"Gov. Charlie Crist denied he fathered a child 17 years ago. But some wonder whether he has an ethical duty to prove it." "Is paternity denial by Crist really enough?".
Early Primary a Bad Idea?
The Miami Herald editorial board: "Would you be ready to vote for president one year from today? If some Florida lawmakers have their way, the state's presidential primary will be moved up -- way up -- to a date that is seven days after the New Hampshire primary, which currently is scheduled for Jan. 22, 2008. Yet, if those crafty New Englanders see anyone getting ahead of them, they will hold theirs even earlier, which could cause Florida to move up, too." "Bad idea: Moving primary to January".
Meanwhile, "an unprecedented amount of early organizing has begun in Florida as candidates from both parties try to line up major money brokers such as Republican developer Al Austin of Tampa and Democratic trial lawyer Kirk Wagar of Coconut Grove." "Preparations for Florida's primary already begin".
Jeremy Wallace points out that "moving the primary could put it on Jan. 29, one year from today."
The Florida Legislature hasn't voted to move up the state's presidential primary yet, but Republican candidates for the White House are already spending a lot of time in the Sunshine State."GOP hopefuls keep visiting Florida".
In the past week, former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani was in Sarasota; former New York Gov. George Pataki was in Fort Myers; and U.S. Sen. John McCain of Arizona and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney both announced they are hiring more Florida supporters for their staffs.
Florida's swing state appeal in general elections would normally be enough to draw serious interest from the candidates.
But with the Legislature vowing to move Florida's primary to within seven days of the New Hampshire primary, the candidates are making an even stronger push here.
No Free-Market Solutions This Time
"Lawmakers say the expansion of Citizens is an aberration, born of the insurance crisis. Lawmakers veered from free-market solutions." "Crisis put GOP out of its element".
The Daytona Beach News-Journal editorial board: "No standardized test ever satisfies everyone's expectations. Quibbles aside, what those tests do provide is a solid diagnostic tool that allows parents and educators objectively to know where students stand in relation to expectations, and how they could improve. So the problem with the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test isn't the test itself. It's how the test is being used -- not as a diagnostic tool designed primarily to help the student, but as a measure of school and school district performance, and as a tool to punish, reward, humiliate and threaten those schools and districts with ultimatums." "FCAT's failing grade".
Vision for Central Florida
"The region's population is projected to double by 2050. Developing the vision and then a blueprint for growth can, even with 7 million residents, make this a place where we and our children still would want to live." "Important next steps".
Hispanic Turnout in Osceola
"Orlando Sentinel analysis showed that regionwide, three in 10 Hispanic voters participated in the 2006 election compared with five in 10 non-Hispanic voters." "Turnout is vital".
"Off with their policies"
The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "There are two ways of looking at the decision last week by Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio, R-West Miami, to punish the only two - out of 160 - legislators who voted against the insurance bill."
The first is that Rep. Rubio is a hypocrite. He made a big deal during the special session of saying that he wanted ideas from everyone, including Democrats. Then he bumps Reps. Don Brown, R-Defuniak Springs, and Dennis Ross, R-Lakeland, from leadership positions just because they disagreed."Off with their policies".
The second is: Good riddance. We'll go with that view.
Last year, under a different speaker, Rep. Brown was the House point man on insurance. He is an insurance agent, but his defenders argued that he brought expertise to the issue. In fact, he brought excessive fondness for the industry that provides his living. Under Rep. Brown's expert "leadership," the Legislature produced a bill designed to push rates higher. Consumers got next to nothing. Rep. Ross, who chaired the Insurance Committee, defended the bill as "a positive first step in providing the incentives and assurance needed by private insurance companies to reenter the state and bring back a competitive, affordable marketplace."
The Tampa Trib argues that "the long, tight embargo of Cuba makes less and less sense with each step Fidel Castro takes toward his grave." "U.S. Must Engage Cuba Today To Foil Tomorrow's Dictator".
Hill to Visit UFCW in Naples
"The New York Democrat is trying to gain the support of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, which is holding a breakfast at 6:30 a.m. Tuesday at the Naples Grande hotel, formerly the Registry" "Sen. Clinton to make Naples campaign stop".
"Paper: Fla. gives gun permits to felons": "Hundreds of criminals were able to obtain concealed weapons permits in Florida because of loopholes, errors and miscommunication, a newspaper reported Sunday.".
