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January 2011

Democrats begin ads targeting Allen West

Well that didn't take long.

Republican Congressman Allen West has been in office less than 30 days and Democrats are already beginning a radio, email and web campaign in their effort to oust him from office in 2012.

The ads are being launched this week by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee which is targeting 19 Republican members of congress including another South Florida freshman - David Rivera.

There is plenty of fodder for Democrats to go after Rivera considering he is under investigation by several Florida agencies questioning his finances. Even the GOP leadership is a bit leery of being too close to Rivera until the investigations are completed.

Meanwhile "I'm a tough guy" West has a long litany of making what can most generously be described as strong statements about our "tyrannical government."

As we like to say here at Crowley Political Report - Elections may come and go but politics never stops.

Art by Patrick Crowley

Tallahassee press corps not happy with Rick Scott - Twitter war begins

Press corps skits one 

UPDATE - By Saturday morning still no ceasefire in the Twitter war.

There was a bit of Twitter fight  last night as members of the Tallahassee Press Corps fired off Tweets as they stood outside the governor's mansion in a standoff with Brian Burgess, Gov. Rick Scott's press secretary. (Samples of the Tweets are on the next page).

It was the latest in a continuing round of squabbles between the media and Scott's press office. In brief, Scott invited three top legislators to the mansion for a social dinner. Since these conversations frequently wind about being about potential legislation, Florida's open meetings laws require those conversations to be open to the public.

The press corps agreed to using pool reporters. Burgess agreed but only if he could pick the reporters from a list provided by the media. That was a step too far for the media which insists on a rotating pool list that does not allow the governor's office to arbitrarily choose reporters.

Tallahassee reporters pointed out that press pools are used daily by the White House but the administration does not choose which reporters are in the pool.

This led to a Twitter standoff with Burgess and several senior members of the press corps standing outside the governor's mansion.

Continue reading "Tallahassee press corps not happy with Rick Scott - Twitter war begins" »

Jeb Bush, Newt Gingrich say states should go bankrupt

Bankruptcy.  Once such an ugly word, bankruptcy has become the norm in the new economy for both businesses and ordinary folks.

Now with cities and counties around the nation considering bankruptcy as a way of getting out from under debt, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, say Congress should amend the bankruptcy laws to allow states to legally declare they are broke.'

Bush and Gingrich make their case in an op-ed piece in the Los Angeles Times

As they see it, bankruptcy would allow states to dismantle contracts with employees ending lucrative salaries and even more lucrative pension plans.

There is a bit of an irony here for Bush. As governor, he supported and signed legislation in 1999 that forced Florida's cities and counties to pay a great deal more for police and firefighter pensions. And the formula was changed to make those pensions far more lucrative - and expensive for taxpayers.  

Continue reading "Jeb Bush, Newt Gingrich say states should go bankrupt" »

Mike Haridopolos should thank Rick Scott

There is much gnashing going on in Tallahassee over the question of whether Senate President Mike Haridopolos should raise money for his U.S. Senate campaign during the 60-day legislative session.

The answer - Yes.  But with one condition. Haridopolos should make disclosures each day of the session about the amont of money he has received and from whom.

The fact of the matter is that whether a candidate receives money during the session is largely irrelevant.  Honest politicians will be honest. Crooks will cheat, steal and lie.

What is needed is full disclosure and Haradopolos could lead the way by expanding disclosure requirements.

Florida political campaigns were forever changed by Rick Scott.  He is not the first rich guy to spend his own money to run for public office but no one has been willing to spend anywhere near as much of his own dough as Scott did - a whopping $75 million.

Continue reading " Mike Haridopolos should thank Rick Scott " »

Rick Scott and Florida's checkbook

"The first thing you have to do is get control of the checkbook."

That may be the most telling thing Gov. Rick Scott said during a meeting with reporters and editors last week on the 22nd floor of the Capitol.

At that moment, a number of folks in the room seemed more concerned about their access to the governor than what he would actually do about governing.

Scott promised to be accessible and open.  His record, so far, is uneven but even some of the most senior Tallahassee reporters agree that Scott may just need a bit more time to adjust to the demands of Floridians' vigorous insistence on their right to know.

Scott is inclined to give short and to-the-point answers. Wearing black cowboy boots, Scott sometimes seemed like an indulgent parent giving sparse answers to kids who really don't understand their own questions.

He certainly didn't go out of his way to soothe the media gathering when he was asked if he reads the press about him.


As we said, short and to the point.

He did acknowledge getting a press briefing from his staff each day and noted that his wife Ann reads the newspapers.

But back to the checkbook.

Continue reading "Rick Scott and Florida's checkbook" »

Ann Scott and the girl with the dragon tattoo

Here at Crowley Political Report we have often commented on the fact that Floridians know very little about Gov. Rick Scott.

And in fact, Floridians know even less about their new First Lady, Ann Scott.

Mary Ann Lindley, a veteran columnist at the Tallahassee Democrat, recently spent some time at the governor's mansion speaking with Mrs. Scott.

"Florida's new first lady is warm and outgoing, admits to being a sociable person, and has a big touch of down-to-earth ease that, I'd imagine, puts others at ease too," writes Lindley.

The couple have moved around a lot over the years and Lindley describes Mrs. Scott as very adaptable to wherever she lives.

A fan of reading - yes, even the newspapers her husband says he ignores - Mrs. Scott said one of the books she is reading is the best seller by Stieg Larrson, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

If you want a glimpse of Florida's new First Lady read Lindley's report here.

An interesting question of freedom

A young man from Venezuela approached Crowley Political Report last week with a penetrating question.

