Scott Maxwell: "Beach-house owners owe state legislators a debt of thanks."
Unfortunately, though, their debt may be paid by you and me.Maxwell also brings this little detail to our attention:
That's because one of the biggest accomplishments of the special session was to eliminate a major rate hike for residents of Citizens Property Insurance, which primarily covers those in hurricane-prone parts of the state.
Apparently lawmakers think that the owners of second and third homes are entitled to reasonable prices for their coastal views.
And we're entitled to pay for it.
The Chief Financial Officer's Office confirmed Wednesday that lawmakers actually changed the law to make it easier for non-homestead properties to take advantage of the lower, subsidized insurance."Rich folks catch break under new insurance deal".
Back in Tally, Crist continued to spoon feed the media: "'I ran as the people's governor and I wasn't kidding. I meant it. I absolutely meant it. And what you're seeing in three weeks and one day is it's true,' Crist told a packed room". "Insurance proves pledge, Crist declares".
Raw Political Courage
"In a pitch that will appeal to homeowners, he says people are paying 'exorbitant' taxes at the local level." "Crist calls for property tax cut".
The People's Fundraiser
"Like his predecessor, Republican Gov. Charlie Crist has named a top campaign fundraiser to the state Board of Education. Crist on Wednesday appointed Dr. Akshay 'A.K.' Desai to succeed former board chairman Phil Handy on the panel overseeing Florida schools. Handy had been a major fundraiser for former Gov. Jeb Bush, and Desai played a similar role for Crist this past fall." "Crist hires big fundraiser for education job".
Desai has quite the resune: "Desai contributed $15,000 to the Florida Republican Party during the past campaign season. He also is president of St. Petersburg-based Universal Health Care, Inc., which holds about $75 million in state contracts to provide Medicaid coverage in various parts of the state." "Fund-raiser named to Board".
Desai is no stranger to controversy.
Charlie Reappoints "Jeb!"-fanatic to BOE
"Crist reappointed State Board of Education Chairman T. Willard Fair to the panel Wednesday and filled [Handy's] vacancy with a health maintenance organization executive." "Crist reappoints Fair, adds HMO exec to education board".
You remember Fair, the fellow who publicly told "Jeb!": "In my judgment, there is no greater person on this Earth than you. I love you."
Rubio: My Way or the Highway
"Two powerful Republicans who were the only members of the Legislature to vote against the insurance reform bill this week found out Wednesday that their independence carried a steep price. Both lost their leadership posts." Rubio claims it was voluntary:
Rubio said in a written statement that he had accepted the resignations of Rep. Don Brown of DeFuniak Springs and Rep. Dennis Ross of Lakeland as chairmen of two House councils. ''I respect their decisions and look forward to working with them in their new roles,'' Rubio said.Ross and Brown say different:
But Ross said Rubio, a West Miami Republican, forced him to resign as chairman of the House Safety and Security Council. He said Rubio summoned him to his office Wednesday morning and told him that he needed people on his leadership team who support him. ..."Two lose House power because of insurance votes". See also "Speaker dumps pair for dissent" and "Lawmakers pay price for dissenting insurance votes".
Brown refused to say whether his resignation was voluntary.
Skeptics Go Wild
"Crist drew rave reviews from many in the normally skeptical crowd of business, education, government and political figures who attend Capital Tiger Bay Club luncheons." "Tiger Bay Club raves over Crist".
Property Tax Relief
"Crist and Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio added their support Wednesday to the push for a special election [to amend the Florida Constitution] this year on property tax relief instead of waiting until 2008. Rubio said rapidly rising property taxes is one of the “twin threats” facing the state. The other is property insurance rates, climbing equally as fast if not quicker." "Rubio favors special election to pass property tax relief". See also "Property taxes next on to-do list", "Property tax election gets boosts" and "Next big thing on the agenda: Property taxes".
"The local politicians' response: Capitol lawmakers have a hypocrisy problem. After all, state lawmakers have cut state taxes, but shifted some spending to local governments, while total state taxation under the Legislature's control increased from $23 billion to $40 billion in the same period." "Property-tax cap or rollback is urged".
"Crist will roll out a proposal next week to make changes to how the state uses and administers the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test, but he gave few details when he revealed his plans Wednesday." "Crist: FCAT changes in the works".
We're Number 43
"A proposal to redefine higher education in the next 30 years sparked a debate among university policymakers Wednesday."
Florida's Board of Governors met to review the $200,000 privately funded higher-education blueprint by Pappas Consulting Group. ..."Consultants suggest overhaul of colleges". See also "State leaders debate widespread revamping of university system" and "4-year degree outline irks school presidents".
