
If you haven't already done so, think before you vote.
Now there may be more reason for voter skepticism. Many of those
amendments placed on the ballot by the Florida Legislature appear to have come
directly from ALEC. (The
American Legislative Exchange Council.)
Critics suggest several of the high-profile amendments Floridians will consider may have come directly from the American Legislative Exchange Council, or at least from its playbook.
May have come? One thing the Tribune article doesn't mention is a well publicized incident involving Florida Republican Rep. Rachel Burgin.
Burgin introduced a bill in 2011 that would reduce taxes for
corporations which she got from ALEC. Normally legislators will rewrite
parts of the bills, but not Burgin. Nope. She cut and pasted her bill, written by the Tax
Foundation, exactly as it was given to her by the ALEC Tax and Fiscal
Policy task force.
Burgin wasn't nearly as clever as she thought she
was, because she pasted the boilerplate ALEC language right into the
bill. You can see a copy of that brilliant piece of "editing" by Burgin here.
Realizing her mistake the next day, she quickly withdrew the bill and
re-introduced it a day later without the language. Sadly for Burgin, not
The council, known as ALEC, bills itself as a nonpartisan membership
association for state lawmakers who share a common belief in limited
government, free markets, federalism and individual liberty.
hate to be cynical, but when you start looking into these things, you
start to see who's pulling the strings behind the scenes," said Susan
Smith, head of the Democratic Progressive Caucus of Florida. "I don't
think voters are going to like this."
The article goes on to quote Lisa Graves, executive director of Center for Media Democracy, the watchdog group which has followed ALEC for years. Graves says that Amendment 1 and Amendment 3 in particular "are spawn of the corporate bill mill known as ALEC." Amendment 1 would block parts of the Affordable Care Act, and 3 imposes a state spending cap on the Legislature. Smith agrees, and says additionally that Amendments 5, 6, and 8 also appear to have come from ALEC model legislation:
Amendment 5, which would give the Legislature more power over the courts; Amendment 6, which would prohibit public funding of abortions and erase privacy rights that courts have used to overturn abortion restrictions; and Amendment 8, which would repeal a ban on public funding of religious groups.
"We just don't think it's fair for outside corporate interests to come in and have so much power in our state government," Smith said.
The Tribune article quotes Kaitlyn Buss, a spokeswoman for ALEC, saying if the legislation resembles ALEC model bills, they merely provide "policy suggestions" and says if lawmakers introduced any of those bills, they have done so on their own initiative and they're in the best interest of their constituents.
Really? Not so fast. When the resolution for Amendment 1 was passed in 2011, ALEC boasted about it in a press release, claiming that it was a triumph over the Affordable Care Act's federal mandate.
In the Tribune article, some lawmakers claim they merely have "discussions" with ALEC, that this is just a conspiracy theory, and one claims he's never spoken to ALEC about this legislation. On that 2011 press release above:
That doesn't mean Florida's amendment is an ALEC product, said Mike Haridopolos, the outgoing state Senate president from Melbourne and a sponsor of Amendment 1.
"I've never spoken to anybody from ALEC about this," said Haridopolos, a Republican. "I don't know where people pull in stuff like this."
As to ALEC's boasts, he said, "I don't play he-said-she-said types of games. I'm just glad they support what we do. I don't think ALEC is a pariah, either," he said, adding that groups such as the National Conference of State Legislatures and Southern Republican Leadership Conference provide valuable exposure to other states' issues and solutions.
Dig a little deeper and there's plenty of evidence out there that there's a great deal more ALEC influence on them than they let on.
Haridopolos says ALEC is no "pariah," and that he doesn't "know where people pull stuff like this?" Really?
How about here, for starters, when Haridopolos voiced his support of the Repeal Amendment at a press conference at the ALEC conference in Washington DC on Nov. 30 2010, when they announced the support of 10 States who were currently filing for the Repeal Amendment in their state legislatures? You can see the video of Haridopolos' ALEC press conference here, put out by the Repeal Amendment movement themselves.
The Repeal Amendment group's website lists Haridopolos as a supporter along with others like Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA), Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, members of Tea Party like Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA), and FOX News contributors like Judge Andrew P. Napolitano. Also a sponsor, Grover Norquist, President of Americans for Tax Reform. Americans For Tax Reform is the group that have been carpet-bombing the state of Florida the past few weeks with campaign fliers and ads targeting Obamacare, Medicare, and those containing misleading information on government spending in China, green jobs, high unemployment and outsourced jobs.
But Haridopolos has no idea where "people pull this stuff?"
"The conspiracy theory goes on," said Rep. Dennis Baxley, an Ocala Republican.....
