In a case that has become yet another national embarrassment for Florida (e.g., this 60 Minutes report, "Prisoner Of Pain, How One Man's Quest For Pain Relief Landed Him in Jail"), we read today that:
The Florida Supreme Court will not hear an appeal by a wheelchair-bound man convicted of drug trafficking for obtaining large amounts of prescription drugs he said were to control severe pain. Richard Paey, now serving a 25-year minimum mandatory prison sentence, had previously said an appellate court misapplied the state’s drug trafficking law when it upheld his conviction in December, even though there was no evidence he ever sold or distributed the painkillers."Florida Supreme Court rejects disabled man’s drug appeal".
The injustice is thoroughly exposed in a scathing judicial dissent at the DCA level (beginning on page 16 of this .pdf document), which is excerpted and discussed in this powerful Daniel Ruth column: "Mercy Plea Travels A Painful Road".
The St Pete Times editorial board put it this way: "When the governor's daughter, Noelle Bush, was found guilty of prescription tampering, she received a referral to a drug treatment program. That kind of proportionate sentencing and balance between a defendant's guilt and punishment also should apply here." "A drug sentence without justice".
Daniel Ruth, in calling the case "an egregious miscarriage of justice that would embarrass even the most inept banana republic", suggested that
that could change. Leadership might be afoot!Well, Charlie, its up to you now.
Don't Tell Dick Cheney
Remember Dubya's mouthing of these words: "The British Government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa"? Today we read that "Uranium found in Florida pawn shop". See also "Estate sale yields yellowcake uranium".
They Can't Help Themselves
On the heels of a cheap shot (noted by FPC) at Al Gore by the The Buzz ("think Al Gore, only not fat"), we get this unimpressive remark yesterday by Miami Herald journalist Beth Reinhard:
"Chain Gang Charlie" has morphed into Ozone Man -- the new and improved version with the Academy Award, not the dorky ex-candidate who acted like Pinocchio before he became a real boy."Climate Change: Crist Becomes 'Ozone Man'". Al Gore a "dork" who "acted like Pinocchio"?
This was precisely the false meme about Gore posited by the MSM that was one of the "main reason[s]" Gore lost in 2000, according to ABC News political director Mark Halperin and Politico Editor-in-Chief John F. Harris in their book The Way to Win: Taking the White House in 2008 (Random House, 2006) at 130 (t]he media ...helped Bush tell his good story about himself, and helped Republicans tell a bad story about Gore"). See "Serial misinformer Kit Seelye reportedly set to become NY Times 'Web political correspondent'". See also "Al Gore, democrat" (noting that even the "conservative Financial Times of London" saw the MSM as "'hostile to the [Gore] campaign'").
Not A "Five-star Governor Yet"
That's right, Republicans. Go ahead and grab hold of something you find comforting -- like a flag, a gun or a Sean Hannity coffee mug. Because your new governor has been offering olive branches to Democrats, both in terms of public policy and personally.He hastens to add that
None of this is to say that Charlie is a five-star governor yet. He has barely gotten his feet wet. And we've seen a few causes for concern in his backtracking on support for embryonic stem-cell research, for example, and his seeming enthusiasm about the GOP desire to make poor people pay more taxes."Style points may spell success for Crist". See also this Tampa Trib puff piece: "Charlie is comfortable in charge".
Darkening Economic News
"The state's Revenue Estimating Conference is expected Monday to shrink anticipated tax dollars for next year's budget by as much as $800 million, blaming a slump in sales tax stemming largely from the slowdown in Florida's housing market."
The state's budget year is shaping up as the worst since 2003, when Florida was still digging out from the halt in tourism spawned by the terrorist attacks two years earlier.However,
Four years ago, lawmakers cobbled together a $54 billion state spending plan helped by a little more than $500 million in new money. This year's $71 billion model may be aided by only about $1 billion more than last year -- a level that will demand more belt-tightening than seen lately in fast-growing Florida.
the real squeeze looks certain to be felt by cities and counties. The House's tax overhaul would remove an average 38 percent of property-tax dollars going to cities and an average 29 percent from counties.So,
some are hoping that the darkening economic news may cause lawmakers to ease back on the sweep of the tax rewrite. The House would ultimately like the tax proposal to result in the elimination of property taxes on primary residences in exchange for higher sales tax."Shrinking tax dollars: Trouble in property-tax-cut paradise?".
Don't count on this to deter Charlie and his brethren in the House:
House leaders and Crist believe that dramatically cutting property taxes will spark another real estate boom - a "sonic boom," in Crist's words - that will again increase collections."Housing slowdown hits state revenues".
"I think that will restart our economy, have a lot more sales of homes and purchasing, and make people want to buy," Crist said.
Romney in a Schiavo Jam
"Romney's [Schiavo] position puts him at odds with a portion of the Republican base he is courting aggressively and with former Gov. Jeb Bush, many of whose key advisers and Florida donors are backing the former Massachusetts governor." "Romney says government was wrong in Schiavo case".
"Array of Proposals"
"As lawmakers embark on an historic overhaul of Florida's property tax system, suddenly there's an array of proposals." "Lawmakers bandy lots of ideas to revamp property taxes". See also "Homeowners, lawmakers gain from GOP tax reform. Is it fair?", "Herald Today: Will tax proposals save you money?" and "Property tax bills for a selection of Fla. House lawmakers".
Your Tax Dollars at Work
"Abortion opponents are running thousands of centers, called crisis pregnancy centers — dispensing everything from baby clothes to free ultrasound pictures to prayer. There are as many as 4,000 crisis pregnancy centers in the U.S. and about 130 in Florida."
