An obviously overpaid firefighter, swelled with "generous" insurance benefits amounting to "largesse", a "lavish" pension, and other "tony" benefits (as the St Pete Times puts it), managed to squeeze his fat ass out of bed and make his way into his driveway yesterday morning.
Cooper was standing in his driveway when a twin-engine Cessna 310R plunged into the homes of two neighbors about 8:40 a.m. The impact set off a fireball that quickly consumed the houses."Off-duty firefighter rescues 2".
Pulling protective gear from his truck -- but without an oxygen tank to help him breathe -- Cooper sprinted across the street toward the inferno. Other neighbors ran from their homes, some screaming.
As Cooper entered the home of the Dechats at 354 WillowBay Ridge St., thick smoke blurred his vision.
Groping his way around the first floor, he found Peter Dechat, 36, and his 10-year-old son and dragged them from the house.
Heading back inside, Cooper made his way to the second floor, where Gabriela Dechat, 4, was thought to be trapped. But the smoke forced him back.
Cooper ran next door to 356 WillowBay Ridge St. but couldn't find anyone.
His own breathing labored, Cooper tried to help the 10-year-old boy, who suffered third-degree burns over nearly 90 percent of his body. Later in the day, the boy was flown to a burn unit in Cincinnati. Gabriela died in the blaze.
Cooper, a father of two, was recovering Tuesday evening at Central Florida Regional Hospital, where he was hooked up to a respirator and treated for smoke inhalation.
Meek Plays Defense
"Amid a widening criminal probe into a failed Liberty City biotech park deal, U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek, D-Miami, sat down with Miami Herald reporters and editors yesterday to explain his involvement in the project and defend his mother, former U.S. Rep. Carrie Meek, who was paid a handsome sum for her support." "Meek on defense amid biotech criminal probe". See also "Rep. Meek defends role in land project" and "Dade moves to take back land from developer".
Stop The Presses!
"Florida Democratic Fund-Raising Edging Closer To GOP": "The Florida Democratic Party edged closer to rival Republicans in fund-raising over the past three months, a period marked by new Republican Gov. Charlie Crist taking steps to include the minority party in legislative deal-making. According to campaign finance reports filed late Tuesday, Democrats raised $1.06 million to the GOP's $2.2 million, narrowing a cash-flow difference that has been a wide gulf in recent years. Contrast these latest numbers to those found in the two months leading up to Crist's victory last November. Florida Republicans then hauled in $40.3 million, compared to the Democrats' $14.9 million, a cash disparity that helped close the door to any chance by outgunned Democratic nominee Jim Davis."
More on who gave what:
The Republican Party of Florida raised $2.2-million in the three months ending June 30, more than twice as much as the Florida Democratic Party's $1.06-million. RPOF's largest single contributor was New York investor Paul Singer, who donated $200,000. Associated Industries of Florida gave $100,000 to the GOP, while its CEO, Barney Bishop, made a $2,000 contribution to the Democratic Party."GOP, Dems' quarterly haul$".
Democrats took in $1.06 million, including $79,000 in refunds from the D.C. media firm Squier Knapp Dunn Communications. Akerman Senterfitt, the major domo law firm of, among many others, House Democratic Leader Dan Gelber, D-Miami Beach) donated $12,500 to the Dems and $5,000 to the GOP.
"Federal prosecutors are close to making a decision about whether to file charges in their lengthy investigation of Broward Sheriff Ken Jenne's public and private business dealings, sources with knowledge of the investigation told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel." "Decision close on whether to file charges against Broward sheriff".
"Florida, whose lust for electricity may be matched only by its inattention to conservation, faces major decisions in order to meet demand during the next several decades."
A review of nuclear power's enhanced potential for the Sunshine State is inevitable - not only because of the state's energy needs, but also the major money involved. This virtually ensures that the industry is planning a well-financed lobbying effort."Nuclear rebirth?".
It's the state's responsibility to make certain that any reconsideration of nuclear power is driven by issues of safety, security and necessity - and that it isn't seen as an easy alternative to developing other clean energy options, highest among them conservation.