"Florida's Failures" In Higher Education
The Daytona Beach News-Journal editorial board:
Ten years ago, when former University Chancellor Charles Reed left Florida to head up California's college system, he warned of a "train wreck" unless state leaders stepped up support for higher education and the then Board of Regents steered universities toward greater collaboration."Florida's failures". The Miami Herald editorial board: "The future of higher education in Florida is at a crossroads. Will our children inherit a scattered system of mediocre state universities? Or might they choose from a variety of excellent undergraduate colleges and a few top-notch research institutions? The answers will be shaped by a planning initiative undertaken by the state university system and its board of governors. Florida can't afford to continue the historical pattern of piecemeal growth in an educational system that is vital to the state's future." "Planning for Florida's education future".
Instead, Florida went in the other direction. Former Gov. Jeb Bush dismantled the Board of Regents and gave university oversight to the State Board of Education. That board, which focused on kindergarten-through-12th grade education, promptly pushed higher-education duties to the side. The result: Legislators were in charge -- and competition reached new levels. Ten universities sought to become top research institutions, with funding based on who won the Legislature's ear. And a new university was added. Not surprisingly, no Florida university has achieved high national distinction as a research institution.
So give credit to voters, who in 2002, had the wisdom to create a new university oversight board, the Board of Governors.
Bill Cotterell writes that "the just-released annual report of the Department of Corrections is an interesting model of restraint, considering the year Secretary Jim McDonough has experienced." "DOC report packs more of a punch this year".
"The first statewide restrictions on fertilizing yards, parks, golf courses, sports fields, cemeteries, subdivision common areas and other nonagricultural grass areas could be adopted by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services in April." "State hopes rules keep lawns, not lakes, green".
"If nothing else, a census of homeless people living on South Florida streets has for the moment brought needed attention to their plight." "Homeless".
"It's pretty bad"
"It's pretty bad when Florida, the fourth-largest state in America, ranks 39th in average voter turnout for the 2002 and 2004 general elections. Likewise when Florida ranks 49th in rates of volunteerism. It's pretty bad when in Florida, according to a poll conducted last year for the Florida Bar, only 59 percent of adults know the three branches of government, and only 46 percent know the meaning of the phrase 'separation of powers.' It's even worse among young people." "Civics".
"One race per touch-screen page"
I think lawyers call this a "subsequent remedial repair":
Voters will get printed-out screen shots in the mail before heading to the polls in March, and will see one race per touch-screen page."One race per page".
The changes are in response to problems reported in the November general election, when about 18,000 voters did not register a choice in the 13th Congressional District race, and many voters said they left the polls unsure whether their votes had been counted.
The Insurance Bill
The Sarasota Herald-Tribune editors: "The reforms, however, don't overcome the conditions that have driven rates upward. Coastal development, escalating property values and vulnerability to a hyperactive pattern of hurricane activity have increased Floridians' -- and their insurers' -- exposure to damage. Building stronger and smarter needs to become part of a long-term strategy to reduce rates and risk. Nevertheless, the actions by the Legislature and Crist were warranted because Florida was spared from hurricanes last year and insurers made record profits following huge increases in premiums." "Rates lower, but risk is high". See also "More insurance reform is still needed".
Public Records Act
"Six weeks before the start of another legislative session, a state lawmaker has done the predictable: File an onerous exemption to the state's open records and public meetings law." "Public Records".
"New Citizens bent on fixing service flaws".
On the education front the Tallahassee Democrat editorial board, in "E for 'edify'", notes the following:
- "Professional educators around the state have long been urging Florida to move the pendulum back toward education's center, however - toward finding a leader who is more of a visionary and champion of teachers, students and their parents; less of a bureaucratic administrator."
- The editors "urge the Board of Education to hire a less doctrinaire education commissioner to oversee pre-K through grade 12 only, and Mr. Crist to ensure that higher-education governance is exclusive to the Board of Governors and 11 university boards of trustees."
"Blacks voted overwhelmingly against the strong-mayor referendum in Miami-Dade County, while Hispanics strongly supported it. White non-Hispanic voters were divide."
A Miami Herald analysis showed that heavily Democratic precincts strongly opposed the measure boosting the Republican mayor, while Republican-majority precincts favored it."Political beat".
Another interesting factoid: early and absentee voters mostly favored the referendum, while the Election Day vote was split.