Welcome to The Dean’s List — an Ed Dean-style look at who Florida’s political achievers were (and weren’t) in the last seven days. What you see here is strictly my opinion, not necessarily the editor’s or the rest of the staff at Sunshine State News or Florida Dash.
THOSE WHO MADE THE LIST.
Steve Schale. In order to turn the Florida Democratic Party around, strategist Steve Schale insists some things need to change. He backs moving the FDP headquarters from Tallahassee to Orlando. “Go to the Orlando media market,” Schale said. “That is where the state is most dynamic right now. Lay down a marker and start organizing.” Schale has also said that Democrats need to pay a lot more attention to voters in North Florida.
Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd. On Sunday, Judd spoke at the Fellowship Assembly of God in Lakeland about a faith-based program that started in his jail. It has already converted almost 1,500 prisoners without using taxpayer dollars. Judd makes this kind of speech wearing his uniform and that has the Freedom From Religion Foundation all riled up, claiming he’s blurring the lines between church and state. Judd’s response is the right one. He’ll be speaking in another church this Sunday, wearing the uniform.
Florida’s Best and Brightest Teacher Scholarship Program. This scholarship program will allow 4,402 teachers to be eligible for $10,000 scholarships based on performance achievement on the SAT or ACT. Teachers will have to show they scored at or above the 80th percentile on the college-entrance exams at the time they were tested.
Tallahassee City Commissioner Scott Maddox. This veteran Democrat says he’s never voted for a property tax increase in his 13 years in public office and he’s not about to. There’s a proposed property tax increase in the upcoming city budget and Maddox has called to “look at other revenue sources and tightening our belts department by department” instead of raising taxes an additional $200.
THOSE WHO DIDN’T MAKE THE LIST.
U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla. The DNC chairwoman keeps trashing former Gov. Jeb Bush, saying he is wrong for America and therefore proving to many that he’s right. Speaking at FIU, she started off with the “blaming Bush” syndrome and blamed George W. Bush for all of the nation’s woes. “I expect as time goes by Americans are going to have an opportunity to see the results of Jeb’s policies as they were in Florida,” Wasserman Schultz said. Maybe not — since Jeb’s record far outpaces Wasserman Schultz’s.
The Miami-Dade 500: The Miami Herald looked at the best paid workers in county government. According to the county’s online payroll database, the Miami-Dade county attorney’s office pays the best. Cynthia Johnson-Stacks, a county attorney, earned the most: $379,595 in 2014; Robert Cuevas, the outgoing head of the county attorney’s office, was at $352,871 in 2014 and Abigail Price-Williams was third, earning $323,309 in 2014.
The Boynton Beach City Commission. In April, a Palm Beach County circuit judge threw out 200 Boynton Beach red-light camera citations. Now, local city officials are trying to come up with a way to make the red-light camera program legal. The red-light camera programs haven’t been cost-effective for the city. According to the city data, in 2013-2014, Boynton spent $1,038,000 on red-light program-related costs but only collected $975,000 in red-light ticket revenue. Boynton Beach is the only city left that uses red-light cameras in Palm Beach and Broward counties.
Orange County Property Appraiser Rick Singh. This Orange County official is suing SeaWorld, insisting the theme park isn’t paying enough in the way of property taxes. Singh’s office said Sea World should be paying $192 million. Just one problem: The Orange County’s value adjustment board said it should only be $182 million. SeaWorld said its property should be assessed at “fair market value,” just like every other Orange County property.
Ed Dean, a senior editor with SSN whose talk-show can be heard on radio stations across Florida, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @eddeanradio.