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Archive for November, 2011

Graham leads new Conservation Coalition seeking to revive state programs

Wednesday, November 30th, 2011 by John Kennedy

Former Florida Gov. and U.S. Sen. Bob Graham led a gathering of activists Wednesday calling for Gov. Rick Scott and legislative leaders to preserve the state’s water resources, while renewing its longstanding commitment to the environment.

“We need strong gubernatorial leadership to reverse the damage that’s been done,” Graham told a rally at the state Capitol.

Graham debuted Wednesday as leader of the Florida Conservation Coalition, which includes Audubon of Florida, 1000 Friends of Florida, the Nature Conservancy, Sierra Club, Trust for Public Land and League of Women Voters. The coalition plans to lobby Scott and the Republican-led Legislature to restore funding to water quality programs, the Florida Forever land-buying program, and Everglades restoration, which supporters say have been staggered by budget cuts since 2007.

Graham was joined by state Sen. Paula Dockery, R-Lakeland, Nathaniel Reed of 1000 Friends of Florida and representatives of environmental groups, which generally praised Scott’s environmental stance, but blasting legislative moves which reduced oversight and dollars for green programs.

Advocates derided the Legislature for approving a $210 million cut in water management district property taxes, which has led to wholescale staff layoffs and program reductions, the most profound occuring at the South Florida Water Management District. Graham said taxes were “reduced by the amount of two pizzas a year,” but that the cuts did wide-ranging harm to existing programs and services.

Environmentalists, though, withheld direct criticism of Scott, who campaigned for the reduction and embraced the  cuts. Instead, Graham, apparently buoyed by recent Scott comments which underscored the need for effective environmental policy and Everglades restoration, urged conservationists to “join Scott’s army.”

Graham also warned the coalition planned to hold lawmakers accountable for actions which hurt Florida’s environment.

“We want to alert the voters in 2012 who was responsible for what happened in 2011,” Graham said.

Dems unleash robo-call attack on West

Wednesday, November 30th, 2011 by Dara Kam

National Democrats launched an attack on U.S. Rep. Allen West today, blaming him for the failure of the Congressional “super committee” to reach a consensus and accusing the Plantation politician of “demanding more tax breaks for billionaires.”

Click here to listen to the robo-call.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee unleashed the robo-calls today, and the campaign also includes live telephone calls, online ads and a website for voters to fill out letters to the editor today, according to a release issued by the DCCC. The calls are supposed to start going out to voters in West’s district that includes Palm Beach County today.

Democrats have targeted West in his reelection bid. The tea party favorite is being challenged by Democrat Patrick Murphy.

Here’s the script of the robo-call:

Hi, this is Rick calling on behalf of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee calling about Congressman Allen West and Republicans forcing the Super Committee to fail.

Americans demanded a bipartisan, big, bold, and balanced plan to reduce the deficit and grow our economy – but that’s not what we got. The Super Committee failed because Republicans insisted on extending the Bush tax breaks for millionaires and refusing to include a jobs proposal – while ending the Medicare guarantee! That’s something that Democrats stand strongly against.

By rejecting a balanced approach, Republicans chose to protect the wealthiest one percent at the expense of seniors and the middle class. Now they’re even talking about raising the payroll tax.

Please call Congressman West at 561-655-1943 and tell him it’s time to focus on us.

Another investigation into FAMU hazing practices

Tuesday, November 29th, 2011 by Dara Kam

Florida Board of Governors Chairwoman Ava Parker has asked Chancellor Frank Brogan to initiate an investigation into Florida A & M University administration’s handling of hazing in the wake of the death of Marching 100 drummer Robert Champion. Parker asked that Board of Governors’ inspector general lead the inquiry.

Parker sent a lettera letter to FAMU Board of Trustees Chairman Solomon Badger on Tuesday – the day before Champion’s funeral – advising him of the investigation. The inquiry comes alongside investigations into Champion’s death by the Orange County Sheriff’s Office and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. FAMU has also created a hazing task force headed by former Florida Attorney General Bob Butterworth and former Department of Corrections Secretary Walt McNeil, now the chief of policy in Quincy.

