Waiting anxiously (snicker) for a new ‘Flori-duh’ lieutenant governor

For a guy who has built his entire political purpose around “jobs,” this is one job he can’t seem to fill. And who can blame him? The position is largely ceremonial, having only one constitutionally delegated power — to succeed the governor in the event of his death, resignation or incapacitation.

Any politician with the slightest yearning for a political future would take a pass if offered the opportunity to serve as lieutenant governor. In modern times, the lieutenant governor from Florida has never gone on to higher elective office.

By Chris Ingram

The Tampa Tribune, January 14, 2014

The best-kept secret in Tallahassee that is of zero consequence to Florida is who will Gov. Rick Scott select to be his lieutenant governor (and when will he do it).

For a guy who has built his entire political purpose around “jobs,” this is one job he can’t seem to fill. And who can blame him? The position is largely ceremonial, having only one constitutionally delegated power — to succeed the governor in the event of his death, resignation or incapacitation.

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Photo: Governor Rick Scott.

Any politician with the slightest yearning for a political future would take a pass if offered the opportunity to serve as lieutenant governor. In modern times, the lieutenant governor from Florida has never gone on to higher elective office.

This doesn’t keep Tallahassee insiders and political pundits from debating over which demographic group (women, blacks, Hispanics) Scott needs the most help with in his re-election campaign — and speculating whom he will pick to fill the biggest electoral demographic void. This is complete bunk, of course, because with the exception of the newly-minted lieutenant governor’s immediate family, pretty much no one is going to vote for Scott just because his lieutenant governor is black, or female or Hispanic.

Even though Continue reading “Waiting anxiously (snicker) for a new ‘Flori-duh’ lieutenant governor”

Scott narrows field for lieutenant governor to two

The largely symbolic position carries no constitutional or statutory authority other than as the person who is next-in-line of succession in the event of the governor’s death, resignation or incapacitation. The position comes with an annual salary of $125,000, a small staff, and an office and travel budget of approximately $500,000. The desire to attend lots of funerals of second-tier elected officials and other so-so VIPs, as well as putting on a happy face at Lincoln Day Dinners and various other events as the governor’s surrogate are job requirements.

By Chris Ingram

Sources close to Governor Rick Scott tell me that Scott has narrowed the field of potential appointees to fill the lieutenant governor position to just two people: Hillsborough County Commissioner/former state representative Sandra Murman and Miami-Dade property appraiser/former state representative Carlos Lopez-Cantera.

The position has been vacant for ten months following the resignation of former LG Jennifer Carol. Carol resigned after being questioned by law enforcement about her role in an illegal gambling operation. Carol has not been charged with any crime and later said she was “forced” to resign. 

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Lopez-Cantera
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Murman

 

The largely symbolic position carries no constitutional or statutory authority other than as the person who is next-in-line of succession in the event of the governor’s death, resignation or incapacitation. The position comes with an annual salary of $125,000, a small staff, and an office and travel budget of approximately $500,000. The desire to attend lots of funerals of second-tier elected officials and other so-so VIPs, as well as putting on a happy face at Lincoln Day Dinners and various other events as the governor’s surrogate are job requirements.

The post is largely viewed as a political “dead end” as no modern lieutenant governor from Florida has ever gone on to further elective office. 

Commissioner Murman told me this morning that she, Continue reading “Scott narrows field for lieutenant governor to two”

Hillsborough schools getting it right by changing with the times

While the district is frequently in the news for what goes wrong at its schools, the district deserves kudos for its efforts to prepare our students for the global economy — particularly as it relates to new technology.

Students in 27 of the county’s 44 high schools are now offered the opportunity to earn certificates. Those certificates show a student’s proficiency in programs such as Photoshop or Excel. Certificates are offered for Adobe, Apple, Autodesk, Microsoft, Quickbooks and the COMPTIA A+ products. Last year 3,040 information technology-related industry certifications were awarded to Hillsborough students.

By Chris Ingram

Hillsborough County residents pay more in taxes to fund the county’s school system, which has a budget of $2.8 billion, than they do to run every other department or agency in the county combined.

