"Turning Florida Blue" On-line Magazine
Check out the inaugural issue: "Turning Florida Blue - Crashing the Gate"
Let the Flip-flopping Begin
Now that the election is over, "campaign issues have dropped off the table, edited out as the 'Charlie Crist Vision' is rewritten into the 'Vision Document for Governing.' Not on the immediate agenda:"
The limiting of abortion to cases of rape, incest or to save the mother's life."Crist keeps a tight agenda (document)". I look forward to seeing Charlie get these promises through the Florida House:
A crackdown on illegal immigration.
And every pledge to ''emulate Governor Bush.''
As the new governor prepares to present his first state budget this week, interviews from within and outside the new administration and documents that map Crist's transition from campaign to Capitol show a narrowed vision.
- Felon rights: Seeks to amend state clemency rules to restore civil rights to felons who complete probation and restitution requirements."Crist plans to roll out his new agenda".
- Funds $5 million for stem-cell research.
- Funds $25 million for voting-machine paper trails.
Exposing the "Jeb!" Spin Machine (2 Months Late)
"When Office Depot broke ground on a new headquarters complex in November, outgoing Gov. Jeb Bush issued a news release praising the company for creating hundreds of jobs." What Jebbie failed to
say was perhaps more noteworthy, however:"How business works the system".
- Office Depot was moving less than 5 miles, from Delray Beach to Boca Raton.
- Florida and Palm Beach County had promised a $15-million incentive package to help pay for the expansion.
- A real estate firm run by Bush's former business partner, Armando Codina, stands to benefit. That firm is part owner of the land, and it will develop the 28-acre corporate campus and lease it to Office Depot.
- Office Depot threatened to move its headquarters with 1,750 jobs out of Florida if it didn't get incentives. Yet evidence suggests the company might have chosen Boca Raton anyway.
- While Office Depot was promising to create headquarters jobs, it eliminated 350 jobs elsewhere in the county. And this month it announced that 75 headquarters jobs will be cut.
"Gov. Charlie Crist scored a win, but a surprisingly narrow one, when his choice for state Republican Party chairman, Jim Greer, won the post in a party meeting Saturday."
Outgoing Chairwoman Carole Jean Jordan was nominated for re-election, even though Crist had made it clear that Greer, vice mayor of Oviedo in Seminole County and a top supporter of Crist's campaign, was his choice."Crist's Pick Squeaks By To Lead State GOP". See also "Crist's party choice beats incumbent", "Newcomer wins state GOP chair", "Greer Turns Back Unexpectedly Strong Challenge", "Crist's nominee wins top GOP seat", "He's the GOP king, thankyouverymuch", "GOP elects Crist ally as leader" and "She's Out" ("From the “What was she thinking” department comes Carole Jean Jordan who refused to take a hint Saturday when Gov. ... Jordan wanted another term but Crist wanted Greer and went as far as standing up and making the nomination himself").
Greer won the post by a 102-89 vote of the Republican Party state executive committee, which includes three delegates from each of Florida's 67 counties. The committee met for a quarterly conference in Orlando this weekend. ...
Recently, Jordan supporters circulated material attacking Greer among members of the executive committee.
Adam Smith points out that Crist barely avoided a fiasco: "Nearly 300 state Republican activists on Saturday elected Orlando area businessman Jim Greer the new state GOP chairman - but just barely and not without some political intrigue." "7 voters save Crist from political embarrassment".
Rubio Takes Another Hit
"Rubio's move stunned many people in the Capitol, especially because it came from someone who says, as Rubio so often does, that the Florida House should be an open and uninhibited forum for ideas and debate." "Speaker's moves leave a bad taste".
Miami's Poverty in the Spotlight
The Super Bowl is "offering an opportunity to shine a laser beam on the other Miami: the third-poorest city in the nation, where living wages and affordable housing are out of the reach of many of the residents helping to foot the Super Bowl tab." "Miami's poverty a grim backdrop to Super Bowl glitz".
"Now, after passing a measure last week to overhaul the insurance system, lawmakers say they want to move quickly to stem the growth of property taxes. Lawmakers plan to take up the issue during the legislative session that starts in March and could call a special election this year to ask voters to make tax changes in Florida's Constitution." "State seeks property tax relief for homeowners, businesses".
Not everyone agrees that the solution lies with modifications of "the Save Our Homes tax break, which caps annual increases in the taxable value of a homesteaded property to 3 percent or the rate of inflation, whichever is less. It’s 'unfair to everyone,' Volusia County Property Appraiser Morgan Gilreath told the committee. 'It doesn’t matter if you’re a homeowner. You’re discriminated against from when you buy your home. If you come in from another state, you’re only equal to someone who comes into the state the same day you did.'" "Home Tax Break Unfair?"
