"Finally, some accountability is being brought to bear at the Florida Department of Children and Families. Too often, it seems, state officials simply shrug when the agency fails to fulfill its responsibilities, which are, granted, daunting and complex.Finally, some accountability is being brought to bear at the Florida Department of Children and Families. Too often, it seems, state officials simply shrug when the agency fails to fulfill its responsibilities, which are, granted, daunting and complex."
Gov. Jeb Bush and the Legislature have some explaining to do about why they haven't appropriated enough money for beds and treatment. ..."Someone Finally Accountable For State's Mental Health Failures".
Bush's response has been disappointing and puzzling. Instead of chastising Hadi and the Legislature and accepting some of the responsibility, the governor criticized [Judge] Farnell.
Does he believe state agencies should be able to fearlessly ignore the law?
Business As Usual For RPOF
"Florida Republicans apparently were ready for business. So they headed to the posh WaterColor Resort in Santa Rosa Beach last week and started doing just that -- with special interests and lobbyists underwriting it all."
You can almost picture them sitting around the pool, trying to figure out why the GOP lost the public's confidence (along with so many races) in last month's national elections, scratching their heads and then heading back to their special-interest-subsidized suites."Starting New Business - In The Same Old Way".
Yes, it's business as usual in Florida. Politicians in other parts of the country may have heard the public's clarion cries about politicians' cozy relationships with lobbyists. But not here.
Now, nothing about this team-building retreat appears to be technically improper. And theoretically, the lobbyists weren't paying directly for the $250-a-night hotel rooms and motivational speakers. Instead, the Republican Party of Florida collects money from donors and then foots the bill.
But which companies gave money? And how much did they spend? Well, the party's not saying. A GOP spokesman refused to provide details -- details, mind you, about private interests footing the bills for these public officials.
CD 13 Update
Here's the latest, in an excellent, lengthy Herald-Tribune article: "Sarasota County's party faithful were the most reliable voters on election day, rarely skipping any of the high-profile races." However,
A Herald-Tribune analysis of every ballot cast shows these loyal party voters -- on both sides of the aisle -- were largely responsible for the massive undervote in Sarasota's House District 13 race. Nearly 60 percent of the 18,000 undervotes in that race came from people who otherwise did their best to ensure their party's candidate won."Analysis points to bad ballot design".
The bizarre trend has convinced a growing number of election experts that the most important factor in the undervote was bad ballot design -- something state auditors aren't considering as they continue this week to examine voter machines for malfunctions.
The "audit" continues. "The computer source code that tells touch-screen voting machines how to run will be analyzed in the next phase of a state audit to determine what, if anything, went wrong in the Nov. 7 election.":
The source code analysis has not started yet, but it is already generating controversy in the contested Congressional District 13 race, in which Republican Vern Buchanan was certified the winner by 369 votes."Audit to review computer code".
The state Division of Elections' top choice for heading the review is Florida State University associate computer science professor Alec Yasinsac, an outspoken Republican who has advocated paperless voting machines in the past.
Democrats and voting rights activists charge that Yasinsac is too partisan to conduct an objective investigation.
The Tampa Trib editorial board predictably argues that
voters made their choice, and without a verified paper trail to prove otherwise, Jennings came up short. Now it's time to stop."Time For Jennings To Relent". More thoughtful commentators say "'Press on' with the investigations and litigation. Let's keep going until we know what happened." "A system we can understand".
On the broader paper trail issue, the
panel drafting voting guidelines for the U.S. Election Assistance Commission voted 6-6 not to adopt a proposal that would have required electronic machines used by millions of voters to produce a paper record or other independent means of checking election results. Eight votes were needed to pass it."Federal panel rejects recommendation for paper ballot backup".
The failed resolution, proposed by Massachusetts Institute of Technology computer scientist and panel member Ronald Rivest, closely mirrored a report released last week that warned that paperless electronic voting machines are vulnerable to errors and fraud, and cannot be made secure.
"As Congress wraps up its work this week, nearly two dozen Florida projects worth more than $1 billion are likely to be put on hold until next year." "Florida projects will likely remain in limbo".
Record Insurance Profits
"The property insurance industry in hurricane-battered Florida will make a record $3 billion in profits in 2006, according to a report released Monday." "Legislators question record 2006 profits of insurers in state".
"Republican Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback announced an exploratory committee for a presidential run today, and the committee includes at least one member with a strong Florida connection—Domino’s Pizza founder Tom Monaghan." "Brownback Committee Has Florida Link".
Opie All Growed?
Via The Buzz, U.S. News and World Report profiles Adam Putnam "Opie's All Grown Up Now".
Just Go Away
"Father Bush reminisces at Capitol". See also "Gov. Bush's dad gets teary-eyed", "Ex-president sobs in tribute to governor son", "Advice from 41", "Elder Bush sheds a tear for son" and "Father lauds Jeb Bush as top-notch leader as governorship nears end".
