"Florida's move to an earlier date for its presidential primary is wrecking the schedule political parties sought to impose last year in hope of controlling the increasingly chaotic presidential nominating process.No one knows where the conflict will lead, but here are some possibilities:"
- Holding some state primary elections in 2007 for the 2008 national elections."Right now, the Florida Democratic Party appears to face two options, neither very attractive: Go ahead with the Jan. 29 date despite sanctions, or set up a later delegate-selection event that conforms to the party's schedule. That would reduce the Jan. 29 vote to a straw ballot or 'beauty contest.'" "State's primary date violates rules".
- A primary campaign in which at least some of the Democratic candidates refuse to campaign here because of a national party boycott.
- A Florida Democratic primary that's merely a straw ballot, with the state's national convention delegates chosen by a caucus or state convention held later.
Florida's Democrats, Independents Support Global Warming Intervention
"Almost three of four Floridians think state lawmakers should take immediate steps to combat global warming. In a St. Petersburg Times/Bay News 9 poll, 71 percent of those polled said they support immediate legislative action to cut green house gas emissions ... Democrats and independents most strongly favored government action to curb greenhouse gases, with 81 percent of Democrats and 83 percent of independents agreeing, according to the poll ... Florida has lagged behind other states in coming up with ways to cut greenhouse gasses." "Poll: Most Floridians favor action on global warming".
"Recent reports show that 45 of the 50 democratically elected state governments in the United States, including Florida, imprison their citizens at a faster pace than any of the foreign governments headed by dictators."
The National Council on Crime and Delinquency has issued a report titled, "U.S. Rates of Incarceration: A Global Perspective", showing the incarceration rates for the worst dictatorships -- the number of persons in prison for every 100,000 population -- ranges from a low of 57 in Pakistan to a high of 207 in Libya."State's prisons outpace those of Libya".
By comparison, prison policies made in Tallahassee locked up 499 state citizens for every 100,000 population in 2005.
"Citizens will offer windstorm coverage to commercial-property owners statewide starting June 1 -- the official start of the 2007 hurricane season. It could find itself flooded with applications." "Citizens steels for flood of business".
"National Guard units in Florida and every other state are running low on equipment needed to respond to local disasters. When a unit is deployed to Iraq, it must leave some of its vehicles behind when it returns home." "Replenish National Guard To Safeguard Homes, Cities".
A Buschco Thing
"If you've been worried sick about what would become of ex-Governor Jeb 'No Futuro' Bush since his big brother totally screwed his chances for ever being elected president, here's some great news. Jeb is now officially on the board of Tenet Healthcare, at an annual pay of $474,500--for 13 days of work per year." And isn't this so ... Bushco:
It's a special board seat created just for Jeb, at the suggestion of an old Bush family friend and fundraiser. (Do they even have any family friends who aren't also fundraisers?)And this makes the whole thing extra special:
By the way, former US attorney Carol Lam was prosecuting a Tenet owned hospital when she as fired. The case had gone to trial but the jury failed to reach a verdict and a mistrial was declared. Alberto Gonzalez's chief of staff, Kyle Sampson, then wrote to Harriet Miers suggesting that Lam and several others be removed. Much more here at DailyKos. "Jeb Bush Lands Huge Paycheck at Scandal Plagued Healthcare Company -- With a Little Help from Dad's Friends".
The job is particularly cool since "Jeb!" "doesn't have any specific assignments on behalf of the company"; he apparently is being paid a fortune to for simply being there. But Jebbie's "expertise" in health care issues will no doubt eventually be put to good use; after all, "Bush's major health care initiative as governor was an effort to control spending on Medicaid, the federal-state plan for the poor, by shifting recipients into private managed care plans. The program is being tested in a few counties." "Jeb Bush Joins Tenet Healthcare's Board".
For more on this Buchco thing, see this extensive St. Pete Times piece written several years ago: "Make The Money and Run": "Trading on the famous family name, [Jeb] Bush gained entry to exclusive business ventures courtesy of wealthy Republicans."
"Could it Happen Here?"
"Could it happen here? Could Florida execute a man in the face of evidence suggesting he is innocent?"
Probably, yes. Florida leads the nation in the number of people freed from death row after their innocence was established: 25, all men, who lived for years within a few hundred yards of the gurney-equipped execution room."Execution suggests why Florida should relax case review rules".
