Haunted by spectral images of last Halloween — when Rubio, Christie rallied for Rick Scott


Last Halloween weekend, Marco Rubio was stirring up crowds for Gov. Rick Scott
Last Halloween weekend, Marco Rubio was stirring up crowds for Gov. Rick Scott

Halloween weekend a year ago, two Republican presidential candidates were effectively going door-to-door for Gov. Rick Scott, then in the homestretch of his re-election campaign against Democrat Charlie Crist.

While kids were still sorting through their candy bags, Florida U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie were campaigning alongside Scott across Southwest Florida.

Chris Christie joined Gov. Rick Scott for a post-Halloween rally in Naples
Chris Christie joined Gov. Rick Scott for a post-Halloween rally in Naples

Now struggling to join the top tier of a crowded Republican presidential field, Rubio and Christie a year ago displayed some of the glibness that has marked the pair in recent debates — including this week’s CNBC exchange in Colorado.

But it was Crist-bashing that was the common theme then.

At the sprawling retirement community of Sun City Center, Rubio recalled that he served as House speaker for the first two years of Crist’s term as Republican governor.

“If you think the Republican Charlie Crist was bad, imagine what Democrat Charlie Crist would be,” Rubio said.

Christie, who steered $19 million to Scott’s campaign as Republican Governors Association chairman, joined Florida’s governor in Naples the day after last Halloween.

“There are only two kids of people who get involved in politics,” Christie told those at a Scott rally. “Those who want to do something and those who want to be something.”

Scott was a favorite last fall for the future lineup of GOP presidential contenders. Along with Christie and Rubio, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry (oops, he’s no longer running) made frequent appearances with Scott.



Seminoles sue state as gambling deadline looms

Seminole Tribe sues state as deadline looms.
Seminole Tribe sues state as deadline looms.

The Seminole Tribe of Florida sued the state Monday in what appears a defensive move ahead of a looming legal deadline that could shut down table games at five of its seven facilities, including Hollywood’s Hard Rock Casino.

In 2010, the state and Seminole Tribe entered into a 20-year compact under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. The agreement gave the tribe exclusive rights to operate banked card games but unless the agreement was renewed, the Seminoles would have to discontinue the banked games.

An Oct. 29 deadline now looms, although the state hasn’t indicated it is eager to force any kind of shutdown.

The tribe has said it plans to continue the games. But Chief James Billie also sounded an optimistic note Monday, saying that negotiations with the state over a new deal are looking good.

In a statement, attributed to Billie, he said, there was “significant progress in the Tribe’s negotiations with the Governor and leaders of the Florida Legislature relative to finalizing a new Compact agreement, and the Tribe remains hopeful that a positive outcome will result.”

But the tribe pointed out, it “has no option but to file in order to protect its interests and those of the 3,100 employees and their families whose jobs are in jeopardy.”

In exchange for five years of exclusivity, the Seminoles pledged to pay Florida a minimum of $1 billion over the same time period, an amount the tribe has exceeded.

The tribe has said it would continue to send its payments to the state even if it continues games past the Oct. 29 deadline.


FAMU students rally outside governor’s office in support of school president

FAMU students rally at the Capitol in support of President Elmira Mangum
FAMU students rally at the Capitol in support of President Elmira Mangum

A couple of hundred Florida A&M University students crowded outside Gov. Rick Scott’s office Thursday only hours after school President Elmira Mangum narrowly survived votes by trustees to fire her.

With Scott traveling away from the Capitol, students said they would submit a letter to governor’s office staff supporting Mangum and expressing concerns about the actions by FAMU’s Board of Trustees.

“This is not about any individual, we have concerns with the entire board,” said Brandon Johnson, a FAMU student senator and a sophomore from Gainesville.

The board called an early morning emergency meeting Thursday in which two motions to fire Mangum failed, one on a tie vote.