Another "Jeb!" Legacy
"When Lucy Hadi agreed to take over Florida's troubled Department of Children and Families, she said she knew what she was getting into. But she couldn't change the Legislature's tight-fistedness when budgeting money for necessary services to Florida's most vulnerable citizens. And she couldn't persuade Gov. Jeb Bush to stop experimenting with privatization schemes that made it hard to monitor the state's already tattered safety nets. When Lucy Hadi agreed to take over Florida's troubled Department of Children and Families, she said she knew what she was getting into. But she couldn't change the Legislature's tight-fistedness when budgeting money for necessary services to Florida's most vulnerable citizens. And she couldn't persuade Gov. Jeb Bush to stop experimenting with privatization schemes that made it hard to monitor the state's already tattered safety nets." "A familiar story". See also "Don't repeat DCF's pattern of mistakes" and "DCF's Lucy Hadi steps down".
A Matter Of Priorities
"'The way we're building, we're going to push the panthers out,' said biologist Larry Richardson of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 'My big concern is the panther will become a zoo relic.' Florida panthers, which can weigh up to 155 pounds, are one of several subspecies of cougar in the United States. Thousands once ranged throughout the Southeast. But by the 1950s, the panther had been hunted to near-extinction, and its numbers dwindled to about 30 by the mid-'90s." "Suburbs threaten panthers".
Those Tight Fisted Rebublicans
"While state lawmakers labored Monday over how to help Floridians still coping with insurance expenses resulting from the hurricanes of 2004 and 2005, they also started running a tab expected to cost the state $10,500." "Legislative conference will cost state $10,500".
"The American Civil Liberties Union plans to pump money into its Montana affiliate and four others, including Florida, to strengthen the ACLU's presence "in places where there is no one else to turn to," the executive director said Monday." "ACLU plans expansion in four states".
The Orlando Sentinel observes that the offshore drilling issue is no simple issue: "After holding out for a broader offshore drilling expansion, House leaders are now planning to put the Senate compromise up for a vote as soon as today. Some opponents are urging Florida members to reject it, betting that the incoming Democratic leaders in Congress will not expand offshore drilling at all. That's a bad bet." "Don't gamble on drilling". Nevertheless, "Klein, Mahoney urge House to reject gulf-drilling bill" ("Democratic Reps. Alcee Hastings of Miramar and Robert Wexler of Delray Beach have joined Democratic Rep. Jim Davis in also urging the bill's rejection.")
"Pro-drilling lawmakers were busy Monday corralling votes for offshore energy legislation that reaches the House floor today." "Gulf drilling is expected to win passage". See also "Drilling bill predicted to pass" ("Republicans say they have enough votes to pass bill that would allow oil, gas drilling in Gulf")
Travel To Cuba
"Twenty mostly Cuban exile organizations called on the U.S. government Monday to relax travel restrictions for Cuban-Americans who want to visit family on the island nation and to permit Americans to send humanitarian aid to the communist country." "Groups urge U.S. to relax travel restrictions to Cuba".
A Couple of Ideas
Sun-Sentinel columnist Michael Mayo:
The latest election went relatively smoothly in South Florida, but a close U.S. House race in Sarasota shows that we need two fixes for our flawed electronic touch-screen machines."Voting fixes: New machines and a 'none of the above' button".
First, add a "none of the above" option to every race on electronic ballots.
Second, ditch the touch-screen machines entirely.
"Members of the Florida House opened a three-day "Conference on Property Insurance" today, and already a divide is emerging that transcends party lines.Members of the Florida House opened a three-day "Conference on Property Insurance" today, and already a divide is emerging that transcends party lines." "Insurance Divide Crosses Party Lines". See also "State House brainstorms insurance".
Term Limits For You ... But Not Me
"The father of Florida's eight-year term limits for lawmakers and Cabinet members could serve 912 years on the Board of Education, despite a separate law that limits board terms to 'eight years of consecutive service.'" Winter Park financier Phil Handy "was chairman of Citizens for Limited Political Terms, a group that successfully pushed the 'Eight is Enough' ballot initiative limiting terms of state legislators and Cabinet members. At the time, he frequently railed against "career politicians" who insisted on retaining power for long periods.".
is one of two members originally appointed to the board by Gov. Jeb Bush in July, 2001, and recently reappointed to terms that would end Dec. 31, 2010.Ain't that some hypocrisy. But get this,
Bush's office said the appointments are legal because the name of the board changed from the "Florida Board of Education" under a 2001 law, to the "State Board of Education" under a rewrite of the education code in 2002." Wow, if that isn't putting form over substance from legal scholar and Jebbie flack Alia Faraj.
"So we are complying with the statute that says eight consecutive years," Bush spokeswoman Alia Faraj said Monday.
But Crist may not be buying it: the midnight reappointments of Handy and T. Willard Fair (also a "Jeb!" lapdog) "have irritated Crist, because they would prevent him from gaining quick control of the board and thereby installing his own education commissioner, who technically reports to the board, not the governor. Crist is considering withdrawing both nominations from the Senate confirmation process, a top Crist administration official said." Concerning the term limit issue, "Crist, said he would ask for a legal review of the question." Term-limit activist may be on education board 9 years".