Fresh off his combat tour of duty in Iraq, General "Martinez Says Iraq Buildup a Success".
The Ghost of FDR?
"Crist wants to protect K-12 education, the medically needy and prisons by cutting higher education and juvenile justice and raiding trust funds, according to budget recommendations released Thursday." "".Crist tips his hand
The governor has released his recommendations for budget cuts to offset an expected shortfall in state revenue. In a letter to Senate President Ken Pruitt and House Speaker Marco Rubio, Gov. Charlie Crist said he hopes his plan will “facilitate the process for agreement between the Senate and House,” which yesterday called off the special session that was supposed to start on Sept. 18 because of a lack of agreement."Crist Proposes State Budget Cuts". See also "Crist outlines state budget cuts" and "Crist gambles on better times".
FDR's ghost: "Crist on Thursday recommended lawmakers try to spend the state out of its economic doldrums rather than just cut funding from state agencies. Crist proposes to expedite highway and school building and use state money to help first-time home buyers in an effort to spur construction." "Crist's Offers Cure For Economy: Spend". See also "Crist: Help home buyers and speed up construction to fix economy", "Crist: Fixing budget will cost money" ("Crist revealed his plan for balancing Florida's ailing budget Thursday with a proposal to spend the state out of trouble by giving new homeowners financial aid, accelerating construction of toll lanes on Interstate 95, and building schools."), "Governor's ax would swipe colleges, juvenile programs" ("it was unclear how far Crist's recommended cuts would go toward reconciling differences between House and Senate leaders, who this week postponed a special session for budget cuts after acknowledging they were too far apart on how to make up a $1.1 billion revenue shortfall."), "Gov. Crist slashes budget plan, but protects education and road money" and "Crist offers up budget package" ("Crist sent the Legislature a package of spending cuts and economic stimulants to meet a billion-dollar budget shortfall Thursday").
Mike Thomas yesterday:
Crist has weighed in, saying he wants cuts to be both targeted and across-the-board. Why am I not surprised?"Crist bumbles as budget hits boil-over point".
His favorite ice cream is vanilla and chocolate. As the going gets tough, it seems Charlie only gets more delusional.
At a recent meeting of the Florida Association of Realtors, Crist said our budget woes would be over if voters approved an amendment referendum next year cutting property taxes.
"Florida's going to have a sonic boom when this happens," he said. "You're going to be busier than you've been in your life."
The man is on laughing gas.
The budget crisis only confirms what critics have been saying about the January referendum -- and what Crist has been denying. It would gut education spending.
At some point people will start seeing Charlie's skinny hide beneath all those beautiful invisible clothes.
Oh, well, if all else fails in this budget crisis, at least we have a fallback position: roulette wheels.
Where's Charlie in the midst of this budget crisis? Why "Crist California bound", "he California Republican Party’s state convention in Indian Wells, near Palm Springs." As Charlie burnishes his national bona fides, there is, according to the Palm Beach Post editors "Paralysis in Tallahassee".
Big of 'Em
"Man who was wrongfully imprisoned for 24 years regains right to vote".
Dissing the Hispanic Vote
"This Sunday, the nation's Hispanics will have a chance to see Democratic presidential candidates face off in the first-ever national debate in Spanish. Only one thing will be missing: Republican contenders. That's too bad for Republicans and for the GOP."
Mitt Romney, Rudy Giuliani, Tom Tancredo and just-declared candidate Fred Thompson seem to be vying to see who can come up with the toughest anti-immigration rhetoric. The political calculus: They must appeal to a narrow part of the GOP that opposes comprehensive immigration reforms. In a debate, the candidates would have been grilled by Univision hosts on the topic. Saying anything that could be interpreted as pro-immigration could hurt them in early-primary states like Iowa. Some critics could also object to them debating in Spanish."Univision debate and the Hispanic vote". See also "Republicans struggling to keep their lock on Florida's Cuban vote", "Univision postpones debate after GOP candidates ignore invites" and "Univision postpones debate after GOP candidates ignore invites". It will be interesting to see whether the GOPers will continue to have scheduling difficulties.
Is Keel Hauling Next?
"Prison boss proposes chain gangs and tents to save money". See also "Tents urged for some inmates".
