The Florida Senate Turns Slowly but Increasingly Conservative

By: Jeff Henderson | Posted: April 22, 2014 3:55 AM
Don Gaetz

Don Gaetz

This year is proving something of a change from the norm in the Florida Legislature as the usually more moderate Senate is to the right of the House on a few fronts. 

The Senate has given conservatives’ heartburn in recent years, killing school choice bills and pension reform efforts, often proving ungovernable despite Republican majorities. Party lines simply aren’t as strong in the Senate where Democrats sometimes chair committees and party leadership fights can be extended.

In the House, the party whip is much stronger as representatives face the voters every two years instead of four years like senators. Add in the strong committee system and leadership fights often being settled before new representatives take their seats and the House is much more manageable.

But things are -- slowly -- starting to change. This year, conservatives can cheer the Senate over the House on a few issues. The Senate offered a budget proposal under $75 billion while the House went slightly higher with its version. Don Gaetz opposed legislation giving the children of undocumented aliens in-state tuition in the Senate while Will Weatherford championed it on the House side. Despite clearing the House, the immigrant tuition bill didn’t emerge in the Senate thanks to Joe Negron’s handling of it.

The Senate is starting to move a little more to the right. Part of that comes from the retirement of some of the more moderate Republicans with familiar faces like Mike Fasano, Paula Dockery, Dennis Jones, Evelyn Lynn and even JD Alexander no longer in the Senate. Conservatives are also set to hold seats in the Senate for years to come: Negron, Rob Bradley, Dorothy Hukill, Kelli Stargel, Aaron Bean, Jeff Brandes,Wilton Simpson, John Legg and others.

To be sure, Jack Latvala remains a force in the Senate and still has his eyes on moving up the leadership ladder. But his kind of moderate Republican simply doesn’t have control of the wheel like they did even a few years ago.

Of course there are some thunderclouds threatening on the horizon. Negron and Latvala continue to position themselves to take over as Senate president from Andy Gardiner after the 2016 elections. Simpson and Tom Lee are also rounding up votes to see who takes over in 2018 and leadership fights can make for strange politics and weird alliances -- as Gardiner can attest after Don Gaetz and John Thrasher tried to knife him.

Nor is any member of the Senate facing term limits in November, ensuring that almost every single member currently in the chamber will return next year. Even if the Senate starts leaning more toward the right, it won’t be changing drastic direction any time soon.

The Senate does appear to be set up for larger changes in the years to come. With conservatives like Matt Gaetz and Dennis Baxlery lining up to run in 2016, the Senate could tilt even more to the right in years to come.

Tallahassee-based political writer Jeff Henderson wrote this analysis exclusively for Sunshine State News.

Comments (15)

richard maurino
10:50AM APR 23RD 2014
any pol. that gives out taxpayer money to try to buy votes from illeagal aliens has lost mine!!!!! ie instate tuition!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
9:08AM APR 23RD 2014
We need less government and that will result in less taxes and less regulation and that will result in more freedom.

I fear what the founding fathers feared. Once the government gets to some level of existance, it will continue to grow out of control and gobble up every freedom and liberty we have. Just look at what the BLM is doing out west as the Feds try to control property. Look at what the EPA does, both organizations are totally out of control, as is the IRS and etc etc etc.

Yes, I fear it is already too late. Things will continue to spiral as it is until it implodes.
10:03PM APR 22ND 2014
First question...is this satire?

Next, Nancy take your meds. Haliburton? Realy? Were you meaning to say McBushHitler?

Finally, Paula, sorry your day to have yourself acknowledged as the center of the universe never came. Thank God your 15 minutes are over.
The BS Game is Over!
8:07AM APR 23RD 2014
Some people call it Al Gore's revenge - he claims to have invented the internet. lol

Yes "rc" bet you and your kind are glad Paula Dockery is gone. Like so many others she was even deceived by the "outsider" Rick Scott and signed on to help him. Then, like everyone else with brains she found out Rick Scott had been playing the Dallas Texas and South Florida Bush brother schemes since the early 1980's.

