Sure, the buildup to the Super Bowl will leave emotions soaring and plummeting, depending on whether your team is a winner or a loser.
Here at this extraordinary information center, though, we like to focus on winners and losers from the rough and tumble game known as Florida politics. So, after a short break to enjoy the holidays, we’re back in full swing and calling the weekly winners and losers as we see it.
Matt Gaetz —The love Florida’s CD 1 representative has for President Donald Trump has been well-documented to the point where we almost call him Mini-Me. But we have to give credit where it’s due because Gaetz was one of only three House Republicans to side with a Democrat resolution to require the President to get congressional approval before attacking Iran.
Republicans were startled at Gaetz’s vote, but he said it was because he genuinely believes that only Congress can approve going to war.
Don’t worry, though. Gaetz is still all-in for Trump.
Florida students —If they could vote, they’d be all-in for state Sen. Annette Taddeo after her bill to require school districts to give students off the day after Halloween, unless it’s a Friday or Saturday.
Her logic: “I started hearing from so many kids, parents,” she said. “And frankly, as a parent myself, I know how tough it is the day after to drag them to school.”
There was an online petition in support of the day off, and it had strong support. Exasperated parents say the kids get a sugar high on Halloween and can’t get to sleep, so they’re in the groggy in the morning.
But, the No. 1, hand-down winner of the week
Florida Utility Companies —The Florida Supreme Court handed them a late Christmas present. They unanimously ruled that a proposed constitutional amendment that could have let people choose their electric company.
The Court declared, “the ballot summary affirmatively misleads voters to believe the Initiative grants a right to sell electricity.”
The proposal had widespread opposition, and the Court’s ruling effectively sinks it and allows current utilities to maintain the status quo.
“This is a great win for Florida’s competitiveness,” said Mark Wilson, president and CEO of the Florida Chamber. “We cannot secure Florida’s future with regulatory policies that will make our state less competitive and electricity more expensive.”
The decision also sends those behind the doomed amendment back to the drawing board to come up with something that can pass judicial muster.
Karyn Turk — Where do we start? The former Mrs. Florida and current conservative pundit was sentenced to a month in federal prison after pleading guilty last year for stealing her dementia-ridden mother’s Social Security checks. She remains free while the case is being appealed but is scheduled to report for incarceration on March 2.
She also got five months of house arrest and 100 hours of community service in a nursing home. That seems appropriate because Turk was supposed to use the checks to pay the Finnish American Rest Home, which cared for Turk’s until she died in June.
The bill for that and other care reached a reported $320,000.
The South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported that in a 2016 story about Mrs. Florida pageant entrants, Turk was asked what quality she valued most in herself.
Her answer: “My chutzpah.”
Yep. That about covers it.
John Rutherford —The Republican from Florida’s 4th Congressional District, covering Nassau County, along with parts of Duval and St. Johns, created a Twit-storm last week.
After U.S. Rep. Pramila Jayapal said, “President Trump recklessly assassinated Iranian General Qasem Soleimani,” without presenting evidence of an imminent threat or attack, Rutherford pounced.
The point wasn’t that Soleimani shouldn’t have been targeted, but the President is supposed to work with Congress on such things.
He did not.
But Rutherford ignored that and went for the talking point that anyone who disagreed with Trump’s action is an “Ayatollah sympathizer.”
Can you say “racist?”
Jayapal has been active in the fight against discrimination against Muslims and people of color. She was born in India and raised in Indonesia and Singapore for emigrating to the United States at age 16. How that makes her an “Ayatollah sympathizer” requires a twisted logic that isn’t worth exploring.
But the hands-down no-recount-needed loser of the week is the City of Jacksonville
Things haven’t been this messed up in the “Bold New City of the South” since the Jaguars spent a first-round pick on quarterback Blake Bortles.
Nate Monroe of Jacksonville.com referred to a “constellation of conflicts of interest that surrounded Mayor Lenny Curry” over the ill-fated attempt to sell the Jacksonville Electric Authority.
That would have privatized the publicly-owned Authority.
And who, exactly, wanted to sell the Authority?
Not the public, for sure. A University of North Florida poll showed 59% of local residents opposed selling the publicly-owned Authority. More emphatically, 73% said the JEA benefits the city.
The sale attempt was halted on Christmas Eve following intense pressure from Jacksonville’s City Council and Civil Council. There have been calls for grand jury investigations, and the hits just keep on coming for Curry.
He dismisses the conflict charges as “conspiracy” theories, but bloodhounds are on the trail, and their barking gets louder every day.