Rick Scott Archives - Page 5 of 265 - Florida Politics

Rick Scott makes eight judicial, state board appointments

Gov. Rick Scott announced eight appointments and reappointments this week to a variety of Florida judicial, state boards, and commissions.

11th Judicial Circuit Court

Scott began by naming Judge Lourdes Simon to the 11th Judicial Circuit Court.

Simon, 49, of Miami, currently serves as county judge for Dade County. She previously served as an Assistant Public Defender for the Miami-Dade Public Defender’s Office.

Simon received her bachelor’s degree from Florida International University and a law degree from Nova Southeastern University School of Law. Simon fills the vacancy created by the elevation of Judge Robert Luck to the 3rd District Court of Appeal.

Florida Defense Support Task Force

Scott announced the appointment of state Rep. Holly Raschein to the Florida Defense Support Task Force, whose mission is to preserve, protect, and enhance Florida’s military missions and installations.

Raschein, 36, of Key Largo, currently represents House District 120, serves as the State Director for the National Foundation of Women Legislators. Her appointment fills a vacant seat for a term ending July 1, 2019.

Northwest Florida Water Management District

Scott next reappointed Jerry Pate and Ted Everett to the Governing Board of the Northwest Florida Water Management District, which covers the region between St. Marks River Basin in Jefferson County and the Perdido River in Escambia County.

Pate, 63, of Pensacola, is the owner and chief executive officer of Jerry Pate Turf & Irrigation, Inc.

Everett, 57, of Chipley, is the executive director of the Washington County Chamber of Commerce.

Both reappointments are subject to Florida Senate confirmation for a term ending March 1, 2021.

Eastern Florida State College District board of trustees

Scott reappointed Alan Landman to the District board of trustees of Eastern Florida State College.

Landman, 54, of Indialantic, is an attorney at Alan Landman, P.A. His reappointment is subject to Florida Senate approval for a term ending May 31, 2021.

Regulatory Council of Community Association Managers

Scott named Gary Pyott to the Regulatory Council of Community Association Managers, a part of the Department of Business and Professional Regulation that oversees the professional practice standards of the Community Association Manager profession.

Pyott, 58, of Aventura, is the president of Association 1st, LLC. He fills a vacant seat.

Pyott’s appointment is subject to Senate approval for a term ending Oct. 31, 2020.

Clay County Development Authority

Finally, Scott announced two reappointments to the Clay County Development Authority, set up by the Florida Legislature in 1957 to promote the sound economic development of Clay County.

Russell Buck, 56, of Middleburg, is the regional vice president of Vystar Credit Union.

Gregory Clary, 65, of Middleburg, is the president of Clary & Associates.

Both reappointments are for a term ending July 1, 2021.

David Silvers: State must rethink policy about minors, mental health

David Silvers

In September 2016, a 6-year-old child threw a temper tantrum at his elementary school in Jacksonville. Usually, the story would end with the child being sent to the principal’s office for discipline, but, sadly for Nicholas, the child from this story, his journey didn’t end there.

Not knowing how to handle an unruly child, the school counselor contacted the local sheriff to pick the child up and drop him off at a psychiatric facility. Nicholas was held for three days against the wishes of his parents and had to wait more than 24 hours to see a psychiatrist. When the facility finally allowed his parents to take him home, Nicholas had suffered a bloody nose, scraped-up shins, and was in an overtired and almost hysterical state.

Under the Florida Mental Health Act of 1971, commonly known as the Baker Act, this is legal. The law is a well-intentioned attempt to promote public safety by allowing medical professionals at a mental health facility to hold an individual for up to 72 hours to conduct an evaluation of whether the patient is mentally ill and at risk of causing harm to themselves or others.

However well-intentioned the law is, it can sometimes produce appalling, unintended consequences, such as permitting a 6-year-old child to be held against the will of the child’s parents and endure a traumatic and perhaps a life-altering experience.

That is why I filed House Bill 1183, which would require receiving facilities to initiate medical review for involuntary examination of minors within 12 hours of arrival. The bill would also create a task force to bring accountability and transparency to involuntary examinations of minors in Florida.

While the Senate companion for HB 1183 was not able to get any traction, I worked with several members of the Senate and got the language attached to HB 1121, which also seeks to improve mental health in Florida. Gov. Rick Scott signed that bill into law on June 26.