The Gambling Thing
The Orlando Sentinel editors:
It's the sad truth, but it is in Florida's best interest for Gov. Charlie Crist to strike a deal with the Seminole Tribe of Florida to allow Las Vegas-style gambling at tribe casinos.Control gambling".
That's because Mr. Crist's effort, though distasteful, is Florida's best chance to control the spread of gambling.
We remain adamantly opposed to gambling. But in 2004, gambling supporters duped voters into believing a constitutional amendment to allow Las Vegas-style slot machines would limit them to South Florida. Nothing could be further from the truth. Under federal law, sovereign tribes, no matter where their casinos are located, can offer the same types of gambling allowed by the state.
Legislators made matters worse in 2005 when enacting the amendment. They showed horrible judgment by allowing Broward County pari-mutuels to offer what's called Class III slot machines, where gamblers bet against the house rather than bingo-style slots, where players compete for lower stakes.
That mistake opened the door for Florida's Seminole tribe to acquire high-stakes gambling. Now the Department of the Interior could grant the tribe the right to have Vegas-style slots or go even further and allow other high-stakes games, such as roulette and blackjack.
The Legislature's folly leaves Florida in an untenable situation.
Meanwhile, "Crist could be overstepping his authority if he is considering allowing Indian casinos to have higher-end Class III gaming such as blackjack and craps, according to an opinion released Thursday by Attorney General Bill McCollum. What's illegal under state law is illegal for the tribes, McCollum said in a response to questions from House Speaker Marco Rubio, R-West Miami." "Official Warns Crist On Tribal Gaming". See also "McCollum gives opinion on Seminole games" and "McCollum takes stand against table games".
"Unacceptable. Unacceptable. Unacceptable."
"Florida Sen. Nelson proposed Senate legislation today setting up a system of regional primaries with specified dates, to take effect during the 2012 election cycle. His bill wouldn’t affect this year’s dilemma surrounding Florida’s early primary and the Democratic National Committee’s position that Florida’s primary in effect won’t count. But in a Senate floor speech, Nelson said the current situation is 'Unacceptable. Unacceptable. Unacceptable.'" "Nelson Proposes Regional Primaries for 2012 Election". See also "Nelson proposes new primary law".
"A surprise Florida Supreme Court ruling could . . . jeopardize billions of dollars in public-school funding across the state."
In a unanimous ruling, the high court said Thursday that any plan to use so-called "tax-increment financing" to pay for development projects would have to be approved by voters, instead of just a local governing board. The ruling stems from a fight in Escambia County, where the county wanted to use the financing option to widen a road along Perdido Key."Cash for schools, venues at risk". See also "Supreme Court: Voter approval needed for redevelopment bonds", "Court limits special tax districts" and "Court: Let voters OK big projects".
Such financing works by committing a portion of future property taxes to pay off bonds issued to widen roads, build sidewalks or make other public improvements [including schools].
The court also makes clear it isn't invalidating the use of tax-increment financing or previous projects approved without public votes. It just means future tax-increment projects must be voted on first.
Still, "that's a bombshell," said veteran development lobbyist Wade Hopping, a former Supreme Court justice. "That will certainly cause some consternation."
Sleepy's Dad to Get a Pass?
"A state panel might rule today whether there is evidence that Orange County Mayor Rich Crotty broke ethics laws when he doubled a $100,000 investment in a land deal with a developer and friend who had business before the county. If the Florida Commission on Ethics finds no probable cause to further investigate Crotty's deal with real-estate broker Daryl Carter, it closes a dark chapter in Crotty's long political career. If it opts to probe further, Crotty could face fines if he's found guilty. Last month, Crotty said a state ethics staff prosecutor told him that he would urge the full ethics panel to rule that no probable cause exists. If that plays out, the probe would end." "Crotty could face ethics panel's findings on land deal today".
"It is a coincidence that the Broward County Charter Review Commission has convened in the same year that much discussion has erupted on changing one of the county's most powerful posts from elected to appointed. The discussion, of course, is about the position of sheriff, just vacated by Ken Jenne as part of a federal plea deal involving corruption charges." "Time for overhaul?".
"Ask The Governor: Is there a better way to help ex-cons return to society?".