Pappas found fault in the existing system.
"The state of Florida deserves better than it has now," Alceste T. Pappas told the board.
Her recommendation is for the state to place more emphasis on undergraduate students, since a study has shown Florida ranks 43rd in the country for percentage of residents with bachelor's degrees.
"Police could pull over any Florida driver spotted not wearing a seat belt under a bill unanimously approved Wednesday by a state House committee." "Strict seat-belt measure moves forward in House".
"While legislators gathered Wednesday at the Capitol to mark Human Trafficking Awareness Week, the latest example, according to police, was sitting in Leon County Jail." "Human trafficking reaches Leon".
"Before Gov. Charlie Crist takes a victory lap around the state today to sign major insurance reforms, he has some business to attend to in Tallahassee. Crist appears at the Enterprise Florida board meeting at 8:30 a.m. to cheer on the public-private group that serves as the state’s leading business recruiter." "Crist cheers on Enterprise Florida".
"The Board of Governors of Florida’s 11 state universities responded Wednesday to criticism that its institutions are disconnected and not focused enough on undergraduate education by announcing it will seek public comments as it revamps programs." "University Board of Governors announces public comment initiative".
Battle of the Property Appraisers
"Broward County Property Appraiser Lori Parrish on Wednesday tossed fuel on the feud burning between her Palm Beach County counterpart and county commissioners." "Broward's appraiser enters property assessment fray". See also "Parrish attacks Palm Beach County appraiser for 'unreasonably high' assessments".
"Florida would be dramatically different but for a four-lane ribbon of asphalt that opened 50 years ago today." "50 years on: How Florida's Turnpike transformed the state".
"Election-reform advocates are concerned with a relatively low number of votes that may not have registered during Tuesday's [Miami-Dade] strong-mayor referendum." "Pesky 'undervotes' raise small concerns".
"What a freak," thought the FBI agent who first heard about Mark Foley's improper e-mails to congressional pages. "Odd," thought another. But the FBI, according to a report this week from the Justice Department, did nothing. And you still wonder how information about the 9/11 hijackers got enmeshed in the FBI bureaucracy?"Cleaning up after Foley".
"Anti-bullying bill easily clears Fla. Senate education committee".
"The state's largest auto-insurance company is suing the state's largest hospital system, complaining of grossly inflated prices for the medical treatment given auto-accident victims." "Insurer targets hospitals, no-fault law".
"Despite pledges of closer cooperation, Miami-Dade's County Commission and its newly powerful mayor still appear to be less than cozy." "Alvarez, commission keep their distance". See also "With mayoral win, a question about abuse".
"Workers fan across Palm Beach County to complete census of homeless".
"A state senator on Wednesday single-handedly stalled plans to spend $15-million in public money to help Tampa's H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Research Center team with the pharmaceutical giant Merck Corp. in a new cancer research venture." "Moffitt, Merck plan hits a snag".
"Florida's graduation rates are the pits. The achievement gap is a mile wide. But nothing riles parents like the perception that summer break is shrinking." "Lawmakers try - again - to set school start date".
Crist Denies He's the Father
"The parents who adopted a girl 17 years ago have reached out to Gov. Charlie Crist about the possibility that he is their daughter's biological father." They have no proof, but
since a paternity dispute involving Crist came to light during the gubernatorial primary last fall, the family and their daughter have suspected Crist might be the father.The Tuckers adopted a seven-pound, 8 1/2-ounce girl who was born on June 23, 1989.
The Tuckers said they want nothing from the governor. But driven by a fear of getting snared in a political controversy beyond their control, the Tuckers made many discreet overtures to Crist.
Crist and those close to him ignored their calls.
That's the same day Rebecca O'Dell Townsend then named Wharrie gave birth to a girl, whom she said was fathered by Crist after a one-time sexual encounter in the fall of 1988.Records show:
When Townsend, who was going through a bitter divorce at the time, accused Crist of being the father, he steadfastly denied it. Yet he signed legal papers waiving parental rights, which helped pave the way for Townsend to place the child for adoption.
- The unnamed biological mother's birth date and hometown of Chillicothe, Ohio, match that of Townsend."Girl wonders: is Crist my dad?"
- The date of the adoption, two days after birth, matches.
- The Tuckers' adoption lawyer is the same one who handled the baby Townsend placed for adoption on June 25, 1989.
- The unnamed birth mother filled out forms listing her occupation as biologist, which is what Townsend was at the time.
- The birth mother wrote on the records that the father was a lawyer, and the paternal grandfather a doctor. Townsend acknowledged her handwriting on the record and said she was referring to Crist.