"The board governing state universities joined a lawsuit Tuesday against state lawmakers that claims the board, and not the legislature, has the power to set tuition rates. At a special meeting in Orlando, the Board of Governors also voted to increase tuition for undergraduates by up to 5 percent beginning in 2008, even though Gov. Charlie Crist vetoed a similar tuition increase approved by the legislature this spring." "Universities board joins lawsuit against legislature".
"The board that governs Florida's public universities [also] decided to ... freeze freshman enrollment starting in fall 2008."
The freeze at Florida's 11 universities was a response to state-ordered budget cuts and what the state Board of Governors thinks is historically inadequate funding. Board members voted to cap enrollment for three years at fall 2007 levels."Tuition power struggle heats up". "State board proposes college tuition increase".
The board seemed ready to assert its authority Tuesday, setting the stage for a political showdown not only by declaring a tuition increase but by joining a lawsuit that challenges the state Legislature's ability to do so.
The board's move to gain control of tuition was viewed as a provocation by state legislators, who insist the power to set tuition should be held by the elected governor and Legislature -- not an appointed board.
"U.S. Rep. Robert Wexler, D-Boca Raton, says his motion to censure President Bush for commuting the sentence of Lewis 'Scooter' Libby is gaining momentum, and announced he has 13 co-sponsors." "Wexler Censure Resolution “Gains Momentum”".
Florida Red and Blue
"A group battling a proposed constitutional amendment that would ban same-sex marriage in Florida said Tuesday that it has raised more than $1 million in the past two months for what could be a vigorous ballot fight next year."
"This is about all Floridians, not just some Floridians," said Jon Kislak, a North Miami financier who is chairman of Florida Red and Blue Inc."Florida Red and Blue Inc. says it has $1 million to fight proposed same-sex marriage ban".
The organization, which leaders say is attracting both Democrats and Republicans, will report contributions from 375 donors this week — a quarterly deadline for state campaign reports. One-third are self-identified Republicans, leaders said, including Palm Beach philanthropist Don Burns, who put up a $250,000 challenge grant matched by other donors.
"Heading up Florida Red and Blue are two veteran political fundraisers. The group's chairman is Jon Kislak, a Miami Lakes banker who served as a top Republican fundraiser for Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum and former U.S. Rep. Clay Shaw. The group's finance chairman, Bob Farmer, served as national treasurer for the Democratic presidential campaigns of John Kerry and Bill Clinton." "$1 million raised to fight gay marriage embargo". More: "Gay-marriage-amendment opponents ready for fight".
How Green Is Our Charlie
"Crist wants to follow California's lead and turn Florida into a green state by capping greenhouse gas emissions, requiring environmentally friendly building codes and turning state government into a model of energy efficiency. If adopted as drafted, a series of executive orders Crist could sign as early as Friday will change the state's environmental landscape. Dirty power plants would be required to dramatically reduce emissions while converting 20 percent of their production to renewable energy. Greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles would be cut." "Crist Sees Florida As Green Leader". See also "Crist releases draft of energy policy", "Crist calls for 10 percent cut in greenhouse gases in five years", "Crist to order energy conservation, lower emissions at summit", "Crist unveils a greener future", "Schwarzenegger pumps up Crist's summit on climate" and "Crist to sign strict emissions orders".
They Daytona Beach - News Journal editorial board: "Crist's climate summit should call for action by all Floridians".
A pair of editorials from the Tampa Tribune: "Crist Hosts Forum Of Cool Ideas In Quest For Energy Reform" and "Florida: The Fuel-Friendly State".
"Miami-Dade County voters will have their second chance in three years to legalize slot-machine gambling next January, the County Commission decided Tuesday." "Miami-Dade Commission paves way for slots vote".
Isn't That A Nice Headline
"Ex police union leader gets 5 years for molesting girls".
Why not simply say that "Union bosses are not only mobbed up thugs, they're also child molesters".
Another Fine Mess
"Crist and Florida lawmakers are getting the big insurance savings they sought - but not necessarily for homeowners. Florida Farm Bureau Casualty Insurance seeks a 30.3-percent rate increase, to offset almost all the cuts it made last month in response to a doubling of backup hurricane coverage subsidized by the state. In often confrontational exchanges with state regulators on Tuesday, the insurer explained why it used those potential savings to buy more storm protection for itself, rather than lower premiums for policyholders." "Insurance company defends rate boost".
