That didn't take long:
Another sign how things have changed in the last year in Tallahassee: The two Democratic state senators [Nan Rich and Frederica Wilson] sitting on the Health and Human Services Appropriations Committee expressed deep misgivings Monday about a proposal from a Republican administration to hire 651 more state workers to take over duties now performed by private vendors."Democrats defend privatization".
"Florida's dismal finances"
"Florida's dismal finances will generate cuts in every area of spending, including the state's biggest ticket items - education and health care - top budget officials said Monday." "Budget cuts to touch most areas". See also "Housing slump may force Florida to make $2 billion in budget cuts".
There is some good news: "Another departure from the policy mantra of Gov. Jeb Bush is buried in the billions of dollars in proposed budget cuts state lawmakers began sifting over Monday. The Agency for Health Care Administration wants to end a pilot program called Senior Care that aimed to hand over elderly Medicaid patients in Seminole, Orange, Brevard and Osceola counties, as well as the Pensacola area, to managed care companies. Killing off the project would save the agency $332,000 -- a pittance of the $685 million in cuts it’s proposing as lawmakers approach a September budget-cutting session." "More of Jeb's Legacy Threatened".
And You Thought This Year Was Bad
"Florida's budget woes got worse Monday as state economists warned that revenues will fall short by $2.5 billion next year unless lawmakers severely cut spending on the state's $71 billion budget." "More budget cuts loom". See also "State's $1 billion shortfall just the beginning of red ink", "State's Finance Picture Dim, Economists say" and "Florida's fiscal outlook bleak" ("The fiscal picture is getting gloomier and budget cutting will have to stretch longer, into next spring, lawmakers learned Monday.")
Adam Smith may have a point: "Sure, the DNC promises to strip all of Florida's 210 delegates to the presidential election."
So what? These days, conventions rarely are more than giant commercials anyway. Once a Democratic nominee emerges, he or she will take over the party and make sure Florida has a full presence at the national convention in Denver."Early primary heat? Bask in it". Meanwhile, "Thurman Holds Conference Call With Delegation On Primary". More: "Candidates eager to court state" ("Florida lures presidential hopefuls despite flap over early primary").
Besides, that Jan. 29 ballot in Florida includes a crucial property tax initiative loathed by most Democratic leaders, who want serious voter turnout to defeat it. Crying about a meaningless presidential primary sure won't help that cause.
"Why worry about how to select delegates at this point? This is how Democrats will lose, when the party activists worry only about how to get to the convention instead of how to get voters out to vote," Miami-Dade Democratic state committeewoman Cindy Lerner said in an e-mail Monday.
State Democrats should crow about Florida getting an early voice in the presidential nomination. To candidates tempted to skip the Sunshine State because no delegates are at stake, Florida Democrats should loudly question whether any candidate can pretend to be viable in the general election without fighting hard to win over Florida Democrats on Jan. 29.
Florida Republicans, who know a thing or two about winning, are essentially in the same boat. They broke their national party's rules, too. But you don't hear them threatening lawsuits and moaning about lost delegates.
The Miami Herald editorial board: "With its vote to oust Florida from the convention, the DNC revealed its true status on controlling the party -- it's a paper tiger." "DNC overreaches on primary issue". The Tampa Trib editors: "By Refusing To Count Our Votes, Democrats Are Writing Off Florida".
The talking heads are asking: "Is this the end of political conventions?": "ABC News political analysts Cokie Roberts and George Will suggested on Sunday that the DNC’s decision to ban Florida delegates from next year’s convention in Denver is not a big deal for the Sunshine State and could mark the end of national political conventions." Brian Crowley poses the question: "Are New Hampshire voters really any better than Florida voters?" Back at the ranch: "A Democratic state representative said Monday that if national Democrats penalize Florida for moving up its primary, they're no better than Republicans. 'Florida Democrats were disenfranchised in 2000 but at least then it was done by Katherine Harris and a Republican apparatus," said Rep. Dan Gelber, D-Miami Beach. 'You don't expect your own party to do it.'" "Democratic state lawmaker compares party to GOP, Katherine Harris".
"Florida elections officials have thrown a curveball onto the state's political playing field -- campaigns can't poll voters about issues."
For starters, it means political campaigns pushing ballot initiatives, such as one to change Florida's property tax structure, are forbidden from surveying voters to find out how they might fair at the polls. ..."Elections ruling snuffs out issue polling". See also "Statute forbids issue-oriented polls".
