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Posts Tagged ‘Sen. Bill Nelson’

Derailed

I always thought that Rick Scott would manage to destroy Florida by the end of his term, but I was wrong. At the rate he’s going he’ll destroy it LONG before then.

In just under two months Scott has taken command of a state with Titanic potential, and actively sought out an iceberg to steer it into. Much like the Titanic, yesterday he hit the big one. Unlike Scott, at least the ship builders Harland and Wolff had a vision to try to build a bold new mode of transportation. But Rick Scott? His only vision at this point appears to be seeking revenge against the nation’s first black President (or as Scott refers to them, one of “those people.”) who dared to tackle another industry in dire need of reform: health care. We all know about Rick Scott’s experience with that, where he left behind the company he owned and ran to make the history books in the subject of Medicare fraud. Perhaps his eyes are on a bigger prize now as a one man death panel who steers patients to private clinics, like his current company, Solantic. But that’s an issue for another day.

Rick Scott managed to get elected somehow, in spite of his past business background. Perhaps people in Florida were so desperate or naive that they actually bought what he was selling. I would imagine that even his die-hard supporters have a touch of voters remorse. The GOP certainly has buyers remorse after groveling at Scott’s feet when he defeated their preferred candidate, Bill McCollum. He not only flipped off voters, maybe a couple corporate donors, and his own party, he even seems confused about his own policies with yesterday’s rejection of high-speed rail. That decision has left many scratching their heads, and may have just convinced even the former doubters that he has become the Master Of Disaster for Florida. The only groups he seems to have catered to is that small minority of ignorant Tea Partiers who probably have trouble balancing their own bank accounts and think that fairies, not taxes, fill the potholes that are big enough for them to drive their pickup trucks through. (They’ll figure it out soon enough when the next hurricane comes along and they’re forced to rely on the former disaster management crew from Wal-Mart. But again, another issue for another day.)

The other group that’s happy about Scott’s decision? Why that would be a libertarian “think tank,” the Reason Foundation, which wrote the so-called report Scott relied on to base his decision on rather than an upcoming study from the Florida Department of Transportation he claimed to be waiting for. Counted among the he Reason Foundation’s Board of Trustees is none other than David H. Koch, of Koch Industries, and yes, one more rather large can of worms.

For someone who claims to be an outsider, well, sort of. He’s an outsider to reality. He wants to run Florida like a business? Sure, a bad one, but then look at his track record. His campaign promises? Well, you’re a sucker if you believed them.

The high-speed rail project was a good business decision that was a sorely needed “gift” to Florida, where traffic and gridlock have been a growing problem for decades. I can vouch for at least the last 30 years, but ask those who have dealt with it even longer. Of course for someone who travels by private jet as Scott does, that’s hardly a problem for him. As for the rest of us, well we can just keep on sucking exhaust fumes while we sit in traffic and spend hours moving through parking lots like I4 where it takes a large chunk out of your day to travel to a place that should only take an hour or two. Mind you, this is Florida, not the New York area or even California. We’re talking say  Tampa to Orlando.

The “gift” Florida got from the high-speed rail project brought us $2.4 billion in federal funds. The project would have created more than 23,000 jobs, some of which have already begun, where we have a 20 percent unemployment rate. Private businesses were lining up for bids on the project, bids that will never materialize if Scott gets his way. However, since the gift came from President Obama, well, Florida will just have to go without all that, even though Scott promised to create 700,000 jobs (never mind the 8700 jobs that he cut last week) and he claimed Florida would become a major attraction to the private sector and therefore prosperity for every resident. Not only has Scott doomed high-speed rail, we’re probably doomed form any other companies and jobs that may have come to Florida. People who actually know how to run a business, unlike Gov. Dictator, would probably view Florida as a really bad risk for investment as long as the Governor is a fickle operator who could pull the plug at any given moment as he did with the rail project. Of course, that’s over and above the problem of trusting a man whose first company became a textbook case on Medicare fraud.