More: "Begin property tax fight with a salvo of honesty".
"When Florida voters go to the polls in 2008, they could be casting ballots on new machines designed to boost their confidence." "Legislators plan a fresh look at election reform".
"Jeb Bush is probably not a happy camper right now,"
Beth Reinhard this morning:
Democrats are still shellshocked by the way Crist included them in the recent negotiations on insurance reform and adopted some of their big-government solutions. He invited two Democratic lawmakers to join him in a statewide tour Friday when he signed the bill."'Jeb Bush is probably not a happy camper right now,' said state Rep. David Rivera of Miami."
''It's harder for us to be the opposition party when he keeps doing things we like,'' said state Rep. Dan Gelber of Miami Beach, who attended the bill-signing ceremonies.
Even Republicans admit that Crist's insistence on lowering insurance rates forced them to become more consumer-friendly and turn away from the business interests favored by the former governor. Many of Bush's recommendations were rejected.
Frank Cerabino has a point:
Florida has done enough damage in national elections for one state, and it's borderline pathological to wish that we could do more."Push for earlier Florida voting hints primarily at chaos in '08".
For some reason, there's a push in Tallahassee to give Florida a bigger role in the upcoming presidential election cycle. Legislators want to move the Florida primary up from March to possibly January, making the state a key prize for any candidate looking to get an early lead in the nomination sweepstakes.
This is crazy.
What America needs is a lot less of Florida, perhaps even a bye in 2008, a wise preventive measure worth considering.
"Q&A with Rep. Allen Boyd: Blue Dog Democrats preach fiscal responsibility".
Drinkin' the Kool-aid
Mary Ann Lindley: "Charlie: This governor is the real thing".
"Save our Ship!"
"Cloaked in the formality of a government work document, the Century Commission report is actually sending this message to Gov. Charlie Crist, the Legislature and the citizens of Florida: SAVE OUR SHIP! ... The report describes a 'confluence of crises' for Florida unless growth is managed more wisely: much more sprawl, traffic congestion and wildlife habitat destruction, and much less farmland. Combined with the potential impacts of climate change, including a rise in sea level, the consequences of doing little or nothing are almost beyond the imagination - which is why the commission is trying hard not to be ignored." "Call to action".
"Politics drives Florida's approach to higher education"
"A landmark assessment of Florida universities released this month characterizes the state's higher education system as mediocre, at best." "A Call To Action To Improve Florida's Higher Education System". See also "Degree of chaos" ("With higher education, Florida is cheap, overwhelmed and discombobulated.")
Diane Roberts, a former St. Pete Times editorial writer, who teaches English and writing at FSU, writes that although
Jeb Bush may have finally left Tallahassee, but his education "legacy" (many teachers and students think "curse" would be a better word) lives on in the new rule that high schoolers must choose majors. The FCAT still rules our schools, trampling imagination under its Godzillan tread, though Gov. Charlie Crist has indicated he might make some welcome changes in it. Still, the former governor's constant exhortations to universities that they should shape their curricula to the current "needs" of business has created a climate in which learning is ancillary to commerce. You pay the money, pass the exams and get the degree. Your education is only as good as the market says it is."The liberal art of pricing an education".
"It's not about liberal education and critical thinking," says Dennis Baron, a former columnist for the Chronicle of Higher Education and commentator on education policy. "It's about training a docile work force."
On a related note, see yesterday's post "'Free-enterprise' Safe in our Schools".
There is a reason for things like this: a poll showed outgoing Governor "Jeb Bush was showered with a favorable rating by 63 percent of respondents" while at the same time nearly "half of Floridians polled said things were heading in the wrong direction in the state."
Perhaps there's a solution for disconnects like that: "Put civics back in the classroom". See also "Good citizens know their civics" ("Florida is abysmally failing to educate a ready and motivated citizenry.")
The Palm Beach Post editors put it this way:
Besides being a ploy to institute vouchers, overemphasis on the high-stakes test has driven electives and phys ed from the curriculum. Art, foreign languages and history aren't included on the test, yet the state claims that the FCAT can measure overall school quality."Learning from the FCAT".
Sen. Graham probably is right that, under these conditions, civics won't get taught unless civics is on the FCAT. So add it. Then, just maybe, Floridians might learn enough about government and society to elect people who will end FCAT abuse. The sooner civics is on the test, the sooner it won't need to be.
"Sink warned that homeowners might be shocked when they receive renewal notices because assessments stemming from the 2005 hurricanes could offset the anticipated relief lawmakers tried to provide in the special session that ended last week." "New Insurance Law Has Risks, Sink Warns".
