When they are not trying to wipe out firefighter and law enforcement defined benefit pension plans, the Florida League of Cities has to do something with its free time:
A "Death by Chocolate" extravaganza. Lobster tail and an open bar at Fulton's Crab House. Filet mignon at Morton's Steakhouse. Dinner and drinks at Disney's exclusive California Grill."Treats flow at parties for elected officials (with document)".
These events, paid for by lobbyists and special-interest groups, are among the ways ... Florida's elected officials will spend their time this weekend during a taxpayer-funded conference in Orlando.
Though these private after-hours parties are rarely advertised, they are a longstanding part of the Florida League of Cities' annual conference, a three-day seminar that kicks off today at the Orlando World Center Marriott.
"The most misunderstood guy on Earth"
Bill Cotterell: " House Speaker Marco Rubio removed Rep. Bob Allen as chairman of an energy panel Wednesday and said he can't be an effective legislator after his arrest on charges of soliciting for prostitution."
Allen said public ridicule and presumption of guilt has been difficult for him and his family, comparing his treatment to the system in totalitarian regimes like Cuba. But he emphasized that he was not comparing Rubio to Fidel Castro, the dictator whom the speaker's family fled decades ago."Embattled Allen says he still won't resign". See also "Legislator removed from committee posts following sex arrest".
''There's supposed to be a difference between totalitarian regimes and our country, but that's the way they do it in Cuba - just bundle somebody off without a trial or any chance to defend themselves,'' said Allen. ''I'm not trying to compare the speaker, though. I should have used North Korea or some other example.''
Allen's comments Wednesday come after an uproar caused by transcripts and recordings of statements he made following his arrest. To police, he denied going to the park for sex and said he felt threatened by the presence of black men - including the arresting officer - in the area.
Allen said he was notified of his removal from the Energy Committee chair by a voice message left by the speaker prior to the announcement. He said he was not surprised, but ''I certainly disagree'' about not being able to effectively represent Brevard and Orange Counties in the House.
''That printed statement was tougher than our verbal communication we've had with each other,'' Allen said. ''The speaker has always assured me that the House would do nothing to damage our defense.''
Allen also said that ''there's a lot of political pressure at work here,'' with blogs and editorial comments calling for his resignation, even late night TV comics making lurid jokes. Some civil-rights activists in Central Florida last week called for his resignation because of his reference to black men.
"Hours after state Rep. Bob Allen was unceremoniously stripped of his legislative-committee appointments Wednesday, he said he is perhaps 'the most misunderstood guy on Earth.'" This guy really needs to shut his pie hole:
"Never was I trying to ever say Marco is the new Fidel. That's the most insulting thing you can tell anyone in Miami," Allen said. "I would have used North Korea if I thought more.""Cuba remarks criticized after Allen loses committee posts". More: "State Rep. Allen stripped of committee positions".
An official in Rubio's Tallahassee office said the speaker wasn't available for comment.
The political faux pas comes shortly after he riled residents and activists with what he told Titusville police. He told them he played along when the officer suggested sex in a park restroom because the "stocky black guy" intimidated him.
"Florida could shut down juvenile detention centers, shrink prevention programs and slash other services for troubled youths to trim its budget." "Hands off my budget, Juvenile Justice chief pleads".
"With a new governor at the helm of the nation’s largest swing state, the Washington-based green group Environmental Defense decided the time was ripe to make an impression." "Environmental defense groups spend big in Fla".
Clint Curtis Announces
"Clint Curtis, the Titusville Democrat who ran unsuccessfully against Republican Tom Feeney for the U.S. House District 24 seat last year, has decided to try again in 2008." "Curtis plans another run for Congress in Feeney district".
"Community colleges are facing a 'double-whammy' from impending spending cuts because their enrollment is soaring although their budgets are based on last year's attendance, Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp acknowledged Wednesday." "Community colleges face 'double-whammy' from budget cuts".
Are Dems Commies or Fascists?
"Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney raced through Central Florida on Wednesday, saying his business experience and commitment to conservative principles make him the Republicans' best hope at retaining the White House in 2008." One has to wonder if remarks like those quoted below truly motivate Florida Republicans; on second thought they probably do:
Speaking to a crowd of about 300 people, Romney said that if Democrats win the presidency, it will be "out with Adam Smith and in with Karl Marx." But he also criticized Republicans -- if indirectly."Romney rolls into Central Florida".
Imagine the outrage if a Democrat said that
if Republicans win the presidency, it will be "out with Adam Smith and in with Adolf Hitler."Imagine?
To make this even more of a laff riot, consider this July 17, 2007 doggerel from the "Free Marked News Network: "Why do Billionaires Fund the Democrats' Fascist Economic Policies?"
The poor wingnuts can't figure out of Dems are Communists or Fascists. Perhaps this will help - here are some of the significant features of a fascist economic system:
- "One significant fascist belief was that prosperity would naturally follow once the nation has achieved a cultural and spiritual re-awakening.""General characteristics of fascist economies" (footnotes omitted). If the wingnuts want to get into a silly name calling game, they ought to get their facts straight.
- "Fascism also operated from a Social Darwinist view of human relations. Their aim was to promote 'superior' individuals and weed out the weak."
- "In terms of economic practice, this meant promoting the interests of successful businessmen while destroying trade unions and other organizations of the working class."
- "Historian Gaetano Salvemini argued in 1936 that fascism makes taxpayers responsible to private enterprise, because 'the State pays for the blunders of private enterprise... Profit is private and individual. Loss is public and social.'"
- "Finally, fascism was highly militaristic. As such, fascists often increased military spending significantly, and their main reason for economic development was the wish to have a strong economy backing a strong military."
