West Orlando News: Scott Slammed for Disastrous Record on Vets, Military Families

 

As Gov. Rick Scott continues to tour the state touting his support for veterans, on a conference call Thursday, the governor was called out for his failed policies regarding veterans and military families.

Senator Dwight Bullard and Rep. Dwight Dudley, who joined veterans on the call, noted that Scott had vetoed millions in funding for homeless programs, education benefits, and legal services to help veterans across the state.

In 2011 Scott vetoed $12 million for the National Veterans Homeless Support organization, which provides transitional housing and job training to homeless veterans. And in 2013, he again vetoed $2 million in legal aid for struggling Floridians, including veterans needing assistance in applying for benefits.

“Rick Scott is going around the state, touting his support for veterans. But how can we trust someone who has consistently put his self-interest over the needs of our service members and their families,” said Bullard. “Now that it’s election year, he wants us to forget his dubious record in the private sector, as well as his callous disregard for veterans during his administration. We’re here to say that we won’t forget.”

Although veterans and military service organizations opposed the law, in 2013, Scott signed a bill which allowed consumer lenders to raise interest rates up to 30 percent on certain loans, as well as increase late fee penalties, creating even greater hardships for vulnerable populations, including service members and their families.

No doubt with this re-election in mind, earlier this year, Scott allocated $1 million for the Honorably Discharged Graduate Assistance Program which provides supplemental need-based veteran educational benefits, although last year he had vetoed a $2 million budget item that provided the exact same assistance.

Veterans on the conference call said, not nearly enough is being done to assist them with their reintegration into civilian life, including finding jobs. Educational counseling, sadly in short supply, was key to helping them acclimate back into society.

Noting that he had proudly co-sponsored a long overdue ‘GI Bill’ which helps veterans save millions of dollars by paying in-state tuition, Dudley called on Scott to do more for veterans in areas such as job training or housing.

“I also call on Gov. Rick Scott to expand healthcare access, which would give coverage to 40,000 uninsured veterans,” he said.

Participants on the call were also reminded that prior to Scott becoming governor, his hospital company, Columbia/HCA had ripped off hundreds of millions of dollars from Medicare, Medicare and TRICARE, the military’s health program which provides care to active duty service members, retirees and family members.  Scott’s company, Columbia/HCA would end up paying a record $1.7 billion in fines, one of the biggest health care fraud settlements in the history of the U.S., for over billing and making fraudulent claims.

The Tampa Tribune: Scott’s Good Will to Veterans Challenged by Democrats

By William March | Tribune Staff 
Published: July 4, 2014   |   Updated: July 4, 2014 at 07:41 AM

 

 ­­— Florida Gov. Rick Scott has mounted a sweeping campaign to honor one of the state’s most important voting groups: veterans.

In March, he created a medal for which all Florida veterans are eligible, and he spent the past week touring the state to hang it around hundreds of veterans’ necks.

He also has founded a Florida Veterans Hall of Fame, filed a lawsuit in the controversy over dysfunction in the Veterans Affairs health system, and has been touting his own service by appearing in a “NAVY” baseball cap.

His critics among the Democratic Party call these moves empty political gestures and challenge the substance of Scott’s work on behalf of veterans.

They focus chiefly on the state’s failure to expand its Medicaid program under the Affordable Care Act, which they say has left thousands of veterans who are ineligible for VA services without health coverage.

They also call Scott’s VA lawsuit meaningless because the state has no authority over the VA, and note that before this election year, he vetoed programs for the homeless and other help for veterans.

Some critics even bring up the sorest of subjects for Scott: the 1990s federal fraud case against his former hospital chain, Columbia/HCA, in which the company paid a record $1.7 billion fine.

Columbia/HCA was accused of overbilling federal health care programs for services. Federal records show these programs included Tricare, the federal health care plan for military families, as well as Medicare and Medicaid.

Florida for All — which describes itself as a nonpartisan grass-roots organization but has received funding from Democratic-allied organizations — organized events Thursday challenging Scott on his record with veterans. The events included an appearance in Pinellas Park by state Rep. Dwight Dudley of St. Petersburg as well as a news conference call with Sen. Dwight Bullard of Miami and two South Florida veterans running for office as Democrats. 

Dudley questioned the value of the lawsuit. 

“If the governor wants to do something useful, there’s something right in front of him he’s not doing” — expanding the Medicaid program under the Affordable Care Act, he said.

Bullard said Scott “is going around the state, touting his support for veterans. ... Now that it’s election year, he wants us to forget his dubious record in the private sector” at Columbia/HCA.

Scott kicked off a three-day Veterans Service Award tour at a Tampa American Legion post, making a brief speech then spending nearly an hour presenting the award to 200 veterans as they filed past and posed for pictures.

