"The campaign of Democrat Christine Jennings, who trails Republican Vern Buchanan by only 373 votes, voiced concerns about the GOP ties of a computer expert hired by the state to check the touch-screen voting machines in Sarasota County."
The computer expert, Professor Alec Yasinsac of Florida State University, is a registered Republican who actively supported GOP gubernatorial candidate Tom Gallagher this year and loudly protested Democratic tactics in the 2000 presidential recount. ..."Sarasota vote recount begins with a lawsuit".
Here's what he told the Tallahassee Democrat on Dec. 3, 2000, while wearing a ''Bush Won'' sign on the steps of the Florida Supreme Court: "I'll never be a passive political participant again." It was a week before the case was decided.
Such comments "definitely raise concerns," said Jennings spokesman David Kochman. "It appears the government is part of the problem, we need to make sure that everyone's vote is counted accurately and we would hope the experts the government looks to are unbiased and nonpartisan."
In related news: "Republican leads after first recount", "Republican's Lead Growing In House Race Recount", "Sarasota readies to begin manual recount", "Cluttered Sarasota ballot may be at fault, expert says" and "Candidates for disputed House seat make a showing in D.C.". Q asks: "Can They Share The Office?" And the PBP editorial board argues that "Touch-screen controversy doesn't indict machines".
But here's the biggie:
If a recount in Sarasota fails to award Democrat Christine Jennings a seat in Congress, she has a final recourse: The newly Democratic-controlled U.S. House."U.S. House is final word on seat".
"Jeb Bush's insurance reform committee produced a long list of recommendations Wednesday to redraw policies, regulations and laws, but not directly force lower rates." "Insurance panel makes recommendations". See also "Insurance industry's push for breaks picks up steam", "Insurance Reform Panel Submits 50 Suggestions" and "Hurricane insurance panel finalizes recommendations".
In any event, "Special session on insurance up to Crist".
"Environmentalists boycotted a public hearing Wednesday on plans to open a new area off the Florida Panhandle to oil and natural gas drilling as a protest against what they said were efforts to unfairly squelch opposition. The Minerals Management Service held the hearing in Panama City on plans to open more areas around the country to drilling, including about 2 million acres in the Gulf of Mexico south of Pensacola." "Environmentalists boycott offshore drilling hearing". See also "Activists boycott drilling hearing".
"State cites 4 schools in Palm Beach County for severe overcrowding".
"Storms, Scott Leave County Commission".
The Lame Duck Waddles
"Governor Bush spends day on biosciences".
"Florida - the fourth-largest state in the nation - boasts only one university in the nation's top 50. UF ranks 47th, according to U.S. News & World Report. Does anyone think 47th is good enough?" "Fee Increase Calls Question On Strategy For State Universities". See also "Let UF charge more".
Speaking of Priorities
"After raiding public defenders' trust funds to pay for last year's deficit, the state is running out of money to pay court-appointed attorneys at a much faster pace this year." "Lawyers for poor face loss of pay".
"Oliphant avoids fine for 2002 vote".
"New state House speaker reveals 20 'innovative ideas'". See also "'100 ideas' on Rubio's agenda", "New state House speaker gives preview of ideas package", "Incoming House speaker promises ideas over ideology" and "Ideas? Incoming Speaker Boasts 100".
"Spurred by electronic voting controversies last week in Florida and elsewhere, two representatives Wednesday called on Congress to require a paper trail for all electronic ballots. Rep. Robert Wexler, D-Delray Beach, cited the ongoing recount in Florida's 13th congressional district - where more than 18,000 Sarasota County voters electronically cast ballots for local, state and federal offices but not for the House seat - as an example of why a paper trail is needed." "Paper trail bill backed by Wexler". See also "Call for paper trail, new election".
"Some grumble over choice of Martinez to head GOP" ("Martinez was tapped for the top job at the Republican National Committee, spurring complaints from conservatives who fear he will push for relaxed immigration laws.") See also "Martinez To 'Reach Out To Hispanics'" and "Martinez Meets With Prez".
Cuban "Dissident" Cash Cow
"Democrats, emboldened by a new report that criticizes lax oversight of millions in aid to Cuban dissidents, are sharpening their knives for an assault on the Bush administration's strict economic restrictions."
The 57-page report comes at a tough time for the White House, barely a week after the midterm elections, and could provide fodder for critics of U.S.-Cuba policy to push for changes in the new Democrat-controlled Congress. It's also egg on the face of some of the Cuban exile groups in Miami and Washington who receive money for this $73.5-million program."Report puts aid to Cuba under microscope".
The Education Issue
"Conducted by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research, Inc., the extensive survey was conducted Oct. 2-11 and asked respondents a range of questions, including their views of government and their hopes for the future."
I wonder how the "Jeb!" has saved Florida education crowd will explain this away: "60 percent rated the state's overall performance in providing education as only fair or poor.". "Poll shows Floridians question leadership".
Stickin' With Jebbie
Why force 13-year-old children to choose what jobs they might want when they grow up?"If kid picked politics, could law change?".
Yet, ludicrous as it sounds, that's what's about to happen. Under Gov. Jeb Bush's "A-plus-plus" plan, outgoing middle school eighth-graders are being asked to look at a list, then choose a major course of study for high school. ...
Rep. Bob Allen, a Republican representing Merritt Island, returned my call ... Allen said he didn't realize the bill "required" students to pick a major and said he "thought it was an option for those students who wanted."
The bill, Allen said, was pitched by his party as "a key component of the governor's A-plus-plus plan," and Republican lawmakers were expected to vote for this if they meant to "stick with" the governor.
The Political Payback Begins
"The new Research Natural Area"
will be added to the existing Tortugas Ecological Reserve, where fishing has been prohibited since 2001. Combined the two areas will prohibit fishing in 261 square miles."Bush, Cabinet OK Tortugas fishing ban, Crist dissents".
The area is designed to help overfished species such as grouper and red snapper recover. It also will provide scientists with a living laboratory and divers and other visitors with recreational and educational opportunities.
"It’s good for the fish; it’s good for the ecosystem; it’s good for fishermen," said University of Miami marine biologist Jerald Ault, who testified in support of the plan.
The only dissenting vote was cast by Attorney General Charlie Crist, also Florida’s governor-elect.
"I am reluctant to restrict a freedom from individual recreational fishermen and fisherwomen," Crist said.
From a coupla days ago: "The man who made the prescient decision to keep Crist away from his president is unknown to most Floridians but has emerged as one of the most powerful men in Florida: George LeMieux. The 37-year-old Fort Lauderdale lawyer and former Broward County Republican chairman, who had never run a statewide campaign, was the mastermind behind Crist's victory." "'Maestro' fashioned Crist's win".
"McCollum to announce his transition team »".
"Mahoney accepts his victory in the U.S. House of Representatives District 16 race on Tuesday evening at the Jupiter Beach Resort & Spa in Jupiter." "Taking over for Foley".
Now that the Election is Over
"Economic slowdown lowers incoming tax estimate". See also "Budget-surplus estimate cut by $466M".