William March reports that GOP wingnuts think "Karl Rove's Florida Frankenstein" isn't wacky enough for them: "Florida Sen. Mel Martinez’s nomination as national Republican Party chairman is encountering a wave of resistance from right-wing bloggers who object to his moderate stance on immigration reform, and to his opposition to 'English only' laws."
“Yes, a squish on border security is now the RNC chair. Has the GOP learned anything?” was the opinion of rightist commentator Michelle Malkin. “More thumbs down from the conservative base, not that anyone cares about them anymore,” she said, linking to criticism on conservative blogs including Red State and Hot Air."Right-Wing Bloggers Attack Martinez".
English First, an organization devoted to promotion of English as the nation’s official language, has posted a "Stop Martinez" web site.
The English only crowd puts it this way: "'Asking Sen. Martinez to run the Republican Party is like asking Mrs. Phyllis Schlafly to run Planned Parenthood.'" They fear that "'should Martinez win the RNC post, reporters will encourage him to do nothing but argue with his fellow Republicans about immigration and language issues'". "Mel is to Phyllis Schlafly?" See also "Groups opposes Martinez as RNC head".
Florida Republicans Own The Insurance Problem
So "Citizens delays rate hike".
In the meantime, the Palm Beach Post points out the big time RPOF hypocrisy on this issue: "Listening to Republicans, Floridians might think that Democrats had been responsible for this year's lousy insurance bill."
For days, GOP legislators had asked the board of Citizens Property Insurance Corp. not to do what the GOP-led Legislature in May ordered the board to do: raise rates to cover a one-in-70-year storm, and avoid having to assess non-Citizens customers for any deficits. Following that law would mean an increase that takes effect March 1, following one set to take effect Jan. 1. ..."GOP scrambling to fix its own insurance bill".
The insurance bill passed the House 77-39, with only seven Republicans voting against it. The bill passed the Senate 22-16, with only three Republicans voting against it. No Democrat in either chamber voted for it.
But in the past six months, Floridians have felt the impact of the GOP's inaction, and they have let legislators know.
Only the Democrats, though, have proposed an approach that would revamp what has become a failed system. ...
In May, the Democrats could not get a fair hearing on the bill. ...
On Thursday, the Citizens board did delay a vote on the March 1 increase. The move, though, is just a reprieve. For Floridians to get relief, Sen. Atwater and the Republicans must undo what they did in May.
RPOF Wingers Back Romney
"Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney’s political action committee has announced that three major backers of outgoing Florida Gov. Jeb Bush—former House Speaker Allan Bense, former state Republican Party Chairman Al Cardenas and outgoing Lt. Gov. Toni Jennings—have joined the PAC’s Florida steering committee. That means they can be expected to be backers when Romney undertakes his presidential campaign. Bush so far hasn’t taken sides openly in the presidential race. But Romney has been thought to have Bush’s tacit backing, in part because Romney’s PAC has also hired two of Bush’s top poltiical operatives—Sally Bradshaw, Bush’s former campaign manager and governor’s office chief of staff, and fundraiser Ann Herberger." "Bush Allies—Cardenas, Bense, Jennings—Line Up With Romney".
"Expect intense jockeying between Romney, Sen. John McCain of Arizona, New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, and other Republican contenders for endorsements from Bush, as well as Gov.-elect Charlie Crist." "The distance between Massachusetts and Florida is shrinking". See also "State officials join Romney campaign", "3 Join Romney's GOP Presidential Bid Team" and "Romney's rolling in Florida" ("How much longer is Jeb Bush going to insist he's neutral in the race"?)
"Crist's leaning in the presidential race remains suspect, since the governor-elect also campaigned with Arizona Sen. John McCain and ex-New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, another pair of possible White House wanna-be's." "Mass Appeal".
CD 13 Update
"Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean called for another election in the race to replace Rep. Katherine Harris, saying the declared Republican winner should not be sworn in until election questions are sorted out." "Dean calls for revote in Sarasota" See also "Dean says votes weren't counted in House race", "Jennings gets Dean's help in bid for revote" and "Dean wants new Buchanan-Jennings election". Kos has this on Dean weighing in: "FL-13: Fireworks ahead".
In response, the RPOF sends out one of its superstars: "Feeney criticizes Dean".
"Selfless", "Outstanding" Jebbie
Jonah Goldberg has a sense of humor:
Here's the matchup we're all looking for in '08: Gore-Clinton vs. Bush-Dole. Obviously, I'm talking about Al Gore as the Democratic presidential nominee with Hillary Clinton as his running mate, battling it out with Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and vice presidential candidate Liddy Dole."But he is unintentionally funny here:
Florida's Jeb Bush -- an outstanding governor -- has decided to spare his country, his party and himself another Bush on the ticket. Such selflessness is not the Clinton way. It's too soon to tell what that means for her country, her party or her.Try to contain your excitement".
