Tallahassee Democrat Endorses Franks
The Tallahassee Democrat endorses Suzan Franks in SD 3 special election, saying
we would urge voters to support the candidacy of Ms. Franks, who served in the New Hampshire Legislature from 1992 to 2000 and served on her local board of education, and thus should know her way around a statewide political process. A relative newcomer to Florida, Ms. Franks may not have this state's inner workings down pat, but she has a genuine interest in problem solving and a willingness to listen that suggests her potential to grow and make a difference in the least partisan of the two legislative chambers."Vote Tuesday".
Mr. Dean, a retired Citrus County sheriff, is utterly devoted to his party, saying he will march to the tune of his leaders almost regardless of where they take him.
Ms. Franks' vow to be an independent fighter is more in the spirit of Ms. Argenziano, who took on the leadership, lobbyists and the lions of party politics, but ultimately won broad respect for her effectiveness.
In the meantime, "Crist made a late push Saturday to boost voter turnout for Republican state Senate candidate Charlie Dean against Democrat Suzan Franks, touting him as a conservative tax cutter and tough crime fighter."
Campaign-finance records show that Greer, Crist and the state GOP have been whipping up enormous support for Dean among Republican contributors and business interests. His final report, submitted late Friday, showed $506,633 in contributions and $248,743 worth of in-kind contributions of services and materials, primarily from the Republican Party."Dean, Franks vie for votes".
Dean said his spending totaled $421,192 for the campaign.
Franks, by contrast, reported total financing of $65,336 - including $3,900 of her own money and about $48,000 worth of in-kind services and materials provided by supporters. The Florida Democratic Party accounted for at least $33,000 of her financing, along with several donations from county Democratic chapters.
Randy Shultz argues that "to call this a tax 'reform' amendment would be like calling The Sopranos a show about psychotherapy."
Florida's property-tax system has two big problems. Save Our Homes gives homesteaders, especially long-time homesteaders, artificial protection from taxes. Landlords, business owners and snowbirds get no such protection. And because of that artificial protection, homesteaders who want to move within Florida stay put because they would pay much more, even in a smaller house. That hurts the real-estate market."Tax session: Back to the usual politics".
According to the original script, the Legislature would have adjourned Friday after an 11-day special session that produced an amendment to fix those problems. Instead, the Legislature adjourned after just three days, producing an amendment that wouldn't fix those problems. So, why were the Republicans smiling and shaking hands?
Because they had done something, and it was clear when the session opened that Florida would get something but no more. Something turns out to be something that almost everyone can vote against.
Legal Fight on the Horizon
The Buzz, in "More legal questions raised about tax deal", reports that "an updated analysis [on the Legislature's property tax 'reform' by a law firm representing municipalities] argues the proposed constitutional amendment contains a misleading statement in which everyone would get a minimum $50,000 homestead exemption. But only those who switch to the new program get the higher amount; those who elect to stay with Save Our Homes keep the standard $25,000. It also argues that, if approved by voters on Jan. 29, the plan would violate equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution "by creating two classes of homestead property taxpayers.".
"Florida's state-run insurer finally is acting like a real insurance company: It isn't paying claims."
In some parts of the state, lawyers are making a living suing private firms for slow-pay or no-pay. In addition, Citizens Property Insurance Corp. still hasn't settled about 3,500 claims from the 2004 and 2005 storm seasons. At a hearing last week in Broward County, aggrieved policyholders vented to the task force that is reviewing the claims. Citizens officials responded that they were unprepared for the surge and are trying to do better. Actually, both sides have a point."Florida stakes a claim".
"A little known but powerful panel is positioned to pick up the pieces on property taxes if voters reject the Legislature's proposal. " "Tax flop? Panel is backup". See who is on the panel here.
Privatization Fiasco: Twice As Expensive, Inferior Results
"Florida began handing over its child welfare duties to private agencies a decade ago, vowing children would be safer."
The Legislature mandated the privatization to begin in 1997.Florida Department of Children and Families Secretary Bob Butterworth stands by this privatization fiasco: "Private care still works best, he said ... ." "Failures persist in child welfare".
