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Steve Bahmer: Nursing home care in Florida has come a long way in the last 30 years

Steve Bahmer

Since the early 1980s, when the state Agency for Health Care Administration conducted its last major overhaul of the Medicaid payment system for nursing homes, the quality of care in Florida nursing homes has vastly improved.

Although there are still exceptions, Florida is no longer home to the flood of nursing home horror stories that Sunshine State residents heard so frequently, and from so many homes, in the early ‘80s.

Improved regulatory oversight at AHCA and a payment system that rewarded nursing homes for providing high-quality care, among other factors, combined to slowly move Florida into the top tier of states in terms of nursing home quality.

In 2014, the organization Families for Better Care gave Florida nursing homes an ‘A’ grade, one of only 10 states to receive that grade, and it rated Florida fifth overall in the country in terms of care quality. In its 2015 rankings of the nation’s best nursing homes, US News & World Report listed Florida behind only California and Ohio for the number of 5-Star nursing homes in the state.

This may all be about to change.

Earlier this month, AHCA submitted a plan to the Governor and the Legislature for a new approach to nursing home Medicaid payments. The plan was intended to establish an equitable payment system that includes incentives for high-quality care, that simplifies the payment process, and that ultimately controls costs and makes legislators’ budgeting for Medicaid spending on nursing homes more predictable.

What the plan will actually do is penalize the nursing homes that for the last three decades have invested in delivering the highest quality of care possible, while rewarding homes that have remained at the bottom of the quality barrel.

Under AHCA’s proposal, 143 nursing homes that are rated as 4 or 5-star homes would lose significant funding. Meanwhile, 86 nursing homes that received a 1 or 2-star rating would receive additional funding. In fact, a single nursing home chain would reap $16.5 million of that unearned windfall.

Clearly, this is neither equitable nor fair. Moreover, the proposal does nothing to control Medicaid spending on long-term care, or even to make budgeting meaningfully more predictable. The Legislature decides when to fund a rate increase for nursing homes, something it has not done since 2011, and the current payment system includes caps and limits on payments.

Quality care costs money, and those costs are largely driven by staffing levels – the number of nurses and nursing assistants who are available at any given time to care for a frail senior in a nursing home. The best way to ensure that nursing home residents receive quick, consistent, quality care is to ensure a sufficient number of skilled, caring, long-tenured staff to provide that care.

Under the AHCA proposal, however, nursing homes with the highest staffing levels would lose funding, while those with the lowest staffing would gain dollars.

Nursing home care is not improved, or even sustained, by stripping funding from those that have invested in delivering high quality and shifting it to those that, for whatever reason, have not chosen to make that investment. Despite claims in earlier news reports, the plan does not require that the low performers spend any of their new money on care, nor is there any mechanism in the plan to ensure that quality improves.

AHCA’s proposal is not likely to achieve any of the agency’s stated goals.

It is likely, however, to reverse 30 years of progress in improving quality in the homes that care for Florida’s most vulnerable seniors, and the Legislature simply must reject it.

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Steve Bahmer is president and CEO of LeadingAge Florida, a nonprofit organization that advocates for quality senior care and services.

Stephen Bittel for Florida Democrats, what do you have to lose?

Over the weekend, Florida Democrats elected Miami rich guy Stephen Bittel to lead their party. The choice was controversial and left many members screaming that Bittel is the wrong man at the wrong time.

They have their reasons, I guess.

But, let me ask a simple question:  Whom would be the right person?

The political cosmos has been trying to send a message for years to Florida Democrats. They haven’t been listening.

They have lost five consecutive races for governor (or, put another way, they haven’t been in control of the governor’s mansion in this century). Republicans also control both chambers of the Legislature. Republicans pass whatever laws they want, many of which trample on Democratic ideals. All the Dems have been able to say is, “May I have another?”

This has happened despite the fact Democrats have long held the lead in the number of registered voters in Florida (that number, by the way, is shrinking).

It takes a special something to have turned such an advantage into what is essentially political irrelevance in Tallahassee. Democrats used to console themselves because they delivered the state’s electoral votes to Barack Obama during his presidential campaigns, but they couldn’t even keep that trend going last November against Donald Trump.

So, to borrow Trump’s own slogan and apply it to Bittel: What have you got to lose? At least the guy seems to have some energy a willingness to engage in the fight.

