One of Jebbie's many, many failures was the Bearingpoint scam. "Yet it doesn't appear that anyone is being held accountable - not contractor BearingPoint, which walked away from the project in December; not current state employees, who failed to responsibly manage the installation; and not former state officials, whose lack of oversight puts a permanent black mark on their records."
Some might remember that BearingPoint was behind the failed $472 million prototype computer system that put Bay Pines Veteran's Hospital into chaos in 2004. U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson wanted the politically well-connected company put on the federal suspended-vendors list, but the Bush administration refused."Someone Should Be Held To Count For $89 Million Computer Disaster".
That same year, the company was awarded a $126 million contract by former Gov. Jeb Bush's director of the State Technology Office, Kim Bahrami, who promptly quit to work for BearingPoint.
The company also raised eyebrows in work it did for the Department of Children and Families, where in 2004 former DCF Secretary Jerry Regier and two other top employees left the agency when it was discovered they had taken gifts from lobbyists, including one who represented BearingPoint.
Floridians want answers to the collapse of this $89 million computer project. Those responsible for Project Aspire should be held accountable.
Economy On Hold
"Across the state, the tax debate is sending a tremor through the economy as many companies that rely heavily on government spending are suddenly seeing work dry up." "Tax-plan impasse in Tallahassee ruffles economy".
From Charlie and the "Values" Crowd
As Charlie makes golf course deals in Jordan (with adoring reporters in tow), we have this back home in Florida: "On the job, Constance Jones helps investigators with child abuse cases, and when she gets home her focus is on her teen daughter and son."
But the single mother from Holly Hill can't afford health benefits through her job at the state Department of Children & Families."State employees say insurance ban discrimination".
Her $23,000-a-year salary qualifies her children for another subsidized state and federal health insurance program, known as KidCare. But two years ago, legislators cut state employees from the program to save money.
So now her children go without insurance, and a recent emergency for her 15-year-old daughter added up to more than $5,000 in hospital and ambulance bills, on top of past bills she hasn't paid.
Legislation this past session that would have allowed children of state employees back into KidCare didn't pass. Proposals to ease the application process for all families also failed.
Talk, Talk, Talk
"When property tax negotiations broke down more than a month ago, top lawmakers boldly predicted the kinks would be worked out before the special session even began."
All legislators would have to do, House Speaker Marco Rubio said, is show up to approve the plan June 12."Property tax talks stay a secret".
But with a week to go, few details have been released to confirm such optimism. The discussions have been almost exclusively private, and among only a handful of people.
Rubio and Senate President Ken Pruitt broke the silence Friday by releasing the outlines of an agreement to roll back local tax bases and cap future growth. They also called for super-sized homestead exemptions.
Undercutting the upbeat announcement, however, was the lack of specifics.
"A Republican Golden Retriever"
The LA Times Saturday:
After eight years of the popular but polemic Jeb Bush, Crist's aisle-crossing style has won him unprecedented approval ratings for a Florida governor, and a reputation for compassion and moderation. He is, in a Miami columnist's characterization, "a Republican golden retriever who throws his arms around just about everyone.""Florida governor's aisle-crossing style wins approval points " (via Political Pulse).
When Crist ran for the GOP nomination to follow Bush into the governor's mansion, he cast himself as the next best thing to the president's archconservative brother.
But in fewer than five months in office, Crist has often swum against the GOP tide. He restored voting rights for ex-convicts, even though they tend to vote Democratic. He has proposed expanded stem cell research. Crist has increased teachers' pay and last week made sure that future electronic voting will retain a paper trail, needed for recounts in the event of another of Florida's infamously close elections.
"The negative impact of the Bush administration's ill-considered and unprecedented purge of U.S. attorneys last year is being felt all over the country, including Florida. As the Sentinel recently reported, just one person applied to succeed U.S. Attorney Paul Perez in Florida's Middle District, one of the country's top jobs for prosecutors. Mr. Perez was not fired, but resigned to take a private-sector position. The prosecutor's job has been re-advertised, and its application deadline has been extended." "A tainted job".
"With Florida lawmakers hoping to slash property taxes across the state, officials of the [taxpayer-funded hospital] districts wonder whether they could face cuts in the money they use to care for low-income or uninsured people". "Hospital districts: Tax reform bodes ill for charity cases".
The "Religious Left"
"About 1,500 Christians are expected in Washington today for a nationally televised forum with the leading Democratic presidential candidates, in what organizers describe as a turning point in the debate over the role of faith in politics."
''The religious right has tried to paint progressives as if they are a bunch of people on the fringe who are out of touch with mainstream America, and that's just not the case,'' said the Rev. Tim Simpson, a Presbyterian minister and spokesman for the Jacksonville-based Christian Alliance for Progress. "We think theological reflection is the responsibility of every Christian voter . . . How should a Christian think about this war? How should a Christian think about torture?''"The religious left lifts its voice in Campaign 2008".
