"Sen. Jeff Atwater, a North Palm Beach Republican running for Senate president in 2008, raised $101,000 over the six days before the ban on fundraising during the two-month session that started March 6."
In principle, such committees of continuous existence help lawmakers connect with constituents. But in practice, lawmakers have used them to pay for food, travel and entertainment, or to curry favor with other members of the Legislature in leadership races."Groups allow funding loophole".
For example, Atwater got $10,000 from Sen. Mike Bennett, a Bradenton Republican who helped Atwater oust fellow Republican Alex Villalobos from the 2008-10 Senate presidency last year. Bennett gave him the money on Feb. 28 through a committee of continuous existence called Citizens for Housing and Urban Growth.
Bennett, who is running for the 2010 Senate presidency, has amassed more than $557,000 in that fund since 2005 and doled it out to other lawmakers.
On the Agenda
"Today in Tallahassee" See also "Upcoming at the Capitol" and "2007 Legislature roundup".
William March reports on the Congress.org power rankings. No surprise here: "The study lists Rep. Kathy Castor, the Tampa Democrat, as the nation’s most powerful freshman House member". GOPer hearting Florida doesn't fare well: "Florida’s combined House-Senate delegation, with 10 Democrats and 17 Republicans, is ranked 42nd among states". And this borders on the pathetic:
Republican Mel Martinez, despite his additional title of Republican National Committee chairman, ranked 89th in the 100-member Senate."Castor 'Most Powerful' Freshman; GOP House Members Graded Down In Power".
"With a short time span to replace former state Rep. John Quinones, R-Kissimmee, campaigning in today's District 49 Democratic primary comes down to name recognition and money." "District 49 race to be brief, not cheap". See also "Race to Succeed John Q is Quick and Costly".
Scott Maxwell writes: "Word is that Republicans are nervous about a special primary race today -- one that involves Democrats. The primary is for State House District 49. And the man who has them nervous is Democrat Darren Soto. Soto, an attorney, is just one of six Dems vying to face Republican Tony Suarez in this district that covers parts of Orange and Osceola counties. But Soto, who is smart, affable and enthusiastic, seems to have momentum, which is why some Republicans are hoping he loses -- and why Democrats looking for a win in this race should probably give him extra consideration.".
"The Buzz has learned that the U.S. House Administration Committee has formed a three-person task force to look into the disputed Sarasota congressional race." "Task force to study Sarasota house election".
On a related note, "Ray LeGault is a retired illumination engineer who thinks light bulbs, not voting machines, were the problem during the District 13 congressional election. ... [The] lawsuit -- with scribbled notes on footcandle measurements and light readings -- was quickly squashed by a Circuit Court judge, as was a 2000 complaint he filed in Palm Beach County. In that case, LeGault asked a judge to send Gov. Jeb Bush and two Palm Beach County elections officials to jail for their roles in the disputed balloting. A judge tossed that suit five months later." "Voter: Polling place lighting improper".
"Attacks on homeless prompt 'hate crime' bill proposals".
Could It Be Something About The Wage Rate?
"To keep up with the demand for nurses, Florida already begs, borrows and steals. With new training programs, loan forgiveness and scholarships, the state works to entice people into nursing. Florida hospitals spent nearly $150 million in the fiscal year 2003-2004 hiring temporary and traveling nurses. And the state offers mortgage assistance and other perks for nurses willing to relocate permanently to this state. Even then, it might not be enough." "Calling for nurses".
GOPer's Support the Troops
"AP: Specialty tag would honor fallen troops".
"Three veteran auditors who want to be Florida's next top financial cop pitched their qualifications this morning to a special legislative committee." "State auditor hopefuls go before committee".
Safe Florida Home Program
"My Safe Florida Home Program moves forward".
"House backers on Monday picked up where they left off last year by broadening affordable housing programs to further assist teachers, critical civil servants, mobile homeowners and property owners in the midst of rapid property value increases." "Florida House takes up affordable housing measure".
The Rules are Different
"Broward Circuit Judge Lawrence Korda is facing a misdemeanor charge of marijuana possession after city police officers said they busted him for allegedly smoking pot in a Hollywood park Sunday afternoon." "Longtime Broward judge accused of smoking pot in Hollywood park".
"Angry state legislators called for a criminal investigation of Florida A&M University's continuing financial woes today, as the head of the State University System said the survival of the state's historically black university is at stake." "FAMU finances merit criminal investigation". See also "FAMU's viability 'at stake'" and "Help for FAMU".
"Rove, President Bush's political director, has asked to speak at the Charlotte County Republican Party's annual Lincoln Day dinner in six weeks." "Charlotte GOP group to hear Karl Rove".
