"If he hadn't chosen politics as his life's work, Charlie Crist might have gained fame by writing theme music, like Henry Mancini."
It's a daily ritual. Reporters eager to pin down the governor on the big issues in the final weeks of the session badger him to take a stand and choose either the House or the Senate property tax plan."Crist knows the steps of the legislative dance". Charlie may have to pick sides soon, because the "Tax deal may need Crist's help" ("Governor might have to break impasse"). See also "Bargaining begins on property tax" and "Legislature 2007" ("Weeks of debates, town hall meetings, protests, proposals and counterproposals have left lawmakers in Tallahassee deadlocked on two very different property tax reform proposals.")
Implicit in the question is a request that Crist fault one side or the other. But the former state senator knows the drill, and he won't take the bait.
For Crist, these are days of wine and roses.
HD 49 Special Election
"Tuesday's special election for the District 49 state House seat will inject the winner into the tax-reform debate in Tallahassee with just 10 days before the session is scheduled to end. " "Soto, Suarez enter race's stretch run".
"Private insurers would have an easier time getting rate increases and an effort would be launched to end competition from the state-created Citizens Property Insurance Corp. under a bill that cleared a House panel Friday."
The measure would counteract some of the legislation passed during a January special session that was designed to cut insurance rates that had soared after a series of destructive hurricanes in 2004-05."House panel okays bill to raise insurance rates". See also "Measure contradicts earlier bill on Citizens".
"We need to have low premiums. However, they are unrealistically low," Rep. Alan Hays, R-Umatilla, told the House Jobs and Entrepreneurship Council.
Lobbyists for insurance companies and business interests lined up in support of Hays' bill (HB 1223), which he said would stop the artificial suppression of rates.
Employers Without Health Insurance
"The Legislature spared little attention this session for the plight of Florida's low-income workers struggling to afford basic health care. But there's one issue that should be a no-brainer for lawmakers: Whether or not to accept $85 million in federal money intended to shore up the hospitals that deal most with people whose only source of care is the emergency room." "Trauma for Florida hospitals".
Livin' In The Past
"The parade of GOP would-be presidents through the Capitol continues Monday with a speech by the former Massachusetts governor to the House Republican caucus. Romney is to speak to the lawmakers at the private Governor's Club at noon and then head to Sarasota to speak at that county party's Lincoln Day dinner at 7 p.m." "First McCain, then Giuliani and now Romney".
Oops: "House Republicans handed out shiny, laminated press badges for Monday’s visit by GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney. The purported date of the event: April 23, 2004. Which is to say, three years ago." "Where’s the time machine?".
Former state representative, Broward County commissioner and Broward mayor Ben Graber - who is challenging U.S. Rep. Robert Wexler in the Dem primary in 16 months - "goes on the offensive this weekend, beginning with a television ad on today's Good Morning America show in Palm Beach County, where more than 70 percent of the 19th Congressional District's voters live." "Graber's ad today touts his experience".
Garbage In ...
Garbage out. The Tampa Trib editorial board:
In most every business these days, workers find themselves doing more with less. While stressful, it's the only way many companies can stay in business and continue to provide jobs."Teachers Should Roll Up Sleeves, Model Ways To Handle Change".
"Sunny prospects for the state's citrus industry are among many good reasons for Florida's members of Congress to get behind a proposed free-trade agreement between the United States and South Korea." "A juicy deal".
"In January, lawmakers passed a massive insurance reform bill, which causes Floridians to wonder when they'll see the savings." "Recent insurance reforms raise questions".
"University of North Florida Poll"
"A University of North Florida poll found that 77 percent of Florida voters approve of his job performance, while only 6 percent disapprove. The poll sampled 601 self-described likely voters around the state, and had a margin of error of 4 percent. The result jibes with a recent poll released late last month by Quinnipiac University that showed him with 73 percent approval. The UNF poll also found that Republicans favor former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani over Arizona Sen. John McCain (31-14) in the 2008 presidential race. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney had the support of 6 percent of Republicans. Among Democrats, New York Sen. Hillary Clinton led Illinois Sen. Barack Obama 35 to 20, with former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards receiving 9 percent." "Charlie Crist got more good news on the popularity front". See also "Florida hearts Charlie".
"The Stall State"
"California voters approved a measure that'll have the state spend $300 million a year on research for 10 years."
Florida is being nowhere near that ambitious. The Legislature's best effort is a pair of measures that would devote $20 million to stem-cell research, one of them, supported by Gov. Charlie Crist, with Bush-like limits, one of them without. Either way, the measures are barely more than symbolic."Stem-cell imperatives".
Not so a pair of competing constitutional amendments their supporters are hoping to put on the November 2008 ballot. One of them would ban state-supported embryonic stem-cell research. The other would allow it. It's a shame that the debate has to go the constitutional route, especially in this state, whose demographics make terminal illness part of life for many, directly or indirectly. The Sunshine State should be the Stem-Cell State. Instead, it's the Stall State, in concert with the staller-in-chief.
Meanwhile, the clock on taxpayer funded research keeps ticking backward, so far as the terminally ill are concerned. With every day lost to moral demagoguery, more lives are put in jeopardy.
"It isn't easy to put one of the more well governed states on the path to fiscal ruin in a mere three months, but it seems Florida Governor Charlie Crist is exceptional." "Florida's Folly" (via The Buzz).
The Tampa Trib editors at work: "Global Warming Vs. Cool Mansions".
"A state Senate measure would extend a state program that screens children in custody and reports to immigration authorities any who lack legal residency papers." "Kids at risk of being deported".
"Have a tendency to misplace gift certificates, only to discover they're expired by the time you find them? A little bill marching through the state Legislature could be your remedy." "A gift that won't expire". See also "Senate bill would protect value of gift cards".