......"This whole concept of some kind of clandestine entity spreading these things throughout state legislatures …" he said, his voice trailing off. "These are membership-driven organizations, and we do have discussions. It makes sense for people to come together and share ideas. That's a good thing. ALEC isn't some bogeyman monster entity. It's 2,000 legislators coming together to talk about issues."
Conspiracy theory, Rep. Baxley? Bogeyman? It's neither of those, but it's a great deal more than just "legislators coming together to talk about issues" as Baxley claims. In addition to the abortion amendment, Baxley was recently featured in a CNN report on the Florida voter suppression and Rick Scott's voter purge. ALEC has been tied to election law legislation, influencing purges in both Florida and Texas, and voter ID legislation in other states.
"It's a great place to share model legislation and a great place to learn what's going on in other parts of the country," said Baxley, who sponsored a major rewrite of Florida's election laws that's under challenge in court.
Baxley said his so-called 2005 castle doctrine bill, which allows people in Florida to use deadly force to defend themselves in their homes or cars, became a model for other states.
"A lot of ideas get shared and aired there," Baxley said. "It's a very collaborative process."
This hardly suggests a "conspiracy theory" as Baxley claims in the Tribune article.
Rep. Dana Young, R-Tampa, said she will use district office money and possibly ALEC scholarship money to pay her registration fee. She's paying for her travel and hotel personally.
Rep. Jeanette Nunez, R-Miami, is covering conference expenses with campaign money, and will hold a campaign fundraiser today in New Orleans.
"Obviously there are going to be lobbyists there, and I figure it would be an easy place, if they have checks, to come by," Nunez said.
Rep. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, is at his first ALEC conference.
"I don't buy any legislation off the shelf," Brandes said. "We like to tweak it here and there and make it our own. But it's a good starting point to have legislation that's already been somewhat vetted."
Yet Haridopolos and Baxley would have you believe heavy influence from ALEC is nonsense?
The Amendments on the Florida ballot have ALEC footprints all over them, and voters need to take heed when they vote on them. With an unpopular governor who puts big corporations needs over those of Floridians at every turn, and a legislature that has been giving in to nearly everything he wants, it's no wonder they wrote the Amendments in a deceptive way.
The amendments include allowing religious organizations to use tax dollars to fund their own religious schools, allow politicians to interfere in women’s personal medical decisions, allow Tallahassee politicians to protect an unfair system that beneﬁts large corporations at the expense of public schools, small businesses and working families, and one that gives politicians more power over our courts and is opposed by the people who know what works and doesn’t in our justice system - judges and the people that work in courthouses all across Florida.
Vice President Joe Biden made a surprise visit to a campaign field office today in Orlando where he spent about 30 minutes talking to volunteers and thanking them for all their hard work.
From Obama for America, Florida, the White House press pool, and Trip Gabriel of The New York Times:
The Vice President and his daughter, Ashley Biden, arrived with large brown “Boxes of Joe’’ from Dunkin Donuts. In addition, Biden carried a large white bag of donuts.
As Biden entered, people applauded, and he told the room, “This is what you call interfering with productivity.’’
“I come from a state where you campaign door to door,’’ he said. “It matters. The thing that matters the most, when you show up at the door you’re not just asking vote for us, you’re vouching for us. That’s the thing I want to thank you most for. The hardest thing for a man or woman to do in my opinion is to associate themselves, to say I vouch for you.’’
Biden hugged a young woman who was smiling at him, Marissa Priceman, 17. She started to cry.
“Thank you,’’ she said through her tears.
Photo: Christopher Dilts, Obama for America
Biden also joked with members of the press from CNN, CBS and The New York Times.
“I tell you what,’’ Biden said. “We’ve got a lot of press here. I wanted them to see you guys. But one of the thing is, you guys deserve answers to questions. Things you may have in your mind. So I tell you what, if we can, I don’t know if I’im allowed to do this, ask the press to go eat some donuts.’’
“By the way, these guys have been great,’’ he added, meaning the press. “They’ve picked up every mistake we’ve all made.’’
The room laughed.
“Of course you know I never make any mistakes.’’
Biden then left Orlando to travel to an afternoon rally in St. Augustine.
President Obama will be returning to Tampa for a grassroots campaign rally on Thursday as part of a two day round the clock tour of six battleground states.
After beginning the tour in Iowa on Wednesday, October 24, the President will rally voters in Denver, Colorado at the Meadow at City Park, followed by a late night grassroots event in Las Vegas, Nevada. The President will travel overnight to Tampa, Florida for a grassroots rally, and a tarmac event in Richmond, Virginia on Thursday. As the President crisscrosses the nation, he will spend time on Air Force One calling undecided voters, rallying National Team Leaders and volunteers and continuously engaging with Americans across the country about the choice in this election.