The latest investigation was prompted by Julian White, the former director of the famed Marching 100 band fired by FAMU President James Ammons last week. White told reporters yesterday he repeatedly warned university leaders for more than decades about the practice of hazing but was ignored. White also said he suspended 26 band members for hazing two weeks before Champion’s death on Nov. 19.

“The events surrounding the tragic death of Robert Champion and allegations by Dr. White that he received little support despite repeatedly advising current and former university administrators of hazing activities within the Marching 100 band, is of grave concern to the Board of Governors,” Parker wrote, adding that the state university system has a “no-hazing” policy.

“While we are aware that the university has a regulation and a rule in place to prohibit hazing activities and to penalize students for engaging in such activities, we are asking Chancellor Brogan to initiate an investigation to determine whether university administration took appropriate action to address the hazing activities referenced by Dr. White and any hazing activities in the student population at large,” she wrote.

Cain Florida supporters in ‘wait-and-see’ mode, Plakon says

Tuesday, November 29th, 2011 by Dara Kam

Embattled GOP presidential contender Herman Cain‘s Sunshine State supporters are in a wait-and-see mode while the campaign decides on its next move in the wake of allegations of a decade-long extramarital affair, Cain’s Florida campaign co-chairman Rep. Scott Plakon said Tuesday.

Cain told advisors and supporters including Plakon this morning that he is “reassessing” whether to remain in the race.

But Plakon said that, if what Cain says is true and he did not have a 13-year affair with Ginger White, Cain should stay in. And if that’s the case, he’s got Plakon’s support.

“If it turns out that all he had was 61 text messages, that seems like a pretty lousy reason o drive someone out of the presidential race…To say he should get out because of that I can speak for myself. I just don’t roll that way,” Plakon, R-Longwood, said.

And, Plakon said, Cain’s Florida supporters are on hold but haven’t bailed after the latest round of accusations.

“We haven’t heard anybody calling to say, ‘I’m out of here.’ He’s so well-liked people are willing to see what the reassessment looks like over the next few days,” Plakon said.

Plakon, who said he was on the conference call with Cain’s national advisors Tuesday morning, said the accusations alone should not force Cain to step aside.

“He says he didn’t do these things. And if that is true, to be forced out of this race over allegations that aren’t true would be truly unfortunate and I think would be bad for our country. We have a long tradition in the country. You should be presumed innocent until you’re found guilty,” he said. “If it turns out that all he had was 61 text messages, that seems like a pretty lousy reason o drive someone out of the presidential race…To say he should get out because of that I can speak for myself. I just don’t roll that way.”

If the allegations are true, however, Cain should drop out, Plakon said.

“If he did have a 13-year affair, then he should get out. But I take him at his word. And he said he didn’t do it. So unless proof comes forward, I don’t think these things should chase a presidential candidate in the top tier out of the race,” he said.

The latest set of accusations are sure to hamper Cain, once a favorite among GOP voters but whose star plummeted in the wake of the first round of accusations of sexual harassment earlier this month.


Mack slaps Nelson as one of Obama’s ‘lockstep liberals’

Tuesday, November 29th, 2011 by John Kennedy

Tarring Democratic opponent Bill Nelson as one of President Obama’s “lockstep liberals”, Republican U.S. Rep. Connie Mack said Tuesday that Floridians are looking for a change in the U.S. Senate.

“It’s pretty clear to me that this country, our country, is moving in the wrong directions,” Mack said in a conference call with reporters from his Fort Myers hometown.

Mack made his candidacy official Monday night in an appearance on Sean Hannity’s Fox-TV show. Mack, first elected to Congress in 2004, is the fifth Republican in the race to unseat Nelson, who is seeking his third term.

Mack is looking to win the same seat held by his father and namesake, former Republican U.S. Sen. Connie Mack. His dad defeated Democrat Buddy MacKay in 1988 after taunting him with the phrase, “Hey Buddy, you’re liberal.” And on Tuesday, the political apple didn’t fall far from the tree.

