"Florida Republican Party Chairman Jim Greer on Monday killed plans for the party to hold a presidential primary straw vote at its state convention in October."
The decision will affect the presidential primary race, denying hard-charging candidate Mitt Romney a vehicle he hoped to use to gain ground on the better-known leaders, Rudy Giuliani and John McCain."GOP Straw Poll Axed; Activists Upset". See also "RPOF: No straw poll, debate instead", ("The decision is likely to be seen as a major blow to the Mitt Romney for president campaign"), "State GOP favors debate over straw poll" and "State GOP nixes straw poll for 2008 hopefuls" ("The decision, announced by state GOP Chairman Jim Greer, was a disappointment to backers of ex-Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney"). Spinning it: "No biggie, team Romney says of no straw poll".
It also seems likely to anger at least some grass-roots activists in a party that already divided over Greer's election as the chairman last month. ...
Romney supporter Al Cardenas, a former state party chairman, called the decision on the straw vote "an acknowledgement of Romney's lead in Florida … a direct reflection that the other contenders don't want to face Romney in a straw ballot competition here."
"I can tell you there are going to be a lot of disappointed folks" among party regulars, Cardenas said. ...
Greer narrowly defeated former Chairman Carole Jean Jordan, who favored holding the straw poll.
Looks like yet another manifestation of the rift between the Jebbites (who support Romney) and the Greer-Crist faction.
Instead of a straw poll, there will be a ... "debate". "Fla. GOP plans October debate for presidential hopefuls". See also "Orlando to host presidential debate in fall" ("The party declined to comment on talk that candidates will be charged $100,000 to participate").
GOP Considering Elimination of Homeowner Property Taxes
This is not a joke: "Republican leaders in the Florida House are floating a radical tax overhaul that would eliminate property taxes paid by homeowners in favor of a 3-cent increase to the state sales tax." "Tax swap: Raise sales, cut property?" ("Republicans are told sales levy could hit 13.5% to replace revenue"). See also "GOP plan takes aim at property, sales taxes".
Bought and Paid For
"Lobbyists with Republican roots topped the charts Monday with multimillion-dollar fees collected in 2006, the first year legislative lobbyists had to report the fees Florida businesses pay them to influence lawmakers. Reports for the final quarter of 2006 indicate that the biggest fees went to Southern Strategy Group, Smith & Ballard and Ronald L. Book. The three firms each reported more than $4-million in fees for long lists of clients." "Lobbying fees run in millions".
Putnam Embarrasses Himself, And Florida
Adam Putnam enjoys his new role as a GOPer hack-in-Chief. "Part of that is Putnam's formal role as conference chairman, but it also reflects his personal aggressiveness and the reality of life as a minority party."
By most accounts, Putnam has attacked Democrats more aggressively from the conference chairman role than his immediate predecessors, including former Oklahoma Rep. J.C. Watts and Ohio Rep. Deborah Pryce."Poor Adam, he fell on his face in his first time out of the blocks:
It was Tony Snow, the Fox News anchor-turned-presidential spokesman, who in effect ended the recent scandalette over whether the military plane that would fly Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi back and forth to California was too luxurious.Although he has never served in the military, the 32 year old chickenhawk is now pushing this meme:
"This is a silly story, and I think it's been unfair to the speaker," Snow said, according to published reports. He was countering voices in his own party.
One of the most prominent was U.S. Rep. Adam Putnam, R-Bartow. Putnam, the third-ranking House Republican, had pushed the Pelosi story aggressively the day before, both in print and on television.
"This is not about having secure communications and secure aircraft available to her. It's about an arrogance of extravagance that demands a jumbo jet that costs $22,000 an hour to operate to taxi her and her buddies back and forth to California," Putnam told Fox News.
It turns out there's no evidence Pelosi requested any such thing.
Resolute Republicans vow never to cut funding for military operations in Iraq and will battle shifty Democrats, who are using a "toothless" resolution as the first step in a "slow bleed" of Iraq funding, a way of ending the occupation by underhanded means."Putnam Emerges As GOP's Top Aggressor".
That tone of harsh contrast echoes a series of statements and talking points blasting Democrats' plans and actions found on Putnam's conference committee Web site.
Scott Maxwell disses Siplin, "How is it possible that State Sen. Gary Siplin is holding a re-election fundraiser Wednesday night, asking for $500 donations?" "Siplin wants money. . . no, not for bail". The same column also notes that
Charlie Crist took a step toward proving he's his own man last week when he put the brakes on talk among his own Republican Party leaders about trying to make gay marriage unconstitutional. This kept Crist honest about his campaign's mantra of inclusion; it was also politically smart. Homophobia got whupped at the polls last year. Just ask Tom Gallagher and Katherine Harris. Plus, now Crist won't have to struggle to explain why a political party that claims there are too many amendments is pushing for another one -- one that seeks to ban something that's already prohibited, no less.As we have previously pointed out, Charlie said he would "probably not" support further RPOF funding for the amendment petition gathering effort; but Charlie actually signed the petition and is listed as an "endorser of the amendment". And, as the Orlando Sentinel reported, Charlie actually "sidestepped a question [last] Tuesday about whether he still thinks the measure should go on the ballot".
"Do Dixie County commissioners really think they have a prayer, let alone a legal leg to stand on, defending their placement of a Ten Commandments monument on the steps of the county courthouse?" "Going too far".
Insurance Companies to Resume Cuts
"The state Office of Insurance Regulation on Monday ordered insurers doing business in the state to file new and lower homeowner rates by March 15. ... That means that once they submit new rates, companies will be free to drop policies and to proceed with their plans to drop homeowners who had been sent notices before Crist's Jan. 30 order." "Property Insurance Policy Cuts To Resume". See also "Wind policies may be cut just as hurricanes loom" ("The clock could soon start ticking again for Floridians who thought Gov. Charlie Crist and the Cabinet had saved their windstorm policies for at least one more hurricane season.")
