Wexler makes a good point:
Five Florida Democrats were among 79 House Dems voting against a Republican-backed measure to condemn MoveOn.org's ad that referred to Gen. David Petraeus as "General Betray Us.""'Policing political ads'".
"Congress should not be in the business of policing political ads," said Rep. Robert Wexler, D-Boca Raton, who voted against the bill, which passed 341 to 79. "The priorities of Congress are ridiculously misplaced when we condemn an organization for a pun that some people found offensive, while previously failing to condemn vicious campaign ads against decorated veterans like Senator John Kerry and Senator Max Cleland."
He was joined by fellow Democratic Reps. Kendrick Meek of Miami, Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Weston, Alcee Hastings of Miramar and Corrine Brown of Jacksonville.
Giuliani in the Lead
"A new Rasmussen poll shows Rudy Giuliani with a 6-point lead over Fred Thompson among Florida GOP voters while a new poll by the Republican Strategic Vision firm has the former New York mayor up by 11 points." "Rudy up in two new Fla. polls".
"Florida lawmakers proposed Wednesday to pull the state out of its budget hole by slashing spending for schools, colleges, health care and other programs."
House Speaker Marco Rubio, R-West Miami, and Senate President Ken Pruitt, R-Port St. Lucie, released plans to slash about $750 million from Florida's $71 billion budget. Among the proposed cuts: $185 million from health care and $103 million from law enforcement and prisons."Secret's out on budget cutting". See also "Legislators look to cut money for schools, health care", "House includes tuition hike in bid to ease budget shortfall" and "House details proposed cuts". More: "State Leaders, Crist Still Split On Tuition Hike".
The blueprint for dealing with a projected $1.1 billion budget deficit sets the stage for a special session beginning Oct. 3. The plan all but ignores Gov. Charlie Crist's ideas for how to ride out the shaky real estate market that is sending tax collections tumbling downward.
The Sun-Sentinel editorial board: "'Targeted' budget cuts should be the approach".
Florida's Booming Economy
"Well, yippee. We're No. 1 again — for all the wrong reasons. This time, South Florida tops the nation in inflationary costs. That's right. The Miami-Fort Lauderdale area's annual inflation rate outpaces even New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta or any of the other big dogs of high prices, according to the latest major metropolitan rankings by the federal Bureau of Labor and Statistics." "Yippee: South Florida is tops — in inflation".
"What on earth happened?"
Scott Maxwell: "In recent years, you couldn't throw a maraca around a room full of GOP politicians without hitting one who was trying to convince Hispanics that Republicans were their new best amigos."
The party brought in mariachi bands for its 2000 convention. It unfurled "Viva Bush!" banners in 2004. Charlie Crist actually grabbed hold of a Spanish guitar when he hit the campaign trail in Orlando last year. And President Bush claimed he was sending a message when he put Orlando's own Mel Martinez in charge of the Republican National Committee."I mean, come on. As a presidential candidate, you want us to believe you're tough enough to take on terrorists who want to kill Americans -- but too scared to walk into a room of fellow countrymen who want to challenge your viewpoints?"
The same can be said for the GOP's outreach to black Americans.
Back when they were running for office, Jeb Bush promised help for the mostly black town of Eatonville, and his brother spoke to the NAACP. And Republicans everywhere got giddy when Orange County's very own NAACP chairman, Derrick Wallace, dropped his Democratic Party label in 2005 and became a Republican.
In short, minority outreach has been a staple of the Republican Party for the past decade -- with Central Florida at the center of it all.
So what on earth happened?
Tonight, all four of the GOP front-runners are expected to be MIA during a forum on minority issues at a historically black college.
Rudy Giuliani, Fred Thompson, Mitt Romney and John McCain all say they had scheduling conflicts.
These conflicts come on the heels of most Republican front-runners also skipping a forum with Latino Elected Officials here in Orlando . . . and an NAACP convention . . . and a planned debate on a Spanish-language network
Republicans are, of course, free to ignore blacks and Hispanics or anyone else they want as they troll for votes."GOP message to minorities: Catch you later". "Karl Rove's Florida Frankenstein" begs to differ: "Martinez: GOP'ers not snubbing blacks, Hispanics".