“Bill Nelson has become one of Barack Obama’s leading guys in the United States Senate,” Mack said, deriding his Democratic rival for supporting the president’s push on health care, stimulus spending, and energy cap-and-trade legislation.

Nelson is among the “lockstep liberals in Washington” the president depends on to advance his agenda, Mack said. The Republican contender, however, disputed that he, like his father, is looking to win by demonizing liberals.

“It’s not an attempt to demonize,” Mack said. “It’s to point out the differences.”

When those close to Mack confirmed a few weeks ago that he was planning to enter the race, the congressman immediately became the favorite, according to polls.

 A Quinnipiac University survey earlier this month showed Mack with a formidable lead over the four Republicans already in the race. A Rasmussen Reports poll also showed Mack could be trouble for Nelson, with the congressman favored by 43 percent of voters to 39 percent for the Democrat. The survey of 500 likely voters had a margin-of-error of plus-or-minus 4.5 percent.

Bondi to co-host GOP presidential debate

Tuesday, November 29th, 2011 by Dara Kam

Bondi with Fox News correspondent John Roberts

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi will co-host the GOP presidential debate on Fox News this weekend, according to a press release distributed by the Republican Party of Florida this morning.

Bondi, a Fox fave who often appeared on the news channel as a legal analyst before her election in January and a frequent guest star since, will join fellow Republican attorneys general Ken Kuccinelli of Virginia and E. Scott Pruitt of Oklahoma on former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee’s show Saturday night at 8 p.m.

Bondi is leading the charge in the multi-state federal health care lawsuit, launched by her predecessor Bill McCollum, now before the U.S. Supreme Court. Undoing the health care law is among the GOP presidential wannabes’ top campaign pledges.

“This forum is an excellent opportunity to engage each of the candidates in a candid conversation about issues that are important to voters in our state and across the nation,” Bondi said in the press release. “This will be a historic election, and I am excited to play a part in helping voters gain a better understanding of candidates’ beliefs on fundamental issues such as constitutionalism and the role of government.”

U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum have all agreed to participate in the forum, according to the release.

Dems target Romney in TV ad as ‘two men trapped in one body’

Monday, November 28th, 2011 by Dara Kam

Democrats unleashed an attack ad – “Trapped” – targeting Mitt Romney in his bid to unseat President Barack Obama. The movie trailer-style TV ad portrays Romney’s political career as “the story of two men trapped in one body” and directs viewers to a longer, online ad entitled “Mitt v. Mitt”

The ads characterize the former Massachusetts governor “for what he truly is: a flip-flopper, a candidate without core beliefs, and someone who’s simply without conviction,” Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz told reporters on a conference call this morning.

“The American people appreciate that there are many different points of view in our diverse nation. That is something that people expect. They just don’t expect one candidate to espouse all of them,” Wasserman Schultz, a Congresswoman from Weston, said.

Democrats are feverishly portraying Romney, in Florida on fundraising sweep tonight and tomorrow, as inconsistent in an effort to peel off support from conservative GOP voters with six weeks until Republicans begin choosing their nominee. They’re targeting Romney although recent polls show Newt Gingrich at the top of the GOP pack.

The DNC ad, showing contradictory clips of Romney on health care and abortion, is running in Albuquerque, N.M., Raleigh, N.C., Columbus, Ohio, Pittsburgh, Milwaukee and Washington.

“From the creator of `I’m running for office for Pete’s sake,’ comes the story of two men trapped in one body,” the ad says.

The four-minute video, entitled “Mitt versus Mitt,” also includes clips of Romney reversing his positions on issues.

Where did Ford liberate Eastern Europe? Where did Bentsen smack down Quayle?

Sunday, November 27th, 2011 by George Bennett

Al "Lockbox" Gore confronts George W. "Fuzzy Math" Bush in a 2000 debate remembered for Gore's audible sighing. Where did it take place?

