Good morning. We’re trying out a new feature in which we highlight six items you might have missed but probably shouldn’t have. In this inaugural edition, we’re picking up the pieces from the Fourth of July weekend. Hope you enjoy it.
- A controversial plan to build privately run campgrounds in state parks continues to raise the ire of critics, from Republican state Sens. Paula Dockery and Mike Fasano to environmental groups like Audubon of Florida. Today and Wednesday the Department of Environmental Protection will start holding public meetings on the proposal (see the schedule here). The meetings are intended to address the idea of increased camping in state parks, but the state Acquisition and Restoration Council has begun mulling plans to have private companies run the new campgrounds.
- Interesting tidbit from the St. Petersburg Times profile of Gov. Scott’s top lobbyist, Hayden Dempsey, which sheds some light on their role in pushing drug-test welfare recipients. The Legislature’s initial bill would only have affected people with prior convictions, but that changed as the bill made its way to the floor:
The Legislature’s version would have applied only to felons recently convicted of drug abuse. But Scott wanted all recipients tested, so Dempsey approached sponsors Sen. Steve Oelrich, R-Cross Creek, and Rep. Jimmie Smith, R-Inverness. Dempsey calls it “education.”
“We needed to justify our rationale. We talked to them about the policy behind it,” he said.
- Miami Democrat Daphne Campbell seems to think the cameras chasing her makes her “a celebrity.” Actually, she’s just a state rep. under investigation for Medicaid fraud who doesn’t seem to want to answer questions about it.
- The Transport Politic, a transportation blog, blasts Scott’s approval of SunRail vis-a-vis his rejection of funding for high-speed rail, calling it a case of “schizophrenic decision-making” that has allowed other countries, namely China, to develop advanced bullet train systems faster than we have:
The commuter line’s first phase was approved by the Federal Transit Administration in 2009 for New Starts funding because of years of influential lobbying by similarly debt-obsessed Congressman John Mica (R) despite considerable objections from the U.S. government over its cost effectiveness; it was arguably the most expensive per rider of any project approved that year. The project will serve an estimated 4,300 riders a day at a final cost of $1.2 billion, $432 million of which will be handed directly over to CSX for the purchase of its line.* This amounts to a state subsidy for a private corporation, in direct contrast to the high-speed rail line, which was attracting offers of hundreds of millions of dollars from private groups that saw operating profits on the horizon.
- Infographic: The Florida Current looks at the 1,662 state employees who lost their jobs on Friday. More on state layoffs in today’s Times.
- After Scott was grilled by newspaper folks on questions of transparency, the Times blasted his closed-government policies in an editorial.
Got tips, additions, questions, corrections, or other feedback? Email Travis [at] Florida independent [dot] com.