"The Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test was intended as a straightforward diagnostic tool. As distorted by Gov. Bush, and in confusing combination with the federal No Child Left Behind law, it has become one of the world's most complicated political props. ... Bush also had to announce that although a record 75 percent of schools earned A's and B's from the state, 72 percent failed under the No Child Left Behind standards, even though both are based on FCAT scores. That contradiction highlights the inadequacy of both grading systems. Gov. Bush's preferred solution, not surprisingly, is for parents to pay attention to the state grades that make him look good and ignore the NCLB grades that make him look bad." "School grades political; students' grades matter".
"One of the nation's worst rates of uninsured"
"Jeb!"'s legacy, "one of the nation's worst rates of uninsured".
"We've known for some time that increasing numbers of people lack health insurance. Now a new Florida International University study details the role that businesses play in providing coverage in this state. The overall picture isn't pretty. Three million Floridians, representing 18 percent of the population, have no coverage. With one of the nation's worst rates of uninsured, Florida needs to find ways to reverse the trend." "When employers stop offering coverage".
A GOoPer Thing
"Commissioner Ronda Storms makes such a passionate plea to suspend the local gasoline tax that you'd think her plan would actually help. If you look down the road, however, you'll see the proposal as nothing more than an election-year gimmick. Her pandering would save a few cents a gallon, but only if retailers passed it on - a big if." "Holiday For Local Gas Tax Is False Savings For Drivers".
More Harris Woes
"The Federal Election Commission is questioning $60,000 in excess campaign donations to U.S. Rep. Katherine Harris, R-Longboat Key." "FEC questions Harris donations Her staff may have made coding errors when processing money". See also "Harris Donations Questioned".
"Big, fat F's"
"Gov. Jeb Bush and state Education Commissioner John Winn deserve big, fat F's for their flippant reactions to serious concerns about the qualifications of temporary workers hired to grade the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test." "Who grades the graders?". See also "FCATs".
But there is more, as the Sun Sentinel reports today: "Dozens of graduates of foreign universities who provided little more than copies of their college degrees, often written in a foreign language, were hired to grade this year's high-stakes FCAT exams, according to documents reviewed by the South Florida Sun-Sentinel." "State didn't verify degrees of dozens of FCAT graders from foreign universities".
"Florida's determination to block oil drilling close to its coastline irritates some members of Congress. And this week they weren't shy about expressing their frustration, with one House member asking how the state can ''dictate to America'' where to drill." "House panel feels state is spoiler for oil drilling". See also "Congressional testimony on offshore drilling 'testy'".
"More than 60 percent of the contract janitors and groundskeepers at the University of Miami voted to join the Service Employees International Union, giving the lowest-paid workers at one of Florida's richest private universities a place at the bargaining table." "University of Miami janitors vote to join union".
Charlie Jumps In
"Attorney General Charlie Crist's office has begun an investigation into a secret Broward County court docket that shielded from public view more than 100 divorces and other civil cases involving prominent people." "Crist's office investigating secret court docket".
"Gov. Bush signs wetlands bill, vetos 311 phone bill". See also "Bush signs new wetlands protections".
"Best and Brightest"?
"The American Conservative Union, which calls itself the nation's oldest and largest grassroots conservative lobbying organization, is giving U.S. Sen. Mel Martinez its 2005 Best and Brightest Award." " Mel Martinez's rising star".
Advice for Davis
"Democratic candidate for governor Jim Davis unveiled a 112-member "Statewide Advisory Committee"" "Advising Jim". See also " Davis names statewide advisory committee".
Fund Floats Bonds
See also "Catastrophe Fund to float bonds to raise cash in case of hurricanes" and "State's hurricane catastrophe fund gets $2.8 billion boost".
"Bush: Davis 'stupid' to send political e-mail as Alberto neared".
"Two Republican candidates hoping to succeed Tom Gallagher as the state's chief financial officer picked up key endorsements Thursday for their Cabinet campaigns." "GOP's CFO hopefuls gather endorsements". See also "Lee gets Bense backing; Johnson adds Miami mayor".
"House Speaker Allan Bense made it official this afternoon by endorsing Senate President Tom Lee's campaign for chief financial officer. Bense will also serve as Lee's campaign co-chair in North Florida. " "Bense Joins Lee's Campaign". See also "Bense backs Lee".