Hundreds more followed at similar ceremonies in seven more cities. 

“Our veterans have selflessly fought to defend our freedoms, and it is our responsibility to take every opportunity to thank them for their sacrifice and service to our nation,” Scott said.

He originated the medal with an executive order in March. It is available to any legal resident of Florida who is on active duty or honorably discharged.

The Veterans Hall of Fame, founded last year, has six members, including two from Tampa: the late U.S. Rep. Sam Gibbons and Robert J. Silah, retired Navy captain and 2006 Tampa Chamber of Commerce Humanitarian of the Year.

The 2014 members will be inducted this fall.

Scott filed the VA lawsuit in May after officials at VA hospitals in the state refused to allow inspection visits by officials of the state Agency for Health Care Administration.

VA officials responded with an offer of a meeting with the state agency’s officials and a letter from VA attorney William Gunn, which said the hospitals “are components of the Federal government and as such are not subject to Florida laws.”

Federal law restricts release of VA health care records, the agency said.

Asked what Scott hopes to accomplish through the lawsuit, governor’s office spokesman John Tupps responded with a copy of the suit and a three-paragraph, June 5 news release announcing it.

The lawsuit contends that the state agency has authority under Florida law “to inspect all hospitals in the State of Florida ... and to investigate consumer complaints related to health care facilities,” and that it “has received numerous troubling complaints from veterans in Florida ... that raise the prospect of sub-standard patient care and conditions in VA-operated hospitals.”

Expanding Medicaid under the federal Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, is another sore subject for Scott.

He has said he favors it, but the state Legislature has refused in the past two sessions to do so, and Dudley and other legislators have said Scott made no attempt to persuade them.

Advocates cite studies estimating Florida has as many as 41,000 veterans who would benefit, although Scott campaign spokesman Greg Blair pointed to critics who say that number is exaggerated.

wmarch@tampatrib.com

(813) 259-7761

Join Us - Veterans to Tell Rick Scott: We Won't Forget

ADVISORY FROM FLORIDA FOR ALL

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

July 2, 2014

Sam Coleman 703-795-6958

 

Representative Dudley and local vets call out Scott for ripping off military health care program while CEO of Columbia/HCA

Protest his vetoes of veterans’ benefits & programs 

(Pinellas Park, FL)  Representative Dwight Dudley will join veteran and community advocate Jon-Paul Rosa, and other local veterans to tell the truth about Rick Scott’s disastrous record on vets and military families, on Thursday at 10:30 am in Freedom Lake Park.

Previous to becoming Governor, Rick Scott’s hospital company, Columbia/HCA, ripped off hundreds of millions of dollars from the military’s health program TRICARE, Medicare, and Medicaid. TRICARE provides health care to active duty service members, retirees, and family members. Columbia/HCA paid $1.7 billion, in one of the biggest health care fraud settlements in history, for over billing and making fraudulent claims.

Previous to running for re-election, Scott vetoed millions in funding for homeless programs, education benefits, and legal services to help veterans across the state.

Representative Dudley and Florida Vets will blast Scott’s veteran’s campaign tour for being another election year gimmick.

***Media interested in covering the event can RSVP to floridaforall2@gmail.com***

  

WHO: Rep. Dwight Dudley, veteran and advocate Jon-Paul Rosa, and other local veteran.

WHAT: Rally to protest Scott’s hypocritical veteran’s campaign tour.

WHEN: 10:30am, Thursday, July 3rd

WHERE: Freedom Lake Park, by the Korean War Memorial

                9990 46th St N, Pinellas Park, FL                                                                                          

VISUALS: Podium, signs

Join Us: Stop Rick Scott from Challenging Birth Control Benefits

ADVISORY FROM FLORIDA FOR ALL

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 

June 25, 2014

Contact: Sam Coleman 703-795-6958

 

Rep. Lori Berman Blasts Rick Scott for Failing Florida Women

Berman joins women’s groups to protest Scott's support of legal challenge to birth control benefits and negligence in supporting women’s health and equity

(Boynton Beach, FL) – Rep. Lori Berman will join women’s advocates to protest Governor Scott’s support of a federal legal challenge to the birth control mandate (Sebellius v. Hobby Lobby) of the Affordable Health Care Act. The group will also highlight Scott’s poor record on women’s health and rights.

The Scott Administration joined for-profit companies, Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood in the lawsuit, which is before the Supreme Court. They argue that employers should be able to deny insurance coverage for birth control, based on the bosses’ personal beliefs. SCOTUS is expected to decide on the case within the next few days.

Currently, 1.5 million women in Florida have access to this important health care benefit, at no cost. Women’s groups are upset that Rick Scott is supporting this legal challenge, which could leave hundreds of thousands of Florida women without access to affordable birth control.

