The Palm Beach Post editorial board:
Jennings wants to review what she calls the touch-screen machine's DNA, its electronic source code. The system's closely guarded electronic brain is not fully accessible even to the state. On Tuesday, Ms. Jennings will ask Circuit Judge William Gary to grant her access. To ease public worries about electronic voting, the judge must do so.This
case is about more than who fills the only still-being-contested seat in the 110th Congress. It's about the viability of touch-screen voting. ..."If touch screens work, open 'brain' and prove it".
Ms. Jennings' best argument is the least technical. If the machines are not to blame, why wouldn't the manufacturer allow the most thorough review? If it's to protect company secrets, the court can maintain confidentiality. Such scrutiny is more likely to become the rule as states become more aggressive. For instance, Minnesota requires that the source code be made available in races that require recounts. Imagine if this race decided who gets the majority in the House? For the sake of voter confidence, manufacturers must be subjected to more scrutiny, not less.
In the Blogosphere
Check out these posts at dKos: "FL-13: Carl Hiassen lays the smackdown" and "Little King Jeb!'s Reign Ending" ("If he is a candidate, what does his record in Florida tell us about his executive skills?").
"Are Florida taxpayers saving money by having an outside leasing agent negotiate big real estate deals?" We just might find out because "Sen. Al Lawson, D-Tallahassee, chairs the Governmental Operations Committee. Sen. Nancy Argenziano, R-Dunnellon, whose district extends into Leon County, serves on the committee. She chaired it for the past two sessions and - although a Republican - she aggressively questioned both the value and the methods of Bush's zest for 'outsourcing.'" "Senate will study Bush's 'outsourcing'".
And He's "Fresh" Too
"Still two weeks away from showing Florida how he will rule, Gov.-elect Charlie Crist already has dropped hints as to how he will not: in the style of his predecessor and fellow Republican Jeb Bush."
His office two weeks ago signaled its willingness to withdraw two key Board of Education reappointments Bush made in October. The board has been seen as Bush's best means of keeping his hand in education policy after he leaves Jan. 2. If Crist appoints his own people to those slots, he immediately could have an majority of the seven-member panel loyal to him."Lawmakers applaud governor-elect's fresh views".
Next, Crist announced that he had made a mistake by soliciting donations of as much as $500,000 to pay for his inaugural festivities. He imposed a $10,000 cap on contributions and canceled the inaugural ball because he thought a fancy party would send the wrong message when so many Floridians are suffering financially.
And then last week, Crist announced that he would create within his administration an Office of Open Government to "assure full and expeditious compliance with the open government and public records laws of Florida."
It was a stark contrast with Bush, whose office and agencies through the years often added barriers and extra costs to the dissemination of public documents.
More on Charlie's "open government" promises here: "Right opening from Crist" ("A key tenet of American democracy is that citizens will disagree but the policies that govern them will be established in public. The attacks on that principle in Florida in recent years make Gov.-elect Charlie Crist's commitment to a new Office of Open Government all the more timely.")
More love for Charlie from the Orlando Sentinel: "A refreshing commitment".
Jeremy Wallace writes that "the growing influence of voters in the southern portion of Sarasota County was hard to miss this past week. Both of the major political parties in Sarasota turned to Venice residents to lead them into the presidential elections and what many expect will be an ultra-competitive year for other races in Sarasota in 2008."
"Though the GOP is now the minority, the state's political importance keeps its lawmakers influential."
Democrats may have won control of Congress, but the Republican-dominated Florida delegation will still wield power as some of its youngest and newest members move into key committee assignments."Florida retains clout in Congress".
"Seniority [and] historical knowledge is what we lost," said Susan MacManus, a political scientist at the University of South Florida in Tampa. "But we gained in up-and-coming members' political clout."
"Code of Ethical Campaign Practices"?
"To combat the venom and distortion found in so many political contests, Pinellas County leaders want candidates to promise they'll be nice. Under an ordinance being crafted, candidates would be asked to sign a pledge that requires they follow a Code of Ethical Campaign Practices." "Ladies and gentlemen, act like it".
