"The economic chasm between the haves and have-nots in Florida is wide and getting wider, fueled by low wages that fail to cover the most basic needs, especially for families with small children, according to a report released Tuesday."
Where is the "family-values" crowd when you need 'em?
The report sets "self-sufficiency" standards for each county in the state -- a measure of income needed to survive without public assistance."In case after case,"
the wages needed by families to subsist dramatically eclipsed the minimum wage and the federal poverty line, which is roughly $20,000 a year for a family of four."Florida's working families struggle to get by, report says". More: "Study Shows What Floridians Pay to Make Ends Meet".
"At $7 an hour full time, that's $14,000 a year -- which is probably enough money if you're a single person living at home with your parents," said James Wright, director of the Institute for Social & Behavioral Sciences at the University of Central Florida. "But if you're living in your own apartment and paying $800 a month in rent, you simply don't have any money left at the end of the year."
Part of the issue, Wright said, is that poverty levels were set 40 years ago and based on the cost of food. But since then increases in housing, energy bills and health care have dramatically outpaced the rise in grocery bills -- making the poverty line an inadequate indicator of the true scope of poverty.
Striding the world's stage at taxpayers' expense - will Charlie cozy up to genocide-enablers?
"Crist considers trips to India and China". This is just plain silly: "discussions about curbing global warming would be a focal point for the Asian trips." Will someone, anyone call Charlie on misusing public dollars in an effort to burnish his "international relations" bona fides when he jumps into national politics.
I can hear it now: in a VP debate with, say ... Wesley Clark (the retired four-star general of the United States Army who was valedictorian of his class at West Point, was awarded a Rhodes Scholarship to the University of Oxford where he obtained a degree in PPE (Philosophy, Politics & Economics), graduated from the Command and General Staff College with a master's degree in military science, spent 34 years in the Army and the Department of Defense, receiving many military decorations, several honorary knighthoods, and a Presidential Medal of Freedom, and who commanded Operation Allied Force in the Kosovo War during his term as the Supreme Allied Commander Europe of NATO from 1997 to 2000) , serial flunker of the Florida bar Charlie Crist will preface a question about foreign affairs with the following: "While I was in China negotiating a global warming pact, I ...".
While in China wasting Florida's tax dollars on a silly publicity stunt, perhaps Charlie address this issue? More: "China and Darfur", "Coalition for Darfur : China and Sudan, Blood and Oil" and "China and Darfur - International Herald Tribune": "A strong UN force is needed to halt the genocide in Sudan's Darfur region. If it is not sent soon, it may be too late for many thousands of potential victims. The immediate cause of the delay is the refusal by Sudan's president, Omar Hassan al-Bashir, to agree to a UN force, which he preposterously claims would attempt to recolonize his African nation. He is able to get away with this largely because China, a permanent member of the Security Council, continues to protect him with the threat of using its veto."
Don't count on it: after all "China is already one of Florida's top trading partners, with the state importing more than $5.1 billion in goods from the country in 2006 and exporting $488 million in goods. The top import was data processing equipment and the top export was fertilizers, according to Enterprise Florida.".
Fear of fading
Marco Rubio the 36-year-old Miami GOPer who will have to leave office next year, and desperately wants so remain relevant, "has thrown his weight behind a citizen petition that boasts a 26 percent average property tax cut statewide."
At the same time, Gov. Charlie Crist will be gearing up his own campaign for the Legislature's plan, which he helped craft."Rep. Rubio veers off with another tax cut plan". Meanwhile, "Crist will assign a trusted aide to run a statewide political campaign to shore up support for the property tax proposal on the Jan. 29 ballot." "Crist aide to join tax-plan campaign".
Tension between Rubio and Crist, both Republicans, has been growing for months, with Rubio challenging the governor on various policy decisions. On Monday, Rubio made his most overt move by filing a lawsuit to block a gambling compact Crist fashioned with the Seminole Tribe of Florida. Rubio insists the Legislature must ratify any deal; Crist disagrees.
More on little Marco's fight against his - and other Jebbite dead enders - fading from the Florida scene: "Crist-Rubio feud grows by the day". See also "Rubio seeks halt to Crist-Seminoles deal", "Rubio tries to block Seminole deal" and "Crist's Indian Gambling Pact Faces High Court Challenge".
"He's an affable if not bland U.S. senator from Florida who once orbited the planet but has few lofty legislative achievements and little national name recognition. Is it any wonder, then, that Democrat Bill Nelson - inoffensive, mostly unknown, and unattached to any major issues, causes or scandals - is again being talked about as vice-presidential timber?" "Fight With Party Might Push Unknown Senator To National Stage".
