The Dubya Drag
"President Bush's plunging popularity seems to be affecting Florida's race for governor, with two little-known Democratic candidates in a statistical dead heat with a pair of Republicans who hold statewide offices, a poll taker said Wednesday." "President's numbers affecting Florida race".
"Gov. Jeb Bush plans to sign the state budget today, and if history is a guide he'll likely cross out some items with his veto pen." "Bush set to sign state budget". The overimportant Tax Watch weighs in: "Budget 'turkeys' include the Dali". See also "Bush urged to veto millions in local projects".
With about 100 days left before party loyalists choose their nominees for governor, polls show a widening gap that favors Democratic U.S. Rep. Jim Davis and Republican attorney general Charlie Crist.
But pollsters caution that few Floridians are too concerned about the races right now, saying the inevitable onslaught of TV advertisements, debates and direct mail pitches will be the ultimate factor for the Sept. 5 primary votes."TV advertising may determine political races". In that connection, "Charlie Crist kicks off the air war in Florida's governor's race this weekend." ""Crist's TV spot to start campaign".
"The start of the campaign is the start of television advertising," said Peter Brown, assistant director of Quinnipiac's polling institute. "It is phenomenal how little attention is paid to politics before you get close to an election."
I am Shocked
Here's what happens when a Bush appoints "an 'activist' for the Bush-Cheney campaign" to investigate a "Bush Pioneer": Orange County mayor cleared in special prosecutor's probe".
Crotty's press office ... Oops I mean "Jeb!"'s press office announced it was thrilled with the news:
"We appreciate State Attorney Russell's diligence and thorough review of this matter," said Alia Faraj, a Bush spokeswoman. "It has come to a close. Based on the findings submitted to our office, it completely exonerates Mayor Crotty and he can now focus on his duties.""Investigation clears Crotty in land deal".
"House and Senate Democrats on Wednesday called for a special session on insurance reform and urged Florida homeowners to send copies of their soaring premium bills to the Legislature's Republican leaders."
"Floridians are getting tired and fed up with their ever increasing insurance rates," said House Democratic Leader Chris Smith of Fort Lauderdale. "Some are paying more in insurance premiums than they are in mortgage payments.""Are you 'Storming Mad?'" See also "Democrats Propose Insurance Changes", "Democrats dog GOP over insurance rates", "Dems. renew calls to fix hurricane insurance" and "Special session sought on hurricane insurance".
Democrats have launched a website (http://www.stormingmad.com/) that outlines their proposed reforms and urges homeowners to start agitating for an insurance fix.
"Bush on Wednesday would not rule out a future with the National Football League but sidestepped questions about his interest in becoming NFL commissioner, saying he wants to focus on his job and the league won't wait until the end of his term on Jan. 2." "Bush skips queries about NFL interest". See also "Bush dodges NFL rumors", "Bush answers NFL buzz: I'm governor", "Gov. Bush Stiff-Arms NFL Bid", "Gov. Bush, tired of job suggestions, says no to NFL query".
"In the wake of a traffic stop by Tallahassee police, state Rep. Priscilla Taylor has asked fellow members of the Legislature's Black Caucus to investigate police use of racial profiling. Taylor, D-West Palm Beach, was stopped on her way to the Capitol on April 27 when a local police officer thought she had an expired auto tag. " "Legislator takes issue with traffic stop". See also "Legislator calls traffic stop racial profiling".
"Only about a third of all students who took the FCAT science exam met the state's grade-level standard, according to results released Wednesday." "FCAT science results disappoint as only one-third make the grade". See also "FCAT, national test show state's students struggle with science".
"Inflated impression of Jeb"
A reporter concedes that
we [in the media] sometimes have an inflated impression of Jeb Bush's knack for straight talk.That just might be the understatement of the decade.
The PBP argues that "since his appointment in 2004 to the board of the Health Care District of Palm Beach County, state Rep. Irv Slosberg, D-Boca Raton, has shown neither preparation for nor commitment to the agency's mission of providing a trauma system and offering medical services to the working poor." "Remove Rep. Slosberg from health-care board".
"Give Scripps more time".
Fun With Charlie
In "Florida's next governor, by God", Jac Wilder VerSteeg has a little fun with Charlie being introduced at a religious gathering as follows "'I introduce to you, as the Lord Jesus has said, the next governor of the state of Florida, Charlie Crist.'"
My only caution is that the Bible readily demonstrates that just because God says something will happen, it doesn't mean that what happens will be good. Consider the story, from Genesis, of Pharaoh's butler and baker.The rest of it is here.
"A second Republican, Thomas Piccolo, has jumped into the race to succeed Charlie Justice is St. Petersburg's heavily Democratic House District 53" "A Republican in HD 53".
Puerto Rican Voters
"Puerto Ricans choosing Florida, could cause political shift".
"When amendments go through the legislative process, you can voice your opinion. Lawmakers listen to their constituents before doing whatever the lobbyists who give them campaign contributions want." "'Well, duh . . .'".
