Thursday, August 12, 2010

Bill McCollum And Rick Scott Are Not Good For Florida

Florida gubernatorial candidates Rick Scott and Bill McCollum have been waging a war in the Republican primaries taking the gloves off early and letting the fists fly.  The two candidates have had a bevy of negative advertisements against each other and the two candidates have had a number of flip-flops or personal scandals - Bill McCollum can't seem to hold a single position for long and Rick Scott has his Medicate woes.

If you have ever seen a Rick Scott attack ad against Bill McCollum, you probably have seen the one where he uses an audio recording of McCollum saying Florida does not need an immigration law like the one in Arizona. Now, McCollum has flip-flopped and he wants to bring an Arizona-style law to Florida, but to make sure conservatives and teabaggers believe McCollum is their go-to guy, McCollum wants to make the Florida law even stricter.

Asad Ba-Yunus wrote for explaining the differences McCollum wants for his bill:
With early voting in progress and less than two weeks left before the critical Republican primary elections, McCollum, who is trailing in the polls to rival Rick Scott, proposed a “stronger,” “tougher” and “fairer” bill aimed at allowing law enforcement officers in Florida to detain persons they have “reasonable suspicion” to believe are in the United States illegally.

This requirement of “reasonable suspicion” – legal buzz words that mean something less than “probable cause”, sets this bill apart from the Arizona law, according to McCollum. The bill also allows judges to consider a defendant’s immigration status when setting bond amounts and in allowing prosecutors to bring higher-level charges against illegal immigrants and stiffer sentences at conviction.

Also different than the Arizona law, the AG’s bill would not allow citizens to sue police agencies for failing to enforce the law – this would instead be left to the Attorney General’s office. Employing illegal immigrants would also become a violation of state criminal law, and the bill would require businesses to use the federal E-Verify program before hiring anyone. The Florida bill specifically prohibits racial profiling.
In a state like Florida with a large immigrant population (16.7% of Floridians are foreign born), "reasonable suspicion" and "racial profiling" still seem interconnected - there are also a lot of legal Hispanics in Florida, whether they are from Cuba or from Puerto Rico (which is part of America).  How does McCollum define "reasonable suspicion?"

McCollum has also seems conflicted in regards to gay issues, opting to take draconian measures against homosexuals - he recently came out attacking gay foster parents and stood up for Florida's gay adoption ban.

Steve Bousquet wrote for the Miami Herald a list of things McCollum has done recently:
When it comes to homosexuality as a campaign issue, Bill McCollum is a study in contradictions.

The Republican candidate for governor is clear: He opposes same-sex marriage and says gay couples should not be allowed to adopt children.

``I don't believe that the people who do this should be raising our children,'' McCollum says.

But the finance chairman of his campaign, Miami investor Jon Kislak, led the unsuccessful drive to keep a same-sex marriage ban out of the state Constitution in 2008. Kislak said his gay daughter had to move out of state to marry her partner and adopt a child -- his grandson.

It's the fifth time McCollum has faced apparent contradictions involving gay issues as a candidate or as attorney general.

• He told a Baptist publication last week that he opposes an existing state law that lets gays serve as temporary foster parents, a stand even one of his most conservative supporters disagrees with.

• His office paid $120,000 to antigay activist George Rekers as an expert witness in a gay adoption case, only to learn that Rekers traveled to Europe with a male escort. McCollum accepted full responsibility for hiring Rekers and said in retrospect he would not have hired him.

• He has long sought political advice from Arthur Finkelstein, a respected Republican consultant in Massachusetts who, along with his longtime gay partner, has adopted two children. ``I've had a number of people who are gays work for me,'' McCollum says. ``I have no discrimination in my office about employing anybody or working around me.''

• McCollum was vilified by social conservatives in his 2004 U.S. Senate race as a tool of the ``radical homosexual lobby'' for favoring a federal hate-crime law including protection for gays and lesbians. The attack reflected a broader strategy by allies of the victorious Mel Martinez to puncture McCollum's pro-family image.
McCollum seems to be positioning himself real well with the right-wing of his party, and I am certain that should McCollum win the primary he would attempt to make his views sound moderate or on par with the views of the majority of Americans.

Rick Scott, who is attacking McCollum from the right is no saint either - Tristram Kortem wrote for The Florida Independent that Rick Scott is involved in new accusations that a company he co-founded (Solantic) improperly billed Medicare - something Scott had dealt with before.
In 1997 Scott was forced to resign as the CEO of Columbia/HCA, then the country’s largest hospital chain, while it was being investigated for massive Medicare and Medicaid fraud. Federal agents seized records from several Columbia/HCA hospitals that revealed how the hospitals kept two sets of books: one that reflected a procedure’s true costs and another with inflated expenses charged to Medicare. There were also allegations that hospitals paid illegal kickbacks to doctors for patient referrals. Four executives were indicted. Two of them were found guilty and sent to prison. The company ultimately pleaded guilty to 14 felonies and ended up paying $1.7 billion in fines and settlements.

Scott was never charged, or even interviewed by authorities. Columbia/HCA paid Scott about $10 million, along with roughly $300 million worth of stock, to leave the company. He has previously said he had no knowledge of the wrongdoing and would not have condoned it. But people familiar with the case, like John Schilling, a former Columbia/HCA employee who reported the abuses to the feds, have stated that Scott’s aggressive emphasis on profits and cost created the environment for the fraud to develop.

Because Scott has never held public office before, he is running for governor on his record as a businessman. On his campaign website, he states: “I’ve made mistakes in my life. And mistakes were certainly made at Columbia/HCA. I was the CEO of the company and as CEO I accept responsibility for what happened on my watch. I learned very hard lessons from what happened and those lessons have helped me become a better businessman and leader.”

Solantic was Scott’s first major attempt to get back into the health care business after his ouster from Columbia/HCA. He co-founded the company in 2001 with partner Karen Bowling. The company’s first medical director Dr. David Yarian, has said that all decisions, including hiring people, had to be approved by Scott. (Yarian sued the company during a contract dispute in which he alleged he was fired for opposing Scott’s discriminatory hiring practices. Solantic settled with him.)
If you ask me, neither McCollum nor Scott are good candidates for the job.  Hope the Democrats are paying close attention to this primary - same goes for "Bud" Chiles, the independant candidate...

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