The establishment hates the internet because so far "McBushHitler" and their Nazi's don't yet have total control of it- what a quagmire! It's such a useful tool - yet such a threat that the truths will finally see the light of day. There are still some folks with brains around - even though the the Bush Master Bill Gates and friends are spending billions with their schemes including Heavy Chemtrail spraying.
(Sen) Jim Sebesta
1:42PM APR 22ND 2014
Great to be a REPUBLICAN!

3:45PM APR 22ND 2014

That should read [Former Senator] Jim Sebesta but every knows that's part of the elevation to the elite status today - when you leave office you get to keep you last highest title, your pensions and benefits and sll you stole while you were there.

Sebesta, 77, of St. Petersburg, is the president of Sebesta Consulting Services. Sebesta has previously served as a member of the Florida Senate and is currently a member of the Pinellas Housing Finance Authority. He received his bachelor’s degree from Loyola University and his master’s degree from DePaul University. He fills a vacant seat and is appointed for a term beginning June 25, 2013, and ending September 30, 2015.

Jim Sebesta, 77, of St. Petersburg, is the president of Sebesta Consulting Services. Sebesta has previously served as a member of the Florida Senate and is currently a member of the Pinellas Housing Finance Authority. [Interested Parties check out Florida Housing Fiance Corp - a supposed to be quasi private non-profit whose source of income was to be derived from doc stamps on real-estate transactions] Now over $4 Billion in Debt and counting while they have borrowed and funneled 100.s of thousands of dollars to their friends for free home makeovers and even some free houses to the weel connected.

He received his bachelor’s degree from Loyola University and his master’s degree from DePaul University. He fills a vacant seat and is appointed for a term beginning June 25, 2013, and ending September 30, 2015.

Yea JIM - It's great to be a REPUKE as long as you and your buddies have your hands in the cookie jars up past your elbows.

I'll bet it's really "Great to be a REPUBLICAN!" when you come from the county of the likes of MEL SEMBLER and CHARLIE CRIST.

And, at least a lot of the honest, moral people of Florida Thank Sunshine State News for their EXPOSE on SEMBLER even though he is the Bush, Scott and ever other so called Conservative Republican big money man.

The truth is free and easy to tell...............

An honest person registered as a Republican only because the Oligarchs
only recognize a two party system and as bad as the repukes are who in the heqq above ground would want to be on the Dems side?
1:19PM APR 22ND 2014
Wow! this article sure stimulated a lot of feedback! We could maybe fix all of this if we can somehow bypass the FL Legislature, and vote directly on all legislation from our pc's and "smartphones". Whaddyathink?
sounds good
3:27PM APR 22ND 2014
But, that won't work either. If they can fix the elections with their little CLINT CURTIS vote fixer chips he invented for Tom Feeney and Jeb Bush they would figure out a way to fix those "social media" votes as well.

The system worked for years, it's just that organized crime and corruption has taken it over at ever interval. You can't fix that by voting them out because they finagle the elections. You can't get the so called law enforcement, prosecutors and judges to do their jobs because they are in the middle of the corruption and won't self defect.

Maybe the best thing the American people could do is just stay at home on so called election day and don't go vote. That way they would have any vote counts to spread around to their anointed ones.

What would they do then fake up the vote count and elect their minions anyway? Probably; they fake up everything else they want too.
It's Not Left & Right - It's All Right or Wrong
9:42AM APR 22ND 2014
Things Are Worse Than You May Think

By Nancy Argenziano - Saturday, June 11, 2011

Make no mistake: This is not about liberals vs. conservatives — or Republicans vs. Democrats; it’s about what is right and what is wrong. The legislation and policies of the governor and legislative leadership are wrong.

It’s about shouting a warning to Floridians that their elected leaders are selling them down the river, saying one thing, but doing another.

In my 16 years in the Florida House, state Senate and Public Service Commission, I have tried to inform people about what was going on in their government and provided the inside scoop that political leaders did not want you to know about. I have been warning for years, and providing examples of our representative government/democracy being sold to the highest contributors, the slush funds, the corruption — that it really is about money.
I have been a Republican, and believe in the Republican principles of long ago: Less government in my private life; don’t tax us to death; personal freedom; personal responsibility; the right to protect myself and family; and for allowing business to do what it does best — do business, without excessive or unnecessary regulations.