Mel The Slugger
Try not to laugh:
Sen. Mel Martinez of Florida -- a key force behind the Senate's immigration bill -- explained Wednesday how he cajoled Republican colleagues to support his plan during morning workouts in the Senate gym, joking that "if I pushed too hard, they'd send me back" to Cuba."Martinez details how Senate slugged out immigration bill".
He recalled "some shouting" at a negotiating session over his compromise plan with several senators, including Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., and some staffers.
"Kennedy looked at me and said, 'He and I will work this out,' " Martinez said. "Kennedy and I slugged it out some, and then we joined arms on this."
Scott Maxwell gets an "A" for this piece in today's Orlando Sentinel.
"From the vote-with-your-pocketbook files, you might be interested to know which local companies served as donors for last weekend's Florida Family Policy Council fundraiser in Orlando. Many organizations donated auction items to the group that fought to keep Terri Schiavo alive, supports a ban on gay marriage and opposes choice with regard to abortion. Among them:"
Universal Orlando, Maxwell suggests that folks "feel free to give thanks or criticism, based on your beliefs." However, some contributors may have been duped; apparently,
the Roper YMCA in west Orange County,
the University of Florida,
and sports teams such as the Orlando Magic and the Miami Dolphins.
not all of the donors listed on the program realized to whom they were giving. So said Mike Hill, a spokesman for UF's athletics department, who said Wednesday that his group knew only that it was donating football tickets to an evening with Jeb Bush. Had the school realized the political nature of the group and its efforts, Hill said, "We would not have contributed.""Supporting a controversial cause".
Exposing the FCAT Spin
Kudos to the Tampa Trib editorial board for pointing out that
the annual fixation on the trend in FCAT scores obscures a continuing and painful reality: Far too many students cannot read, do math or understand science at grade level."Charting FCAT Scores Masks Continuing School Shortfalls".
It's plain awful that only 32 percent of Florida's 10th-graders can read as they should. This means that two years before they hit the job market, 68 percent have substandard reading skills.
And it should be a statewide embarrassment that after third grade, the number of proficient readers steadily declines. Reading aptitude shouldn't peak at 8 years old.
On the science side, the FCAT scores reveal another shame. None of the grades tested - fifth, eighth and 11th - posted better than a 35 percent rate for mastery of the material. Only 2 percent of fifth-graders, 1 percent of eighth-graders and no high school juniors received top-level science scores, which hardly bodes well for a state focused on growing its high-tech and health care businesses. ...
But the pitfall of FCAT scores is that the annual announcement trumpets success and ignores the big picture. If Florida is going to compete on a global scale for jobs and wealth, these scores need to take giant steps soon.
"Ray Liberti, a former West Palm Beach commissioner and state legislator, admitted Wednesday to using his powers as a city official to harass business owners in exchange for bribes from investors who wanted to buy the businesses below market value." "Ex-lawmaker admits taking bribes to play the heavy".
"Democratic U.S. Rep. Jim Davis far outpaces party rival Rod Smith and narrowly leads the Republican candidates to be Florida's next governor, according to a new poll from Quinnipiac University." "Davis leading in poll; many undecided".
The Buzz points out that the Q "does not question only likely voters. The Connecticut school polls registered voters, and critics say the results provide an inaccurate snapshot of the primary electorate, hence the incredibly high undecideds about three months before the primary."
More details of the allegations against Pruitt:
• Pruitt began receiving $2,000 a month from Royal Palm Beach homebuilder Wally Sanger in 2003, the same year Pruitt started making payments on a discounted house Sanger built for him in Port St. Lucie. Neither Pruitt nor Sanger would describe in detail Pruitt's duties in exchange for that money. Seven years earlier, Pruitt had inserted language into a school construction bill favorable to Sanger and his partners, including West Palm Beach political consultant Randy Nielsen, who formed a company to market concrete portables within days of the new law's passage."Pruitt, ally draw ethics complaint".
• Pruitt, from 2001 to 2005, collected $819,115 through three political committees, and during those same years paid $458,346 of that to three friends and allies: Bogdanoff, Fort Lauderdale lobbyist Carole Duncanson and Nielsen's Public Concepts firm. In 2003, a partner of Nielsen, Richard Johnston, paid Pruitt $56,966 from a realty business based in the Public Concepts suite.
• In 2003 and 2004, Pruitt raised $264,434 through the charity he ran, Partnership for Better School Funding, but spent only $7,495 on scholarships for needy students, a stated top priority of the charity. In those years, he also spent $104,489 on a bus tour he took with Bogdanoff to support the state Bright Futures Scholarships, culminating in a massive political rally at the Capitol courtyard in Tallahassee. Those years were also when he collected the pledges from other senators that would make him the Senate president for the 2006-08 term.
• Pruitt, on Aug. 18, 2004, directed his legislative staff to field a state Division of Elections query regarding one of his political committees.
• Pruitt, in 2004 and 2005, reported receiving $19,607 from one of his political committees for "reimbursements," even though the law at the time required more detail than that single word.
• Bogdanoff has been using state taxpayer money to rent a Fort Lauderdale building outside of her district that she herself owns, and which is also used as the address for her Enterprising Business Solutions consulting firm, for her law office, and for Pruitt's charity.