Voter Database Manager Resigns
"The project manager of the mammoth Florida Voter Registration System - a statewide database with computer records of about 14 million voters - is resigning less than 90 days before the statewide primaries."
Sanford "Sandy" Brill said Wednesday the system is in good shape and Florida is the first big state to comply with requirements of the federal Help America Vote Act for preventing voters from being turned away from the polls. But Leon County Elections Supervisor Ion Sancho said his employees are finding bugs in the system that might lead to long lines of angry voters in the Sept. 5 primary and Nov. 7 general election."Head of new voter database resigns".
Why Is That Woman Smiling
"Even if she spent her inheritance, Harris would have about $30 million to try something else should her Senate bid fail. She reported assets worth between nearly $8.7 million and $37 million. No liabilities were reported." "Harris has inheritance, more". See also "Harris reports assets of less than she's said she'll spend", "Senators among millionaires in Senate" and " Katherine Harris' millions"
"They spelled her name wrong. They accused her boss of holding the nation's energy policy hostage. One demanded that the White House 'get its head out of the Florida sands,' and start protecting America's economy from runaway energy costs." "Florida oil drilling debate turns testy".
"Know Thy Neighbor"
"Gary Debusk, pastor of Christ Church of Peace, said the church began the 'Know Thy Neighbor' effort Monday to encourage dialogue and prevent voter-signature fraud. As the head of a congregation that supports same-sex marriage, Debusk said he also wanted to add a new perspective to a debate that he said has been dominated largely by religious conservatives. 'It's time for another voice that is Christian to be heard,' he said. The website, knowthy neighbor.org/florida, is linked to the church's home page and contains a searchable database of names. The names on such petitions are part of the public record, according to the Florida Department of State." "A church names names of gay-marriage foes".
As Jebbie closes out his final term and the GOoPers try to keep the Governor's mansion, we get this amazing news:
A record number of public schools earned A's and B's this year on Florida's annual school report card, with middle schools posting some of the best marks, state officials announced Wednesday. ..."School grades rise".
Overall, state officials touted what they described as "extraordinary progress" in the past seven years. Since 1999, the number of A-rated schools, for example, jumped from 202 to 1,466, and the number of B's climbed from 313 to 608.
The controversial school grades are based on student scores and year-to-year improvement on the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test, a series of annual standardized exams in reading, writing, math and science.
"I hope a lot of people are proud of the fact that more kids are learning today than ever before," said Gov. Jeb Bush, father of the grading system, as he announced the 2006 results at the Capitol in Tallahassee.
The AP put it beautifully: "Florida schools haven’t quite matched Garrison Keillor’s fictional Lake Wobegon where all the children are above average, but grades released Wednesday by Gov. Jeb Bush show three out of four do meet that criteria." "Grades show most A and B schools since ranking started".
But the media coverage is largely cheerleading: "Way To Go, Hillsborough Schools!" ("This year's report card for Hillsborough schools is worth cheering. A record-high 92 schools made the "A" grade and not a single district school rated 'F'"), "Schools earn more A's and B's" and "Grades for Broward schools rise sharply as Gov. Bush lauds 'historic gains'" ("Broward County schools saw a meteoric rise in their state grades Wednesday, with two of every three schools earning an A").
"After eight years of fighting teachers unions and Democrats over his education policies, Gov. Jeb Bush said Wednesday he is confident that the reforms will stand up on their own after he leaves office in January. At a news conference releasing the FCAT-based grades for the state's schools — the last such of his tenure — Bush reflected on what he has accomplished in Florida schools since 1998." "Gov. Bush confident of education legacy".
And then there is this, which has been only sparsely reported in all the media cheerleading: "A record number of Florida schools earned A and B grades this year, but an increasing number also failed to meet federal standards, according to data released Wednesday." "Progress on FCAT has federal caveat". And how do the GOoPers respond to Florida's increasing failure to meet the federal standards, which, after all, only require that "at least 44 percent of students must score at grade level in FCAT reading, 50 percent must score at grade level in FCAT math"?
Florida Education Commissioner John Winn was uncertain Wednesday how the state will face the growing No Child Left Behind failure rate, but hinted he might resist the federal demands and said he hopes for changes when the law is revised next year."4 [Orange County] schools pass FCAT but still miss federal standards".
"I'm going to be hard-pressed to put the federal sanctions ahead of our state accountability system," he said.