But, contrary to the current crop of Republican leaders, I do not want Halliburton in charge of the Pentagon, BP heading up the Department of Environmental Protection, or Enron making energy policy.

In recent years I have seen much corruption; so much so that a grand jury ranked Florida No. 1 in corruption.

I have a problem with those who have hijacked the Republican Party to use it for their own self gain; those who wouldn’t have a clue what a Republican platform is and who have mutated the “R” philosophy beyond recognition.

I take offense that they use the hard-working grassroots level Republicans to help promote a philosophy that they do not practice. Many good Republicans who worked hard for this party have written books telling us what was happening, apparently to no avail. It cannot be that all that matters is that our side wins at any cost. I refuse to believe anyone could not see the harm in doing that.

Seems that anytime an elected Republican official would not go along with the crooks that stole the party, they were labeled as Republicans in name only (RINO’s) and that tactic worked for a while. This has brought the “R” party to the sad place where I see it is now: Fractured.

As a Republican I cannot be proud of the party chairman being carted off in handcuffs and accused of stealing contributions. I cannot be proud of or defend “R” leaders abusing the party credit cards for things like lingerie for girlfriends, home repairs, trips to Vegas and more.
I will not defend the “R” Senate president who stridently squawks for smaller government yet has taken three government salaries — tax paid — ostensibly as a professor; not to teach, but to take three years to write a book on politics, achieving a kindergarten level of literacy of which the college only had one single copy of.
I have sat next to this legislator in committees when serious discussion was taking place only to watch him write greeting and birthday cards to his constituents for political purposes, totally oblivious of the discussions going on.

For years legislative leaders obtained for certain legislators these extra “jobs” in return for a do-everything-you’re-told legislator. Pretty hard for those legislators to object when they have gotten used to the trough, even when it hurts the very people who have voted for them.

I cannot be proud of legislation proposed and passed this session that strips away minimum protections for our elderly in taxpayer-subsidized, for-profit nursing homes; legislation that turns them into elder fodder for overpaid executives and coupon-clipping shareholders.

One of my biggest battles in the Legislature as chair of the House Elder Affairs and Long Term Care Committee was to bring nursing home quality of care standards merely up to the federal minimum safety levels. I recall an influential owner of a large nursing home chain telling me he could not provide those minimum standards and also provide the money his shareholders and executives demanded.

I am not proud of the firing of the Long Term Care Ombudsman who was doing a great job and was supported by nursing home resident family members. I am not proud of the reduced funding for Medicaid-supported poor elderly while reducing the minimum required staffing levels I fought so hard to get into law. All this while further curbs on civil litigation in redressing nursing home horrors passed.

The attempt to privatize everything government does is alive and well, under the premise of “efficiency,” and while some privitizations work well, not all do. After all, the mission of government, contrary to the booming proclamations of self-absorbed politicians, is — among other notable goals — to promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty, not to grease the profit avenues of significant campaign contributors. Privatization makes for more, and larger, contribution sources.
As chair of the Senate Governmental Operations Committee, I saw firsthand how taxpayers got ripped off by some of the major privatized contracts. My committee had to fix the huge errors in contracts, and found they came at a very high cost to the taxpayer. Although a company bid low and won the contract, embedded in many contracts were automatic increases that most times had us paying a much higher price for the service than when provided by the state, and the most elementary protections one would expect to find in contracts were removed.
I am yet more ashamed of the massive deregulation bills that passed this session. Attacks on water laws, the environment, and the all-out build-it-wherever-and-however-you-want-it approach to growth.
For the last 16 years the Republican majority deregulated where it was called for, removing unnecessary, duplicative measures. The recent bills are simply giveaways and will cause great harm.