"Gov. Charlie Crist, with a politician's ability to evade interrogation, has been dodging one question more than any other lately: Could he be a candidate for vice president in 2008? Crist has repeatedly said he is not thinking about it, even though it has been mentioned by presidential candidates and his supporters. Still, he won't stifle the speculation by ruling it out. That speculation, experts say, does as much as anything to build his national profile and political clout."
And remember this?: "Last spring, at the behest of the state House Speaker Marco Rubio, the Legislature passed a law allowing Florida officeholders to run for federal office without giving up their state posts. Although Rubio denied it, the law was perceived as aimed at making it less risky for Crist to take a running mate slot. If his ticket lost, he could remain as governor; if it won, the governor's office would open for hopefuls, including Rubio." "Are They VP Material, Or Are They Not?".
"The party pointedly books no hotel rooms for Floridians at the convention." "Democrats snub the Florida delegation".
"A Mason Dixon Poll released Tuesday shows that 61 percent of Florida voters rate Gov. Charlie Crist's performance as 'excellent' or 'good.'" "Poll: Crist still doing good job". See also "Poll: Voters give Crist high marks".
Back to the future
"A Florida member of the Democratic National Committee filed a lawsuit Tuesday that seeks to force the state to move its presidential primary back to March. Jon Ausman of Tallahassee said the legislature's decision to move the primary to Jan. 29 broke Democratic Party rules and violated the free speech and assembly provisions in the U.S. Constitution." "Suit seeks to roll back Florida's primary date". See also "Democratic official sues state over presidential primary date".
Voter registration numbers
The Palm Beach Post has a cool interactive map showing, on a county-by-county basis, current voter registration, together with 2000 and 2004 prez election results."Photo".
"45 state appointments still unfilled".
Another silly stunt
"Crist on Monday unveiled a new Web site - floridaperforms.com - that outlines 35 of his goals for the state and rates the progress of each as improving, maintaining or worsening." "Crist measures state performance on Web site".
The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "Here's a radical idea: Reward schools for teaching children. Maybe you think that's already happening. Florida gives each public school a letter grade based on how well students do on the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test. ... But as Palm Beach County Superintendent Art Johnson pointed out last week during a school board workshop, those assessments are based on what students know, not on what they've learned. As a result, those grades are biased against poor schools."
The current system is "a great way to attack public education," Dr. Johnson said, and get money for vouchers and charter schools to "privatize" education. But it isn't a great way to honestly assess schools. "This is a political question, not an educational question," he said. He'll be seeking support for a change from other school boards, the Legislature and Congress."Base grading of teachers on teaching, not luck".
Palm Beach County
"Florida's top elections official voiced concern Tuesday that Palm Beach County's voting equipment vendor doesn't have an approved plan to accommodate disabled voters when state standards change in 2012." "County election vendor not ready for 2012, state frets". Joel Engelhardt: "Florida's newest ballot issue".
"Pollster Brad Coker said the numbers indicate that the decision of the Democratic candidates not to campaign in Florida in advance of the Jan. 29 primary 'could come back to hurt the party in the general election.'" "Giuliani's Lead Over Clinton In Florida Hints At Backlash".
The News-Journal editors: "On its face the bill that soared through the U.S. House early this month to help property owners in states like Florida share catastrophe risk with those in other states looks like a no-brainer. "
States that voluntarily join a federally chartered risk consortium would be eligible for federal low-interest disaster loans and disaster reinsurance. The measure stops far short of being a national catastrophic fund, where risk is spread among all states. Still, it would widen the risk pool, which after all is a basic principle of insurance. From hurricanes in coastal states to tornadoes in Kansas to earthquakes in California, if property owners facing such natural disasters were in a national risk pool, the burden on any one policyholder would be reduced."A good bill, with a tweak".
However, there's a serious flaw in the House bill, labeled the Homeowners Insurance Defense Act, sponsored by two South Florida lawmakers. Its financial incentives, much like those in the ill considered National Flood Insurance Program, would open the public purse to subsidize, therefore encourage, development in coastal and other disaster-prone and environmentally sensitive areas.
Bill Cotterell the other day: " Remember those bonuses that state employees got last week? It's understandable if you forgot, because - at $673.50 after taxes - the $1,000 one-time payment wasn't all that noticeable. It was, of course, better than nothing, and it's probably more than most state workers can hope for next year." "If a bonus were a bonus, it might mean something".
"Ann Romney's visit with 30 women in St. Petersburg's Old Northeast neighborhood on Tuesday capped off a four-day tour of Florida, campaigning on her husband's behalf. Such solo trips are becoming more common for Mrs. Romney." "Romney's key ingredient".