"A proposed major rate increase for many customers of Citizens Property Insurance Corp. will be delayed for another month. Citizens' board unanimously opted to postpone its vote on the increase to give legislators time to either modify or overturn a new state law that requires Citizens to set its rates high enough to cover losses from a major catastrophic storm without relying on all Floridians to bail out the state-backed company." "Citizens delays vote on 55 percent insurance rate increase". The delat should give at least one columnist a brief respite: ""Commentary: Citizens bill is mystery I can't afford to solve".".
CD 13: Call For A New Election Grow
In a guest article in Roll Call yesterday, Richard L. Hasen, the William H. Hannon Distinguished Professor of Law at Loyola Law School and the author of "The Supreme Court and Election Law" (2003), argues that, if the judicial process does not result in a new election in CD 13, Congress should order a new election.
He writes that this "time, it appears that poor ballot design or machine malfunctions with electronic voting machines caused thousands of voters to skip the race for Florida's 13th Congressional district, leading to a 369-vote victory by the Republican candidate over the Democratic one. Once again the matter is in court, and once again the courts are not likely to give a remedy. ... why should voters be victims of the design incompetence of election administrators? The fair thing to do — even if it is not legally compelled — is to hold a new election where everyone in the district gets to vote." Professor Hasen points out:
The Constitution provides that "Each House shall be the Judge of the Elections, Returns and Qualifications of its own Members ... ." The House has resolved disputed elections before. For two reasons, the House should declare the seat vacant, triggering a special election. ..."It’s Time for the House to Pick Up the Pieces in Florida’s 13th District" (.pdf file). (The piece also reminds us of "A recent academic analysis by Laurin Frisina, Michael Herron, James Honaker and Jeffrey Lewis notes that in Charlotte County, the undervote rate in the state attorney general race was huge. In Charlotte — but not in Sarasota — the attorney general race was paired with another contest on the same electronic ballot page, mirroring the placement of the House race on the Sarasota County ballot."
[S]ome argue that it would be bad precedent to let the House make this decision on extralegal grounds. But just like the House makes a political judgment as to what constitutes grounds for impeachment, it can make decisions about new elections on a political basis as well. A Democratic House’s decision to grant a revote in these circumstances is a lot less likely to contribute to partisanship in Congress than was the Republican House’s decision to impeach then-President Bill Clinton.
Hasen hastens to make clear that he is not calling for Congressional intervention now, but that "the discovery process in the court should go forward. We should absolutely let the process find out if there was machine malfunction or, worse, fraud. This is important not just for FL-13 but for the country. The parties should have full access to test the voting machinery and software. But my point is that if the legal process does not lead to a new election, the House should make a political decision to require one." All this was the subject of considerable discussion at dKos yesterday.
The chorus for intervention is growing, as "Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean says the Democratic-controlled Congress should not seat Buchanan without another election." "Dean: Dems should keep out Buchanan". See also "Dean wants new Buchanan-Jennings election". More: "Pitching for a new election".
Oh yeah, there's the ongoing state "audit": "Although the audit is entering a less-public phase, much work remains to be done, [spokesman for the Florida Secretary of State's office Sterling] Ivey said. That includes reviewing records collected in Sarasota and the machines' source code." "D-13 audit heads to Tallahassee"
Florida To Become "A Sea Of Pavement"?
"Imagine a sea of pavement instead of grass spreading contiguously from Fort Myers to West Palm Beach. A landscape of endless urban jungle cramming 9 million new people into subdivisions clustered from Tampa through Daytona Beach."
Development gobbling up open land at a rate that more than doubles the suburban and exurban landscape."Study offers glimpse into Florida's future". See also "Study warns that Florida must curb growth or be overwhelmed by sprawl, gridlock", "Group fears a rural Florida swallowed by growth" ("Rural land south of Lake Okeechobee will be gobbled up by homes and businesses, and sprawling strips of development will stretch from West Palm Beach to Fort Myers if state and local leaders do not change the way they manage growth, the anti-sprawl group 1000 Friends of Florida said Wednesday."), "Studies show ’frightening’ future from Florida growth" and "Paving the way toward a very crowded future" ("Florida's population will equal the nearly 36 million now living in California, but they'll have just a third of the land to live on.")
It's a picture of Florida 50 years into the future, when a provocative new report indicates the state will be home to nearly 36 million people.
