Some interesting perspectives today on the supposed bi-partisanship in Tallahassee these days. Some put it this way: "With nowhere else to turn, Republicans reach out to Democrats for insurance solutions in a rare show of bipartisan cooperation." "Florida insurance crisis yields bipartisan efforts".
Carl Hiassen has a less charitable view: On one hand, the pols "are deathly afraid of facing the people who elected them, terrified of being stamped as squirmy shills for special interests."
Still, it's naive to think that a voter uprising was the only impetus for legislators to overhaul the insurance laws. Those asinine rate hikes have finally affected the housing market, which means that certain other folks are upset."Similarly, solving the insurance crisis became a bipartisan crusade in part because soaring premiums have hurt home sales and sent a shock wave through industries with heavy clout."
Folks who hire heavyweight lobbyists; who donate gobs of money to political campaigns; who get their phone calls returned promptly in Tallahassee.
Remember the great Everglades epiphany of the early '90s, when politicians with no previous interest in the environment suddenly decided it was imperative to replumb the precious River of Grass?
In an economy such as Florida's, based so heavily on mass development, greed always trumps common sense."Bipartisanship on insurance -- out of fear".
Then again, this talk of bipartisanship may all be just so much smoke. The delightful Rep. David Rivera, a Miami Republican, cuts to the chase:
Moments after Rep. Dan Gelber, the Miami Beach Democrat and House Minority Leader, was finished talking to the press, Rivera asked if any reporters wanted to hear what the "Republican majority that actually runs the House" had to say."Bipartisan mood souring a bit".
And in Congress, "Florida's bipartisanship stops at wallet's edge".
The Elephant in the Room
"But it's only a matter of time - most likely, not much time - before Florida is forced to consider solutions to its health-insurance crisis as well."
Almost one in five Floridians under age 65 is without health insurance, half a million of them children. The total estimated number of residents who have no health insurance is 2.7 million in a state of almost 18 million. ..."Health-caring".
We are a state and nation where the haves have ready access to decent medical care and the have-nots do not. The growing class of have-nots quite simply is a threat to our collective health and welfare.
This is why Republican governors in Massachusetts and California have been forced to face a difficult reality. Their state-sponsored plans are not fundamentally conservative, but just as the property-insurance crisis in Florida has forced conservatives here to modify their positions on that issue, so will the health-care crisis eventually force a more pragmatic, bipartisan approach involving consumers, insurers, hospitals and others. ...
Florida should learn the lesson that the property-insurance crisis is now teaching us: The time for new solutions is before the crisis becomes almost unmanageable.
Legal Scholar Takes a Hit
"Quietly last week, a powerful senator and fellow Republican told Crist that the Senate couldn't sign off on his plan to put two consumer-friendly candidates on the powerful board that oversees telephone and electric companies."
The problem: The deadline for replacing members of the PSC passed before Crist was even sworn in.And it is all about spin isn't it:
Crist's preferred candidates, Jeremy Susac and Philip Nowicki, could not be confirmed by the Senate this spring, either.
''We explained to the governor that we would just have to start the process all over again. It didn't look like he could [go ahead with the nominations], and we didn't want some court challenge and a precedent set over this,'' [Sen. Mike] Bennett said.
In contrast to the public statement when Crist made his appointments to the board, the governor quietly accepted the Senate's reading of state law.Charlie - the legal scholar that he is - came up with this legal argument
Crist ... argued that the 30-day deadline hadn't expired because he could decide which days could be counted.Huh? Charlie thought he simply didn't need to count the days that added up to 30? How very "Jeb!" of him. "Senate scuttles two of Gov. Crist's picks".
Randy Schultz weighs in on the proposal for an earlier Florida presidential primary: "Make Florida primary, not secondary".
Marinez Denies GOP Is "Party of Bigotry"
He doth protest too much:
"The Republican Party is not the party of bigotry," Martinez said, prompting a handful of reporters from Spanish TV stations to ask him to repeat the remark in Spanish."Como Se Dice Bigotry?".
Deal? No Deal?