"Truthfully, no one ever posed the question before, but the law is very clear," said Sterling Ivey, spokesman for the Department of State. ...
There are plenty of ways around the law: other entities, such as issue-oriented electioneering and advocacy groups can pay for polls, Ivey said.
She Even Used That Icky "Union" Word
"U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton brought a populist, pro-labor message to Central Florida on Monday, telling about 700 union members that the country can't afford another Republican presidency." "Presidential hopefuls reach out to machinists union".
Credit where credit is due: "Huckabee takes his turn with union crowd".
"State Rep. Bob Allen won a small victory in court Monday when prosecutors agreed not to use controversial comments he made after his arrest on charges of soliciting prostitution because police didn't read him his rights. But Assistant State Attorney Pat Whitaker said there still is enough evidence to convict Allen. And, even if the lawmaker is acquitted, some said the statements would haunt him for a long time, possibly ending his political career."
In the taped statement that was tossed out Monday, Allen said he was just playing along because he was intimidated by the undercover officer, who he described as a "stocky black guy," and that he thought he was going to be robbed."Allen's trial is on, comments out".
"The Byrd Alzheimer's Center could have a tough battle ahead to keep its funding this year, if Monday's talk in the Senate was any indication" "Alzheimer's Research In Budget Cross Hairs".
"Rubio: Insurance reform, tax cut fall short" ("Insurance reforms and property tax cuts approved by the Florida Legislature this year have fallen short of expectations, House Speaker Marco Rubio conceded Monday.")
Ahem ... Could it be Politics?
"A judge criticized state child welfare officials Monday for saying a Cuban girl at the heart of an international custody battle would be irreparably damaged by being taken from her foster parents and returned to her father, because she'd formed a bond with them." "Judge criticizes Florida over Cuba custody battle".
Challenging "Chain-gang Charlie"
"James McDonough is one of the longest serving top state officials in Florida, having been the so-called Drug Czar for most of the Jeb Bush administration and now serving as secretary of the Department of Corrections under Gov. Crist. He is also a man who has the wisdom and the gumption to try to lead the leaders, coming up with proposals such as this week's suggestion that his agency can save 10 percent by moving thousands of state inmates from prisons to work release, substance abuse and education programs."
In a report Saturday in the Sarasota Herald Tribune, Mr. McDonough said he realized this would be a shift from more than a decade of hard-line policies - including those emanating from the governor's own "chain-gang Charlie" years. In the 1990s, then-state senator Crist lead lawmakers in mandating that all inmates serve 85 percent of their sentence, and promoted work on roadside labor crews."Cut hard time".
But the governor said last week that he respects Mr. McDonough's "excellent judgment" and would like to see what offenders would be under consideration, and whether they would indeed pose little threat to the public.
This is an open-minded view not reflected in the Senate where criminal justice committee chairman Victor Crist (no relation to the governor) reacted more negatively.
Florida's Booming Economy
"The slump, the worst seen in 16 years, is predicted to worsen. Sales of existing homes dropped for a fifth straight month in July while the number of unsold homes shot up to a record level." "Home sales, prices tumble".
"Selecting a new U.S. attorney for the north and central Florida region should proceed as planned, despite U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales' resignation, say lawyers familiar with the process." "Resignation is unlikely to affect Florida appointment".
"Republican Bruce Cotton, who last year lost a primary against Dottie Reeder, is running again for state House District 51, against incumbent Democrat Janet Long." "Bruce Cotton v. Janet Long".
Those Greedy, High Paid Public Employees Are Never Satisfied
"Longtime Florida Highway Patrol troopers continue to leave the agency in droves for higher-paying jobs as police officers, deputy sheriffs and even federal air marshals." "Low pay drives troopers to the exits".
We Luv Our Unions
"Some [Tampa] city council members want to put some muscle behind defeating January's referendum on a homestead superexemption. At a recent city council budget workshop, Councilwoman Mary Mulhern suggested that the police and firefighter unions work to persuade residents to vote against the measure. Mulhern said she wants to turn to the unions to lobby against the referendum. 'We need to get that message out to the voters.' ... Councilwoman Linda Saul-Sena likes Mulhern's idea." "Council Members Want Unions To Fight Superexemption".
Is This Really A Mystery?
