GOoPers On The Run
"Despite enormous advantages of money and incumbency, Florida Republican Party leaders said Saturday the GOP is in for a tough election year that will influence the next presidential race." "GOP leaders urge unity ahead of elections".
"The chances are better than they ever have been," said veteran pundit Susan MacManus of the University of South Florida.As for Bense, he says:
Quite simply, the GOP is just too calculating, power hungry and, most importantly, too smart to let this train wreck continue.
A potential contender: State House Speaker Allan Bense, whose name was recently tested against Nelson in a poll conducted by a GOP firm, according to the Tampa Tribune.
"My wife asked me this morning, 'What are you going to do?,'" Bense said."She wants to know, too". See also "Bense In Or Out?" ("Republican activists gathered for their quarterly meeting in Tallahassee this weekend showered Bense with attention and a standing ovation Saturday, while Harris was said to have had a sparsely attended reception Friday night.")
"If I had to bet, I'm 50-50, but I'm inclined to head home."
He would not rule it out, though.
Back at the ranch, "Harris ignores GOP sniping, campaigns 'straight ahead'".
Not A Joke ...
but it should be:
The Tribune's editorial board discussed some of the nation's most pressing issues with U.S. Rep. Adam Putnam, a Bartow native who, at 31, is one of the most powerful Republicans in Congress."Citizen Putnam In Washington".
"Plan would hurt universities".
"All Florida homeowners with insurance policies must pay to cover the shortfall, according to state law. But roughly one-third, or 1.7 million, will pay much less than others." "Some surcharges to bail out Citizens blow other bills away".
"Sen. Nelson Lashes Out At Bush On Oil".
The biggest example of outsourcing gone astray is Florida's nine-year, $350 million contract with Convergys Corp., a Cincinnati-based company hired four years ago to process the paychecks and benefits of state employees. The governor's office predicted the deal would save $20 million a year and eliminate 1,000 government jobs.But that is just the tip of the iceberg:
Unfortunately, Tallahassee is abuzz with talk of the company's screw-ups. Convergys has been late issuing paychecks, has failed to achieve the expected savings and stands accused of compromising personal information by sending personnel databases to India. Complicating matters is the company's claim that its records are not subject to Florida's open record laws, a stand the state disputes.
•The Department of Children and Families had to sue a private firm it hired to investigate child-abuse complaints because the company billed for services never rendered.And it involves "a staggering amount of money":
• The Department of Juvenile Justice was about to eliminate its maintenance division, but did a panicky turnaround after discovering the private company would cost far more.
•The head of the now defunct commission overseeing the state's five privately-run prisons stands accused of fraud. A state review found that rather than protecting taxpayers, the commission was more concerned with boosting the profits of politically influential firms.
• A law enforcement investigation last year concluded that insider information might have helped a company win a $126-million technology contract to run the state's computer servers. The contract was canceled.
The scope of the state's privatization effort is massive, having outsourced services from foster care to debt collection. The amount of money involved also is staggering. Legislative analysts estimate that between January 1999 and June 2004, the state outsourced at least 138 projects, including four contracts totaling at least $2.25 billion. In the Capitol, lobbyists for private vendors are constantly pushing for more work."Florida's Push To Privatize Needs Dose Of Accountability". And we know what that means; Paul Krugman explains:
Florida's governor has been an aggressive privatizer, and as The Miami Herald put it after a careful study of state records, "his bold experiment has been a success — at least for him and the Republican Party, records show. The policy has spawned a network of contractors who have given him, other Republican politicians and the Florida G.O.P. millions of dollars in campaign donations.""Victors and Spoils".
What's interesting about this network of contractors isn't just the way that big contributions are linked to big contracts; it's the end of the traditional practice in which businesses hedge their bets by giving to both parties. The big winners in Mr. Bush's Florida are companies that give little or nothing to Democrats. Strange, isn't it? It's as if firms seeking business with the state of Florida are subject to a loyalty test.
So am I saying that we are going back to the days of Boss Tweed and Mark Hanna? Gosh, no — those guys were pikers. One-party control of today's government offers opportunities to reward friends and punish enemies that the old machine politicians never dreamed of.
The Orlando Sentinel editorial board: "It's time for state Senate President Tom Lee and House Speaker Allan Bense to stop playing with money needed to address Florida's affordable-housing crisis." "Will they lead?"
"Tampa insurance company dropping storm-damaged homes". On a related note: "Seeking insurance policy" ("Gallagher says the state's last-resort insurer is getting 40,000 applications a month. A spokesman for Citizens Property Insurance Corp. confirms the number, which shows how out of whack the state's insurance non-market will remain after the Legislature's attempt at reform.")
"The latest financial reports show a twist on maximizing corporate giving to Florida campaigns:"
Form a laundry list of companies, then have each give the limit of $500 to the candidate of your choice.Candidates like it:
This method enabled a driving school operator in Ponte Vedra Beach and a commercial real estate developer in Boca Raton to contribute thousands of dollars to the campaign of gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist.
Fifteen companies headed by Kenneth L. Underwood of Ponte Vedra Beach contributed $500 each to Crist on March 31 - just two days after the companies were created.The explanation?
The timing is a coincidence, said David Lewis, executive vice president for marketing of National Safety Commission, one of Underwood's companies. Each company, Lewis said, represents "a significant geographic expansion of our business," and was formed after the firm received permits from the states where all will operate."Campaign Bundles Skirt Law".
Surely this will be investigated by the FDLE? Remind me, why was Buddy Dyer indicted and removed from office before charges were dismissed?
Alleged Dem Shalala Disses Unionization
"The University of Miami will not take a position on the unionization of striking janitors at the campus, school president Donna Shalala said in a letter to a newspaper published Saturday." "UM's Shalala won't weigh in on unionization of striking workers".
Claims Against The State
"When legal claims against the state exceed $200,000, lawmakers have to okay the payment. But since 2001, they almost never do. They don't even talk about it." "The state owes them money, and legislators can choose not to pay".
"Rules outlined for slot machines in Broward".
Albania Had Nuthin' On These GOoPers
"Bill Herrle, a vice president of the Retail Federation, whose members include Walt Disney World, Wal-Mart and Publix, said the group is still actively recruiting opponents to run against Ambler in his Hillsborough County district. The issue, he said, is about more than tort reform --
it's about enforcing "philosophical discipline" to Republican lawmakers who stray too far from party beliefs.""Retail Federation still after lawmaker for lawsuit stance".
An Issue For Harris
With Representative B's penchant for $1000 bottles of wine, she should be all over this issue: "Proposed Wine Limits Hard to Swallow".
"Gallagher pollsters dig deep to find good news".
"Eminent domain: Who defines the greater good?"
"If, as recent polls indicate, barely half of Florida adults can identify the three branches of their state and federal governments or understand the concept of "separation of powers," the push for more civics instruction in public schools seems warranted. Maybe. But first Florida should take a closer look at what schools are doing already and consider other factors that may be even larger contributors to an apparent though insidious decay of citizenship." "Keeping citizens engaged".