Today's Florida political news and punditry.
Knuckle Draggers to the End
Greer speaks about Florida's new Republican Party: "In a wide-ranging discussion with newspaper reporters, Republican Chairman Jim Greer of Oviedo expressed confidence that his party can regain much of the power it lost last November by sticking to conservative fiscal and social principles. That includes continued support for a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, he said." "GOP confident it can regain party's power".
You read that right; it's back to the wingnut well for Charlie and his crew: "Florida's new Republican Party chairman said Monday he would like to see a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage on the 2008 ballot and would not rule out spending more state GOP money to support it." Charlie's handpicked head of the RPOF,
Jim Greer said he hasn't yet decided to whether his party will contribute more money to a group gathering signatures for such a ballot measure."GOP chief backs gay marriage ban vote". See also "Jim Greer meets the press", "New RPOF Boss on Gay Marriage, Abortion, Crist and Bush" and "GOP leader favors gay-marriage ban".
The GOP gave the group $300,000 last year.
But Greer said he supports the initiative and acknowledged that it could help the Republican Party by drawing socially conservative voters to the polls during the next presidential election.
Make no mistake about it, this is coming from certified media darling Charlie Crist: "New RPOF chairman leaves no doubt who's the boss".
"By press release and podcast, the Florida Democratic Party is accusing Sen. Mel Martinez of dodging last week's Senate debate over whether to hold a debate on the war in Iraq." "Bashing Martinez, via podcast".
"If Florida holds its primary on Jan. 29, it could push early voting to begin as early as the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend that falls two weeks earlier."
"It's pure chaos," said Larry Sabato, director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia. "If the job of scheduling the presidential nominating contests were assigned to an insane asylum, this is pretty much what the patients would come up with.""Early Florida primary would increase state's power in campaign". The Sun-Sentinel editors like the idea: "Early Primary" ("More bipartisan cooperation -- not sanctions -- would improve the process. Barring that, Florida should act to have its say much earlier in the process.")
"State needs e-records policy"
"According to a recent report issued by the Florida Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability, roughly 92 percent of all new information generated by state government is stored in an electronic format -- and almost all of that information is, by law, open to inspection by the public." "Open bytes".
"Expert: Doctors must guide lethal injections".
"What's the deal with Florida?"
"Gov. Charlie Crist's proposal to overhaul much of the state's voting system for the second time since the 2000 presidential meltdown also has some election watchers asking a familiar question: What's the deal with Florida?"
"Florida doesn't study. Florida has gotten into a pattern of moving from crisis to quick response to new crisis to quick response," says Charles Stewart III, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology voting expert.Paper ballots have their problems::
But Stewart applauds Crist's plan.
"Given the continuing controversy over the electronic machines in Florida and nationwide, I think it makes a lot of sense," says Stewart, who testified in December that touch screens produced an excessive number of blank votes in a disputed Sarasota-area congressional race.
A University of Missouri-St. Louis study of the 2004 election found that 1 percent of touch-screen voters didn't cast a vote for president in 2004, compared with 1.7 percent of people who marked optical-scan ballots without polling-place safeguards. When voters were able to scan their paper ballots before casting them, only 0.7 percent did not vote for president."Optical-scan proposal gets mixed reviews". See also the Wexler op ed: "Wexler: Gov. Crist's proposal achieves all goals for elections".
In Florida, data from the past three general elections shows that voters who used paper optical-scan ballots, particularly those scanned at the polling place, were more likely to record a vote in top-of-the-ballot races than voters who used touch screens.
Mack Out Of His League
See "Mack to Kennedy: Stop Promoting Chavez" and "Kennedy to Mack: 'Misguided … Hypocrisy'".
A Palm Beach Thing
"Gayle Harrell already has the Harrell For Congress stationary and she is planning a formal announcement of her campaign for the GOP nomination in March." "Newt And Gayle".
"An abortion rights group is proposing a new Florida license plate reading "United for Choice" and featuring a human figure surrounded by stars as a counterpoint to an anti-abortion rights plate the state already issues." "'United for Choice' auto tag proposed".
That's Our Bill
Yesterday we gigged Mel ("That's Our Mel").
Thank goodness Democrats have cleaned up the easy flow of money and favors from lobbyists to members of Congress. Why if it hadn't been for the "tough" new ethics rules passed by the House and pending in the Senate, lawmakers might be hosting Super Bowl parties or weekends at Disney World for $5,000 a pop."The price of influence just went up".
