Today's Florida political news and punditry.
Charlie's VP Dreams?
The Palm Beach Post notes that "because of Florida's key Electoral College votes, Gov. Crist would be correct to envision himself as a possible presidential running mate in 2008. To get that spot, he would pitch himself as the Republican who can deliver the state because of his broad appeal. An emotional issue such as same-sex marriage could detract from that appeal." "Happily ever after?"
"Florida Republicans got a stern message from the national party Wednesday: If the state moves up its presidential primary date as planned, the party will strictly enforce rules limiting Floridians' participation in the 2008 national convention. The Florida GOP would lose half the delegates and alternates it can send to the convention - 224 at the 2004 convention." "GOP Warned On Primary".
"Study rips Save Our Homes act"
"A new report by the Legislature's research arm has concluded just that - Florida's post-Save Our Homes tax landscape has forced commercial and second-home buyers to hold the bag for full-time homeowners."
And it also suggests one of the most popular ideas advocated by Gov. Charlie Crist - allowing homesteaders to take their Save Our Homes discounts with them when they move - would only add to the inequity and may be unconstitutional."Property tax laws unfair".
The 223-page state study released Thursday is the first broad-brush analysis of how the 1992 Save Our Homes amendment that capped taxes for homesteaders has played out.
GOPer Straw Ballot?
William March: "Whether Florida Republicans will revive their tradition of holding an early, nationally noted presidential primary straw vote this year may be decided as early as Monday. Right now, the state party is planning a straw vote for its October, 2007 convention, but Gov. Charlie Crist has expressed reservations, and his chosen party chairman, Jim Greer, has said he’ll follow the governor’s lead. " "Top GOP Officials To Discuss, Maybe Decide Straw Vote".
According to March, the Romney folks really want a straw ballot. Charlie apparently is not on the Romney bandwagon.
Out in the Fields ...
"Farmworkers carrying tomato buckets and beating drums protested Thursday in front of Burger King’s headquarters, urging the fast-food giant to take a closer look at the conditions in the Florida fields where many of its tomatoes are picked." "Farmworkers urge Burger King to help improve work conditions".
"Some prosecutors ..."
"Some prosecutors aren't happy with a state law that prevents them from changing or falsifying court records, so they want to change the law. In fact, the prosecutors also have asked the Florida Bar and state Supreme Court to change the rules so they can lie in court and make up phony documents to put in the official record. In other words, these prosecutors want a special law that places them and certain other officials above the law. The idea is preposterous and dangerous. It should be soundly rejected." "Obey the law, work within the rules".
She Has a Point
"The My Safe Florida Home effort should be another department's responsibility, she says." "Sink wants to unload home protection program". See also "Sink wants to move SafeHome program", "Sink: Grant program may need to be moved" and "More help to harden homes".
Like Father ...
"Brent Sembler of St. Petersburg, the son of nationally known GOP fundraiser Mel Sembler and head of Charlie Crist’s phenomenally successful 2006 campaign finance team, has joined forces with presidential candidate Mitt Romney." "Another Sembler Joins Up With Romney".
Toni Cashes In
"Former Lt. Gov. Toni Jennings was elected Thursday to the board of FPL Group Inc., the company said." "Toni Joins FPL".
Elisa Cramer observes that "in some Palm Beach County schools this year, February will not be recognized as Black History Month. It's been put on hold, if not abandoned completely - the latest valuable piece of education to be sacrificed on the FCAT altar. The problem is that the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test is given in February." "FCAT claims another victim".
Tallahassee Democrat associate editor Bill Berlow says, "Mr. Crist, tear down this test - or at least rebuild it."
The Tallahassee Democrat editors: "if state policymakers and district school board members throughout Florida really want to make a difference, they should focus more on making teaching a more attractive profession, developing great teachers and retaining them, particularly in schools that need the most help." "Top teachers".
Certified Media Darling
Even though Crist "merely said "he would 'probably not' support sending more money to the [anti-gay] amendment's backers." And, despite the fact Charlie's hand picked RPOF chair, Jim Greer, who, like Crist, "also [does] not rule out spending more money on the [petition] campaign", and Charlie actually "sidestepped a question Tuesday about whether he still thinks the measure should go on the ballot", the media kudos keep rolling in. The St Pete Times editor
Crist is showing his appealing pragmatism, preferring to redirect the debate from divisive social issues to the more pressing daily matters of insurance, taxes and public safety. "I'm convinced those are the kinds of issues that the people of Florida want us to focus on," he told reporters, "and I think it would be appropriate for the party to do the same, and I believe they will.""Gay marriage rightly goes on back burner".
The supporters of the constitutional ban are miffed by Crist's directive, especially since he signed a petition. But they can't be surprised by either his populist priorities or his sensitivity to gay rights. He has said he supports the legal protections accorded by civil unions, and remarked in his Republican primary debate that: "I guess I have a bit more of a 'live and let live' attitude than my opponent does."
Same-sex marriage is being used as a political weapon by Republicans, but most Floridians are far more interested in safe neighborhoods and good schools. Crist is on the right track.
Remember that Crist actually signed one of the petitions and "is listed as an endorser of the amendment",
Finally, let's not forget that the amendment is not limited to gay "marriage", but, as the editorial fails to note would in addition prohibit "substantially equivalent" relationships.
"Prepubescent Florida schoolgirls may have to add a ninth vaccine to the list of inoculations required before entering middle school if a handful of state lawmakers succeed in mandating a cancer-prevention drug that has become a national point of controversy." "Bills call for vaccinating girls".
The Sun-Sentinel editorial board thinks "State lawmakers should listen to the uproar, junk STAR and come up with a broader merit pay plan." "Educators' Pay".
"U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein formally instructed the investigative arm of Congress to review the reliability of touch-screen voting machines like the ones used in Sarasota's disputed congressional election." "Feinstein initiates touch-screen review".
"Pro-wrestler-turned-campaign manager Mitch Kates says he's been asked to be a bodyguard for Terry McAuliffe at the Democratic fundraiser's book signing Friday night."
Kates, who led Charlie Justice's successful campaign for the Florida Senate, is now working for Tampa City Council candidate Mary Mulhern. Could the appearance with McAuliffe mean Kates might join Hillary Clinton's campaign team? "I'm uncommitted at this moment," said Kates, who threw his muscle behind John Kerry's presidential bid in 2004."A Bodyguard for McAuliffe".
Miami Party on Hold
"Castro’s son: Father making ’satisfactory’ progress in recovery".
The Sun-Sentinel editors suggest that touch-screen "fears may be overblown and this costly 'fix' may not be worth it." "Elections".
"Soaring home prices are being blamed for a sudden and surprising decline in the number of students entering Florida public schools, a survey of county school superintendents revealed Thursday."
Half of the 62 school chiefs polled cited the cost of housing as a major reason why students and their families either left their counties or chose not to move there."Home prices rise; student numbers fall".
The findings underscore the emerging view that home costs are putting the brakes on fast-growing Florida.