"Some legislators have scolded counties and cities for not cutting tax rates even as property values and tax collections soared. Legislators correctly note that keeping the tax rate steady while values go up amounts to a tax increase, because property owners pay more. As it turns out, however, Tallahassee did the same thing in seven of the last eight years, even as Jeb Bush and the Republican leadership boasted that they didn't raise taxes." "To roll back some taxes, roll back the hypocrisy".
"There are no partisan labels on Tuesday's ballot for the [Sarasota] City Commission, but that doesn't diminish what is at stake for the two major political parties."
For county Republicans, the pressure is on to slow an advancing Democratic tide, not just in the city but in all of northern Sarasota County. For Democrats, the test is to make sure internal Democratic feuding doesn't cost the party one of its most recognizable elected officials in the region."Democrats feeling empowered in Sarasota".
So important is the battle between Mary Anne Servian, a Democrat, and Richard Clapp, a Republican, that even state party leaders are wading into the conflict, helping raise money and organize get-out-the-vote efforts.
"Florida's homeowners are now concerned more about property taxes, insurance and crime than they are about education, but they are not convinced a state House proposal to replace property taxes with a sales tax increase is a good solution." "Poll: Taxes top concerns of homeowners".
"Florida's Cabinet yielded to Gov. Crist and passed a compromise plan that will enable many ex-convicts to regain rights more quickly." "Felon rights on faster track". See also "Many Felons To Regain Rights", "Felons rights restored", "Felons regain civil rights", "Felon's rights proposal approved", "Board: Restore felons' rights", "Florida felons will have civil rights back sooner after vote" and "Thousands of felons to regain civil rights".
"The new clemency rule for felons' restoration of civil rights creates three levels of offenders and expedites the process for those convicted of less-severe crimes." "New rules for restoring felons' rights". Here are the "New Clemency Rules".
The initial editorials appropriately chastise our knuckle dragging AG: Attorney General Bill McCollum's "obstinate stand is troubling. As the state's leading legal advocate, McCollum should be more concerned with fairness than political gamesmanship." "The rights thing". See also "Decent, realistic change on rights" ("As expected, Attorney General Bill McCollum opposed the changes and resorted to the scare tactics of the past as he drew images of criminals working at various jobs. Naturally, he called Crist's position 'liberal.'")
"U.S. Sen. Mel Martinez helped the Republican Party raise a whopping $2.3-million at a Los Angeles fundraiser headlined by President Bush and hosted by Bush Pioneer and investment banker Brad Freeman." "Martinez helps Republicans bring in some cash".
"Major metro areas in Florida are losing steam"
"Major metro areas in Florida are losing steam as growth engines, census data confirm, while cities in Texas, Utah and North Carolina are taking off."
Population experts say the reason is simple: A number of the fastest-growing metro areas are more affordable places to live than Sunshine State cities."Low-cost veneer fades in census".
"People don't think of Florida as low cost anymore," said Sean Snaith, director of the Institute for Economic Competitiveness at the University of Central Florida. "The state used to be a one-way ticket. Now, waves are coming in and going out. Still, with all the waves of movement, Florida is still a robust state and will be for years to come."
Orlando's urban corridor, stretching from Sanford to Kissimmee, saw growth go from 3.6 percent in 2005 to 2.8 percent last year. The metro area added just 53,376 residents in 2006, compared with 70,136 in 2005.
Other major Florida cities saw even more tepid population change in the census count from July 1, 2005, to the same period in 2006, with a growth rate of less than 2 percent in Tampa and under 1 percent in South Florida.
"A Republican presidential contender was coming to his school, and 16-year-old Darshan Shah thought it would be good to have "the other side" represented, too."
So Shah and two friends made signs to hold up at Wednesday's appearance by former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani. One said "Give Peace a Chance." Another read "Obama '08." But the one likely to set people off referenced former GOP U.S. Rep. Mark Foley, who resigned after suggestive e-mails between him and male pages were released. The sign said "Giuliani + Foley = Republican Family Values.""Teens' View Of Other Side Rebuffed At Giuliani Rally".
Pinellas County Republican Party Chairman Tony Dimatteo confronted Shah and his friends about 10 minutes before the rally started. Give up the signs, he said, or be kicked out.
They gave up the signs.
"That's disrespect for my guest," Dimatteo said Thursday. "You don't come into my house and disrespect my guest."
"All the claimants, defendants and witnesses will line up this morning and wait for the first round in the $5 million compensation claim for the parents of Martin Lee Anderson, who sued the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice in the 14-year-old's death." "Compensation hearings start today".
This piece in the New York Times yesterday has some interesting insights on the Hispanic vote: "Richardson’s White House Bid Not Yet a Hit Among Fellow Hispanics".
"A bill pending in the state Senate is not racially specific, but some think its promotion of single-gender schools could improve the lives of many black boys." "Backers Hope Bill Aids Black Students".
"Crist to throw out first pitch for the Devil Rays".
