Welcome to The Dean's List, an Ed Dean-style look 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 LIST
Former Gov. Jeb Bush. Up in New Hampshire, Bush said he supported an education bill that would prevent setting curriculum standards at the federal level. We dont need the federal government involved in this at all, Bush told the audience. Amen to that.
Florida House Speaker Steve Crisafulli, R-Merritt Island. Crisafullis op-ed in the Tampa Bay Times opposing Medicaid expansion was spot on. He points out the facts: 3.7 million Floridians are covered by Medicaid at a cost of $23.5 billion per year, which is around a third of Florida's budget. Thats not sustainable. The speaker was right to adourn the House and continue to reject Medicaid expansion.
Port St. Lucie City Council. Not able to make a bond payment and pay its bills, Vaccine & Gene Therapy Institute of Florida (VGTI), a biotech research center, is giving the city of Port St. Lucie an ultimatum: hand us $21 million in a bailout or were leaving. The Port St. Lucie City Council is firm, not caving in to VGTIs demands, which also include the city taking care of three years of mortgage payments plus additional operating money. The city has already gone above and beyond the call to help VGTI, borrowing $64 million as an incentive package to build and furnish VGTIs facility. The company is contracted to repay the money with interest over 30 years. But if theres a default, the taxpayers will be left with the bill. Good for the City Council for cutting VGTI off.
Broward County School Board. A Broward County judge sided with the Broward County School District and ruled teachers who did not have tenure by July 2014 must be paid based on annual evaluations. Needless to say, the Broward Teachers' Union opposed the ruling. But Broward County teachers will be paid based on performance instead of tenure. State law ensures highly effective teachers can earn greater increases though merit pay instead of through tenure. Best of all, students will be rewarded with high performing teachers in the classroom.
THOSE WHO DIDNT MAKE THE LIST
Hillsborough County Commissioner Ken Hagan. Because of term limits in the county charter, Republican Hagan will be termed out of office by 2018. But Hagan wants to exploit a loophole that would allow him to stay on the commission as late as 2024. The county charter states no commissioner who serves more than six years and two consecutive terms in one of the four defined districts can run for another term in any of those districts. So Hagan is thinking of leaving his current seat in midterm and running for an open seat next year. This would start a brand new term.The ultimate arbiter of term limits is the ballot box, Hagan insists. Does that count when voters support term limits at the ballot box?
'Community Planning' Consultants. The Tampa-based consulting firm Tindale Oliver advised Brevard County Schools to implement a countywide impact fee to raise funds. Theres even a recommendation that the impact fee on a single-family, detached home might be set at $10,193, more than double the current $4,445. Thats simply not acceptable and should be rejected, no questions asked.
Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer. The Orlando mayor wants money for a downtown soccer stadium. Now with lawmakers out of Tallahassee, Dyer is a little concerned because he wants state money for the project and Tallahassee might not come through. The $85 million project was originally explained as a locally funded project. Not anymore. The cost is now $115 million and Orlando is ready for a handout. "Were not ready to say goodbye yet to potential state funding," Dyer said. Well, Dyer should say goodbye to it and figure out what went wrong.
Florida Environmental Groups. Still fighting over what Amendment 1 actually meant and insisting Tallahassee is ignoring the voters, Eric Draper of the Florida Audubon Society began sending Gov. Rick Scott and state lawmakers bottles of polluted water to get their attention back to land purchases. Republican lawmakers say the constitutional wording allows the use of the funds for "environmental purposes" rather than specifically for Florida Forever and other programs. Environmentalists keep talking about buying land that could be used (future tense) to help clean up our waterways. But before Florida buys new lands, the money should be used to clean up the current holdings -- exactly what Scott and fiscally minded Floridians are thinking.
Ed Dean, a senior editor with SSN whose talk-show can be heard on radio stations across Florida, can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter: @eddeanradio.