Aaron Deslatte and John Kennedy wrote yesterday that poor Charlie can't escape his party's knuckle draggers: "weak support from his own party suggests his drive to move the party to the center has so far been a wash, politically. It also suggests he'll have to continue courting the opposition party to keep his policies and programs moving." "Seems like Gov. Charlie Crist's honeymoon is all but over".
With the mouth breathers slowly but surely resuming control of the RPOF, the party can kiss off (half-baked) efforts to expand the party's base: " You've heard this one before: The Republican Party wants more black votes. Gov. Charlie Crist and Florida GOP chairman Jim Greer are combining a county-level organizational effort with state-directed policy initiatives that they hope will pay dividends at the polls next year. Beyond the 2008 presidential race, GOP leaders figure the party has nowhere to go but up. The logistics problem is transferring Crist's personal popularity among black voters to his party. Democrats and most political observers say it can't be done but concede it's smart to try." "GOP uses Crist's voter approval".
The Palm Beach Post editorial board gives Saint Marco a well deserved slam: "Having done so little as one of Florida's leading politicians to produce constructive tax reform, House Speaker Marco Rubio, R-West Miami, still is doing little to produce constructive tax reform." Read it all: "Rubio still wrong on taxes". The News-Journal editors keep up the sales tax exemption drumbeat: "Toward tax reform" ("Repeal state's special-interest exemptions").
The St Pete Times editors: "As House Speaker Marco Rubio asks lobbyists to open their wallets for his political causes, he is treading a well-worn and treacherous path. "
The fact that he did not create either of the groups he wants to enrich does not necessarily improve the aroma, and his public position demands that his private fundraising be as transparent as possible."Rubio's fundraising treads on shaky ground".
One of the groups, 100 Ideas.Org Inc., uses the phrase that is essentially Rubio's political calling card. He spent a year traveling Florida to advance his "100 Ideas" approach to governing, compiled it into a book and Web site, and has been credited by other states that copied his initiative. Yet Rubio, in a letter to House general counsel Jeremiah Hawkes, makes the newly created corporation sound like a foreign government.
"I will not participate in the activities of the corporation as they relate to its mission," he wrote, "nor will I lend my likeness or name to any informational, educational, promotional or any other such material produced by the corporation."
But Rubio likely will raise bundles of money for it. He also intends to do the same for Floridians for Property Tax Reform Inc., and in each case he has conveniently received the legal blessing of his general counsel. As with 100 Ideas.Org, Rubio has invested much of his time as speaker in high-profile advocacy of property tax relief. And, as with 100 Ideas, he says he will have no formal role in the group. ...
Rubio is playing the kind of money game that has tainted previous presiding officers. If he is trying to finance a vehicle to sustain his political viability upon leaving office next year, he may find that the effort will backfire. It can hardly be described as in character with his "100 ideas," which he once described as "a catalyst for solving the day-to-day problems of our people."
"A fundamental question"
Adam Smith: "A fundamental question: Will Florida Republicans follow the lead of Republicans in Iowa, New Hampshire, Michigan and South Carolina?" "Go ahead, try to pick winner in GOP race".
That's our Mel
"Florida Sen. Mel Martinez, a Republican, joined Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh, a Democrat, asking the Senate to adopt a new standard deduction on income taxes for homeowners who don't itemize taxes. The letter to the Senate Finance and Tax Committee was signed by several senators, including Florida Democratic Bill Nelson and New York Democrat Hillary Clinton." "Martinez seeks homeowners tax deduction".
"Until it knows which way the wind is blowing"
The Tampa Trib editorial board observes that "TECO is seeking government grants to build a giant wind turbine somewhere near Tampa."
Wind power is clean, but it has a few downsides. For one, to replace the capacity of the coal plant that TECO has postponed indefinitely, it would have to erect 250 windmills, each taller than the Statue of Liberty. And on the hottest days, when electric demand is high, winds tend to be calm, so TECO would need backup sources for power. ..."Windmills Here? Don't Hold Your Breath". More generally, as the editors noted yesterday, "Uncertainty Blurs Energy Future As Utilities Back Away From Coal".
The bigger challenge is that Florida is classified as a low-wind state, with the best breezes generally found near the beaches. But public opposition to coastal wind farms would be fierce. A plan announced in 2001 to put windmills offshore in Nantucket Sound has so far been stopped by complaints from area residents, including Sen. Edward M. Kennedy. ...
TECO doesn't disagree, which is why it is wise to plan only one turbine until it knows which way the wind is blowing.
"Faced with a $2.5 billion budget shortfall over the next two years, Florida leaders are considering selling 50-year leases on some state toll roads and bridges in exchange for large sums of cash from private investors." "Florida considers leasing toll roads, bridges to private investors".
"In the past seven years, Seminole Tribal Council members have spent more than $280 million from accounts they control. That spending has included paying tribal members' bills, financing their vacations and buying them cars, motorcycles, furniture, televisions and computers. A majority on the council has maintained power for more than a decade in part by spending on tribal members, especially before elections, a South Florida Sun-Sentinel investigation found." "Members say tribal spending rises near elections".
It could get messy
"If the Legislature's property tax fix is passed by Florida voters in January, it could quickly face another hurdle — the courts. That could put the plan in limbo for years. If the plan is implemented, a successful legal challenge could even force homeowners to pay back some of the benefits they received." "Even if voters approve, lawsuit could sink property tax reform".
