"R. Paul Duncan, a University of Florida professor who studies the issue, said the number of uninsured Floridians grew from 2.1 million in 1999 to 2.7 million in 2004 -- and is now close to 3 million."
He said the state's rate of uninsured people is among the worst in the nation."More losing health-care coverage".
Duncan told lawmakers this month the problems particularly hit young adults, minorities, low-wage and part-time workers and employees of small businesses.
A lack of coverage can have various implications, from leading people to forgo preventive care to driving up costs for hospitals that must treat the uninsured in emergency rooms.
Also, people who do not have insurance -- and don't qualify for charity care -- can face potentially devastating medical bills.
"One of their worst legacies"
The Palm Beach Post editors: "Bush is gone, and his hand-picked education chief soon will follow. But one of their worst legacies - an unworkable teacher bonus plan - still is undermining morale in school districts across the state." "Fix this falling STAR".
GOPers Veer Right
William March notes that McCain, Romney and Giuliani are veering into wingnut territory to placate the GOP base.
But at the same time they're doing that, some say the Republican Party they're trying to lead - particularly in Florida - is moving in a different direction."Moderates Move To Right". Did Crist really run "a decidedly moderate campaign" in the GOP primary?
Many cite the 2006 elections as an indication that the party may be shifting toward the center.
Nationally, the November election results were considered a rebuke to President Bush over issues including congressional corruption scandals and the war.
In Florida, moderates considered the primary a clear-cut victory. Tom Gallagher, with a campaign aimed at social conservatives and the tacit backing of former Gov. Jeb Bush, a hero of the religious right, lost by nearly 2 to 1 to Charlie Crist, who ran a decidedly moderate campaign.
"What we saw in the primary elections is some trending toward moderation in the party," said April Griffin, a Republican political consultant in Tampa.
"Rising costs. Fewer housing options. Less help. It's a scenario that sparks fears of a spike in Florida's homeless population. ... The result of these trends, housing and homeless experts fear, is that moderate income earners will squeeze low income earners out of the affordable rental market and that thousands on the brink of homelessness will topple over." "Priced onto the street".
Hill's Florida "Success Factors"
Adam Smith thinks the I-4 corridor is a "success factor" for Hillary. You read that right,
The I-4 corridor. None of the Democratic candidates rev up the Republican base in opposition as much as Clinton, but then probably none are so well-positioned to win over women and swing voters who tilt elections. Women make up 54 percent of the electorate, and Clinton is a potentially inspiring vote.He concludes:
It's a good bet Clinton would win the same states as Kerry and, based on 2006 midterm results, have a swath of other states with strong potential to turn red to blue. Those include Florida, Ohio, Iowa, Arkansas, Arizona, Colorado and Nevada."Hillary Clinton could be president, and here's how".
"Once upon a time, there was considerable hope that the contested District 13 congressional election would be resolved by Valentine's Day."
But that holiday came and went without the finality that citizens and candidates have sought, ever since more than 17,000 of Sarasota County's electronic touch-screen ballots registered "no selection made" in the heated District 13 race. Just 369 votes separated the winner, Republican Vern Buchanan, from the loser, Democrat Christine Jennings, in a district that encompasses parts of five counties."The results still aren't in".
A report on a state audit had been expected by Feb. 9 but has been delayed. It could be next week, at the earliest, before the public sees the results of the study, conducted in an effort to identify the cause of the extraordinarily high undervote rate as well as the numerous problems voters reported as they cast their touch-screen ballots.
A second report, on another team's analysis of important computer coding and security, is still weeks away from completion.
In court, lawyers are still filing documents as Jennings' litigation over the election result continues. A trial date remains uncertain.
And now U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who chairs the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration, has formally called for a federal investigation of all touch-screen machines that "do not produce voter-verified paper ballots."
In the meantime, "Jennings - the-almost-but-not-quite-congresswoman - spends her time meeting with Democratic House members, attending her party's events and, of course, calling her own contributors for donations." "100 days later, Jennings still campaigns".
Save Our Homes
Randy Schultz: "We want it all. We want higher home values, for when we sell, but we want assessments kept low until we sell. Save Our Homes became part of the constitution because people were angry. A property appraiser, worried about that anger being directed at him, led the charge to pass it. Now, people are angry over the unfairness Save Our Homes caused, as so many - including this newspaper [the Palm Beach Post] - predicted that it would." "Schultz: Tax solution starts with the causes".
