"Lucy Hadi, the embattled secretary of the Florida Department of Children & Families, abruptly resigned today, one day after a Tampa Bay judge fined her agency $80,000 for ignoring court orders and hours after her top staff met with advisors to Governor-elect Charlie Crist." "Under fire, Florida social services chief quits". See also ""DCF leader retires amid controversy", "DCF chief fined $80,000 for keeping mentally ill in jail", "Nothing Like A Jail Threat" and "DCF head will not continue job under Crist".
"Last month, Pinellas Circuit Judge Crockett Farnell ordered her to appear before him to explain why she should not be held in criminal contempt of court for repeatedly ignoring orders to take mentally ill jail inmates into DCF psychiatric hospitals for treatment. ... Friday, [Pinellas County's public defender Bob] Dillinger blamed most of Hadi's troubles on her boss, the governor, who is widely believed to keep a tight rein on his agency heads' budget requests. 'It's all his fault,' Dillinger said of the governor. 'And it's a shame she had to fall on her sword for him.'" In response, Floridians received yet another dose of Bushco arrogance:
Bush and his staff have lashed back at such criticism -- even calling [Judge] Farnell's threat to jail Hadi a ''temper tantrum'' in a comment to the St. Petersburg Times."DCF chief resigns amid agency crisis". Judge Farnell is not pleased with Jebbie; the Judge
''It's unfortunate that Mr. Dillinger does not understand the budget process,'' Bush spokeswoman Alia Faraj said Friday.
said Friday that he plans to study whether he can target Bush with fines or contempt charges."DCF secretary steps down". With all the respect that is due legal scholar (and Deputy Press Secretary) Kristy Campbell, a court holding the chief executive of a state in contempt for violations of this sort is hardly "overreaching"; courts plainly possess the power to find a Governor in contempt.
"He's the one who drives the ship," Farnell told the St. Petersburg Times. "I need to have somebody to apply the pressure to. I will do whatever I have to do to get these guys some relief."
Farnell is out of line, said Kristy Campbell, a Bush spokeswoman. "If this is true, it's dramatic overreaching by the judge, and it is absolutely disappointing he is not even trying to remain objective or appear to remain objective."
Here's the bottom line:
Florida has repeatedly failed to treat mentally ill people in a timely fashion, DCF is violating state law, and the agency conspired to ignore court orders."A governor's failure".
The governor may want to chastise judges he sees as interfering in his own domain, but Bush and state lawmakers have failed to meet their statutory obligations. For the previous four years, as the number of inmates found incompetent to stand trial climbed by 34 percent, the number of available state mental health treatment beds increased by only 4 percent. Not until this year, when 87 beds were added, did the state even attempt to catch up. That is way too little, way too late. State law says that mentally incompetent people must be removed from jails within 15 days, but the average wait is roughly six times that amount.
This problem could have been resolved with a mere fraction of the $19-billion in tax cuts Bush claims to have produced in his tenure as governor. Instead, the governor kept ignoring the warnings from sheriffs, prosecutors, public defenders and judges. In his initial budget recommendation for this year, he actually requested less money for mental health programs.
A little time in the hoosegow may be just what Jebbie needs.
CD 13 Update
"A new round of tests on Sarasota's embattled touch-screen voting machines failed to produce any major findings Friday. ... The state audit will take weeks to complete. In addition to the tests of the machines, state workers will be reviewing paperwork and inspecting the hardware and software used in the voting machines." "Voting-machine findings won't end battle". See also "Second vote test mirrors first".
And here's a regular laff riot, courtesy of Florida's own "Howdy Doody-Looking Nimrod": "Putnam calls on Jennings to concede"
Remember the Sarasota Revote Rally this Sunday, December 3.
Seems Ion Sancho was way ahead of the curve. The National Institute of Standards and Technology, a federal agency within the U.S. Commerce Department, has issued its "Draft Report on Voting System Vulnerability":
the National Institute of Standards and Technology released a draft report that was roundly critical of the touch-screen voting machines used in much of the nation, including Florida, because their results cannot be independently verified."Red flags raised on voting machines". See also "Touch-screen voting machines not safe, federal agency says".
Unlike an optical scan ballot, which is read by a machine, there is no way to sit down and manually count votes recorded by an electronic system - instead, it only records what its software tells it to.
Giving voters a paper receipt confirming their choices is also no panacea, because the receipt only shows what the computer registered. A rogue programmer also could rig an election, the report said.
"Simply put, the ... inability to provide for independent audits of its electronic records makes it a poor choice for an environment in which detecting errors and fraud is important," the report said.
I think we can all agree that Florida is "an environment in which detecting errors and fraud is important".
Charlie Begins Term With Hands Out To Lobbyists
Not a great way for our new Governor to begin his term: "Governor-elect Charlie Crist wants to raise at least $2 million to $3 million to pay for his inauguration events around the state and is relying on lobbyists to help him." "Crist turns to lobbyists for help".
