"During his six and a half years in the Florida House, Dennis Baxley of Ocala gravitated so far to the right that even his fellow Republicans looked askance at his positions." "Hasta la vista, Baxley".
"With a strong pro-gun and anti-abortion base, the rural swath of northern Florida circling the Democratic enclave of Gainesville should be the sweet spot for conservative Republicans in the state."
So the narrow defeat of the state's conservative point man in the Legislature, Ocala Republican Rep. Dennis Baxley, in a Tuesday GOP primary for a state Senate seat is deepening the feeling among conservatives that the Republican Party is leaving them behind."Conservative's loss may signal rise of moderates". See also "Charlie Dean Moves On, Dennis Baxley Heads Home".
"I came in on the Jeb Bush wave and that wave has ebbed and it's a new era," Baxley said Wednesday.
Bill March today:
As a presidential candidate in 2003, Bob Graham took a lonely and unpopular stance against going to war in Iraq - it helped curtail his shot at the presidency and end his long political career."Graham Seen As War Seer".
But Sunday night, when Democrats now running for president debated the war, much of the discussion focused on the evidence Graham cited in 2003, and why they and much of the nation had failed to see that he was right.
"The real winner of that debate," said South Florida Democratic political operative Derek Newton, "was Bob Graham."
They Want It All
"As state lawmakers struggle to agree on how much property taxes should be lowered, public sentiment offers little clarity to help resolve the matter. The new survey says residents are even split on whether they would accept smaller local government payrolls in exchange for lower property taxes. 'They want their cake and eat it too. Is that so unusual?' said Peter Brown, assistant director of Quinnipiac University's Polling Institute, which conducted the poll." "Poll: Lower taxes but don't cut services". See also "Voters: Cut taxes, not services" and "Poll: Cut taxes, save services".
The Orlando Sentinel editorial board argues that "when House Bill 985 crosses his desk for his signature, Gov. Charlie Crist should see it for what it is -- carte blanche for developers to build roads across millions of acres of environmentally sensitive lands before guardians can draw up plans to protect them. And Mr. Crist should veto it." "Wrong direction".
"Most of the major presidential candidates are undecided about attending what would be history-making Spanish-language debates at the University of Miami in September." "Few takers so far for debates in Spanish".
Sarasota County Boots ES&S
"Sarasota County will have new voting machines by November, and the company [ES&S] that sold the county its controversial touch-screen system will not provide them, county leaders decided Wednesday. County commissioners unanimously voted to begin negotiating with Ohio-based Diebold for new optical scan voting machines." "County switches vote machines".
"Unified Approach to State Energy Policy"
The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "This year, the Legislature called for a 'unified approach to state energy policy.' What happened this week shows why Florida needs some of that unity." "After taxes, insurance, add energy as priority".
Another (Rubio Promise) Bites The Dust
"House Speaker Marco Rubio had bad news for small businesses Wednesday, saying plans to limit a taxing practice that can give huge tax bills to modest businesses in prime locations would be put off until next year." "'Highest and best use' delayed until '08".
"After taxes, insurance, add energy as priority".
State Employees Stiffed
Recall that state employees did not receive a wage increase this year. Meanwhile, "State workers lauded for productivity".
The latest Q poll:
- Rudy Giuliani, 31 percent"Poll: Fred Thompson gains in Florida".
- Fred Thompson, 14 percent
- John McCain, 10 percent
- Mitt Romney, 8 percent
Not That Hard
The St Pete Times editorial board:
While we wait for a puff of smoke from Tallahassee signaling the end of secret talks on property tax relief, we can reach two reasonable conclusions.Read 'em here: "Four quick and easy ways to cut property taxes".
First, whatever agreement legislative leaders announce will be terribly complicated and impossible to digest before the Legislature's special session starts Tuesday. And second, it doesn't have to be this hard.
Here are several tax relief ideas that are reasonable, straightforward - and could be approved by legislators within a week:
"Will Florida be a nuclear powerhouse?".
Charlie's "Haltingly Shallow Assessment"
"In applying his populist litmus test to university tuition, Gov. Charlie Crist somehow has managed to index the quality of higher education to the price of gasoline."
If this is to be his vision for Florida universities, they may as well begin petitioning OPEC for relief. Crist describes as "doomed" a bill that allows the state's top three research universities to charge higher tuitions, and he already has vetoed a 5 percent across-the-board tuition increase for this fall. Yet he has offered no hint of his own vision for these vital and financially ailing institutions. His only insight, to date, is a haltingly shallow assessment of Floridians' cost of living."A pinched view on universities".
"Health insurance may be required for all Florida university students". See also "State's public universities may insist students get health insurance by fall 2010".
"Union Ad Boosts Mahoney". See also "Mahoney draws some kudos".
"Under pressure from state legislators, Palm Beach County administrators unveiled a scaled-down budget Wednesday that cuts property tax collections 7 percent and marks a retreat from an aggressive, years-long expansion of county government operations." "Palm Beach County may slash property tax rate by 11%". See also "Cut Taxes? Kill Puppies", "Ready for cuts?" and "Group Says Tax Cuts Will Hurt Many".
The Sun-Sentinel editors:
Florida may have rubbed the national political parties the wrong way, but the decision to move the presidential primary has had the desired effect -- the people who count have begun to take notice."Election 2008".
The candidates "get it." They're coming to Florida time and time again in search for support, whether it's to raise cash, garner commitments, or both. More importantly, they're learning about the issues most critical to the Sunshine State and its 17 million residents.
Raw Political Courage
"Martinez salutes NASCAR".
As reported yesterday, "the honeymoon continues for Gov. Charlie Crist, still wildly popular with Florida voters who see him as far more principled than most politicians, according to a new statewide poll." "Voters strongly approve of Crist, state survey says". See also "Poll: Voters want major tax cut".
No More "Slumber Parties"
"At a time when the region's most powerful agency needs an overhaul, Gov. Crist this week made a pair of political choices to complete his appointments to the South Florida Water Management District board."
Recent news stories in The Post reveal conflicts of interest and entangled friendships, such as district Director Carol Wehle buying vacation condos with board members. People with a high school education or less have served as department heads. An ex-dog groomer was the $50,000-a-year liaison to the Palm Beach County Commission. She has dated former Commissioner Tony Masilotti, who's going to prison for illegal profiteering that involved the district."Crist comes up dry".
Gov. Crist had 26 candidates for the two openings - one from Palm Beach County, one from the Treasure Coast - and many of them were excellent. ...
Instead, for the Palm Beach County slot once held by Kevin McCarty, Gov. Crist chose Patrick Rooney Jr., whose family owns the Pittsburgh Steelers and operates the Palm Beach Kennel Club. Mr. Rooney's three fine eponymous restaurants serve water, but his background doesn't qualify him for the board, despite Mr. McCarty's defense that not everything the board deals with is water-related. ...
Gov. Crist[also] chose Melissa Meeker, who was DEP's regional director in West Palm Beach during Jeb Bush's time in office and chaired a planning group organized by Florida Senate President Ken Pruitt, R-Port St. Lucie. Ms. Meeker has qualifications, and potential conflicts.
Next week, she finishes her job for a consulting company that does business with the district. "When I started my own company back in February," Ms. Meeker said, "I counted on the district being a client. Now I won't work for South Florida or its clients." She also said, "I hope to improve the district's reputation and ... the public's trust, so the district can move forward with its huge agenda." She and Mr. Rooney can start by breaking up the slumber parties.