"As the state heads deep into both hurricane and election seasons, the windstorm insurance crisis is becoming a front-burner political issue -- and the debate over what to do is growing more heated." "Insurance crisis enters political debate". See also "Business Insurance Growing Scarce" and "Bush considering state-run pool for business insurance coverage".
"It's almost always sunny in Crist's political world.". "Crist's populist theme charms state's voters". See also "Crist's New Ad Covers Hot-Button Issues".
Get Over It
"Bush said Thursday he would not be part of a bizarre plan Republican strategists have contemplated to replace U.S. Rep. Katherine Harris as a candidate for U.S. Senate. Party strategists confirmed earlier this week that they envisioned Harris, who is trailing badly in the polls, withdrawing from the race after she won the Sept. 5 primary. That would give party officials the power to name a more viable replacement. Bush's name came up as a potentially strong challenger for Nelson." "Bush says he won't enter Senate race".
"Jeb!" Received Tainted Contributions?
"A grand jury is investigating whether Sergio Pino improperly paid for a junket to Mexico for approval of a Miami-area development project, and last week the Miami Daily Business Review reported that it had obtained corporate records indicating one of Pino's companies may have illegally reimbursed employees for political contributions made to Gov. Jeb Bush's 2002 re-election campaign." "Crist major fundraiser resigns".
"A bitter GOP state Senate primary in Miami-Dade County is proving to be a test of Senate President-Designee Ken Pruitt's leadership within a fractured Republican caucus. Incumbent Sen. Alex Villalobos, D-Miami, who has not been challenged in his 14 years as a lawmaker, is running against Miami-Dade School Board member Frank Bolanos, whose campaign has a tie to Gov. Jeb Bush's administration. Bush has said he may publicly support Bolanos before the Sept. 5 primary." "Pruitt neutral so far in heated Miami Senate race".
But things aren't all rosy for Jebbie's shill: "The highest-profile candidate, Miami-Dade School Board Member Frank Bolaños, was hit with a citizen's lawsuit seeking to knock him off the ballot. The suit claims he disobeyed state law by failing to resign his current office 10 days before he could qualify to run against state Sen. Miami Alex Villalobos. Both candidates are Republican." "3 candidates face legal challenges".
"Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Gallagher said he won't ask members of the Florida Ethics Commission who have contributed to his political opponent's campaign to recuse themselves today when they consider an ethics complaint against him." "Gallagher won't fight panel's makeup".
Our Green Governor
"The state has failed to improve its record of reporting sewage spills into Florida waters and along beaches, an environmental group said Thursday in a follow-up to a study it released last year."
The 2005 study by the nonprofit Clean Water Fund was called "Are We Wading in Waste?" and the follow-up is titled "Are We Still Wading in Waste?" The answer, according to the study, is yes. It shows the state accounted for 44-million to 51-million gallons of wastewater and sewage spilled last year."Study: Sewage spills foul waters".
The Religion Thing
"One of the last places a Democratic candidate for governor wants to be associated with Christian conservatives is in the voter-rich liberal Jewish condominiums of South Florida. That's why Democrat Rod Smith hopes to draw attention away from his son-in-law's appearance this spring before the Miami-based Christian Family Coalition by reminding voters that his opponent, Jim Davis, voted in favor of school prayer 10 years ago." "Governor hopefuls try to make religion an issue"
"Democratic candidate for governor Jim Davis this afternoon announced a "Woman for Davis" team that includes people ranging from former Florida First Ladies to college students."
Leading the group are Rhea Chiles, widow of the late Gov. Lawton Chiles; Adele Graham, the wife of Bob Graham, the former governor and U.S. Senator; Anne MacKay, wife of former Lt. Gov. Buddy MacKay; Carol Browner, who served as EPA adminstrator under former President Clinton; and Democratic U.S. Reps. Corrine Brown of Jacksonville and Debbie Wasserman Schlutz of Weston."Ladies Man". See also "Women for Davis" ("Included are the 18-year-old twin daughters of former state House staffer Eric Draper. Davis helped create the state's first class size reduction plan in the mid-90s after Draper saw how crowded and distracting his girls' first-grade classroom was.")
"U.S. Senate candidate Katherine Harris announced Thursday that she hired Bryan Rudnick to be her new campaign manager. He is her fourth one but who's really counting? Rudnick, a resident of Boca Raton, is president of Alliance Strategies Group, a strategic planning and communications firm." "Harris' new campaign manager". See also "Harris hires Boca man as 4th manager" and "New Campaign Manager Faces Challenge".
Here's an idea, change the topic: "The finance chairman of U.S. Rep. Katherine Harris' Senate campaign demanded an apology from Democratic National Party Chairman Howard Dean Thursday, a day after Dean likened the Longboat Key Republican to Joseph Stalin." Let's take a closer look at what Dean actually said:
Nelson is "going to beat the pants off Katherine Harris, who didn't understand that it is ethically improper to be the chairman of the campaign and count the votes at the same time," the Palm Beach Post reported Dean as saying. "This is not Russia. And she is not Stalin. And she will go back to wherever she came from and Bill Nelson will be re-elected to the United States Senate so we can have an honest person as a senator from the great state of Florida.""Harris ally demands Dean apology". See also "Harris asks DNC's Dean to apologize". The Orlando Sentinel editorial board has this less than surprising take on this: "Over the top -- again".
But it always comes back to "Representative B": "Ex-staffers question Harris data"
Meanwhile, the drumbeat continues with headlines like this: "Poll: Incumbent Nelson still leads Harris in Senate race".