The majority were freed after DNA testing established irrefutable proof of their innocence. But dozens of people were executed before Florida established special procedures for exploring genetic testing after deadlines for appeals had passed.
And what about the cases where there is no DNA evidence? Time to prove error in those cases can be extremely limited: About a year to raise an appeal at the state level, and once that's decided, another year to bring a federal habeas corpus claim. After that time, defendants -- even innocent ones -- must clear extraordinary hurdles to have claims of new evidence (or prosecutorial misconduct) heard, says Seth Miller of the Innocence Project of Florida.
In the Miami Herald's "second in an occasional series about the presidential candidates' views on issues important to Florida", we read about the candidates views on gun control and how that plays in Florida. "Campus killings' political impact slight".
Orlando Sentinel Supports "Right to Organize" (In Peru, Panama and Colombia)
The Orlando Sentinel editorial board: "Florida could be among the big winners from a new deal that congressional Democrats and Republicans and the Bush administration struck last week in Washington, D.C., on trade policy. ... The deal between the parties, announced Thursday by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, sets reasonable labor and environmental standards for U.S. trading partners. They would have to guarantee their workers the right to organize while barring forced and child labor. They would be required to enforce their environmental laws and comply with several international environmental agreements." "Promote free trade".
"Florida lawmakers this year passed an ambitious energy bill that touches everything from construction to alternative fuels to energy awareness. Among other things, HB 7123 earmarks $20-million for an experimental ethanol plant at the University of Florida, sets goals for state fleets to use fuel made from plant materials and expands a sales tax holiday for energy-efficient appliances. The bill now awaits Gov. Charlie Crist's signature." "Cleaner, greener future".
A Florida Disaster; Where are the Pols?
The drought not be as sexy as a hurricane or a tornado - where the pols get to roll up their shirt sleeves and pose for photo ops - but it seems to be just as damaging to the state. Perhaps the private sector and the free markets will take care of it.
"Leaky, aging pipes in South Florida are losing millions of gallons of water, even as the region struggles with a crippling drought, experts said." And then there's this:
As the drought continues, officials say they are also losing the region's wildlife."Leaky pipes add to S. Fla. water issues; animals dying in drought".
Low water levels are causing snakes, alligators, frogs and turtles to inch closer to busy roads, trying to find new water sources that aren't so crowded, said Richard Hilsenbeck, associate director of land acquisition for The Nature Conservancy in Tallahassee.
At Everglades National Park, birds are unable to find food for their offspring, which then die and are eaten by vultures, said Randy Smith, South Florida Water Management District spokesman.
"No hatchlings at all have survived," Smith said.
Slow to the Game
Nice to see McCollum jumping on the bandwagon:
New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo has turned this light on universities, and he has uncovered some startling practices. Financial aid directors at six different universities have been suspended for allegedly holding stock or accepting consulting fees from preferred lender Student Loan Xpress. Also, eight schools have paid $3-million to reimburse students who weren't told about revenue-sharing agreements."Cozy loan deals deserve scrutiny".
In Florida, the St. Petersburg Times' Tom Marshall already has reported on one public university, Florida State, that marketed $20-million in loans to graduate students last year without disclosing that the loans were being resold at a profit. Marshall also reported that Florida A&M University students were being steered to one of only two preferred lenders and that financial aid directors at more than one university have served on the advisory boards of companies with preferred lending status.
The most serious question McCollum will face in his investigation is whether any university officials are profiting personally from steering students to certain companies. Beyond that, he and university system chancellor Mark Rosenberg will need to examine whether universities are steering students in an attempt to help them get the best deal or to enrich the university or the lending company.
A Better Way to Kill People?
The St. Pete Times editors: "Florida's death chamber is about to reopen. The Department of Corrections has issued a new set of protocols for lethal injection that it believes will prevent any more botched executions. That's wishful thinking."
The department's new procedures still do not require that a doctor oversee the execution process. There would be added training for those assigned to the task, and more exacting protocols for how things should proceed, but the execution team will not have to have the kind of medical qualifications that such a highly technical process demands."Execution rules still inhumane".
Even the report by a commission appointed by then-Gov. Jeb Bush to review Florida's lethal injection procedure said that "qualified medical personnel" are needed to perform "a humane and lawful execution." And the doctors on the commission appended a statement that the trend in the country is to require "sophisticated medical techniques and personnel to administer the lethal injection."
But because it is difficult to find doctors willing to violate their ethical code to participate, medical expertise has been eliminated from consideration. ...