The task force created in HB 1183 is composed of stakeholders that include experienced experts from the mental health, education, and law enforcement industries, as well as a representative from a family whose child has been brought to a mental health facility for involuntary examination. The task force will analyze data on the initiation of involuntary examinations of children, looking for trends and potential solutions to improve the process and outcome of these situations. I truly believe using this data will improve safety, treatment and the experience of those receiving care through our mental health system.

Working toward solutions that will improve our mental health system and benefit all Floridians should be a priority for every legislator in Tallahassee. I am truly grateful to have the opportunity to work for my neighbors and for all Floridians to ensure that we have access to a health care system that reflects the importance of mental health for the future of our state.


Democrat David Silvers represents Florida House District 87.


Rick Scott talks Venezuela policy with Goldman Sachs

Florida Gov. Rick Scott cut a Jacksonville press event a bit short on Wednesday, and media was told Scott had a meeting.

Turned out that meeting was important.

A re-released copy of Scott’s schedule for Wednesday included a new entry: an 11:30 meeting with Jacksonville’s “Goldman Sachs Asset Management.”

We reached out to Scott’s office for more detail; the meeting had to do with Scott’s policy on companies doing business with Venezuela.

“Goldman Sachs Asset Management requested to meet with the Governor today to discuss his upcoming policy to prohibit Florida from doing business with anyone who supports the brutal Maduro regime,” emailed Kerri Wyland of the Governor’s office.

Wyland added that more “details on his policy will be announced prior to the August 16th Cabinet meeting.”

Scott foreshadowed this position earlier in July, via a strongly-worded press release.

 “During the next meeting of the Florida Cabinet in August,” Scott asserted, “I will bring forward a proposal that will prohibit the State of Florida from doing business with any organization that supports the oppressive Maduro dictatorship.

“Floridians stand with the people of Venezuela as they fight for their freedom, and as a state,” Scott added, “we must not provide any support for Maduro and his thugs.”

Rick Scott to Congress: ‘Do your job,’ repeal and replace Obamacare

On Wednesday, Gov. Rick Scott was in Jacksonville for a job creation event. But national stories involving the President crowded out the gaggle.

The big story: the subject of the stalled out movement to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

In recent months, Scott has played a pivotal role in attempts at healthcare reform, but to no avail so far. Multiple trips to Washington D.C. and meetings with the President and his staff have borne no policy fruit. Scott even went so far as to appear with VP Mike Pence in Jacksonville, as Pence attempted to sell the House version of healthcare reform.

Despite hiccups in the process, Scott reiterated his commitment to “repeal and replace,” and urged Congress to follow through.

“Obamacare’s a disaster,” Scott said, noting that prices for healthcare had “skyrocketed” since the ACA passed earlier this decade.

“Congress has got to do their job. They’ve got to repeal Obamacare. They need to replace it with something that’s going to drive the price of healthcare down, because that’s the big problem. That’s Congress’ job and I know the President’s focused on that, and it’s my expectation that they get it done,” Scott said.

“You need to repeal it and you need to replace it,” Scott said. “No one’s going to have access to good healthcare if costs keep going up, and that’s what’s happened.”

Scott noted that he predicted this fate for Obamacare as far back as 2009.

“The problem with healthcare is government involvement has caused costs to go up,” Scott said, limiting affordability of treatment for individuals, employers, and even the government itself.

“What’s happened with Obamacare is that no one can afford it,” Scott added.

Scott’s visit to Jacksonville included the gaggle, held at a company called Florida Forklift which opened a new Jacksonville facility on the Eastside. He followed that up with an 11:30 engagement at Goldman Sachs Asset Management.

Rick Scott talks Russia scandal, Donald Trump Jr., Lanny Wiles

In Jacksonville Wednesday for a job creation event, Florida Gov. Rick Scott discussed a white-hot scandal that now has a Florida tie: meetings between Russians and Trump campaign members, either for the purposes of discussing adoption of Russian children or opposition research, depending on who you believe.

Russians, including attorney Natalia Veselnitskaya, met with senior level representatives of the Donald Trump campaign last June.

Just days later, Lanny Wiles — the husband of Susie Wiles, Scott’s former campaign manager who went on to run Trump’s Florida campaign — saved a seat for that same controversial Russian lawyer at a Congressional hearing on Russia policy.

For her part, Wiles has maintained that neither she nor her husband did anything wrong, and that they had no financial ties to Russian interests.

“I did not and would not participate in something that hurt the campaign, the government, the President, or the country,” Wiles said.