"In contrast to the House, which is rushing a bill out that even House Speaker Marco Rubio of West Miami doesn't much like,  Pruitt said any plan must be 'vetted' thoroughly to be "sure that it's something all of us will be proud of."" "Senate in no property-tax rush".
"Advocates for injured workers rally at the Capitol [yesterday] to protest state laws that they say discourage workers compensation attorneys from taking cases." "Advocates for workers comp protest today".
Scientology in St Pete
"One might be fooled - apparently Long was - into thinking something positive has happened downtown. Yet after Travolta jets off to his next Hollywood gig, what will remain in St. Petersburg is a base camp for a controversial organization." "Scientology's new outpost".
"Floridians would be asked to put insurance regulation directly under the elected chief financial officer, rather than the governor and Cabinet, under a proposal scheduled to come before a Senate committee today. 'Right now there is no accountability,' said Senate Democratic Leader Steve Geller, the sponsor of the proposed constitutional amendment. 'Right now, who does the insurance commissioner report to? Everyone. And everyone equals no one.'" "Insurance job touted for CFO".
"Oakland Park – When voters elected Larry Gierer to the City Commission in 2001, he hoped his status as an elected official would break barriers for gays and HIV-positive people. ... Gierer will take on a new role, becoming the city's first openly gay mayor and the first openly HIV-positive mayor in Broward County. He'll serve in the city's top seat for one year while Layne Walls serves as vice mayor. The position rotates annually among commissioners." "Changing Oakland Park gets its first openly gay mayor".
"West Palm Beach – Disgraced former City Commissioner James Exline pleaded guilty Monday to knowingly filing a false income tax return, failing to report a $50,000 payment he received from a developer who wanted city help with a subdivision. ... Exline is the second city commissioner forced to resign and face federal charges. In May, former Commissioner Ray Liberti, 60, pleaded guilty to federal charges of mail fraud and obstruction of justice in a case that triggered the grand jury's wider corruption investigation." "Former West Palm commissioner faces 3 years in prison on tax charge".
Where Will the Nonunion Construction Workers Live?
The Sun-Sentinel editors note that some Florida cities are "outlawing sleeping in vehicles." Which raises the question as to where the nonunion construction workers from North and South Carolina will live? "Homelessness".
"If state and federal officials are right, the next influenza pandemic could kill 128,000 people in Florida and send 640,000 to hospitals. Despite that, Florida is the only state in the country considering taking a pass on federal help to get ready." "State ignores federal flu help".
"Members of Congress launched a citizenship drive Monday from Little Havana, urging legal immigrants to get naturalized before application-fee hikes kick in." "Citizenship drive goal: beat the clock".
"Martinez says U.S. should stay in Iraq fight".
"A House committee on Monday voted down a proposal to limit the number of underage passengers a driver under the age of 18 could have in the car." "New limits loom for teens". See also "Teen passenger bill defeated", "Bill limiting teen drivers rejected" and "House won't demand lonelier rides for teens".
National Disaster Fund
The Palm Beach Post editors: "At various times over the past decade, Florida politicians have hinted that momentum is building to create a national disaster fund. They're saying it again, but this time they might be right." "Add catastrophe fund to congressional agenda".
You Had To Be There
"Gov. Crist's First Skits: A People's Night Out". See also "Who's who?"
Gator basketball star Joakim Noah
might not be the best player in college basketball, but he's certainly the most interesting. You can agree or disagree with his political viewpoint, but at least he has a political viewpoint. Half of the college basketball players today couldn't tell you who the vice president is; Noah likely can name President Bush's entire cabinet and then tell you why they are all so wrong about the war in Iraq."Noah knows the real Madness in New Orleans isn't basketball".
After Florida won the national championship last season, Noah nearly refused to make the ceremonial visit to the White House to meet President Bush. Only after UF Coach Billy Donovan had a conference with his star player did Noah finally acquiesce. However, he did not wear a tie to the White House and left his shirt untucked -- perhaps a silent protest to Bush's politics.
"I didn't want to go because I don't agree with the president's views and what he stands for," says Noah, who has dual citizenship in the United States and France. "But after talking with Coach Donovan, I didn't want to put that negative publicity on the team."
Donovan and Noah are polar political opposites. Donovan is a conservative Republican, Noah a liberal Democrat. Donovan is a devout Catholic; Noah doesn't adhere to organized religion.
The Gator football team went to the White House yesterday: "Gators go to the White House". See also "Gators turn South Lawn into the Swamp".
On a separate note, "John Kerry will hold a 'town hall forum' Friday at the University of Florida law school." "Kerry coming to UF".
"Matching money to bolster homes comes up short. State officials say they'll fix 'confusion.'" "Storm grants baffle homeowners".