"A former U.S. Marine shot and killed two political consultants before killing himself last week but investigators still cannot say why, the Orange County Sheriff's Office announced Monday."
Forensic evidence identified Jason Drake as the killer of Republican strategists Rafael "Ralph" Gonzalez and David Abrami, sheriff's Cmdr. Joe Picanzo said."Police: Ex-Marine killed consultants, self".
"What prompted him to go in and commit that crime remains undetermined and may never be known," Picanzo said. "We have had so many different and conflicting statements from people." ...
"All three associated socially and professionally to some degree," said Picanzo, who did not know how the three met.
Gonzalez, 39, was the president of Strategum Group and a former head of the Republican Party in Georgia. He managed U.S. Rep. Tom Feeney's 2002 campaign and the 2003 Orlando mayoral campaign of advertising executive Pete Barr.
Abrami, 36, an attorney who previously worked with Orlando political consultant Doug Guetzloe, had a room in Gonzalez's house. He graduated from the University of Central Florida and Washington & Lee University School of Law and clerked for a federal judge in Alabama before practicing antitrust law in Atlanta, according to his online resume.
Stupid Is ...
Pamela Hasterok: "Hoard $20 million and lose $20 million and what do you get? Half a million children with no health care."
It didn't have to be that way."Get mad: Child health low priority".
If only Florida lawmakers had spent $20 million this spring to fix the problems with the state's complicated system for insuring children from working class families, so many more could see a doctor today. If only legislators had committed to ensuring health care for our children, more kids could receive the hospital treatments they need.
But that's not what happened.
Pressured by the HMOs that provide health care to children whose families earn too much to receive Medicaid, the Senate killed a bill that would have made it easier to cover children and keep them insured. Had the state been spending what it should to guarantee health care for children from lower income families, it wouldn't have to return $20 million to the federal government this year.
That makes $140 million since 1998 Florida has been forced to give back in matching money for children's health care.
So, no surprise, almost one in five children in Florida doesn't have health insurance.
Yet the state's top brass won't do anything about it.
"Complex and convoluted"
"The head of Florida's housekeeping agency said Monday taxpayers often lose money on major purchases because state rules are so "complex and convoluted" that companies don't want the bureaucratic hassle of selling to government agencies." "DMS chief pans purchasing rules".
"Florida's fat, but neighbors are fatter".
"A cultural action organization, Florida Family Action, is urging people to call and write Gov. Charlie Crist to oppose a compact with the Seminole Tribe of Florida to allow slot machines at seven tribal gambling sites. The Orlando-based group's email implies Crist broke a campaign promise to oppose expansion of gambling in Florida ('Ask Gov. Crist to keep his promise not to expand gambling in Florida,' the email header says). Florida Family Action's leader, John Stemberger, is a prominent social conservative who supported Crist's Republican opponent, Tom Gallagher, last year." "Anti-gambling group targets Crist".
Daniel Ruth has a little fun with the issue:
Alas, the idea of people having a good time rubbed House Speaker Marco Rubio, the Jimmy Olsen of the Apalachee Parkway, the wrong way."Charlie Crist Needs A New Pair Of Shoes"
And in a finger-waving commentary published in a recent edition of the Florida Baptist Witness, Rubio fretted that entering into a revenue-generating deal with the Seminoles "is flawed and more importantly morally indefensible."
Couldn't one argue more pointedly that what is really morally indefensible is Florida sanctioning its own daily bolita game, as well as scratch-off gaming cards, in addition to also condoning dog racing, horse racing and jai-alai, while suppressing the Seminoles' lawful right to conduct their own gaming?
Rubio also clucked that while increased crime, drug use and divorce have not increased with enhanced gaming in Broward County, "I say, give it time." Fun guy.
So in addition to being the Speaker of the Florida House, is Rubio also the Karnack the Magnificent of Tallahassee?
All kinds of folks want better schools, more cops, smoother roads, cleaner air, sweet lollipops and warm puppies all the while cutting taxes.
So how do you pay for all of this stuff if you don't want to play roulette footsie with the Seminoles?
Ask Marco Rubio - God's handicapper.
"'I think frankly Gonzales did get a raw deal,' said Stafford Jones, chairman of the Alachua County Republican Executive Committee. Jones described controversy over the termination of several U.S. attorneys as 'probably one of the biggest scams perpetrated on the American people that I have ever seen.'" "Area experts divided over Gonzales' term". Expert?