“Contentious elections are reflective that there are Democrats all over Florida that are passionate, committed to coming together, moving forward together to win elections. So contentious is good. It means you care,” Bittel said after beating four other candidates with more established track records.

He has a point there. Florida Democrats have “contentious” down to a science. What they haven’t shown is any evidence that they have a realistic game plan for returning some political balance to the state.

Bittel made his mark by donating and raising large amounts of money for Democratic candidates. While he told reporters Saturday at the Democratic gathering in Orlando that he is not a billionaire, as was reported, he obviously is a person of substantial wealth and energy.

Democrats? Listen up: You need energy. You need passion. You need a sense of purpose. And most of all you need to explain, in clear words, why you’re better for the state than Republicans.

Democrats deluded themselves into believing voters would never elect Rick Scott, but they didn’t understand the beautiful simplicity of his “Let’s Get To Work” message. They talked themselves again into believing that surely voters wouldn’t re-elect Scott.

Now, Scott likely is coming for Bill Nelson’s U.S. Senate seat in a couple of years, and in Adam Putnam Republicans appear to have a strong gubernatorial candidate ready to make his run. This kind of ballot box domination should send a message that doing things the same ol’ way is a losing strategy for Democrats.

So when Bittel talks about greatly expanding the staff at the state Democratic headquarters in Tallahassee and, as reported in FloridaPolitics.com, promising to “ …  grow this party to a size and strength that has never been seen before,” Democrats should be at least a little invigorated.

That is, assuming they still remember what that feels like.

We missed you, Sasha, but you were in the right place

Sasha Obama wasn’t in Chicago to see her dad’s farewell address, and the internet went crazy at the deprivation of its Right to Know how she reacted to the president’s touching tribute to his wife and children.

Turns out the 15-year-old Second Daughter was back in Washington, studying and getting a good night’s sleep ahead of an exam the next morning.

The tuition at Sasha’s school, Sidwell Friends, is $39K per child, per year. That includes a hot lunch and some actual rules. Among them: “Students must adhere to the published examination schedule; absence for travel is not an adequate reason to reschedule an examination.”

Sidwell is a pricy but refreshing throwback to a time when parents might take the kids out of school if Aunt Mabel died, but not if Aunt Mabel wanted to meet up at Disney.

In Florida, the average starting salary for teachers is $35K. That includes insufficient classroom supplies and all the hot guff they can eat from parents who are nowhere near as willing as Sidwell moms and dads to follow rules. The definition of “parental involvement” has expanded to confer upon parents the right to decide when Jack and Jill have something more important to do than show up for class, turn in their homework, or take a test.  Kids learn that teachers can be disrespected. Teachers learn that they might be happier in another line of work.

Rules have to be followed all the time, by everybody, or they aren’t rules.  That’s something all schoolchildren have the right to learn, even if their parents aren’t presidents.

Donald Trump, government is not a business. Reject Rex Tillerson.

If it is to be believed, as Donald Trump evidently does, that government is just another business, then Rex Tillerson is a plausible nominee for secretary of state. Hasn’t he been running one of the most powerful and profitable businesses in this corner of the universe?

But government is not a business.

The duty of a business is to produce profits for its owners. Period. How it’s done rarely matters so long as there are profits. Whether a business treats its customers and employees with consideration or stiffs them, as Trump so often did to his, is “right” or “wrong” only in the light of the profit margin or loss. A CEO who doesn’t put profits first won’t last, and he or she is most unlikely to find a soft landing on a business school faculty.

The competitive situation of a business requires keeping certain secrets from the public. In a proper democracy, however, there are no secrets to be kept from the public, other than those that directly implicate national security. The personal assets of a wealthy Cabinet nominee are no such exception. And certainly those of a president are not. We deserve to know, we need to know, what conflicts of interest may exist. Florida Governor Reubin Askew maintained that full financial disclosure was the only way to earn the trust of the people, and the voters agreed with him overwhelmingly.

A business can fail. It can declare bankruptcy, freeing its owners to foist off the losses on other people and start over, as Trump has done four times. A local government can do that too, but a national government, one with the power and the duty to maintain the economy, cannot do that without catastrophic consequences. It cannot even suggest renegotiating its debts, as Trump casually speculated during the campaign, without risking the collapse of its currency and runaway inflation.

The fundamental duties of a government are so obviously different that they shouldn’t need explanation, but there seem to be more than a few folks who don’t grasp them.