A Florida Thing
"Florida has given concealed weapon licenses to hundreds of people who wouldn't have a chance of getting them in most other states because of their criminal histories. Courts have found them responsible for assaults, burglaries, sexual battery, drug possession, child molestation -- even homicide." "In Florida, it's easy to get license to carry gun". See also "Investigation reveals criminal pasts of those toting guns".
In "Martinez is open to options for illegals" we get a review of where Florida GOPers stand on immigration reform.
McCain's Florida Folks Outmanuvered
"The jockeying between supporters of presidential contenders former Gov. Mitt Romney and U.S. Sen. John McCain nearly overshadowed the rivalry between the Greer and Jordan camps in Orlando. "
Romney's tall, handsome son stunned some top party officials when he showed up and addressed hundreds of activists, vexing McCain supporters who were told presidential campaigns would not have a speaking platform."GOP elects Crist ally as leader".
The Romney team held a full-court press. They invited activists to a hospitality suite and brought the son to meetings with party leaders from every county -- all of whom would vote in a straw poll. At the Friday night reception, former party chairman Al Cardenas and U.S. Rep. Tom Feeney walked hin on stage.
''My family recognizes the importance of Florida,'' said younger Romney, who spoke even longer than Gov. Crist. "We are excited to spend a lot of time here.''
McCain supporters fumed. They were told that Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman could not speak on the senator's behalf.
''They decided to come whether they were invited or not, and we didn't want to come uninvited,'' said Lew Oliver, chairman of McCain's campaign in Orange County.
The former Massachusetts governor, who is not as well known as McCain, was determined to have a presence at the gathering. The campaign said it was not promised speaking opportunities but took the initiative.
''We were organized, and we brought the son of a presidential candidate, so people let him speak,'' said Sally Bradshaw, a former Bush aide who is advising Romney. ``If you're going to run an effective campaign, you can't take no for an answer.''
"Nine days ago, West Palm Beach City Commissioner Jim Exline resigned because he will plead guilty to income tax evasion."
Exline claims that his resignation is a relief. Yet in March, he was so desperate to keep the $30,000-per-year commission seat - with gold-plated health plan - that he turned over his campaign to Mayor Lois Frankel. Even with the mayor's help, Exline nearly lost to a political unknown."Sour grapes; spoiled whine".
Some ex-federal lawmakers express similar feigned liberation. After 13 terms, Republican Clay Shaw lost his Palm Beach-Broward County House seat to Democrat Ron Klein. Bad news? Hardly. As Bloomberg News reported, the 67-year-old Rep. Shaw is itching to pursue his dream of serving on corporate boards. The hours are easy, he said, and you can live anywhere.
Similarly, other Republicans whose defeats cost their party control of Congress are preparing for a lucrative afterlife. After years of getting by on $166,200 a year - the median wage in the United States is about $34,000 - some will teach, but others will go through the Washington revolving door and become lobbyists. Former House Majority Leader Dick Armey, who rarely saw a special interest he couldn't help, told Bloomberg, "I know of only a few cases where members failed to make more than they did as members of Congress."
How lucky for Exline and Rep. Shaw that they are free from the limitations of the public service jobs they tried so hard to keep. How much luckier for the public.
"If St. Pete will cooperate, Lake Rogers, once a source of bitter conflict between Hillsborough and Pinellas County, could be transformed into a symbol of inter-county cooperation that preserves open land for the public good." "St. Pete Could Help Hillsborough Complete Unique Natural Corridor".
"The high school class of 2011 must select a subject as a major, but it's unclear whether the state rule will be meaningful." "Key test: Choosing a major".
"Bush spoke for about 25 minutes about what he described as his successes in Florida, including changes in education and healthcare policy and his practice of vetoing 'turkeys' or legislators' pet projects."
The crowd adored Bush, applauding often and giving him a standing ovation. Afterward, he was mobbed by people who wanted his autograph or to pose for a photograph with him."Jeb makes an appearance in DC".
"At a time when the conservative movement is looking bereft, humbled by midterm-election defeats and hungering for a presidential candidate to rally around, Jeb Bush delivered yesterday in Washington a resounding endorsement of conservative principles, bringing his audience repeatedly to its feet."
In his lunchtime remarks to the Conservative Summit, Bush struck every conservative chord, blaming Republicans' defeat in November on the party's abandonment of tenets including limited government and fiscal restraint."Jeb Bush Rallies Conservatives"
"Don't take offense personally if I get mad at Congress," the Republican former Florida governor began. "It's important for us to realize we lost, and there are significant reasons that happened, but it isn't because conservatives were rejected. But it's because we rejected the conservative philosophy in this country."
He added, "If the promise of pork and more programs is the way Republicans think they'll regain the majority, then they've got a problem."