HD 3 Results
"Unofficial results from Tuesday's special election show Ford garnered 56 percent of the vote to Campbell's 44 percent." "Ford wins District 3 House seat". See also "Republican Ford wins House District 3 seat".
The official "unofficial" results are at this site. Here are the "Reporting Status" and "Voter Turnout" stats. As to the latter, turnout was pathetic, with only 16% turning out in Escambia County while the turnout was higher in the far less populous portion of Santa Rosa County covered by the District.
The New York Post: "Florida's governor is being slapped today [Tuesday] with a scathing lawsuit that charges that he turned a blind eye to a massive Ponzi scheme run by boy-band impresario Lou Pearlman, who is accused of swindling New Yorkers to the tune of $56 million, The Post has learned."
Crist allegedly got illegal campaign donations from Pearlman totaling nearly $11,000 even as he was supposed to be investigating the Queens native as Florida's attorney general, according to the lawyer filing the suit."Fla. Governor Faces the Music" (via Naked Politics). See also "See you in court, Gov. Crist".
Crist also allegedly accepted rides on Pearlman's private jet without adequately reimbursing him, and benefited from fund-raisers held at Pearlman's Orlando-area home without properly covering the costs, said lawyer James Lowy.
Crist, who took office this year, did not return the tainted donations even after Pearlman's sleazy actions began making headlines in recent weeks, and after long knowing that there were serious concerns about his investment scheme, Lowy said.
A Crist spokeswoman had no immediate comment.
House Plan Slammed
The St Pete Times editors: "The line between bold and reckless has been erased in the Florida House."
A Republican plan to cap government revenues, abolish property taxes for homesteads and enact the nation's highest sales tax is so irresponsible and poorly designed it would be laughed off if it wasn't backed by House Speaker Marco Rubio and his leadership team. They have created a risky scheme that would make a broken tax system more unfair, undermine the state's tenuous financial stability and erode our quality of life."First, legislation that would roll back property tax rates six years to reduce bills by 20 percent is more unreasonable than it sounds even though it factors in population growth and inflation."
The House Republican plan then calls for a special election this year for voters to consider a constitutional amendment that would permanently strangle state and local governments with revenue caps tied to population growth and inflation. This is a sentence to permanent mediocrity at the very time state and local governments should be investing more in public schools, higher education, affordable housing, transportation and health care. With medical costs rising and more uninsured Floridians than ever, what kind of a state responds with arbitrary spending limits on Medicaid?"The most politically enticing element of the plan calls for voters to consider eliminating property taxes on all homesteaded property, which would trigger an increase in the sales tax by 2.5 cents."
That is just as ludicrous as proposals by fiscal conservatives to replace the federal income tax with a national sales tax. It also reflects a lack of understanding about state tax policy and history.Much more here: "GOP's tax scheme is reckless, unfair". See also "Gelber questions Rubio's "trickle down economics".
In the meantime, Charlie has his finger in the wind: "Crist said Tuesday he's not committed to any property tax reform ideas, and even refused to defend his own proposals." "Crist wide open on property tax fix".
"More than $2 million in emergency aid money will be available to 17 small communities affected by tornadoes earlier this month, Gov. Charlie Crist's administration announced Tuesday." "State aid for towns hit by twisters".
The Palm Beach Post editors: "The message was the same: Lake Okeechobee and the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee rivers are in deep trouble, and Florida must provide more money for cleanup and restoration. But the contrast between Gov. Bush's visit to the lake toward the end of his second term and Gov. Crist's river tour in Stuart last week, barely two months after he took office, is striking." "Crist sets a new course on big lake and rivers".
The Next Time Someone ...
tells you the St Pete Times is "liberal", recall this piece of garbage which reads like a National Right To Work Committee press release: "Don't let unions coerce".
It is acceptable for "liberal" newspaper editors to bleat on about the environment and religious fundies, but when it comes to uppity unions, the editors are happy to satisfy their corporate masters.
In The Dark
"What is it about leaving the public in the dark that thrills lawmakers like Larry Cretul? The Gainesville Republican has it in his head that the public oughtn't be sticking its nose into the business of who runs its hospitals. His House bill, gaining traction through early committee reviews, would create an exemption for any record revealing the name of a potential top corporate officer being wooed by a public hospital search committee. The public would find out only after the committee turned its recommendation over to the governing board." "Hiring in the dark".
"Highest and Best Use"
"Florida determines the taxes owed on property based on true market value, a fair practice that has some unfair consequences for small businesses."
A family-owned waterfront motel, for example, is taxed on what it could become under existing zoning and market conditions, typically a high-rise condo or luxury hotel. As a result, mom-and-pop operations are being taxed out of existence even though that's not what the community wants."State Needs Property Tax Rule That Preserves Local Heritage".
If cherished parts of commercial Florida are to survive, the rules must change. Otherwise, the future is bleak for small, affordable motels, auto repair shops in upscale neighborhoods, and even small sandwich shops and pizza joints with choice locations.
