Adam Smith writes that "there are ominous signs for the Florida GOP when it comes to the state's fastest-growing ethnic group. Consider:"
* When Democrat Bill McBride lost his bid for governor in 2002, he won just 36 percent of the vote in one of Miami-Dade's most heavily Hispanic, reliably Republican state House districts. Last year, McBride's wife and fellow Democrat Alex Sink was elected chief financial officer and carried 53 percent of the vote there."Adios, Republican stronghold".
* In Florida's virtually tied 2000 election, overwhelmingly Republican Cuban-Americans made up about 75 percent of Florida's Hispanic electorate. Today? More like 40 percent.
* Jeb Bush in 2002 performed more than 7 percent better in Central Florida's Osceola County, with its booming population of non-Cuban Hispanics, than Charlie Crist did in 2006.
Whether it's temporary disenchantment with President Bush, fallout from the immigration debate or part of a political and demographic shift, Democrats in Florida and nationally are making major strides with crucial Hispanic voters.
"Florida's insurance rates, promised by Gov. Charlie Crist to drop by nearly a fourth, are in fact heading up." "Rates could rise".
Florida's Looming Financial Disaster
Well, that didn't take long
"Florida's economy is sputtering so badly that Gov. Charlie Crist and the GOP-controlled Legislature may be forced to order cuts in the more than $71 billion state budget that lawmakers passed less than two months ago."
Since March, the state has taken in millions less in sales taxes than it anticipated, and there's no sign that the trend will change anytime soon. Barring an economic turnaround, the shortfall could be as much as $1.2 billion for the current fiscal year and the one that begins Sunday, according to state budget analysts. ...And haven't we heard this before?:
The situation is so dire that it threatens to unravel one of the big promises made by Crist and Republicans during the recent June special session on property taxes -- a pledge to have the state replace as much as $1.6 billion in school funding that would be returned to taxpayers in 2008 if voters approve a new super homestead exemption for homeowners on Jan. 29.
Republicans and Crist say they hope the property-tax rollbacks, coupled with a property insurance package passed in January, will stimulate the economy and replenish the state's bank accounts in the coming months."Florida budget may be a billion short".
"The legislation allows bingo halls to sell instant tickets, which are very similar to instant tickets sold by the Florida Lottery." "Crist allows assist to local parimutuels".
"Florida got a high mark of B for teacher evaluation and compensation Wednesday from a Washington, D.C.-based group that likes the state's use of student test scores to assess teachers and its pioneering merit pay program."
The state also received a C in four other areas, but it received an F in preparing the state's special education teachers in the National Council on Teacher Quality's first State Teacher Policy Yearbook."High, low marks for teacher quality".
The report got a cool reception from the Florida Department of Education.
Charlie's Tuition Flip-Flop
"Thousands of new college students will start paying a premium next year to attend a trio of Florida's top-ranked public universities." "Tuition will jump at 3 universities". See also "Crist reverses stance on tuition hikes", "Crist allows higher tuition" and "Crist signs tuition increase".
"They Daytona Beach - News Journal editorial board": "Florida losing in tuition game".
The Tampa Tribune editorial board: "Crist made a brave decision Wednesday in changing his mind and signing legislation that allows a tuition increase at the state's major research universities - the University of Florida, Florida State and the University of South Florida." "Colleges: From Doom To Bloom".
"Citizens Property Insurance takes on policies as homeowners opt in to the state-run insurer and private insurers back away from the Florida market." "Citizens Property sees growth spurt".
That's Our Trib
The Tampa Tribune editorial board shows its stripes (yet again). See <"Conservative Roberts Court Moves Carefully To The Right".
Ain't No Senator's Son
"A jury on Wednesday convicted the son of Sen. Bill Nelson on charges of battery on a police officer and resisting arrest stemming from an incident that occurred after a re-election party in November. Charles William Nelson, 31, faces a maximum penalty of six years in prison but could also get no jail time." "Senator's son convicted of battery on police officer".
End of an Era
Breaking news from Waldo: "Speed-trap police chief hangs up his radar gun".
The Oil Thing
"Florida’s two senators on Wednesday wrote a stern letter of warning to colleagues they will try to block efforts underway to direct or fund seismic surveying for oil and gas off the nation’s coasts." "Florida Senators Warn They’ll Block Efforts to Allow Seismic Surveys Off Coast". See also "Tampa Bay Area House Members Unite Against Drilling Bill".
