Kudos to The Tallahassee Democrat for this editorial today:
The tragic deaths Monday night of nine firefighters in Charleston, S.C., are a sober reminder that the price tag on public safety is sometimes much higher than any number reflected within a local-government budget."Tighten up".
Firefighters and law officers are the first line of defense against threats to citizens' well-being. That's why they receive what is essentially combat pay - higher average salaries than many fellow public employees receive in return for performing riskier jobs.
This is to be contrasted with the firefighter bashing in the MSM in recents days. As we observed a couple of days ago, the MSM - including "liberal" papers like The St Pete Times - has, in large part, been up to its usual parroting of League of Cities/Chamber of Commerce propaganda when it comes to firefighter benefits:
"9 firefighters die as blaze engulfs South Carolina warehouse". With this (yet another) reminder of the risks firefighters take every single day, it is sadly ironic that in the last week alone we have seen garbage like this in the Florida MSM:"Sad Irony". Credit The Tallahassee Democrat for declining to join the echo chamber.
- "The most generous pensions are going to first-responders, mostly paramedics, police and firefighters." "Lavish Pensions Decreed By State Add Galling Irony To Tax Breaks".
- "Whether local governments can afford these lucrative retirement plans for deputies and police and firefighters at a time when private companies are shedding pension plans is a reasonable public policy question." "High cost of pensions straps cities". (Note: is one to suppose that the St Pete Times editorial board thinks public employers should also be "shedding pension plans" for firefighters?)
- "Wondering where all those skyrocketing property taxes have gone? One major drain: the tony retirement pensions of the state's police and firefighters." "Pensions take toll on tax coffers".
"Amid heavy lobbying on both sides, Gov. Charlie Crist now says he has concerns about a business-backed bill that would impose new limits on people who solicit voter signatures for ballot initiatives."
"I'm reviewing it right now," Crist said Wednesday. "I read some more about it last night, and I have concerns.""Crist may veto bill making amendments more difficult".
Asked to elaborate, he said, "I really don't want to now, but I will once I make a decision."
The bill has drawn fierce opposition from grass roots political groups because of a provision that would require signed petitions to be submitted to election supervisors within 30 days.
"Leading Florida Democrats will appeal to national party chairman Howard Dean today to respect the state's new January primary date and drop threats of sanctions because it skirts party rules." "State Democrats to plead for primary".
Where's The Outrage?
There was a time that selling off the state's infrastructure would have raised serious concerns: "The new law also allows Florida to lease some existing toll roads - such as Alligator Alley and the Pinellas Bayway - to private companies for up to 50 years." "Crist signs toll bill". See also "Crist signs measure regulating toll roads" and "Private toll roads get a green light".
And then there's this: "That bill, in part, will ease some restrictions lawmakers placed on development in a massive 2005 growth-management law. Those restrictions largely were designed to make sure infrastructure, such as roads, is in place to handle new growth." "Governor signs bills easing development limits".
"Randy Neilsen, a veteran campaign consultant who has riled opposing candidates across the state with his blunt tactics, has come under fire by the Florida Elections Commission."
Neilsen, who has gotten paid $81,000 so far this year by the Republican Party of Florida, stands accused of four counts of breaking election laws, all of them stemming from a contentious Vero Beach city election in 2005."GOP campaign consultant in trouble".
But it's not just Neilsen who has been hit with charges. The commission at its meeting in late May also found probable cause that Neilsen's company, Public Concepts, has broken election laws, as well as Richard Johnston, a managing partner of the company, and the electioneering communication organization Residents for Truth, which took out negative ads against two candidates for city council, including an incumbent.
There goes the right-wing Venezuelan vote:
Presidential candidate John Edwards hoped actor Danny Glover would be his Lethal Weapon."Miami group blasts John Edwards for working with Danny Glover".
But a Miami-based group of Venezuelan-American activists chided the Democratic candidate Wednesday for campaigning with Glover, who has embraced repressive Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez. ''We are saddened by the fact that you have proudly showed yourself, in the same manner Mr. Chávez showed himself next to Mr. Glover, as if both of you were holding a trophy,'' read the letter sent to Edwards. ``We believe this to be a political miscalculation on your part, as it sends contradicting messages to those who, like us, have chosen and sworn to uphold the democratic and moral values of our new homeland.''