"Scoring well on Florida's high school exit exam does not necessarily mean a student is ready for the demands of work or college, but the state uses its standardized test more effectively than others around the nation, according to an education think tank report released Thursday. Of 23 states with exit exams, only six say the test is used to measure knowledge and skills needed for college while nine cited work readiness as a purpose, according to a report by the Center on Education Policy. Florida is in neither group." "Florida's high school exit exam praised, criticized".
Please Subsidize Us
The rest of the nation is uninterested in bailing Florida out: "Opposition grows in Congress to national disaster insurance fund".
Early Primary Mess
Might there be a solution to the early primary mess? "Unable to persuade the national party to accept Florida's early presidential primary, Florida Democrats are considering late caucuses — so late that the results likely would not matter — to get themselves out of the bind. A May date for caucuses to assign Florida's delegates to presidential candidates would comply with the Democratic National Committee's schedule, thereby releasing the candidates from their pledges to avoid Florida and allowing them to visit freely in advance of the Jan. 29 primary." "Late caucuses may end state Democrats' bind". More: "State Democrats not ready to discuss deal on primary". More: "Friday Dem primary meeting postponed — UPDATED", "Line In Sand Has Democrats Hopping" and "Late caucuses may end state Democrats' bind".
Daniel Ruth yesterday: "Dean and his pinched apparatchiks have punished Florida Democrats after the Republican-controlled Legislature voted to move the state presidential primary to Jan. 29. And thus, because of a Republican initiative, Florida's primary votes won't count in the selection of a Democratic standard-bearer at the party convention next summer in Denver."
Because of Dean's ego trip to hell, millions of Florida voters will be disenfranchised in a state already the envy of Venezuela when it comes to treating ballots with all the attention to detail of the body count in a James Bond movie.Just read it: "Run Away, All You Bold, Brave Politicos!".
If you didn't know any better, you'd think the DNC had been taken over by Katherine Harris in drag.
But here's the best part.
You know the DNC has become a party of sniveling tattletales more interested in counting strawberries than winning elections when the biggest profile in courage in this mosh pit of political preening is Tampa political consultant Vic DiMaio.
DiMaio, a pleasant, understated, mild-mannered chap who is more likely to be confused with a lost beagle rather than Karl Rove, has sued the DNC, challenging the party's authority to strip Florida of its 210 convention delegates.
For a man who makes his living working for Democrats, suing Big Daddy could have potential negative consequences on a career, so either Vic DiMaio was willing to put principle ahead of pragmatism or he's insane. We'll see. ...
Whatever DiMaio's motivations, taking on the snooty mandarins of his party laid bare the dark underside of the Democrats, which might otherwise be described as the politics of weenies.
After the DNC decision to give Florida a giant electoral wedgie, all the first- and second-tier presidential candidates including Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, John Edwards, Bill Richardson, Joe Biden and Chris Dodd fell over themselves like paparazzi trying to get a shot of Paris Hilton to sign a pledge promising their campaigns would boycott the state.
So these candidates who love to brag about their vision, their boldness, their bravery, their independence, their Churchillian leadership all buckled at the knees like a death row inmate being
Bill Cotterell: "The Democratic and Republican National Committees propose to punish Florida by taking away delegate votes at their nominating conventions next summer. The Republicans will cut the delegation in half, to 57 delegates, while the Democrats have threatened to void all 210 Florida votes. That's where we see the difference between the GOP and the Democrats."
So who's right? The Republicans, with their glacially impervious confidence that Florida is too important to snub at the national convention? Or the Democrats, with their loud and public sniping at each other?"It's party time". More: "Yawns amid primary threats" ("Florida's early primary may draw punishment from national Democrats, but do voters care?") and "Parties split on primary reactions" ("Democrats are angry. Republican say ho-hum. Why?"). The Sun-Sentinel editors yesterday: "Florida needs to preserve its clout in 2008 presidential primary".
What's going on now probably won't affect who carries Florida in 14 months.
But it's just so typical of each party.
"Crist met with capital area religious leaders Thursday to get their perspective on climate change and how the state can work with them to protect the environment." "Crist, religious leaders discuss climate change".
Saving Money on Teachers' Salaries
"'Virtual classes' catching on in Florida's elementary, middle and high schools".