We asked Scott if he would have taken a meeting with the Russians, and if he had any thoughts on an apparent axis between Mr. Wiles and the Russia scandal undermining the Trump presidency.

“You’d have to talk to Mr. Wiles about why he took that meeting,” Scott said, his voice betraying a lack of understanding as to why that meeting would have been taken.

“You’d also have to talk to the Trump campaign about any meetings they had with regard to a campaign. I was not privy to how they made their decisions,” Scott said.

We asked Scott straight up if he would take oppo from a foreign power, as Donald Trump, Jr. did.

Scott seemed to chuckle briefly at the concept, though it should be said the Governor’s Office disputes that.

“Well, I mean, I’ve run one primary campaign and two general election campaigns. What I try to do is focus on getting my message out. I think you win elections by getting your message out. My message was about job creation both times. That’s how I focused my time.”

Scott’s visit to Jacksonville included the gaggle, held at a company called Florida Forklift which opened a new Jacksonville facility on the Eastside. He followed that up with an 11:30 engagement at Goldman Sachs Asset Management.

Ralph Wright Jr. becomes twenty-seventh death row prisoner in Florida to be exonerated

Florida death row inmate Ralph Wright Jr. was released from state prison Tuesday, two months after the state Supreme Court exonerated him in the 2007 killings of his ex-girlfriend and their baby boy.

The release of the former Air Force Sergeant makes him Florida’s 27th exonerated death row survivor, and the 159th person exonerated from death row since 1973, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.

Anti-death penalty groups in Florida hailed his release, arguing that it epitomizes the unfairness inherent in administrating the ultimate sanction by the government.

“If an Air Force Sergeant and former Orange County Deputy Sheriff with no criminal record can be wrongfully convicted and sent to death row, it can happen to anyone,” said Mark Elliot, executive director of Floridians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty.

“Ralph Wright, Jr.’s exoneration is the most recent reminder that Florida’s death penalty system not only devalues life but also imperils innocent lives too,” added Brian Empric with Florida Conservatives Concerned about the Death Penalty.

Alluding to Wright becoming the 27th person to be released from Florida’s death row after being wrongly convicted, Empric says that the state’s death penalty system “is still afflicted with other issues, including rising costs, its failure to offer victims’ families the justice they deserve, and its inability to protect society, which is why many conservatives are increasingly opposing Florida’s broken death penalty program.”

In August 2014, Wright was convicted of two counts of first-degree murder; the jury recommended a death sentence.

In their unanimous opinion, the Florida Supreme Court justices wrote: “there is no fingerprint, footprint, blood, fiber pattern impression or other physical evidence tying Wright to the crime scene.  There is no cell tower evidence placing him in the vicinity of the crime scene. There is no murder weapon. The only evidence presented by the state to prove that Wright was the murder is the fact that he had motive and opportunity.”

The key piece of evidence that prosecutors did have against Wright was a single black glove found at the scene of the crime. The glove was the same kind that had been issued to Wright’s military unit, but analysts who processed the gloves for DNA couldn’t find any that was a definitive match for Wright. It was also unclear whether the glove came from MacDill, the Tampa Bay Times reported.

At the time of his conviction in 2014, Florida did not require a unanimous jury recommendation for death. In Wright’s case, the jury voted 7-5, a bare majority, to recommend the death penalty. Since the U.S. Supreme Court declared Florida’s sentencing scheme for non-unanimous jury recommendations for death to be unconstitutional. Since then, the Legislature has passed a bill, signed by Gov. Rick Scott in March of this year to now require a unanimous jury recommendation in death penalty sentencing.

There have been 119 death row prisoners whose cases have been reviewed in light of the high court’s ruling, and 99 have had their death sentences reversed.

“The exonerations of twenty-seven innocent people on Florida’s Death Row demonstrate the catastrophic failure of a pretentious government program trying to play God,” said Elliot. “It’s time to pull the plug on this wasteful, mistake-ridden, and unnecessary big government program that puts blood on all our hands.”


In Senate floor speech, Bill Nelson takes aim at Rick Scott and GOP’s ‘war on science’

Bill Nelson took to the floor of the U.S. Senate Monday to decry what he calls a “war on science.”

At the same time, the Florida Democrat all but called out Rick Scott as a climate change denier.

Nelson is looking at a likely challenge from Florida’s governor and his speech was undoubtedly an indication of the tactics he may use when that campaign cranks up.