BOCA RATON — Tiny Lynn University will host one of three presidential debates next year. But even if the debate produces a truly memorable moment, it probably won’t be linked in history with Lynn.

“It’s not so much about being on the map for some historical event, because people will forget the next day where the debate was,” says Rob Wild of Washington University in St. Louis, which has hosted three presidential and one vice presidential debate since 1992.

George H.W. Bush looks at his watch in 1992 debate while Ross Perot contemplates a "giant sucking sound." Where were they?

University of Virginia politics guru Larry Sabato confesses he was stumped recently when a student asked where President Gerald Ford defied Cold War reality by declaring “there is no Soviet domination of Eastern Europe” in 1976.

Read about Lynn’s preparations and the experience of other schools that have hosted debates by clicking here — and be sure to check out the end of the story to read about memorable debate moments and where they took place.

Gingrich’s immigration stance: Nixon-to-China, or Rick Perry-to-Orlando?

Thursday, November 24th, 2011 by George Bennett

Staunch anticommunist Richard Nixon meets Marxist revolutionary Mao Zedong in Beijing in 1972, launching a four-decade metaphor spree to describe unexpected political acts.

Republican presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich‘s staying power as a top-tier candidate will be tested by the less-than-hardline stance on illegal immigration he articulated in Tuesday night’s CNN debate.

Republican strategist Alex Castellanos called it a “Nixon-goes-to-China” moment.

Or will it be a Rick Perry-goes-to-Orlando moment in which a candidate plummets after running afoul of the GOP base on the immigration issue?

Read about it in today’s Palm Beach Post.

UPDATE: Scott orders investigation into Marching 100 death, band director fired

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011 by Dara Kam

UPDATE: Longtime FAMU Marching 100 band director Julian White has been fired. FAMU President James Ammons sent White a termination letter Wednesday, citing White’s inability to stop suspected hazing in the music department.

“He has been placed on administrative leave with pay, effective immediately pending the final resolution of this employment action. The reason for this intended employment action is based upon alleged misconduct and/or incompetence involving confirmed reports and allegations of hazing within the Department of Music and the ‘Marching 100.’ He has 10 days to respond in writing before action is taken,” FAMU spokeswoman Sharon Saunders said in an e-mail.

Gov. Rick Scott has ordered an investigation into the death of Robert Champion, a drum major with the renowned Florida A & M University Marching 100.

Champion, 26, was found unresponsive on a bus parked outside an Orlando hotel on Saturday night after the school’s football team lost to rival Bethune-Cookman. Investigators believe hazing occurred before 911 was called. Champion was vomiting and had complained he couldn’t breathe before he collapsed. He died a short time later at a hospital.

Champion’s death has “generated great concern throughout the state and indeed the nation,” Scott wrote to Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Gerald Bailey on Wednesday.

Acknowledging that the Orange County Sheriff’s Office is investigating Champion’s death, Scott said the FDLE inquiry is necessary as well. Under Florida law, any death involving hazing is a third-degree felony.

“The reality is that the death investigation significantly impacts the university, the Tallahassee community and the state of Florida as a whole,” Scott wrote.

Scott ordered FDLE to work with the Orange County Sheriff’s Office and any other investigative agencies “to assure that the circumstances leading to Mr. Champion’s death become fully known, and that if there are individuals directly or indirectly responsible for this death, they are appropriately brought to justice and held accountable.”

University officials on Tuesday suspended the famed Marching 100 band and all other FAMU music department ensembles, affecting more than 400 students.

The Marching 100 — whose rich history includes performing at several Super Bowls and representing the U.S. in Paris at the 200th anniversary of the French Revolution — was scheduled to perform at the fall commencement on Dec. 16.

Everglades to get its own Capitol caucus

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011 by John Kennedy

The state Capitol has its Black Caucus, Hispanic Caucus and even Tea Party Caucus, with likeminded legislators forming loose-knit groups to promote their cause.