"Lawmakers have come full circle after devoting more money to high-tech voting machines following the 2000 election debacle in Florida. They now say a return to the paper trails of old is the key to an honest vote, exasperating state election officials." "A return to paper trails of old?".
"Hollywood Mayor Mara Giulianti verbally jousted with a state prosecutor while testifying Thursday in the corruption trial of suspended City Commissioner Keith Wasserstrom, a longtime political ally. For about 90 minutes, Giulianti gave tart and testy responses when questioned about her role when the commission voted in 2004 to give an $18 million contract to Schwing-Bioset, a sludge company financially connected to Wasserstrom and the mayor's son. Giulianti, who is not charged with any wrongdoing, was called to the stand by prosecutors to help their case against Wasserstrom." "Hollywood mayor testy as witness in commissioner's corruption trial".
"Corporate Shill" or "Misinformed Crank"?
Robert Moore, a professor of anthropology at Rollins College writes that
a year or so ago this guy named David Horowitz shows up on [the Rollins College] campus and lectures us all on why colleges and universities are too liberal and need to stop being that way."Agenda 2007: Higher education".
Now some critics have accused [corporate shill David] Horowitz of being a corporate shill. This is rather harsh. I prefer to think of him as a misinformed crank. At any rate, he is wrong to say that academics are too liberal. In fact, we are just liberal enough.
If we define liberal as "open-minded" or "tolerant of others' ideas," then academics need to be somewhat liberal. We need to be open to ideas we don't agree with -- until those ideas have been proven false. If we were to accept even those ideas that are demonstrably false, then we would be too liberal.
Another Florida First!
"Florida would be the only state without a requirement for drivers to have bodily injury liability coverage if the present no-fault insurance system expires, the state's chief financial officer said today." "Florida may be only state without injury insurance requirement". More: "Crist rejects appeals for PIP session".
"A state law that severely limited the ability of South Florida horse racing tracks to simulcast events from other parimutuel facilities is unconstitutional, the Florida Supreme Court unanimously ruled Thursday." "High court overturns simulcast restriction".
A quick handshake"
"More than 1,000 people lined up around the block before dawn Thursday and a festive fan base happy to pay $24.95 for a slim book and a quick handshake." "Bill Clinton's visit to Coral Gables bookstore charms loyalists".
The Sun-Sentinel editoral board yesterday:
In the past, Crist has considered tough choices before changing his mind and settling on a more suitable option. The hope here is that he can muster another such performance for higher education and develop a more fruitful funding policy for Florida's colleges and universities."Florida's higher education can't go on this way".
The St. Pete Times editorial board: "After hours of talking and hand-wringing Tuesday, Pinellas County commissioners finally got around to firing someone for the county's egregious behavior in a recent land deal: County Attorney Susan Churuti. Yet they did so reluctantly, and only after several officials, particularly County Commissioner Susan Latvala, were either dismissive of the grand jury's critical report on the purchase of Property Appraiser Jim Smith's land or blamed others for their own dismal failure to do their job." "Rot in Pinellas goes deeper than Churuti".
"Jim King says he has had enough of the way the U.S. Congress neglects national security and the troops who are in the thick of fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. So, the Land O'Lakes Republican has filed to unseat U.S. Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite in District 5, which stretches from Pasco to Levy county. It's nothing personal, King says, nor is it a partisan issue. But King, a veteran who served in Afghanistan in 2001, believes Brown-Waite is part of a body that is not doing its job." "Land O'Lakes vet hopes to unseat Brown-Waite". Meanwhile, "Brown-Waite bashes the Bush administration for a "let them eat cake" mentality".
"Rep. Tom Feeney, R-Oviedo, on Thursday defended his acceptance of $5,000 for his legal defense fund from an Oviedo businessman hoping for a NASA contract." "Rep. Tom Feeney, R-Oviedo, on Thursday defended his acceptance of $5,000 for his legal defense fund from an Oviedo businessman hoping for a NASA contract.".
"EMILY's List, the pro-woman, fund-raising powerhouse, has endorsed Sarasota Democrat Christine Jennings in her bid for a 2008 re-run against Republican U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan." "Jennings Gets EMILY's Nod for Re-Run".