The Hillsborough school system is the largest employer in the county, with more than 25,000 employees, of which nearly 16,000 are teachers. The system is the third largest in Florida and the ninth largest in the country with over 202,000 students (for comparison, the city of Tampa has about 350,000 residents).

Of those students, nearly 60 percent are eligible for free and reduced lunches. At last count, there were 168 languages spoken by students attending the county’s schools, which has a graduation rate of 82 percent.

The challenges of the Hillsborough school district are immense. The number of students, and the diversity of the population, adds to the enormity of those challenges.

While the district is frequently in the news for what goes wrong at its schools, the district deserves Continue reading “Hillsborough schools getting it right by changing with the times”

A Christmas wish list

I only want a handful of things for Christmas, and fortunately for my loved ones, they didn’t have to fight people at the mall at 4 a.m. on Black Friday to get me what I want. Because nothing I want is sold in stores.

This year’s list includes Charlie Crist!

Photo: Charlie Crist
Photo: Charlie Crist

 

By Chris Ingram

With Thanksgiving past us, it’s time to start thinking about Christmas.

I only want a handful of things for Christmas, and fortunately for my loved ones, they didn’t have to fight people at the mall at 4 a.m. on Black Friday to get me what I want. Because nothing I want is sold in stores.

Here’s my hodge-podge list of what I want for Christmas.

Fix our roads. I would ask for less traffic on our area roads, but that isn’t going to happen. So instead, I am asking for a few things related to traffic that we can all do to make our roads safer and less congested.

First, I wish that everyone who feels the need to instantly respond to Tweets, texts, emails, and Facebook postings on their mobile device while driving, would put the darned things down and just drive before they rear-end someone and make some trial lawyer rich.

Second, I’m asking that people who feel the need to Continue reading “A Christmas wish list”

Schorsch, Crist and the Tampa Bay Times

As part of Smith’s posting, he included a list of all of the “insiders” who participated in the poll – who may participate by invitation only – from Smith. On the list this week were the usual assortment of regulars, but one name on the list struck me as odd and inappropriate for being a participant. That name: Charlie Crist.

By Chris Ingram

The Tampa Bay Times seems to be in a funk. Of late, the newspaper has shown poor judgment and a lack of journalistic standards. On two recent occasions the paper has shown why readers may be abandoning it – it lacks credibility. Meanwhile, cross-bay rival the Tampa Tribune’s (which I contribute a column to, but am not employed by) circulation numbers have increased – one of just two Florida dailies to post increased circulation  numbers last year.

In addition to perpetually having a thing for publishing exhaustingly long, one-sided, front-page stories about the Church of Scientology, the paper is starting to show low standards of journalism and good judgment. Unfortunately for readers, they may not even recognize it.

Here are two examples:

Proving the Times‘ bias against Rick Scott

On Friday, the Times’ online “Buzz” section posted a story by the paper’s political editor, Adam Smith about how Florida “political insiders” view a variety of state and local political matters. The insiders survey is something Smith does on occasion, and which I have regularly participated in. Friday’s “Buzz” post was about what insiders think about the governor’s race and likely match-up between Governor Rick Scott, and former Governor Charlie Crist (among other subjects). No harm there, but the devil is in the details. 

As part of Smith’s posting, he includes a list of all of the “insiders” who participated in the poll (participants must be invited to do so by Smith). On the list this week were the usual assortment of regulars, but one name on the list struck me as odd and inappropriate for being a participant. That name: Charlie Crist.

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Caption: The Tampa Bay Times certainly loves Charlie.

Yes, the Tampa Bay Times conducted a survey about Florida politics and included one of the candidates being surveyed about for his opinion about his own race! That’s like asking the CEO of McDonalds, “Who makes the best hamburger?” What do you think he is going to say?

To make matters worse, when I inquired with Smith about Continue reading “Schorsch, Crist and the Tampa Bay Times”

Beetle Bailey, er, Charlie Crist, starts his march to the sea

At his announcement in St. Petersburg on Monday, Crist took a page out of Chapter One of the Democratic Party’s campaign manual. The chapter is titled, “Class warfare works!” Crist followed it just as his campaign advisers no doubt told him to, by taking swipes at Gov. Rick Scott for being wealthy — as though coming from lower middle-class and humble means (as Scott did), should be considered a negative. Only someone born to privilege (as Charlie Crist was), who has never built a business, and never personally created a single job, or met a payroll, would think making something of yourself on your own abilities and fulfilling the American dream is something to be ashamed of.