Following the event in Richmond, the President will then travel to Chicago to cast his ballot and make history by being the first sitting President to vote early in person. The President will end his two-day tour with an evening grassroots event in Cleveland, Ohio.
Further details for the Tampa stop have not yet been released.
UPDATED: Ticket Information:
Today, Monday, October 22, as part of the DNC “Gotta Vote” bus tour swing through Florida, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, Former Iowa Governor Chet Culver and Model Chanel Iman will join OFA-Florida to launch ticket distribution for President Obama’s grassroots event on Thursday in Tampa. Thursday’s event with the President is free and open to the public, but tickets are required for entrance. One ticket per person will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis beginning at 3pm EDT today.
Bus tour participants will encourage Tampa Bay residents to Vote Now! by heading across the street to the Hillsborough Supervisor of Elections. With Vote Now!, Floridians can vote at their county Supervisor of Elections office by asking for an absentee ballot – most will let them fill it out and return it on the spot. While this is a time-tested means of voting, this is the first big push by any statewide campaign to widely use this process. Vote Now! continues to build on the momentum of registering hundreds of thousands of Florida voters.
On Thursdsay – following the final presidential debate at Lynn University in Boca Raton – the President will speak about what’s at stake in this election for Floridians and ask them to help organize their communities between now and Election Day. This election is going to be close, and the stakes are higher than ever before, so it’s important for everyone to make their voice heard and join the millions of Floridians who are voting.
WHAT: Ticket Distribution Launch for President Obama’s Grassroots Event in Tampa as part of DNC “Gotta Vote” Bus Tour
WHO: Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, Former Iowa Gov. Chet Culver, Model Chanel Iman
WHEN: TODAY, October 22 at 3:00pm
WHERE: Joe Chillura Courthouse Square, Corner of Kennedy Boulevard and Pierce Street, Tampa, FL
Well, today in Orlando, it was Ann Romney's turn. She came briefly down off her high horse to mingle amongst the "you people" to pretend she and her husband care about women's health. Specifically breast cancer:
Ann Romney, wife of Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, joined the sea of pink bras, pink feather boas, pink socks and pink hats in Orlando on Saturday as she walked in support of breast cancer.
....Romney weaved through downtown for the American Cancer Society's Making Strides Against Breast Cancer 5K.
The annual fundraising event — the largest breast-cancer walk in Florida — drew more than 40,000 participants Saturday, packing the streets around Lake Eola Park, near where the walk started and finished.
Romney posed for photos alongside Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, shown here in a photo Romney tweeted to her followers:
Making Strides Against Breast Cancer? What's Wrong With This Picture?
Notice anything unusual in this photo? I did right away. Normally when there's a breast cancer walk or similar fundraising event, those pink t-shirts the participants wear promote the effort in the battle against the disease. Call me crazy, but I don't see anything on the front of those t-shirts that mentions breast cancer. However, they do promote the effort that Ann Romney cares about most:
Getting her husband into the White House.
The shirts read: Team Romney, Romney-Ryan 2012.
I'm not the least bit surprised that Ann Romney would use breast cancer victims in a shameless photo op. (If those women pictured are survivors rather than Romney campaign staffers.) After all, that's the Romney family business: Self-promotion at others expense. Mitt Romney profits from outsourcing American workers jobs to China at the very same time he rails against that very thing. He recently used coal miners as a backdrop for a campaign ad while their boss forced them to take the day off without pay while claiming Obama was anti-coal. This from Romney, who also once said coal plants kill.
Well, here's something else that kills: breast cancer.
“I lost my mother from ovarian cancer, I lost my grandmother from ovarian cancer, I lost my great-grandmother from breast cancer, so for me, you know, it’s been a long line of cancer,” Romney admitted. “Women that have dealt with cancer in their lives, and I unfortunately saw my grandmother die from ovarian and I took care [of] and loved my mother in her death, with her battle with ovarian cancer. So cancer is a serious business.”
As for Ann Romney, what else would we expect, since she's frequently lectured to women in this country that they only care about the deficit and the economy, not women's health issues! Never crosses women's minds according to Ann.
That's something Ann would never take notice of unless she were in a swing state when the polls show that Mitt isn't popular with the ladies.
Time to bring in the Romney campaign's uterus whisperer so she can say "I love you women!" just like she did at the RNC. The fact that it's during a breast cancer walk is just icing on the cake for the man who is hell bent on convincing voters that even though he got a health care plan for Massachusetts when he was governor, now killing Obamacare on "day one" is really a good thing! Just trust him! Would he lie to you?