You can find an index to the report with links to its various sections here.
Insurance Crisis "Chasm"
Citizens to discuss 56% rate hike today. In the meantime, "Democrats called on lawmakers to create a sweeping state agency to overhaul the insurance industry while some Republicans suggested they instead end government regulation altogether, as members of the Florida House on Wednesday offered potential fixes to the state's insurance crisis."Chasm about Citizens remains". See also "Next Speaker Not Seeing Insurance Relief" ("No current political plan offers dramatic relief from soaring property insurance rates, the new speaker of the Florida House said yesterday."),"State House finds wide divide over fixing rates", "Storm insurance conference wraps without clear path" and "Cheap Insurance May be Gone Forever".
Leadership: "Alex Sink, who is set to be Florida's next chief financial officer and member of the Cabinet, didn't waste any time spending a little of her political capital on an issue near and dear to the hearts of coastal dwellers and property owners in general. ... She urged, no, warned Florida lawmakers attending a three-day conference on the property insurance crisis that they must repeal their recent authorization of 56-percent rate increases in coastal-windstorm insurance premiums." "Sinking in".
The Miami Herald editorial board argues that the Legislature needs to "Give homeowners relief from windstorm hikes".
And who knows what this means: "Charlie Crist's campaign promises, previously panned by state insurance executives, have a new shine now that he's about to become governor." "Insurance officials warm to Crist's ideas".
Rubio Hops on Bandwagon
"House Speaker Marco Rubio on Wednesday joined a growing chorus of politicians who say the state's largest home insurer, Citizens Property Insurance Corp., should back off of a proposed rate increase for now." "Politicians to Citizens Property: don't push for hike now".
Friends of Charlie
Some of Charlie's inner circle (aka transition team leaders): "powerhouse lobbyist and worker's comp attorney Mary Ann Stiles, Adolfo Henriques, chairman and CEO of Florida East Coast Industries, Jorge Arrizurieta, former chairman of the FTAA, former State Senate President John McKay, Catherine Crist Kennedy, lobbyist Gene McGee, Rep. Jennifer Carroll, Seminole County Supervisor of Elections Michael Ertel, former Broward County Commissioner and Senate President Jim Scott, former State Sen. Jim Sebesta, Allison DeFoor, former Agency for Health Care Administration Secretary Ruben King-Shaw Jr. and big time fundraiser Dr. Alan Mendelsohn." "Crist transition team leaders selected". For more detail you can Download crist_transition_team.doc. See also "Big Pinellas presence on Crist's team" and "Crist Names Central Floridians to Review Groups".
The Rich Are Different
"For a half mil, engraved cufflinks".
Heads Will Roll
"The exodus of agency heads leaving Gov. Jeb Bush - and making it clear they won't be working for Governor-elect Charlie Crist - has accelerated in recent days.The exodus of agency heads leaving Gov. Jeb Bush - and making it clear they won't be working for Governor-elect Charlie Crist - has accelerated in recent days." "Which agency head will survive?"
A Daytona Beach - Seminole County Thing
"The manager of Lollipops Gentleman's Club on Grandview Avenue [in Daytona Beach] is accused of illegally funneling money to two City Commission candidates through third-party sources, authorities said Wednesday." "Lollipops manager faces election-contribution charges". See also "Strip-club manager arrested" (One of the individuals implicated by the allegations is Bob Lewis, deputy court clerk in Seminole, "a former political consultant who has been active in Seminole County Republican politics for years, running countywide and city races. He denied any wrongdoing.")
"Members of Florida's congressional delegation got together Tuesday night to bid a fond farewell to Fort Lauderdale Republican Rep. Clay Shaw, leaving Congress after 26 years in office." "Kudos to Shaw".
In Short, He Lied
From Congressional Quarterly Politics.com
Todd W. Long, a lawyer and conservative radio host, filed a statement of candidacy with the Federal Election Commission to seek the GOP nomination in 2008."Keller's Early '08 Opponent Focusing on Broken Term Limit Pledge" (via The Buzz). See also "Keller's broken term limit pledge".
That was supposed to be the effective year of the term-limit pledge Keller took when he first ran for the House in 2000; he then promised to serve no more than eight years in the House.