One of the differences is that a government’s stockholders and its customers are one and the same, and its duty to them is to protect and serve them as efficiently as possible. There is no place for profit in that equation. Pay-as-you-go projects, like toll roads and park fees, should take in only enough revenue for operation, maintenance and improvement.

I’m speaking of a democracy, of course. The other kind of government, the kind run by Vladimir Putin, gauges its success by the extent of its power over its own people and others. Its loyalty is to the tyrant, not the citizens.

And that inescapably calls into question the loyalty of multinational corporations, like Tillerson’s Exxon Mobil, which occasionally find it necessary to do business with such despots. When a man who would be our secretary of state can’t acknowledge the simple fact that Putin’s conduct in Syria is that of a war criminal, he is tacitly confessing the moral cost of doing business with Putin. Tillerson’s professional accommodation to the realpolitik of the international energy market is an inherent conflict of interest with the duty of a secretary of state to put our country first and always.

We have Senator Marco Rubio to thank for making that point in his deft interrogation of Tillerson at the Foreign Relations Committee hearing. As someone who hasn’t exactly been one of his fans, I have to say that would have been anyone’s finest hour. It certainly was Rubio’s.

That brings us to the second profound difference between a democratic government and a business. Most people expect their government to embody, represent, assert and advance their national character and ideals. We don’t really expect that of a business. This is why the British still support and revere their monarchy long after it was reduced to a splendid but powerless symbol. This is why until now, Americans have believed that character is what defines the suitability of a candidate for president. When we think of George Washington, what comes to mind? His towering reputation for patriotism and personal integrity.

We revere our country. We don’t revere corporations, not even the ones we work for. We don’t sing, “My company, ‘tis of thee.” We sing of purple mountain majesties, not towering smokestacks. We pledge our allegiance to our flag, not to the Chamber of Commerce.

Americans have been accused, sometimes fairly, of preaching too much to people elsewhere about the superiority of our form of government. Most of the time, though, we do it for the best of reasons: our belief that democracy is the only suitable environment for personal liberty and economic opportunity and a sincere wish to see others enjoy what we do. We are proud of what we have. It speaks well of us that we want to share it. Our hearts fill with pride and admiration for those who gave their lives for our country and for those who still risk theirs.

That does not mean trying to be the “world’s policeman” in places where our influence is unwanted or likely to be ineffective. It does mean taking care, in consort with allies, to keep our part of the world safe from a hostile power’s quest for unhealthy dominance in trade and military affairs. World War II was in large part a consequence of the self-centered isolationism that led to the Senate rejecting the League of Nations and to our indifference as tyrants rose “over there.”

We expect — reasonably so — that those we elect or who are appointed to serve us will embody the ideals that make us proud to be Americans. That’s what so confounding about Trump’s impending presidency. What’s done is done, but as it considers the qualifications of his Cabinet nominees, the Senate can still redeem our national character. Rejecting Tillerson’s nomination would be a good start.

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Martin Dyckman is a retired associate editor of the Tampa Bay Times. He lives in Asheville, North Carolina.

Palm Beach County veggie-pocalyse requires #FreshThinkingFromFlorida

In Palm Beach County, millions of pounds of vegetables are unpicked, plowed under, and rotting in the fields not far away from large populations of undernourished children.

The weather this growing season was everything it needed to be for a bountiful harvest Florida’s growers can be proud of. But the “agricultural economics” that forced growers to abandon their crops are an embarrassment to a state that claims to be creative and compassionate.

The Palm Beach Post’s Susan Salisbury explains: “Perfect weather has resulted in a bountiful crop that’s caused a glut on the market and low prices. Demand is down. Winter storms have kept people out of grocery stores and restaurants along the nation’s East Coast where much of Florida’s produce would normally be sold.

“Meanwhile, Mexico has become a year-round producer of cheap tomatoes and also experienced ideal growing conditions and huge crops as have Arizona and California. Florida’s agricultural industry is wondering why the much-touted buy-local movement isn’t helping more.”

You can’t blame growers for cutting their losses when the market tanks. They donate as much as they can to food banks, and heaven knows the food banks need all the donations they can get. The holiday season, with its surge of volunteers bearing hams and turkeys, comes to an end, while lines outside the food banks remain endless.