Jebbie's Medicaid Experiment
"Since Florida's Medicaid reform began Sept. 1, complaints have been rising that the HMO-style system is disrupting some recipients' medical care. Some have been denied drugs they have taken for years, barred from seeing doctors and pharmacists, or felt service cuts, said patient advocates and Legal Aid attorneys. ... Former Gov. Jeb Bush created the experiment to rein in the spiraling cost of Medicaid" "Critics of Florida’s Medicaid reform plan say it's tough on patients".
How ironic that, as we read on the week end, Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jim Naugle wants to eliminate this fellow's defined benefit pension plan:
Saving people from overturned and mangled cars is part of Fort Lauderdale firefighter Greg Snyder's job. ...Read the rest here: "Firefighter dives into creek, pulls driver from submerged car".
Off-duty, alone and driving home, Snyder noticed a car submerged in the chilly creek under a remote Interstate 95 bridge. ...
So the 12-year veteran leaped into the dark water on the Palm Beach County-Martin County line, cut open the car's convertible top with his pocketknife and saw a man strapped into a seat belt and covered in water almost up to his chin.
That's when Snyder's training kicked in.
He pulled up the driver's head amid broken glass and jagged edges. Snyder pleaded with him to hang on as the driver slipped in and out of consciousness.
Mayor Naugle, and (apparently) Sun-Sentinel columnist Michael Mayo, don't understand why firefighters have pensions, as Naugle complains, that permit them to "retire after 20 years, in their 40s and 50s". Naugle and Mayo apparently want 60 year old firefighters diving into creeks and pulling drivers from submerged cars.
"Up for Debate"
"A plan to charge incoming freshmen an additional $1,000 to attend the University of Florida will be introduced in the state legislature." "$1,000 UF fee up for debate". See also "Bill would establish $1,000-a-year fee at UF", "Bill would push up the price of a UF education" and "UF may tack big fee onto tuition".
In the meantime, Charlie goes out on a limb: "Crist opposes UF plan for $500 fee to hire staff".
Florida's "Poor and Uninsured" To Take a Hit
"A proposed rule change by the federal agency that oversees Medicaid could cost hospitals that serve Florida's poor and uninsured $1 billion this year and $4 billion over the next five unless Congress acts to reject it."
Nonprofit hospitals like Tampa General, St. Joseph's or All Children's in St. Petersburg - hospitals that serve a disproportionate number of patients without health insurance or on Medicaid - would be devastated by the change."Bush Wrong To Balance Budget By Cutting 'Safety Net' Hospitals".
Gov. Charlie Crist, as well as Florida's congressional delegation, should do everything possible to keep the current funding formula intact and the hospitals financially stable.
Bucking the Gun Lobby
The Sun-Sentinel editors: "Maybe law enforcement officials will have better luck going head-to-head with the gun lobby. They want to change Florida's concealed weapons law, and the hope here is that they'll succeed. " "Weapons Law".
"State Sen. Mike Fasano, who proposed requiring 11- and 12-year-old girls to be vaccinated against a virus that can cause cervical cancer, said Monday he would delay the requirement another year to satisfy concerns about the vaccine's safety." "Fasano to postpone vaccine requirement". The Palm Beach Post editors: "Case for cancer vaccine stronger than opposition".
"State investigators say they are reviewing a resident's complaint that automobile dealer Jason Kuhn may have funded contributions from his employees and their relatives [to City council candidate Julie Brown]. Florida law caps individual contributions at $500 and prohibits making donations in someone else's name." "State Investigating Donations To Council Candidate".
"Hillary Clinton was the big winner in a ['totally unscientific,' ] walk-up straw poll held by the county Democratic Party at the State Fair in Tampa last week." "Clinton Wins Big In “Unscientific” State Fair Straw Poll".
Tampa "Sign Prank"
"Former state Sen. Les Miller was heading out the door Monday morning when he saw a bunch of political campaign signs in his front yard. The problem: They weren't his wife's signs for re-election to the city council. Instead, they were the signs of each of his wife's opponents, lined neatly in a row." "Sign Prank Worries Candidate".
In Florida, "Fewer children have health insurance"
"Over the coming months, states will be urging Congress to reauthorize a successful program that provides health insurance to 6 million American children."
But the state that pioneered the concept of subsidized health insurance is in a sorry position to argue for the program's survival. Participation in Florida KidCare -- which includes children's Medicaid and Healthy Kids, the state-backed insurance plan -- dropped by more than 130,000 children over two years. This year, the state will miss out on $17 million in federal money that could have been used to give Florida children access to routine checkups, dental care and prescriptions."Florida challenge".
"Republican presidential candidate John McCain met privately Monday with religious broadcasters in Orlando, then later said he isn't catering to conservative Christians as he tries to win his party's nomination." "McCain meets religious broadcasters in Fla., holds town meetings".
"Intravenous lines were properly placed in the veins of each arm of Angel Nieves Diaz and were not to blame for the inmate's slower-than-usual lethal injection death in December, a medical professional who monitored the execution said Monday."
Testifying by phone before the Governor's Commission on Administration of Lethal Injection, the man -- whose name and qualifications were not revealed because state law protects his anonymity -- said the IV lines were always in place during the process and were not responsible for the difficulty in getting the fatal drugs into Diaz's system. ..."Expert: Lethal IV not faulty".
Asked to explain why an autopsy indicated that IV lines had passed through Diaz's veins into the soft tissue, the medical witness suggested it could have happened while Diaz's body was being moved after his death.