But just two weeks after this year’s win over Democratic marketing consultant Charlie Stuart, by 53 percent to 46 percent, Keller effectively renounced the term limit pledge, announcing that he would seek a fifth term in 2008.
Long is determined to take on the incumbent — and to make an issue of his broken promise.
Castor, Meek Grab Plums
"Incoming U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced two Floridians would join the Democratic Steering Committee (which is responsible for developing policy and recommending members for appointments and committee assignments). Rep. Kendrick Meek of Miami was selected, and new member, Kathy Castor of Tampa, will serve as the freshman member." "Castor, Meek on steering committee".
Why Is Charlie Concealing the Contributors?
"Governor-elect Charlie Crist has launched a website to promote the series of events he's holding as part of his inauguration on Jan. 2. What you will not find on this website, however, is the names of those who are donating the money to help pay for the events. ... Crist's staff says that the inaugural committee is covered by a different law that does not require them to announce donations until 90 days after the event _ which will be after the Jan. 16 special session dedicated to insurance." "Still no donor disclosure from Crist".
See also "Tickets start at $100 to party with new governor Jan. 2" and "Crist Seeks Donations To Pay Inauguration Tab".
"Two titans will square off tonight over the leadership of the Johnnie B. Byrd Sr. Alzheimer's Institute, a fight that will determine whether the center becomes a political playpen for its benefactor or a national force in the search for a cure." "Byrd Alzheimer's Center Faces Defining Moment In Young Life". See also "Byrd Institute Could Wind Up In The Johnnie".
Political Safari gives us a Presidential "Primary Primer".
Rubio Looking To Impeach Judge Kahn?
"House Speaker Marco Rubio has asked for an investigative file into appeals court Judge Charles Kahn, a rare request that could lead to impeachment proceedings. Rubio's Dec. 4 letter to the Judicial Qualifications Commission, the independent body set up in the constitution to handle discipline of judges, seeks all the material the JQC has on an investigation of First District Court of Appeal Judge Kahn."
This summer, Judge Michael Allen wrote that Kahn should have recused himself from the appeal of former Senate president and Escambia County Commissioner W.D. Childers' bribery conviction that the court upheld. ...""Rubio seeks investigation file on judge". See also "House investigating Kahn" ("Judge Michael Allen, who serves with Kahn, wrote a scathing opinion saying Kahn never should have heard the case because of his ties to Childers' close friend and political ally, Pensacola attorney Fred Levin.")
Kahn worked for a dozen years at Fred Levin's Pensacola firm before his appointment to the bench. ...
Kahn was among the four judges who dissented from 10 judges who upheld Childers' conviction. That came after a three-judge panel, that included Kahn, was set to overturn the conviction before the entire court voted to hear the case.
Polling Site Fight
"A Delray Beach man who cast his vote in a Catholic Church amid crosses, prayers and an anti-abortion banner is suing county Supervisor of Elections Arthur Anderson, claiming the use of the church as a polling place was unconstitutional, according to a lawsuit filed in federal court Friday." "Lawsuit disputes church poll site".
"Lawmakers are already filing bills to be heard in the 2007 legislative session that begins in March." "House, Senate members getting head start on bills".
Scott Maxwell notes that "two of Bush's political operatives have already aligned themselves with Romney's campaign. Yes, the country seems to be suffering from Bush fatigue. But some GOP insiders hope that fatigue is Bush-specific, seeing as how Jeb has seen approval numbers nearly twice what his big brother has earned." "Jeb for VP?" For some other recent yacking on this see "WSJ on Jebbie; Possible VP Slot".
"As Americans flee the cities for the suburbs, many can't leave poverty behind."
The suburban poor outnumbered their inner-city counterparts for the first time last year, with more than 12 million suburban residents living in poverty, according to a [Brookings Institution] study of the nation's 100 largest metropolitan areas released today."Poverty Rate Soars In Suburbs".
The study ranked Lakeland No. 10 in a list of the suburban areas with the highest poverty rates.
Osceola Voting Rights Case
"The plan adopted Wednesday [by the County Commission to be submitted to the Judge for approval] has district lines that do not require two commissioners to face each other in an upcoming election." "Federal judge will decide merits of Osceola vote plan". The Orlando Sentinel editorial board supports this option that "establishes single-member districts, including a largely Hispanic one, without pitting incumbents against one another." "A win-win for Osceola".