"Long, Hard Road" for Good Time Charlie
"Charlie Crist packed his first week as governor with symbolic gestures and tangible actions to show that he is committed to a theme of inclusiveness." "Allison DeFoor, Florida Republican committeeman and former environmental advisor to Gov. Jeb Bush"
cautioned, however, that Crist's greatest challenges may lie not with Democrats but with Republicans, especially those in the Legislature. The House has hired 22 of Bush's former staff members and they ''know where all the bodies are buried,'' DeFoor said. So Crist's staff ``will have a learning curve, and the Legislature will obviously have an advantage.''"Governor sets inclusive tone". See also "Governors extend olive branches" ("Promising to downplay partisan politics and promote civility, Gov. Charlie Crist's inaugural speech fit into a chorus of cooperation echoing from many state capitals last week.") On the Greer thing see also "Outgoing GOP chief is leaving, right?".
Crist got his first taste of potential Republican Party infighting last week when Bush's handpicked head of the Republican Party of Florida, Carole Jean Jordan, quietly sent word to party members that she might not be ready to step down for Crist's handpicked selection, Jim Greer, vice mayor of Oviedo. Greer is little-known in statewide GOP circles, and Jordan is touting her own achievements.
Now the real work begins: "The campaign trail is about to meet legislative reality for Gov. Charlie Crist as Florida's new governor tackles the state's insurance crisis just two weeks into his job." "A long, hard road ahead".
RPOF Backpedalling On Insurance
"Giving rebate checks to Florida consumers is one of the proposals Posey includes in draft legislation to be released Monday by the Senate, as it prepares for a Jan. 16 special session on insurance."
Other highlights include dedicating more state revenue to pay down deficits at Florida's two consumer-backed insurance funds, Citizens Property Insurance and the Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund. That, too, has the potential of saving Floridians from continued charges on top of insurance premiums to bail out those funds.And the RPOF backpedalling begins:
Meanwhile, House Jobs and Entrepreneurship Council Chairman Don Brown is drafting legislation to control how much profit state insurance subsidiaries spin off to their national parents.
It falls short of Gov. Charlie Crist's call to close down what he has called ''shell'' companies but might satisfy the new governor's policy goals, Brown said Friday."Chairman proposes insurance rebates".
"Crist wants the Legislature to amend the state Constitution to allow each county to double the homestead exemption from $25,000 to $50,000."
But for Crist, this promise will be difficult to keep. In the first week of his term, he already faces strong opposition on a signature issue of his campaign."Rumble below Crist: Critics of his tax pledge".
Resistance is mounting among counties, cities, school boards, taxing authorities and business groups. Their unified opposition could be formidable in the Legislature.
Counties say doubling the homestead exemption would so sharply cut the flow of revenue that programs would have to be cut. Rural counties are most anxious because many of them already collect property taxes at the highest rate allowed by law.
McDonough on Hold. Will Charlie Fold?
"Less than a year after he took the job, McDonough is in limbo as new Gov. Charlie Crist has yet to decide on who will run the state's largest agency. And McDonough is facing opposition from the union that represents thousands of correctional officers, and has given millions in campaign contributions to help Crist and other Republicans." "Corrections chief's job in limbo".
And what is so-called "union that represents thousands of correctional officers, and has given millions in campaign contributions to help Crist and other Republicans"? Why, it is the PBA.
Trying To Patch Things Up
"Bush's Mr. Cellophane", Mel Martinez,
is trying to patch things up between the White House and Florida's new governor, who drew national attention for steering clear of President Bush when he made a stop in Pensacola just before Election Day."No place like home".
"There's no question there were hurt feelings at the time," Martinez said. "I just don't think it's going to be a lasting thing."
"Jeb!"'s Midnight Appointees In Jeopardy?
"The big question in Florida political circles is: Who is headed for the chopping block?"
Bush's reappointments of Phil Handy and T. Willard Fair to the state Board of Education are in jeopardy. Bush reappointed them on Oct. 27, a little more than a week before Crist was elected. But their new terms didn't begin until Jan. 1, the day before Crist took office. ..."Crist may boot some tapped by Bush" ("Crist would only say he's likely to announce by Wednesday which Bush appointees are being recalled.").
Crist has lots of friends who would love to be on that board, to shape public education policy and help pick the successor to Education Commissioner John Winn. Winn is among the most high-profile carryovers from the Bush regime, and Crist is eager to put his own stamp on state government. ...
Crist and his staff have been reviewing Bush's lame-duck appointments. For example, on Nov. 6, the day before the election, Bush appointed two new members to the board of Enterprise Florida, the public-private business promotion arm. The day after the election, he put former House Speaker Allan Bense on the board of trustees of Florida State University.
Charlie had this to say about the Florida Public Service Commission: "'That commission has been kind of an industry lapdog,' Crist said. 'It's supposed to be the Public Service Commission, not the phone or power service commission. ... I'm reviewing the options. Appointments are where I have the most impact.'" Last week, "Crist said he may withdraw two of former Gov. Jeb Bush's appointees and replace them with more consumer-friendly appointees he is able to personally interview beforehand." "Crist wants change from utilities group"
"Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is making Florida a key part of his strategy to challenge front-runners John McCain and Rudy Giuliani for the Republican nomination for president."
