January 29 It Is
"The Florida Democratic Party will defy threats from national party officials and continue with a Jan. 29 presidential primary even if it means its delegates won't count at next year's nominating convention, top party officials said Saturday." "Party sticking with its primary date". They do so "even if it means losing all its nominating convention delegates, a party source said Saturday." "Dems Won't Move Primary".
"Helping persuade some of the key Florida Democratic voters to stick with Jan. 29 was a letter to Thurman detailed in the St. Petersburg Times on Saturday. The four early states told Thurman that even if Florida Democrats complied with the DNC rules, they would insist on all the Democratic candidates to boycott Florida until after Jan. 29." "State Dems rebuff national party".
More: "Florida dems to defy DNC over primary" ("Republican National Committee, similarly, opposed the Florida move -- saying the state will lose half its delegates to that party's convention in Minneapolis-St. Paul.")
All Things to All People
"Crist spoke of his African-American "heroes" Saturday night and got a warm welcome as the keynote speaker at the annual dinner of the Florida Conference of the NAACP. Crist's attendance was yet another step in the Republican governor's efforts to build a bridge with blacks, who overwhelmingly vote Democratic." "Crist reaches out to state NAACP".
"Floridians can't have it both ways"
The Sun-Sentinel editors:"The anger and frustration are growing, but, boy, are they misdirected. If Floridians are unhappy about meager property tax relief, they ought to direct their ire at themselves. Florida's 18 million residents want it both ways, and they can't have it so easily. They want significant tax cuts without corresponding reductions in public services, plus a cap on taxes for homestead properties. Mathematics just don't work that way." "Taxpayers need to look in the mirror for tax reform".
"As if Floridians didn't see enough skirmishing among politicians, now we're seeing it among Florida pollsters. Insider Advantage's Matt Towery last week wrote a column blasting a Sept. 3-9 Quinnipiac University poll, which showed Rudy Giuliani leading Fred Thompson by 11 percentage points among Florida Republicans. ... There are a couple logical reasons for the differing results. Thompson had not yet jumped in the race during part of the period Quinnipiac polled, and Quinnipiac also included potential candidate Newt Gingrich as a choice, which likely cut back Thompson's numbers." "Dueling pollsters defend thier numbers".
The Tuition Thing
A 2006 USA Today survey,
helps frame a growing question in Florida: Without more money, can the state's universities continue to provide a quality education and compete with colleges nationally?"Hard times hit higher learning".
The question is taking on new urgency this year as Florida faces a major budget shortfall and as a legal battle plays out about who controls the university system.
Already, universities must deal with issues like one of the highest student-to-faculty ratios in the country. What's more, freshman enrollment is expected to be capped for three years, preventing 2,000 students a year from getting into the system.
Many state leaders agree universities need more funding, but the tricky part is how to do it.
Leave Lawmaking to "Business" Groups
"Clamps [are] being put on petition efforts as lawmakers, under heavy lobbying from business groups, have made it more difficult for voters to bypass the Legislature and change the constitution."
In recent years, lawmakers have shortened the time allowed for groups to gather the required signatures, banned petition gathering at places like grocery stores and shopping malls, and convinced voters to make it harder to change the constitution by raising the threshold to 60 percent effective next year."Voters' power over ballots creates tug-of-war".
Successful voter efforts that would not have met the new 60 percent requirement include the Save Our Homes cap on property taxes,, free prekindergarten classes and limits on K-12 class sizes.
Adam Babington of the Florida Chamber of Commerce said "the general feeling is that we haven't done enough" to make it harder to change the constitution. He said the image of the initiative process as a grass-roots coalescing of average citizens is long gone.
Rubio Brings Home the Bacon
"While Florida's 11 public universities are being asked to find $188 million in cuts,"
the University of Miami, a private 11,000-student school in Mr. Rubio's political district, is in line to get not only $12.5 million in annually recurring money for its medical school, but also $80 million that is tucked into the general government budget to establish a new program at UM called the Institute of Human Genomics."Miami vice".
This is almost criminal in a year in which two new medical schools, one at Florida International and the other at the University of Central Florida, are zeroed out in the proposed budget cutbacks - that's $10.2 million they won't get - even though the schools are already under way, with deans hired and faculty lined up.
"Folks in this picturesque Gulf Coast city have come to accept that Clearwater is to Scientologists what Salt Lake City is to Mormons, what Mecca is to Muslims. Though not everybody is happy about it." "Clearwater comes to terms with its status as Scientology's mecca".
"With a single stroke of the pen, a top Bush administration official recently did what it would take Mother Nature decades to do: He changed the Florida Everglades' status to 'restoring' from 'endangered.' The move was premature, to say the least, and it should be rescinded. The change is the environmental equivalent of President Bush's Iraq-war blunder when he landed aboard an aircraft carrier that sported a banner declaring, 'Mission Accomplished.'" "The Everglades still need federal help".