The St Pete Times editorial board: "As Florida lawmakers gather next month amid the clamor to fix a broken property tax system, they should remember the lesson of Save Our Homes. That one exemption, billed in 1992 as way to keep elderly widows from being taxed out of their homes, has so skewed taxes that every other property owner is coughing up an extra 25 cents on the dollar just to make up the difference." "Aim for tax fairness".
Raw Political Courage
"State Sen. Ronda Storms says she has nifty legislation in mind to shine some light and hold governments accountable for their spending and taxing: getting every contract, every check written, every budget put on the Web, easily available for the public to review." "Storms on the paper trail - and the trail of every penny".
Romney "Charms" the Villages Crowd
"Three out of four voters don't know Mitt Romney, and only 6 percent favor him over better-known rivals like John McCain and Rudy Giuliani, according to a recent Quinnipiac University poll."
Friday's visit to Florida was the last stop in a six-state tour that officially kicked off his presidential campaign. He started off in Michigan, where he was born and his father served as governor, went to his home state of Massachusetts, and to the traditional early primary states of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina."Romney turns on the charm in Florida". See also "Romney gives nod to more troops in Iraq, alternative energy sources" ("Romney charmed more than 800 residents of The Villages").
''There was no question about Florida being part of the announcement tour,'' said Sally Bradshaw, one of several top aides to former Gov. Jeb Bush hired by Romney. "He may not be well-known at this point, but he's made a commitment to Florida, and he will be known.''
Nearly 1,000 people showed up Friday to hear Romney.
More From the
Villages "Values" Crowd
"At the moment, Florida law sets stricter limits on the drugs used to euthanize animals than for executions,"
an irony not lost on the U.S. Supreme Court when considering a challenge to the state's death penalty. It's up to the Florida Department of Corrections to establish the procedure for administering the lethal injection, but Justice John Paul Stevens queried why the process wasn't spelled out in state statute as it is for animals."Lethal injection under increasing scrutiny across country".
"There must have been a legislative feeling that unless that procedure were followed, there's a risk of undue pain to the dogs and cats," Stevens said. "Why isn't there a similar basis for believing that if you don't follow a similar procedure that such a risk might be present for human beings?"
"They wouldn't pay, so they didn't get to play". See also "West Palm Beach runs on empty: City hurting because mayor gave so much power to three hand-picked consultants".
Charlie Gets Another Pass
The Sun-Sentinel editors give Charlie a pass on his stem cell flip-flop: "With so many moral and ethical questions surrounding embryonic stem cells, and with other types of stem cells showing so much promise, it's wise to see what can be achieved from those other sources before heading down the slippery slope of public funding for embryonic stem cell research." "Stem Cells".
Charlie Has a Date!?!
"It seems the bachelor governor was recently set up with a former actor from Palm Beach County who will soon appear on reality TV show Hottest Mom in America. Lake Clarke Shores beauty Kelly Heyniger, 36, was said to be rubbing the 50-year-old governor's back during a Feb. 10 Red Cross fundraiser on Jupiter Island." "Charlie's new squeeze?"
Boycott McDonald's and Burger King
"One of the great things about a free-market economy is that consumers can use their buying power to reward or punish the behavior of companies, and sometimes even take up social causes in the process."
Something as small as a sandwich can become an instrument for change. So can a taco. "Moffett: Taco Bell thought outside the boycott".
Two years ago, the Taco Bell restaurant chain made a courageous decision to pay a penny a pound more for the tomatoes it buys and allow the penny to be passed on to farmworkers. I call the decision courageous even though it took years of boycotts and demonstrations by the Coalition of Immokalee Workers and other farmworker advocates to persuade Taco Bell to accept the idea. ...
[And] consumers who care about fair play can use their hunger to reward or punish as they see fit. When the choice comes down to Taco Bell, McDonald's or Burger King, go for the tacos and strike a blow for farmworkers' rights.
A Fine Idea At The Time
"A mile offshore from this city's high-rise condos and beachside bars, where glitz and glamour mix with spring break revelry, lies an underwater dump - up to 2 million old tires strewn across the ocean floor. A well-intentioned attempt in 1972 to create what was touted as the world's largest artificial reef made of tires has become an ecological disaster." "Once lauded, artificial tire reef is now an ecological disaster".
"Entrepreneurs competing for $15 million from the state have flooded Tallahassee with ideas for creating alternative energy from using french fry grease to exotic 'bio-sensitized solar cells.'" "Alternative-energy ideas await approval".
Funding Higher Ed
The Tallahassee Democrat editors say "an increasingly urgent question centers on long-term financial soundness - not only with regard to Bright Futures, which is just one program, but also the entire system of funding for higher education in Florida." "How bright?".