He was among a couple of dozen students at Lynn Univeristy who spent an hour listening to a talk about politics and the media. It was an international group with kids from Italy, Antigua, Dominican Republic and other countries.

After the class, a number of the foreign students gathered around to ask more questions. The quiet young man from Venezuela posed his question this way:

"In my country, Venezuela, if you oppose Hugo Chavez he will shut down the newspaper or the television station. He does not allow opposition."

The young man shook his head clearly unhappy with how the leader of his country treats his opponents.

But then he asked this: "you can say anything you want here but don't you think it sometimes goes to0 far?"

Of course, the easy answer is that Americans would rather have their often angry discourse than have none at all.

And you could sense that this young man wouldn't mind importing our First Amendment to Venezeula.

But, after watching Americans up close, the young man wondered if there was not some middle ground.

Perhaps debate without acrimony.

It was a sobering conversation.

What impression are we leaving young people - both here and around the world - when they witness our often angry political debate?

And what are the consequences of what we are teaching them?

Inflaming the masses, deleting comments, and responsibility

Crowley Political Report editor Brian E. Crowley was interviewed about social media and its impact on political discourse.

Below is the print web story as well as the broadcast story. 



By Mollie Reynolds, WPTV NewsChannel 5

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - For good or for bad, anybody and everybody with internet access has a venue to express his or her opinions.

"Everybody's online. Everybody has their own sliver of audience and things spread rapidly," said Brian Crowley of Crowley Political Report.

On his blog, Crowley reports on Florida politics as well as national politics. Although he gives people a platform to speak their mind, he knows that he has a responsibility. "Our policy is that if comments are over the top or too strong we don't allow them, we delete them."

Continue reading "Inflaming the masses, deleting comments, and responsibility" »

Rick Scott, the velvet rope and my guy

Presshed Good lord, there is going to be a lot of strain between the Tallahassee press corps and the newly minted administration of Gov. Rick Scott.

Blame it on the velvet rope.

The fine folks of the media arrived last Friday for Rick Scott's first press conference as governor and were startled to see a velvet rope.

Brian Burgess, the communications director for Scott, informed the press corps that that the time-honored scrum of reporters surrounding the governor for a few final questions at the end of a press conference would be no more.

The kids must stay in their seats until Gov. Scott leaves the room. And there will be no crossing of the velvet rope.

Continue reading "Rick Scott, the velvet rope and my guy" »

Who in the world is Rick Scott?

RickScott This morning Crowley Political Report was asked this basic question during a television interview - who in the world is Rick Scott?

It wasn't phrased quite that way but it was the essence of the question - the same question that comes up in one form or another in every discussion about Florida's 45th governor.

And that remains a problem for Scott.

Being a CEO is one thing. Being governor is something else entirely.  Scott no doubt understands that intellectually but understanding it on gut level is something else.

Continue reading "Who in the world is Rick Scott?" »

Gov. Rick Scott's new ideas

There surely was a shudder going through Tallahassee government offices today when Gov. Rick Scott said during his inaugural speech that "we'll get rid of every agency" before quickly correcting himself with the word "program" that doesn't work.

Scott laughed at his error saying "that will be in every paper."

And it will.

But Scott should not have considered his slip of the tongue a gaffe. Under his philosophy of governing - if it doesn't work fix it or toss it - dysfunctional agencies should be repaired or closed.

Many of Scott's ideas are not new.  Rarely does a governor really have a new idea. Frankly, most know so little about Florida history that they simply think they are having a new idea.

The question, however, is not whether the ideas are new or old. Afterall, the Florida legislature passed a teacher performance/merit pay bill in 1947.

The real question is whether a governor can really make important, lasting changes that improve the lives of Floridians,

Unfortunately, the answer all too often is no. Many of a governor's successes are undone shortly after he leaves office - and sometimes while he is still in office.

Enjoy the festivities - the building of a Scott's legacy begins tomorrow.

Rick Scott and inaugural intrigue

Askew kirk 

Today Rick Scott will be sworn in as Florida's 45th governor but the real fun is watching eveyone gathered on the stage.

Crowley Political Report found this photo of the 1971 inauguration of teetotaler Democrat Reubin Askew in top hat on the right. Standing next to him is flamboyant Republican Claude Kirk who had just lost his reelection bid to Askew.

A look back at news reports at the time make it clear that Askew and Kirk did not like each other much.  They were very different men. One can only imagine what each was thinking when this picture was taken.

As you watch the men and women gathered at Scott's inauguration you might wonder what Scott thinks of the career politicians on stage with him.

And what will be going through Gov. Charlie Crist's mind as he sees what could have been a second term going to someone else.

Continue reading "Rick Scott and inaugural intrigue" »

Vice President Rick Scott

Rscott079 On Tuesday, Rick Scott becomes Florida's 45th governor.  Could he be the nation's 48th vice president?

Okay, maybe two weeks in Washington D. C., is muddling Crowley Political Report, but consider this - if you are Florida's governor, someone is thinking you might be a dandy vice-president.

It happens every four years. Sometimes, Jeb Bush comes to mind, there are folks who think you ought to be president. But Florida governors (and U.S. Senators) usually are only in the running for the number two slot.

The first Republican governor who dreamed of being vice-president was Claude Kirk. Richard Nixon had other ideas.  Al Gore considered U.S. Sen. Bob Graham and picked Joe Liberman instead.

The 2012 election offers a feast of potentional Republican presidential candidates. And the next two years will be boom years for GOP operatives.

Continue reading "Vice President Rick Scott" »