I cannot be proud of the attacks on our teachers and state workers, firefighters, police, the environment and even election laws. I had in my Senate district a state firefighter whose salary was such that he qualified for food stamps when his wife was expecting a second child. To legislators who fashioned bills for drug testing state workers, here’s an idea: eliminate the exceptions for executive and legislative staff, and members of the House and Senate.
I am ashamed of the relentless intrusion into personal decisions in people’s personal lives, despite Republican leadership’s mantra that government be minimal.
I am not proud that millions were hidden in the 2006 budget to get an airport hangar that a big contributor and friend of the Republican Speaker of the Florida House wanted.

I am incensed by Jeb Bush’s District Court of Appeals appointee who managed to squander tax dollars outfitting the “Taj Mahal” courthouse with mahogany, flat-screen TV’s and expensive artwork while we are laying off people and cutting essential services, but also managed to so overstep his authority that he has been ethically indicted by the Judicial Qualifications Commission.
Attacks on citizen’s ballot initiatives come at a time when the biggest abusers of the constitutional amendment process are the legislators themselves, and for political purposes.
They are even fighting the majority of citizens (63 percent) who voted for a ballot initiative for fair districts with our own tax dollars ($50 million). I cannot be proud to find that the Florida Speaker of the House has hired his own law firm to litigate the Fair Districts amendment challenges. Sheer arrogance.

For a party ostensibly consumed by economic efficiency, the CSX sweetheart deal that cost us millions and puts operational liability on taxpayers, is inexplicable, except to the extent that it’s been reported a key legislator has property that will benefit from the deal...
You all know what the legislative leaders did to PSC commissioners who said no to unjustified electric rate increases. The PSC is a legislative agency that does what the Legislature wants it to do. Legislative leaders don’t want a fair PSC, they want a kept whore. Legislative leaders take millions from those the PSC regulates. Do you really think you are getting a fair shake? This agency will continue to be a waste of tax dollars until it is removed from the Legislatures control.

The usurpation of PSC responsibilities by the Legislature is reflected by the amendment sneaked into the energy bill that passed in 2006 by the soon-to-be Senate president. When the bill came to the floor it was never mentioned — as used to be customary — that substantial and major policy changes had been introduced, and we all voted for it. Republican leadership slipped us a Mickey at the behest of the utility lobby. Now with nuclear under the gun, both socially because of Fukushima and economically, the ratepayers will pick up every dollar of the estimated half-billion-dollar cost already incurred, of abandoning the various nuclear projects.

Then-Rep. John Thrasher — now a senator — once sat next to me at a committee hearing where I was about to get refunds due SMW Florida Water customers. He told me to kill my other legislation that put more teeth into water utility laws, or he would kill the refund legislation because he was powerful enough to do it. He did. I am not proud that many times when I was doing my job and doing the right thing some Republican leaders who had their own agenda tried to neutralize me, even sending and funding Republican candidates to run against me.

These people make it bad for the Republican Party and honest Republicans.
In my first few years in the Florida House, Speaker Daniel Webster started to reduce our government where we could. I had been given the task to look at DEP to see where we could gain efficiency. We did that with all state agencies, most recently to the point that they cannot possibly do the job we ask them to. When they inevitably fail, legislators point to privatization. For today’s so-called leaders to pretend that this has not already been done is a fraud. After 16 year of Republicans leading the state, if this had not been done, why would you ever vote for a Republican again?
Today’s Republican leaders demand a total beehive mentality even as they stray further from real Republican principles. There are boys with little life experience running the fourth-largest state. While I have no doubt that the Democrat Party has its problems, I speak as a Republican who has been on the inside for a long time in the Republican Party.

I believe that the millions of dollars from the mega corporations that the Republican Party hijackers get in their sweet-sounding slush funds, like the “Committee to Create a Beautiful World” are given with the purpose of pushing the corporate hegemony, which is advancing rapidly throughout the country. While I am not anti-corporation, I certainly do not want my country run by the mega corporations. I see the same legislation in many states. My son and many of your sons and daughters are not serving this country in our military to hand our democracy over to mega corporations. Veterans should be outraged.
I see hardly any independent thinking occurring among our elected officials.
Whether you are of a particular party, or no party, you cannot want an elected official who just follows. Why have separate districts? Not many of us get to vote for the leaders of any party, just for those who run from our own districts and we should expect that they remember where they came from and vote for the interests of their districts as well as the Constitution they swore to uphold.
I have been asked by many people to run for elected office again, to stay involved. I have had inquiries to see what I have been doing. I am still here, despite those who wish I were gone, and have been working on PSC changes and I hope to gain citizen support.
I have a fire in my gut more than ever to stop the selling of our representative government; to stop the corruption and the hypocrisy; to work toward fixing the real problems we are all facing. I cannot and will not sit and do nothing.