They just shouldn't think that the public is stupid enough not to notice.
"A House panel approved a Florida-led bill that would create a national catastrophe fund and potentially curb soaring insurance rates for homeowners in states prone to hurricanes, earthquakes and other natural disasters." "Cat-fund bill advances".
"Rain helps Lake Okeechobee, but it's still 4 feet too low".
"Flip-flop on Petraeus ad?" More: "Klein: There was no flip-flop".
"Hoping to tamp down the partisan rhetoric over Iraq, [Rep. Allen] Boyd has joined 27 other House lawmakers in a bipartisan agreement intended to end the political infighting over the war."
The 14 Republicans and 14 Democrats who joined the Bipartisan Compact on Iraq Debate, signed Tuesday, agreed there must be a clearly defined mission for continued military involvement and that the government of Iraq must be responsible for its future course. ..."Boyd hopes to halt war bickering".
Boyd said the key to making the compact work is soliciting cooperation from the White House, something he doubts he will see
"The state Wednesday appealed a court ruling removing a property tax-cutting constitutional amendment from the Jan. 29 presidential primary ballot." "State appeals removal of tax amendment from Jan. 29 ballot". See also "State wants property tax on ballot", "Crist backs appeal of ruling on tax amendment", "Florida appeals to keep homestead referendum on ballot", "Ruling on tax ballot question appealed" and "Republicans in court over property-tax ruling".
The St. Pete Times editors: "The most prudent approach: Fix the ballot language to address the judge's concerns, and let voters decide the amendment's fate on Jan. 29. It is more important to hear their voices now in the great tax cut debate than more bluster from pandering politicians in Tallahassee." "On taxes, let the voters decide".
Stop the Presses!
The Orlando Sentinel mentions the word "union", will wonders never cease: "OIA, union turn to a third part to break impasse".
Is it me, or does Charlie looks a bit uncomfortable in this picture: "Solar plan shares the limelight". More: "President Clinton, Crist announce FPL solar power plans".
A little late to the game: "Florida's biggest utility announced Wednesday a $2.4 billion energy plan that includes building what would be the world's largest solar-power plant in the Sunshine State." "Plans call for world's largest solar-power plant to be built in Florida ". See also "FPL plans solar plant in Florida".
No More Ink Blots
"Does it make sense for Florida to have contorted congressional districts that wind through half a dozen counties?"
Not to the government watchdog group Common Cause, which last year spent more than $3-million trying to revamp how Florida political districts are drawn but couldn't even get the matter on the ballot."Proposal would reshape districts".
Now Common Cause is trying again, only much more cautiously.
A Common Cause-backed political committee called FairDistrictsFlorida.org has asked the Florida secretary of state to review two proposed amendments to the Florida Constitution, to be put on the ballot in 2010.
Leaders of the effort include chairwoman Ellen Freidin, a Democratic lawyer in Miami who served on the 1998 Constitution Revision Commission and Republican former Comptroller Bob Milligan and Democratic former U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno.
A Fine Idea at the Time
"Nearly six months after Gov. Charlie Crist and the Cabinet made it easier for some felons to regain their civil rights, the system is choked by a backlog of more than one hundred thousand cases awaiting review." "Restoring felons' rights slowed by bureaucracy".
"The judge in a contentious child custody dispute is expected to reveal today her ruling on whether a Cuban father is a fit parent to his 5-year-old daughter." "Ruling on Cuban father is expected".
Mike Thomas cherry picks some stats and goes off the deep end: "Jeb's education legacy proving to be historic".
"Crist meets with NFL, MLB officials to promote Florida sports". I wonder if they discussed this.
The Early Primary
"Florida Senate Democratic Leader Steve Geller called Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina 'terrorist rogue states' and said he's contemplating a lawsuit against them for pressuring Democratic presidential candidates to boycott Florida." "Senate leader ponders suing 'rogue states' over primary". See also "Senate leader ponders suing 'rogue states' over primary".
