"Former Republican House majority leader Dick Armey, now head of a national conservative organization, has launched a petition drive opposed to Gov. Charlie Crist’s climate change initiative. Armey doesn’t mince words in his attacks on Crist. 'When people heard Charlie Crist’s promises to follow in the conservative legacy of Jeb Bush and voted for him to be governor of Florida, they didn’t expect to get Nancy Pelosi.'" "Armey Launches Petition Attack On Crist". See also "GOP backlash slams green Gov. Crist", "Rubio wants answers on gambling" and "Angry Florida Republicans venting at Crist".
On a separate front, "House Speaker Marco Rubio continued his attack on gambling Friday by asking Attorney General Bill McCollum what kind of games Indian tribes can conduct." "Speaker asks AG about gambling". "Rubio asks two questions, both of which concern whether Crist or federal law would allow the governor to approve illegal forms of gambling now that the state is negotiating with the tribes." "Rubio wonders: What can Charlie do about gambling?"
"Did your taxes drop like a rock?"
"Legislators predicted typical property tax cuts of $174. Appraisers find it's even less." "Property tax savings don't match the hype".
"Attorneys for state Rep. Bob Allen are trying to get statements he made to police -- including when he told them he was intimidated by a 'stocky black gu'" -- thrown out and the charges dismissed, according to motions filed in court Friday."
Allen, who vehemently denies any wrongdoing and said he is not a racist, gave the statements to officers before he was read his Miranda rights and after several requests to speak to his lawyer, his attorney said. ..."Allen's attorney wants charges tossed".
The motion states Allen, R-Merritt Island, first was questioned while handcuffed and confronted by the arresting officer after it had been made clear to him he was not free to go. Allen told the officer he wanted to speak to attorney Philip Lupo.
Then, while in a holding cell, Allen was approached by Deputy Chief John Lau, who had concealed a tape recorder and questioned him about the "misunderstanding" at the park.
"Mitt Romney has gained some ground—apparently at the expense of John McCain—in two polls in the GOP presisdential in Florida this week. Both showed Romney rising out of single digits, while McCain sinks back into single digits. In a Rasmussen Research poll released [Friday], Rudy Giuliani led with 30 percent of GOP voters, followed by Fred Thompson with 17 percent; Romney, 15 percent; McCain, 7 percent; Mike Huckabee, 5 percent; undecided 22 percent, and four other candidates splitting the remaining 5 percent." "Romney Gains Ground In Florida Polls". See the Rasmussen polling here: Florida GOP Primary: Giuliani, Romney and Huckabee Gain Ground and "Clinton Continues To Dominate Florida Primaries".
"Howdy Doody Looking Nimrod" Speaks
"The 'textbooks of tomorrow' will remember former House Speaker Dennis Hastert as having made a real difference for the nation, says Rep. Adam Putnam, R-Bartow, a close ally of the former House speaker." "Putnam Extols Hastert Following Retirement".
"For a textbook example of why legal-defense funds for lawmakers are a bad idea, consider the one three-term U.S. Rep. Tom Feeney of Oviedo set up to pay his legal bills related to his part in the ongoing federal probe of corrupt lobbyist Jack Abramoff." "Digging himself deeper".
"There was one little-noticed part of the state Republican Party’s action on its national conventional delegate selection plan last week: If the state party incurs a penalty because the state primary is too early, then all its national convention delegates will go to a single candidate. That would be a significant change. It would mean, in effect, that second place doesn’t count, and would help the Florida frontrunner—currently, Rudy Giuliani." "GOP Primary May Be Winner-Take-All".
Bucher to Take on Anderson
"State Rep. Susan Bucher, D-West Palm Beach, will challenge incumbent Arthur Anderson next year for the much-scrutinized job of Palm Beach County elections supervisor." "Official plans to challenge Anderson".
"Florida leads growth in virtual schooling".
"A national news magazine's rankings of the nation's universities dealt Florida schools a gut punch Friday, but that's no reason to worry about the quality of the state's higher-education system."
After all, there are plenty of real reasons to panic about the future of Florida's 11 crowded, underfunded public universities. Legislators' and Gov. Charlie Crist's political sensibilities may be hurt by the perception created by a magazine, but they shouldn't be surprised that negligence over the years is hurting the quality of Florida's public universities. ..."Raise quality". See also "Top Florida schools slip in rankings".
First, the public-relations problem: Take the magazine at face value, and Florida's schools stand as monuments to mediocrity.
UF, the state's flagship university, and FSU, the only other state school to break into the top 126 of the magazine's ranking, each dropped two spots this year. UF is ranked 49th and FSU 112th. ...
In 1989, the state spent $14,039 per university student. This year, when adjusted for inflation, the state spent $10,883. While per-student spending in other states, such as North Carolina, is rising, Florida's is falling.
It's no wonder that Florida universities have the worst ratio of students to full-time professors in the country, that classes are crowded and that it takes Florida students longer to graduate than it does those in other states.
These are real reasons for concern. Florida's universities deserve better.
On Second Thought ...
