"Already trying to avoid the media, U.S. Rep. Katherine Harris, R-Longboat Key, is canceling campaign stops in Southwest Florida as questions swirl about her ties to a Washington defense contractor at the center of a bribery scandal." "Harris Cancels Election Trips".
A Miserable Failure?
- "Mother Nature scoured the physical landscape and human nature transformed the political landscape in the seven years Jeb Bush has governed Florida." "Jeb Bush".
- "As of noon today, there are exactly 302 days left in the Jeb Bush governorship, but who's counting?" "Bush looks to extend his legacy".
- "Jeb's final hurrah"
"Florida homeowners have been gleeful about their climbing net worths that are directly tied to the sizzling real estate market. But now everyone is realizing overheated home prices have created an affordable housing crisis — one lawmakers will be grappling with this legislative session beginning Tuesday." "Affordable housing to dominate session". See also "Property issues will dominate legislative session".
The Orlando Sentinel editorial board points out that "[t]hroughout the state, nurses, teachers, police and people who work in a variety of white-collar jobs can't find houses, condominiums or even apartments that they can afford." "An affordable home".
Pay no attention to ...
the "Jeb!' fueled
$22.5 billion in long-term debt - twice the figure of 10 years ago. Interest on that costs taxpayers about $1.5 billion a yearbehind the curtain. See "Hungry For Surplus Money". See also "Budget Surplus Doesn't Justify A Free-Spending Legislature".
"Are you ready, Florida lawmakers? The 2006 session is coming up and your job is to serve the people." "Tallahassee to-do list".
Just What We Need - More Tax Cuts and Vouchers
Jebbie is like a broken record: "The agenda for the Republican governor's last hurrah -- private-school vouchers, tax cuts and limits on lawsuits -- is much the same as it was that first year of 1999." "Tax cuts, education top goals at session". See also "Lawmakers prepare for Gov. Bush’s final session".
GOoPers Just Don't Get It ...
GOoPers don't seem to care what Floridians want:
Florida voters want to use this year's bounty of extra state tax dollars to reduce public school class sizes, build schools, raise teacher pay and fend off higher tuition at colleges and universities, a South Florida Sun-Sentinel poll shows."Voters, state leaders far apart on priorities as legislative session begins".
The survey points to a sharp rift between what the public expects and what Gov. Jeb Bush and Republican legislative leaders aim to accomplish during the two-month legislative session that begins Tuesday. ...
While education was chosen by 27 percent of those polled, lawsuit reform -- the No. 1 priority of House leaders and some senators this year -- was selected as the top Florida issue by just 2 percent of those who took part in the telephone interviews.
"Lobbyist turf wars can steal attention from policy issues".
The Poor Things
"The lavish outdoor party hosted by Associated Industries of Florida every eve of the legislative session's opening day will be more subdued this year -- the balloon punctured by the state's new gift ban." "New gift ban takes pomp out of lobbyist, lawmaker bash".
The Miami Herald editorial board has some suggested "Priorities for 2006 Legislature".
Putting It Bluntly
"5% Bonus Plan For Teachers Is 100% Nuts", according to Steve Otto:
What an excellent idea. It's a great way to keep teacher pay down, raise the level of mediocrity in the classroom and keep Florida at its rightful place at the bottom of the public education ladder.He's really being too kind.
"Efforts to strengthen a farmland preservation law face resistance from the agricultural industry, which says changes to the 1959 'greenbelt' law could hurt struggling farmers." "Reform efforts target farm 'greenbelt' law".
was in his element."Governor fires last salvo at education".
Talking to a group of conservative activists and Republican lawmakers early this year, he touted the controversial changes he has brought to Florida's education system. And he also tried to drive home a point: Don't stop now.
"We really are the laboratory of reform as it relates to education," Bush told the gathering, organized by the James Madison Institute, a conservative think tank.
But as Bush gets ready this week to enter his final legislative session as governor, his ideas for revamping the state's education system will once again put him at the center of a political battle.
The St Pete Times puts it this way: "Gov. Jeb Bush's education policy seems to thrive on the opposition of the people it serves, and he's determined to have the last word." "Jebucation".
The Villages is setting a tough standard for up and coming Ave Maria:
Money keeps pouring into Gov. Jeb Bush's Foundation for Florida's Future, the organization that many think will promote expected November ballot campaigns aimed at preserving private-school vouchers and weakening class-size regulations."It takes a village".
The Villages, the massive Central Florida retirement community run by GOP stalwart Gary Morse, cut another $50,000 check to Bush's group late last month, according to records disclosed by the foundation. It has now given $350,000 -- a third of the roughly $1 million the foundation has raised so far.