Mangum and the board, whose chairman, Rufus Montgomery, is a Scott appointee, have been at odds for months over an array of financial and governance issues at the state’s only historically black public university.

The emergency meeting was called after the board Sunday refused to award Mangum a performance bonus, having earlier given her a lackluster review since taking the helm in early 2014. Mangum had been a vice-president of planning and budgeting at New York’s Cornell University before accepting the FAMU job.

The latest clash stems from missing paperwork involving $300,000 in renovations to the President’s House, the addition of a $70,000 garage, and the school’s awarding of more than $60,000 worth of bonuses to administrators hired by Mangum.

Mangum has issued a strongly-worded letter aimed at refuting allegations of impropriety. She also said the renovations done to the home were begun before she arrived at FAMU in April 2014 and had been approved by the board.

Corey Jones shooting: Florida black lawmakers unite behind call for independent probe

Rep. Bobby Powell, D-Riviera Beach, and black legislators want an independent probe of Corey Jones' shooting.
Rep. Bobby Powell, D-Riviera Beach, and black legislators want an independent probe of Corey Jones’ shooting.

Black legislators united Wednesday behind a call for the state to conduct an independent investigation into last weekend’s shooting death of Corey Jones by a Palm Beach Gardens police officer.

Florida Conference of Black State Legislators Chairman Rep. Ed Narain, D-Tampa, said it was important for Gov. Rick Scott to order the probe to “restore public confidence” between the black community and Palm Beach Gardens police.

The investigation also would help resolve issues surrounding the early Sunday encounter between Jones and Officer Nouman Raja, who has been placed on administrative leave. A caucus member, Rep. Shevrin Jones, D-West Park, first proposed the state-run probe Tuesday.

Rep. Bobby Powell, D-Riviera Beach, said he has spoken with Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg who said two investigations are currently underway, one led by his office and another by the county’s Sheriff’s Office.

“Yesterday I spoke with the governor, who assured me he wants to gather all the facts,” said Powell, who said the caucus wants Scott to order the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to conduct its own probe.

“This has to stop,” Powell added. “There’s no evidence that we’ve seen that this man was a trouble maker. My community is frustrated, and rightfully so.”

The black caucus also said Jones’ death underscores the need for legislation requiring police to wear body cameras and have vehicle dashboard cameras to record encounters between officers and the public. Other legislation proposed by caucus members would require enhanced police training on possible racial biases.

Jones, a Delray Beach Housing Authority employee and drummer in local bands, was shot early Sunday morning by Officer Nouman Raja near an Interstate-95 exit ramp. Jones’ car apparently had broken down and Raja stopped at the scene in plain clothes while driving an unmarked vehicle, authorities said.

Scott spokeswoman Jackie Schutz said, “The governor offered the assistance of FDLE in the two ongoing investigations by the State Attorney’s Office and the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office into the death of Corey Jones. Our office continues to monitor any developments.”

» RELATED: Read the Palm Beach Post’s complete coverage of the Corey Jones shooting

For Charlie Crist, parties and offices change but the fan and ‘the people’ are constant

With "the people" at his back and his ubiquitous electric fan at his feet, Charlie Crist launches another campaign.
With “the people” at his back and his ubiquitous electric fan at his feet, Charlie Crist launches another campaign.

Charlie Crist has been a Republican, an independent and a Democrat.

He’s won races for state Senate, education commissioner and attorney general, lost two races for U.S. Senate and won and lost races for governor. He’s been conservative-talking “Chain Gang Charlie” and a Barack Obama-embracing cheerleader for the Democratic stimulus and health care bills.

The fan beneath Crist's lectern led to a 2014 debate fracas with Republican Gov. Rick Scott.
The fan beneath Crist’s lectern led to a 2014 debate fracas with Republican Gov. Rick Scott.

But some things about Crist never change.