"Florida's transportation chief agreed late Friday to make bridge inspection reports public. Sen. Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, pushed for public release of inspection reports that the Department of Transportation had refused to release before, contending they were secret under anti-terrorism laws." "DOT releases bridge reports".
"Nelson supports limited troop pullout".
"Sen. Don Gaetz,a Niceville Republican and chairman of the Senate Education Committee, this morning asked a committee of the Florida Taxation and Budget Reform Commission to put a constitutional amendment on the 2008 ballot to overturn the state Supreme Court decision that outlawed one of Florida's voucher programs. Gaetz also suggested offering voters a swap: Freeze class size reduction efforts at their current levels to offset the projected loss of money for schools that may occur if voters approve next year's supersized homestead exemption. That exemption goes before voters next Jan. 29. Gaetz also railed against the Board of Governors, which has just recently asserted that it has the power to set university tuition rates." "Senator asks panel to put vouchers, class size and tuition control on ballot".
"Potential to backfire"
"Florida officials have given regulators another way to challenge property-insurance rates - but it has the potential to backfire." "New hurricane model may raise insurance rates".
"DCF's newfound respect for the state's open government laws includes seeking the public release of records that might even prove the agency did something wrong." "Problem obvious? Good.".
"By appointing school board member Bob Kanjian to a Palm Beach County Commission vacancy, Gov. Charlie Crist picked a stalwart Republican while maintaining his reputation as a GOP maverick. Crist bypassed the anointed candidate of the county GOP leadership, Boynton Beach Mayor Jerry Taylor." "Crist's pick ignores advice of GOP leaders".
"To cut taxes, deal with Save Our Homes"
"For the last several years, the state struggled with runaway increases in property assessments for some while others benefited from Save Our Homes."
Only those who choose to stay in the same permanent residence are rewarded by the cap. If Save Our Homes was approved in 1992 as a means of rewarding home ownership, it's become instead a crimp on mobility within the state's borders for many. It's kept taxes lower for those who don't need to move or don't want to move. But it's also shifted the tax burden to commercial properties, which aren't covered by the cap, to renters, to residents moving into Florida, and to Floridians who change addresses."Skewed cap".
The Legislature didn't fix the problem when it "reformed" some of the tax system in its last special session, nor will the system be fixed should voters approve a constitutional amendment on Jan. 29 that would both allow a continuation of the 3 percent cap or enlarge the homestead exemption up to a maximum of $195,000 (on the most expensive homes). If enacted, that proposal would create further disparities, not narrow them, while keeping in place steeper rates for non-homesteaded properties.
The present system isn't working. The proposed amendment won't be a solution. The way to encourage property ownership, mobility and business is to equalize burdens, not overly favor one group over another. Until homesteaded homeowners agree to such a plan, Florida's tax woes will continue in different guises, no matter the reforms.
Efficiencies ... Yaaawn ...
"Some questions and answers with Gov. Charlie Crist, who met with the editorial board of the St. Petersburg Times on Friday." "Efficiencies, not tax hikes".
Florida's Booming Economy
"State's unemployment rises, job growth slows".
"In a bustling Teamsters Union hall in Orlando this week, a diverse group of allies took the first step toward an all-out effort to defeat the proposed constitutional amendment on property taxes. Teachers, firefighters, social service advocates and labor unions met privately Thursday to begin discussing the effects of the Jan. 29 ballot proposal, which would take $10-billion to $15-billion from local government over four years. Organizers planned on 50 people being there, but 80 turned up." "Opposition forms for tax battle".
"Serious attempts at tax reform haven't gotten very far in Tallahassee in recent years. But while Floridians wait for a broader, fairer system, they should at least be able to count on government to make a genuine effort to collect the taxes businesses are required by law to pay." "Florida's tax collection goes off rails".
How Many Times Did Charlie Fail the Bar?
"Crist wondered Friday whether his new 'Anti-Murder Act' should have kept Hillsborough Sgt. Ronald Harrison's killer behind bars. ... The governor acknowledged, however, that he wasn't sure the statute fit the case." "Did judge obey law?".
"Speaking in South Portland before a conservative think tank, the former Florida governor sidestepped questions about his political future - even after a suggestion that he consider running for governor, of Maine." "Jeb in Maine: 'I don't have ambition in politics.'".
Jebbie's remarks include this deep thoughts:
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush urged Maine's conservative legislators and decision makers on Thursday to take the initiative and propose bold reforms to advance their causes. ..."Jeb Bush promotes 'zeal' for conservative reforms". While Jebbie garners standing ovations from the wingnut fringe, and knuckle dragging dead enders misrepresent his record (see this bit of doggerel in .pdf format: "Governor Jeb Bush: A Record of Leadership and Policy Accomplishment"), even the traditional media has picked up on some of "Jeb!"'s failures. Consider these pieces from the less than radical traditional media types:
The rapid changes in technology, shifting economies and markets, and the "jihadist threat" have created an environment of angst and deep uncertainty across the country, he said.
"This creates an opportunity for conservatives to advance our cause," said Bush. "It is important for conservatives to lead the way and to have a zeal for reform. ... If we lead, people will be drawn to conservative principles beyond reform." ...