Bush has been very friendly to The Villages over the years. Just last year, for example, the governor helped the development land a U.S. Customs office at tiny Leesburg Regional Airport, making it easier for The Villages to fly international potential home buyers and business clients directly into Lake County. And three years ago, Bush signed a controversial bill giving The Villages Regional Hospital authority to sidestep state regulations while tripling its size.
Morse isn't the only interest upping an investment in Bush's foundation.
Former U.S. ambassador to the Bahamas Rick Blankenship, a Jacksonville investment banker who landed the plum post in the Caribbean after Bush recommended him for the job to his brother, President Bush, gave the foundation another $25,000. He had already put $50,000 into the organization.
And U.S. Sugar Corp., the nation's largest sugar-cane producer and an intimate player in shaping pollution rules for the Everglades, sweetened its stake in the foundation by writing a second $25,000 check.
"Avoid A Problem Long Enough ..."
"Avoid a problem long enough and pragmatism looks like initiative and courage." "Easing crowded schools".
Pruitt Slinks In The Shadows
"In November, Ken Pruitt will become the Florida Senate president. That position of power and prestige will benefit residents of the Port St. Lucie Republican's district, which stretches from Palm Beach to Indian River counties and includes most of Martin and St. Lucie. As The Palm Beach Post documented, however, Sen. Pruitt gained that position by manipulating federal and state campaign rules and relying on lobbyist money. His rise exposes a system in need of reform." "Pruitt's path to power ran through the shadows".
Or handouts to contributors? "Governor aims $630 million at economic development".
A Gallagher Prediction
from Scott Maxwell:
Done in politics after losing this year. Gallagher was already running behind in the governor's race. And even if he wages a nasty campaign that panders to the far right to squeak out a victory among Republicans, he's damaged goods that mainstream voters won't support in a general election. Gallagher already tried to reinvent himself for this campaign -- shedding his moderate, centrist image for a more conservative, moralistic one. Some folks liked Old Tom. Some liked New Tom. It's hard to see how anyone will get excited about Ethically Challenged Tom."Men Behaving Badly".
We Want Cheney
"'Vice President Cheney is an odd choice to bring to a swing district. It's politically puzzling.' Cheney might appeal to hard-core Republicans, Ceasar says, but he will turn off independents and stir up Democrats." "Cheney visit may backfire, Democrat says".
"The county’s main complaint is that the state law doesn’t let the county create a tougher growth management program than the state allows. Collier County’s current program is tougher than the state’s, so commissioners fear the local program will become moot and they’ll have to abide by weaker state requirements under the new law. That means the county won’t be able to collect the impact fees it has received until now." "Collier officials looking to make changes to growth management law".
"D.C. talk has some Republicans contemplating a draft-Jeb Bush campaign in hopes the Florida governor would agree to challenge Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson in November." "Jeb for Senate?"
Palm Beach County Clout, Dade Doldrums
"When the 2006 legislative session gets under way Tuesday, Palm Beach County and the Treasure Coast will be in their best position in recent history as far as political clout goes." "Local clout emerges in state politics".
This contrasts with Dade:
When lawmakers return to the capital Tuesday for the start of the 60-day legislative session, the Miami-Dade delegation will be at the center of a controversy that could interfere with its efforts to bring additional money back to the state's most populous county."Senate fight is threat to big agenda".
Dade's 25-member delegation was bitterly fractured last month when a public feud erupted after Miami Sen. Alex Villalobos, who was slated to be Senate president in 2008, lost the post in a middle-of-the-night coup. Tempers have cooled, but the lingering battle between Villalobos and legislators aligned with Sen. Alex Diaz de la Portilla, who opposed Villalobos' bid, threatens to interfere with the delegation's goals in the next 60 days.
"Senate President Tom Lee has hired a lawyer with strong Republican connections to defend a new law forcing lobbyists to reveal their fees. Lee's choice is Ken Sukhia, who served as a U.S. attorney under the first President George Bush and worked on the current president's legal team during the 2000 recount." "Lawyer with ties to GOP to defend lobby law".
"The private agencies responsible for the state's fledgling pre-kindergarten program in South Florida say they don't know whether their schools are teaching appropriate lessons or following the law." "Area pre-K programs operate with little or no outside oversight".
Those Wingnuts ...
they sure do a lot of that "I misspoke" stuff, don't they:
"I would say I just misspoke," Monaghan said Friday in an interview with The Associated Press."New town will not be run by church".