The Florida Progressive Coalition has an interesting post on the traditional "Media Coverage of the FDP Convention ". Our review of today's Florida political news and punditry follows.
"One in four Floridians under age 65 have no health insurance"
Another fine Jebacy: According to a report by the state (can you imagine what a neutral study might show) "one in four Floridians under age 65 have no health insurance, and "
the number of Floridians of all ages without health coverage has grown by 38 percent over the past eight years, to 3.8 million."1 in 4 in Florida lack health insurance".
The troubling trend, part of a new report by the state, may prompt Florida to follow other states that have enacted sweeping health insurance plans.
"Wrong glass" Mam!
"A campaign contributor who once wined and dined former Rep. Katherine Harris agreed Wednesday to pay a $1 million fine -- the second-largest in the Federal Election Commission's 32-year history -- for breaking campaign laws by funneling corporate contributions to Harris and another member of Congress."
The fine came as defense contractor Mitchell Wade reached a settlement with the FEC, acknowledging that he used $78,000 in corporate funds to reimburse employees and their spouses for contributing to Harris, a Sarasota Republican who lost a 2006 race for U.S. Senate, and Rep. Virgil Goode, R-Va.You may remember this gem:
Wade had previously plead guilty in U.S. District Court to illegally steering the money to the two lawmakers in hopes of securing ''lucrative contracts'' for his company, MZM.
On the campaign trail in 2006, Harris acknowledged that Wade had picked up a $2,800 dinner tab when the two dined at the upscale Citronelle restaurant in Washington. She said then that the bill was so high because Wade bought several expensive bottles of wine to take home and that she had expected her campaign to ''reimburse'' Wade for her share of the meal. She said she would give $100 to charity -- the cost she calculated for her part of dinner."Katherine Harris' contributor fined $1 million". See also "Wooing Katherine Harris proves pricey".
Wade time was angling for multimillion-dollar government contract. Harris sponsored, but did not secure, a $10 million earmark that would have benefited MZM.
Our apologies in advance, but this story reminds us of "the scene in The Blues Brothers when they go to the snooty French Restaurant, Chez Paul "
The guys slurping 1971 Dom Perignon. Ackroyd tossing whole shrimp into Belushi's mouth. Pee Wee Herman's cameo as a waiter.Check out the YouTube of the scene here (it is at approximately 3:10 into the video).
So many memorable quotes [after Ackroyd motions the waiter to fill his water glass with wine]: Waiter - aghast - "Wrong glass, sir!" Ackroyd, mouth full, motions 'fill it up anyway'.
Opposition builds . . .
"As Crist embarked on the second day of a promotional tour, opposition was mounting from educators, organized labor and a state watchdog."
The most vocal dissent came from the state teacher union, which said it is considering strategies to defeat the plan when it goes before voters on Jan. 29."Tax plan foes multiply". See also "Teachers union against tax plan, campaign plans on hold".
The union hinted at a possible legal challenge and said Crist's promise to restore up to $3-billion in cuts to public schools over five years doesn't go far enough.
"I need something in my hand. A verbal commitment doesn't get me anything," Florida Eduction Association president Andy Ford said.
The watchdog group Florida TaxWatch also countered Crist's optimism with a harsh assessment, saying the plan gives relief to those who need it least and offers little for nonhomestead property owners, who are hit hardest by soaring property taxes. . . .
The AFL-CIO of Florida also opposes the plan, saying it will cost public employee jobs. The union has not decided on a course of action.
And, about that "drop like a rock" stuff: "Crist made a warm sales pitch for a constitutional amendment on property tax cuts at a schoolteacher's Kendall home Wednesday -- only to hear her echo a major criticism of the plan: It's not enough." "Cut too small, Crist is told". More: "State's property tax plan would have winners and losers".
Update: "Crist has succeeded in stopping Florida's unions from launching an initial assault against his property tax reform. How long he keeps opponents off the playing field remains to be seen."
The limbo in large part comes because Crist telephoned FEA President Andy Ford early Tuesday, before throwing himself into a jet stream of publicity stops."Crist holds unions at bay".
''It resulted in an agreement that we will continue to speak,'' Ford said at a news conference Wednesday attended by other labor groups waiting with it on the sidelines. . . .
The accord puts the FEA into a difficult posture - break with the first Republican governor to openly consult with the state's powerful union, or swallow a tax plan it believes will hurt public schools and its 136,000 members.
The call bought Crist a clear field for his two-day statewide tour promoting the proposed tax plan.