"The Florida Supreme Court ruled unanimously Thursday that judges and clerks can no longer hide divorces or other civil lawsuits from the public, saying the practice threatens to 'undermine public trust in our courts.'" "High court prohibits lawsuit secrecy". See also "Florida Supreme Court approves emergency rules on secret records" and "High court: No hiding cases".
"Dec. 15 is the deadline under state law for a group of experts in education, social services, public health, mental health, employment and law enforcement to release 'a systematic study of the conditions affecting black men and boys, including, but not limited to, homicide rates, arrest and incarceration rates, poverty, violence, drug abuse, death rates, disparate annual income levels, school performance in all grade levels including postsecondary levels, and health issues.'" "Deliver answers, not numbers".
Another Jebacy on the Way Out
"Florida Department of Children & Families Secretary Bob Butterworth announced plans Thursday to tear down the centralized management structure that former Gov. Jeb Bush fashioned for the social-services agency." "Butterworth unveils DCF reorganization".
"Four bills would set aside $10 million in state grant money and $50 million in tax credits to help public universities get their inventions to market." "Campuses may get money to sell ideas".
Guns at Work
The Miami Herald editorial board: "What should a business owner do when an employee shows up threatening to shoot co-workers with a loaded AK-47 assault rifle stashed in his car? Amazingly, the Florida Legislature is considering a bill that would render an employer powerless to defend workers by banning guns from the workplace. That is just plain wrong. Lawmakers mustn't let this dangerous, nonsensical bill become law." "Leave guns, assault weapons at home".
"It should have done it far earlier, and it probably was done in reaction to the drought. But the South Florida Water Management District's decision to halt using the Everglades as a source for new or additional water supplies was very smart. For one thing, it contains water where's it's most needed -- for the Everglades wildlife" "A spigot running dry".
"When [Giuliani] spoke at St. Petersburg High School, U.S. Reps. C.W. Bill Young and Ginny Brown-Waite both appeared on stage introducing Giuliani."
Having the two as endorsers would be a major coup for Giuliani, who despite his lead in the polls has lagged behind opponents Mitt Romney and John McCain in building a Florida organization."Endorsement Confusion".
The two weren’t listed as endorsers in the campaign’s press release about the event, but some members of the press and public got the impression they were supporters. One senior staffer said after the event that the dozen or so elected officials who appeared on the stage were endorsing Giuliani, without singling out any exceptions. ...
In fact, Young hasn’t endorsed anyone in the race yet, and Brown-Waite has signed on to back Mitt Romney, spokesmen said.
"The Department of Energy's Web site provides a handy tool (afdcmap2.nrel.gov/locator/) that lets consumers find out precisely what service station in their neighborhood supplies their favorite fuel. The results are disheartening. Just 12 stations sell ethanol in Florida". "Oil vs. ethanol".
Relocating Mobile Homes
"The bill would force municipalities to pay the cost of relocating mobile homes and their owners if a park closes to make way for a new development." "Towns rip legislative plan that requires them to relocate mobile home residents".
What's Wrong With Marion County?
The Buzz observes that "it's no small thing that every Republican on the Marion county commission is backing Dennis Baxley, who also picked up a couple constitutional officers. Today's endorsers:"
Stan McClain, Chairman of the Marion County Commission"Baxley's buddies in Marion". See also "Battle beginning for possible Senate seat".
Charlie Stone, Vice-Chairman of the Marion County Commission
Jim Payton, Immediate Past Chairman of the Marion County Commission
Andy Kesselring, Marion County Commission
George Albright, Marion County Tax Collector
Jim Yancey, Marion County Superintendent of Schools
"State Rep. Stan Mayfield, R-Vero Beach, made his first committee appearance Thursday since recently being diagnosed with cancer in his esophagus." "Rep. Mayfield, fighting cancer, returns to committee".
"A panel on Thursday approved a bill that would grant immunity to prostitutes for testifying against owners of strip clubs and 'massage' parlors about the illegal acts the women have committed on the property. In addition, prostitutes who cooperate could get one-third of the proceeds of any forfeited property." "Prostitution bill draws some fire". See also "House bill addresses crimes of prostitution".
"The Marlins, who are preparing for tonight's home opener, don't expect the state to decide whether to pay $60 million to help finance a new stadium until the legislative equivalent of the ninth inning." "Stadium financing decision has ways to go".
GOPer Mud Fight
The GOPers are going at it over Charlie: "Chris Timmons' assertions that Gov. Crist 'has no basic principles' and 'has flipped a finger at conservative ideas and values' are unjustified and irresponsible." "Crist doesn't fail GOP".
"The Florida Republican's new job is to jump on anything that makes Democrats look bad and exploit it for maximum effect. As chairman of the Republican Conference Committee, Putnam is the face and voice of House Republicans. His agenda: to aggressively display the flaws of the new majority, to convey the ideas of the Republicans, and to work his hardest to help his party win back the House in 2008." "Rep. Putnam Stays on Message".