Observations and musings on Jacksonville Politics

Colleges the new “dumping ground” for politicians

New legislation seeks to end the increasingly common practice of “double-dipping.”

If Floridians have to tighten their belts so should lawmakers who hold second jobs at universities and other state agencies, says state Rep. Scott Randolph.

Randolph, D-Orlando, has filed an amendment to the House budget that would force any lawmaker who got a job after being elected to take a pay cut equal to their legislative salary (about $30,000). It would apply to the 2009-2010 fiscal year only and only if the nonlegislative salary exceeds $70,000.

The target: The dozen or so lawmakers who have landed jobs at state colleges and universities (background here). “It’s like our university system has become a dumping ground for legislators,” Randolph said. “If you’re talking about small government and ‘living within our means,’ you shouldn’t be taking two paychecks from the government.”

How many Republicans (and Democrats who subscribe to the “smaller government” theory) who campaign on a platform of smaller government will embrace the thought of a pay decrease in one of their taxpayer-funded salaries? Perhaps North Florida’s own Mike Weinstein (R) could share his thoughts on the legislation? He does, after all, serve as the full-time Executive Director of the State Attorney’s Office while also serving as a State Legislator.

Filed under: Florida, Florida Legislature, , ,

Tallahassee (and Jacksonville) Cowards

The Republican members of the Florida House, including North Florida members Janet Adkins, Jennifer Carroll, Mia Jones (Practically), Charles McBurney, Lake Ray, Doc Renuart and Mike Weinstein, have said nothing—NOTHING—at all in reference to the ongoing scandals surrounding their Speaker, Ray Sansom. According to the St. Pete Times, only one Republican House Member—26-year old freshman legislator Rachel Burgin (R-Brandon)—has addressed the scandal and residents around the state are beginning to notice.

“Our household is so disgusted with the current Florida legislators for not speaking out and condemning what Speaker Sansom has done in enriching himself and bestowing favors to his college,” Marilyn Weaver wrote to two Pinellas lawmakers.

“Why isn’t he being investigated?” Arnold Gundersen pointedly asked Rep. John Legg, R-New Port Richey.

Fred Buchholtz of Safety Harbor wrote: “I had hoped that some action would have been taken by now to end the embarrassment to the Florida Legislature and the affront to Florida’s taxpayers.”

Dave Mulholland of Spring Hill wrote to lawmakers to praise MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough, who excoriated Sansom. “(He) said what all of the cowards in Tallahassee have been afraid to say.”

One wonders how the members of the Duval delegation can ever fantasize about leadership positions when they have no leadership genes in their DNA.

Filed under: Florida Legislature, Florida Politics, , , , , , , , , , ,

Still nothing from Jacksonville’s Republican House delegation regarding their Speaker

The furor over Speaker of the House Ray Sansom’s dealmaking grows even louder with newspaper editorials, political groups, citizens, and Democratic party chair Karen Thurman calling for him to either step down from one of his two jobs or be ousted.  A poll, launched on December 4th by Progress Florida (albeit a left-leaning group), with 1,882 Floridians having voted over the course of a week, finds that 97% of respondents believe Sansom should either resign (51%), quit his college job (23%) or be censured by his colleagues in the House (23%).  In response to the poll, Florida Progress has launched a new site, www.sacksansom.com.

While some Republicans are quietly grumbling under their breath, there is still nary a sound coming from the Duval Republican House delegation.  You know, I would expect that from Mike Weinstein who is friends with Ray Sansom and held a joint fundraiser with him earlier this year.  Why Sansom is even in a picture on the front page of Weinstein’s website.  (I can’t believe he hasn’t taken that down yet.)

So what’s up with the rest of our local  Republican members of the House?  Maybe they should start singing the Sansom Anthem louder so that we can hear them.

The Sansom Anthem
(Sung to the tune of Na Na Hey Hey)

Na na na na na na na na
Hey hey Ray Good-bye

Na na na na na na na na
Hey hey Ray Good-bye

We’ll never love you
The way that we loved you
‘Cause when we did, you lied and then you
Made us cry
You might have fooled us Ray, but then you showed your (showed your)
True colors so pucker up and kiss our
Yes, pucker up and kiss our–pucker up and kiss our–behinds
(chorus x 2)

We want to jeer you
You double-dippin’ heel you
While all the rest of us are
Standin’– in the unemployment line
You might think you’re entitled
But it’s only–yes it is only
You know that it is only–know that it’s only–your pride
(chorus x10)

