"Now that Jeb Bush is no longer governor, the rush is on to print the definitive retrospective about the popular two-term Republican. One of the first writers out of the blocks is [Palm Beach Post] journalist S.V. Date, whose book, 'Jeb: America's Next Bush,' hits stores in mid-February." "Jeb in print".
Will we will be seeing cheerleading or journalism? Jeremy Wallace claims it will be the latter: "A friendly tale it isn't. The book rips Bush as a arrogant, power-hungry ruler who acted as if he had been elected king, rather than governor.". Date's recent work gives us a clue: See "Jeb's next move: Once again, a Republican governor upsets the plan for the smarter Bush" and "What Would Jeb Do?"
Brian Crowley has a detailed discussion of the earlier primary issue today in "Earlier primary could give state more of a role".
Florida lawmakers will consider a plan during this legislative session to move the Florida primary from the first week of March to within seven days of New Hampshire's primary, a move that could change the political dynamic of the 2008 election.Much more here.
Even the "Jeb!" cheerleaders at the Tampa Trib see it:
The bleak spot in Florida's education reform remains its dismal high school graduation rate, and this year the rate slid backward.But there's more, much more than the single graduation rate "bleak spot"; the Trib acknowledges that
The graduation rate dropped by nearly 1 percent, from 71.9 percent of the ninth graders graduating in four years to 71 percent. Some might not think that's a big deal - but it is.
Florida cannot afford to have its puny graduation rate go any way but up. The state already has a reputation for having an ill-prepared workforce.
Much work also needs to be done on refining Florida's curriculum standards, particularly in middle school and high school, which direct teachers on what to teach and sets the baseline for what students should know."Florida's Disturbing, Declining Grad Rate"
The Koret Task Force, which recently reviewed the progress of Florida's school reform efforts, zeroed in on curriculum as the weak link in high schools."
Here's and idea, and it doesn't cost the state a dime, just fail the kids: "Starting with this year's sixth-graders, any youngsters who fail even one 'core' course must retake the class or they will not be promoted to high school. ... Lawmakers approved the change as part of former Gov. Jeb Bush's 'A-Plus-Plus' Plan. " "New rule for Florida middle schoolers: Pass every essential class or repeat 8th grade".
And things ain't so hot at the college level either: "Report shocks Florida schools".
"Legislative staff is still hammering out the wording that will make this a deal, but here are the general agreements lawmakers made over the weekend on a property insurance bill to be voted on today:" "Provisions of the Legislature's insurance proposal".
"The greatest consumer relief comes from a doubling of the Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund, the state program that sells backup coverage to insurance companies themselves. The Cat Fund's rates are cheaper than what's available to companies on the private market, and those savings are to be passed on to consumers. If those losses come and the Cat Fund runs out of money, it is able to add up to a 10 percent extra charge on every auto, home and business insurance policy in the state." "Lawmakers finalize insurance plan".
"Legislators will likely vote today to lower homeowner insurance rates, but savings will vary, bills will remain high and they could go up next year." "Insurance plan would lower rates".
"Florida lawmakers emerged from weekend negotiations with an insurance reform plan that promises double-digit rate relief by shifting hurricane risk to the state." "Session strikes a deal".
"Lawmakers turned their attention to Citizens Property Insurance Corp. on Sunday, wringing some additional rate relief for customers in the state pool after reaching a broader agreement over the weekend to roll back private homeowners' insurance rates. A House-Senate compromise bill goes to the full Legislature today, the last day of the special session tackling runaway rates. I" "Lawmakers Wrangle More Citizens Rate Relief".
"Lawmakers, under intense public pressure from Gov. Charlie Crist to lower rates, predicted insurance premiums would fall between 5 percent and 40 percent for homeowners across the state. But they conceded that the reductions will vary wildly from company to company and county to county, and that some people might not see any changes at all. Officials with State Farm Florida, the state's largest private property insurer, predicted the company's more than 1 million policyholders would see an average 7 percent reduction on their overall bill. Company spokesman Justin Glover said that was only a 'good faith' estimate." "Deal may cut rates up to 40%".
Or is it 35%? See "Legislative deal would cut windstorm rates by 7-35% for Florida property owners".
"Florida lawmakers will vote today on a plan that could cut property-insurance rates, expand the state's insurer of last resort -- and take big financial risks. House and Senate negotiators Sunday finished working out an agreement that would broaden the state's role in the insurance market to help give rate relief to homeowners and businesses." "Vote on rate cuts today".
"[L]awmakers Sunday reached a deal they said does exactly that: at least 25 percent for customers of private insurers in their windstorm premiums, and 5 percent to 20 percent for those of state-run Citizens Property Insurance Corp." "Deal for rate relief in place".
Disney Outsourcing Top Issue
"Walt Disney World and unions representing 21,000 workers begin new contract negotiations today hoping to avoid the long battle they waged last time -- yet knowing a new dispute may have emerged involving how the company transfers jobs to outside contractors." "During union talks, Disney not always the happiest place".
Poor Vern ...
Poor Vern, he didn't realize that he was required to march in lockstep with the wingnuts.