"A House committee resurrected a portability bill, offering homeowners a plan to transfer an unlimited amount of tax savings with them if they move to a new home." "'Portability' plan is revived".
"Brakes applied to red-light camera bill". See also "Traffic camera idea stalls" and "Bill to slow red-light runners appears stalled for this session".
"Budget conferees came up with $86 million Friday to cover some of an anticipated $153 million deficit in programs for Floridians with severe mental and physical disabilities, a day after hundreds rallied in support of the services at the state Capitol." "Lawmakers steer $86M to programs for disabled".
"Activists had their say for tax cuts in Tallahassee early this week. Now Volusia County officials want to get a word in on what they consider the dire impacts of those cuts. Volusia County Chairman Frank Bruno and County Manager Jim Dinneen plan a trip to Tallahassee next week to warn legislators their tax-reform proposals hamstring local cities and counties." "Opponents of budget-cutting tax reform head to Tallahassee".
Not to be outdone, "Florida homebuilders are getting in on the property tax media circus." "March of the Homebuilders".
"Dumber Than Paint Jeb"
The Buzz brings to readers' attention one "Lil' Jeb", "a character in the Comedy Central/Amp'd Mobile Lil' George show aimed at mobile phones."
describes our former governor as "dumber than paint Jeb," so we assume it's not exactly an homage to the Bush family."Lil' Jeb".
Florida stopped electing the state insurance commissioner in order to separate the regulator from the industry's campaign money. Now appointed commissioner Kevin McCarty has crossed the line anyway.Read how here.
His participation in fundraising for a Tallahassee judicial candidate has so damaged his reputation and his office's credibility that the only remedy may be his departure.
Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, one of McCarty's four bosses on the governor's Cabinet, gets credit for exposing this unseemly politicking. After hearing that "Commissioner" McCarty was named on invitations as the sponsor of a campaign reception, she confronted him. "I shared with him my concerns that his involvement was unsuitable," Sink said, "and could cast Florida's regulatory system in an unfavorable light."
McCarty ended up skipping Wednesday's fundraiser, but that is not the end of the story. His department spokesman, who is the husband of the judicial candidate, created the invitation on a state computer and has resigned as a result. McCarty himself has explained his own role in a manner reminiscent of U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.
Not much of an apology from Mr. McCarty: "'being involved in an effort to advance a personal or political cause may be misperceived and problematic regardless of its legality," said Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty in a letter sent to each of the four Cabinet officers." And then there's this: "Insurance commissioner used lobbyist's phone" ("Sunday night, three days before a scheduled fundraiser for Robin Lotane, McCarty borrowed an insurance lobbyist's cell phone to solicit campaign contributions from other insurance lobbyists he regulates.")
More: "Allegations that Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty solicited campaign contributions from those he regulates puts new scrutiny on his favorite charity event. Every year, McCarty presides over the Tallahassee Wine and Food Festival, a March of Dimes benefit heavy with contributions from those with business at McCarty's agency." "Charity event faces scrutiny". See also "McCarty Wants to Talk".
"Republican State Rep. Dorothy Hukill is facing a mortgage foreclosure lawsuit on her Port Orange home." "Lawmaker faces foreclosure suit on Port Orange home".
"Law would promote careless online dating".
One Frances Rice, head of the he National Black Republican Association (which boasts a staggering nationwide membership of, get this, 1,000) spoke to about 150 breathless Alachua County GOPers, and
accused Democrats of continuing a racist heritage that traces back to the Civil War and promoting policies that are out of touch with the black community's interests and values during an Alachua County Republican fundraiser Friday night.One wonders how many of the attendees were white folks (after all civil rights warrior Bill McCollum was in attendance).
The Lincoln-King Dinner, now in its second year, is a fundraiser focused on issues of civil rights and calls to remember the party's early history as champions of abolition and equality. Local party members have invoked the memories of Lincoln, the first Republican president, and King as part of a larger campaign designed to convince residents that Democratic economic policies have led to poverty in Alachua County."Sun: Guest speakers at county GOP fundraiser focus on energizing party faithful".
Rice, who has stirred controversy with her assertion that King was a Republican, told Republicans that blacks do not agree with the "godless" social policies advocated by Democrats and are actively hurt by the Democrats' "socialist" economic agenda.
"Stanton was fired by the Largo City Commission March 23, weeks after announcing he planned to become a woman. When the city turned down Stanton's bid to buy his city-owned laptop computer so he could keep it, his attorney said he would return it 'with a new hard drive.' Unacceptable, the city's attorney responded, because the laptop's hard drive might contain information subject to Florida's open records law. Stanton did return the laptop, and the St. Petersburg Times has filed a request to see documents stored on the computer. However, an expert the city hired to examine the hard drive says files were deleted before it was returned. " "The rules apply to Stanton too".
Ken Hearts Joe
"With Hillary, Barack and John all but blotting out the sun, it's not easy to find prominent Democrats backing some of the longer shot candidates. But count Broward Sheriff Ken Jenne as a strong Joe Biden backer." "Biden's Broward buddy".
"Crist made an appearance Friday at the 2007 Hispanic Business & Consumer Expo, at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, where he received a celebrity reception from expo attendees." ">Hispanics welcome Gov. 'Carlito' in Orlando".
"Martin Anderson's family should receive half of the $5 million Gov. Charlie Crist has asked the Legislature to approve, two advisory judges working for state lawmakers said." "Report calls for boot camp death settlement of $2.5M". See also "Good news and bad news for Anderson family", "Officials: Cut beating death payment", "Lawyers: Cut teen-death award in half" and "Report says to cut $5 million boot camp death claim in half". You can read excerpts from the report here.
The Buzz reports that "Crist said he's not backing down from $5-million.".