"Backing away from a stance he took during his campaign for governor,"
Gov. Charlie Crist said Wednesday that he wants the state to spend $20 million on stem-cell research -- but not on the kind that destroys embryos."Crist: Study select stem cells". See also "Crist backs limited stem-cell research", "Crist supports limited stem cell research", "Governor occupies stem cell midpoint" and "Crist: Pay for stem cell studies, but not new embryonic research" ("Conservative groups cheered Crist’s announcement.")
While campaigning last summer, Crist said he supported embryonic stem-cell research and said he opposed President Bush's veto of federal legislation that would have paid for it. Backers of embryonic stem-cell research contend that it could lead to cures for such diseases as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's.
Calling himself ''pragmatic,'' Crist retreated from his campaign position Wednesday, instead proposing a grant program that would offer up money for other types of stem-cell research, including the use of adult, umbilical and amniotic cells. Crist conceded he took his position based on likely opposition to embryonic stem-cell research in the GOP-controlled Legislature.
"Crist said he has no philosophical objection to embryonic stem-cell research, but that he appreciates the opposition such a plan would face from conservatives in the legislature." "Crist seeks $20 million for stem-cell research".
On the flip-flop: "George LeMieux, Crist's chief of staff, denied the governor had retreated from his campaign position. LeMieux said Crist indicated during the campaign that he wanted to be sensitive to the issue of destroying embryos." "Crist seeks funds for stem-cell research".
LeMieux is rewriting the past: "During his campaign for governor, Charlie Crist made news when he said he disagreed with President Bush's decision to veto federal funding for embryonic stem-cell research." "Crist caves on stem cell research".
"The reaction was swift and stern from both sides."
Proponents of embryonic stem-cell research, including leading Democrats in the Legislature and prominent backers of the science, criticized the Republican governor's stand. They said Crist is backing away from a campaign promise to support the most controversial kind of stem-cell research -- the type that involves the destruction of human embryos."Crist backs off on using embryos, wants $20M for stem-cell research".
"This sort of proposal is more political cover by the governor than anything that will really advance medical research," said Bernard Siegel, a Wellington resident and vice president of Floridians for Stem Cell Research and Cures, a group seeking through a constitutional amendment state funding for embryonic stem-cell research.
These backers say research already under way at the University of Florida, the University of Miami and the University of Central Florida would be given a shot in the arm if embryonic stem-cell research, now restricted from getting federal funds, received state money. They say other venues, such as Scripps Florida Research Institute in Palm Beach County and a Burnham Institute headed to Orlando, also might be able to host the research.
The Palm Beach Post editors: "Fresh from a special session that brought property insurance relief, the Legislature wants a special statewide election this year to bring property-tax relief. Let's list just a few reasons why that's a bad idea."
It's a bad idea because it is being rushed for political purposes. Legislators want to campaign in 2008 on the relief they gave, not the relief they are promising. Gov. Crist wants to look as popular as possible to any Republican presidential candidates who might want a running mate capable of delivering Florida's 27 electoral votes."No special tax election".
"Responding to outcry from voters and advocacy groups over the problems associated with touchscreen ballots, Crist is expected today to announce a proposal to spend at least $20 million to make auditable paper trails of votes a standard feature of voting machines across the state." "Move On Paper Trail Expected". See also "Crist: Every county needs paper ballots", "Crist's plan to replace touch-screen voting machines draws some calls for caution", "Crist to detail plan for paper-trail votingCrist to detail plan for future of voting" and "The great debate: To scrap touch-screen machines or not?" ("Crist's move to scrap Florida's controversial touch-screen voting machines won't produce immediate change -- and may produce some political controversy of its own.")
The Tallahassee Democrat editorial board: "The burning question remains: Why did it take this long?" "Paper chase".
However, "Crist plan may have role for touch screens": "The paper-trail proposal that Gov. Charlie Crist will unveil today is expected to make optical-scan ballots the Election Day standard across Florida while keeping electronic touch-screen voting machines for early voting and people with disabilities."
