"Jeb!" Gets A Letter
Cheney's Haliburton cronies got theirs, so it was only fair that Jebbie's friends at Carnival Cruise Lines got their piece of the Katrina action. Unfortunately for Jebbie, Henry Waxman is on the case, and he
released e-mails Tuesday detailing Florida Gov. Jeb Bush's role in pushing a $236 million federal contract for Carnival Cruise Lines to house Hurricane Katrina victims.More from Waxman's letter to "Jeb!":
In a letter, Rep. Henry Waxman of California called on Bush to explain his role in the award of the "lucrative contract," which was given to the Florida-based company without a full competitive bid process. The e-mails Waxman released were provided to Congress by Michael Brown, former director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
The Carnival Cruise Lines contract has turned out to be enormously expensive," Waxman wrote to Gov. Bush, the president's younger brother. "The e-mails from Mr. Brown provide the first confirmation of your involvement in the award of this contract and the first details of your contacts with Carnival and FEMA.""Jeb!" engaged in a little, ahem ... "constituent service" in the aftermath of Katrina:
According to Waxman, Bush forwarded to Brown, then the FEMA director, an e-mail from a Carnival advertising executive proposing that the company's ships be used for housing two days after the Aug. 29 storm.While Jebbie would claim that he was just passing the e-mail along, one might want to consider that
The Carnival official, Ric Cooper, has been a major political donor to the Florida and national Republican parties, including $65,000 to the state GOP in 2002, and $50,00 to the RNC in 2004, Waxman said.The investment apparently paid off because
Less than three hours later, Brown replied to Cooper, saying he thought it was a "great idea."Brown then turned cartwheels to get the deal cut for Jebbie. Read about it here: "Jeb Bush Asked to Explain Cruise Ship Deal".
Note: Unless I missed it, this AP wire story did not make any major Florida newspapers today. If anyone has seen it in a Florida paper, please let me know.
Peas In A Pod
"Cheney will headline a Boca Raton fundraiser on Monday for Republican U.S. Rep. Clay Shaw of Fort Lauderdale, underlining the competitiveness of his reelection campaign." "Cheney to stump for old pal Shaw".
"A House Republican leader said he would consider lifting or modifying the state's 30-year-old ban on gay adoption, but only if the Senate takes similar action." "Gay Adoption Issue Arises In House". See also "Lawmaker would weigh vote on gay adoption".
"Leon County Commissioner Ed DePuy suggested Tuesday that a grand jury should investigate why the Supervisor of Elections Office was unable to get voting equipment for the disabled by a January deadline." "DePuy: Sancho should face jury".
Crist says he
would establish nine policy councils including education, public safety and ethics. He wants to keep Gov. Jeb Bush's tax cuts, promote adoption of kids in foster care and allow homeowners to shift tax benefits to a costlier home."Crist outlines his goals". Gallagher:
Saying Florida's cities and counties have grown too fat from taxes collected on exploding property values, Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Gallagher called for capping their revenue potential Tuesday as part of his campaign's economic plan."Gallagher outlines his goals". See also "Gallagher, Crist want new tax cap for homeowners who move" and "GOP candidates push economic plans".
"The Democrats smell an opportunity in Florida's 9th District, where retiring Republican Congressman Mike Bilirakis is attempting to turn the reins over to his son Gus the Younger. There is going to be a primary, but early on it appears former Hillsborough County Commissioner Phyllis Busansky might have the stuff to give the younger Bilirakis a race." "Dollar Signs Clearly Mark Campaign Trail".
The fight to unionize the custodians at UM:
[L]abor disputes have played out on college campuses across the nation, but anger at one of the perceived villains, university President Donna Shalala, sets this one apart.In the meantime, Shalala
After all, Shalala, who was President Clinton's secretary for Health and Human Services, has spent much of her public career as an advocate for the poor. When she left the administration in 2001, she lamented her failure to ensure every worker in America had affordable health coverage.
Now, UM's maintenance staff, many of them immigrants from Cuba and Haiti, are emerging from the shadows, embraced by a growing coalition of students, clergy and community leaders. They are demanding that Shalala open university coffers to take care of the 485 people who keep it clean and manicured.
Embarrassed that one of Florida's wealthiest private universities pays its bottom-rung workers poverty wages, the coalition vows to keep ratcheting up the pressure until the university revises its contract with the Massachusetts-based UNICCO Service Co., which employs UM's maintenance crew. They want the workers to receive medical benefits and a living wage -- the amount necessary to pay for the basics in a given community.
In Miami-Dade County, that's now $11.23 an hour, compared with the average $7.52 an hour that UNICCO says it pays.
was featured in an inopportune article in the New York Times this month. In it, she discusses her 9,000-square-foot presidential residence on the waterfront -- where her dog has the choice of four beds, and where she doesn't make enough use of her 29-foot motorboat."Fired University of Miami janitor leads strike over benefits".
The interview brought her national scorn, including this "Note to the Haves" from The Washington Post: "When involved in labor disputes, skip the luxury home profile."
"The state's clerks of court are proposing a bill that would shift the onus of identifying confidential information in court filings from the clerks to those filing the documents, even as the Florida Supreme Court is in the midst of a two-year endeavor to balance open records laws with privacy concerns." "Florida clerks of court want confidentiality shifted".
FCAT Follies: From "Farce" To "Administrative Fiat"
In their obsession with the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test, state bureaucrats have now elevated it from high stakes to sweepstakes. Education Commissioner John Winn will play the role of Ed McMahon, knocking on teachers' doors to award $2,000 bonuses for the winning student test scores."The FCAT pay plan".
This all borders on farce, except that Winn and Gov. Jeb Bush's Board of Education have now adopted it by administrative fiat.
"For a president who goes out of his way to say he reveres the sacrifices of America's veterans, George W. Bush's budget proposals are an odd way to show appreciation." "Devalued vets".
"Didn't Harris Learn Anything From Last Campaign Scandal?"
"Prompted by angry customers, Florida's insurance agents said Tuesday they've got a plan to strengthen troubled Citizens Property Insurance Corp. but acknowledged that it faces two formidable opponents: Gov. Jeb Bush and the insurance industry." "Insurance industry proposes cures for Citizens".
Let's not make this fuzzy: U.S. Rep. Katherine Harris lied."Harris misled us; now we know why".
Harris repeatedly misled journalists and the public about her conversations with defense contractor Mitchell Wade. I see no other way to look at this.
Wade, one target in a long federal investigation that is still under way, has now pleaded guilty to bribing one member of Congress and making illegal campaign contributions to two others, all to seek the kind of defense contracts that made MZM Inc. so profitable.
I wrote two columns in the past about the $34,000 in illegal campaign contributions Harris accepted -- without knowing they were illegal, it seems -- from MZM, its employees and some of their spouses.
But for months, there was a mystery: What the heck had Wade, MZM's CEO, wanted from Harris in return for that money?
"State capitols across America have been stricken by what some are calling 'Jack Abramoff-itis' - a sudden, urgent desire to tighten the rules on lobbying." "State Lawmakers Revamp Lobbying Laws".