Gov. Jeb Bush took on the effort as a point of personal pride and the statewide transition to private foster care in all 67 counties was completed in 2005.
DCF now acts as a supervisor of child welfare and a pass-through agency for funding to 20 private community agencies overseeing about 500 subcontracts for case management, direct care, foster care placement, mental health and adoption.
A state audit last year showed the cost of the current child welfare system rose 83 percent per child over six years. Statewide annual funding per child grew from $9,800 in 1998 to $18,000 in 2005.
Perhaps more surprising, the audit found that children are suffering abuse at a higher rate ... .
Villalobos Backstabber To Be Senate President
"Looks like a pair of Central Floridians will be running the Florida Legislature come 2010. Sen. Mike Haridopolos, a Republican from Melbourne [one of the senators behind Villalobos' ouster] whose district includes most of Osceola County and much of Brevard, says he's gathered enough commitments from fellow GOP senators to ensure he'll become Senate president after the 2010 elections. That would be put him in line to serve opposite Rep. Dean Cannon, a Winter Park Republican who had already locked up the job of House speaker for the same two-year term. (The two already have some history, as each served as his respective chamber's lead negotiator on property taxes for much of this spring.)" "Dominoes fall for Haridopolos".
The week in review from The St Pete Times.
That's Our Connie
"Speaking to a gathering of Lee County Republicans in Estero today, Mack said he wouldn’t compromise in his position opposing amnesty, even as members of Congress face pressure to pass some sort of immigration legislation soon." "Congressman spoke on immigration to a gathering of Lee County Republicans in Estero on Saturday".
Elimination and Reduction of Services to the Disabled
"The Florida Legislature approved eliminating and reducing some services next month to developmentally disabled people under the state's Medicaid waiver program. The Legislature cut services to put a dent in a projected $153 million deficit next year at the state Agency for Persons with Disabilities." "Families fear cuts in services".
"Gambling apparently is no longer the sin it once was in Florida. The state may not be another Nevada, but a bevy of gaming-related legislation passed in the spring legislative session offering players more slot machines, bigger poker pots and longer hours of operation." "State Betting On Gaming Expansion". Meanwhile, "Slot machine gamble has yet to pay off in Broward County".
"Legislation awaiting Gov. Charlie Crist's signature doubles the annual Everglades cleanup fund to $200 million through 2020 with an emphasis on improving the quality of water from the Kissimmee River Valley and other basins that drain into Lake Okeechobee, often called 'the liquid heart of the Everglades.'" "Runoff cleanup is taking shape".
"Rep. Bill Delahunt interviewed Radio and TV Marti officials Saturday about improving the federally funded broadcast to Cuba. Delahunt, D-Mass., also met with a group of mostly Democratic Cuban exiles, urging them to get more involved in public debates over the future of the Communist island." "Congressman pushes better TV/Radio Marti".
"According to U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services, immigrants filed 46,884 citizenship petitions in Florida during the first four months of 2007, a 75 percent increase from the same period last year." "U.S. Citizenship applications soar in South Florida and throughout the country".
Florida's Booming Economy?
"In signing the tax cut, Crist insisted that sunny days lie ahead. 'Cutting local property taxes will ignite the real-estate market in the state of Florida," the governor said. "And Florida's economy will continue to boom and create a better bottom line for Floridians and for our state.'" "Tax cut, real-estate glut".
"A Practice That Ought to Stop"
The Sun-Sentinel editorial board observes that
a number of public servants are also moonlighting, so to speak, by working to drum up donations and dollars for charities and philanthropic efforts. ..."Philanthropy".
Still, it's a practice that ought to stop. No matter how much public officials and donors deny any tit-for-tat, politicians who seek donations from individuals and companies, especially those with business before them, raise conflict-of-interest perceptions.
Let's face it, the reason many public officials are asked to help in fundraising drives is because of their office. That's what provides the public platform, the public persona that convinces many to give.
Charities and philanthropic agencies need all the help they can get. Mixing Good Samaritan efforts with politics may generate dollars for good causes, but it also raises doubts over whether some favored treatment will be extended down the line.