On a related issue, Troxler makes a point: "From nature preserves and FCAT graders, defend us" ("Shameful, governor? Shameful that somebody would question you? Really, now.")
Steve Otto chimes in:
You've heard the charge in recent years that the politicians who have determined they know more about education than educators tried to fix the numbers."Just Skip Over Those Pesky Early Years"
They've done it by creating and then re-creating standardized tests that are supposed to measure not just students but the schools they are in.
To accomplish that, the schools have been forced to abandon or at least reduce teaching any subjects that aren't a part of the standardized testing system. That explains why, when you ask junior about Washington crossing the Delaware, he's not going to be real sure who this Washington guy was, not to mention why he was trying to cross up this Dela Ware lady.
Now, a story in Mother Trib says, the district thinks schools are trying to teach too much.
Listen, I swear this is true. I don't make this stuff up.
They want to reduce what is being taught. They call it the less-is-more philosophy. Actually I know that philosophy. It's one they've employed on teachers' salaries for years.
Our 'Values Governor
"The largest single cut was $91 million for more than 700 nursing home providers entrusted to care for more than 71,000 of Florid's most vulnerable residents, the elderly and the poor. The appropriation was approved by both the House and the Senate, in part to restore $66 million taken away from providers in 2004 and for partially adjusting the base for nursing home Medicaid rates." "Veto will hurt nursing home patients".
GOoPers Get Desperate
Really, can't they do any better than this: "Jeff Sadosky, a spokesman for the Florida Republican Party, criticized Sink for another North Carolina connection, noting that she has campaigned with John Edwards, the former North Carolina senator and Democratic vice presidential candidate. Sink tells Floridians she is 'nonpartisan,' when she is really campaigning with one of America's 'ultra partisans,' Sadosky said in a release." "Democrat seeks insurance solution".
"Jeb!" Attacks Davis Again
"Jeb!", who forgets he is not on the ballot, raises Davis' profile (yet again) with another cheap shot: "A campaign e-mail sent out by U.S. Rep. Jim Davis the day before Tropical Storm Alberto came ashore in Florida was a 'stupid' attempt to politicize the storm, Gov. Jeb Bush said Wednesday. Davis sent an e-mail to supporters with the subject line 'Alberto is here. Are we ready?' It criticized how Republicans have handled rising insurance rates and spoke of his own ideas on the subject as he seeks the Democratic nomination for governor." "Jeb calls Davis move "stupid"". See also "Davis' Alberto comments get stormy Bush response" and "Bush assails House member's timing of insurance reforms attack".
I guess this "technically" is not a conflict of interest, but it sure makes the wanna be AG look bad:
Negron filed the bill HB 699 at the request of the Florida Medical Association. Working with the influential doctors' lobby, the Florida Nurses Association and others, he spent months negotiating the details, and the bill cruised through the House on a unanimous vote April 19."Spa bill sponsor revokes support".
But two days later, Akerman Senterfitt, the law firm that employs Negron as an of-counsel attorney, was hired by Palomar Medical Technologies of Massachusetts to defeat the bill. Palomar markets myriad devices used by medical spas.
Negron confirmed he no longer supports the bill, but stopped short of calling for a Bush veto. "That's up to the governor," Negron said.
Dick and Gus?
"The Buzz among Tampa Bay Republican insiders is that Vice President Dick Cheney may be coming to Tampa in late July (July 21 we hear) to help raise money for the congressional campaign of state Rep. Gus Bilirakis, R-Tarpon Springs." " Cheney Helping Bilirakis?"
"Water managers are counting on at least one final year to keep riding South Florida's stratospheric real estate market. The South Florida Water Management District is proposing its largest-ever budget for next year, a $1.17 billion spending plan that depends on raking in at least 13 percent more in property taxes from Key West to Orlando." "Water district maps its biggest spending plan".
Our Green Governor
"The Florida Keys could be removed from the state's list of critical areas if officials there address environmental and development ills, under a bill Gov. Jeb Bush signed into law Wednesday." "Bush signs bill removing Keys from list of critical areas".
Another Lee Endorsement?
"Could House Speaker Allan Bense be about to join Gov. Jeb Bush and Lt. Gov. Toni Jennings in endorsing Senate President Tom Lee's bid for chief financial officer?" "Bush, Jennings and . . . ?".
"Many costly condos seeing big rate hikes under Citizens plan".