"Tougher laws and stricter enforcement cost nearly 200,000 U.S. gun dealers their licenses since the mid-1990s, a new study shows. The study says the number of federally licensed firearms dealers fell 79 percent nationwide since 1994. In that year, Congress adopted new gun-control measures that still spark fiery debate." "Gun dealers dwindle since tougher '90s laws".
"Jeff Sadosky, who has been Republican Party of Florida press spokesman for more than a year, is leaving that job to become Florida spokesman for the Fred Thompson presidential campaign." "Sadosky To Be Thompson Florida Spokesman". See also "Talking head’s with Fred" ("GOP political heavyweight Randy Enwright, a Sunshine State native, is overseeing the entire 'Friends of Fred Thompson' testing the waters campaign.")
"State insurance regulators said they plan to reject the rate reductions of three homeowners' insurance companies because they are too small." "Florida regulators plan to reject insurers' rates".
"Move To Punch Out Touch Voting Is Pricey".
"Crist continues his green crusade today, traveling to Clearwater to tout a state program that encourages marina owners to protect waterways." "Concern as 'no-fault' nears end".
Those With The Gold ...
... can even avoid traffic jams. "Now it is official: Express toll lanes are coming to Interstate 95. On Tuesday, U.S. Transportation Secretary Mary Peters announced that South Florida was one of five urban areas to get federal grants to fund novel traffic-easing projects. South Florida gets $62.9 million to expand the I-95 HOV lane to two lanes between Fort Lauderdale and Miami for buses and carpoolers. Individual drivers willing to pay a variable electronic toll will also have access to the lanes." "Express toll lanes for I-95? Yes, but . . .". The Sun-Sentinel editors: ""Lexus lanes" may sound bad but worth a try".
"A $1.4 billion plan to restore the Indian River Lagoon is expected to win the final approval of the U.S. Senate next month as part of a larger water resources bill, U.S. Sen. Mel Martinez told local officials Wednesday." "Martinez vows fight to keep money for lagoon".
"As higher education staffers began to scrutinize the 2008-09 budget, searching for funds to help students in need, they saw $400 million that could not be touched. The money in question comes from the Lottery-sponsored Bright Futures Scholarships." "Lottery-sponsored Bright Futures funds untouchable".
"Death By A Thousand Cuts"
"It's hard to say which is worse, shrinking the boundaries of a public-land preservation program or forcing taxpayers to help fund development in risky coastal areas." "Florida's Coastal Lands Facing Death By A Thousand Cuts".
What "Economic Boom"?
"Saying there's 'gold in green,' Gov. Charlie Crist predicts his sweeping efforts to reduce greenhouse gases and ratchet up use of alternative energy in the state also will provide an economic boom." "Crist: Economic boom may have green roots".
"The father who dropped his hours-old baby boy at a Palm Beach County hospital earlier this week did the right thing. The child is safe, and that's what matters most. In Florida, the baby was the 79th surrendered to authorities since state legislators passed Florida's Safe Haven law in 2000. The drop-off occurred a week after a mother relinquished her baby girl to authorities in Davie a few hours after delivery." "Safe Haven law saving babies".
"If Jeb had taken more vacation days when he was governor, maybe Florida would be in better financial and operational condition today." "Zing!".
Eeny, meeny, miny, moe
"Seven local applicants to replace former Palm Beach County Commissioner Warren Newell met Wednesday with Gov. Charlie Crist." "Hopefuls for Newell seat meet Crist".
The Orlando Sentinel editorial board: "It's outrageous more cities and counties aren't trimming their budgets."
Despite demands for property-tax cuts from businesses and homeowners, an edict from the Legislature to cut spending and the looming specter that voters will demand even deeper cuts in a January referendum, cities and counties around the state are refusing to shrink their budgets."Cut taxes already".
Open-government laws committee
"A committee set up by Gov. Charlie Crist to evaluate Florida's open-government laws will meet next week in Tallahassee." "Committee to study open-government laws in Florida".
"Rudy Giuliani's national campaign manager, Mike DuHaime, joined Bill McCollum today in formally opening Rudy's Florida campaign headquarters in Winter Park. Just a few minutes away, Mitt Romney was doing one of his "Ask Mitt Anything" gigs. Given the odds against both campaigns holding events in the same town at almost the same time, we can't help but wonder who was trying to step on whom. Hmmm. Giuliani now has more campaign workers in Florida - 14 - than any other state ..." "Giuliani showing Fla. the love".
"There's little reason to trust the Legislature"
The Palm beach Post editors:
Republicans have promised that if Florida voters approve a property tax-cutting amendment in January, education will not suffer. Next month's special session to deal with a $1.1 billion deficit in this year's state budget is a test of that promise, and the first signs aren't good. School districts have been told that about $500 million of the budget cuts could come from education."Harm awaits the schools if amendment passes".
The proposed amendment does not exempt public schools. In June, when Senate President Ken Pruitt, R-Port St. Lucie, and House Speaker Marco Rubio, R-West Miami, were seeking support for the amendment, they said that "we intend to hold schools harmless." They didn't provide details on how they would make up the estimated $7.1''billion the property-tax cut would take from schools over the first five years. Instead, legislative leaders have adopted the approach articulated by Senate Majority Leader Daniel Webster, R-Winter Garden: "Every year, we ask the people to trust us when we come up here."
Given the Legislature's chronic failure to adequately pay for education at all levels - pre-K, K-12 community colleges and universities - there's little reason to trust the Legislature. There will be even less reason if legislators cut school budgets next month.