Under state law, appraisers are required to consider a property's "highest and best use," not simply how the present owner happens to be using the property.
"Gov. Charlie Crist's high-profile pitch for a national catastrophe fund in Washington on Monday stood as much chance of succeeding as Ryan Gosling's quest for a best-actor Oscar the day before. Too many states like Montana and Michigan just won't be bothered to create and then pay into a pool designed to relieve states like Florida following hurricane-scale disasters." "Blowing in the wind". See also "Insurance" ("Florida must brace itself and go it alone again.")
Seriously, why should a state like Michigan give a damn about Florida's problems in light of Florida's history of fiscal irresponsibility. Michigan and other Northern states have raised (via among other things a state income tax) and expended necessary resources to shore up their infrastructures against winter storms while Florida (and other Southern states) have lured industries from the North with promises of low taxes (and right-to-work laws) and taken the politically expedient path when it comes to raising state revenues.
"Everything was going fine until President Bush dropped the ball." "Bush honors Miami’s championship basketball team".
Check Your Signature
Remember when Sen. Alex Villalobos' absentee ballot vote wasn't counted in his bitter reelection fight? The Tampa Trib editors emphasize today that,
if you vote by absentee ballot - an increasingly popular way to vote - be sure the signature on file at the supervisor's office matches your signature today."Check Signature Before Voting Absentee".
"Martinez on War Politics".
Home Prices Fall For Sixth Straight Month
"Sales of existing homes rose in January by the largest amount in two years, raising hopes that the worst of the severe slump in housing may be coming to an end. Median home prices, however, fell for a sixth straight month." "Existing home sales rise in January".
Charlie Strides Upon The National Stage
You decide: "The Wolf And Charlie Transcript".
"It's appalling that state wildlife officials have allowed developers and road builders to bury thousands of live gopher tortoises - more than 4,500 in Pasco County over the last 15 years - instead of mandating relocation to safer ground."
Coupled with the pace of development in Florida, it's not surprising the turtle's population is declining so rapidly that its existence is now threatened."Don't Bury The Gopher Tortoise".
Fortunately, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has changed its way of thinking.
As The Legislature Sleeps
"At some point politicians who spar over the causes of global warming have to at least agree that whether humans are the cause of warming or not, it's happening, and it's affecting low-lying places like Florida."
The tourism, real estate and insurance industries all have a big hold on the state's economy. All three face potential shocks in coming years from intensified storm seasons, rising sea levels, lengthened hot seasons and, as always when nature rains altered states, the unforeseen. Yet Florida lawmakers have been largely unconcerned.Fortunately,
on April 3 and again in June, September and November, Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, a Democrat, and Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services Charles Bronson, a Republican, will hold Cabinet workshops on how the state's economy may be affected by warming trends, what to do about them, and how to position industry to address potential changes."Report card".
Also of interest on this issue is this dKos diary: "On The Costs Of Climate Change, Or, Florida Bets The State".
"Florida's famous state song about the Suwannee River, considered by many to be racially insensitive, is entering troubled waters yet again." "Famous or infamous?".
"Largo city manager fired"
"City commissioners ended one of the most tumultuous weeks in Largo history Tuesday night by firing City Manager Steve Stanton as a result of his disclosure that he will have a sex-change operation." "Largo city manager fired". See also this dKos post: "City Manager Fired for Being Transgendered".
"What voters need to know is that touch-screen voting is not going away, even with the governor's proposal to replace most machines with fill-in-the-bubble optical-scan ballots. That's because the governor's plan allows touch screens for early voting and for the disabled, as long as the machines produce a voter-verified paper trail."
Problem is, the printers that accompany touch-screen machines are far from perfect. They can jam and break down. If no one notices, voting can continue, creating an imperfect record. So the state must think about how to resolve a conflict between the electronic tally and its supposedly identical print offspring. It would stand to reason, since printers represent the governor's solution, that the printer be the final standard. But that wouldn't work if the paper trail were not complete because of printer breakdowns."Ease touch-screen doubt".
Secretary of State Kurt Browning admits that the standard is not yet clear. Worse, he said, would be to allow touch-screen voting to continue on a grand scale but require that printers be attached to every machine. At least with early voting, held at a limited number of locations, workers can be assigned to watch the printers and to redirect voters in the case of a breakdown.
The governor is taking this imperfect step, however, because of mistrust over touch-screen voting fueled by the 18,000 blank votes in the 13th District U.S. House race that was decided by 369 votes, with Republican Vern Buchanan defeating Democrat Christine Jennings. What happened there was not the fault of the machines, two state studies show. But under Gov. Bush, the state handed one of those studies, including scrutiny of the computer's brain - the source code - to a Florida State University professor with a record of involvement with the Republican Party. If there's no problem, there's no reason why the same access couldn't be given to experts selected by Ms. Jennings.
"Three private-sector executives were named by Gov. Charlie Crist and CFO Alex Sink to the new seven-member panel charged with reviewing the big outsourcing ventures championed by former Gov. Jeb Bush." "Three more will review Jeb outsourcing deals".