"[A]mong the new supporters that Johnson, a state representative from Celebration, is touting are seven Miami-area lawmakers who serve with him -- and under Bense -- in the Florida House. They are: Reps. Gus Barreiro, Anitere Flores, Rene Garcia, Marcelo Llorente, Carlos Lopez-Cantera, Julio Robaina and David Rivera. Johnson also announced that Miami Mayor Manny Diaz has endorsed him, too. UPDATE: Add one more Miami lawmaker to Johnson's endorsement list: Rep. J.C. Planas." "Dueling Endorsements". See also " Miami Mayor endorses Johnson for CFO".
Harris on Iraq
"Harris Opposes Early Withdrawal in Iraq".
Leon Voting Machines
Leon "county now is compliant with the federal Help America Vote Act, which requires the machines in all voting locations. After the county missed a Jan. 1 deadline to get them, the state pulled a $564,421 grant. The state, county and voting-machine companies went through months of legal wrangling before the county got the machines it needed." "County gets voting machines".
"Nelson, Martinez among U.S. Senate's millionaires".
"Crediting his 'unwavering support and commitment to the business community’s legislative priorities,' the Florida Chamber of Commerce on Thursday named Rep. Don Brown, R-DeFuniak Springs, its Most Valuable Legislator for 2006." " Rep. Don Brown is Chamber's MVP".
Another Labor Endorsement
"Yet another union endorsement for Democratic candidate for governor Rod Smith today, this time from a group that includes many of Walt Disney World's maintenance workers. The Laborer's International Union of North America Local 517 represents nearly 2,200 people altogether, Smith's campaign said, including construction workers, public employees and Disney World maintenance folks." "Magic Kingdom Cleaners for Smith". See also " Not just another Mickey Mouse endorsement".
"The two Capitol uber-lobbyists leading the legal fight to have a new lobbyist-disclosure law thrown out have finally filed their first reports offering a glimpse of how much clients pay them to influence public policy."
In the first three months of this year alone, Brevard County-based Guy Spearman was paid between $250,000 and $499,999 to lobby the Florida Legislature, according to the reports, which require lobbyists to report their fees only in ranges. Spearman's lengthy client list included the coupon company Valpak (which paid him between $10,000 and $19,999), beer-brewer and SeaWorld Orlando-owner Anheuser-Busch (between $20,000 and $29,999), and tobacco giant Philip Morris (between $30,000 and $39,999)."They Fought the Law and . . .". See also "Lobbyists who oppose disclosure file client lists".
South Florida lobbyist Ron Book's fees and client list were even larger. The reports show Book was paid more than $1 million between January and March to woo lawmakers, by clients such as BellSouth (between $30,000 and $39,999), Florida Power & Light ($50,000) and hurricane-debris contractor AshBritt ($50,000).
Wal-Mart Stores actually had both men on its payroll, paying Book between $10,000 and $19,999 and Spearman between $20,000 and $29,999.
"Few laws are as reckless as the one Florida legislators approved last year that makes it easier to kill, claim self-defense, and get away with it. The 'Stand Your Ground' law removed the requirement that a person threatened in public retreat before responding with deadly force, and now the predictable result is coming into sharper focus." "Flaws exposed in self-defense law".
The Rest of the Story
"Half of Broward County schools do not meet tough federal standards, and nearly one out of four will have to offer students free transfers to better-performing public schools next school year. This sobering account was released Thursday, just one day after the Broward School District celebrated a record number of A's under the state's grading system, which uses different criteria than the federal No Child Left Behind Act." "50 percent of Broward schools failed under U.S. standards".
"Why wait for a court's decision?"
"According to credible scientific evidence, Florida's method of lethal injection may inflict severe, gratuitous pain. If that is proven in court, the three-drug cocktail that the state uses to execute prisoners will be set aside. But why wait for a court's decision?" "Don't wait for court to say it's cruel".
"Florida GOP Calls Out Keller's Foes".
"[T]hree more GOP legislators have decided to endorse Gallagher, his campaign announced this morning. The trio included a pair from Central Florida -- Reps. Joe Pickens of Palatka and Baxter Troutman of Winter Haven -- plus Rep. Trudi Williams of Fort Myers." "Gallagher's Camp Grows".
"Energy bills in the millions combined with idealistic environmentalism are forcing campuses to become laboratories of new conservation tactics." "Greening of Florida's universities".