The advocates will also point out that Scott has repeatedly failed to support meaningful initiatives that would benefit women, including pay equity legislation and a bill that would protect pregnant women from workplace discrimination. 

***Media interested in covering the event can RSVP to floridaforall2@gmail.com***

 

WHO: Representative Lori Berman, Laura Goodhue from Planned Parenthood PAC, and women’s advocates.

WHAT: Protest of Scott support of challenge to birth control mandate and poor record on women’s issues.

WHEN: 2pm, Thursday, June 26th

WHERE: Boynton Beach City Hall (corner of E. Boynton Blvd & N. Seacrest Blvd)

               100 E. Boynton Blvd, Boynton Beach

                                                                                     

VISUALS: Podium, signs

Miami Herald: Florida Democrats condemn Gov. Rick Scott over Bright Futures cuts

Democratic State Sen. Dwight Bullard criticized Gov. Rick Scott and the Republican-dominated Legislature for approving cuts to the state’s popular Bright Futures scholarship program, saying fewer college students are eligible for benefits.

Appearing at a news conference Thursday in front of Miami Dade College’s downtown campus, Bullard said Scott and Republican lawmakers had slashed the Bright Futures budget from $309 million last year to $266 million this year.

Florida Legislators Sound Off Against School-Voucher Expansion

Orlando Weekly
June 16, 2014

 

Just as the winds were whooping up and the skies were closing in this afternoon, State Reps. Joe Saunders, D-Orlando, and Karen Castor Dentel, D-Maitland, held blustery court outside of Howard Middle School in an attempt to sway public opinion – if not Gov. Rick Scott’s opinion – on the issue of school vouchers. As it often does, the conservative legislature decided to take a fairly innocuous bill designed to add a sense of uniformity and accountability to the education system, throw it into a “school choice” blender at the last minute and spit out a sliver of legislation clearly designed to handicap the public education system, teachers and students in equal measure. That bill, SB 850, was delivered to the governor’s desk on June 13, and now awaits what is likely to be an illegible signature by Gov. Scott.

Castor Dentel highlighted a number of the bill’s nefarious shortcomings, along with those of the existing voucher system of sending kids (and public money) to private schools unnecessarily that SB 850 seeks to expand. Already, the program is being misused, with kids from A- and B-schools being shoehorned into under-regulated private entities for the sake of keeping rich kids with rich kids (a subject that is currently a bone of contention within the community as the local school board considers resegregation). The new bill makes it even easier, raising the maximum family income to $60,000 a year for voucher eligibility.

“At a time when we have a record number of students in our public schools, as we struggle to keep class sizes low, and at a time when districts continue to cut back on art, music and PE, I cannot in good conscience support any more public school dollars being handed over to private entities,” Castor Dentel, a teacher, said.

But it’s more than the money, she said. It’s the quality of education at some (not all) private or charter schools that is presenting a large possibility for damage for all involved.  Sometimes kids are exploited and thrust into strip mall holding pens building forts out of pizza boxes, and sometimes parents are duped by egregious payouts for failing principals at charters. This is the new wild west of abusive enterprise.

Still, it grows. And it grows less and less accountable. While public school teachers face increased scrutiny and grading (and “teaching to the test”), voucher schools don’t even require teachers to be certified, much less tested in their assigned subject. There is no real curriculum to speak of, no need for science beyond the Adam and Eve (NOT STEVE!) musings of zealots who take scripture literally. Yet, to the privates go the spoils. “Some will call that ‘school choice,’” said Castor Dentel. “I call it legislative neglect.”

“Instead of finding new ways to give even more of our tax dollars away to unaccountable private schools, we should be investing those resources into making our public schools stronger,” she added, asking the governor to veto SB 850.

For Saunders, who helped to raise some accountability in terms of principal pay in charter schools (the failed Northstar School was in his district), the issue runs even deeper.

“I represent a district that has one of the highest densities of college students, and we just cut $40 million from the Bright Futures scholarship program,” he says, adding that this bleeding from those being educated to the private interests of those who want to game the education system is systemic across the board. “We continue to make choices that are not in the best interest of students.”

After spending three years creating new standards to hold public school teachers accountable, Saunders thinks it sends a bad message if the private schools are allowed to continue operating outside of the system. Moreover, the culture of the private school machine doesn’t allot for basic anti-discrimination standards, anti-bullying measures or any sensitivity to the needs of students. It doesn’t make any sense, if you think about it. You’re not supposed to think about it.

“[Rick] Scott’s a fucking crook,” somebody on a bicycle shouted as he rode by.

“Yeah,” everyone thought in unison.

Democratic Leaders Protest Deep Cuts to Bright Futures Scholarships

Senator Dwight Bullard and Juan Cuba, Executive Director of the Miami-Dade Democratic Party, spoke at a rally on June 12 to protest deep cuts to Bright Futures Scholarships and Rick Scott’s failure to make college affordable.