Bush said conservatives will make gains by adhering to bedrock principles of limiting government, cutting taxes and urging personal responsibility. Known for his focus on education reform, Bush spent much of his time discussing the highlights of Florida's education reform efforts, from eliminating social promotion to rewarding successful teachers.
"The interesting part of this climate of reform is that reform begets reform," he said, adding that one benefit is that people lose their "fear" of big ideas.
"If we could make the fear of change into the cowardice of 'not' changing, imagine what the world would look like," he said. "It's worth fighting for."
- A traditional media reporter wrote a book that "rips Bush as a arrogant, power-hungry ruler who acted as if he had been elected king, rather than governor." "Jeb in print". His arrogance is manifest: "Bush's history of politically unfortunate rhetoric goes back to 1994, when he famously answered a question on the campaign trail by saying he would do 'probably nothing' for blacks if elected governor." More of Jebbie's "mean-spiritedness " is documented in this Salon article: "When Jeb Bush speaks, people cringe".
- "Nearly one out of every five children in Florida is growing up in poverty, and the state has one of the highest rates in the nation of single-parent families, a report released [on July 24, 2007] says."
- Gross politization of the FDLE: Remember how. about "a month before voters went to the polls, criticism of ACORN mounted. Stuart filed his lawsuit; the Department of Law Enforcement took the unusual step of publicizing the fact it was investigating ACORN; and another lawsuit filed in state court in Tallahassee, but later withdrawn, alleged the group committed fraud in collecting petitions for the ballot measure." As it turns out,"a federal judge in South Florida has ruled at least some of those accusations against grass roots political group ACORN were so baseless they amount to defamation." "Voter fraud charges collapse".
- And then there's Schiavo: "Jeb!" nearly precipitated a constitutional crisis by ordering the FDLE to forcibly take Schiavo to another hospital to reconnect her feeding tube. Local police blocked Jebbie's attempt to effectively kidnap Schiavo. The Miami Herald described it this way: "Hours after a judge ordered that Terri Schiavo was not to be removed from her hospice, a team of state agents was ''en route'' to seize her and have her feeding tube reinserted -- but the agents stopped short when local police told them they intended to enforce the judge's order ... For a brief period, local police, who have officers at the hospice to keep protesters out, prepared for what sources called 'a showdown.' ... the standoff could ultimately have led to a constitutional crisis and a confrontation between dueling lawmen. ... 'There were two sets of law enforcement officers facing off, waiting for the other to blink,' said one official with knowledge of Thursday morning's activities." "Plan to seize Schiavo fizzles: With the aid of a little-known state court rule, Florida officials planned to seize Terri Schiavo on Thursday from her hospice bed. But local police got in the way".
- "Florida's effort to shift Medicaid patients into private and managed care plans may illegally deny benefits to some children and pregnant women, lawyers at the federal Government Accountability Office warned Tuesday." "Lawyers see problems with state's Medicaid shift effort". See also "Report slams Medicare pilot program".
- "There are about 700,000 children in Florida who can't get routine healthcare because they're uninsured." "Florida lawmakers take on children's health care".
- "Bush built a department dedicated not to education but to himself and to his ideology that favored private schools over public schools, with vouchers and bogus school grades as the prime weapons." "Pick education leader to purge Jeb's ideology".
- The Palm Beach Post noted on April 8, 2007 that "the Innocence Project announced last week that it soon will exonerate its 200th inmate nationwide, based on DNA evidence. Florida leads the nation in Death Row exonerations, with 22."
- More than half a million Floridians make less than $7.25 an hour. "540,000 workers in Florida could get boost from increase in U.S. minimum wage"."
- "This past year, Florida ranked second only to Texas in the amount of federal money -- $10.7-million -- it received to spread the abstinence-until-marriage message. That's $11.25 spent for every Florida teen ages 14 to 17." "No-sex lesson rules Florida".
- "The Miami Herald reported in June 2006 that the state's seven-member Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission had approved 'down-listing' the manatee in a unanimous vote and that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was in the process of reevaluating that designation. All seven members of the commission were appointed by then-Gov. Jeb Bush." "Manatee's protection status may be endangered".
- "The bleak spot in Florida's education reform remains its dismal high school graduation rate, and this year the rate slid backward." "Florida's Disturbing, Declining Grad Rate". See also "The latest report comparing high school graduation rates from around the country shows Florida still near the bottom - and there's probably more bad news on the way." "A Summer Of Discontent For High Schools".This from the man who "proclaimed himself the 'education governor'".
- The State University system isn't faring well either: "Top Florida schools slip in rankings".
- "Jeb Bush has already blazed the trail. Florida's governor has been an aggressive privatizer, and as The Miami Herald put it after a careful study of state records, "his bold experiment has been a success - at least for him and the Republican Party, records show. The policy has spawned a network of contractors who have given him, other Republican politicians and the Florida G.O.P. millions of dollars in campaign donations." "Victors and Spoils".
We'll review more (much more) of Jebbie's record in later installments.