Nelson took aim at a bill sponsored by Naples House Republican Bryon Donald that will allow anyone in the state to challenge and possibly change what kids are learning in public schools. The senator said he feared that could chill discussion on climate change in Florida schools.

“Sea-level rise in South Florida is a fact,” he began.

“But if there are some who object to that climate science, then, under this new law just signed by the governor, they are going to be able to object to that subject being taught in our public schools and a single hearing officer will determine — a single hearing officer – will determine — lord only knows who that officer is appointed by — that single person will determine under the new law if the objection is justified and they can force a local public school to remove the subject from its curriculum.”

“I don’t think we can sit back and allow our public schools to become political battlegrounds,” the Florida Democrat continued. “And we shouldn’t allow politicians to silence our teachers and scientists just because they don’t happen to like that part of the science.”

Nelson then segued to the much publicized story in 2015 that Scott had ordered members of the Florida Dept. of Environmental protection not to use the words global warming or climate change.

“Doesn’t that sound like muzzling?” he asked.

Nelson filed legislation just weeks into the Trump administration’s taking power in Washington that would protect federal scientists from attempts to interfere with scientific discourse and dissemination of research results.

He then segued into criticizing Senate Republicans who have been trash talking the Congressional Budget Office, who is expected to weigh in with a score later this week on the GOP Senate’s latest iteration of a health care reform bill.

“Mr. President, it’s kind of clear what’s going on,” he surmised. “This administration’s war on science is not a myth. It is not fake news. If you want to know an administration’s true priorities, you need to look no further than their budget. If you look at the president’s most recent budget request, you’ll see dramatic cuts to some of our most important scientific agencies.”


Rick Scott reassigns 2 more Aramis Ayala cases, involving alleged child killers

Gov. Rick Scott has reassigned the cases of two women accused of abusing a three-year-old Orange County boy to death, transferring their cases from Orlando’s State Attorney Aramis Ayala to Ocala’s State Attorney Brad King.

The transfers are like more than 20 others the governor has reassigned from Ayala to King since March, when Ayala, the elected state attorney for Florida’s 9th Judicial Circuit, said she would not pursue the death penalty in any murder cases in her district under Florida’s current laws.

This time the transferred cases involve an incident that occurred earlier this year, in which Callene M. Barton and Lakesha C. Lewis were arrested for allegedly beating the pre-school son of their other roommate with a window blind rod, and then throwing him down a flight of stairs. The boy died.

Scott’s authority to reassign such cases, and Ayala’s authority to refuse to pursue death penalty prosecutions, are in the hands of the Florida Supreme Court. The two took to the Supreme Court to battle out what outside interests have called a major case defining the powers of elected state attorneys and governors. The two made their oral arguments last week. A decision could come any day.

The case and the stakes involved have divided legal and lawmaking authorities, not just in Florida but nationally.

Lewis, 28, was booked earlier this month on charges of first-degree murder and aggravated child abuse.

Barton, 58, was booked earlier this month on charges of first-degree murder, aggravated child abuse, and tampering with a witness.

Steve Webb: Run, John Morgan, run — no, not for that

Dear John Morgan:

All kinds of Florida Democrats are enthused that you will follow your successful campaign to expand legal medical marijuana with a 2018 campaign for governor.

You could self-finance, and the party sorely needs to concentrate its fundraising down ballot. You have name recognition, but it doesn’t carry the baggage of a government record. You aren’t timid, and at this point, we hunger for boldness to oppose a mess in Tallahassee, you could argue has been the template for the mess in Washington.

But stop, for a minute, and turn the question that justifies your running on its head. How are you any more qualified than Rick Scott or Donald Trump to run a government? In 2018, this question is important because Scott wasn’t qualified and still isn’t. Ditto Trump.

We lose the “amateur hour” argument if you are the candidate. It will be similar to waging the argument four years ago that the best way to turn the corner on four terms of Republican governors was to elect the third-term guy to a fifth.

However, Florida has a constitutional office you are highly qualified for, and frankly, the office begs even more for a change in direction. Florida has a bad governor, but it has an even worse attorney general. Pam Bondi should not be able to name her successor.

How did Bondi become the state’s chief lawyer? Not from a legal record. She functioned largely as a telegenic spokeswoman for the Hillsborough state attorney’s office, then parlayed a gig as one of Roger Ailes‘ blonde expert witnesses into her election campaign. She won, frankly, because losing is what we Democrats were doing in 2010.

