"Calling Gov. Charlie Crist a 'fresh face,' U.S. Sen. Mel Martinez says it would make a lot of sense for the eventual Republican presidential nominee to pick the Florida governor as his running-mate." Martinez continued:
“I think he’s interested. I don’t think he’s shying away from the notion,” Martinez said. “I’m not trying to put words in his mouth, he should speak for himself, but I don’t think there is any reticence on his part to have his name thrown around.”"Martinez: Crist for veep". More from The Hill: "Martinez touts Crist as veep".
Meanwhile, "Giuliani didn't do anything Thursday to jeopardize his status as Republican presidential front-runner in Florida. He ... said Gov. Charlie Crist would be a great running mate. Giuliani welcomed the opportunity to associate himself with Florida's hugely popular governor, whose 2006 election was one of the few Republican bright spots anywhere in the country." "Rudy Giuliani talks tough on national and world issues, makes nice on Florida priorities".
"Hispanics are returning to the Democratic Party after several years of drifting toward the Republicans, with many saying Bush administration policies have been harmful to their community, a poll showed Thursday."
By 57 percent to 23 percent, more Hispanic registered voters say they favor Democrats than Republicans, according to a survey by the nonpartisan Pew Hispanic Center."Hispanics shift back toward Democrats". See also "Poll: Hispanics Shift To Left". More: "Full report from the Pew Hispanic Center".
That 34-percentage-point Democratic edge -- which includes people who said they lean toward either party -- has grown since July 2006, when a Pew poll measured a 21-point difference. Then, 49 percent of registered Hispanic voters said they favored Democrats and 28 percent chose Republicans.
So, with the usual flash and lack of substance, "Republicans are jump-starting their outreach to Hispanics in Florida as they try to contain the erosion of those voters from their party." "Republicans try to win back Hispanic voters".
This won't help the Republican cause: "Republican presidential candidates will try to woo one of their most disenchanted voting blocs Sunday in a debate that will be translated simultaneously into the language of persuasion: Spanish." "Univision hosting first Republican debate".
Putting the brakes on another Jebacy
"The Agency for Health Care Administration announced Thursday that although it has fully implemented the state's Medicaid reform pilot project, the agency will not recommend during the spring legislative session that lawmakers expand the program statewide."
The program, which transfers the care of state Medicaid beneficiaries to HMOs and other managed-care organizations, was a privatization initiative of former Gov. Jeb Bush and was intended to improve health care services while containing runaway Medicaid costs. Lawmakers approved the pilot in 2005 for five counties - Broward, Duval, Baker, Clay and Nassau - and retain final say over expanding it statewide. ..."Agency Puts Off Medicaid Reform". See also "Florida's push for more managed care in Medicaid to go slowly".
Asked the reason for AHCA's reticence to move forward, spokesman Doc Kokol said the agency feels that issues raised this fall by AHCA's inspector general about the program need addressing. At the same time, Kokol said, AHCA awaits the results of an ongoing University of Florida study of the pilot.
"We're just not prepared at this point to make any recommendations," Kokol said.
Medicaid reform remains controversial among Florida's health care advocates, many of whom were ready to campaign this spring against it.
In September, AHCA Inspector General Linda Keen warned in a 74-page report that inadequate staffing and rushed implementation had compromised the program's success. Keen could not conclude whether the program actually meets either of its goals to contain costs or improve care.
Although there is no evidence that the Medicaid Jebacy "actually meets either of its goals to contain costs or improve care", has anyone taken a look at whether it has succeeded in its other goal: has Jebbie's plan to hand the cash to HMOs "spawned a network of contractors who have given [Jebbie], other Republican politicians and the Florida G.O.P. millions of dollars in campaign donations"?
Florida Senator - - Mel "Martinez, the former secretary of Housing and Urban Development, said he favors one or two of the 'five principal candidates,' but declined to divulge who those lucky [sic] candidates might be."
And do not doubt the brilliance of "Bush's Mr. Cellophane" when it comes to campaigning in Florida: "Martinez, on the other hand, said he is happy to offer advice on how to win the state to those candidates who call. ... 'They need to spend a lot of money on TV,' he said." That, and attack your Republican opponent as "catering to the 'radical homosexual lobby.'" Then, mail
fliers to voters in the Bible Belt of the Florida panhandle that label [your Republican opponent as] "the new darling of the homosexual extremists."Finally, when anything goes wrong, blame it on someone else: "We heart Mel (no matter what)".
"'Restore My Vote'"
"Florida civil rights organizations launched a Web site and hotline Thursday to help more than 250,000 ex-offenders regain the right to vote in time for the 2008 presidential election."
Despite new rules instituted in April by Gov. Charlie Crist and the Cabinet to streamline the restoration of civil rights for felons, roadblocks remain, the groups said."'Restore My Vote' effort under way". See also "Group wants state help for felons" and "Group helping ex-felons get to polls".
For example, the Florida Parole Commission does not release to the public addresses of ex-offenders, thwarting advocates' efforts to locate them and help them register to vote.
The new effort is called Restore My Vote. The Web site is www.restoremyvote.com and the toll-free number is 1-877-60-RESTORE, or 1-877-607-3786.