The Venezuelan government has agreed to provide $18 million in financing for Glover's upcoming movie about Toussaint Louverture, leader of an 18th-century slave rebellion in Haiti. Chávez critics fear the venture will burnish his international reputation.
Chain Gang Charlie
"Crist signed into law Wednesday a handful of anti-crime bills, while also asking the Florida Supreme Court to convene a statewide grand jury to investigate a recent rise in gang-related violence." "Blog: Gov. Crist signs handful of anti-crime bills into law". See also "Governor signs several crime bills", "Florida increases criminal penalties" and "Crist Signs New Crime Bills". More: "Statewide grand jury will focus on organized crime".
Less "Corruption and Mismanagement"
"The U.S. government's anti-Castro radio and TV stations have improved significantly in recent years after allegations of corruption and mismanagement, according to a draft State Department review of the Office of Cuba Broadcasting." "Review shows U.S. broadcasts reach Cubans but few numbers cited".
"Save Our Homes vs. supersized exemptions. Personal savings vs. money for schools. South Florida homeowners may have a choice to make." "South Florida homeowners face tax-cut choice".
"Growth management must play a stronger role in Everglades restoration, especially in the rapidly growing counties north of Lake Okeechobee, state officials said Wednesday." "Suburban sprawl threatens Lake O".
"Transformation to a New Economy" ... Oh Pleeez ...
"Florida is launching a new effort to benefit from the intellectual pursuits at its state universities and lure new venture capital funding. The Florida Capital Formation Act, signed into law Wednesday by Gov. Charlie Crist, is designed to hasten the transformation to a new economy." "Florida invests $35 million to link universities with venture capital".
"Republican presidential candidate John McCain said Tuesday that Florida's decision to move up its 2008 primary to Jan. 29 is part of a 'bizarre' national trend that gives voters little time to pick the best candidate for their party." "McCain criticizes earlier primary". See also "Presidential candidate John McCain in Palm Beach: Keep pressure on Cuba" and "McCain: Free trade, democracy key to stability in Latin America".
"Florida's prisons have been rid of organized corruption by officials trying to game the system, Corrections Secretary James McDonough said Tuesday." "Prison corruption gone, chief says".
Our Green Governor
"In a surprise move, Gov. Charlie Crist vetoed an energy bill late Wednesday evening, because he said it didn't advance clean energy policy enough."
Crist said the 74-page bill, which the Legislature passed unanimously, added too many bureaucratic layers that would get in the way of curbing greenhouse gas emissions, which contribute to global warming."Crist vetoes energy measure". See also "Crist vetoes energy bill, saysit 'does not go far enough'" and "Crist vetoes $62 million energy bill".
Out Here In the Fields
"On Wednesday, a group of area farmworkers left Quincy for the nation's capital, where they'll be speaking out in favor of immigration reform today." "Area farmworkers head to DC to advocate immigration reform".
"Palm Beach County's Latest Ballot Goof"
"Palm Beach County's latest ballot goof appears to be to the benefit of taxpayers. Elections Supervisor Arthur Anderson's estimate Tuesday of $1.25 a page to print optical-scan ballots -- which had county commissioners talking about keeping the paperless system despite a state mandate to change -- was far too high, Anderson said Wednesday." "New ballot cost: 40 cents each".
Charter School "Slippery Slope"
"As an educational institution, the Ben Gamla Charter School may serve an important niche."
As a charter school that benefits from public funding, though, it raises legitimate constitutional questions that the school district should have considered from the start."Charter Schools".
For that reason, Broward County school officials have no choice but to revoke the school's charter. The sooner they do it, the better.
The U.S. Constitution is the basis for a myriad of state and local regulations that forbid using taxpayers dollars to pay for religious schools. While supporters of Ben Gamla may argue otherwise, it's hard to see the new entity as nothing more than a religious school.
By allowing the school to operate, the school district will slide down a slippery and very contentious slope. Charter schools should be nonsectarian in their programs, admission policies, employment practices and operations.
"Camelot, that is, in the person of the leading scion of the Kennedy clan, environmentalist and Democratic political activist Robert Kennedy Jr., and he’s coming courtesy of a Republican governor, Charlie Crist."
Crist has announced that Kennedy, son of the former U.S. Attorney General and assassinated presidential candidate Robert Kennedy, will be the keynote speaker at the Florida Summit on Global Climate Change next month in Miami."Camelot Comes To Florida". More here.