But it takes more than a thousand points of light to do the picking, washing, packing and driving to get healthy Florida produce into the stomachs of people who survive on heavily subsidized diets of sugar and grease. So, the growers give the crops they have lovingly tended a kill shot of herbicide and plow ’em under.

Food banks are hoping to expand their capacity to safely store produce and bring it directly to people who need it. But like growers, they have very little manpower and no margin for error.

A state that markets itself as America’s best place to do business needs an “agricultural economics” that provides a living to farmers and healthy meals to hungry children. This is an excellent opportunity for Florida’s Innovators, Job Creators, Entrepreneurs, and Leaders With a Sense of Statewide Community to do some meaningful marketing by putting their heads together and serving up a plate of Creativity Primavera.

Claudia Rodriguez: Motorola Solutions salutes Florida first responders

This week, Floridians are taking pause to recognize and thank the men and women who protect us as we celebrate First Responder Appreciation Week. First responders make countless sacrifices and put their lives on the line every day to keep our communities safe. Motorola Solutions Florida employees salute them for their endless support to those in need each day and during times of crisis.

At the same time, our hearts go out to the families and friends of Master Sgt. Debra Clayton of the Orlando Police Department, and Deputy First Class Norman Lewis of the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, who were killed in the line of duty this week.

Our thoughts and prayers are also with the families that were impacted by the shooting last week at Fort Lauderdale International Airport. Our hearts go out to the victims and their loved ones. We are thankful that through the cooperation of first responders across city, county and state agencies, many lives were protected during this time of tragedy and chaos.

Police officers, firefighters and emergency medical personnel have gone above and beyond not only to educate the public about safety risks but also to protect us from harm during several major emergencies over the past year, including Hurricane Hermine. We thank first responders for their actions during the state of emergency declared by Gov. Scott for this hurricane. With their hard work, lives were protected and communities were able to recover quickly.

Not a day goes by when we don’t hear about the bravery of one of Florida’s 125,000 first responders across the Sunshine State. There are not enough thanks we can give our men and women who risk their lives on a daily basis to keep us safe.

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Claudia Rodriguez is a corporate vice president of Motorola Solutions in Plantation.

Hillsborough Hispanic Dem Caucus backs Alan Clendenin for FDP chair — taking a shot at its Steering Committee

The Hillsborough County Democratic Hispanic Caucus is endorsing Alan Clendenin in the race for Florida Democratic Party chair.

“The Hispanic population has grown exponentially to become the largest minority in Hillsborough County and the State. Hispanics now account in Hillsborough alone for over twenty-five percent of the population or one in every four persons. Alan understands our issues and has always stood by us whenever we needed help.” according to Hispanic Caucus President, William “Bill” Guerra.

It was a rare show of support for Clendenin in his home county, as the statewide election among Democrats for party chair takes place Saturday in Orlando.

Clendenin was compelled to move to Bradford County in North Florida after losing his bid for state committeeman in Hillsborough County last month to Russ Patterson.

Adding insult to injury, the Hillsborough County Democratic Executive Committee’s Steering Committee announced earlier this week they were supporting Stephen Bittel in the race for FDP chair, a vote angering some members of the party.

That vote was referred to in the news release issued out by the Hillsborough County Democratic Hispanic Caucus.

As voting members of the Hillsborough County Democratic Executive Committee (HCDEC) Steering Committee who attended last Monday night’s Steering Committee meeting, we are disappointed in the news media statements that have appeared yesterday and today of our HCDEC Chair implying that the Hillsborough County Democratic Executive Committee Steering Committee supports a certain candidate for State Party Chair when no official motion was ever offered to support any candidate at the Monday night meeting nor was any vote taken by the Hillsborough County Steering Committee membership on Monday night that includes our vote as the Hillsborough County Democratic Hispanic Caucus of Florida.

Victor DiMaio with the Hillsborough County Democratic Hispanic Caucus says their membership consists of approximately 20 people.

American Moor is a revelation, one you can see this week in Tallahassee

Theater is like life, actor and playwright Keith Hamilton Cobb told a crowd of 650 last night at The Moon. “There’s no Take 2. That keeps it honest and authentic, which we should all be.”

We should, but we’re not, so Liz Joyner, one of Florida’s few remaining honest and authentic civility activists, invited the whole town over for pizza and a sneak preview of Cobb’s one man tour de force, American Moor. He wrote and will perform the entire show tonight and tomorrow as part of the Southern Shakespeare Festival. See it at your own risk of rethinking everything you think you know.