For one thing, there’s that electric fan. Crist brought the cooling device with him in his Republican days (“What’s the deal with the fan?” primary rival Tom Gallagher demanded before a 2006 Republican gubernatorial debate) and, most famously, as a Democrat to last fall’s debate with Republican Gov. Rick Scott.

Not surprisingly, the fan was present Tuesday when Crist made an outdoor announcement that he’s running for a U.S. House seat as a Democrat in his home town of St. Petersburg.

Flanked by running mate Annette Taddeo (left) and wife Carole, "People's Governor" Charlie Crist concedes last year's election.
Flanked by running mate Annette Taddeo (left) and wife Carole, “People’s Governor” Charlie Crist concedes last year’s election.

There’s also “the people.”

Crist called himself “the people’s governor” when he took office as a Republican in 2007. As a Democrat, he ran unsuccessfully last year as “the people’s governor” against Scott. Crist regularly refers to “the people” in his speeches, and Tuesday was no exception.

“The real problem with Washington is that they fail to listen. They fail to listen to the people. I have always tried to listen to the people,” Crist said Tuesday.

He added: “I think it’s important to always listen to the people. That will be a hallmark of my campaign. Hopefully it’s been a hallmark of my career…The people’s will must be done.”

Just in time for Halloween: Scott wants to hear tales of hospital price-gouging

Scott wants to hear stories about hospital price-gouging
Scott wants to hear stories about hospital price-gouging

Gov. Rick Scott’s Halloween season call for scary price-gouging stories from hospitals brought a swift response Tuesday from the Florida Hospital Association.

Scott and the industry have been at odds for months.

But the Republican governor turned up the pressure another notch by asking Floridians who think they were victims of hospital over-charging to contact the Governor’s Commission on Healthcare and Hospital Funding to share their stories.

The commission was meeting Tuesday at the state Capitol, its latest in a months-long series of hearings. Commissioners are probing hospital spending, profits and costs but many industry critics privately dismiss the panel as a kangaroo court organized by the governor.

“Last month, we announced major reforms to increase transparency and accountability so we can better empower patients,” Scott said. “By requiring hospitals to post pricing information online, we will give patients the tools necessary to prevent and report the deceptive practice of price gouging.”

Scott wants to hear consumer horror stories here:


The FHA said it supports giving patients more information. But the association also hinted that it has problems with Scott’s approach.

“The best way to truly empower patients, and to understand what drives costs, is to bring everyone in the health care continuum to the table,” said Bruce Rueben, FHA president. “By utilizing data from all health care claims, a comprehensive database would provide meaningful information about health care quality, costs and access.”

Scott and hospitals have been battling since last spring, when industry organizations backed Senate President Andy Gardiner’s push for a privatized form of Medicaid expansion, opposed by the governor and the House.

The clash delayed budget talks and forced lawmakers into a June special session. In the end, the Medicaid expansion push died, but a cut in federal aid to hospitals was softened with $450 million in taxpayer money, effectively killing Scott’s push for a record level of per-pupil school spending and even bigger tax breaks.

With hospitals facing another reduction in federal dollars this year, Scott’s healthcare commission appears at least partially designed to expose financing data that could give the governor some ground cover for opposing steering more taxpayer cash toward hospitals when lawmakers reconvene in January.


Scott targets Kentucky for latest corporate hunting trip

Gov. Rick Scott is targeting Kentucky for jobs.
Gov. Rick Scott is targeting Kentucky for jobs.

Radio ads promoting Florida as a place to do business began airing today in Kentucky, the latest Democratic-led state targeted by Gov. Rick Scott for jobs.

In a bid to lure companies to Florida, the spot takes a swipe at Gov. Steve Beshear’s “pro-union and big government” policies. It also promotes Florida as a right-to-work state with no income tax rated highly for its business environment.

The ad promises that, “Florida Gov. Rick Scott is coming to Kentucky to share Florida’s success story.”

Scott plans a trip to the state later this month. His previous trips this year include stops in Pennsylvania, California and Connecticut — states all led by Democrats.