Jebbie "outstanding"? I guess you would think that if your main issue in life was paying intangibles taxes or selling FCAT review courses. Jebbie "selfless"? Any idiot (except, apparently, Goldberg and his ilk at the Family Research Council) can see that "Jeb!" (last name "Bush") would have no chance in 2008; heck, he even gets trounced by Hill in polls, and his numbers will only get worse when folks actually look at what Jebbie has done to Florida.
Wasserman Schultz a Whip
"House Majority Whip-elect Rep. James Clyburn has picked Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Weston as part of his whip team for the upcoming Democratic-led Congress. As a whip, Wasserman Schultz will be responsible for bolstering support for party strategy and ensuring that members are present for votes." "Whipping up support". See also "Wasserman Schultz named chief deputy whip".
Rubio and Kahn
As reported yesterday ("Rubio Looking To Impeach Judge Kahn?"), "the speaker of the Florida House has opened an investigation into a judge accused of showing favoritism to former Sen. W.D. Childers in a bribery case." Rubio "said Thursday it was premature to speculate. I't's really just a fact-finding endeavor,' he said." "Speaker examining appellate judge's actions". See also "Is Rubio seeking judge's impeachment?"
The "People's Governor"
"Charlie Crist, who cast himself as the "people's governor" while campaigning, wants some of Florida's most powerful interests to help bankroll the first major event of his administration." "Crist seeks big donations for party". See also "Crist taps contributors again to get inaugural ball rolling".
Special Session Approaches
"Florida lawmakers know what they should do to repair the state's troubled property insurance industry. And the insurance company executives know it, too -- which is why they might be getting nervous as a planned January special session approaches." "Insurance, again".
"An 8.3 million-acre swath of the Gulf of Mexico off Florida's coast would be open to oil and gas drilling as part of a deal worked out by lawmakers Thursday after years of fierce debate. ... Florida lawmakers won a buffer of 125 miles or more for the state's coastline until 2022." At least some enviromentalists aren't happy:
Richard Charter, head of the environmental group National OCS Coalition, called it a "train robbery in the late of night on the way out of town" and the largest new drilling in a formerly protected area in decades. ..."Florida's delegation was once nearly united against drilling off the state's shores."
Mark Ferrulo, head of the anti-drilling group Environment Florida, said the state would have been better off without the bill because Democrats next year are more likely to bar more energy exploration. "Why snatch defeat from the jaws of victory?"
But Gov. Jeb Bush and much of the Republican delegation began negotiating to allow drilling in exchange for the buffer after energy prices spiked last year and pressure mounted for new domestic sources of natural gas and oil."Gulf drilling set for big expansion".
The Florida delegation's vote was expected to break down mostly along party lines, with most of the state's Democrats opposing it and most Republicans favoring it.
Republican Mel Martinez and Democrat Bill Nelson worked together in the Senate to stop broader bills that would have brought drilling closer to Florida's shores.
Martinez, an architect of the compromise, said it offers far more assurances than doing nothing. Without legislation, the Bush administration would open 2 million acres off Florida to drilling next year. And without the bill, a future administration could drill just 25 miles off Florida's coast near Pensacola.
"Despite the popularity of many provisions, the bill's passage is not certain."
Some House Democrats planned a motion to send the drilling portion to committee with an eye toward fixing certain offshore leases that date to the late 1990s and have escaped paying the usual royalties."House, Senate inch toward Gulf oil drilling decision".
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist acknowledged the bill "could face obstacles to passage in the Senate." That would not be surprising for a bill involving sensitive trade issues and large sums to prevent cuts to doctors' fees under Medicare, not to mention offshore drilling.
The bill, however, contains something for various interests. It would temporarily revive an expired deduction for state and local sales taxes, benefiting taxpayers in states such as Florida that do not have income taxes, which can be deducted on federal tax returns.
Environmental groups and drilling foes in Congress planned a last stand but privately braced for a loss. They had expected the issue to die after the Nov. 7 elections handed both chambers of Congress to Democrats, but the result instead broke a monthslong stalemate between the House and Senate.
Grubbibg For Jobs
"Nancy Detert, a former House member from Venice, is applying for a job in the office of tourism and economic development and Mark Flanagan, a former representative from Bradenton, has applied for a post in the Department of Business and Professional Regulation." "Detert, Flanagan seek Crist jobs".
Charlie: The Coldest Attorney General
The Palm Beach Post notes that "as the state's attorney general, Charlie Crist fought a 12-year-old disabled boy's request that the Florida Agency for Persons with Disabilities [APD] pay $360 a year for the child's special thermal blankets." "The coldest state agency".