The commission urged the department to explore other "more recently developed" chemicals for use in executions and to reconsider the use of any paralytic drug in order to make executions "less problematic." But the department decided to stick with the same badly flawed approach that has the potential to cause the inmate great pain.
Packing 'Em In
"Broward County's population is expected to grow by almost 400,000 in the next 13 years, county planners say. Although the newcomers will generate thousands of jobs, the price of their presence will be steep." "Already crowded, Broward to get 400,000 more residents by 2020, planners say".
Property Tax Poll
"Floridians want property tax relief now. But like the Legislature, they're not sure how to get there."
Fifty-one percent of people surveyed in a St. Petersburg Times/Bay News 9 poll say legislators made the right decision to call a special session next month rather than trying to rush a plan during the regular session that ended May 4."Solutions become taxing".
But when they were asked to choose between five possible ways to reduce property taxes, which had been discussed by lawmakers, no clear winner emerged.
Charlie Not Hearting the Heartland Parkway
"Earlier this year, a proposed 152-mile toll road in Central Florida looked well on its way to becoming a reality. The state's top transportation officials deemed the road - the Heartland Parkway - a priority worthy of an expensive engineering study. State lawmakers later passed a bill that would make it easier to build toll roads like this one. But now, the project appears stalled. More than three months after the engineering study was recommended, the Florida Department of Transportation still hasn't set aside the money needed for the study. More importantly, the key political support of the Jeb Bush administration is gone." "Road sees nothing but red (lights)". See also "Crist stalling Jeb-backed tollway".
"The state's greenbelt law, which allows Florida farmers to avoid paying millions of dollars in property taxes, appears safe for now." "Greenbelt stays loose for now".
A Palm Beach County Thing
"As prosecutors investigate several deals involving Palm Beach County Commissioner Warren Newell, he has taken a giant step back from the operations of his civil engineering firm and a fledgling local bank he helped found." "Palm Beach County commissioner takes leave from job amid investigation".
Upon Closer Review ...
"Gov. Charlie Crist and Florida lawmakers got glowing reviews in March when they scrapped the state's former performance-pay plan for teachers."
But it remains to be seen whether the new plan will get a warmer reception once teachers consider the fine print."Teachers wary on pay plan".
Already, there is grumbling.
Contrary to a wave of misleading newspaper reports, the new plan continues to put a large emphasis on standardized tests, including the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test, to determine who the best teachers are.
And because the Legislature did not increase funding for performance pay, some observers are skeptical that the new plan will result in more teachers getting bonuses.
Those Wacky GOPers
Sometimes even elected GOPers have a hard time with the party regulars: "When state Rep. Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, spoke to the East Manatee County Republican Club on Thursday, he quickly learned the group was not pleased with him ... ."
- "They chided Galvano for pushing a bill that would provide health care to children of immigrants who are in the country illegally.""Legislators back in town and speaking".
- "Others also questioned why the Legislature is not tough on illegal immigration."
- "Galvano was the lead sponsor of a plan to expand the state's Kidcare health insurance program for working-class families. In that legislation, which passed the House but not the Senate, Galvano wanted to provide insurance for children of immigrants in the country illegally, he said, to avoid unpaid emergency room visits, which a doctor's appointment could prevent."
- "That answer did not appease the audience."
"Ailing Lake Okeechobee and the estuaries on Florida's east and west coasts that often are the dumping ground for the lake's dirty waters got a big boost from the state's lawmakers this year, with two bills that could speed cleanup and prevent continued pollution. Legislators approved a bill that mandates planning to help clean the lake and protect the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie rivers. The measure also changes bonding rules to provide money through 2020 - an additional $2 billion." "Pay up, learn lesson".
A Holiday for Voting
"On most federal holidays, you will not find government offices open."
But new legislation on Florida's presidential primary would mean early voting for the Jan. 29 election will include Martin Luther King Jr. Day, a federal holiday."Voting on federal holiday?"
After months of investigating, a citizens advisory group set up to find a new voting system for Sarasota County is expected to make its final recommendation to county commissioners this week."The group studied mail balloting, adding printers for existing voting machines and vote-by-phone technology. But it is in favor of optical scan systems, like the one used in Manatee County. Voters fill out a paper ballot, then feed it into a scanner to be read."
On Tuesday, members of the Citizens Oversight Committee on Voting Systems say they will recommend one of three vendors for a new optical scan voting system.