The price of access to the Governor is going up:
Lobbyists, businesses and Republican donors are being asked to give as much as $500,000 to pay for Crist's celebration on Jan. 2."Crist said he sees no conflict between the populism he espoused as a candidate and the inaugural fundraising drive." And the following was said by Charlie, apparently with a straight face:
Crist insisted that even a $500,000 donor to the inauguration will receive nothing else in return.And there's no ethical or legal issue:
"You might have a nice seat," he said, "but no extra consideration."
The Florida Commission on Ethics told Crist's group last month that lobbyist donations to the inaugural committee do not violate the year-old lobbyist gift ban to state elected officials because neither Crist nor Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp will be "directly receiving any expenditure" from a lobbyist."Perks to be pricey on Crist's big day".
Rubio Loves Spending "The People's Money"
"A $550,000 revamp of the Florida House ordered by House Speaker Marco Rubio includes a members-only dining room, a first for the Capitol building." "House speaker spending $550,000 on remodel to get officials working".
What's the matter with Duval County?
"The chairwoman of the Duval County Democratic Party resigned Tuesday to throw her support behind Republican mayoral candidate Mike Weinstein, who still hasn't decided if he's staying in the race. Weinstein said he appreciates Linda Whipple's support, and he'll take it into consideration when he decides in the next couple of weeks if he'll continue his campaign." "Democrat supports Weinstein".
Charlie Reaches Out?
The GOP apologists at the Florida Times Union tell us how "Charlie Crist is reaching out to old friends and trying hard to make new ones. Some of the relationships have been successful; others are marked with caution." "Governor-elect reaching out to make new legislative allies".
Derek Newton's post yesterday, "Voting No on Early Florida Vote", is discussed here: "Vote Early, Vote Awful?".
"Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack said he’d “live with” an earlier date for the Florida presidential primary, but added that he wants to maintain the premier position of his home state’s caucuses and New Hampshire’s primary. Vilsack is seeking the 2008 Democratic nomination. Florida political leaders hope to move up the state’s mid-March primary date to have more influence on the nominee selection process." "Vilsack On Early Fl. Primary: I’ll 'Live With' It"
Citizens Increase Going Down
"Momentum is gaining for the repeal of a law requiring Citizens Property Insurance Corp. to raise its windstorm rates significantly again on March 1." "Planned Citizens increase may die". See also "Special session doesn't deter insurance hike request" and "Lawmakers ask Citizens to hold off on rate hike for home insurance" ("State Sen. Jeff Atwater, R-North Palm Beach, on Tuesday asked Citizens' board chairman Bruce Douglas to delay a vote Thursday on the premium increase until after a special legislative session on property insurance.")
"Add Democratic Chief Financial Officer-elect Alex Sink to the list of people calling on Florida lawmakers to pull back on the big rate increases they ordered last spring for Citizens Property Insurance Corp., the government-run insurance company for people who live in places private insurers won't cover." "Sink calls for Citizens rate pullback". See also "New CFO sinks her teeth into insurance" and "Sink wants rate increase repealed".
"Congressman elect Vern Buchanan, R-Longboat Key, put out a press release this morning declaring his opposition to any expansion of oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. When the new Congress starts up in January, Buchanan will represents the 13th District. His statement came just hours after incoming Reps Kathy Castor, D-Tampa, and Tim Mahoney, D-Palm Beach Gardens, put out a similar statement together in which they too oppose the legislation in the House that would open 8.3 million acres in the eastern Gulf of Mexico for oil and gas drilling." "New members weigh in on drilling".
GOP Flip-Flop on Insurance
Let's not forget that the current debate on Citizens rates evinces a massive Republican flip-flop on the issue. "Gov.-elect Charlie Crist and a key state senator signaled Tuesday that they'll push during a special January legislative session to stave off a 56 percent rate hike anticipated March 1 for homeowners who buy windstorm coverage from Citizens Property Insurance. ... Crist's and Atwater's comments mark a dramatic sea change from the policy position of Gov. Jeb Bush, who leaves office Jan. 2, and recently departed legislative leaders. Bush and previous legislative leaders who recently left office had continued to support the May legislation that requires Citizens to move to a more market-based method for setting rates." "Crist says he'll fight Citizens rate hike".