There are questions as to whether Crist is sidestepping Florida's nearly year-old ban on gifts from lobbyists and whether his transition team is following other state laws regarding prompt disclosure of who's helping him out."Crist inauguration fetes rely on lobbyists".
The 2007 Florida Inaugural Committee has obtained a legal opinion from the lead attorney for the Florida Commission on Ethics that the arrangement is legal despite a state law that prohibits lobbyists or their clients from buying meals or providing gifts of any amount to state elected officials and their staffs.
Charlie "Light On Specifics"
"Gov.-elect Charlie Crist doesn't know all the specifics on how to solve the state's homeowners insurance problem, but expressed confidence Friday that lawmakers will be productive in a special session to address the crisis." "Gov.-elect Charlie Crist light on specifics, but insurance top issue". See also "Governor-elect ready to face insurance crisis", "Crist's priorities: Insurance reform sits at top of his list" and "Crist: Lower windstorm rates is goal".
"Anti-Murder" [sic] Must Wait
"Gov.-elect Charlie Crist hasn't even been sworn in and the scoreboard already reads: Legislature 1, Crist 0. Crist stuck out earlier this week when he tried to convince House and Senate leaders to put his 'anti-murder' bill on the agenda of a Jan. 16 special legislative session called to deal with a property insurance crisis." "Gov.-elect Crist loses first battle".
As expected—at least by reporters who covered Charlie Crist’s campaign for governor—the governor-elect has named his campaign’s communications director, Vivian Myrtetus, and campaign press secretary, Erin Isaac, to the same positions in the governor’s office. In addition, the Crist transition also announced today that Chanta Combs, the campaign’s policy director, and Kelley Smith, the campaign’s scheduler, will also take those same positions in the governor’s office. "Crist Names Office Staff Members".
Smith, who was director of scheduling for the campaign, will assume that role for the governor-elect. Combs, who once worked as assistant general counsel and deputy policy director for Gov. Jeb Bush, was policy director for the Crist campaign, while Myrtetus was Crist's campaign press secretary and Isaac was deputy press secretary for the campaign."Crist announces more hires". See also "New Crist staffers named".
And here's a question on everyone's mind: "Will Crist pass over legislators for jobs?"
Pruitt Under Oath
"Senate President Ken Pruitt testified Thursday about his connections - or lack thereof - to defendants in an ongoing defamation lawsuit filed by a fellow Republican lawmaker. The new presiding officer was interviewed under oath in Port St. Lucie by the lawyer for Punta Gorda state Rep. Paige Kreegel, who has sued the Florida Home Builders and other political operatives in 2005 over an attack mailer sent to voters in his district." "Sen. Pruitt testifies in defamation case".
Chain Gang Charlie Opposed To Shackling
Go figure: "Shackling of juvenile suspects is wrong, Crist says".
GOP Pushes Drilling; Mel AWOL
"With just one week left before they relinquish control, Republican leaders of the U.S. House plan to vote Tuesday on a bill to open some of the waters off the Florida Panhandle to oil and gas exploration." You see, the "They fear the issue will die once they lose control of the House." Why? Well, "Democrats [are] generally are less favorable to drilling. Incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., opposes it outright."."GOP leads push to open gulf drilling". See also "House to vote on Senate's drill bill". See also "House to vote on drilling bill" and "House to vote next week on Gulf drilling".
Thank goodness Florida is graced with Senator Mel Martinez as the incoming RNC Chair. Surely Mel will step up to the plate on Florida's behalf and pull the impressive strings now at his disposal and put a stop to all this. Shucks, Seems Mel's AWOL again.
The Ethics Thing
"The Florida Commission on Ethics on Friday approved a lengthy list of changes it would like state lawmakers to make during the 2007 regular session. The draft of legislation includes recommendations to require the governor and Cabinet members to place investments in a blind trust, expand the list of people who must file financial disclosures, impose penalties on executive branch lobbyists who lie, and flatly prohibit county and municipal officials from even discussing something if they have a conflict. The commission expressed concerns that officials were abstaining from a vote on conflicts, but they still were discussing the matter with fellow elected officials." "Ethics Commission has wish list for lawmakers". See also "A question of trust".
Bloggers Heart Jennings
"Liberals flex muscles to raise money, awareness of 13th District fight." "Bloggers step up for Jennings".
"The Florida House's GOP members get to know one another during a retreat at a lavish resort." "Republicans break ice in style".
"Face facts: Institute needs an overhaul".
"A Boca Raton company owned by Venezuelans denied allegations it evaded U.S. taxes and paid a bribe to secure a contract in Venezuela to supply electronic voting machines." "Voting machine firm denies tax, bribery allegations".
"Gallagher has rejected a proposed settlement of the case, and a trial before state administrative law judge Barbara Staros is scheduled for Jan. 19." "Gallagher still fighting ethics charges".