A Real Campaign Issue
"In a state rocked by an unprecedented eight hurricanes in two years, the next governor might well be the candidate who convinces voters he can do something about Florida's runaway insurance rates. As they crisscross the state for candidate forums, town-hall gatherings and meet-and-greets with voters, the four leading contenders for governor -- Republicans Charlie Crist and Tom Gallagher and Democrats Jim Davis and Rod Smith -- are tossing out ideas about homeowners insurance like the tropics are spawning storms." "Policy rates loom in race".
"Bush's veto of a bill to allow counties to impose a surcharge on rental cars is indefensible at a time of growing road congestion."
Bush would rather Floridians remain stuck in traffic than give voters an opportunity to vote for a small tax increase. His veto of a bill that would have enabled counties to impose a $2 daily surcharge on car rentals if voters approved and use the money for transportation improvements is indefensible."Stuck in traffic".
Anyone who thinks Florida couldn't use more money for transportation must have use of their own airplane and a driver (like, say, the governor). This state remains billions of dollars short, even with last year's significant investment. Millions of tourists contribute to the congestion, and there's no reason why they shouldn't pay a bit more to help ease a situation they help create.
"Florida Attorney General Charlie Crist touts his civil rights credentials. State Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher talks about values and school vouchers. The two Republican candidates for governor hope to win over black Republican voters, who could sway a close election. But they're also taking the unusual step of quickly reaching out to the overall black electorate, which traditionally has overwhelmingly voted for Democratic candidates." "GOP's Crist, Gallagher court black voters in September's primary".
"Teachers' union to blitz Congress for more education spending".
"Palm Beach polemicist"
George Bennett reports that Palm Beach "County GOPers already are talking about booking a 2008 presidential candidate for the party's 2007 Lincoln Day fund-raiser, which usually takes place in February. Dinerstein said he's reached out to U.S. Sen. John McCain but was told the Arizonan won't make any commitments before December. The party also might try for Rudy Giuliani, Virginia Sen. George Allen or Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, Dinerstein said. Dinerstein also mentioned Palm Beach polemicist Ann Coulter."
"Gallagher held stock in development company when he voted on land".
"Many Florida homeowners seeking state help in making their homes more hurricane proof will soon be allowed to tap into a $250 million pool of grant money to assist. But the relief won't come overnight and property owners must be willing to back up their requests with their own cash. State officials say they plan to begin processing applications in August on a matching grant program that could put $5,000 in state money into the hands of qualified homeowners within the next five months." "Michael Peltier: $250 million to help homes tough it out".
"With Floridians clamoring to drain the Everglades, forester John Gifford had a more modest proposal: plant thirsty trees around the edges to draw off the water near populated areas, but leave the rest of the Everglades intact. This year is the 100th anniversary of his very costly mistake: the wide-scale introduction of the melaleuca, a fast-spreading and hardy tree from Australia that crowds out native trees and plants." "Fast-spreading tree chokes Glades, but control programs are working".
"With five seats for the Hillsborough County Commission being contested this year, both major political parties see an opportunity. Republicans, who hold five of the board's seven seats, hope for an election sweep, giving them control of all seven seats. Democrats hope they can add to the two seats they hold." "Parties Set To Sprint For Seats".
"Thwarted by the courts in his quest to force Florida election officials to install a paper trail for electronic voting machines, the Boca Raton Democrat tried a novel approach last week." "Lawmaker tries again to force voting record".
"Manufactured home owners in vulnerable state".
Get A Life
"Fan of Governor Gets Wish To Meet Him".
Phone It In
"Members of Congress are using new technology to conduct town hall meetings from the comfort of their own offices." "Town halls now can be phoned in".
"For nine years Sgt. John Rivera, president of the Miami-Dade Police Benevolent Association, has been abusing the county's off-duty police program to increase his pension benefits. That abuse should end. Miami-Dade Police Department Director Robert Parker says he never authorized such an arrangement. Mr. Parker should stop the off-duty payments now and hold accountable any staff member who approved improper off-duty payments to PBA officials." "The PBA's dubious pension booster plan".
For more on the "PBA", see Bill Cotterell's column today: "Unions fight over police support" (" The PBA, which is not part of the heavily Democratic labor federation, endorsed Gov. Jeb Bush as far back as 1994 and has always flaunted its political friendships with presiding officers and appropriations bosses of the GOP-run Legislature.")
"DEP last week closed on the purchase of 2,589 acres along the river in Leon and Jefferson counties. The state is buying the land from The St. Joe Co. to create a state park. The land buy is part of about 15,000 acres along the upper St. Marks River that the state has identified for purchase. There is no timetable yet for buying other portions of the land. The state bought the 2,589 acres from St. Joe for $10.6 million. The Nature Conservancy negotiated the deal for the state. The purchase will help protect water quality in the river and the Floridan Aquifer, which provides area drinking water, supporters said." "State seals a deal to preserve a piece of wild Florida".
"Children's Origins To Be Checked"
" Department of Juvenile Justice officials soon will find out whether children in their care are undocumented immigrants. In this year's state budget, the department received nearly $49,000 to hire someone to conduct citizenship background checks. Children typically are placed in the Justice Department's care after being charged with a crime." "Children's Origins To Be Checked".
One Way To Raise Wages
"The potential in Florida for wage pressure is enormous for two reasons: a job market that is as tight as it has been in the last 30 years, and the critical position that immigrants, particularly Latinos, have in one of the Sunshine State's seminal industries -- construction." "Pressure driving up paychecks".
"Whatever happened to the patients' right to know?"
"Whatever happened to the patients' right to know? Florida voters two years ago approved a constitutional amendment making medical error records in hospitals available to patients, stripping confidentiality rights of hospitals. Amendment 7, called the "patients' right to know," was overwhelmingly approved by a five-to-one margin of voters in the November 2004 election but since has dropped out of the public arena. That's because disputes regarding the amendment's scope have been taken up in lawsuits and complicated by the state Legislature's interpretation of the amendment in a 2005 statute. Two state appellate courts have made different rulings to create more uncertainty. The Florida Supreme Court is being asked to untangle it all." "Resolving 'right to know' will take time".
"Threats from Florida's education commissioner to crack down on low-performing schools could lead to a showdown with Miami-Dade's superintendent." "Blame game topic: failing schools".
"Progress In Eye of Beholder"
"Florida grades schools based primarily on student FCAT results. The federal government rates schools on whether they are making adequate yearly progress, or AYP, as defined by the No Child Left Behind law." "Schools' Progress In Eye of Beholder".