Beginning next week, a Florida Everglades Caucus will dawn — launched Monday at an event scheduled in Boynton Beach.

Rep. Steve Perman, a Boca Raton Democrat, and Sen. Thad Altman, R-Viera, are the founding members of the caucus. They’ll be joined by the Everglades Foundation, Everglades Coalition, and other environmental activists at Monday’s 1 p.m., kick-off event, planned for Bedner’s Farm, west of Boynton on U.S. 441.

Goals of the caucus aren’t immediately known. But Gov. Rick Scott is likely to be seeking state cash and legislative backing for his plan announced last month for Everglades restoration.

After demands from federal officials for more action from the state, Scott unveiled a proposal that calls for building reservoirs, expanding wetlands and removing dams and other obstacles to freshwater flow in the Everglades region.

The Republican governor also is looking to extend the latest federal deadline for restoration to 2022 — another two years. For those with long memories, the initial plan for completing Everglades restoration was 2006, under a federal court settlement reached in 1992.

Atwater round-up: CFO gives thanks, seeks more control over state contracts and goes after lawyers

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011 by Dara Kam

Times may be tough but there’s still plenty to be grateful for, Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater tells Floridians in a Thanksgiving video message released today.

Atwater, a North Palm Beach banker and former Senate president, says he’s thankful for his “exciting year” as the executive in charge of the state’s checkbook and he’s appreciative of the country’s military serving overseas, who “risk their lives every day so that we can enjoy the blessings that we have been afforded: our safety, our security, the ability just to spend time with our families, our friends.”

Read about Atwater’s possible face-offs with Gov. Rick Scott over state contracting and The Florida Bar over PIP after the jump.

Surging Gingrich to campaign and sign books in Naples on Friday, Saturday

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011 by George Bennett


Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, the latest Republican presidential candidate to rise from the polling ashes to Mitt Romney altitude, will be in Naples on Friday and Saturday, his campaign announced.

Gingrich, who campaigned in Jacksonville last week, will hold a 5 p.m. town hall on Friday at the Naples Daily News community room, followed by a book-signing with wife Callista.

On Saturday, the Gingriches will sign more books at a Books-A-Million outlet at 9100 Strada Place in Naples.

Gingrich was considered political roadkill earlier this year when much of his campaign staff quit, with some grumbling that he appeared more interested in promoting books and films than doing the flesh-pressing and money-raising needed to run for president.

But Gingrich’s strong debate performances — and the stumbles of various rivals — have put him in the top tier of GOP candidates, with a national Quinnipiac University poll today showing him leading the Republican field with 26 percent to 22 percent for Romney.

State House candidate once victim of keg tossing incident by Gators football player

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011 by Andrew Abramson


Dane Eagle, a former travel aide to Gov. Charlie Crist and 2012 candidate for the vacant State House District 74 seat, was once the victim of an unusual crime that received national attention: A half-full keg of beer was tossed at Eagle’s head by University of Florida football player Taurean Charles during a fraternity brawl.

Eagle, a 28-year-old Republican, announced earlier this month that he would seek the seat vacated by Rep. Gary Aubuchon, R-Cape Coral.


The incident occurred in 2004 when Eagle was 21. Eagle told The Tampa Tribune at the time that he asked a group of Gators football player standing near a beer keg to quit throwing ice at people so the 200 guests at the house party could enjoy a Jell-O wrestling match.

Eagle said he was sucker-punched in the face, and later jumped into the ensuing brawl to help defend his friend, a tenant of the house.

Then came the flying keg, which could have done even more damage had someone not deflected it before it hit Eagle in the face. Eagle, who was already lying on the ground when the keg hit him, was knocked unconscious and suffered a concussion, broken nose and required multiple stitches.

“We thought he had died,” a friend of Eagle’s told The Tampa Tribune in 2004. “He was already laid out on the floor.”

At the time, he said he would need reconstructive surgery so he could breathe out of his right nostril. But on Tuesday, Eagle told The Palm Beach Post he never had the surgery.

