"Republican state senators disgruntled with Majority Leader Alex Villalobos attempted a coup Wednesday, pledging to vote for North Palm Beach Sen. Jeff Atwater instead of Villalobos as Senate president in 2008." "Fla. GOP senators change minds on '08 senate president".
Since May, a group of senators and some Miami businessmen have orchestrated a cloak-and-dagger campaign to keep him from the presidency, arguing that his moderate politics and refusal to raise money aggressively for Senate campaigns have hurt Republican members."Attempt to oust state's first Cuban-American Senate president fails".
The issue came to a head Wednesday and, while unsuccessful, threatens to continue until Republicans decide whether to go back on their commitments to Villalobos or persuade others to sabotage him.
Villalobos, the Senate's majority leader, dismissed the attempt as an effort by disgruntled senators who want to portray him as unbending on several key issues and replace him with Sen. Jeff Atwater, an affable North Palm Beach Republican. ...
Rumors swirled that Alexander, incoming Senate President Ken Pruitt and Atwater were working to replace Villalobos.
Draw the Line
"The Florida Supreme Court hears oral arguments today to determine whether a constitutional amendment proposed by the Committee for Fair Elections should appear on the November ballot. The hearing isn't about the merits of the idea. Rather, the court must decide whether the ballot language is clear and covers a single issue." "Court Looks At Drawing The Line".
What about Jebbie's vaunted connections with the White House? "White House aims to open Gulf waters for drilling" ("Jeb Bush's office said the governor was disappointed the plan doesn't include a permanent buffer.")
In the meantime, Katherine Harris is dissing the efforts of Nelson and Martinez (the latter who is desperately seeking to repair his tarnished image). Get this:
Harris, in an analysis of the Nelson/Martinez [anti-oil drilling] bill, pointed to potential glitches in the legislation, saying at one point that many provisions in the bill are "vague and improperly drafted."Id. What's with that?
The Cellophane Man had this bit of wisdom on the dispute:
"We're quibbling over a significant amount of ocean floor," Martinez said."Bush wants more Gulf for drilling. See also "Interior proposes opening eastern Gulf of Mexico area to drilling".
NRA Compromises With Chamber of Commerce?
"A compromise is in the works between the National Rifle Association and Florida's powerful business community over a bill that would let employees keep guns in their cars at work." Get this:
Some possible changes to Baxley's bill are separate parking areas for gun-owning employees and gun checkpoints, expanded liability protections for businesses, and exemptions for some businesses, such as aerospace, ports and others with national security or state security issues."Gun Law Stand-Off Could End In Draw". See also "Gun measure bogs down in House committee", "A showdown averted?" and "Allies divided on guns at work".
Gay Bashers Keep Ball In The Air
"The amendment, endorsed by such organizations as the Christian Coalition of Florida and the Southern Baptist Convention, failed to receive the 611,000 signatures needed by the Feb. 1 deadline to get on the ballot this year. Sponsors now are shooting for 2008." "Anti-gay marriage amendment wording likely legal". See also "Justices question challenge to gay marriage amendment".
"Cardenas, a Tallahassee lawyer-lobbyist, is a Gallagher supporter, but he insists he would have felt the same way if a local party organization had endorsed his candidate. If Crist wins the nomination, he'll have to work extra hard to motivate Gallagher supporters, and if Gallagher is the nominee, it will be clear he was not the first choice of the activists in the state's second-largest county." "A 'Divisive' GOP Move?".
Perhaps Another Tax Cut Will Work?
"While Florida's population ages, its doctors and nurses are inching toward retirement - a scenario that has state officials concerned about meeting future health care needs." "Health Officials Air Work Force Concerns".
"A state agency head assured a Senate committee today that there is no evidence of identity theft in the People First system, but his internal investigators are working with Convergys on allegations that a subcontractor sent millions of documents to Barbados and India." "State investigating whether files sent offshore".
Smith Nabs Joseph
"The Rod Smith gubernatorial campaign today announced Joan Joseph as its new statewide volunteer coordinator (Buzz readers heard about that last month). Joseph, a veteran New York political organizer who moved to Palm Beach County nearly a decade ago, was heavily recruited by every Democrat, and initially had been leaning toward going with her old friend Scott Maddox. She speaks highly of Davis and Maddox too, but told us recently that 'it was the way they individually approached me' that swung her to Smith." "Courting Joan".
The Disclosure Thing
"Gov. Jeb Bush has never been a particular champion of campaign and elections reform. He has driven up the cost of campaigns by refusing to participate in public campaign financing, and he opposes a constitutional amendment that would take redistricting away from the GOP-controlled Legislature. But the governor is right about one thing: Common Cause should disclose the names of donors bankrolling the redistricting amendment." "Cause for concern".
"President Bush has proposed spending $250 million to improve public school math instruction nationwide. Maybe he could steer some of that to the people who run the math portion of the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test." "FCAT doesn't add up for students".
"In just over three years, the median price of a home in sunny, desirable Florida has jumped from $141,000 to $250,000. Yet salaries and retirement checks have not shot up at the same lavish rate. While the real-estate boon signals good times for many and suggests a robust economy, it's nonetheless alarming and discouraging to many new home buyers." "Housing cloud".
"Crist campaign gets to keep $50,000 check he gave back".
State Lags (Yet Again)
"With a suspenseful round of congressional elections just nine months away, about half the states including Florida have failed to fully comply with federal mandates under the Help America Vote Act, an electoral watchdog group said Tuesday." "State lags on disabled voting".
Lucky for Gallagher, we have the Florida Commission on Ethics, which does not rule on "ethics" at all, but only on what state law says."If all else fails, politicians find help at Ethics Commission".
When you are a Florida politician in this kind of jam, you can get a ruling from the Ethics Commission that says what you did was legal. Then you pronounce yourself "vindicated." Gallagher has asked for a ruling.
Wait, there's more.
Charter School Fiasco
"The Palm Beach County School District really had no choice. Once an audit uncovered widespread mismanagement in how two charter schools spent taxpayer money, district officials didn't just have the right to take over operations; it was their duty." "The district takes over two charter schools amid extreme mismanagement".
Knuckledraggers Keeping Their Powder Dry
"Legislation to expand DNA testing of inmates in old cases, once considered controversial, had clear sailing in a pair of legislative committees Wednesday." "DNA bills get early approval".
Those "Activist" Judgers
"A judge dealt a setback Wednesday to electric customers who sued Florida Power & Light Co. over the widespread electricity outages after Hurricane Wilma, but he left open the possibility for continued legal action against the state’s largest utility." "Judge deals setback to lawsuit against FPL over Wilma outages".
Tom Gallagher made a mistake when, as a Cabinet member in 2004, he made a motion and voted to approve a pipeline permit for a company he owned stock in. But apparently he broke no law."To Avoid Conflicts Of Interest, Blind Trusts Are Best". See also "Tighten state ethics laws" ("Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher's stock trading has spotlighted Florida's weak ethics laws regarding such obvious conflicts of interest.")
That's because a Florida lawmaker can own millions of shares of stock in a company doing business with the state, yet be viewed to have no conflict of interest so long as his stake does not exceed 1 percent of the company's value.
At first blush, 1 percent sounds insignificant, but on second glance, if the company is big enough, it could put the officeholder in a position of losing millions should government decisions go the wrong way.