"The head of a state agency that aids developmentally disabled people said Wednesday that she is seeking a permanent budget increase of $24 million per year to eliminate a persistent deficit. The Agency for Persons With Disabilities' current budget includes a one-time allocation of $116 million to help it whittle down the deficit that topped out at $156 million. The Legislature, though, also ordered cost-cutting measures to stem the flow of red ink." "Agency for disabled seeks budget boost".
Leon County's "Local political parties target minority voters": "Capital-area Democrats began a yearlong campaign Wednesday to boost black voter turnout next year in one of the party's strongest areas.".
Stop the presses! Could one of the state's biggest contractors possibly be" defensive, arrogant and retaliatory." Well, the story begins here, you know ... with that guy who thought the private sector could do no wrong:
The YMCA's foray into foster care started with a campaign stop in 1994 by then-gubernatorial candidate Jeb Bush.It went downhill (at least for the locals) from there. The nonprofit operation is being run by an altruistic soul named Carl
Weinrich, who makes more than $200,000 a year . . ."Stung by state audit, nonprofit chief stresses healing".
In 2005, the YMCA made a decision that further eroded its community support here, by rebidding the contracts for local service providers.
Smaller social service groups felt they were being picked on, or set up to lose contracts that they had held for years.
Subcontracts were changed in Sarasota, Manatee and DeSoto counties more than anywhere else in the state, and the companies reported it was based on political standing with the agency and not performance. . . .
Caseworkers reported fear of retaliation if they spoke to the review team.
Data gathered by the state in 2006 showed that the YMCA's performance was slipping, too.
It was among the worst agencies for the number of foster children who re-enter the system less than a year after they leave it, and also scored poorly for the number of times a child is bounced from home to home.
But no report stung as much as the one delivered this week by state auditors.
"An attempt by Georgia's governor to limit the amount of water released into the Chattahoochee River has reignited a 17-year-old water war with Florida and Alabama." "Georgia's Answer To Drought Riles Neighboring Governors".
Hill and "Jeb!"
"Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton’s hard-to-pin-down position on driver licenses for illegal immigrants (she said a New York proposal to allow them 'makes a lot of sense,' but she stopped short of unequivocally endorsing the idea during a Tuesday night debate) seems to supply ammunition to Republicans who expect her to be the Dem nominee in 2008. But as politico.com blogger Jonathan Martin notes, no less a Republican than former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush backed a similar idea in 2004." "Hillary, Jeb in agreement?".
Florida's booming economy
"New-home starts drop 47% locally".
The Tampa Trib editors: "A former state attorney general, Butterworth is proving that clear and concise leadership doesn't need to be complicated, even in troublesome circumstances. Now, if he could just get the rest of government to see its mission so clearly." "Butterworth Changes DCF Culture With His 'Two Sense' Solution".
When push comes to shove . . .
Black Republicans always come home: "GOP chief, black leader call a truce". For details on the (very) short lived showing of spine, see yesterday's "RPOF gets worried 'if one group of Negroes isn't doing what you want them to do'".
I'm sure this will swell the ranks of Black Republicans: "FL Republican leaders are putting Alan Keyes on the presidential primary ballot. Maybe it's part of all that African-American outreach?" "Alan Keyes on the FL ballot".
Not exactly the toughest thing in the world to do
Holy cow: "Daniel Webster, the majority leader of the Florida Senate . . . outfoxed, outmaneuvered and outsmarted House Republicans." That and a quarter gets you a 25 cent cup of coffee.
Lobbyists fight to keep business
"The Crist administration's proposal to replace a privately operated prison work program with one run by the state has hit bipartisan roadblocks, even before a plan has been formally submitted."
When they do, they will tangle with one of the Capitol's most seasoned lobbyists, Guy Spearman. He has represented PRIDE in the Capitol for two decades and says he has talked to "a bunch" of lawmakers in defense of the program."Prison program gets support".
"Are there some things PRIDE needs to do better? Yeah," Spearman said. "We need to put more inmates to work."
Lobbyist compensation reports show Spearman earned between $10,000 and $19,999 to lobby for PRIDE during the second quarter of this year.
The agency's other lobbyist, the law firm of Roetzel & Andress, earned $53,000 during the same period. PRIDE spokesman Foster Harbin said that latter figure included substantial legal work before the state.
"That super homestead exemption mentioned in a flier in your tax bill? Uh. Forget it. It's wrong." "A taxing bit of confusion".
"The redistricting petition gathering process has been going well, according to an e-mail Buzz got forwarded from Ellen Freidin, a Miami-based lawyer and activist with Floridians for Fair Elections, who's heading up a ballot initiative to prevent districts from being drawn to favor an 'incumbent or political party.'" "Redistricting Petition Popular".