Crist-Jebbie Appointments Fight Brewing
Yesterday we read that Charlie was looking into pulling a midnight appointment by Jebbie of a political ally ("Term Limits For You ... But Not Me" (scroll down) and "Term-limit activist may be on education board 9 years"). On the general issue of Jebbie's last minute appointments we read today that notwithstanding
comments to the contrary made by Charlie Crist's representatives, the incoming GOP governor appears to be considering whether to withdraw the names of some appointees for government positions made by Gov. Jeb Bush in his final weeks in office."Crist's dis-appointments?"
Last month, a Crist spokesperson said Bush's appointments to some boards were "fine." But Crist just said at a press conference that he'll decide whether to substitute his own appointments for Senate confirmation after he is sworn in.
"Once January the Second occurs, and we have a new governor officially, those are ones that could be pulled back as you know. I've had discussions with prior governors, a lot of them, and apparently that's a tradition that does happen from time to time. And we'll evaluate that after we take our hand off the Bible," Crist said.
"Florida's population is expected to double by 2060, according to a report being issued today in Tallahassee. The report by 1000 Friends of Florida will be released during a 9:30 a.m. news conference at the Florida Press Center." "Growth report to be released today".
"Outgoing Gov. Jeb Bush and his successor, Charlie Crist, jointly agreed Tuesday to make Gerald Bailey commissioner of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, boosting him from the interim role he's held since May." "Top Cop". See also "Interim FDLE chief to stay in position", "Crist decides to keep interim FDLE head", "Cabinet stays with interim to lead state's law enforcement agency" and "Interim FDLE Chief Made Permanent".
Vern's Got Plans
Clay Shaw "said he has sold his Capitol Hill townhouse to Vern Buchanan, the winner (so far) in the disputed District 13 election." "A buyer for Clay Shaw's house". In the meantime, "Jennings keeping busy in capital".
Drilling on Hold
"House Republicans abruptly scrapped plans Tuesday to vote on a controversial measure to expand oil and gas drilling in the Gulf of Mexico."
A spokesman for House Majority Leader John Boehner offered no details on the decision, but said the House will "revisit" the issue later this week. The Republican-led Congress is to shut the door on the 109th Congress this week and many Republicans had hoped to deliver even a slimmed-down oil drilling bill before leaving."Drilling dropped (at least for now)". See also "Gulf oil drilling vote is delayed".
But passing the legislation today would have required a 2/3 vote of those present and environmentalists hailed the scrapping of the bill as proof that leadership didn't have the votes.
Al this after yesterday's reports that "Gulf drilling is expected to win passage".
From The "Values" Crowd
You really need to read this to believe it: "Disabled boy seeks blankets from state".
CD 13 "Audit"
"Two variations in the final test of touch-screen voting machines used in a contested congressional race were due to human error, state officials said Tuesday. ... The Division of Elections audit will continue with reviews of voting machine software and videos of the testing and an analysis of Election Day records." "State: Vote machine test variations human error".
"Lightweight" U.S. Response on Cuba
"Fidel Castro's brother Raúl, who is now in charge of the Cuban government, has offered an olive branch of sorts. This past weekend he publicly reiterated his willingness to discuss long-standing differences with the United States."
Regardless of motives, the White House ought to seize the opportunity. Unfortunately, the knee-jerk U.S. response was to ridicule Raúl Castro."Cuba". See also "A new chorus on Cuba" ("Last weekend, Cuban dissidents asked the United States to lift travel restrictions that the American government imposed in 2004. This week, Cuban-American exile groups in South Florida made the same request. How long will it take for Washington to agree?")
A State Department spokesman labeled him as "Fidel light." It's the U.S. response, however, that is lightweight.
"Karen Marcus, [Palm Beach] county's longest-serving commissioner, has been approached by a Republican leader about the possibility of serving as head of the state's Department of Community Affairs."
Marcus, a Republican, said Tuesday she received a call from a supporter of Gov.-elect Charlie Crist asking whether she had any interest in the post."Marcus declines GOP request to head state post".
Fiscal Conservative AWOL
"There's been a notable absence so far for most of House Speaker Marco Rubio's three-day conference on insurance: [media darling] Marco Rubio." "Where's Marco?".
Perhaps he's personally handing out paychecks: "Florida House payroll soaring" ("The new speaker of the Florida House, a self-described fiscal conservative, now employs the highest-paid spokesman in state government, adding to a growing list of staffers drawing six-figure paychecks.")
"Facing a 2008 reelection bid in an increasingly Democrat-dominated district, Republican Palm Beach County Commissioner Warren Newell isn't completely slamming the door on the possibility of switching parties." "Newell isn' truling out party switch".