Two days ago Scott went on (what else?) FOX-GOP-TV to proclaim “I know what needs to happen in Florida,” and “I know what our citizens need.” He was talking about one of his other “projects,” Medicaid and the repeal of the Affordable Care Act. He also blasted the “evil demon” stimulus bill, which he claims will cause dependency. (Today Scoot meets with BP claims czar Ken Feinberg over the problems of oil spill claims. Perhaps he’ll tell Feinberg  to withhold claims altogether so those whose businesses were hurt by the oil gusher don’t become too dependent on any relief?)

Does Scott “know what Florida needs? No. In fact he has proven he has absolutely no clue. While he turned down that $2.4 billion for high-speed rail, he said that he “believes Florida is better served by investments in ports, highways and other infrastructure to create long-term jobs.” What the clueless Governor fails to grasp is the not so little detail of how that $2.4 billion can be spent. One might ask Scott what part of the words “high-speed rail funds” he doesn’t understand, because the concept seems to have him stumped.

If the money isn’t used for high-speed rail as intended, Florida loses that money. In fact if Scott had bothered to study up on it, he would know that we got some of those funds because another clueless Governor turned them down as well. No, Scott may think he can use those funds any way he wants, perhaps even on himself or maybe use it for his wife’s Governor’s mansion redecorating fund for all we know. That money will now go elsewhere if Scott doesn’t change his mind. There’s a reason why, barely minutes after the news of Scott’s stupidity broke, states like California and New York were already scrambling for the funds as if billions of dollars had just descended from the heavens at their feet. High-speed rail is popular and a good thing. What happened to the Governor who recently said “he would be spending a great deal of time in Washington making sure Florida gets its fair share?” So far he’s taken our fair share and thrown it back in President Obama’s face.

As I write, Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) and yes, even Republican U.S. Rep. John Mica, who Scott managed to flip off as well yesterday are scrambling to do damage control with an end run around the decision.

There’s even talk of recall. Yesterday Representative Rick Kriseman (D-St. Petersburg) filed legislation to permit the recall of state officials. You can read and track those bills: HJR785 here, and HB787 here. The bills may offer a glimmer of hope, considering the disastrous first couple of months of Scott’s “Dictator-like” rule where he operates away from the press but in front of Tea Baggers, the only choir he preaches to.

Scott is Mr. Fiscal when it comes to the serious needs of the homeless, the elderly, the mentally ill. State workers, the unemployed, teachers, students, veterans, and countless others I’ve not listed here will get no relief from Scott. When it comes to these things, he wants to cut, cut, cut. When it comes to lavish Inaugural festivities made possible with hefty donations from private businesses of course, well that’s another story. I’m sure there’s more than a donor or two who now wish they had that money back. But they’ll just have to get in line with the rest of us.

In just a few short weeks Scott has managed to turn the words “all aboard” into derailed plans for prosperity in the future, and he’s just getting warmed up. He’s moving on to several new icebergs, and if things don’t change pretty soon, we’ll all be going down with the ship.

Because uprooting and moving out-of-state is an unacceptable and pretty drastic alternative as a life-raft, for those who can still afford one.

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All but two of the Florida Republican members of the House voted against the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell yesterday.

The two members who voted in favor of repealing the policy for gays in the military were Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Lincoln Diaz-Balart. Mario Diaz-Balart joined other Republican members who voted against it in a vote of 250-175.

The bill moves to the Senate where Republican Sen. “Stand-In” George LeMieux opposes it. Sen. Bill Nelson voted in support last week when the vote failed. However, today Jim DeMint and his GOP colleagues in the Senate have threatened to “run out the clock” on the bill.

The list of those Republicans who voted against the measure yesterday is here:

Roll call for DADT

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Sen. “Stand In” George LeMieux joined his Republican colleagues today and voted to block consideration of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. The measure failed 57-40. Sen. Bill Nelson voted in favor.