This the Palm Beach Post editorial Board:
Crist thinks that changing from electronic voting machines to optical scan systems will assure mistake-free elections, he's wrong. ..."And optical-scan machines don't guarantee a fail-safe election."
as a candidate last year, Gov. Crist showed that he didn't understand how touch-screen printers work. They wouldn't deliver a receipt to voters, like an automated teller machine or a gas pump. They would let voters confirm their choices, but the paper would remain untouched, to be available to decide close races.
The blank ballots cast in Sarasota County in the close District 13 House race have galvanized the touch-screen opposition. But not only are undervotes possible with optical-scan ballots, so are overvotes, the ballot-disqualifying choice of more than one candidate that cannot be made on touch screens."Dump the touch screens? Problems won't go away".
Optical-scan ballots don't eliminate fears of hacking. The results are tabulated electronically and, at least in St. Lucie County, transmitted to central election headquarters by modem. Touch-screen results in Palm Beach County never are sent over phone lines.
While optical-scan systems are considered safer because ballots can be reviewed later, they also can raise questions of voter intent, which, the Supreme Court ruled in Bush vs. Gore, must be judged in a uniform way. If someone circles the candidate's name, does that count? How about scratching out a candidate's name? Does that indicate support for the opponent? Touch-screens don't allow those mistakes.
Just Like "Jeb!"
"Crist on Wednesday reappointed Debbie Sembler, co-chairman of his inaugural committee and the wife of Brent Sembler, Crist's finance chairman, to the University of South Florida board of trustees. Crist also reappointed Miami lobbyist Rodney Barreto to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission." "Crist reappoints two Bush picks".
"Lock'em up, let counties sort out costs"
"There may not be a satisfactory explanation [for the decline in the murder rate], but there's a politically opportunistic solution: Get even tougher with offenders. That's just what Gov. Charlie Crist is pushing to do, with his strikingly well-named -- but quite possibly ineffective and definitely costly -- "Anti-Murder" proposal." "Crist vs. crime".
Big of Him
"The new head of Florida's Department of Children & Families told a judge Wednesday his agency will stop fighting and start cooperating with advocates trying to end the practice of allowing mentally ill inmates to languish in jail in violation of state law." "State declares truce in battle over mentally ill inmates". See also "Judge drops charges, fine in DCF deal".
Confederate License Tags
"The Sons of Confederate Veterans wants to immortalize the flag on a Florida speciality license plate." "Confederate group seeks flag on tag".
Jebbie Let the State "Get Played"
The St. Pete Times editorial board thinks "Florida taxpayers and small businesses that compete with Office Depot should be ticked."
This sweet deal is not unique. It's part of a pattern that began to emerge in our state in the mid 1990s and grew markedly while Jeb Bush was governor, in which a select group of mostly large companies won hundreds of millions of dollars in tax breaks and other incentives to create or maintain jobs in the state. Often the awards were given to businesses that undoubtedly would have chosen to operate in Florida anyway. In some cases, the added jobs were so low-paying that the employees qualified for government health care. And sometimes there was little net job creation at all, with companies adding jobs in one place while cutting them in another. ..."Businesses play Florida for a sap".
Our former governor seemed to believe that the state's largest corporate interests should go to the front of the welfare line. Gov. Charlie Crist should take a closer look at these cozy arrangements. If nothing else, loopholes should be closed so that a company cannot claim job growth when it's cutting jobs in another location in the state. And the entire process should be open to the public so it is possible to check whether a business has made a legitimate case for the incentives.
These deals inevitably have more costs than the state is willing to let on, and the benefits seem to accrue largely to the biggest corporate players. From more than one vantage point, it seems that the state is getting played.
