The dead hand of "Jeb!" Bush may be about ready to rise from the grave and saddle Floridians with more of the wingnut garbage that Floridians thought had gone out with the trash last year; this is simply unbelievable:
Florida voters could be asked next year to alter class-size requirements and preserve private-school vouchers."Vouchers and class caps may go on ballot". See also "Tax panel gets school voucher, class size proposals".
An obscure panel with the power to place constitutional amendments directly on the 2008 ballot has been asked to consider dealing with these two controversial education items. Former Gov. Jeb Bush tried to get Florida lawmakers to act on both, but he was blocked in the state Senate by a coalition of moderate Republicans and Democrats.
Now the Florida Taxation and Budget Reform Commission, which meets every 20 years, may take the matter directly to voters. Commission members on Friday were asked by education lobbyists and a private think tank to craft proposals on class size and vouchers.
Allan Bense, a former House speaker and the Panama City Republican who is now chairman of the commission, said either item could be dealt with by the commission since both affect state spending. ''Education clearly affects the budget, and this is clearly an education issue,'' he said. ...
The commission, which has 25 voting members, needs just 17 votes to put a constitutional amendment directly on the 2008 ballot. Several members of the commission are former top aides to Bush, who tried unsuccessfully to get the Legislature to preserve vouchers and to change the class-size amendment.
"A sprawling rural legislative district west of the Apalachicola River poses a test of whether Democrats can break the Republicans' monopoly in this close-knit region of hunting, fishing and white-steepled churches. The Democrats' possible savior is John McDaniel, who for nearly three decades has been sheriff of Jackson County. 'Johnny Mac,' as he is known, is running for the District 5 House seat being vacated by Don Brown, a feisty Republican from DeFuniak Springs, who will be term-limited out of office in 2008." "Can a Democratic sheriff break into a Republican stronghold?".
Political Head Fakes
In sports, like politics, it is often useful to have a good head fake. And Florida's politicos, the frustrated elementary school athletes that many of them are, have developed pretty good political head fakes. Just today we read these gems:
- The Miami Herald: "Seven months after Florida lawmakers expanded the government's role in the state's insurance market, rates should be lower and insurers should be willing to write more policies. Just the opposite is happening. What went wrong?" "Why insurance reform is falling short"
- The Orlando Sentinel: Local government "fee increases threaten to erase some or all of the initial savings in property taxes, which lawmakers put at $174 for the average homeowner this year." "Lower taxes might cost you".
As reported yesterday,"majority of Florida voters supports a plan to super-size the homestead exemption - even though they don't know much about it."
Fifty-seven percent of respondents to a Quinnipiac University poll said they support the Constitutional amendment proposed by GOP lawmakers to cut property taxes by increasing the homestead exemption."Poll Shows Support For 'Super' Tax Exemption". More: "Voters back larger homestead exemptions".
That's just shy of the 60 percent approval needed for passage, despite 67 percent of respondents saying that the amendment needs much more explanation.
Anybody But "Jeb!"
"Florida voters love Gov. Charlie Crist as much as ever, giving him a 73 - 11 percent job approval, but 72 percent say his insurance reform plan hasn't delivered lower rates, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released [Thursday]. This is Gov. Crist's fourth approval score at 69 percent or higher."
The St. Pete Times editorial board: "Florida quit electing an education commissioner eight years ago, believing that professional credentials might prove more valuable than political ones."
Two politically motivated appointees later, the state only now has the chance to get it right. It is conducting its first national search for a commissioner, and public schools deserve a new brand of leadership."Change needed at education agency".
The first two appointed commissioners, Jim Horne and John Winn, served as little more than campaign staff for a governor, Jeb Bush, who was so absorbed by his own education agenda that he has seeded a private foundation to safeguard his legacy. Bush didn't bother with either a search or the pretense that the appointed Board of Education would, as required by law, make the decision. The only qualification that seemed to matter was obedience.
Even Knuckle Draggers Get It
The story of one GOPer, who was f/k/a Chain Gang Charlie, who picked up his knuckles a little bit:"How Gov. Crist became Gov. Climate".
Will They Vote?
"After Cuban-Americans, Puerto Ricans make up the state's largest Hispanic population and its most politically independent -- key swingers in a swing state."
Both parties seek to claim them. Democrats point to Puerto Ricans' traditional alignment with their party and tout their potential to counter the Republican Cuban-American vote. Republicans boast of the more business-oriented Puerto Ricans who increasingly call central Florida home."Puerto Ricans, swing voters in a swing state, but will they vote?".
But both parties are loath to admit one uncomfortable fact: as U.S. citizens, Puerto Ricans are the only Hispanic immigrants in Florida who can automatically register to vote, yet more often than not, they don't.