LeMieux opposed the measure that would allow gays to serve openly in the military. His reasoning?

“I don’t think that in the middle of wars this is the time to make that change.”

Why yes, because when you’re in the middle of two wars, the last thing you need are troops who are more than willing to serve.

Support the troops Sen. LeMieux? As long as those troops aren’t gay, apparently. Never mind that the troops themselves don’t seem to think it’s a problem. Lemieux is against it, either due to pure bigotry or as a form of political obstruction, merely to hold the bill hostage until he gets more tax breaks for millionaires and the corporations who might buy another seat for him come the next election, take your pick. Either way, he and the Republicans have demonstrated once again they do NOT support the troops. Never mind that lives are on the line. Money is at stake here, so suck it up troops!

And speaking of that lack of support, here’s what else went down with the ship when LeMieux and the Republicans voted down Don’t Ask Don’t Tell:

National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2011  Summary

So you see it isn’t just the safety of the country the Republicans couldn’t care less about, nor the safety of the troops themselves.

They don’t about equal rights either.

Congratulations George LeMieux. In your brief time in the Senate you “proudly” took a stand, and now it’s on record.

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Because who can keep up, here is some of the latest oil spill news:

BP’s Gulf oil spill is the world’s worst spill in history “caused by an accident.”

Yes, who could have seen THIS coming? BP delaying decisions on claims.

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson calls for a federal investigation of BP’s use of chemicals to break down oil as it spread across the Gulf of Mexico.

BP Cleanup workers NOT exactly like the ones in those cheery BP ads in you local newspaper?

Gulf of Mexico wins! Largest dead zone ever.

It all depends on what your definition of “toxic” is.

And your definition of “safe” as well. Safe seafood? Not even fishermen in the Gulf believe seafood passes the “smell test.”

I’ve added a new link to my blogroll: The Daily Glob, that may be of interest to all of you trying to keep up with the latest oil spill developments. You can find it under the “FYI” list on the right of the website.

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Because the BP oil disaster story is not going anywhere anytime soon, nor is there an end in sight as far as the leak goes, I’m starting a new “series” of posts here at Beach Peanuts, entitled “Must Be Something In The Water.”

Whenever I find something of particular interest regarding the oil spill, anything about it or BP, that for whatever reason doesn’t warrant a larger post, I will file it under that title. There is just so much information, AND misinformation out there, and so many aspects of the story I want to investigate and write about here that I could spend virtually every waking moment doing so. However, I can’t do that, nor do I want to. This is one solution for purposes of information overload.

Whether it’s a “quote of the day,” a significant event or information, be it fact, fiction or funny, but there just isn’t enough for a full post, you’ll find it here. And yes, I know there’s nothing funny about an oil spill. But let’s face it, “humor happens.” I’ve experienced a great deal of tragedy in my life and having a sense of humor helps. (Seriously, try it sometime. Snark is a great outlet for anger and a safe one at that.)

So without further adieu, today’s “Must Be Something In The Water” involves what might well be MORE of what’s in the water in the near future: oil.

Series Of New Blowouts? Bill Nelson: Oil May Be Seeping Up From The Sea Bed

According to Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL), they’re seeing something new down there on the sea bed. There are reports of oil seeping up from the sea bed that would indicate that the well casing is pierced. This could mean that even the relief wells currently being drilled won’t help unless you get the plug low enough where the pipe is breached.

This is NOT good news.


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Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) has asked U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke for a fishery disaster declaration for the state of Florida due to the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

37% of the Gulf is now closed to fishing. As of 5:00 p.m. that area will include the waters three miles due south of Pensacola, Florida.

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From Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL):

The reason why he and others pushed so hard to get the live video of the leaking oil from BP:

By Joshua Schneyer

NEW YORK, May 25 (Reuters) – Just how many barrels of oil are gushing into the Gulf of Mexico from the Deepwater Horizon spill is a billion dollar question with implications that go beyond the environment. It could also help determine how much BP and others end up paying for the disaster.