The Tampa Trib has this today: "Deal Cuts Insurance Rates". See also "Lawmakers agree to deal on rate cuts". See also "Lawmakers close to resolving a major insurance disagreement" and "Plan kills rising rates" ("Florida lawmakers were still hashing out details late Saturday on a wide-ranging plan aimed at cutting property insurance rates across the state. At 11:30 p.m., House and Senate negotiators outlined a potential compromise that could play a key role in driving down rates for customers of private insurance companies.")
In stark contrast, we have this from the Miami Herald: "Lawmakers made only limited progress toward a massive insurance reform bill, including allowing the state-run insurer to expand in a small way." See also "Little time left on insurance talks". See also "Reality sets in at insurance sessions" ("Nearing the end of a week of special-session contortions, they still find fuzzy numbers, small cuts and, in some cases, premium increases.")
The Palm Beach Post: "Citizens Property Insurance customers likely won't pay any increase from their 2006 windstorm premiums and could get an additional 10 percent reduction if they can choose the state-run insurer to cover additional risks like fire and theft, under a bill that state lawmakers inched closer to finalizing Saturday." "Insurance relief bill making headway".
And then there is this: "Plan ends Panhandle building exemption".
Here are the various elements of the insurance package: "Here's where things stand on bills still being negotiated and awaiting final passage on Monday": "2007 Capitol roundup".
On process: "The players crafting and negotiating proposed insurance reforms this weekend are not just lawmakers and their staff but aides to the governor and, of course, lobbyists." "Leaders step back, let lieutenants do talking".
On the federal front: "Klein, Mahoney to champion insurance fixes in Washington".
There is a personal dimension to this: "32 lawmakers are trying to resolve an insurance crisis that affects them personally. All but a few have seen their rates go up." "Insurance crisis personal for dozens of lawmakers".
Charlie Makes a Promise
"Tackling his first major environmental issue, Gov. Charlie Crist pledged Saturday to push forward with restoring the Everglades, despite the problems the project has run into in the past seven years." "Crist pledges help for Glades". See also "Crist's vow to protect Everglades pleases group hoping for change".
"Former 9th Congressional District candidate Phyllis Busansky is setting up a consulting shop, Reliant Partners LLC, which is aimed at "helping community groups and select clients enact change on a local, state and national level by organizing effective coalitions and strategies to engage the political process." The three partners include Busansky, the former Hillsborough County commissioner who lost her congressional race to Gus Bilirakis; Bill Roberts, a cable TV pioneer and telecommunications specialist; and Don Pellegrino, former chairman of the Hillsborough County Planning Commission." "Busansky's new gig".
"Weeks into his first term, U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan is wasting no time getting a jump-start on the next election." "Pressing the flesh, with an eye on '08".
Charlie's "Agreeable Style"
"After eight years of a Republican governor who often had frosty relations with legislative leaders of his own party, lawmakers from both parties said they are still getting used to a GOP chief executive who they believe both likes and respects them." "Lawmakers learning to live with Crist's agreeable style". On a related note, see "Job one: Keep smiling".
"George Smathers, longtime South Florida lawmaker, dead at 93". See also "Powerful Senate Democrat Smathers dies" and "Smathers, who represented Florida in Senate, dies at 93".
"U.S. Rep. Tim Mahoney, D-Venus, chose to play it safe in sponsoring his first official piece of legislation. Instead of the Iraq war, insurance reform or other hot button topic, Mahoney chose a far less controversial topic: praising Max Mayfield, the retired director of the National Hurricane Center." "All hail Max Mayfield".
A Palm Beach County Thing
"If a bank robber stashed the loot with his wife, would prosecutors let her keep it? The principles are no different in white-collar crime." "Masilotti ex: Wrong break".
Trib Rebukes "South Tampa's Social Set"
"Her critics - mainly business interests and some of South Tampa's social set - act as though the mayor has bamboozled the populace. They argue Iorio is more manager than visionary, is slow to act and hasn't done much to advance the city's profile. But ordinary citizens know better." "The Record Is Overwhelming; Pam Iorio Deserves Re-Election". Daniel Ruth on Dick Greco: "Then Again, It's The End Of That Era".
