"The Wall Street Journal’s opinion page sharply criticized Gov. Crist today with a little help from former Gov. Jeb Bush. The Journal is unhappy with Florida taking on much of the insurance risk in the event of a major hurricane." "Jeb Bush takes on Crist". From the editorial:
Florida Governor Charlie Crist didn't appreciate our coverage of his plan to socialize his state's disaster insurance market and put taxpayers on the hook for billions. Now his populist lunge has won him a more formidable foe in the Sunshine State: his predecessor as Governor, Jeb Bush."Hurricane Jeb".
The highly popular [sic] Mr. Bush doesn't make a habit of violating Ronald Reagan's Eleventh Commandment ("Thou Shalt Not Criticize Fellow Republicans"), but he's making an exception here. BestWeek, a trade publication of insurance rating firm A.M. Best, quotes Mr. Bush criticizing states that are crafting disaster insurance plans "that are as bad as the natural disasters themselves." Which states? "My beloved state of Florida has taken steps along that path." Ouch.
"The Republican presidential primary in Florida is a tight race, according to an InsiderAdvantage poll, while a Quinnipiac University survey shows Rudy Giuliani with an 11-point lead over Fred Thompson."
What gives?"Pollster grudge match in Fla. GOP race". See also "Poll: Thompson Closes Gap Among Florida Republicans".
Atlanta-based InsiderAdvantage wanted to find out. So one of its publications, Southern Political Report, paid a Washington firm, Mason-Dixon Polling & Research, to do its own poll.
The results: Giuliani and Thompson running neck and neck. In fact, Mason-Dixon and InsiderAdvantage found the exact same spread, with Giuliani receiving 24 percent and Thompson getting 23 percent of the vote.
The Quinnipiac poll had Giuliani at 28, Thompson at 17.
''It's time to call out this polling organization,'' Matt Towery of InsiderAdvantage wrote about in a nationally syndicated column published Thursday. ``At the very least, Quinnipiac numbers should stop being taken at face value as the paragon of accuracy in Florida.''
Quinnipiac pollster Peter Brown's response was brief: ``We stand by our numbers.''
"Score one for the insurance industry"
"Two Florida Supreme Court rulings released Thursday could dramatically curb liability for insurers, allowing them to pay only actual losses from a covered peril, such as a hurricane or a fire, even if a home is totally destroyed." "Rulings may curb property insurer liability". See also "State high court: Insurers not liable for flood damage from hurricanes" ("Score one for the insurance industry.")
"Gov. Charlie Crist is recommending the state abolish its only STAR program -- the replacement for controversial youth boot camps -- as part of his plans to slash millions of dollars from the state budget." "Crist: Cut cash for youth camp".
"School districts, cities and counties, frantic in the wake of a sweeping property tax ruling issued earlier this month, will get a rare chance to convince the seven justices of the Florida Supreme Court to change their minds." "Court to reconsider property tax ruling". See also "Justices to consider revisiting bond issue" and "Top court to rehear case on voting for borrowing".
The Tampa Trib editorial board: "Closer Look At Tax Reform Reveals Savings And Uncertainty".
"Katherine Harris, Florida’s most notorious former secretary of state, is making one of her first public appearances since her unsuccessful Senate race at a religious conservative conference at Bell Shoals Baptist Church this weekend."
Also speaking at the conference is Rebecca Odell Townsend, who became briefly famous during last year’s governor’s race when she publicly contended that she had borne a baby 18 years ago by Gov. Charlie Crist, then a young lawyer."Harris, Townsend At Family Impact Summit".
Townsend, a lawyer who gives speeches on the Constitution to social and religious conservative groups, wouldn’t talk to a reporter about her child after her appearance on a panel on religious freedom this morning. The child, who apparently was adopted soon after birth by a St. Petersburg family, is now an 18-year-old college student.
Florida's Booming Economy
"Florida's unemployment rate ticked up slightly again in August to 4 percent, the highest it has been since April 2005, the state's Agency for Workforce Innovation said Friday. The increase in joblessness is blamed partly on a slumping housing market. The construction industry has lost 18,500 jobs in Florida since last year. August was the sixth straight month in which Florida has seen a year-to-year drop in construction jobs, the first time that has happened since 1992, the agency said." "Florida unemployment continues creeping up as construction slumps".
"The only woman on Florida's death row has taken her case back to the Florida Supreme Court. It previously upheld her murder conviction. Virginia Larzelere's appellate lawyer urged the justices to not only uphold a judge's decision granting a new sentencing hearing but order an entirely new trial." "Fla. Supreme Court hears appeals from only woman on death row".
"Eleven months later, Congress still isn’t close to ruling on Democrat Christine Jennings’ challenge of the November 2006 congressional election. The U.S. Government Accountability Office met with members of Congress behind closed doors on Thursday to tell them that they have nearly finished their initial review of the recounts and audits already completed in Florida. A report is likely to be presented to a congressional task force investigating the election on Oct. 2, said Rep. Charles Gonzalez, D-Texas." "Resolution of voting dispute months away".