A clause buried deep in the U.S. Clean Water Act may expose BP and others to civil fines that aren’t limited to any finite cap — unlike a $75 million limit on compensation for economic damages. The Act allows the government to seek civil penalties in court for every drop of oil that spills into U.S. navigable waters, including the area of BP’s leaking well.

As a result, the U.S. government could seek to fine BP or others up to $4,300 for every barrel leaked into the U.S. Gulf, according to legal experts and official documents.

So far, analysts and experts calculating potential oil spill liabilities have mostly concentrated on the cost of the clean-up and compensation for economic damages to affected parties. Some have also discussed criminal liabilities.

But the potential for civil fines has received scant attention — and they could add up very quickly, depending on how aggressive the U.S. government is in pursuing them.

The threat of hefty fines underscores the importance of quantifying how much oil is pouring into the Gulf. As BP seeks to staunch the leak that has now been gushing for at least 33 days, it has estimated a spill rate of 5,000 barrels per day. But some experts say the volume — and hence the fines — could be more than 10 times higher.

The little-known, seldom applied clause in the Clean Water Act was added in 1990 after the Exxon Valdez disaster in Alaska, and was intended to beef up the arsenal of penalties the government can apply to oil spillers to deter future disasters.

“These civil penalties could be staggeringly high, possibly running into the billions,” said Professor David Uhlmann, director of the Environmental Law program at University of Michigan.

Total liability — including civil fines as well as the cost of clean-up, economic damages and potential criminal liability — “will run into the billions and may be in the tens of billions,” Uhlmann said.

Under the Clean Water Act, the Environmental Protection Agency can seek in federal court to fine any party whose negligence results in an oil spill in U.S. federal waters.

Other companies involved at the Horizon platform and the oilfield could share liability with BP, experts said. They include rig-owner Transocean Ltd, cementing contractor Halliburton Co., blowout preventer manufacturer Cameron, and Anadarko and Mitsui, which also hold stakes in the oilfield.

SHARP RISE IN FINES

The basic fine, according to the act, is $1,100 per barrel spilled. But the penalty can rise to $4,300 a barrel if a federal court rules the spill resulted from gross negligence. The fines were originally set at $1,000 to $3,000 but that was raised in 2004 to keep up with inflation, according to Tracy Hester, head of the environmental Law and Policy program at the University of Houston.

(To see an EPA memo on 2004 revisions to penalties outlined in the Clean Water Act, click here: here )

It is unclear, however, that the EPA would try to apply the fines, or seek maximum penalty levels. EPA officials did not respond to several calls and e-mails requesting comment.

If the agency does act, the per-barrel fines could push oil companies’ liability well beyond the cost of cleaning up the spill and paying legitimate claims for economic damages it causes, experts told Reuters.

“There are civil fines that could be quite substantial. I think BP’s exposure to this is far greater than people initially thought,” said Harvard Law School professor Jody Freeman, who recently served in the White House as Counselor for Energy and Climate Change.

BP has already said it will voluntarily exceed a $75 million cap on liability for economic damages, pledging to pay any “legitimate claim” it receives. But the civil fines are another wild card.

BP spokesman Mark Salt said the company had nothing further to add to what it has said about the costs of the oil spill response.

Cash raised from such fines would be funnelled to government pollution funds, which provide economic aid for hazardous material spills.

BP or other parties facing fines could appeal them, or try to settle with the government for a lesser amount. Another option would be for BP or other responsible parties to seek a far-ranging settlement covering various areas of liability.

“The amount of barrels being released from the well is going to be critical,” said Hester of the University of Houston.

Under pressure over the government’s response to the disaster, President Barack Obama last Friday created a bi-partisan commission on the spill, and the administration has pledged to independently verify the volume of oil leaking into the Gulf. “We’re not depending on what BP is telling us,” Interior Secretary Ken Salazar told CNN last week.

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