"Absurd, yes. That's the law in Florida. However, the absurdity shouldn't surprise anyone. This is the state where the Legislature approved a bill that makes it a crime for state agencies to sue gun-range owners to enforce environmental laws, and bars law enforcement agencies from keeping electronic databases on firearms and gun owners." "Firearms".
"Chavez's sweeping new powers resonate in S. Florida".
Sleepy Gets Endorsements
"In the first big endorsement from the nation's biggest battleground state, Florida's three Cuban-American members of Congress announced Wednesday that they will back Republican Sen. John McCain for president."
U.S. Reps. Lincoln and Mario Díaz-Balart and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, all Miami Republicans, are taking sides at least one year before Florida's presidential primary. A fast-tracked bill in the state Legislature would bump the primary from March to the last Tuesday in January, possibly making Florida the first state in the South to vote."Three Miami representatives back McCain".
"Crist’s plan isn’t exactly a tax cut".
Who You Callin' an Idiot
"The 2007 Florida legislative session is still more than a month away, but insults already are flying between Collier commissioners and a state lawmaker." "Bennett calls Coyle 'idiot' over impact fees".
Follow Tampa's mayoral election with the Trib's "Road to City Hall" blog.
"The federal government is prepared to stop a mass exodus from Cuba that could follow the death of Fidel Castro, two Florida congressmen said Wednesday after reviewing emergency plans." "Feds: U.S. Is Prepared to Stop Mass Exodus From Cuba". See also "Mica: U.S. ready for Cuban exodus".
Out In The Fields
"More than 170 farmworkers have sued Ag-Mart Produce Inc., one of the state’s largest vegetable growers, claiming the company altered records to avoid paying them for the hours they worked." "Farmworkers sue major Florida tomato producer for back wages".
The Pundits Heart Charlie
"Crist has done more good in a month than Bush did in eight years." "'Common Sense Charlie' puts people above party". See also "Crist a breath of fresh air for skeptical Florida voters".
"Crist pushing more alternative energy". See also "Crist ignites energy push".
The Baseball Owners Governor
"After seven years of last-minute political defeats, the plan to help the Florida Marlins build a new ballpark with the help of state funds got a major boost Wednesday when Gov. Charlie Crist announced he is a fan of using taxpayer money to subsidize sports stadiums." "Governor boosts ballpark funding formula". See also "Governor is a fan of pro sports tax break".
"Crist ordered the Florida Department of Law Enforcement on Wednesday to conduct a preliminary investigation into more than $4.5 million in alleged overpayments to two companies that operate private prisons for the state." "Crist orders investigation of prison contract settlement". See also "Governor orders investigation into prison contracts".
Funny how Attorney General Crist never found the time to look into the many privatization scams underway while Jebbie was Governor.
"Sink off to a strong start"
Alex Sink "has the opportunity to take the notion of a healthy, adversarial relationship and kick it up a notch. That ought to be her priority. It will make her a household name too."
She has already scored a victory for the people by beating back a Republican effort to put the appointed position of insurance commissioner — formerly an elected post — under the control of the governor. She somehow successfully argued that the position should be accountable to the CFO. Going further, she avows that the insurance commissioner will be an advocate for the public — so much so that the man or woman hired would become a household name."Editorial: Florida CFO".
That’s refreshing. An insurance commissioner who doesn’t work for the insurance companies.
Secret Court Records
"Secret court records are not pervasive around the state but appear isolated to certain areas, Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice R. Fred Lewis said Wednesday." "Chief Justice says secret court records not pervasive".
Its A Jungle Out There
"The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission this month will consider rule changes that will make it tougher to buy and own pythons and other large exotic reptiles. The changes will effectively create a 'reptile registry' that requires owners to get permits to keep animals and have veterinarians insert a microchip in the animal so that its whereabouts can be tracked." "It doesn't have to be a jungle out there".
How to Get Ahead in Tally
"Gleason was a life long Democrat who switched parties last summer so she could vote for Crist in the Republican Primary." "Open Government Guru = Republican".