"A disabled former attorney returned home Thursday after four years in prison, arriving hours after Gov. Charlie Crist and the rest of the state clemency board pardoned his drug trafficking charges."
It ended a case that gained national attention as an example of outrageous mandatory minimum drug sentences."Disabled man freed early after state reverses drug charge". See also "Full pardon begins to ease man's pain".
Richard Paey, 48, had a broad smile as he exited the vehicle driven by prison officials to his Hudson home in Pasco County.
The Tallahassee Democrat editorial board: "But on Thursday, Gov. Charlie Crist and members of the Florida Cabinet - Attorney General Bill McCollum, Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink and Agriculture Commissioner Charles Bronson - displayed compassion and wisdom so extraordinary it was breathtaking." "Righteous".
Grubbing for Wingnuts
"Continuing his push to curry social and religious conservative voters in Florida, Fred Thompson will speak to a dinner of the Florida Family Policy Council, an influential religious right organization, in Hollywood in November. The Family Policy Council is headed by Christian right activist and Orlando lawyer John Stemberger, and is associated with James Dobson’s Focus on the Family. " "Thompson To Speak At Religious Right Dinner".
The Wheels of Justice
"After more than 19 years in prison, Larry Bostic on Friday walked out of a Broward County courtroom a free man."
Bostic, now, 51, was happy and philosophical about his release on a rape charge after test results showed his DNA does not match evidence from the crime."Citing DNA, court vacates sentence of man in rape case".
"I'm lucky. My family stuck with me through this ordeal," said Bostic before heading to the jail to have an electronic monitoring device removed from his ankle. ...
the rape victim told ... the investigator that she never saw her rapist, Sandler said earlier. She picked Bostic out of a photo line-up because she remembered seeing him, a stranger, in the vicinity of the rape a few days earlier, Sandler said.
They Mean It
"The official early states — Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire and South Carolina — have given their response to Democrats who asked if it was okay for presidential candidates to come to the state convention in October: Sure, IF you agree to move your primary out of the 'pre-window' reserved by the national party for those four states. And then, to show they really mean it, they warned in their letter to Florida Democratic Party chair Karen Thurman that their voters and caucus-goers 'will monitor the candidates and media coverage and will ultimately decide whether the campaigns are keeping their promises.'" "'Early states' to Florida: Be careful, we're watching you". Yesterday: "Sentinel: Top Florida Democrats would end DNC fight".
"The city of Miami could face an additional $23-million in budget cuts after top Republican lawmakers said Thursday they will seek to fix a glitch in the property tax legislation that allowed the city to avoid deeper cuts." "Mistake may mean deeper cuts in Miami".
Not Ready for Prime Time
The St. Pete Times editors:"In Florida, we're used to newcomers making faux pas on matters that those of us who have been here longer than, say, two weeks take for granted."
For example, the Everglades is known as the River of Grass, not the River of Gas, so we understand your mistake when you said you wouldn't remove it from the list of places where you might drill for oil if elected president."For Thompson, a Florida 101".
As an accomplished actor, however, you might have at least read the script first and remembered your lines when you appeared with Gov. Charlie Crist. Asked if you would drill in the Everglades, the proper response wasn't laughter followed by your ad lib: "Gosh, no one has told me that there's any major reserves in the Everglades, but maybe that's one of the things I need to learn while I'm down here."
Obviously, there are lots of things you need to learn about the state. Just be grateful the press didn't ask you about rendering manatees into lamp oil. For future reference, the manatee is Crist's favorite animal, so much so that he's willing to stand up to developers to save the lovable sea cows (sorry, they can't be milked as far as we know).
"A second private insurance company says it is among those under investigation by Florida officials. Cincinnati Financial Corp. told stockholders on Thursday that two of its subsidiaries -- Cincinnati Insurance and Cincinnati Indemnity -- were ordered by Florida's Office of Insurance Regulation to turn over correspondence with trade groups and others." "Second insurance company comes under scrutiny".
"A year ago, the Florida Cabinet offered hurricane-weary homeowners a deal that was hard to refuse. Make your home safer from hurricanes and you'll be eligible for bigger discounts on your homeowners' insurance, the state promised. The Cabinet even ordered insurance companies to double the discounts. But now, Citizens Property Insurance Corp., the state's largest insurer with nearly 1.4 million policies, says it will not be giving policyholders those big discounts for storm-proofing their homes." "Snafu blocks big discounts from Citizens for home fixes".
"Criminal defense attorneys are asking the Florida Supreme Court to block a new law that would slash millions of dollars the state pays in legal fees for poor defendants. The suit asks justices to rescind Gov. Charlie Crist’s recent appointment of five attorneys to head newly created offices of 'Criminal Conflict and Civil Regional Counsel.'" "Supreme Court mulls suit over budget cuts for poor defendants".