"Arizona senator and presidential hopeful John McCain endorsed Charlie Crist for governor even before the Republican primary last year, and then campaigned with him in Jacksonville on the day that Crist famously did not join President Bush at a rally in Pensacola. On Tuesday, with the McCain campaign in turmoil and top staff resigning, Crist said the one-time frontrunner for the GOP nomination was not finished yet." "Crist on McCain".
Naugle's Toilet Scheme
"Thank heaven for term limits. This is Mr. Naugle's last term as mayor." "Mr. Naugle's version of 'Sex and the City'".
The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "Gov. Crist says speculation that Mitt Romney views him as prime vice presidential material is "silly talk." Consider that a new entry in the field of non-denial denials. Gov. Crist, of course, is only being modest - a desirable trait in itself after so many years of Vice President Dick Cheney. In fact, Gov. Crist should be on every GOP hopeful's short list. He is the very popular governor of an enormously important swing state. He has significant legislative victories on his résumé, including property insurance reform and property-tax relief." "Campaign silly season".
made a swing through Hialeah and Jacksonville two weeks ago, went to Daytona Beach on Thursday to tour a plastics manufacturer, then made it to Daytona again for Saturday night’s NASCAR race, and had time to spin through Jacksonville again on Saturday afternoon for a townhall event."Giuliani's firewall".
It shows what Republican consultants have been saying for the last two months about how important Florida is to Giuliani’s bid for the GOP nomination.
"Florida is his firewall," Republican political consultant David E. Johnson said.
Romney leads polling in both Iowa and New Hampshire. But even if Romney wins both, Guiliani’s strategy is to win delegate-rich Florida to catapult him back into the lead in early weeks of the primary season come January.
Slot to be Filled
"A Harvard Divinity School graduate, a veteran prosecutor and a former Marine Corps pilot are the three finalists to be the next U.S. attorney for Central Florida." "U.S. attorney field now at 3".
"For Floridians besieged by soaring home insurance and rising property taxes, this is the cruel twist no one saw coming." "Values decline but assessments go up".
Nation Breathes A Collective Sigh of Relief
"Mitt Romney’s campaign says he never mentioned Florida Sen. Mel Martinez as a possible vice presidential candidate. Martinez’s name was included in a list of possible veep candidates in an Associated Press story over the weekend that said he also mentioned Gov. Charlie Crist and former Gov. Jeb Bush. The AP story reported that Romney said in West Palm Beach that Florida has great leaders, including the current governor, former governor and its Republican senator. That’s Crist, Bush and Martinez." Oh, and by the way,
Martinez, who was born in Cuba, is barred by the U.S. Constitution from serving as either president or vice president."Romney: Mel Not On the List".
"Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Barak Obama, the Rev. Al Sharpton and Wal-Mart CEO Lee Scott will headline the National Council of La Raza's conference in Miami next week, the group announced Tuesday. The annual event is expected to draw thousands of Hispanic students, business leaders, community organizers and officials for four days of educational forums and a little fun. Pop singer Elvis Crespo and Miami's own rapper Pitbull will provide entertainment. The Council will use the event to kick off a national campaign with Univision to register Hispanics to vote in advance of the 2008 election." "Hillary Clinton, Obama and Sharpton headline Hispanic conference in Miami". See also "Hispanic group focuses on voters" and "Latino group pushes to mobilize voters".
The GOP Florida Primary
Yesterday in Politico:
Florida's primary now sits, along with South Carolina's, between New Hampshire's expected Jan. 22 date and "Super Duper" Tuesday on Feb. 5, when a slew of states from California to New York may end the race. South Carolina is now fighting to retain its "first in the South" primary slot and is likely to advance its date."GOP forecast for the Sunshine State".
Nevertheless, the size and visibility of the Florida primary is likely to assure it will receive plenty of focus from the major GOP contenders as they seek a springboard into the Feb. 5 mega-primary date.
Expected to attract thousands of voters two months after the Ames straw poll and less than three months before the first primary votes are cast, Orlando's "Presidency IV" convention, Oct. 20-21, will be the fall's most closely watched political event and will include a nationally televised debate.
"Davis, R-Naples, said Tuesday he would serve out the rest of his current term but not seek re-election to a fourth term in the Florida House." "Rep. Davis won’t run again, cites health reasons".