Florida Embarasses Itself
Jac Versteeg has some fun at the expense of Florida's GOoPers:
Gov. Bush just signed into law a bill that says public colleges and universities can't pay for professors and other staffers to visit countries that the U.S. State Department has designated as sponsors of terrorism."Educational travel? Let's not go there".
The law's author, Rep. David Rivera, R-Miami, says the main goal is to keep Fidel Castro from getting tourist dollars. I'm sure that Cuban resorts rub their hands in greedy expectation when they hear that a bunch of wild and crazy Florida botanists are on the way. ...
Banning travel by academics to terrorist states should be just the beginning of Florida's protective travel policy. Infectiously evil ideas lurk in many places.
There's France, which, contaminated by too much information, thought that invading Iraq was a bad idea. Places like Norway and Sweden think that universal health care improves life expectancy. Many Mexicans have the idea that physical labor can be a noble path to an improved life for one's children.
All across Europe, countries think that global warming is a long-term threat that must be addressed. Perhaps most disturbing of all, places like England and Brazil think that soccer is a real sport.
But it really isn't funny, when we read things like this: "A children’s book about traveling to Cuba, and similar books from the same series about other countries, must be removed from all Miami-Dade County school libraries, school officials ruled Wednesday." "Board votes to remove Cuba book from Miami-Dade schools".
"Two Florida gubernatorial candidates agree Florida needs to do more to ensure low income students get a chance at a college education."
But the timetables outlined by candidates Rod Smith, a Democrat, and Tom Gallagher, a Republican, are years apart. The two spoke Wednesday at the annual meeting of the Florida Association of Colleges and Universities. ..."Gubernatorial candidates support spreading scholarship wealth".
Their opponents in the September primary election, Florida Attorney General Charlie Crist, a Republican, and U.S. Rep. Jim Davis, a Democrat, were invited, but did not attend the meeting.
Everyone's A Winner!
"Tampa is a finalist to host the Republican National Convention in 2008. Then again, so are all of the other cities that submitted bids to the Republican National Committee." "Tampa Is A Not-So-Exclusive RNC Finalist".
Harris Slams Melquiades ...
but (presumably) not on purpose:
Katherine Harris is taking aim at her opponent - and hitting an important Republican friend in the process."Harris' Jab At Foe Hits Friend".
Harris declared in a letter to supporters this week that incumbent U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Tallahassee, is "weak on immigration."
Her reason: He favors a sweeping immigration bill offering millions of illegal immigrants and future guest workers a path to citizenship.
The rub: The legislation was created and championed by Sen. Mel Martinez, of Orlando, one of few Republican leaders anywhere who supports her.
"State Sen. Burt Saunders bowed out of the Republican race for attorney general [Wednesday]." "One less contender for Attorney General". See also " Saunders' Exit Helps Me, Negron Says".
GOoPer Business Savvy
"It isn't fun trying to sort out questions about child support, and Florida's child support enforcement division shouldn't make it any more frustrating. But those seeking help through the agency's hotline are often greeted with nothing but the sound of bureaucracy: a busy signal. In April, 1.9-million calls of the 2.2-million to the hotline landed on a busy signal - no message system, no friendly "hold" message. That's a success rate of less than 14 percent, which can't be considered a success by any standard." "A busy signal is the wrong answer".
"The state admits FCAT graders were substandard. So were its own excuses."
Monday, after the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported the preliminary findings of two legislators who sued and got access to the graders' qualifications, Winn offered a more humble assessment: "There was less than satisfactory implementation of this contract.""'Less than satisfactory'".
Winn's oversight of the contract generously could have been called "less than satisfactory" if he hadn't gone to such lengths to hide the information and made such ill-informed public claims. Now his department's role is flatly indefensible. ...
In an era of high-stakes school accountability, the least accountable agency may be the Department of Education. It has misspent legislatively appropriated funds, bungled grants for technology, churned through staff in key programs and botched a plan for teacher performance pay. The voucher program was so rife with fraud and mismanagement that it attracted critical attention from law enforcement, state auditors and legislative committees.
In response to the unqualified FCAT graders, Winn displayed a smugness that has become all too typical.
"Former Sarasota Democratic Party chairman Harold Miller thought better of taking on fellow Democrat Keith Fitzgerald in a primary battle for state legislative District 69. Instead Miller, who resigned as party chairman in 2005, said he will work for Democrat David Shapiro who is running for the District 70 state legislative seat. That district includes southern Sarasota from Clark Road to Venice." "Miller decides against running".