By Chris Ingram

The Tampa Tribune, November 6, 2013

If Charlie Crist was a comic book character, he would be Beetle Bailey.

Beetle Bailey is known for being loose, lackadaisical and utterly likable. He also is something of a knucklehead, more interested in pursuing a good time than achieving anything of merit.

Like Beetle Bailey, Crist is extremely personable and is a master campaigner who knows how to make people feel good. They both also share a longing for fun and a free-spirited nature — which is great when you’re a comic character who is a hapless private in the Army. Not so great when you’re expected to lead the nation’s fourth-largest state.

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Outside of being likable, Crist has little else to offer. He is an empty suit and a political opportunist who does not have convictions. As someone who lacks significant accomplishment in life outside of politics, Crist is the poster-child of a career politician who is a member of the political class. His 2010 U.S. Senate campaign opponent, Marco Rubio, is also a member of this group. These political ladder-climbers lack the real-world skills, life experiences and business practices to effectively lead our country. For the best and most well-known member of this group, look no further than Barack Obama.

All three of them have been given Continue reading “Beetle Bailey, er, Charlie Crist, starts his march to the sea”

Crist to run for governor. Or perhaps not…

It was also disclosed yesterday by the Tampa Bay Times that Crist stooge Peter Schorsch has filed for a permit to have a rally in a St. Petersburg park on November 4th. Schorsch’s wife is also a close Crist confidant. Schorsch has denied the permit is connected to Crist, but Schorsch is a proven liar who has a lengthy criminal record and is not someone whose word about politics is to be taken seriously. That Crist appears to continue to associate himself with the likes of people like Schorsch suggests Chuckles hasn’t learned from past associations with criminals including Jim Greer and Scott Rothstein.

Ever the chameleon, Crist could be changing colors again

By Chris Ingram

Now that former Rep. Bill Young has been interred, expect a flurry of political jockeying to replace him.  Young’s son, brother, and wife, former Mayor Rick Baker, Clearwater Mayor George Cretekos, and former County Commissioner Neil Brickfield are among Republicans who have been mentioned as possible candidates to succeed him. Former CFO and gubernatorial candidate Alex Sink is the leading Democrat mentioned. She is joined by talk of county commissioner and former state Senator Charlie Justice, and state Representative Janet Long as potential candidates, among others (Justice said on Friday he would not run).

Lost in most of the chatter is attorney Jessica Ehrlich, who was the 2012 Democratic nominee and has continued to campaign for the job even before Young’s retirement announcement and subsequent death.

Yet despite posting the strongest challenge to Young in twenty years, she hasn’t won any bonus points with establishment Democrats who care more about winning than rewarding Ehrlich for not just being a political opportunist.  

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Caption: That’s one box of Fruit Loops you might want to take a pass on. (Drawing by Jake Fuller)

Who the candidates will be, and when the election will be held remains unclear. Florida law is vague about the date of a special election to replace a member of the House of Representatives. Unlike replacing a member of the U.S. Senate, vacancies in the House of Representatives cannot be appointed. So there will be an election, we just don’t know when the governor will set it.   

While the rest of the political intelligentsia chatter about a Baker versus Sink race, or all the “what ifs?” concerning Young’s various family members, one person not so frequently mentioned whom I think may very well run, is former Governor Charlie “Too Tan” Crist. Sound crazy? Perhaps, but in politics, anything is possible.

When he’s not pitching his skills as a trial lawyer to take your slip and fall accident or parking lot fender-bender case to court, Crist is said to be forming a campaign team for another run for governor. I haven’t ever bought the notion that Crist would run for governor again — and have speculated it’s been an act all along that he would, in order for Crist to maintain a high profile and build up his fundraising base so he can run against Bill Young.  That’s what I expected to happen. Now that young has died, Crist can run in a much easier open seat and land himself a job as Congressman for the next twenty years if he wants it.

Yesterday he unveiled an odd campaign website that looked like a typical candidate’s website, but it was missing two things. Those two things were: Continue reading “Crist to run for governor. Or perhaps not…”