Oops. It turns out that Sen. Bill Nelson, a Florida Democrat, held just such a party at the Super Bowl in Miami, allowing lobbyists who paid the fare to chat with him. Not to be left out, Nelson's Republican counterpart, Sen. Mel Martinez, will be holding a similar get-together this weekend at Disney World's Yacht and Beach Club resort.
"State Republican Party chairman Jim Greer said he hasn't decided whether to let GOP activists take part in a party-sponsored straw poll of presidential candidates next fall." "Greer: No decision yet on straw poll".
Meanwhile, "Florida Democratic Party Chairwoman Karen Thurman said she's 'feeling candidates out' on the prospect of a presidential straw poll in October." "Thurman shopping straw poll".
Don't Cry For Me Argentina
"Two Florida lawmakers [Reps. Ralph Poppell, a Vero Beach Republican, and Richard Machek D-Delray Beach] traveled to Argentina last month to look at citrus groves, a tour paid for by Florida growers." "Lawmakers seek citrus tips on trip".
"Humaneness, not Ideology."
"The horrible story of the Tampa rape victim who was jailed and then denied a crucial second dose of the morning-after pill on religious grounds is an outrage that resonates beyond Florida's borders. Now two state lawmakers want to make sure no rape victim will ever be refused emergency contraception. Sen. Nan Rich, D-Weston, and Rep. Yolly Roberson, D-Miami, have written legislation that would require doctors and nurses to offer ''Plan B'' -- the morning-after pill -- to all victims of rape. This is about humaneness, not ideology." "Relief for rape victims".
"U.S. Rep. Tim Mahoney pretty much got crushed in Martin County. In the eight counties that make up the 16th District, Mahoney, a Democrat, did worse there (less than 43 percent) than any other county en route to winning his first term in Congress. But Mahoney is hardly wallowing in the rejection. Instead, the Highlands County Democrat smiled when he told [Jeremy Wallace] he was moving his central district office to Stuart - the county seat in Martin County. In addition, Mahoney has opened offices in Highlands County and Charlotte County (both of which he also lost in 2006)." "Into the lions den".
"Refund money on its way soon to some Citizens customers".
DOC "Under Gov. Jeb Bush was a Complete Mess"
The Tampa Trib editors: "The latest bombshell in the botched execution of Angel Nieves Diaz is the public discovery that Florida's executioner had limited training in carrying out the death penalty, further evidence that the Department of Corrections under Gov. Jeb Bush was a complete mess." "Executioner Needs Precise Training In Lethal Injections".
Miami-Dade Housing Mess
"The housing picture in Miami-Dade County is a mess, and the staggering abuse and ineptness of elected officials and housing managers have put the county in a deep hole from which recovery will be difficult, if not impossible. This is a sobering conclusion of the grand jury's second report in six months on the affordable-housing scandal that was uncovered in The Miami Herald's House of Lies series and the grand jury's own investigations." "Housing crisis cont'd".
Naked Politics: "Democratic presidential candidate Tom Vilsack took time out to chat with The Miami Herald today while in town for the winter meeting of the American Association for Justice (formerly the Association of Trial Lawyers of America). Here's what the former governor of Iowa had to say".
GOPer "Mike Horner, a Kissimmee/Osceola County Chamber of Commerce executive who wants to replace [term limited] Rep. Frank Attkisson in Tallahassee, has scheduled his 'campaign kickoff' for later this month -- almost four years after he first started running for the Florida House. ... the early planning looks like it has paid off. Horner has already raised nearly $140,000, and his host committee reads like a who's who of Tallahassee, including Speaker-designates Ray Sansom, R-Destin, and Dean Cannon, R-Winter Park, Agriculture Commissioner Charlie Bronson and Attorney General Bill McCollum." "Re-Starting a Long-Running Campaign".
Property Tax Relief Pressure
"Young and old, renter and homeowner, full-time Floridian and snowbird, they united behind a common goal and turned out in droves Monday, demanding that the Legislature do something about the property tax system all described as broken." "Hundreds in Broward implore legislators to give them property tax relief". See also "" and Property owners vent over tax rates"Palm residents say brutal tax hikes are forcing them out".
In the meantime, "Crist 'Flexible' On Property Insurance".
"Landowners in Volusia County who turn their property into campgrounds for a series of special events can make thousands of dollars. But when the events are over, the space goes back to being farmland, giving owners a big tax break." "Tax break creates happy campers".<