One interesting angle of the news—Kennedy is an avowed and bitter opponent of President George W. Bush.
The summit already had Kennedyesque overtones, with the involvement of California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, related to the Kennedy clan by marriage.
The Tampa Trib editors: "Florida's universities simply cannot do more with less."
The proposed tuition increases that Crist vetoed were reasonable and even had the support of students. They understand it is better to pay a little bit more to get the benefit of smaller classes taught by tenure-track professors, not novice teaching assistants."Crist, Lawmakers Shortchange Higher Education And Families".
"Lawmakers' tendency is to look for more ways to restrict open government. Gov. Charlie Crist is looking to counter the trend. Following up on his good record in defense of open government as attorney general, Crist on Tuesday appointed a nine-member Commission on Open Government to review all public-record laws and exemptions. The commission will hold at least three public hearings around the state before submitting a report and recommendations to Crist and legislative leaders by the end of 2008." "Forecast: sunshine". Isn't Charlie super-fabulous: "Crist Wins Open Government Award".
Q reports that "in the never-ending quest to educate the rank-and-file, the Florida House Majority Office has started posting video clips of their leaders on You Tube and Google."
"Year-round water restrictions could provide a lesson in conservation, but not the answer to solving South Florida's water woes, utility operators and environmentalists warned Wednesday." "Environmentalist, utilities oppose year-round water restrictions in South Florida".
The Franking Privilege
"Rep. Vern Buchanan, frankly, opposes immigration bill".
"Arizona Sen. John McCain continued a mostly fundraising campaign swing through Florida [Wednesday], hitting a lunch at Tampa’s City Club where organizers said about 200 people attended, most paying $1,000 each." "McCain Holds Fundraiser Downtown".
"Like a Promise from Paris Hilton ..."
The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "Palm Beach County commissioners have every reason to be mad at the state over the new election law. But they have no reason - and no case - for defying the law."
In 2001, after the presidential recount debacle, the Legislature outlawed punch-card ballots. Fifteen counties, including Palm Beach and Martin, went to touch screens. The machines prevent over-voting, which was the real problem in 2000. Voters also can review their choices before their ballots are cast. Large counties, most of which bought touch screens, saved big by not having to buy paper for optical scans, which the other 52 counties used."Sue state for the money, but buy new machines".
But voter paranoia, most of it among Democrats, and bumbling by elections supervisors led to distrust of touch screens. The state never certified printers that would have provided a paper record of touch-screen votes. Then in November, the 13th Congressional District race was tainted by 18,000 non-votes in Sarasota County, which used touch screens. Republican Vern Buchanan won by 369 votes.
The right response would have been to allow voters an "I Choose Not to Vote in This Race" option. No state politician, however, wants to risk coming in second to an option. So, the Legislature passed an 80-page elections bill that, among many other things, banned touch screens. Counties that had bought touch screens, though, wouldn't have to worry. The state would pay for new optical scans.
As every county knows, however, a promise from the Legislature on money is like a promise from Paris Hilton on better behavior.
That's Our Mel
Things are pretty bad when this is "The last, best hope on immigration". Surely the MSM won't allow "Karl Rove's Florida Frankenstein" to transform his image on the basis of a single issue?
Get Your Emergency Info Via Wingnut Radio
"The commission unanimously decided to keep WIOD [as Broward County's official radio station for emergency information] with no discussion. Last week, Commissioner Stacy Ritter raised concerns about WIOD because of Limbaugh and other conservative programming, views shared by two other commissioners at the time."
The all-Democrat[ic] commission was on the verge of rejecting the contract when the board instead delayed a decision to get more information about other options and to ask more questions as to why staff favored WIOD."Despite disdain for Rush Limbaugh, Broward County stays with WIOD".
Ritter said she was surprised by the "onslaught of public criticism" and decried the "outrageous insults directed at me from what is clearly a well-organized campaign initiated by members of the radical right-wing media."
She also said she never intended to try to infringe on free speech, but rather to find other radio partners that would take the same deal and appeal to such audiences as the Caribbean and Hispanic communities.
Really, isn't it fair to ask whether wingnut radio is an appropriate vehicle for the dissemination of emergency information to the residents of a solidly blue county?