Efforts to resurrect the religious left -- a political force that many say has been largely dormant since the Civil Rights movement -- coincides with growing disarray among religious conservatives. The Center for Reclaiming America for Christ in Fort Lauderdale shut down in April after a decade of lobbying for conservative Christian causes. The Rev. Jerry Falwell's recent death prompted soul-searching among evangelicals about his legacy of uniting them with the GOP.
None of the leading presidential candidates can lay claim to the evangelical community. Pastor Rick Warren, author of the popular book The Purpose-Driven Life, invited Democratic Sen. Barack Obama to an AIDS conference at his California church. The Rev. Joel Hunter, pastor of a Central Florida megachurch of 15,000 people, gave up the presidency of the Christian Coalition of America last year because it resisted his efforts to focus on poverty and global warming.
''There are precious lives lost from abortion, but if we don't address climate change, there will be even more lives lost that come with the degradation of the environment,'' Hunter said. "Aren't those lives as important as the lives that we could save if we could do something about abortion? It's a more complex consideration.''
"Donovan Brown hasn't been in the newspaper in months. Not since he ran for the state Legislature last fall. Not since he disappeared from the campaign trail and turned up in a mental health facility after a breakdown. Not since he left the hospital and lost the race." "Bouncing back from a tough campaign".
"It's tough to imagine a more inappropriate project than Florida Power & Light Co.'s plan to build a coal-fired plant near the Everglades, the hydrological heart of South Florida that has been drained, polluted and abused to the brink of destruction." "No Coal Plant For Everglades".
That's Our Mel
Florida's "gay-bashing, reactionary ogre", who is also known as "Karl Rove's Florida Frankenstein", gets some love from those impartial folks at Florida Trend magazine: "Senator Mel Martinez is helping the GOP woo Hispanic voters". See also "Swinging Hispanic Vote".
Immigration Battle Comes To Florida
"Florida will be the setting for a set-to over immigration in the battle in the Republican presidential primary Monday."
John McCain plans to defend his controversial immigration reform bill in a speech in Miami, and will suggest that opponents in the GOP primary are bashing the bill for political gain."Amnesty Fight Breaks Open In Florida". See also "McCain in Miami: Doing nothing is 'silent amnesty'".
In response, Mitt Romney, an opponent of McCain who has taken a stand against the bill, will hold a conference call for political reporters with one of his top supporters in the state and one of the state’s top Hispanic GOP activists, Al Cardenas.
Cardenas has been a leader for years among anti-Castro Cuban immigrants in Miami, and was Jeb Bush’s pick just after Bush took office in 1998 to be chairman of the state Republican Party.
"In the last couple of weeks, as the immigration issue has caused divisions in the GOP presidential primary—reflecting the divisions in the party—Jeb Bush’s stance has become a key question."
Last week, Bush denied news reports saying he was "disappointed" with Romney for opposing the bill. But then he and Ken Mehlman, Bush-Cheney 2004 campaign manager and a former Republican national chairman chosen by George Bush, co-authored a Wall Street Journal op-ed piece praising the bill."Bush Brothers Both Take Hits On Immigration".
In a little-noticed reaction, some right-wing bloggers—the kind who have been writing that Jeb Bush is the true conservative who could rescue the movement from the failures of George Bush—began to change their minds.
"He has a lot going for him, Right-wise, but at least for the moment, I think I’m officially over Jeb. What did Jesse Jackson say? Stay out the Bushes?" was the reaction of one regular blogger on The Corner, a rightist political site.
"Why is it that proponents of this immigration bill never address what the bill will actually do?” said David Frum, who blogs for the rightist National Review Online.
Gators a Nuisance
"Beset by nuisance alligators, Florida may make it easier to hunt them".
Is This News?
"Crist said he and Abdullah discussed the possibility of Florida and Jordan working together to increase tourism in both places. Abdullah is interested in developing golf resorts near the Dead Sea, and Crist said Florida businesses could help make that happen." "Crist weighs Jordan alliance".
"Lewis Hay, FPL Group's chairman, didn't use a big block of time at the annual meeting to talk about green power because he saw An Inconvenient Truth the night before. He did it for the stockholders. Energy company executives talking green are decreasingly man-bites-dog. Back when Vice President Dick Cheney was presiding as an energy planner, Mr. Hay's comments to the stockholders - and his follow-up article in The Post May 27 - would have seemed more surprising. Mr. Cheney said that conservation might be a personal virtue but never a policy. He thought he spoke for big business. If America had had more personal virtue and less Cheney over the past six years, we might not have $3 gasoline today." "Business changes with the climate".
"Budget shell games an art".
"Relief for taxpayers could mean a big hit for local governments that rely on property taxes for revenues." "Helping taxpayers may hurt revenues". See also "Tax reform could gut county budget".
"'By the end of next year,' President Bush said on Thursday, 'America and other nations will set a long-term global goal for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.' Welcome words -- six years late. For all its apparent necessity, there was something nakedly shameless about Bush's announcement, shameless for its timing, its motive, even its substance." "Bush van Winkle".