Once in office, Bondi turned the Office of the Attorney General into a small-town law firm for mostly out-of-state interests. Clients who had put up a retainer when she was a candidate found her a less-than-energetic protector of consumers, investors or residents impacted by mistreatment of our natural resources. One client in particular — the Republican Attorney Generals Association — found her to be a much more enthusiastic co-plaintiff than a prosecutor. She led Florida into federal suits that on the surface stood outside or even in conflict with the state’s interests. The most famous involved the Affordable Care Act, and a 2012 image lingers of her and Scott confusedly having to abandon their victory lap news conference when the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the ACA.

But you and I both know that wasn’t Bondi’s most ridiculous co-plaintiff move. That would be one of the times when she signed the state of Florida on to stop other states from adopting standards Florida has itself adopted, sometimes introduced. I would love to see an accounting of how much taxpayer money she wasted pursuing various suits at the behest of the RAGA, how much she spent on outside attorneys to accomplish tasks she ignored while servicing her out-of-state clients, and how often the suits have ended poorly — losses, but also an increased acrimony among the states involved and a belief among large segments of Florida that Bondi is anyone’s lawyer but ours.

In addition, a state’s best government oversight is a strong attorney general, and Bondi has never challenged her party’s excesses. An attorney general who took the state and federal Constitutions seriously would have blocked the legislature from defying the Fair District amendments in the 2011 redistricting. The resulting litigation has ended up costing taxpayers more than $20 million. In 2015, Scott used taxpayer money to fly to and purchase radio advertising in Kentucky on the eve of their gubernatorial election, where he warned voters Democrat policies would allow Florida to steal all their jobs. The best you can say about her own ethical decisions is that she broke no criminal laws.

An attorney general who represented the people against the government would tell both Scott and the legislature that they were on their own passing HB 7059 the way they did. Such an AG might even act as plaintiff’s attorney if the government and legislature refused to fulfill voter-approved constitutional amendments.

I know it would be difficult to take what, on the surface, is a supporting role in changing Florida. It wouldn’t have to be. You would be a crusader, dragging Florida’s official legal presentation back into the sunshine.

In contrast, you might make a lousy governor. Your success has come doing a specific set of things, and they might not translate into a position that is administrative, collaborative. Baseball writer Bill James once said of a 70s Red Sox center fielder, that his doubles against Fenway’s wall became routine fly outs in Anaheim.

That might happen to you in the governor’s office.

But do you doubt for a minute that you would thrive as The People’s Lawyer? Please, think about it.


Steve Webb is a Lakeland resident and member of the Polk County Democratic Executive committee.


‘Pragmatic’ civil engineer Randy Cooper vies for HD 71 seat in Manatee County

Randy Cooper likes to think of himself as a pragmatist.

The 60-year-old Democrat is one of three candidates running to succeed Republican Jim Boyd in Florida House District 71, which encompasses much of Manatee County and a bit of North Sarasota County.

He says his political philosophy could be labeled “practical and pragmatic,” and says the main impetus compelling him to run for office is his belief that the Legislature is not listening to the voters.

“If public schools aren’t doing well, funding the charter schools isn’t a solution,” he says. “Let’s help the public schools first, try to build them up, instead of making a for profit charter school.”

He also believes that local governments are better suited to regulate property rental companies like Airbnb and HomeAway, specifically mentioning the areas in Anna Maria Island, Palma Sola and other parts of northwest Bradenton.

“They’re taking over neighborhoods, and ruining whole communities,” he says of those companies, sounding a little bit like Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine. “People have to have a say about what’s going on in their neighborhoods.”

Cooper owns R. Cooper Engineering, an agricultural engineering consulting firm, and is a self-described moderate. “As an engineer,  I’m pragmatic – maybe to a fault,” he says.

He is disparaging of Gov. Rick Scott’s trips to other states to recruit businesses, saying it reeks of political opportunism. He says more needs to be done to boost local businesses, and he likes Visit Florida but would be just fine if Enterprise Florida faded away.

Cooper is the lone Democrat in the race, and the odds of his winning the seat may be formidable. He raised no campaign contributions in June, and overall has raised just $5,325 since entering the contest in March.

Meanwhile, the two Republicans in the contest have both raised more than $100,000.

James Buchanan, the son of Sarasota Congressman Vern Buchanan, raised $6,000 last month and overall has raised $162,630.

Bradenton attorney Will Robinson raised $4,400 in June, and overall has taken in $118,275.

Show Buttons
Hide Buttons