"Democrat Charlie Stuart wants another shot at Ric Keller."
All of these men -- and they are all men, meaning this slugfest could use some estrogen -- face an uphill battle. The district was drawn for a Republican. Incumbents in Florida rarely lose. And Keller is expected to have plenty of cash."Challengers line up, take aim at Keller".
On the other hand, Keller has some new vulnerabilities. First of all, this whole campaign was never supposed to happen. Keller not only promised not to run for this fifth term; he actually signed a pledge. Plus, his votes on both sides of the Iraq war have irritated some on both sides. ...
Stuart says he wouldn't be running again unless he thought he could win. Last year, the business consultant and motivational speaker lost a competitive race to Keller 53 percent to 46 percent. But Stuart says he now has more experience, better name ID and a more vulnerable incumbent. "But the big reason," Stuart said Monday, "is that we still need a change. We need someone who will do things because it's the right thing to do -- not because it's the politically expedient thing to do."
"When Karen Armatrout died in 1997, her employer, Wal-Mart, collected thousands of dollars on a life insurance policy the retail giant had taken out without telling her, according to a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court."
Armatrout was one of about 350,000 employees Wal-Mart secretly insured nationwide, said Texas attorney Michael D. Myers, who estimated the company collected on 75 to 100 policies involving Florida employees who died."Attorney: Wal-Mart Collected On Deaths, Insured Employees".
Myers is seeking to make the Armatrout lawsuit a class-action case on behalf of the estates of all the Florida employees who died while unwittingly insured by Wal-Mart.
"Creepy's a good word for it," Myers said. "If you ask the executives that decided to buy these policies and the insurance companies that sold them, they would say this was designed to create tax benefits for the company, which would use the benefits for benevolent purposes such as buying employee medical benefits.
"If you asked me, I would say they did it to make more money."
Charlie Kow Tows to Wingnuts
Bill March: "During his campaign and even as governor Charlie Crist has been ambivalent on gay rights and same sex adoption, but he sent a strong signal to the religious right today, appointing Jim Kallinger—who has been director of development for the Christian Coalition of Florida —as director of the governor’s Office of Adoption and Child Protection. His formal title is Chief Child Advocate."
Last year during the campaign, Crist had said he was undecided about gay adoptions but later told The Tampa Tribune editorial board he opposes it. On the other hand, he said he didn’t want Republican party money spent on the antigay marriage amendment some are trying to pass."Crist Names Former Christian Coalition Official to Child Advocate Position". For some reason, Naked Politics missed Kallinger's wingnuttery in this post: "Kallinger gets new assignment in Crist administration"; Political Pulse makes the same mistake here: "Crist Promotes Former Winter Park Rep". The Buzz mentions it in passing: "Kallinger to serve as 'chief child advocate'".
The Cristian Coalition job was the most recent for Kallinger, who served in the Florida House from 2000 to 2004. ...
While in the state House, Kallinger led an effort to give private school vouchers to public school students and filed a bill to ban cloning, saying that the therapeutic use of stem cells was “highly speculative.”
He was one of 21 state legislators filing a friend of the court brief in 2002 arguing that Florida’s ban on gay adoption is not unconstitutional.
"Florida's No. 2 education official is tangled in a cyber-tussle with a tiny Minnesota newspaper and a scientist who blogs about the politics of teaching evolution." "Blogger riles state's No. 2 school chief". More: "Yecke".
"Poker buffs, break out your chips. Expanded gambling laws went into effect this week at card rooms across Florida, allowing poker players to bet more money than ever before." "The state is letting you bet even more at poker".
I Like Shaq, but ...
"Shaq for sheriff? Heat star looks at Broward, Orlando".
Carrie Punches Back
"Former Rep. Carrie Meek, who helped tout a troubled Liberty City biotech park, took on the Miami Herald and the developer of the project in a televised interview. Her comments were prompted by a column in Sunday's Herald by Carl Hiaasen titled, 'Another Colossal Rip-Off.'" "Meek blasts the Herald and the developer".
In "Will DCF really change?", The Orlando Sentinel editorial board can't bring itself to question DCF's rampant privatization, unlike The Tampa Tribune editors who were insightful enough to do so yesterday in "Florida Needs To Take Fresh Look At Privatized Child Protection".
Florida's Booming Economy
"Property appraisers' report reflects slowdown -- coastal areas hit hard" "Housing market still troubled".
"In Miramar, people might be walking through higher grass and attending fewer community events. Cooper City residents might be saying goodbye to one school resource officer and driving over more potholes. ... In June, residents in Weston learned that next year's Fourth of July parade, spring concert and holiday lighting display might disappear with proposed cuts. And in 2008 Pembroke Pines might cancel its city-run day-care programs, along with its Independence Day celebration, and its annual Pines Day anniversary party. Davie residents might see fewer community newsletters and higher fees for youth sports and city celebrations." "Cities propose canceling parties, pruning payrolls".