“I’ve still got a crooked nose I’d love to get fixed one day,” Eagle said. “It builds character. I’m still not breathing out of one nostril too well. But it never really bothers me.”


Hotline: Florida more exciting than Michigan, not as sexy as North Dakota for 2012 Senate races

Monday, November 21st, 2011 by George Bennett

Florida's Bill Nelson safer than Nebraska's Ben Nelson

The National Journal‘s Hotline ranks Democratic Florida Sen. Bill Nelson‘s seat as the 12th most likely to change partisan hands in 2012.

Florida should be a prime pickup opportunity for the GOP, Hotline notes, “but the party is curiously pessimistic about their chances to beat Nelson.”

In a line already being circulated by GOP Senate hopeful Adam Hasner‘s campaign to conservative base voters, Hotline notes that U.S. Rep. Connie Mack leads the Republican field, “but there are openings for a more conservative candidate to emerge.”

Hotline says the Senate seat most likely to see a change of parties is in North Dakota, where Democratic Sen. Kent Conrad is retiring and the GOP is favored to take over.

See the complete Top 20 by clicking here.

Former Senate president Ken Pruitt now juggles property appraiser, lobbying jobs

Monday, November 21st, 2011 by George Bennett

Pruitt: Former citizen-legislator is now appraiser-lobbyist

Former state Senate President Ken Pruitt is a busy man.

In addition to holding down a $128,557-a-year job as St. Lucie County property appraiser, the Port St. Lucie Republican remains a registered Tallahassee lobbyist with Weiss, Handler, Angelos & Cornwell P.A. who is listed as representing seven clients before his former colleagues in the state legislature.

Pruitt made $355,000 as a full-time lobbyist in 2010, but told The Palm Beach Post‘s Politics column (second item) that he has scaled back his lobbying work since winning election to the appraiser’s job last November.

“I am honored to have been elected to serve as the Property Appraiser for St. Lucie County,” Pruitt said in an e-mail last week. “Just as when I was a constitutionally elected official in the legislature, I also worked as a consultant: the only difference now is that I am a constitutionally elected official in the County, my duties are full time and my consulting work is now part time. I am very proud of the excellent work that our team has done on behalf of our taxpayers and I will continue to work hard to maintain their confidence everyday.”

Although Pruitt’s lobbying work is now part-time, law firm partner Henry Handler said, “Our clients are very pleased with the amount of time, energy and depth of knowledge that Ken delivers to their assignments.”

Some Dems fret about ‘heartbreaking’ McAuliffe-Aronberg primary

Monday, November 21st, 2011 by George Bennett

Former state Sen. Dave Aronberg says he’s still doing some “due diligence” before deciding whether to challenge Palm Beach County State Attorney Michael McAuliffe in a 2012 Democratic primary.

McAuliffe’s consultant says he expects Aronberg to run, while many party bigs say they are hoping to avoid a primary that county Democratic Chairman Mark Alan Siegel says would be “heartbreaking.”

Read about it in this week’s Politics column.

Perry’s ‘oops’ moment gives Scott pause

Friday, November 18th, 2011 by Dara Kam

Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s nationally televised “oops” moment – where the GOP presidential contender could not remember one of the three government agencies he would do away with – prompted Gov. Rick Scott to be extra-careful during his first sit-down with The Palm Beach Post editorial board yesterday.

Scott told The Post this afternoon that he thought of Perry’s gaffe during some tough questioning from newspaper’s ed board.

“I had three points I was going to make and I thought, ‘Oh boy. I hope I remember the three.’ It was funny,” Scott said, smiling.

But not as funny, to the governor at least, as a temporary lapse by editorial writer Jac VerSteeg, whose name Scott could not recall.

“Then the guy sitting next to Randy (Schultz), he forgot his third point. That was funny,” Scott said.

Like Perry, each of the GOP candidates have had to contend with flubs, especially when they appear to be gaining ground in the race. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich – the latest leader of the pack – is fighting off criticism over his relationship with Freddie Mac, the federally-backed (and GOP whipping post) mortgage institution. Read what Gingrich had to say about the issue yesterday in Jacksonville.

