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15 posts from November 14, 2012

November 14, 2012

Scott repeats: Sec.of State is looking into voting debacle

Gov. Rick Scott reiterated Wednesday that he has asked Florida’s chief elections official to meet with local elections supervisors to discuss what went wrong during Florida’s voting fiasco.

Sec. of State Ken Detzner is scheduled to meet with some of the state’s elections supervisors Tuesday to discuss the various problems during the election, which was plagued by long lines and a long wait for counting.

Scott stopped short of blaming HB 1355—the controversial law he signed last year that cut back early voting days—for the voting problems. He did say that changes to election laws might be necessary in the year ahead.

“This election was conducted in accordance with Florida law, which was passed by the legislature last year. The law was then found by the US Department of Justice and federal courts to be in compliance with the Voting Rights Act,” he said, skipping over the fact that part of the law was ruled unconstitutional. “But, we should now evaluate whether additional statutory changes need to be made after this election is complete. The House and Senate’s bipartisan committees on elections should begin to publicly discuss this topic at their first opportunity.”

Scott’s Wednesday statement, which largely repeats earlier statements, reflects an effort by the governor to take command of an issue that has sparked widespread backlash and media ridicule.

Initially, Scott would only say that he was happy with the record turnout and that “the right thing happened.” He also said he'd be reviewing how the election went. Many critics blamed Scott for not extending early voting when there were 8-hour lines during the shortened early voting period. Others blamed him and the Florida Legislature for passing a 2011 bill that cut early voting and loading up the ballot with lengthy amendments, while ignoring pleas from local supervisors asking for more flexibility.

As criticism has mounted—with former Gov. Charlie Crist leading a loud chorus of anti-Scott voices calling for reform—Scott has begun to pivoted from “the right thing happened” to “we need to make improvements in our elections process.”  

Scott’s statement is below.

Continue reading "Scott repeats: Sec.of State is looking into voting debacle" »

State officials call for contracts fix at Blind Services

Interim Education Commissioner Pam Stewart said the state's Division of Blind Services will now competitively bid its contracts.

She issued the following statement in response to the Times/Herald investigation into the Division of Blind Services. The story revealed that private vendors at the state division to help blind people dictate the terms of their own no-bid contracts and receive little state oversight.

Continue reading "State officials call for contracts fix at Blind Services" »

Stand Your Ground task force: It's a good law

Created in the wake of national uproar over Trayvon Martin’s shooting death, a 19-member task force spent six months traveling the state and taking public testimony about Florida’s most controversial self-defense law.

The result? Little, if anything, will change.

The task force commissioned by Gov. Rick Scott to review the Stand Your Ground law prepared its final report Tuesday, indicating that the law is mostly fine as it is.

In a report to the Legislature, the group offered up only minor tweaks to the Stand Your Ground law — including changes that could actually make it easier to claim self-defense after killing someone.

Read more here


Rick Scott drops opposition to Obamacare, says he'll negotiate it

Florida Gov. Rick Scott, one of the most vocal critics of the federal health care overhaul, is dropping his staunch opposition to the law.

Scott said in an interview Tuesday with The Associated Press that he now wants to negotiate with the federal government. He said it's time for Republicans to offer solutions to help families after they lost their bid to defeat President Barack Obama.

"The election is over and President Obama won," Scott said. "I'm responsible for the families of Florida ... If I can get to yes, I want to get to yes."

Scott had previously stated that he would not go along with any parts of the health care overhaul that the state controls.

But his newfound willingness to have a "conversation" about putting it in place in Florida comes at a critical time.

States have until Friday to notify federal authorities whether they plan to set up health insurance exchanges, a marketplace where individuals and smalls businesses can shop for the most affordable coverage and where many will get help from the government to pay their premiums.

Florida so far has taken no steps to set up its own exchange. Story here.

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/11/13/3095664/fla-gov-opens-up-to-health-care.html#storylink=misearch#storylink=cpy

Did Charlie Crist date Jill Kelley's sister? 'Didn't happen,' he says

The Daily Telegraph of London, citing an unnamed Republican source, reports it has learned Jill Kelley's financially-challenged twin sister, Natalie Khawam, once dated former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist.

Reached by phone, Crist said: "Consider the source."

"Didn't happen," he said. "I may have met her."

Crist said he met Jill Kelley and her husband Scott, and retired Gen. David Petreaus and wife Holly for a dinner at Bern's Steak House. He said Jill Kelley had arranged the dinner. Asked what he thought of Jill Kelley, Crist said: "I think she's a delightful person."

Today's Tampa Bay Times has more about the emails to Jill Kelley that are at the center of a CIA sex scandal that prompted the resignation of director David Petraeus and ensnared the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, Gen. John Allen, with a look at the financial troubles that Kelley and Khawam shared.

-- Ben Montgomery, Tampa Bay Times staff writer