If belonging to a political party means having to follow blindly, count me out. We need more citizen legislators with the courage to fly alone if the team goes in the wrong direction. Both political parties need a reawakening. Perhaps in these dire times, partisan politics is the last thing we need.
I put a lot on the line to advise you that the proposals by young inexperienced legislative power-mongers and Rick Scott were going to do harm to the very people I worked hard to protect. I warned you. Nevertheless those agendas have become policy of the state. I believe we have to fight hard to get our democracy back. Our rights, our government, are worth that fight. The time is now.
Nancy Argenziano served as a Republican state representative and state senator whose districts included Citrus County. After serving in the Legislature, she served on the Florida Public Service Commission.
Senate Hires Grandson of Cuban Dictator
11:56AM APR 22ND 2014
Nancy Argenziano says “They are even fighting the majority of citizens (63 percent) who voted for a ballot initiative for fair districts with our own tax dollars ($50 million). I cannot be proud to find that the Florida Speaker of the House has hired his own law firm to litigate the Fair Districts amendment challenges. Sheer arrogance.”

And. Low and behold…………… look who they hired to fight “the ballot initiative for fair districts with our own tax dollars ($50 million).”

The grandson of former Cuban Dictator Fulgencio Batista himself!

Senate hires former Justice Raoul Cantero to help its redistricting case
After being slapped by the Florida Supreme Court for creating a redistricting map that was “was rife with indicators of improper intent,” Senate Republican leaders have hired former justice and Miami lawyer Raoul Cantero, the grandson of former Cuban dictator, General Fulgencio Batista to handle their case as they return to the court with a second try. Cantero, who was appointed by former Gov. Jeb Bush to serve on the Florida Supreme Court, was a member of the bench from 2002-2008 and is now with the White & Case law firm. He will be paid $695 an hour plus expenses. Last summer, the House and Senate had spent close to $1.2 million on legal fees on redistricting, and that was before the public hearings were held and the maps were drawn. Raoul Cantero also represented a terrorist, Orlando Bosch, Another Jeb Bush friend who conspired in the bombing of a Cubana airliner in 1976, later pardoned by Bush (43).

Cantero's contract says he will be representing the Senate on its "remand from the Court and advising the Senate on how to draw legislative districts that comply with the court's opinion." Download White & Case LLP re Justice Cantero redistricting SE19D.

The Florida Democratic Party has also hired a former judge, former federal district court judge Joseph Hatchett, who presided over the court's redrawing of congressional district lines in 1992.

The court has not yet received the revised map. Attorney General Pam Bondi has until April 11 to send it to the justices and the court will then have 30 days for review.

According to the justice department in George Bush Sr's administration, Orlando Bosch had participated in more than 30 terrorist acts. He was convicted of firing a rocket into a Polish ship which was on passage to Cuba. He was also implicated in the 1976 blowing-up of a Cubana plane flying to Havana from Venezuela in which all 73 civilians on board were killed.

CIA memorandums strongly suggest, according to Bardach's book, that Bosch was one of the conspirators, and quotes the then secretary of state, Henry Kissinger, as writing that the "US government had been planning to suggest Bosch's deportation before Cubana airlines crash took place for his suspected involvement in other terrorist acts and violation of his parole".
Bosch's release, often referred to in the US media as a pardon, was the result of pressure brought by hard line Cubans in Miami, with Jeb Bush serving as their point man. Bosch now lives in Miami and remains unrepentant about his militant activities, according to Bardach.