"'Glades biologists pursue voracious foe: Burmese python". See also "Protecting wild Florida".
"More than five weeks after the Nov. 7 election, Hernando County voters are no closer to an answer."
They booted the 14-year veteran from the five-member county commission and replaced her with Rose Rocco. But Robinson, a Republican, and her supporters said not so fast."Dispute Hits Winner Where She Lives".
They went to court to reclaim the seat in the 28th largest of Florida's 67 counties - a growing bedroom community of 160,000 located 50 miles north of Tampa, best known as the home of Weeki Wachee, the City of Mermaids.
Robinson's argument: Rocco didn't live in the district on Election Day, which, according to Robinson's interpretation of a state statute, is required.
Circuit Judge John Booth issued an injunction last month that blocks Rocco from being sworn in until someone decides how to interpret the residency requirement.
Gulf Oil Drilling
The Tampa Trib editorial board acknowledges that "some environmental groups are riled up by congressional approval of expanded offshore oil and gas drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. The measure poses some risk." Nevertheless, the Trib finds it "An Acceptable Drilling Bill".
Its So Easy ...
"To see how cozy the deal-making can get in the world of wetland mitigation banking, look at what happened when the Orlando-Sanford Airport built a runway through a swamp." "I'm a public official (and Ecobank rep)". See also "The 'bad apple' of wetlands banking".
More: "The bulldozing of large parts of Florida, the subject of a recent report by the University of Florida's GeoPlan Center, is plainly visible in the Wesley Chapel area of southeast Pasco County." "Fast-Growing Wesley Chapel Requires Rigorous Attention".
Yet more: "Companies controlled by retired Boston developer and GOP donor Gerald W. Blakeley Jr. and his family were hoping to make up to a 130 percent profit by selling the [South Florida Water Management District ] polo fields and farmland near Port Mayaca in Martin County. The water district board was all set to vote on the deal. The district planned to pay the Blakeleys' companies $68.1 million for 2,270 acres. That's about $30,000 an acre, more than double the $13,000 an acre the firms paid for the land last year." "Deal lends itself to doubt".
See generally "Special Report: Vanishing Wetlands".
Florida's botched "execution immediately added fuel to the debate over lethal injection as states grapple with what critics call an uncertain science. A U.S. Supreme Court ruling in January held up Florida's executions until September, when the state resumed capital punishment after formalizing its procedure."
The execution immediately added fuel to the debate over lethal injection as states grapple with what critics call an uncertain science. A U.S. Supreme Court ruling in January held up Florida's executions until September, when the state resumed capital punishment after formalizing its procedure."Michael Peltier: Another look at capital punishment".
For the second time in less than a year, Florida has suspended executions and has formed a commission to investigate. California has also called a halt to executions as it reviews.
States have responded differently to the high court's ruling. Florida resumed its execution schedule. Other states chose to halt their schedule until the courts determine whether their procedures violate constitutional protections against cruel and unusual punishment.
Those that chose not to question their procedure in light of the Supreme Court ruling may now be forced to whether they like it or not.
Volusia County Delegation
"Homelessness. Mental illness. Addiction. Volusia County's legislative delegation heard plenty about all three Thursday -- from city and county officials as well as service providers. Delegation members readily admitted that problems in Volusia County -- as well as Flagler County, which held its delegation meetings earlier -- are mounting faster than local leaders are finding solutions." "Behind with solutions".
"The New Green"
"Fears from accidents at Three Mile Island and Chernobyl have been eclipsed in recent years by an admirable safety record at this nation's nuclear plants and recognition of the economic and environmental downsides to oil, natural gas and coal as fuels. While renewable sources of energy such as solar power are still in the developmental stage, nuclear is the new green." "Go green with nuclear".
"Future Governor Stops In Tampa". See also "Crist Plays Ball, Has Barbecue On Tour Stop", "Crist continues inauguration celebration" and "Crist takes kids to ballpark".