The Post calls the APD the "coldest state agency"; we think it only fair that Chain Gang Charlie, who "fought a 12-year-old disabled boy's request" for blankets share the moniker as the "The Coldest Attorney General".
She'll Be There
"She won't dance to the state's tune".
Crist Flip Flops
"The inauguration website run by Governor-elect Charlie Crist will start disclosing donors to the 527 committee set up to pay for inauguration events on a weekly basis, a spokeswoman for Crist said Thursday. This is a turnaround from a week ago when initially a spokeswoman for Crist said the names of donors to the inauguration would be reported within 90 days of the series of events. Crist is turning to lobbyists to help pay for the series of events that culminate in an inaugural ball on Jan. 2, the day that Crist will be sworn in." "Crist will disclose inaugural donors weekly". See also "Crist will disclose inaugural money". For background see "Crist Names His Price" ("Lobbyists, businesses and Republican donors are being asked to give as much as $500,000 to pay for Crist's celebration") and "Why Is Charlie Concealing the Contributors?"
I missed this the other day, Tom Blackburn: "This is not Boolean algebra or Kantian metaphysics, folks. It's simple. If you want to know whether voters are skipping a race, ask them. A line saying "None of these candidates" would have let 18,000 voters in Sarasota County tell election officials, candidates and the whole world that they were not voting in the race for Congress, if indeed they were choosing not to vote. It's their right. Instead, for lack of that line on the screen, election officials, party officials, touch-screen vendors and ordinary citizens are hypothesizing about whether they did it." "Why didn't they vote? Why not ask?".
"Mr. Crist goes to Washington".
Another RPOF Failure
"Three years after the Legislature capped medical-malpractice payouts, insurance-company payouts have decreased dramatically, but not their rates." "Regulators grant hearing on malpractice-insurance rates".
The Miami Herald editorial board: "After a two-day conference near Washington, D.C., this week, a federal panel that develops election guidelines concluded that states that use electronic-voting machines should have some means of independently verifying election results. In other words, the panel recommends a paper trail for electronic-voting machines. This is good, sensible advice for the 15 counties in Florida, including Miami-Dade and Broward, that use electronic-voting machines."
f a paper trail were available in Sarasota County, for example, it would be clear who actually won the race there last month to replace former Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris in the U.S. House. Instead, the race between Republican Vern Buchanan and Democrat Christine Jennings is being disputed -- and it stands as an anomaly in which 18,000 undervotes were recorded."Have a backup plan for close elections".
Mr. Buchanan was declared the winner by a mere 368 votes; Ms. Jennings is contesting the outcome in court. Election officials are at a loss to say why the undervote in Sarasota County was as much as six times the undervote in surrounding counties. Worse, Florida Secretary of State Sue Cobb, whose office oversees state elections, has been reluctant to probe deeply. ''I'm not sure there's even a problem,'' Ms. Cobb's spokesperson, Jenny Nash, said to reporters Wednesday.
Last week, a test of four voting machines used in the race found no discrepancies. But that finding merely highlights the problems of electronic-voting machines. Moreover, it could be Exhibit A in the Technical Guidelines Development Committee's suggestion for a paper trail of ballots.
Reviewing the data stored in electronic-voting machines merely confirms that the data are in the machine. A paper trail, although not perfect, would give election officials another means for verifying the machine's count, or of determining what choices voters made. In most races, the margin of victory is large, and no review is necessary. However, in close contests, such as in Sarasota, the stakes can be high and the results inconclusive.
More DCF Trouble
"Florida's Department of Children & Families cannot continue to violate emergency orders by delaying the admission of mentally ill inmates into state treatment facilities, an appeals court ruled. ... 'he way we're reading the ruling, DCF has to comply with Florida law and get the people moved no later than 15 days, period, end of story,' said Carlos Martinez, chief assistant public defender in Miami-Dade." "Court: State must treat mentally ill inmates immediately".
The Sun-Sentinel editorial board:
If every official were as ethical as Gov. Jeb Bush, there might be no need for such a law. Bush, even with no such requirement, placed his investments in a blind trust before he took office and has kept them there during his entire eight years as governor."Ethics".
"Lawyers for indigents deserve to be paid".
"Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, whose hope of chairing the House International Relations Committee collapsed with the Republican loss of the House, has won a significant consolation prize. The Miami Republican announced Thursday she has been elected the committee's ranking member, the top Republican on the panel." "Consolation prize".
"Rep. John Mica of Winter Park will be the top Republican on the transportation committee in the next Congress after the House GOP leadership on Thursday confirmed the party’s list of committee leaders." "Mica takes top transportation spot". See also "It doesn't ring as sweet as Chairman, but...".