We’re really sick to death
Of all of you fat cats
Abusing power, stealing all our rights, everyday
You know it’s true, Ray
We’re sick of the games you play
Can’t let you get away with all that dough
Oh no no no

Na Na Na Na
Na Na Na Na
Hey Hey Ray
Goodbye (rpt 2 end)

Reworked Lyrics Written By
Carol Tucker, MA
Pensacola, FL

Filed under: Florida Legislature, Florida Politics, Jacksonville, , , , , ,

Duval Delegation House of Representatives appointments

We’ve posted on Mike Weinstein’s committee appointments in the House below, now for the rest of the Duval Delegation members:

Janet Adkins: 

Health Care Services Policy Committee, Healthy Seniors Appropriations Committee, Joint Legislative Sunset Committee, Public Safety & Domestic Security Policy Committee, and Roads, Bridges, & Ports Policy Committee

Jennifer Carroll:

Economic Development Policy Committee, Economic Development & Community Affairs Policy Council, Energy & Utilities Policy Committee,  and Transportation & Economic Development Appropriations Committee

Audrey Gibson:

Economic Development & Community Affairs Policy Council, Joint Administrative Procedures Committee, Roads, Bridges & Ports Policy Committee, Select Committee on Seminole Indian Compact Review, and Transportation & Economic Development Appropriations Committee

Mia Jones:

Agriculture & Natural Resources Policy Committee, Eonomic Development Policy Committee, Health Care Appropriations Committee, and PreK-12 Policy Committee

Charles McBurney:

Government Affairs Policy Committee, Economic Development & Community Affairs Policy Council, Government Operations Appropriation Committee, Insurance, Business & Financial Affairs Policy Committee, Joint Legislative Auditing Committee, and PreK-12 Policy Committee

Lake Ray:

Energy & Utilities Policy Committee, Health Care Services Policy Committee, Roads, Bridges & Ports Policy Committee, and Transportation & Economic Development Appropriations Committee

Doc Renuart:

Agriculture & Natural Resources Policy Committee, Health Care Appropriations Committee, Health Care Services Policy Committee, and Miltary & Local Affairs Policy Committee

Filed under: Florida Legislature, Florida Politics, Jacksonville, , , , , , , , , , ,

Local freshman representative gets a Vice-Chair appointment in the House

Rep. Ray Sansom took a break from fending off bad press for his sweetheart deals on behalf of his new employer long enough to make his House committee appointments today.

Interesting, a freshman Representative has been named Vice-Chair of a committee.  That’s unusual.  What’s even more interesting is who the freshman representative and the committee of which he was made Vice-Chair.

The freshman Representative?  Mike Weinstein

The committee he was made Vice Chair of?  The Civil Justice and Courts Policy committee.   He’s also been named a member of the Criminal and Civil Justice Policy committee.  I find that interesting given that he will be working for the State Attorney’s Office here. 

Weinstein has been named to three other committees as well.  And I doubt all five committees meet on the same day during committee meeting weeks. 

So much for only needing to take off for two months without pay for the legislative session.

Filed under: Florida Legislature, Florida Politics, , , , ,

Weinstein the Magician

Mike Weinstein proudly proclaimed recently that he would be able to do both his job as SAO administrator and as our representative in the Florida House – that he would only be out of the SA’s Office for 2 months of the year for the legislative session which starts in March.  Oh, really?

The Speaker of the House recently released a tentative calendar of interim committee meetings.

December 15-18 Interim committee meetings

January 5-8 Interim committee meetings

January 12-15 Interim committee meetings

February 2-5 Interim committee meetings

February 9-12 Interim committee meetings

February 16-19 Interim committee meetings

March 3 Opening Day of the 2009 Regular Session

Looks like Mike will be out of the State Attorney’s Office for more than two months to me – unless he’s a magician.  You know, I guess he could be one.  After all, he did manage to complete law school in 2 1/2 years while working full time at the SA’s Office previously.

Filed under: Florida Legislature, Jacksonville, , , ,

Mike Weinstein returns to the State Attorney’s Office

From the Times-Union:

Former Jacksonville mayoral candidate and newly elected state Rep. Mike Weinstein will return to the State Attorney’s Office as its executive director next year, he and his new boss confirmed Friday.
Weinstein, who also served as mayoral chief of staff and headed the city’s Super Bowl host committee, will work 10 months of the year, then take two months off without pay in the spring to fulfill his statehouse obligations, said State Attorney-elect Angela Corey.

