"The Senate is not an auction"? Surely You're Joking
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Now, our review of today's Florida political news and punditry:
"The Senate is not an auction"? Surely You're Joking
The Palm Beach Post editorial board:
Florida Home Builders Association members are unhappy about rising impact fees, but even the state politicians who usually support the building community were angry about the remedy the group's president chose this week."Builders' negative impact".
Association President John Wiseman posted a message on the builders' Web site Monday, threatening to withhold contributions to incumbent lawmakers who do not sponsor legislation to cap the fees in 2008.
Senate President Ken Pruitt, R-Port St. Lucie, was correct to be "appalled" by Mr. Wiseman's message. The senator urged other lawmakers not only to refuse to endorse or sponsor such legislation but also to return any contributions they have accepted from the builders or the group's related PACs.
"The Senate is not an auction," Sen. Pruitt said, "where the highest bidder wins." Gov. Crist said the group's plan "just doesn't sound appropriate at all."
Shortly after a story about Mr. Wiseman's message appeared in The Palm Beach Post, the message was removed from the builders' Web site.
Bob Graham's Tuition Lawsuit
"Former Sen Bob Graham and others want a court to strip the Legislature of its control over tuition increases, putting the decision in the hands of the appointed Board of Governors. ... Graham, who led the 2002 constitutional amendment that created the board, said universities need a stable source of money if they are going to compete with other schools across the country and spur economic development in Florida." "Tuition battle goes to court". See also "Graham sues over tuition", "Graham files tuition lawsuit", "Fight Begins Over Who Controls Tuition", "Suit would have board of governors, not lawmakers, set tuition" and "Ex-governor leads fight over tuition".
The Tallahassee Democrat editorial board:"When the Florida Board of Governors, somnolent overseers of the State University System, meets in Orlando on Tuesday, it should have more than usual to talk about and at least one thing it needs to do: Step up to the plate."
On Friday, a fire was lighted under the board by former U.S. Sen. Bob Graham - Florida's governor in the 1980s when our universities strived to be in the upper quartile of achievement nationwide. Mr. Graham and a coalition of "concerned citizens" marched into the Second Judicial Circuit Court and sued the Legislature "for its unconstitutional unwillingness to give up control over state university tuition to the BOG.""Wake-up call".
(ed. note: "Somnolent overseers"? We gotta remember that nice turn of a phrase; however, it isn't quite up there with our all time favorite, which appeared in a March 17, 2003 Daytona Beach News-Journal editorial that is no longer online, to wit: "Jeb Bush And His Amen Chorus Of Goose-Stepping Legislators").
"Jeb and Columba Bush Speak At Catholic Youth and Family Event".
Jebbie can't resist striding the world stage: "Since stepping down from office in January, he's been to South Korea, Chile, Brazil, and he also attended a formal white tie dinner for Queen Elizabeth II in the White House. Next stop: Jamaica." "More globetrotting with Jeb". Perhaps he'll leave for good?
"Employees of Sarasota Family YMCA, a Children & Families contractor, and Directions for Mental Health, a YMCA subcontractor, were in charge of Courtney's case. They placed her in four foster homes, but all the while, they aimed for family reunification -- even when signs told them not to, the reports show." "Girl sent back to mom despite warning signs".
The following exposes the stupidity of farming this critical government function out to groups with the historical mission "of promoting Ecumenical Christianity" and "to put Christian principles in to practice through programs that build healthy spirit, mind and body for all", instead of child care professionals:
Errors in the case also reveal numerous cracks and communication breakdowns within the state's public-private child welfare system, where DCF acts as the supervisor of 20 community agencies that administer foster care services directly."Girl pays for DCF missteps".
An internal DCF review placed much of the blame on the Pinellas County foster care contractor, the Sarasota Family YMCA. The YMCA, in turn, has placed a lot of the fault with its subcontractor, Directions for Mental Health in Clearwater, which employed the girl's caseworkers.
E-mails released Friday reveal a power struggle between DCF and the YMCA to find the girl.
DCF contacted the agency at least nine times to figure out why the girl was not being visited by her caseworker or listed as missing.
About five months after the girl disappeared, YMCA senior vice president Christy Kane expressed displeasure in a Feb. 9 e-mail about the fact that a DCF family safety worker was contacting the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the girl's relatives to try to find Courtney.
"Sounds like she is doing diligent searches on our clients ... we can certainly send them all to her if she wants to take that over, " wrote Kane, who could not be reached for comment Friday.
Note: the headline would more appropriately read "Girl pays for DCF private contractor's missteps".
"A grand jury might be looking into political corruption in West Palm Beach, but it's not rattling many cages, let alone threatening to cage politicos." "No word on grand jury action/inaction".
"A 'union' of bias and headline?".
You Gotta Problem Wit Dat?