Scott has been trying to persuade the public about his commitment to education, even though he has a long track record of putting private interests over the needs of Florida’s students. In his second year in office he cut $300 million in funding to the state’s public universities, which then compelled those same universities to raise tuition by up to 15% percent.

This year, Rick Scott continued his deep cuts to the Bright Futures Scholarships program, limiting access to college for many of our best and brightest students. Furthermore, Scott and his allies in the Legislature made eligibility for the scholarships so stringent, approximately 26,000 college students will be locked out of the program altogether.

After keeping education on the back burner through most of his tenure as Governor, Rick Scott is making a last minute push to make higher education look like a priority. Leaders and students will be on hand to let Scott know that his “college affordability” tour is “not working” for us.

Join Us: Miami-Dade Leaders To Blast Scott for Approval of FP&L Power Plants

ADVISORY FROM FLORIDA FOR ALL

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

May 13, 2014

Contact: Sam Coleman, 703-795-6958

 

Miami-Dade Leaders To Blast Scott for Approval of FP&L Power Plants

Critics say Scott putting utility special interests over local residents

Massive towers & power lines to cut through communities

 

(Miami, FL) Annette Taddeo-Goldstein, Chair of the Miami-Dade Democratic Party, Representative Jose Javier Rodriguez, South Miami Mayor Philip Stoddard, and Pinecrest Mayor Cindy Lerner will protest Governor Rick Scott’s decision to give the go-ahead for Florida Power & Light Co. to build two nuclear reactors and 88 miles of power lines.

The high-voltage power lines are projected to cut through dense residential and commercial areas of Cutler Bay, Pinecrest, South Miami, Coconut Grove, and Coral Gables. The towers, which could reach as high as 150 feet, will be built alongside the Metrorail and down U.S.1, past retail stores, small businesses, and auto dealerships.

Critics say the projects will negatively impact property values and the local economy. They also charge that FPL’s decision to pursue expansion of its Turkey Point Nuclear Power Plant—as opposed to cheaper and greener alternatives, like solar—is due to the fact that utility companies are allowed to charge customers for construction costs of nuclear projects, under the state’s nuclear cost recovery fee, or “utility tax”.

Rick Scott, who failed to push for a repeal of the “utility tax” last year, has taken in over $1 million dollars in campaign contributions from utility companies—$550,000 alone from Florida Power & Light. Local leaders and protestors will demand that Scott put the interests of local residents and consumers over those of the energy companies.

 

***Media interested in covering the event can RSVP to floridaforall2@gmail.com***

 

WHO: Annette Taddeo-Goldstein, Representative Jose Javier Rodriguez, Mayor Cindy Lerner, Mayor Philip Stoddard

WHAT: Protest Rick Scott approval of Turkey Point Nuclear Power Plant expansion

WHEN: 10:00am, Wednesday, May 14th

WHERE: 37th Avenue and U.S.1 on the Greenspace (SW corner), Miami, FL

 

Visuals: podum. signs.

Join Us: Scott’s Math on Education, Tax Cuts, & Jobs Doesn’t Add Up

ADVISORY FROM FLORIDA FOR ALL

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

Contact: Sam Coleman, 703-795-6958

 

Representative Dudley, Middle-Class Floridians Protest Scott ‘Victory’ Tour

 

Scott’s Math on Education, Tax Cuts, & Jobs Doesn’t Add Up

 

Tampa, FL — Representative Dwight Dudley will join local residents to send a message to Governor Rick Scott while on his “victory tour” in Tampa on Friday, May 9th. Scott will claim that “help is on the way” even though he failed to pass any meaningful initiatives this session that would have benefitted middle-class Floridians.

While Scott has been claiming “victory”, protestors will remind him that he’s failed to deliver on promises of jobs creation, that he’s failed to repeal the nuclear recovery fee or “utility tax,” that almost a million Floridians are still without life-saving health coverage, that per pupil education spending is still below pre-recession levels, and that his “tax cuts” are being funded by an increase of nearly $400 million in property taxes.

Representative Dudley, a strong advocate of clean energy and utilities reform, will also protest Scott’s failure to promote renewable energy, which is costing our economy thousands of jobs. 

 

***Media interested in covering the event can RSVP to floridaforall2@gmail.com***

 

WHO: Representative Dwight Dudley and local residents.

WHAT: Protest outside Rick Scott’s “victory” campaign stop at the Hillsborough County GOP Lincoln Day Dinner.  

WHEN: 6:00 pm, Friday, May 9th, (just prior to the gala)

WHERE: Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay (In the Courtyard at the Front Entrance)

            2900 Bayport Road in Tampa, FL

Visuals: podum. signs.

 

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