Weinstein was elected Nov. 4 to represent House District 19 in Mandarin and aspired to become House speaker.

Corey said Weinstein will be in charge of her office’s administrative and budgetary functions, the same position he held under former State Attorney Ed Austin before Austin was elected mayor in 1991.

Filed under: Florida Legislature, Jacksonville, , , ,

Did our Republican House members do the right thing?


Even while the State’s CFO Alex Sink is calling for a special session and Speaker of the House Ray Sansom is poor mouthing about the budget and telling House members that there will be no local pork given out during this upcoming legislative session, check out the location Sansom is speaking from – WaterColor -that extremely upscale locale in northwest Florida.  And as it turns out, Republican House members are there for their inaugural meeting at a cost of $400 per night.  Of course, they say it’s at the expense of the Republican Party of Florida.  But hasn’t Greer been chastised enough for his ridiculous spending lately?

Although 150 people are at Watercolor for this Republican party hoe-down, only 74 of them are House members.  Who are the other 76?  Lobbyists?  Sansom says they are banned, although they are certainly welcome to contribute money. House staff? Most likely. Family members?  Maybe.  But who knows. 

Another question comes to mind:   How did the Legislature work their way around this one not being a gift under the lobbying provisions.  Under Section 11.045(a), Florida Statutes, no lobbyist or principal shall make, directly or indirectly, and no member nor employee of the Legislature shall knowingly accept, directly or indirectly, any expenditure, except floral attangements or other celebratory items given to legislators and displayed in chambers the opening day of a regular session.

Now we all know lobbyists and their principals give lots and lots of money to the political parties.  So, this provision of the statute would seem to prohibit this kind of event from happening. So how are they getting away with this?  Well, if you check the definition of “expenditure” in Section 11.045(1), you’ll notice that the Legislature very conveniently excluded contributions or expenditures made to political parties.  So essentially, they have effectively set up the political parties as money-launderers for these types of events.

At this point you may be saying to yourself that all of this is disgusting, interesting, or boring (whichever case it may be) that these Republican House legislators are partying up at WaterColor in these extremely dire economic times, but what does this have to do with Jacksonville politics?  Well remember I told you 74 Republican House members are at WaterColor?  That’s all but two of the Republican House members that are at this toney wing ding.

So let’s do some math:

How many member of the Duval Delegation are House members?  8 (Adkins, Carroll, Gibson, Jones, McBurney, Ray, Renuart, and Weinstein).  Of those 8, how many are Republicans? 6 (Adkins, Carroll, McBurney, Ray, Renuart, and Weinstein).  So at best, at least 4 of our local Republican House members are living it up at WaterColor; at worst, all 6 of our local Republican House members are living it up at WaterColor. 

All of this while the State is facing a projected 3.5 billion dollar deficit.

Meanwhile, in their organizational meeting, the Florida Senate rolled back their conflict of interest and contribution rules evidently in a voice vote – but that’s for another post.

Filed under: Florida Legislature, Jacksonville, , , , , , , , , ,

Weinstein losing bid to be Speaker in 2014

The word is out.

Mike Weinstein doesn’t look likely to be Speaker of the House in 2014.  Chris Dorworth has already secured more pledges from incoming freshman Republicans – more than half of them have committed to him – than Weinstein, who along with Clay Ford, has only secured a handful of pledges.

Filed under: Florida Legislature, Jacksonville, , ,

Weinstein’s Payoff

Mike Weinstein, the former candidate for Jacksonville Mayor who was “persuaded” to drop his challenge against the Incumbent–John Peyton–prevailed against token Democratic opposition in his bid for the Florida House District 19 seat.  Weinstein, the former chairman of the Jacksonville Economic Development Commission outraised his opponent $327,808.17 to $6,565.60.  Through 10/30/2008, Mr. Weinstein had spent $177,810.22 of that money.  Most interesting, perhaps, is what those dollars were spent on. 

The residents of District 19 surely had to be wondering exactly what Mr. Weinstein was running for–the seat or a future Speaker of the House post?  The expenses would seemingly indicate the latter.  After all, why would one spend no less than $92,409.00 on no fewer than 9 different consulting and polling firms?

Mr. Weinstein also paid out more than $27,000 to Leigh B. Farnell, a former (?) employee of the McCormick Agency, which would seemingly indicate that he had a full-time campaign aide during his race–something rather unusual for a Florida State House seat.

Filed under: Florida Legislature, Jacksonville, , , , , ,

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