"Florida Atlantic University President Frank Brogan accepted a $7,362 Caribbean cruise in late 2005 from Barry Kaye, a major donor whose relationship with the university has faced scrutiny in recent months."
Kaye, a Boca Raton insurance magnate, has pledged a total of $17 million to FAU, but has also recently sought to do business with the school. [In May 2007 Kaye, newly appointed to the FAU Foundation board, approached Brogan about a $100 million fundraising idea, FAU officials said. The idea involves FAU taking out life insurance policies on donors with the school collecting when the person dies or selling the policies to a third party. Kaye has expressed interest in brokering the deals.] ..."Some question judgment of FAU president in accepting free cruise".
Kaye treated the Brogans to a first-class experience. Brogan and his wife stayed in Stateroom 1001, which according to the Crystal Cruises Web site is a 491-square-foot penthouse suite, complete with a private veranda, personal butler service, a Jacuzzi-brand bathtub, separate shower and bidet.
If you don't know, "A bidet is a low-mounted plumbing fixture or type of sink intended for washing the external genitalia and the anus. ... Users who are unfamiliar with bidets often confuse a bidet with a urinal, toilet, or even a drinking fountain."
This is off topic, but irresistible: "Fred Thompson, who is weighing a Republican presidential bid as a social conservative, 'has no recollection' of performing lobbying work in 1991 for a family planning group that was seeking to relax an abortion counseling rule, a spokesman said Friday." "Thompson Lobbied for Abortion Rights".
"National Hurricane Center Director Bill Proenza may quit".
Is Feeney Next?
"Justice Department investigators are focusing on the California Republican's dealings with jailed lobbyist Jack Abramoff". "Lawmaker tied to bribery scandals". Pushing Rope has more on the Feeney-Abramoff connection and investigation.
Running Government Like a Business
Here's a great idea: give state employees measly bonuses instead of raises, and then refuse to pay them overtime in violation of labor law: "DCF admits it broke labor laws, agrees to pay overtime backlog".
Charlie's A "Bold" Guy
Apparently bored with slamming firefighters and their "lavish" benefits (see "Who Writes this Garbage?"), The St. Petersburg Times editorial board turns its attention to reminding us how wonderful Chain Gang Charlie is:
Crist is doing more than just talking about his concerns over global warming; he is taking a stand. Just days before he hosts a high-profile summit on global warming in Miami, he shot down a plan for a coal-fired power plant in North Florida."Crist's bold stand against polluters".
How refreshing it is to see a politician do more than just give lip service to the global warming challenge. Crist convinced a consortium of four utilities that their proposed 800-megawatt coal-fired plant was a bad idea, and the companies withdrew the plan. It wasn't the first setback for the utility industry, either.
Crist also objected to an even larger coal-burning plant Florida Power & Light wanted to build near Everglades National Park. With opposition to that plant bolstered by Crist's objections, the Florida Public Service Commission rejected the plant last month. And you might recall that Crist rejected a six-figure campaign check from FPL during his general election campaign after the company backed opponent Tom Gallagher in the primary.
Now That's What We Call an Editorial
The Daytona Beach - News Journal editorial board
With President Bush's approval rating plunging into revulsion's abyss, daily revelations about secretive and destructive policies by his administration seem almost like piling on. At the risk of appearing to add to the pile, we point you to the hypocrisy behind the White House's fanfare last month over the bald eagle's removal from the endangered species list. Off camera for six years Bush has been quietly, methodically crippling the federal agency most responsible for protecting the nation's fish and wildlife.Just read it: "Politics of extinction".
It's an ugly but by now familiar pattern. Behind the trumpeting for the eagle -- whose recovery had long been progressing under protections predating this administration -- species preservation has been compromised throughout the federal system by politicizing the science, slashing budgets, getting rid of enforcement staff and appointing unqualified hacks to do industry's bidding.
"I have been wrong on this exact issue before"
Mark Lane yesterday: "Three Alabama residents who own vacation homes in Pensacola filed a lawsuit in circuit court in Leon County challenging the Save Our Homes amendment. The suit cites the stark difference in the taxes the out-of-state property owners pay compared to Florida residents with homestead exemptions. I'd be surprised if they are successful. The state can say, hey, these are vacation homes. Homes that are taxed more than homesteads whether the owner is a state resident or not. But then, I have been wrong on this exact issue before. And if I am, then reforming Florida's property tax system could soon get even more complicated." Read what he's talking about here: "Lawsuit could make tax mess even messier".
Just Another Day in Central Florida
In scanning The Orlando Sentinel this morning, I noticed this delightful piece:
Body found in Deltona park, Volusia deputies say"The scoop on crime around Orlando...".
Body found in Daytona Beach woods
Human remains found in Osceola belong to a woman
Man shot while standing near stopped car on I-4
Body found by youngsters identified
Makes one afraid to click on "More...".