She can pretend to be a real "fighter" for breast cancer awareness, this woman who recently snapped during a radio interview about mere criticism of her husband, saying: “Stop it. This is hard. You want to try it? Get in the ring,” but she'll never know what it's like to fight cancer the way those who can't afford to do.
She doesn't know hard. Hard is fighting for your life while trying to feed your kids and keep your home if you have one. Worse, hard is knowing that if you're a mom just diagnosed with breast cancer, your daughters now have a pre-existing condition, which no insurance company would cover before Obamacare, and who now may face the same diagnosis in the future with no resources because their parents lost everything due to that illness if Obamacare ceases to exist in a Romney Administration.
You know, because it runs in the family, Ann, and like you said, cancer is serious business.
So you put on that pink breast cancer campaign t-shirt Ann, looking all pretty on the outside and smile for the cameras while playing the part of a human being who cares.
But deep down on the inside? That must be one ugly place to live.
Rick Scott, "The Jobs Governor" has just outsourced the job of branding Florida's public/private organization devoted to statewide economic development to a market research firm in......Tennessee.
You read that correctly. An agency that markets Florida to businesses and ergo, creates jobs, will give the jobs of marketing and researching Florida to another state instead of giving the job to those who live and therefore "know" Florida, and could probably use the work.
Eight Florida firms applied for the six-figure contract to brand Enterprise Florida, and four were selected among five finalists. In the end, contract went to Nashville-based North Star Destination Strategies. Only a small share of marketing will go to On Ideas Inc., a firm located in Jacksonville.
Nashville-based North Star Destination Strategies will “uncover Florida’s business brand” and “express the identity we want the world to see as it pertains to business,” Melissa Medley, chief marketing officer for Enterprise Florida, wrote in an Oct. 12 email.
North Star produced a tourism branding campaign called “Find Your True South” for the Mississippi Development Authority in February 2011.
Gray Swoope, head of Enterprise Florida, was running the Mississippi agency at the time. Gov. Rick Scott announced Swoope’s recruitment to Florida a few weeks later.
So Rick Scott "created" one job by recruiting Swoope, who is now sending the jobs of marketing Florida to another state entirely.
Because Tennessee is just like Florida, in that it's located in the south. Or because "someone knows someone?"
“We did consider Florida companies,” Doyle [Stuart Doyle, spokesman for Enterprise Florida] said. “We had to look at the needs and hire who we thought can best fulfill that. Because the scope was so large, we hired two companies.”
North Star was awarded a $205,000 contract in June.
On Ideas also was selected to develop a media plan to market the state. The Jacksonville firm proposed an $180,000 contract, but the amount hasn’t been finalized, Doyle said.
The contract was not advertised on Florida’s Vendor Bid System, an online repository of state contract opportunities. It also sends email notices to companies that sign up for the service.
“Enterprise Florida may want to consider using the state’s official procurement process,” said Dan Krassner, executive director of Integrity Florida, a nonpartisan government watchdog in Tallahassee. “There are many Florida-based companies that are qualified to do this work and our state leaders should be sure they have a fair opportunity to compete.”
Enterprise Florida receives state tax funding and private donations. Gov. Scott and a 62-member board of corporate investors, plus additional at-large, ex-officio and appointed members, oversee the organization.
Yes, the agency that receives taxpayer funding is now outsourcing jobs that should go to Floridians.
Nice work if you can get it. But you can't. So say Rick Scott and Gray Swoope, head of Enterprise Florida.
And while we're on the subject of outsourcing, Florida license plates are about to get a makeover, but Florida may be outsourcing distribution of those new tags through the Internet rather than through tax collectors as they do now, thanks to Scott's proposed Department of Motor Vehicles’s privatization plan, which Scott and his cabinet will be voting on that next week.
Palm Beach County Tax Collector Anne Gannon joined some of her colleagues in Tallahassee on Wednesday to voice their concerns about the Department of Motor Vehicles’s privatization plan, saying it could create problems for drivers who will then blame local officials.
Gannon said the counties do just fine mailing those out – and if something goes wrong they, as elected officials, are accountable to their local residents.
The tax collectors fear drivers may have trouble getting a live person at a private company to speak with them. And they point out problems the state has had with past privatization efforts.
“We don’t think this is broke,” Gannon said.
Here we go again: Taking a process that's working fine away from a government
agency, creating the potential for complications down the road at the expense of taxpayers, all in
the name of privatization.
Another reason why the Republican Party mantra of "running government like a business" is such a bad idea when it's actually implemented.