"Issues facing the 2007 Legislature"
From the St Pete Times, "For a better Florida: Issues facing the 2007 Legislature": "INSURANCE: Property coverage costs too much and is too hard to get. What to do?", "INSURANCE: No-fault's end? A quiet, big deal", "Business owners want some relief, too" and "The tax system's not fair and might become even less so".
"Don't hold your breath waiting for city and county leaders in Pinellas to work together to fix thorny problems in your communities. They can't even stop bickering among themselves." "Pinellas bickering insults voters".
"Four years later, the mayor's race is a relatively sleepy affair. A popular incumbent, Pam Iorio, is running against two opponents with no political experience. None of the candidates is expected to raise more than $125,000." "Low-Key City Election Likely To Attract Small Turnout".
"House of Lies"
"Despite challenges facing the Miami-Dade County Housing Agency, a federal takeover, or making the agency an independent entity, would be premature. Takeover talk is coming from Orlando Cabrera, assistant secretary of public housing for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Mr. Cabrera discussed putting the agency into receivership with some county officials. He talked with others about having an independent authority run the agency. Neither course is advisable. The agency has made radical changes, including new personnel and policies, that need time to take root." "'House of Lies' turnaround will take time".
Isn't this a bit premature? "Watchdog: Special-interest cash hasn't influenced Crist".
"State regulators on Friday gave tentative approval to the first rate cut by a private home insurance company after the passage last month of a new law giving companies more access to the state's backup insurance fund." "Insurance Rate Cut Gets Nod From State".
"Crist, in office since early January, has been a defender of the FCAT and supported the emphasis his predecessor, Jeb Bush, put on the test. If there are any changes to be made, Crist said last month, they would be only to "tweak" the test - not to make any major overhauls." "FCAT coming soon to classrooms".
"The Last Thing"
Carl Hiaasen on the "huge coal-burning power plant that Florida Power & Light wants to build on the western side of Lake Okeechobee":
Restoring the Everglades is now estimated to cost at least $11 billion, a hefty but necessary public investment. The project remains an uphill struggle -- scientifically, technologically and politically."The last thing the River of Grass needs".
The last thing that the River of Grass needs at this critical period is a giant coal-burning plant near its headwaters. Such a thing cannot possibly be operated without long-term impacts, downwind, downriver and high in the atmosphere.
This is the start of a long battle, and there's cause to be worried even if you don't like fish for supper.
It's the same air, same water, same problem.
The Rich Are Different
"Lawyers for Donald Trump have requested a jury trial in the ongoing legal battle over a large flag flying at his Palm Beach club, Mar-A-Lago." "Trump laywers file new complaints in Palm Beach flag case".
"Governor Crist Could Resurrect High-Speed Rail Project".
"A veteran substitute teacher has sued the Broward County School District in federal court and awaits the ruling on whether he and thousands of employees like him can begin collecting Social Security benefits.
... The district classifies subs as part-time or temporary employees and does not contribute any part of their income toward Social Security." "Veteran substitute sues Broward School District over Social Security benefits".
Lincoln Diaz-Balart Complaint
"Complaints have been filed with the Federal Election Commission against Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn’s campaign committee and treasurer alleging they violated federal campaign finance laws by not properly identifying contributors in the days leading up to the 2004 election."
Similar complaints were also filed against the campaign committees and treasurers of two congressmen in other states, Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., and Rep. Marilyn Musgrave, R-Colo."Complaints filed against campaign committees, treasurers".
In "Failed property tax system has no simple solution", Michael Mayo does readers a disservice by entertaining a pernicious idea:
The real-estate boom of the early 2000s led to a huge increase in property tax collections, but local governments say they need the money for added expenses. Security costs have risen since Sept. 11, 2001. Cities and school boards face higher health and property insurance costs. Pension costs for police and firefighters, mandated by the state, have risen dramatically.Jeez, now its the firefighters' fault. Naugle - brainiac that he is - wants to eliminate defined benefit plans so we can have 50 and 60 year old firefighters and cops running around. And Mayo thinks it is time to put this "on the table". Brilliant idea.
"Public employees are the only ones left with defined benefit pension plans," Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jim Naugle told the panel. "They're allowed to retire after 20 years, in their 40s and 50s, and the taxpayers support them for another 40 years. It can't go on. It couldn't go on with General Motors or Eastern Airlines and it can't go on now."
It's time for everything to be on the table.
Let the discussion, and the revolution, begin.