"The Florida Home Builders Association threatened on its Web site Monday to withhold contributions to incumbent legislative candidates who do not sponsor legislation it wants on impact fees." "Builders PAC ties contributions to fee cap".
"Students' performance statewide in FCAT science portion was dismal, worse even than expected." "Science scores a setback for schools".
The FCAT fans at the The Orlando Sentinel editorial board think its time to buckle down and - well they won't say it - and figure out how to teach to the test: "No excuses".
"Crist on Monday touted a new law aimed at lowering Florida's minority infant-mortality rate." "Grant looks at cause of baby gap".
"This time, Anderson's credibility took a huge hit over his ability to accurately estimate the cost of running an election, a fundamental part of his job — and the timing couldn't have been more sensitive." "Trust in Voting".
Get Over It
"Rubio's words again raise questions about how serious he is about the plan that did pass -- a rollback and cap of local government tax bases and proposed "super" homestead exemptions worth up to $195,000. A statewide vote on the exemptions is set for January. Rubio insists he supports the idea but envisions a more radical overhaul of Florida's tax system." "Rubio still embraces tax 'swap'".
On The Air
"Republican Mitt Romney has run the most television ads of any presidential candidate, with 4,549 commercials in seven states, including 319 in Florida, according to The Nielsen Company." "Romney dominates the air war".
"Car dealers are steamed and a vendor is suspicious of a new law pushed by a powerful lawmaker that helps a company vying to computerize the 2.4 million temporary license tags the state issues every year. ... Rep. Dean Cannon, R-Winter Park, sponsored a stealth amendment in the final days of the legislative session that requires temporary tags issued by more than 12,000 car dealers in Florida to be linked electronically to the DMV." "Temporary-tag law has car dealers riled".
"The Broward State Attorney's Office on Monday asked Gov. Charlie Crist to launch an independent investigation into allegations that a Broward judge inappropriately took a loan from an attorney. It's the second request in three days that the governor appoint an outside agency to investigate the behavior of a Broward judge [including accusations that Circuit Judge Larry Seidlin pressured Roberts into buying Seidlin's wife an expensive purse and Seidlin's family benefited from gifts and land deals from a neighbor.]" "State Attorney's Office asks Gov. Crist to open investigation of Broward judges".
On a related note, "State agency clears Broward Circuit Judge Greene of uttering racial epithet" ("Last week, the state agency that polices judicial conduct found that when Greene uttered the acronym "NHI" (short for "no humans involved") he had no intention of making a racial epithet").
"Floridians have come to expect bureaucratic ineptitude from FEMA, but now they may have to start getting used to delusional behavior, too. The Federal Emergency Management Agency is holding up 23 projects to bolster government buildings against hurricanes because coordinators are insisting that the improvements protect against 200 mph winds. FEMA probably wants them to stand up to basketball-sized hail and avalanches, too." "Hard heads, weak minds".
"Republicans have already launched their first attack mail piece against [state Rep. Keith Fitzgerald, D-Sarasota] in preparation of the November 2008 election. The piece centers on Fitzgerald’s vote on the tax plans. It wasn’t just that Fitzgerald voted against one half of the big GOP tax cut plan, but Republicans noticed he took to the floor to rip the idea as bad public policy and a letdown of what could have been accomplished." "Fitzgerald's role changes".
"Seven years after the giant Everglades restoration project began, some of its crucial elements are already six years behind schedule and the cost has ballooned to nearly $20-billion, according to the federal government." "Everglades restoration bogs down". See also "Delays, costs plague Everglades cleanup", "Price for Everglades restoration soars to nearly $20 billion" and "Costs rise as Glades plan lags".
If You Repeat It Enough Times ...
"The Republican Party of Florida today sent out an 'In case you missed it' notice touting the Wall Street Journal's editorial Saturday about what it labeled Florida's 'tax revolt.' The well-crafted [sic] editorial contained an error that is likely to get repeated by promoters of the tax plan unless voters and readers call them on it. So here goes: The bill the governor signed contains a $15.6 billion tax cut over the next five years, not $32 billion as the Journal, and some promoters of the plan, might have you believe." "Touting tax revolt with the wrong number".
No Can Do
"A bankruptcy judge in Jacksonville initially said Jacobs, longtime lobbyist for Florida's prosecuting attorneys, could discharge the tax debt along with other debts when he declared bankruptcy in 2003. Federal prosecutors appealed, saying Jacobs lived a lavish lifestyle, titled a house at the posh Amelia Island Plantation near Fernandina Beach in his wife's name and deliberately avoided paying his taxes. ... The Atlanta appeals court, in a decision written by U.S. 9th Circuit Judge Arthur L. Alarcon, said Jacobs 'willfully attempted to evade or defeat his taxes' and cannot avoid paying income taxes for the years 1990 through 1995, 1997 and 1998." "Judge rules lobbyist can't shed tax debt".