"Floridians are worried about increasingly destructive storms, rising sea levels and other results of human-caused climate change, but they're also frustrated by having little ability to do anything about it. Todd Sack, chairman of an advisory committee studying how Florida should respond to global warming, says that's something he has already learned by listening to ideas from people across the state." "Climate-change panel in motion".
Another Special Session
"Fall Back: September Session on PIP Likely". See also "Finding no fault with PIP, Crist wants to keep it".
The Miami Herald editorial board: "Billboards don't have to be a tolerated nuisance in our landscapes. We could function fine without them. But outdoor advertisers have big political clout. Politicians routinely vote to allow the commercial blights along our expressways and busy streets that benefit of only a few people, including, of course, the owners of billboards."
A ... worrisome aspect of this [Miami-Dade County] ordinance is the role played by lobbyist Ron Book. Make that roles. Mr. Book lobbies for Miami-Dade County in the Legislature. He also lobbies the Miami-Dade Commission on behalf of his other clients. Mr. Book was a consultant for the billboard company during its negotiations with North Miami. Mr. Book says he became part owner of the billboard company only after the settlement was struck. Then he lobbied Miami-Dade commissioners, on behalf of North Miami, he says, to amend the county's billboard ordinance. Conflicted? That's an understatement."Billboard ordinance is too broad".
The ubiquity of Mr. Book's lobbying is no secret. But no lobbyist who works for a government should be able to petition that same government on behalf of another client, much less for his own financial interests.
No "Back Pumping"
The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "Crist's five new appointees to the South Florida Water Management District board soon will decide whether to consider 'back-pumping.' This destructive practice of pumping water - laden with pesticides and nutrient-rich fertilizers - back into the lake from farm canals hasn't happened since the last drought in 2001." "Forget back-pumping".
"Jay Garrity, the aide to presidential candidate Mitt Romney who is under investigation in New Hampshire for allegedly pulling over a New York Times reporter and telling him to stop following Romney’s car had an earlier run-in with the press - in Florida’s Capitol."
Palm Beach Post Tallahassee bureau chief S.V. Date says that Garrity, who is now on paid leave from the campaign while New Hampshire authorities investigate, tried in April to prevent Date from following Romney into the Florida Senate Office Building, and then again when Date tried to board an elevator Romney was taking to meet with Republican state senators."We Thought He Looked Familiar".
After Date reminded Garrity (pictured here) that the building and the elevator were open to the public in Florida, Garrity, wearing a Secret Service style lapel pin and an ear bud, responded that such measures were necessary because of numerous security threats against the former Massachusetts governor.
Daniel Ruth: "An Old Lion Of Wetlands Is Roaring Mad".
Chamber Takes It In The Shorts
The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "On Tuesday, Gov. Crist rejected an attempt to weaken public participation in Florida politics. The governor vetoed Senate Bill 900, which the Florida Chamber of Commerce had supported so strongly. The bill would have placed unreasonable restrictions on the gathering of signatures for petitions to amend the Florida Constitution. Notably, organizers would have had just 30 days to turn in signatures for verification, but opponents would have had 120 days to challenge those signatures. In addition, people could not have signed a petition in a county where they did not live - even if they were signing just a short distance from home." "Sign up for democracy".
BTW, He's a GOPer
"Federal prosecutors on Wednesday strongly urged a judge to sentence disgraced former Palm Beach County Commissioner [Chamber of Commerce hack and and Republican] Tony Masilotti to a full five years in prison, saying Masilotti's "crimes were egregious violations of the public trust designed to financially better himself to the tune of nearly $10 million." "Prosecutor: Send former Palm Beach County commissioner to prison for 5 years".
Saint Bob is missing the boat:
"Just because the state contracts out does not mean we're not responsible," Mr. Butterworth said. The private foster-care contractors "are here to stay, but the big thing is the oversight.""State loses another girl; find 'sense of urgency'".
"Everybody does it seems to be the rule, so it must be OK, right? It's not OK. State law bans government employees with purchasing power over $15,000 from accepting gifts and freebies. Yet, state law didn't seem to deter some high-ranking Broward County school officials from accepting free, paid trips by companies with school district contracts." "Conflicts".