The Orlando Sentinel editorial board are "thrilled that Congress last month overturned President Bush's veto of a water-projects bill, which among ot
The run continues
"Local governments statewide pulled another $1.2 billion from a troubled investment pool Thursday after the fund was reopened for the first time since state officials froze it last week. Florida leaders also received a report Thursday that showed the subprime mortgage crisis had penetrated four other state-run investment funds, including 11 percent of Citizens Property Insurance investments and 3 percent of short-term holdings in the state Hurricane Catastrophe Fund. Officials played down those numbers, saying the hurricane season had passed and the assets won't be needed until the next natural disaster." "State fund loses $1.2 billion more, but pullout slows". See also "Agencies Grab $1.2 Billion After State Fund Reopens", "State: $1.1B withdrawn as investment pool reopens to Fla. govts" and "Governments withdraw $1.2B from fund".
"The 38-year-old lawyer is viewed as the Crist administration's equivalent of Karl Rove, President Bush's former adviser, who was dubbed "Bush's brain."" "Crist's chief of staff, seen as his 'Rove,' is resigning". "George LeMieux will be replaced by a close friend and protege, Eric Eikenberg, 31, who now serves as one of four deputy chiefs of staff under Crist. He is the youngest gubernatorial chief of staff in decades." "Crist's top aide leaves; replacement is just 31". See also "Eikenberg to replace LeMieux" and "Crist's chief of staff -- and campaign 'maestro' -- quits".
The Orlando Sentinel editors: "Most Florida voters may forget the DNC's hardball tactics by November, but even a small percentage with bitter memories could make a difference in a close race." "What did it win?".
"Bush mortgage plan won't help S. Florida housing market".
Will Cheney testify for Charlie?
"The Florida House, in new documents filed Thursday in the state Supreme Court, continued to insist that Gov. Charlie Crist had 'seized or encroached upon' legislative powers when he signed a gambling deal with the Seminole Tribe last month. 'The governor is not Florida's sovereign, and he cannot unilaterally speak for the state,' the documents said, adding that the state's Constitution does not authorize such broad powers for the governor." "House: Crist overreached on Seminole gambling deal".
"Giuliani campaigns in Sarasota"
Charlie and the "high-rollers"
"In a room high above the street, Gov. Charlie Crist stood before a giant flat-screen TV on Thursday night, trying to sell his plan to cut property taxes."
"Preserving the American dream is incredibly important," Crist said. "That's really what this is all about.""Crist goes far for support".
The governor charmed the room of some 40 high-rollers who sipped pinot grigio and munched on crab cakes and vegetable wontons. But the governor wasn't in Tallahassee or Miami or his home of St. Petersburg. He wasn't even in Florida.
Crist made his pitch on the 25th floor of Trump Tower in Manhattan. At his side was the building's namesake - the flamboyant developer, casino boss and star of The Apprentice.
"He's working hard on real estate taxes," Donald Trump told the crowd. "I like him. He's just a special guy."
The piece continues, "The splashy New York visit provided a strong indication of the lengths to which Crist must go if he expects his plan to win voter approval in a statewide referendum Jan. 29." It might have also been put this way: "The splashy New York visit provided a strong indication of the lengths to which Crist will go to burnish his image on the national stage."
More: "Crist joins with Trump to raise money for property tax amendment".
Thank goodness Dubya privatized airport security
"Two local Homeland Security vendors were arrested today, for an apparent conspiracy to defraud at least $400,000 on a federal contract." "Two local men arrested in scheme to defraud on federal contract".
The News-Journal editors: "The push to downgrade manatees from endangered to merely threatened mystified and infuriated many Floridians. The gentle creature's numbers might be increasing -- but so are the threats to its safety." "Good idea to back off manatee plan".
BOG asserts itself
"The board that oversees Florida's public universities moved to increase its influence Thursday. Under a new plan approved by the Board of Governors, Florida's universities will be expected to boost the number of undergraduate degrees they produce and more closely scrutinize the value of their graduate programs." "Florida's public universities seek to grant more degrees, make the grade".
You go, Girl!
"Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite resigned Thursday from a bipartisan panel responsible for overseeing the teenage congressional page program, saying problems persist a year after the Mark Foley scandal helped propel Democrats into control of the U.S. House."
The Brooksville Republican pointed to what she described as recent incidents of "serious criminal acts" involving pages and "inappropriate sexual indiscretions between the students," about which she says board members were "kept in the dark.""Brown-Waite Quits Page Board".
None of the incidents involved members of Congress. The criminal charges involved shoplifting, said Brown-Waite's spokesman, Charlie Keller.
The panel's only other Republican member, West Virginia Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, also resigned Thursday.
Last year's Foley scandal had erupted with revelations the then-Florida congressman had sent sexually suggestive electronic mail to former pages.
The fallout included allegations that then-House Republican leaders were negligent and in some cases "willfully ignorant" of Foley's improper advances to male pages. The matter is viewed as having contributed to the dismal GOP showing in congressional elections in November.
Now, with Democrats in charge of the chamber, Republicans Brown-Waite and Capito are accusing them of not done enough to fix the program.
Is this really "Top News"?
Check out this headline, the featured story on the "Top News" page on the Orlando Sentinel's web site today:
Disney makes changes to Spaceship Earth"How about,
"Fred's grocery store has a special on spam".The big business media in action.