In July 2002, Jeb Bush nominated Raoul Cantero III, the grandson of Cuban Dictator Batista, as a Florida Supreme Court Judge despite his lack of experience. Mr Cantero had previously represented Bosch and acted as his spokesman, once describing Bosch on Miami radio as a "great Cuban patriot". In 2008 Raoul Cantero III resigned the court. In January 2014 Rick Scott (Jeb Bush stand in for Governor) appointed Carlos Lopez-Cantera another Madrid Spain born of Cuban parents also believed to be related to Batista as Lieutenant Governor of Florida.
It's Not Left & Right - It's All Right or Wrong
9:38AM APR 22ND 2014
Paula Dockery - On Spotting Corruption, Who to Call?

Thursday, August 09, 2012 -

During my time in the Florida Legislature, I have taken on a few issues that led to the discovery of state activities that were questionable at a minimum, and more likely unethical or illegal.
In politics, it is easier and more rewarding to "go along to get along." People who seek the truth and continue digging or asking questions are "troublemakers," while those who turn their heads the other way or ignore warning signs are "team players."
My favorite saying that I try to put into practice is "All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing." But in researching issues such as SunRail, prison privatization and numerous special-interest projects, I have smacked into the wall of silence at several state agencies.

Rank-and-file employees are expected to refer questions to public information officers, who seem trained to avoid real answers. Even extreme measures, such as public-record requests, are answered with data dumps of mostly incomprehensible reams of paper.
A consequence of my public battles is that some state employees have contacted me to provide information or confirm "that you are on the right track, keep asking questions." Not only have I been contacted by employees or ex-employees of the agency I was currently researching, but from other agencies or departments with which I had little interaction.
Their willingness to step up and do the right thing to expose potential corruption, unethical behavior and patronage is admirable. They speak of hostile work environments, subtle threats, cozy relationships and widespread distrust. It saddens me to know they face the very real dilemma of whether to keep quiet and keep their job, or speak out and risk getting kicked out. Not much of a choice.

It must be awful to know of things going on in state government that should be stopped or exposed, but feel frightened and powerless to do so. Who can they tell? Who can they trust? Will it matter anyway?
If acted upon, their tips could lead to eliminating bad apples, opening competition to all vendors and saving taxpayer dollars. There should be incentives for employees to speak up when they see inappropriate behavior, lest it become the prevailing culture in which they are expected to participate. It is usually at this point that they quit or reach out to someone. Shouldn't there be someone for them to reach out to without fear or reprisal?
Within every state agency, there is an inspector general who is supposed to root out corruption and fraud, and ensure tax dollars are spent wisely. If this system were working properly, employees would have a viable mechanism for reporting abuse. However, a 2009 Florida Trend report found several inspectors who were fired or asked to resign by agency bosses who didn’t appreciate the independent oversight.

Inspectors at the Department of Corrections, Agency for Health Care Administration and Florida Department of Transportation were among them. The DOC inspector was fired for investigating a friend of the agency’s secretary. Today both the secretary and his friend are in prison for accepting kickbacks. At FDOT, the well-respected inspector general was asked to resign for having taken cases to law enforcement. Apparently, the agency’s legal staff feared what people might think.
In other words, it's OK if corruption exists, let's just make sure no one finds out about it.

Such retribution flies in the face of the purpose for inspectors general. The major problem is that they aren't independent and can be fired at the whim of agency secretaries who don’t want dirty laundry aired.
Several Florida agencies sign contracts that spend billions of taxpayer dollars. With Florida leading the nation in public corruption, this situation should be taken seriously.
For the past two years, I sponsored a bill -- based on recommendations from the 2010 Grand Jury Report on Public Corruption -- to restore public integrity and regain the public trust. The bill sought to give greater independence to the inspectors general, more authority to the Chief Inspector General and financial rewards to employees who provide information that results in the recovery of funds.
As with most ethics-reform legislation, the bills went nowhere fast.

Perhaps with Integrity Florida leading the charge for true and meaningful reform, we might see positive results.