Cobb’s play, Cobb’s character in the play, and Cobb’s real life begin in those moments in childhood when he stumbled over Shakespeare and recognized how many of The Bard’s characters were saying “some s%$! like” he wanted to say to some idiot he had to pretend to respect.

Cobb wanted to play all the leads in Shakespeare, and he has the Benedict Cumberbatch kind of chops to do it. But as a black actor in a world where most directors are white, and trained in Ivy League drama schools followed by an immersion in The Method, you’re pretty much stuck auditioning for Othello and playing him as instructed by a kid half your age with limited experience in life and no experience being a target of bigotry, jealousy and people too blind to see.

There will be time later to heap well-earned praise upon Joyner’s Village Square, and its co-sponsors in “Created Equal,” a series of community conversations about race and the many other things that divide us. Right now, those in driving distance of FAMU’s Lee Hall should be lining up babysitters and buying tickets to see American Moor.

Marco Rubio quickly keeps promise to stand up to Donald Trump in Senate

Marco Rubio promised during his campaign for re-election to the U.S. Senate that he would stand up to Donald Trump when necessary.

“Necessary” didn’t take long to arrive.

It came Wednesday during a confirmation hearing for Rex Tillerson, Trump’s choice for Secretary of State.

Rubio responded with what I thought was his finest hour as the junior senator from Florida. He showed plenty of backbone, conviction and passion in relentlessly hammering Tillerson about his stance (or non-stance) on Russia’s appalling human rights record.

It was a bold gambit, but it’s one I believe Rubio made on principle. In so doing he risks the wrath of the incoming president, not to mention his own Republican Party.

That showed a truckload of gumption.

Now, I may have to amend the previous sentence if after all that Rubio toes the GOP line and votes to confirm Tillerson. I can’t imagine that happening now, though, and as it stands now, Rubio could be the swing vote that would lead the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee to turn thumbs-down on Tillerson.

That wouldn’t necessarily doom his appointment, as the full Senate could confirm him with a simple majority vote. Republicans hold a 52-46 edge there (with two independents, who caucus with Democrats).

Taking the political intrigue out of it for a second, though, Rubio’s action during Wednesday’s hearing backed up his full-throated condemnation of nations like Russia and Cuba who rule with torture, murder and a disregard for human life.

I haven’t agreed with Rubio’s persistent hard-line stance on Cuba, mostly because I believe the U.S. policy of sanctions has succeeded only in bringing misery to the Cuban people. But there is no such ambiguity with what’s happening with Russian President Vladimir Putin, and Rubio placed himself squarely on the front line in the battle to oppose him.

When Tillerson said “I would not reach that conclusion” after Rubio asked if the nominee considers Putin a war criminal, what followed was a statement of fact that was a stinging indictment of what appears to be president-elect Trump’s position.

“Let me describe the situation in Aleppo, and perhaps it will help you reach that conclusion,” Rubio said. “In Aleppo, Mr. Putin has directed his military to conduct a devastating campaign (assisting the Syrians). He has targeted schools, markets, and other civilian infrastructure that has resulted in the deaths of thousands of civilians.

“This is not the first time Mr. Putin has been involved in campaigns of this kind. Based on all that, and what’s publicly in the record about what has happened in Aleppo … you are still not prepared to say Vladimir Putin and his military have violated the rules of war and conducted war crimes in Aleppo?”

Tillerson said those were “serious charges” and he needed more information.

Rubio shot back, “It should not be hard to say that Vladimir Putin and his military have conducted war crimes in Aleppo. It is never acceptable, you would agree, for a military to specifically target civilians, which is what’s happening there. … I find it “discouraging” your inability to cite that…”

But he wasn’t done, following up with, “Do you believe Vladimir Putin and his cronies are responsible for the murder of countless dissidents, journalists and political opponents?”

Tillerson said didn’t have enough information, so Rubio gave him some.

“Are you aware that people who oppose Vladimir Putin wind up dead all over the world – poisoned, shot in the back of the head? Do you think that is coincidental, or do you that it is possible – or likely, as I believe – that it was part of an effort to murder his political opponents?”

Tillerson said he needed more information.

“None of this is classified, Mr. Tillerson. These people are dead,” Rubio said.

It was a promise kept by Rubio. In Washington, that is especially unexpected and refreshing.