Given the degree of exposure the candidates are getting, it’s not surprising their flaws are being exposed, Scott said.

“We have eight candidates. They are able to get their message out. With all these debates, there’s a lot of focus on it. So I think it’s positive that Americans get to learn a lot more about these candidates,” Scott said.

Jobs report promising, Scott says, but plenty of work ahead

Friday, November 18th, 2011 by Dara Kam

Gov. Rick Scott, in Jacksonville for a series of meetings, praised today’s jobs report, saying the work he and state lawmakers did earlier this year is helping to turn the state around.

The news is especially welcome as the holiday season approaches, Scott told reporters at The Jacksonville Landing overlooking the St. Johns River.

“With the holiday season starting, it’s nice to have some encouraging news. Our unemployment is continuing to drop,” Scott said.

Florida’s unemployment rate dropped slightly last month, down .3 from 10.6 percent in September to 10.3 percent and down from 12 percent in January. Palm Beach County’s jobless rate is the lowest in two years. Scott said the state has added 106,900 jobs since he took office this year.

“So it’s encouraging. It’s good it’s happening right now. We have to keep after it. We still have 900,000 people out of work but we’re headed in the right direction,” said Scott, whose pledge to bring 700,000 jobs to Florida in seven years was a cornerstone of his campaign for governor.

Floridians are more confident because the governor and legislature lowered taxes for small businesses and because Scott’s administration is more business-friendly, the governor said.

“The attitude has really changed. They know we’re going to balance their budget without raising taxes or borrowing more money. This is the first year in 20 years we didn’t borrow more money. This is the first year we paid down the debt in 20 years. We’ve been increasing the debt in this state by $1 billion a year for 20 years,” Scott said.

“I think they feel good that we’ve started the process of reducing the business tax for smaller companies. And the property tax for homeowners and for businesses. I think the other thing is the individuals I’ve appointed to these agencies…They have an attitude that they’re going to help business people solve problems if they can. If they can’t, they can’t. and they’re going to tell them quickly. Because what a business person wants, they want certainty. If you’re not going to approve something, don’t approve it. But say it up front. Don’t say it in two years or five years,” the former health care executive said.

As he often does when speaking of Florida’s job creation success, Scott mentioned his competitor-in-chief, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who apparently one-upped the Sunshine State again.

Although Florida created more jobs than Texas last month, the Lone Star State’s corporate climate was ranked top in the nation by executives. Florida ranked fourth, Scott said.

“I talked with him the other day and of course what he brings up…I told him how we beat him last month in job creation and there’s a site selector survey, did you see that, where they won that. We’re number four,” Scott said, adding that he asked his staff to find out what Florida’s ranking was last year.

As for taking credit for the state’s incremental unemployment turn-around, Scott wouldn’t bite.

“I’m always cautious about that,” he said with a grin.

Scott was supposed to have lunch with legislators from the region at the riverfront shopping plaza but the meeting was canceled, his staff said.

Mack topping Nelson in latest poll

Friday, November 18th, 2011 by John Kennedy

Republican Connie Mack is shaping up as big trouble — not only for his fellow GOP contenders for the U.S. Senate nomination, but two-term Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson, a poll shows Friday.

Mack, a Cape Coral congressman, is the favorite of 43 percent of Florida voters, to 39 percent for Nelson, according to the survey of 500 likely voters conducted Thursday by Rasmussen Reports. The poll has a margin-of-error of plus-or-minus 4.5 percent.

The survey also shows Nelson holding comfortable leads over other Republican contenders, former U.S. Senate-appointee George LeMieux and former state House Majority Leader Adam Hasner. A Quinnipiac University poll released last week showed Mack holding a formidable lead over the four GOP candidates already in the U.S. Senate race.

Mack’s father, who shares the same name, represented Florida in the U.S. Senate from 1989 to his retirement in 2001, when he was succeeded by Nelson.

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