In the meantime, employees morally opposed to what is happening in their agencies don't know where to turn. While I'm flattered they feel I am someone who can "shed some light" on the situation, there is only so much I can do in my last few months as a legislator. We need to address this gap from many fronts.
Agency workers need a hotline to report tips so that reporters, law enforcement and the ethics commission could further investigate. The Ethics Commission needs the authority to initiate investigations and the teeth to do something with the results. The governor's new chief of staff can change the culture with an open-door policy and by removing the toxic cronyism.

There are many honorable people who work for the state who shouldn't be painted with the same brush as the bad actors. We need to separate the good from the bad and not place honest workers in the position of participating in questionable behavior by following the orders of their bosses. Those who misuse their power should be rightfully held accountable.

Standing up to corruption and good-old-boy politics deserves to be encouraged and rewarded. No one else should lose their job for doing the right thing.

Paula Dockery is a term-limited Republican senator from Lakeland who is chronicling her final year in the Florida Senate.
It's Not Left & Right - It's All Right or Wrong
9:36AM APR 22ND 2014
Sen. Mike Fasano booted from committee in feud over privatizing prisons

TALLAHASSEE — As a divided Senate struggled for a second day over a prison privatization plan, its biggest critic was stripped of a chairmanship and an "extremely disappointed" Gov. Rick Scott twisted opposing senators' arms to no avail.
The chaos leaves a priority of Senate leaders in grave jeopardy a year after a similar plan was thrown out by a judge because it was tucked into the budget and not debated separately. Opponents said that such a massive expansion of privatization could not survive an up-or-down vote in the full Senate.
Senate leaders say the state can save much-needed money by outsourcing 26 prisons and work camps in South Florida to private, for-profit vendors with a guaranteed savings of at least 7 percent. But they face growing resistance from senators who doubt the promised savings of between $16 million and $30 million a year and who are unwilling to disrupt state workers' lives for what they say are modest savings in a budget of almost $70 billion.

Critics also say the cost of paying displaced prison workers for unused sick leave and vacation time would offset the savings.

Amid the mounting tension, Senate President Mike Haridopolos refused to bring up the bill for debate, a sign that it faced defeat. Ten of 28 Senate Republicans have voiced strong reservations or opposition to such a major policy shift, a serious rift in the GOP caucus.

The drama intensified as Haridopolos stripped Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, of his chairmanship of a budget subcommittee overseeing prisons, saying Fasano "was not rowing in the same direction" as Senate leaders on budget decisions.
"It's become clear to me that Sen. Fasano was not willing to make these choices," Haridopolos said.

Fasano said Haridopolos told him he was being punished for his anti-privatization comments in an MSNBC interview Monday.

"It's unfortunate when leaders of the Senate can't lose like gentlemen," Fasano said.

The Rick Scott-Jeb Bush partnership just made his go away. They made him an offer he could not refuse!

Aug 07, 2013 - Mike Fasano is Pasco's new tax collector

Govern Rick Scott introduced the new Pasco County tax collector at New Port Richey City Hall this morning.
The governor appointed Mike Fasano, a Republican member of the Florida House, to hold the title. Fasano, started his political career in Florida in 1994 a New Port Richey resident, has been the House member since 2012 representing the 36th district.

Fasano was a Florida senator for 10 years before that, according to the Florida House of Representatives webpage.
What happened to Haridopolos
10:14AM APR 22ND 2014
Dec. 24, 2010 - Mike Haridopolos hires consultant tied to Alabama bribes-for-bonds scheme

Haridopolos, a Merritt Island Republican, hired THGC Consulting LLC, a Winter Park-based shell company established this year, for a $90,000 consulting contract in November to provide advice on how to cut costs of the pension system, which has assets of $120 billion-plus.

Mike Haritopoulos: Another Corrupt Overly Coiffed Politician Running For The U.S. Senate

What do you call a man who is in his just beginning his tenure as the President of the Florida State Senate at a time where the State is facing dire economic times and is already making plans to run for the U.S. Senate when he is term limited out in 2012?

What do you call a College Professor (who also was also an Elected member of the State Legislature) who got 152 grand of Taxpayer’s money to write a 175 double-spaced book on “politics” in Florida that, until the scandal broke, had only one copy published?

