Welcome to "The Dean's List" -- first in a weekly look, Ed Dean-style, at who Florida's political achievers were (and weren't) in the last seven days. What you see here is strictly my opinion, not necessarily the editor's or the rest of the staff at Sunshine State News.
THOSE WHO MADE THE DEANS LIST
Florida House Speaker Steve Crisafulli, R-Merritt Island. The House speaker told reporters he is against the land purchase that would allow the South Florida Water Management District to buy 46,800 acres south of Lake Okeechobee for Everglades restoration."I dont think the state needs to own more land, Crisafulli said this week."I do not support spending limited state resources to purchase more land. My priority is to utilize and care for the land we own now.
Florida Sen. Maria Sachs, D-Delray Beach. Sachs said this week she would support Gov. Rick Scott's proposed tax cuts on cellphones and college textbooks. The savings that were going to pass on to the students and to the families of the students here in south Palm Beach County are going to be tremendous, Sachs said. Here's a Democrat who gets it.
Florida Rep. Blaise Ingoglia, R-Spring Hill, chairman of the Republican Party of Florida (RPOF). Ingoglia appeared to hit a rough spot with some resignations and the Senate leadership taking its money out of RPOF. There were reports that Scott wasnt going to do any more fundraising for the state party. But things might be looking up for the new chairman. A fundraising invitation went out for an RPOF event in Tallahassee featuring Scott, former Gov. Jeb Bush, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., the entire state Cabinet and the leaders of the Legislature. It seems that everybody is getting along -- but this is only an invitation. Now let's see who will show up.
Florida Education Commissioner Pam Stewart. Stewart says she wants to crack down on testing in Floridas schools. She says Florida education is saturated in tests and shes right on the money. How did the commissioner come to this conclusion? She said when traveling throughout the state, she heard the concern from parents and teachers -- "too many tests!" Stewart certainly has critics who think she isnt moving fast enough on education reform. But if theres an issue that gets the conversation going in the right direction, its testing. Its the right call by Stewart.
DEANS LIST MISSES
The Florida Democratic Party. Allison Tant and the Florida Democrats missed the list twice this week. Just coming off of a horrible election year in Florida, the Florida Dems are still gasping for air. For starters, the FDP has hired Phillip Thompson to be the new deputy executive director. Thompsons claim to fame? He served as deputy campaign manager for Alison Lundergan Grimes, the Democrat who was defeated last year by double digits in her race against U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. Before that, Thompson worked as a research director for John Gregg, who lost to Mike Pence in Indiana back in 2012. If the Florida Democratic Party wants to get back on track, they need to hire someone who knows how to win. The Florida Democrats also bungled their response to Scotts $673 million tax cut proposal, the bulk of which -- $470 million -- goes back to families with cellphones and satellite services. Somehow the Florida Democratic Party called Scotts tax cut package a giveaway to special interests and demanded the growing budget surplus go to health care and education. Who are these special interests that the Democrats are talking about, getting tax breaks on their cellphone bill? Theyre called working families. Simply not a smart play from the blue camp.
Indian River County Commissioner Bob Solari and Martin County Commissioner John Haddox. These two commissioners are ready to lead taxpayer-funded lawsuits in the amount of $4.1 million against All Aboard Florida, the high-speed train that will travel from Miami to Orlando. That dollar amount could rise as the lawsuits continue. Both county commissioners say the All Aboard Florida trains will do harm to communities along the Treasure Coast which is driving the lawsuit. The problem comes from being too vague on what that harm would be, which will make the lawsuits more difficult to win. Haddox said his motion for funds for the lawsuit was intentionally broad. Intentionally broad? This sounds more like throwing darts at the dart board and hopefully hitting the bull's eye.
The Legislative Budget Commission. This panel of state lawmakers, made up from both the House and the Senate, decided this week to postpone a vote on approving $7 million for professional sports stadiums. The Senate side of the panel supports this giveaway but the House side opposes it. Some Republicans in support of this bill call it good for economic development, insisting this is an incentive for companies to create jobs. But this proposal isnt a tax incentive. It actually directs taxpayer dollars to these stadiums. In the meantime, the issue rolls on and Americans for Prosperity and tea party groups across Florida are watching.
Ed Dean, a senior editor with SSN whose talk show can be heard on radio stations across Florida, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @eddeanradio.