"With his company's $200 million land deal jeopardized by a public corruption scandal, Palm Beach Aggregates President Enrique Tomeu testified in June that he had no clue that former Palm Beach County Commissioner Tony Masilotti had a secret stake in the 1,219-acre parcel. Tomeu testified that in January 2004 he had sold a purchase option for 60 acres of the property to Masilotti's older brother for $100,000. Tomeu said he did not know Tony Masilotti had put up half of the money. He said he found out two years later - from federal prosecutors." "Aggregates president: I did not commit a crime".
Freddie "can't speak his way out of a paper bag?"
"On the same day we learned that Focus on the Family founder James Dobson has been trashing Fred Thompson - 'Isn't Thompson the candidate who is opposed to a Constitutional amendment to protect marriage . . . and can't speak his way out of a paper bag?' - we learn that Dobson's main man in Florida, John Stemberger, has landed Thompson as the keynote speaker for his Florida Family Policy Council dinner in Hollywood Nov. 16." "Maybe they should compare notes first".
"A legally unresolved area"
"When it comes to municipal governments, prayer is less restrictive at public meetings. Communities have long traditions of opening government functions with invocations."
But referring to a specific deity -- including Jesus or Allah -- during a public meeting wanders into a legal gray area because of a lack of definitive court rulings, according to Barry Lynn, a minister, attorney and executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, a Washington-based watchdog group."Prayer is delicate issue in public forums".
"It's a legally unresolved area," he said.
While many read an implicit separation of church and state in the U.S. Constitution, praying during a government meeting also touches upon freedom-of-speech and religion protections.
Lynn, said that residents troubled by specific religious references during a meeting would have a good case if they argued "there was a deliberate effort to evangelize.
Catching a "Delicious Bass"
"U.S. Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite recently posted an ad for a legislative aide: "Candidate must be hard-working, have a cheerful personality, be extremely well-organized, and know how to cook a delicious bass. ... Napoleon Dynamite fans will get the reference." "A possible vote for Pedro".
Jebbie, Please Shut Up
Randy Schultz: "You knew that he wouldn't be able to keep quiet much longer."
For eight months, Jeb Bush has had to hear how wonderful his successor is. For eight months, the man who believed that the Florida sun rose and set upon him had seen Charlie Crist depart from eight years of Bush rule. Coverage had focused on how much ... nicer the new governor is. So bipartisan. So charming. So unlike Jeb in style. ..."And the insurance industry that could curl up by the fireplace in the Bush administration finds itself in the Crist administration at the back door of the Governor's Mansion begging for scraps. So it made sense that Mr. Bush would cut loose against Gov. Crist in public before an insurance audience."
Crist hinted that he might be open to changing Jeb's school grading system. Though Gov. Crist will hint that he might be open to anything any audience wants, Jeb considers the bogus, stress-inducing grading system to be the centerpiece of his "legacy."
There's been much more. Jeb Bush never warmed to global warming. Gov. Crist casts himself as the Arnold Schwarzenegger of Florida. Jeb Bush did little to help felons who've served their sentences to regain their civil rights. Under Gov. Crist, restoration of rights is easier. Jeb Bush scoffed at South Florida Democrats, whom he never forgave for the 2000 recount. Gov. Crist kind of gave those Democrats the paper voting trail they wanted. Worse, he did it as part of a lovefest with Democratic Congressman Robert Wexler, who in the Bush household is less popular than Al Gore. Jeb Bush equated embryonic stem-cell research with destruction of life. Gov. Crist equates such research with improvement of life.
It happened Monday, when Mr. Bush addressed the National Association of Mutual Insurance Cos. in Grapevine, Texas. ..."Perfect. Jeb Bush tells private insurers - the agency that handles Mr. Bush's bookings wouldn't say whether he got paid, and a spokesman for the insurers didn't know - that the private property market works. Jeb left out just one thing: The private property insurance market in Florida doesn't work."
Every big insurance change that has happened under his successor annoys Mr. Bush. The Legislature expanded the state's Hurricane Catastrophe Fund, putting the public on the hook for more expenses if it's a bad storm year. The Legislature expanded the reach of Citizens Property Insurance Corp.
Those attempts at forcing down premiums, Mr. Bush said, "are as bad as the natural disasters themselves." He praised the two most insurance-friendly members of the Legislature, who favor the same policy as Mr. Bush: Let rates rise much more, and private companies will flock back to the state, creating free-market competition that will drive down rates. Instead, Florida is inviting "unintended consequences."
Maybe Jeb Bush can explain how he left the insurance crisis for his successor. Or he could just keep quiet.Much more here: "Jeb has a new policy: Fire back".