The Tallahassee Democrat editors: "Threats. Punishments. Lost delegates. Intrigue. Lawsuits."
The battle over the date of Florida's presidential primaries includes all of that as state and national Democratic Party leaders try to decide - by Saturday - what impact Florida will have in presidential politics. ..."Regional primaries could let Florida be heard".
In typical fashion, Florida Republicans are confining their disagreements to the board room and keeping a low profile. Though they face the loss of half of their delegates at next year's national convention, they plan to challenge the Republican National Committee's ruling at the convention.
Also in typical fashion, the Democrats have turned their dispute into a street fight. Suggestions on how to work around their party's national rules have been publicly spurned by DNC chairman Howard Dean. At the moment, Florida Democrats are in danger of losing all of their delegates, a Tampa activist has sued the party, and on Tuesday U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson threatened to do the same.
Via the Florida Progressive Coalition: "The Democratic Dark Side".
Mandatory meningitis vaccine?
"Today the board that oversees Florida's 11 universities will consider a recommendation from student health directors to make the meningitis vaccine mandatory for all incoming students, not just those living on campus." "State to join vaccine push".
"After viewing a demonstration Tuesday of the four choices for replacing Florida's touch screen voting machines in 2008, I wondered whether we're just trading one set of problems for another." "New vote machines, new set of problems?".
Have a Cigar
"Though she is one of Congress’ biggest advocates for expanding children’s health insurance, Tampa’s Democratic Rep. Kathy Castor was one of just eight Democrats Tuesday night to vote against such a measure."
The proposed $35 billion, five-year expansion of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) was still passed, 265 to 159."Castor Votes No On House Plan For Children’s Insurance". It's a cigar thing: "House Set To Pass SCHIP Bill Feared By Cigarmakers". Castor ought to be careful about keeping company with the Bushco hood ornament: "Martinez To Vote Against SCHIP". See generally: "Republicans will pay dearly for SCHIP vote".
The Senate is expected to take it up on Thursday.
But in a statement today, Castor described the two-house agreement reached with the Senate as “a poor substitute” for an earlier version of the bill she helped to pass in the House in August.
“Fewer children in America will be eligible for health insurance under the Senate package, Medicare overpayments to HMOs will continue, and bureaucratic barriers will remain,” said Castor.
Castor said the bill passed Tuesday night by her House colleagues “relies too heavily on cigar taxes” in place of overpayments to private health insurance companies.
"Changing Florida's car insurance system apparently isn't so easy a caveman could do it."
The requirement that Florida drivers carry no-fault personal injury protection is set to expire Oct. 1. Lawmakers, however, are expected next week to try to pass a measure to re-enact it, but in a form that aims to reduce the fraud many have complained has plagued the system."PIP coverage set to expire _ but likely to come back in some form".
Florida for Sale
"The state lottery and a handful of toll roads and bridges are drawing the interest of private investors who are putting a price tag on those assets and want a piece of the action." "State May Cash In On Lotto".
"Which Senate is Dan Gelber running for?"
"The House Minority Leader - and state Senate candidate - sent an open letter to Sen. Mel Martinez today,"
slamming the Florida Republican for siding with President Bush and opposing a Democratic-led children's health insurance bill."Looking at 2010? Gelber slams Martinez".
"As chairman of the Republican National Committee, I recognize your role and responsibility to defend and endorse President Bush's legislative agenda..." the Miami Beach state representative wrote. "However, the rhetoric of "entitlements" and "socialized medicine" seems designed to fire up the president's political base rather than honestly helping your colleagues figure out how to fix a system that has left more than nine million American children without health care."
Party insiders have talked about Gelber as a potential challenger to Martinez who is up for re-election in 2010. Gelber said it would be "presumptuous" to talk about a U.S. Senate bid while he's running for state Senate, but added, "you don't have to be running for office to see that Sen. Martinez's unthinking allegiance to President Bush does a disservice to Floridians."