Florida's Booming Economy
"The slowdown in the housing market showed up in Florida's June unemployment figures, state officials said Friday. With an increasing number of construction workers out of jobs, the unemployment rate increased to 3.5 percent, up from May's 3.4 percent, the Florida Agency for Workforce Innovation reported." "Layoffs in housing slowdown push up Florida jobless rate". See also "Jobless rate rises sharply".
"The state will deny a planned home insurance rate increase by Florida Farm Bureau's two property insurance companies, which have about 140,000 homeowners policies, the Office for Insurance Regulation said Friday." "State rejects Fla. Farm Bureau home insurance rate increase". See also "Insurance companies gear up for new round of battles".
"Crist to study ethanol in South America".
"I Wanna Be Sedated"
This is off topic, but you might want to know that "Bush transferred the powers of the presidency to Vice President Dick Cheney on Saturday just before being sedated for a screening to detect colon cancer." "Bush transfers power to Cheney".
"Capital reporters got an unintended peek into the inner workings of Gov. Charlie Crist's communications machine when an aide accidentally e-mailed a roundup of the day's media inquiries." "Surprise: You've got mail - from the Gov.'s office".
Reagan Fan Club to Meet
"The hometown of Republican Gov. Charlie Crist has been picked to host a nationally televised debate for GOP presidential candidates in September." "GOP presidential candidates to debate in St. Petersburg".
Meanwhile, "Fred Thompson gaining on Rudy Giuliani among South Florida Republicans": "Giuliani still leads the Republican presidential race in South Florida. But Fred Thompson, an aging actor with a Reaganesque persona, is rapidly gaining support as the leading conservative alternative, poll results and political observers say.
"A lawsuit highlights a fierce tug of war over the state's popular scholarship program." "Not such a bright future".
State Sanctioned Murder
Mark Schlakman, director of the Center for the Advancement of Human Rights at Florida State University and board chairman of the Innocence Project, writes today that, upon
reading various articles and related wire service accounts of Gov. Crist's first death warrant, I was struck by the fact that the American Bar Association's recent and relatively comprehensive report on Florida's death penalty process was not mentioned, notwithstanding that direct reference was made to the Commission on Administration of Lethal Injection report and recommendations."Death order ignores ABA study".
Given that Florida has the dubious distinction of being the state with more death penalty exonerations than any other, the ABA report's main objective is to identify issues and problems that undermine the fairness and accuracy of Florida's death penalty process. The ABA report neither supports nor opposes capital punishment.
Simply put, such issues and problems must be addressed by the state to ensure that innocent people are not executed. Each of Florida's three branches of government has a significant role to play. Unfortunately, it appears as though relatively little action has been taken by state officials to address these concerns since the ABA report was released last fall.
Mouth-Breathers Alive and Well In Florida
The Palm Beach Post goes out on a limb by suggesting that "providing all views usually is a better solution than banning some books." "What to ban? Book bans".
Barack Obama has repeatedly refused to say whether he’ll campaign in Florida if the Democratic National Committee imposes a boycott on the state because of its too-early primary date."Is Obama Sending A Primary Message?".
But when he announced the members of his Florida Advisory Committee Friday, he may have sent a signal.
One of the 36 members of the committee is state Sen. Jeremy Ring, who sponsored the Senate version of the bill setting Florida’s primary date as Jan. 29. ...
By choosing Ring, a strong advocate of Florida for an early primary, who has said candidates can’t afford to boycott the state, Obama may be sending a message.
Credit Where Credit Is Due
"One of Florida's leading Democratic rainmakers has called the whole thing off."
Orlando trial lawyer John Morgan, who has personally given hundreds of thousands of dollars to Democrats and helped raise much more, is so fed up with his party's failure to stop the war in Iraq that he canceled an upcoming fundraiser at his home. Take $250,000 and kiss it good-bye."Fed-up donor pulls plug on Democrat pols".
''I told Chuck Schumer, I'm through,'' he said, referring to the New York senator who heads the Democratic Party's fundraising arm for the Senate. ``As a Democratic donor, I am going on strike.''
Morgan is considering full-page ads in the New York Times, Washington Post and USA Today to encourage other donors to join his boycott, disgusted with the latest effort by Democratic senators to stop the war by pulling an all-nighter.
Gearing up for Tuesday's marathon debate, Democratic leaders dispatched interns to buy toothpaste, toothbrushes and deodorant for their GOP colleagues. Reporters were summoned to watch pillows and cots being dragged in to a room off the Senate floor.
Long after the photo ops faded and the pizza had gone cold, Democrats failed to muster enough votes to begin withdrawing troops.
''That was all publicity and hype,'' Morgan said of the round-the-clock debate. "Come on. I can sleep sitting in a chair.''