Florida is "falling behind. The funding level for the state land preservation program hasn't changed in 15 years. Meanwhile, land prices shot up. The average price per acre statewide is more than $29,000, almost 10 times what it was in 1990." "Conservation".
"Florida Coalitions Have Different Agendas"
Voting rights activists have "been called nuts and political partisans and praised as defenders of democracy." "Groups battle for fair elections". See "Florida Fair Elections Coalition".
"The special legislative session on property insurance gave Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp his first chance at lobbying as the governor's envoy to the Capitol's legislative chambers on the fourth floor." "Kottkamp's lobbying skills impress many".
"The same Seminole Tribe that complained former Gov. Jeb Bush stonewalled its request for Las Vegas-style slot machines is now trying to cut new Gov. Charlie Crist out of the picture." "Slots of ill will".
More "Jeb!" Worship at the Orlando Sentinel
The Orlando Sentinel editorial board's "Jeb!" worship knows no bounds:
Gov. Charlie Crist is determined to put his own stamp on Florida's education system, but the question remains whether he will build upon the successes of his predecessor or dismantle tough standards that are highly successful."Don't let down". Goodness:
Education was the cornerstone of Gov. Jeb Bush's administration. He was a dramatic agent of change who turned around a system that was failing its most vulnerable students. Those changes came as a result of bare-knuckle politics and at the expense of a civil relationship between the Governor's Office and the state's education establishment, particularly the teachers union.
It is natural and encouraging that Mr. Crist now seeks a balm for those wounds. But it is vital that, above all else, Mr. Crist honor his campaign promise and maintain the accountability standards Mr. Bush demanded for Florida's schools. Most important is the core principle that students should be tested and their schools be issued letter grades based on their performance.
- "build upon the successes".
- "tough standards that are highly successful.
- "Education was the cornerstone of Gov. Jeb Bush's administration."
- "He was a dramatic agent of change".
- He "turned around a system that was failing its most vulnerable students".
- "Those changes came as a result of bare-knuckle politics and at the expense of a civil relationship ... [with] particularly the teachers union."
- Underperforming schools are now "bathed in resources aimed at helping them improve."
Aside from this gross abuse of superlatives, the Sentinel simply has no credibility when writing about "unions". See "Send in the scabs", "Picking scabs, part two", "Scab 30" (scroll down) and "Oh ... The Hypocrisy". Then there is the willful ignorance about the "power" of teachers' unions under state law: "Ignorance".
A more sober editorial board puts it this way:
Bush's education "legacy" has been buffeted by court findings that his first voucher program is unconstitutional, by financial scandals in other voucher programs and by a stream of statistics showing that Florida is stuck in the bottom tier in most key education categories, such as graduation rate, SAT scores and per-pupil spending."Winn-win for Florida: Education chief departs".
It seems "Jebbie Dead-Ender" Mike Thomas' is writing the editorials these days (e.g., "Crist appears to seek gain with less pain").
Just Passin' Through
"In just the past week or so, four major candidates have come to Orlando: The Democratic Edwards; and Republicans John McCain, Mitt Romney and Sam Brownback." "Get ready -- you're going to see a lot of these guys".
"Volusia says 'no thanks' to $6 million in beach renourishment funds from state".
Citizens Bribery Case
"Citizens Property Insurance Corp. has agreed to pay $950,000 to a Texas claims-adjusting firm that claimed it was fired from its 2004 contract with Citizens because it did not make payments to a Citizens executive at the time. Houston firm Universal Risk Insurance Services sued Citizens, the state-run insurer of last resort in Florida, in 2005, alleging it wasn't paid $1 million for 1,800 claims it handled in the Pensacola area from hurricanes in 2004. " "Citizens to pay firm $950,000 in bribery suit". See also "Citizens Property Settles Embarrassing Lawsuit".
"The Johnnie B. Byrd Sr. Alzheimer's Center and Research Institute in Tampa has thrived despite the overbearing presence of its political benefactor. But Byrd Jr., having now lost an ugly showdown with the institute's board, has shown himself to be a distracting nuisance. For the sake of the institute, he needs to go." "Byrd tactics hurt research center".