"By suspending Project Aspire on Thursday, Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink pulled hard on this train's brakes, no doubt sending a few behind-the-scenes political sparks flying."
Aspire - a three-year, $100 million contract to replace Florida's aging accounting system - is a vestige of the Jeb Bush e-administration. It's a major product of the former governor's love affair with technology and the notion that privatizing major public operations is almost always preferable. ..."Expire".
As even many of Mr. Bush's Republican allies learned after enabling the chief executive to have his way for several years, accountability has to be much more than convenient political rhetoric.
It has to be measurable and non-negotiable. We are, after all, talking about protecting the interests of state taxpayers, not private investors.
Crist Blows Off Consumers
"Crist signed a bill into law Friday that is designed to increase cable television competition, but he also asked lawmakers to strengthen its consumer protection provisions in the future. Some consumer groups and local governments had urged Crist to veto the legislation (SB 529). They disputed claims it would reduce rates and argued the measure's service standards are too loose and enforcement provisions too weak." "Gov. Crist signs cable TV bill but asks for tighter enforcement".
"A legislative revenue expert Friday advised the Florida Taxation and Budget Reform Commission to focus on small-scale, incremental changes rather than broad-based -- but risky -- restructuring. Alan Johansen, staff director of the Senate Finance and Tax Committee, offered that suggestion against the backdrop of the Legislature's continuing search for a way to slash property taxes in response to a public outcry over soaring and inequitable tax bills." "Think small, reform team told".
"The letter from House Speaker Marco Rubio sounded grave."
Money is so tight, he told lawmakers in February, there isn't room in the budget "for program expansions, new initiatives or member projects.""Charlie Crist's defining moment".
Did any of them read it?
The $72-billion budget on Gov. Charlie Crist's desk is as laden with pork as any in recent years.
"For a combative Christian political crusader like John Stemberger, these are trying times."
The front-runners for the Republican presidential nomination are thrice-married Rudy Giuliani, who openly supports abortion rights, and John McCain, who once called Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson "agents of intolerance." Charlie Crist, whom Stemberger bashed last year as a "conservative impostor, " now sits in the governor's office with soaring approval ratings after clobbering Stemberger's preferred candidate in the Republican primary."Conservative isn't retreating".
Stemberger, the loudest voice in Florida's Christian right movement, lately looks like he's all mouth and little might. But in the same week that Falwell died, Stemberger sounds neither cocky nor chastened.
"It's not our job to be victorious. It's our job to be faithful. It's our job to stand up for truth and to speak the truth," the Orlando trial lawyer said in an office sprinkled with photos of Jeb Bush and Robert Bork and a "Beware of Attack Lawyer" warning sign.
Florida USA Targeted by Gonzo
"This week, The Washington Post, citing unreleased government documents, reported that several other U.S. attorneys were targeted for dismissal, among them Gregory Miller, the U.S. attorney for the northern district of Florida, based in Tallahassee." "'Firing list' news a surprise".
Avoiding the Ax
"In a last-ditch effort to stave off the budget ax, Miami-Dade County and municipal leaders agreed Friday to toss yet another property tax reduction plan into the mix in Tallahassee -- one that would leave hundreds of millions more in local government coffers." "County charts way to cut tax".
"It's a matter of simple justice. When Florida wrongfully imprisons an innocent person, that person is owed more than freedom. There's no real way to make up for lost years, but monetary compensation and a chance for education open the door to the possibility of a new life." "Making amends".
"This isn't a perfect plan, but it's a sound foundation. The demagogues -- Mr. Keller, talk show host Lou Dobbs, Republican Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite of Brooksville -- shouldn't be allowed to poison the discussion." "Don't sink it". See also "South Florida immigrants fearful of new Senate plan".
"It's usually a lot easier to predict the winners in congressional and legislative contests than it is in Triple Crown horse races. That's because in most states, including Florida, legislators have carefully drawn the districts to favor incumbents or their parties. They've turned democracy on its head by picking voters for politicians. Even last year, when Democrats took control of the U.S. House from Republicans for the first time in 12 years, the two parties together held on to more than 90 percent of their seats. In Florida, GOP Rep. Clay Shaw lost, but the other 21 incumbents seeking re-election won. Six incumbents didn't even draw major-party opposition." "Go after rigged districts".
And You Married Your Cousin Because ... ?
"Rudy Giuliani bashed Hillary Clinton in a forum with business and political leaders in Orlando, then met with a group of about 20 big-dollar Republican political financiers in Tampa, during a campaign swing through Florida Friday." "Giuliani Meets GOP Financiers In Tampa". See also "Giuliani pushes experience, fight against terror".
"Persuaded by an energetic lobbyist, lawmakers earlier this month earmarked $100,000 of the state budget for the Florida Food Banks and Food Pantries Association, a fledgling organization that pledges to fight hunger." "Some skeptical about food-bank funding".
"Should Florida's retirement fund be invested in adult magazines, casinos, cigarettes, condoms, beer and the morning-after abortion pill? " "State looks at holdings of 'sin stocks'".
"State prison officials Friday denied an allegation contained in a lawsuit that agreements with two faith-based contractors to provide transitional housing for released prisoners are unconstitutional." "Faith-based corrections contracts draw lawsuit".
"With a shove from Bill Nelson and Mel Martinez of Florida, the U.S. Senate this week followed the House in approving a $14 billion Water Resources Development Act, which would be the first in seven years. It would authorize $2.4 billion in Everglades projects, including $1.37 billion for Indian River Lagoon restoration that would restore natural areas to hold and clean water and help to alleviate shortages." "Water for the Everglades".
From the "Values" Crowd
"Maybe there wasn't enough time in the legislative session to help Florida's property taxpayers, but there was plenty of time to enrich the state's managed-care companies to the detriment of the state's mentally ill." "As HMOs gain, the ill lose".
That's Our Mel
"The chairman of the Republican National Committee said Friday his home state of Florida will face sanctions if it moves ahead with plans to hold an early presidential primary." "Martinez says GOP will punish Florida". See also "Bill set to move state up in presidential primaries".
- "Early Primary Date To Intensify Efforts Of McCain In Florida". See also "McCain Plans To Ramp Up Florida Campaign".
- "When the state's controversial no-fault law expires in October, there may also be no requirement for drivers to carry insurance." "Will auto insurance become optional?"
- "David Armstrong resigned as Florida's community-colleges chancellor Thursday to accept the presidency of Broward Community College in Fort Lauderdale. ... Along with former State Board of Education Chairman Phil Handy and John Winn, who served as education commissioner, Armstrong is the third top state education official to leave office since the beginning of the year, when Gov. Charlie Crist was inaugurated." "Education official resigns".
- "One of ex-Gov. Jeb Bush's biggest technology projects, the state's dormant effort to replace its obsolete financial-management system used by state agencies, was suspended Thursday by Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink." "Sink suspends Project Aspire". See also "Sink halts data project".
- "Crist Aide Going to Work for RPOF ".
- "Didn’t see the cash, Dem boss says".
- "The report explains that when federal inspectors did their own surveys in 12 Florida nursing homes, they found deficiencies in four homes that state inspectors missed, a 33 percent difference." "Nursing Home Inspections Fail The Test".
- "Martinez has been quoted as saying he is 'perfectly fine' with his home state defying the RNC and moving up its primary – and could live with sanctions. But the feathers of South Carolina Gamecocks remain ruffled. Now both parties in the Palmetto State say they’ll move their primary even earlier." "Martinez To Confront (Possibly) Mad Sandlappers".