In Florida, the crisis pregnancy centers are supported by millions of dollars in taxpayer money. In last year's state budget, then- Gov. Jeb Bush personally put in $2 million from the tobacco settlement fund to pay for things such as billboards, radio spots and job training at the centers. Some crisis centers get state money for every hour a counselor spends face to face with a client — $50 an hour, up to $1,300 a month. ..."The new war on abortion".
Activists so caught up in their mission they will do anything — lie, cajole, mislead — to prevent even one abortion.
But what's more subtle — and more common, say abortion rights supporters, medical experts and lawmakers who have watched this movement — is that women who go to crisis pregnancy centers don't always get plain facts about fetal development, adoption, abortion and birth control.
The responsibilities of single parenting might be oversimplified. Counselors often connect abortion and breast cancer, even though today's leading medical researchers do not. Some activists tell women there's a good chance they'll miscarry after an abortion, and perhaps never have a baby at all.
"Romney spoke to a crowd of more than 500 Hillsborough County Republicans at a party fundraising dinner, providing most of the local party activists with their first look at him. He already has built an unusually large and sophisticated statewide campaign organization, and has some support in the Tampa Bay area, among them father-and-son GOP fundraisers Brent and Mel Sembler of St. Petersburg, and U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis. The Tampa crowd seemed largely uncommitted, though." "Romney Visits Tampa". See also "Romney campaigns in Tampa".
"Hunters, environmentalists on collision course in Big Cypress".
"Snowbirds seek voice in conversation over property taxes".
GOPers Discover Climate Change
"Republican lawmakers who in the past have resisted evidence of global warming are thawing to alternative energy policies, citing economic factors." "Lawmakers see green in climate-change initiatives".
"Government In The Sunshine". See also "Hands off", "Sunshine Sunday", "Crist parts the clouds", "Keep sun shining on public records", "Open government gets scrutinized", "Scores of bills aimed at limiting public access to records", "Sunshine Law", "Public records are key to newspaper reports", "Associated Press CEO Tom Curley discusses open government efforts", "Crist setting example for open government", "Technology, cost slow access in some counties", "Let The Sunshine In" and "Crist sets example for open government".
"Lauderdale's longest-serving black official fighting public, private battles" "Fort Lauderdale City Commissioner Moore's legacy hard to predict".
Tallahassee tid bits from Adam Smith: "Challenge in the Capitol: To scale down and lose big".
The St Pete Times editors: "Both Gov. Charlie Crist and Bishop Robert Lynch, spiritual leader of the 112,000-member Catholic Diocese of St. Petersburg, have made it clear they intend to vote against extending Pinellas County's 'Penny for Pinellas' sales tax. Crist, whose legal residence is St. Petersburg, said local governments are spending too much money. Lynch wants the county to spend more on human services. At least the bishop's heart is in the right place, even if we think his approach could prove counterproductive." "Proceeds of Penny aid many". See also "A question of cost vs. benefit".
"The second most powerful person in the Florida House of Representatives represents a portion of Collier County. But almost no one around here knows who he is." "Rivera holds power with a foot in Collier, though few know who he is".
Adam Smith on John Edwards' chances:
Here's the plausible scenario: He wins the Iowa caucuses on Jan. 14 thanks to his long-standing relationships and ground organization. Then he wins the Nevada caucuses on Jan. 19 with a big assist from unions there. He finishes strong in New Hampshire's Jan. 22 primary, and wins his native South Carolina on Feb. 2."Edwards is ready in the right places".
It's unclear for now where Florida's primary will fit into that early schedule. But a series of early wins will propel any candidate into the slew of primaries set for Feb. 5, which effectively becomes a national primary day.
"It's pretty daunting in those first four states for Hillary and Obama, and Edwards is in a pretty strong position," said Fort Lauderdale lawyer Mitchell Berger, a top Democratic fundraiser backing Edwards. "The national primary is in large part about what happens as a result of momentum from the early states."
SW Florida Freshmen
"Freshmen lawmakers ready to make their presence felt".
"Stanton is the Largo city manager removed from his job after revealing that he is a transsexual who has begun the process of becoming a woman. The announcement has upended this small, Tampa Bay-area city and focused a media laser on issues faced by transgender people in the workplace." "Ex-official reluctant symbol of transgenders". See also "His second self".
Did You Know ...
Did you know this about Nelson?
Nelson told the crowd that after his great-great-grandfather immigrated to New York from Denmark in 1829, he got into a barroom brawl. To avoid being arrested, the man ran to the wharf and found a place to hide in a ship's hold. While hiding, the ship set sail and the man next set foot on land in Port St. Joe in the Florida Panhandle."Sen. Nelson gets earful in Cedar Key".
"State Sen. Burt Saunders, 58, has been around for so long it’s impossible for many to remember a time when he wasn’t an elected official." "Veteran Saunders one of Senate's most-experienced lawmakers".
"State lawmakers haven’t taken off the gloves when it comes to insurance reform in Florida and could tackle auto insurance requirements next. Several bills have been filed for the current legislative session that aim to revamp what Florida drivers must carry in terms of auto insurance and how medical bills would be paid from an auto accident. At the same time, the requirement that all drivers carry a minimum of $10,000 in no-fault personal injury protection, or PIP, is set to expire Oct. 1 unless the Legislature acts to keep it intact." "With PIP set to expire, lawmakers steer toward auto insurance reform".