Florida's "know nothings", Part Deux
Yesterday the Orlando Sentinel advised of the "middle-aged, politically conservative, strongly pro-military -- and predominantly non-Hispanic white" vigilantes from Florida. "Patriots or vigilantes? Florida's Minutemen on lookout for illegals". Today we get Part 2 of the story: "Patriots or vigilantes? Florida's Minutemen on lookout for illegals" "Sentinel staff writer scouts Arizona border with Florida Minutemen".
A Palm Beach thing
The Palm Beach Post editorial board updates us on the latest Palm Beach County election imbroglio:
Supervisor of Elections Arthur Anderson is "very comfortable" that Sequoia Voting Systems will meet the state standard for disabled voting by the 2012 deadline. But Dr. Anderson, in making the state-ordered switch from touch-screen to optical-scan balloting, is locking the county into a system that cannot meet the standard today."Seek bids on vote system".
Last week, Florida Secretary of State Kurt Browning expressed doubts about such a commitment. He told county commissioners: "We have contacted Sequoia, and we have asked them point-blank 'What are you doing about a ballot-marking device?' And there is no discussion at Sequoia now as to how they're going to accommodate the Florida change beginning in 2012. As a secretary, that concerns me."
It's a legitimate concern. Dr. Anderson has done everything he can to avoid competitive bidding, and commissioners have let him. The state wants Dr. Anderson to have the new equipment by February, but the law gives him until July. So, there's time to hear from all suppliers to make sure that the county gets the best system for its $8 million to $12 million.
"The predators: armies of beneficial insects. The prey: noxious weeds that clog waterways and choke native plants or destructive bugs that threaten sago palms, bromeliads or citrus. The tactic, increasingly used in Florida's sensitive ecosystems, is known as 'biological control.'" "Scientists use bugs to battle Florida's invasive species".
Reno on board
Yesterday we read that "Janet Reno, the former U.S. attorney general and a 2002 Democratic candidate for governor, has signed onto the campaign fighting a proposed constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage in Florida.".
I'll take the stairs
One supposes that Florida's GOPers - always complaining about government regulation as a restriction on "freedom" - think this is a good thing: "Florida's elevator inspection program has had its ups and downs lately." "Florida elevator licenses past due".
Jebbie's "callous and self-defeating strategy of ignoring court orders"
The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "Florida must fix its backward way of handling the mentally ill."
How did Florida reach this point? By repeating past mistakes."Save jails for criminals, not state's mentally ill".
Because there was no network of community-based mental-health services to replace state institutions that were phased out in the '60s and '70s, "jails and prisons once again function as de facto mental-health institutions for people with severe and disabling mental illnesses." ...
Under Jeb Bush, the state ignored court orders to get the mentally ill out of jail. Mr. Bush insulted the judges who issued the orders. Gov. Crist moved quickly after taking office to reverse the state's callous and self-defeating strategy of ignoring court orders to treat - and not simply warehouse - mentally ill inmates. Likewise, the Legislature must act quickly on the court's recommendations. Florida cannot afford to keep ignoring and repeating this history.
It "takes a tragedy"
The Sun-Sentinel editors: "Too often it takes a tragedy to get meaningful legislation passed. Such is the case with a watercraft-related bill proposal in Florida, which would raise the minimum age to drive a personal watercraft from 14 to 16." "Here's a law that makes perfect sense".
Life's a beach
"Retirees zip around in personalized golf carts from polo matches to the basket-weaving club to Wal-Mart. Days of the week are denoted by tee times. Sunset is washed down with a cold beer or margarita at outdoor happy hour. The backdrop is a town square, where a faux-rustic facade and classic oldies pumping from speakers festooned on street lamp posts make visitors wonder whether Gene Kelly might emerge for an encore of "Singin' in the Rain.""
This 26,000-acre enclave set in Central Florida is one of the largest retirement communities in the United States."The Villages Set to Play Crucial Role In Primary".
It is also a GOP oasis. As Republicans survey the state, looking for optimism in the 2008 presidential election, it is no wonder their gaze falls hopefully on The Villages.
The developer of the retirement community, Gary Morse, is one of Florida's top Republican donors. His community spares no red-carpet treatment or local media coverage when candidates come to town. Most of The Villages' 67,000 residents are Republicans - and some of the most reliable voters in the state, with a turnout rate of nearly 80 percent.
"Anything not involving moats and trapdoors is better"
Bill Cotterell: "Crist's "Open Government Bill of Rights" is a bold, imaginative and historically significant change in how state government works. If he means it. They all say it. Crist doesn't exactly have a hard act to follow. After Gov. Jeb Bush, anything not involving moats and trapdoors is better." "Governor can shift the public access paradigm".
Expect more cuts
The Tampa Trib editors warn that "Local Governments Can Expect More Funding Cuts By State".
Campbell looks east
"Brace yourselves for what could be one of the costliest races in Florida next year. Former Democratic state Sen. Skip Campbell of Coral Springs says he's "very seriously looking" at moving east and challenging presumptive Florida Senate President Jeff Atwater, R-North Palm Beach." "Post: Heavyweights may square off for Senate seat".