Answer: A rip-off artist and lousy guardian of the Public Treasury. If a regular person had done such a deed, he would have gone to jail. This act alone should disqualify Haridopolis from the Senate and a CRIMINAL INQUIRY needs to be set in motion over this. PERIOD. Enough is Enough.
Question: When said above Politician gets caught RIPPING OFF the taxpayer and then, in a desperate effort to prove he really wrote a book worthy of the 152 grand, now has it for sale for 9.99 on Amazon Kindle, what does that tell you about his attitude towards voters in Florida?
Answer: He thinks we are fools who will buy into this crap. Anybody can publish a book on Kindle.

June 14, 2012 - Sen. Haridopolos comes to aid of politically connected firm

A company whose lobbyist is tight with Sen. President Mike Haridopolos was able to save its $9.4 million no-bid state contract thanks to his intervention.
TALLAHASSEE -- When a politically connected company was in danger of losing a $9.4 million no-bid contract with the state, Senate President Mike Haridopolos came to the rescue of the outfit — a firm that employs his good friend and political benefactor as a lobbyist.

Haridopolos staved off the threat to the deal with the Department of Juvenile Justice and quietly steered $6 million in additional dollars to the company, despite the vigorous objections of agency leaders and top Republican senators.

The move allowed Evidence Based Associates, a Washington-based probation program, the exclusive contract to handle the state effort to divert at-risk youth from costly prison beds into community programs. The company kept the business despite recent reports that it had failed to comply with key terms of the agreement —– and to the chagrin of a long list of providers who wanted to compete for the work.

The company’s lobbyist, Frank Tsamoutales, is a Brevard County Republican who has been a financial backer of Haridopolos since the Brevard County legislator was first elected to office in 2000. He went to work for EBA in April 2011, earning between $20,000 and $29,000 in the first year, the same year Haridopolos became Senate president.

The investment paid off.

When a legislative conference committee decided it was time to lower the cost of the project, lawmakers wrote language into the budget ordering DJJ to rebid the contract after eight years with EBA. That’s when Tsamoutales spoke to Haridopolos.

The final budget signed by Haridopolos and House Speaker Dean Cannon deleted the requirement that the contract be put to bid.

But let us not forget YSI (Youth Services International) whose politician greased palms continue to get YSI millions and millions of FDOC contracts for their Juvenile Prison system while the management allows the Administrator's and personnel to take the children home and have sexual relationships with them.

And when they are caught and admit their crimes no criminal prosecution, no admonishment, absolutely no consequences for their actions of sex abuse against children held in the state sanctioned facilities! Their only recourse is the parents of these victims must file federal lawsuits against YSI and the likes to bring any punishment for their actions.
It's Not Left & Right - It's All Right or Wrong
9:34AM APR 22ND 2014
Getting rid of "moderate Republicans with familiar faces like Mike Fasano, Paula Dockery?" What about Nancy Argenziano who served as a Republican state representative and state senator whose districts included Citrus County? You forgot to mention her! And what about Senator Ronda Storms who constantly stood up for the victims of abuse in state run or sanctioned facilities? Bet your glad that that storm is gone, huh?

Funny how every one of the people documented their disgust with the establishment. With these so called "moderates" out of the way Rick Scott-Jeb Bush can proceed with their march to privatize and criminalize every faucet of Florida's government enterprises. People can expect a disgruntled politician every now and then, but when some of the most respected people sent to Tallahassee independently expose the same corruption - the people of Florida had darn well better listen to them.

There is total corruption in the halls of Tallahassee - when Senator (former Citrus County Sheriff) Charlie Dean even has his goons going around strong arming counties to sign on to his ACMS Inc Landfill in Lake Panasoffkee, FL. Counties forced to pay millions and millions to dump and haul to his dump in Sumter County Florida. Not only that but the environmentalists has been thrown in the dump along with anything else disposable in today's world.
8:06AM APR 22ND 2014
Very good article. But somehow, someway it will not be conservative enough to pass any meaningful tort reform. These supposed conservatives act and vote conservative on many things, but on the money issues - protecting John Morgan and his band of thieves at the Florida Justice Association who sue businesses all day - certain members wilt under the heat like pansies.

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