U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan hasn't been in Congress a month yet, but he's already being accused of breaking his campaign promises."Buchanan gets a reality check about GOP power".
Surprisingly, it's not Democrats on the attack but conservative Republicans who accuse the Longboat Key Republican of reneging on his vow to oppose higher taxes.
At issue is Thursday's vote in Congress to repeal tax breaks for gas and oil companies. Buchanan was one of just 36 Republicans to vote for the repeal.
Grover Norquist, the president of Americans for Tax Reform, has Buchanan listed on his Web site as one of 28 Republican "pledge breakers." Buchanan was one of 192 House Republicans who signed an ATR pledge not to increase taxes, yet he voted for H.R. 6, which other Republicans on the House floor argued was a kind of tax increase.
Norquist's group isn't alone. Conservative Web sites like www.Townhall.com and www.ClubforGrowth.org are running similar lists with Buchanan's name on their sites.
"You'd never know it from reading the Palm Beach County Democratic Party's latest finance report, but more than $5,000 in party cash was handed out last Election Day to pay dozens of people to hold signs, drive voters to the polls and otherwise try to pump up turnout in heavily Democratic Riviera Beach." "Democrats take another look at cash payments".
"Florida's Highways In 2025 - Not A Pretty Picture".
"Former Gov. Jeb Bush had months to negotiate a deal with the Seminole Tribe of Florida over the tribe's plan to operate casino-style slot machines at seven locations around Florida. He didn't. Now, the tribe is exercising its option to seek approval of slots from federal authorities -- a move that could end Florida's chances of claiming any revenue from, or control over, expanded gambling." "Gov. Crist vs. the tribes".
"Buchanan and Brown-Waite held a press conference in Sarasota last Monday, trying to bring attention to the legislation they had filed to create a national disaster catastrophe fund to help the insurance industry cover damage after a major hurricane or earthquake. Just 48 hours later, a key Democrat in Congress responded by sending out a press release snubbing the duo and instead identifying Reps. Tim Mahoney, D-Venus, and Ron Klein, D-Boca Raton, as the leaders on the topic, which they point out includes creating a catastrophe fund." "Feel the bipartisan love?"
Charlie The Civil Rights Warrior
In a guest column, Brian Hensler, communications director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida, explains how Charlie can put his money where his mouth
is was on civil rights, asserting that "there are three elements of a civil rights program that our new governor can begin to implement immediately."
 Florida is one of only three states that permanently takes away the civil rights (including the right to vote and the right to hold certain occupational licenses) of people who have been convicted of crimes, but have completed their sentences and all terms of probation. Intended to deny rights to African-Americans during the post-civil war Reconstruction era, the law was never redacted from Florida's Constitution and continues to deny basic rights to Floridians--to the tune of approximately one million citizens. It is time to move forward with the rest of the country."Civil rights agenda would be worthy legacy for governor".
Crist can alleviate this crisis immediately by securing the support of two members of his cabinet to make the process of restoring rights virtually automatic once a sentence has been completed.
 Crist also can take action to protect voting rights by directing the secretary of state to address the problems that have plagued Florida voting for years.
[I]f we are to avoid being the laughingstock of the nation in 2008 (once again), Crist will need to work effectively with the Legislature to pass comprehensive election reform legislation to ensure that every Floridian's vote will be counted. ...
 Voting issues aside, another large problem -- that stems partly from a brand of discrimination unique to the Sunshine State -- affects thousands of children who are mired in Florida's failing foster care system. Crist can begin to address this problem from the start. Consider: Florida is the only state in the country that categorically excludes qualified individuals from adoptive parenthood solely on the basis of sexual orientation.
Crist can ask the Legislature to repeal this law, enacted in 1977, thereby ending this discriminatory policy. A 2002 American Academy of Pediatrics study confirms what children's advocacy groups have been saying for years: Children of lesbian and gay parents "have the same advantages . . . for health, adjustment and development as children whose parents are heterosexual." Why, then, would we continue to lead the country in policies that are not only discriminatory against our friends, neighbors and families -- but deny children the chance to live in a much-needed stable home environment?
That Bribery Thing
"Citizens Insurance has agreed to pay $995,000 to settle a lawsuit alleging that one of its top officers took bribes from adjusters, who in return were awarded contracts." "Citizens to pay $995,000 to settle suit".
PSC Do Over
"Crist will have to renominate two candidates he wants to put on the state's phone and electric regulatory panel, because the nomination deadline had expired when Crist tried replace two members earlier this month." "Crist to nominate again".
"Under Gov. Bush the state fought to end oversight of the cleanup by a federal judge. Judicial oversight is the result of a state settlement to end a federal lawsuit that charged Florida with polluting the Everglades. Gov. Crist should cancel the attempt to end the judge's oversight. It's essential that a neutral entity with the judicial power to make both cleanup partners do their promised share remain in place." "Restoring River of Grass still a priority". Meanwhile, "Crist: I'll protect Everglades".
"Giuliani returning to Sarasota this week".
"Here's a courageous bit of bipartisanship that puts Florida's best interests before party politics. Florida's congressional delegation has agreed to think outside the box by installing a Democrat and a Republican to jointly serve as its chair." "Unity for Florida".