Military Jobs Moving
"Plan to move Air Force jobs angers Panhandle, state officials".
Nelson on Board
"Ending days of uncertainty, Sen. Bill Nelson said Thursday that he would support a bill banning oil and gas exploration in most of the eastern Gulf of Mexico through 2022 while giving other gulf states a share of drilling royalties. Nelson, D-Fla., had withheld his support for the bill because of concerns it would be significantly expanded when the Senate version was compromised with a broader House bill that would lift long-standing bans on drilling in most of the outer continental shelf." "Nelson's support of gulf drilling to advance bill". See also "Drilling assurances satisfy Nelson".
GOoPers Gettin' Nasty
"The race to replace Katherine Harris in Congress is growing nasty in Sarasota, with the leading Republican candidate pledging $700,000 of his own money to defend himself against what he says is a smear campaign by a Republican opponent." "Race to replace Harris in Congress turning nasty"
"Campbell, McCollum unofficially kick off attorney general race".
To Replace Sebesta
"From the insurance crisis to Terri Schiavo, the three state House members vying to replace retiring state Sen. Jim Sebesta spoke on a range of issues at a mostly cordial political forum Thursday." "State Senate Hopefuls Test Voter Waters".
"Even though Copeland is virtually unknown, he is doing well in polls so far. The latest Mason-Dixon Florida Poll, carried out July 19-21 and released this week, gave Bronson 39 percent of the vote and Copeland 31 percent with 30 percent undecided. Bronson, who was appointed by Gov. Jeb Bush to the post in 2001, won his 2002 election and is eligible to run once more for the four-year post under current term limits." "Rivals have two views of Cabinet post".
"Straw Man Farming"
"Congress and President Bush are very good at protecting imaginary children from imaginary horrors. The House of Representatives this month unanimously passed the Fetus Farming Prohibition Act of 2006."
"Growing a human fetus for the purpose of harvesting his or her body parts for experimental research is something right out of the most gruesome horror movie," said U.S. Rep. Dave Weldon, R-Melbourne, in a news release when he introduced the House version of the Fetus Farming Prohibition Act of 2006."GOP goes straw-man farming".
Rep. Weldon, a medical doctor, is absolutely right. It is like something out of a movie. Usually, Republican members of Congress expend their energy chastising Hollywood, but now I guess the Left Coast is going to get credit for alerting Congress to fictional horrors that need to be legislated against. Soon, Rep. Weldon, if he saw the new Pirates of the Caribbean flick, might introduce the Kraken Ship Destruction Prohibition Act of 2006.
Rep. Weldon knows that fetus farming doesn't exist, but he claimed that it is "a real possibility unless Congress acts to prohibit it. This bill will ban fetal farming before its advocates begin such unimaginable horrors in the name of science."
This is straw-man farming.
"Howdy Doody was a puppet on a children's television program in the 1950s and early 1960s. Putnam was mistakenly identified as the object of a comment by U.S. Rep. Marion Berry, D-Ark., in December when he called another red-headed member of Congress 'Howdy Doody.' Even though the comment was not aimed at Putnam, it stuck." "Viscusi Uses Puppet To Criticize Putnam".
Another GOoPer Flip-Flop
"The leading Democratic contender to be the state's next attorney general accused Republican Bill McCollum of changing his position on the polarizing Terri Schiavo case after a debate in Orlando on Thursday."
State Sen. Walter "Skip" Campbell's campaign said the former Central Florida congressman was repositioning himself for the general election since the last of his competitors for the Republican nomination dropped out last week."2 attorney general candidates debate Schiavo case".
McCollum's explanation of his position Thursday seemed to straddle the issue, illustrating what a touchy subject it remains for Republicans trying to maintain a conservative base yet not take a position polls show most Floridians disagree with.
Asked if he would have intervened as Gov. Jeb Bush did to keep the severely brain-damaged woman's husband from removing her feeding tube, McCollum said, "I supported the governor's position on that." But he added that "once the court spoke, the decision was final."
Campbell followed, noting that courts repeatedly ruled in favor of Schiavo's husband, yet Bush intervened anyway.
"I would never get involved as the governor did to force his opinions on this family," Campbell said.
The Registration Thing
"Florida has seen problems with voter-registration drives. One particularly nasty scheme tricked voters by asking them to sign petitions in support of medical marijuana -- without telling them they were also signing a form that changed their county of registration. Some groups destroyed voter registration applications that didn't state the 'correct' party affiliation. A law that goes after intentional bad acts makes sense, which is why Florida already had such laws on the books. It's a crime to destroy voter applications or defraud voters. But the 2005 law goes much further." "Wrong target".
"With one last blast labeling it "insidious," Gov. Jeb Bush signed legislation Thursday eliminating the state's tax on investments and reached a long-held goal."
"The repeal of this tax eliminates the penalty on Floridians who take responsibility for their own retirement by saving and investing over a lifetime," said Bush in a statement, after signing the bill as the last measure left from the 2006 Legislature. ..."Bush Saves Tax Cut for Last". See also "Bush signs intangibles tax repeal into law".
Eliminating the tax will remove $131 million from the state treasury this year and another $161 million expected next year, state analysts said. The tax is paid by 223,970 individuals, couples and businesses, records show.
But the real winners are millionaires. The average individual taxpayer helped by the measure holds $1.6 million in taxable assets, according to the state Revenue Department, and faces an average tax burden of $700.