Romney faces a couple of hurdles."Romney Courts Florida GOP Base".
First, to connect with religious conservatives, he must overcome a longstanding reputation as a pro-abortion rights moderate sympathetic to gay rights. A devout Mormon, he also must overcome religious differences with Christian evangelicals.
Second, new Gov. Charlie Crist, though he hasn't taken sides yet in the race, has been linked to McCain.
See also "Cash Call": "Mark Guzzetta, a Boca Raton developer, and Mel Sembler, a Tampa builder and former U.S. ambassador, were named national finance co-chairs for Romney ... Guzzetta has been a big fundraiser for Bush, who was best man in Guzzetta's wedding. Sembler was a major cash source for Crist in last fall's campaign. The pair have some company in the Romney camp, which has already drawn Sally Bradshaw, a former Bush campaign manager, Ann Herberger, Bush's finance director, and one-time Florida Republican Chairman Al Cardenas."
It remains unclear as to whether Florida's primary will move up in the schedule; the man who would by RNC chair speaks: "acknowledged that the state Legislature's push to advance Florida's presidential primary to just a week after New Hampshire's is causing upheaval among party stalwarts. 'From a national perspective, I think there's going to be a great deal of reticence,' he conceded."
"When Florida lawmakers convene here in on Jan. 16 for a special session on the state's property insurance crisis, they will face an array of complex problems and difficult decisions. Among the issues they are expected to take up - and by all means should - is the continuing building-code exemption for parts of Florida's Panhandle, an exemption that leaves affected residents more vulnerable to powerful storms." "Windblown". See also "Mad Max makes his point".
A Public-Private Thing
"And when these public-private deals go wrong, they really go wrong. There is no better example than Scripps. Because Mr. Fagan refused to make full disclosure, the site search was longer, costlier and nastier than it should have been. His role shows what can happen when politicians allow themselves to be led by the self-interested, unaccountable few." "Dishonest Scripps search: Truth finally comes out".
"New Florida Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Michael W. Sole should hire smarter scientists or urge the ones he's got to think before they speak." "Fish stories from the state".
Save our Homes?
Stephen O. Morrell, Ph.D., ia Florida TaxWatch senior research fellow and professor of economics and finance at Barry University's Andreas School of Business in Miami Shores, writes: "Save Florida from SAVE OUR HOMES".
Another "Shameful Trend"
"Justice on the cheap":
Ever since the state took over paying for the courts in 2004 by voter mandate, the conflict attorney program -- like many aspects of the judicial system -- has gotten shortchanged. The shameful trend must change with a more realistic budget that takes into account Florida's rapid growth and the critical role conflict attorneys play in the judicial process."Justice".
That takes money, and recognition from legislators that they can't provide justice on the cheap.
More Big Talk From Charlie
"The leading computer model [by Risk Management Solutions (RMS) of Newark, Calif.]used by the insurance industry to justify huge rate increases in coastal areas nationwide relies on faulty science, says an expert credited with helping develop it."
In an interview Saturday, Gov. Charlie Crist called RMS's actions "apparent misrepresentations" that are stunning and appalling, but in a way, part of a pattern."Insurance Risk Forecast Called Faulty".
"It almost doesn't shock me because this industry has been taking remarkable advantage of our people," Crist said. "Big insurance is about to face a new day in Florida."
Miami-Dade Doing It Right
"A study commissioned this year by 1,000 Friends of Florida, an influential land-use group, asked what the state would look like 50 years from now if current growth-management practices are still in use then. Under that scenario, today's population of 18 million would swell to 36 million, and only two distinct places in Florida -- the Panhandle and Miami-Dade County -- would not be facing build-out in 2056." "Future is now: Sprawl or smart growth?".
The final version of the study: "1000 Friends Releases Florida 2060! -- Florida's Population and Developed Land to Double in 50 Years".
"Florida will be getting more federal funding for its cleanup efforts from Hurricane Wilma in 2005." "Federal funding increased for Hurricane Wilma cleanup".
Lay Down With Dogs ...
"Seven of the eight House members from Central Florida are Republican, hampering their ability to marshal support. While many retain clout, the switch in power has hurt the region's chances to snare federal money and projects." "The focus will be local -- from Washington".
A Hillsborough Thing
"In an egregious decision that flies in the face of serving needy students, the leaders of Hillsborough Community College are kicking Head Start programs off campus to make room for new buildings, including luxury housing on its Dale Mabry grounds." "HCC's Ousting Of Head Start A Misguided, Shameful Move".
CD 13 Matters
Randy Schultz: "Jennings may not win in District 13, but to maintain credibility of touch-screen voting, she needs to win in court." "Bush vs. Gore it isn't, but it still matters".
Benefits of Losing
"Buchanan said he’s amazed he's been able to get two highly experienced chief of staffs to come to his staff, one of the benefits to so many Republican incumbents losing on Nov. 7." "Connecticut connection".