Ben Pollara: Stephen Bittel only choice to lead Florida Dems out of desolation, irrelevancy

I won’t be in Orlando this weekend to vote for the next chair of the Florida Democratic Party. I’m not a state committeeman, so I don’t even have a vote.

But I certainly have an opinion on who should lead the political party that I’ve been a member of, and heavily involved with, since I first registered to vote at 18.

Stephen Bittel is unequivocally the best candidate for the job and the only candidate capable of effecting the sort of change in the FDP that is so desperately needed.

Except for Leah Carius, I’ve known all the candidates for chair for some time. I’ve known Alan Clendenin for nearly two decades, having grown up in Tampa, and being friends with his two kids since high school.

I got to know Lisa King almost a decade ago when I worked for Hillary‘s first presidential campaign, and Lisa was part of a small group of committed supporters in a city whose Democratic power structure was mostly backing then-Senator Barack Obama.

And I have gotten to know Dwight Bullard over the years, as a champion for progressive values representing Miami, where I live, and as the chair of our local DEC. Finally, Stephen Bittel is my landlord, renting office space in his “Fortress of Democracy” to United for Care, and to the consulting firm that I helped found, LSN Partners.

I don’t have a negative thing to say about any of the candidates. These people are my friends, and they are good people. (I’m sure the same can be said of Ms. Carius, I just don’t know her.)

But being a good person, and a good Democrat, with good intentions and good plans, simply isn’t enough to make someone the right person for this job.

We capital “D” Democrats need to take a hard look in the mirror. We are borderline irrelevant in Tallahassee. The big, important fights in our state Capitol aren’t even partisan because we’re so firmly in the minority. The food fights over the direction of our government occur between House and Senate, legislative and executive branches, Conservatives and Libertarians.

We’re not even in the scrum.

Redistricting has brought some new Democratic members of Congress to the delegation, but its balance is nonetheless titled lopsidedly toward Republicans. Bill Nelson is all we’ve got to look toward as a true leader of the party and as proof that, YES!, we can actually win races statewide.

So, my fellow Democrats, look hard into the mirror. It’s ugly, Dorian Gray-type stuff. The decadence and decay of a once great political party should be nakedly obvious with even a passing glance.

Don’t look away. Don’t deny our entrenchment as a marginalized political force.

This is who and where we are as a party, unless we act to change our fate.

In the dogma of addiction and recovery, the most basic article of faith is that the journey to rehabilitation must begin with an acceptance that you have a problem.

Ladies and gentlemen of the Florida Democratic Party: We. Have. A. Problem.

Just as denying that essential truth is willfully ignorant, so too is believing that one man or woman can single-handedly solve the endemic issues plaguing the FDP as an organization and a party.

The road to recovery is long. The path itself isn’t yet clear. Further setbacks lay ahead.

But the road map to reinvention and reinvigoration begins with Stephen Bittel. We deny it (and him) at our own existential peril.

Stephen brings two qualities to the job that no FDP chair in my political lifetime has possessed to any substantial degree: executive, managerial expertise and nationwide fundraising prowess.

Bittel alone has the ability to make the sort of hard choices, to recruit the kind of experienced operatives, and to raise the money we need to reinvent the party organizationally, from the ground up.

His stated goals should be sweet music to the ears of any Florida Democrat: staff the party with the most talented people to be found; support the grassroots by funding local DECs; recruit candidates for office starting at dogcatcher and moving upward; and beat the bushes and twist arms to actually fund these grand plans.

I know Democrats want all these things because each of the candidates for chair has a pretty similar platform. But Bittel talks about his plans the most because, I believe, he doesn’t just have a plan, but a proven ability to put that plan into action; and because the other candidates have frankly spent more time trying to poison the grassroots against Bittel, rather than talk about what they would do, and how they’d do it.

Bittel is many things. He’s a rich guy, to be sure. He’s part of the “elite,” chattering class, political establishment. He’s got strong opinions, and he’s got an ego befitting the status he’s earned in business and in life.

Bittel is also a committed, lifelong Democrat. He’s a man of extraordinary compassion, who cares deeply about what is just and right. He’s hugely generous to the people, candidates, causes and charities that he believes in. He’s someone who knows how to hire and manage smart people, and how to run a large organization.

Stephen Bittel is not the best choice to lead the Florida Democratic Party out of the desolation and marginalization that plagues us. Stephen Bittel is the only choice.

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