Could Charlie's extended honeymoon be over?
"Crist ends year one in office with approval ratings of 61 percent from voters, more or less equaling his popular predecessor's first-year showing in the polls. With few of the issues Crist tackled this year resolved, and the pressures of a flagging economy mounting, year two will put his popularity and political muscle to the test."
[A]fter making his now-infamous pledge about taxes dropping like a rock, Crist will pay the price politically if relief doesn't come soon, said Susan MacManus, a political scientist at the University of South Florida.Much more here: "For Crist, It's Sunshine And Storm Clouds". John Kennedy writes that, "as Crist enters his second year in office, he's finding that sincerity may not be enough -- and his personal warmth is being met by increasingly icy responses."
"I think the public is very much on the edge of really getting angry at him," she said. "They haven't yet, but they're not seeing the results they think he promised."
There are rumblings on the Republican right wing, a likely $2 billion budget deficit and a growing disaffection within the business community that pumped a record $20 million into his campaign last year.Kennedy continues:
Even worse, in the sharp-elbowed world of Tallahassee politics, legislators and lobbyists are finding they can ignore him -- and not pay a price.
The silver-haired, rail-thin governor may have fueled this anger with his own overstatements. He declared victory over the property-insurance industry following a special legislative session in January, only to find that the revisions enacted by lawmakers did little to ease high insurance costs."Year 2 for Gov. Charlie Crist: Rougher sailing?". All of which raises the question as to whether Charlie has a substantive bone in his body?
His pledge to make property taxes "drop like a rock" also continues to haunt him, with polls showing many Floridians discouraged by the January measure's projected $240-a-year savings for the average homeowner.
"The problem with the Crist administration is that he's built expectations so high that people are bound to be disappointed," said Jim Kane, a Fort Lauderdale pollster.
"Whether it's with homeowners' insurance, property taxes or how he is looking to fund state programs, the second year holds tremendous risks for him."
In an interview assessing his first year as governor, Crist offered the bland response "sure" when asked if he considered himself a "conservative Republican." Asked what being "conservative" meant to him, he grew vague."Crist is blazing his own trail of moderation".
"I don't know," he said. "It doesn't really matter to me. I'm not really absorbed much by labels others might put on me." ...
the governor's political message is best summed up as a desire to make everyone happy.
"It's in the Declaration of Independence: 'Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,'" Crist said. "Those words aren't in there in error. I take them very seriously. If the people are happy, it makes me happy. I want them to have joy in their heart. I want them to be hopeful."
The Orlando Sentinel editors: "Florida needs a retooled economy because growth can't last forever".
Pruitt, bought and paid for?
The Palm Beach Post today: "Florida's most powerful state senator collected nearly $400,000 for behind-the-scenes assistance to a real estate company that included a central figure in Palm Beach County's unfolding political corruption scandal."
The payments to Senate President Ken Pruitt of Port St. Lucie accounted for nearly three-quarters of the Republican lawmaker's private income in 2004 and 2005. The company's partners say he was hired as a consultant and collected a commission on a $38 million land deal in St. Lucie County.This is par for the course for the smiling Pruitt, who was a media darling in the last session (he was considered a right wing counterpoint to Rubio's wingnuttery).
Pruitt, a St. Lucie real estate agent, didn't have a written contract and didn't find the buyer, they said. Pruitt won't talk about what he did for the money.
Unlike Rubio, Pruitt is a mere country club Republican, who runs government like a business, presumably like he does in his own "business" ventures. In addition to the half mil deal exposed in the above-quoted article, we have these gems:
Pruitt, 50, has been in politics for nearly 20 years. A former member of the St. Lucie County Planning and Zoning Board, he served as a state representative from 1990 to 2000, when he was elected to the Senate. He quickly consolidated political power in the Republican-dominated government, in part by stumping though the state in a yellow school bus for his "Partnership for Better School Funding" campaign."As consultant, senator had no formal contract".
The tour, largely financed by lobbying groups, ended with a big rally in Tallahassee. After the tour, Pruitt went to work for Venture Four.
In November 2006, Pruitt began his two-year term as president, a politically potent post in which he assigns the chairs and membership of all Senate committees. He also has considerable influence within the state Republican Party. Term limits require him to leave the Senate in 2010.
Pruitt has supplemented his roughly $30,000-a-year government salary with a number of real estate pursuits. He hasn't said much about any of them.
In 2003, Pruitt was paid $56,966 from Carmac Realty, a West Palm Beach company owned by Richard Johnston, who does political consulting for the senator. In a 2006 interview, Pruitt wouldn't explain why he was paid. He added that the money coming from Johnston would raise eyebrows "only to the cynical."
From 2003 through 2006, Pruitt collected $2,000 a month from Wally Sanger, a Royal Palm Beach home builder. Sanger also gave Pruitt an $8,345 discount on a house built in Port St. Lucie.
In 1997, Pruitt had inserted language into a school construction bill that helped Johnston, Sanger and other partners line up $120'million in contracts with school districts to build concrete portable classrooms.
"Wildlife officials are trying to determine whether red tide killed six manatees last week in Brevard County." "Red tide suspected in manatee deaths".
"If Florida's fortunes continue sliding ..."
The Sun-Sentinel editors: "The Florida presidential primary is fast approaching. Up to now, there's been a lot of presidential campaign bickering about Iraq, 'values,' immigration reform and other national issues. If Florida's fortunes continue sliding, it's the state's economy that should prove pivotal in determining whether Florida goes blue or red." "Housing price downturn should make economy a "hot-button" issue next year".
Billy McCollum a closet Marxist?
"Shortly before Christmas, McCollum sent a memo to Crist and the other Cabinet members, advising them that 'the science is not all in' on the subject. He urged them to view the enclosed DVD, a British television documentary called The Great Global Warming Swindle. (It costs $19.99, and this is not exactly It's a Wonderful Life.) ... McCollum has butted heads with Crist before, over civil rights for felons who have completed their sentences." "Global warming ... or just a lot of hot air?".
As for Billy's sources: "The makers of the program include Martin Durkin ... The Guardian newspaper in London reported in 1997 that Durkin considered himself a Marxist."
"Michael Mayo: Memories of 2007: An up-and-down (but mostly down) year". See also "Mike Thomas: The best and worst of 2007".
"Two grand jury reports leave no doubt that West Palm Beach Mayor Lois Frankel is willing to take extraordinary measures to deny the public information it has a right to know."
Both reports reached the same conclusion: On Oct. 26, 2004, Mayor Frankel tried to prevent a replay of a contentious city commission meeting from airing on the city's cable television channel. As deplorable as the mayor's behavior was that night, the coverup and stonewalling afterward were just as bad."West Palm Beach has endured months of needless legal melodrama because of Mayor Frankel's obstinacy, and it's not over yet."
On Wednesday, two groups filed suit claiming that a new city ordinance that bans feeding the poor at several downtown sites is unconstitutional. It was the mayor who pushed through the ordinance. She ignored pleas from charity groups to allow them to find a compromise that would avoid a legal confrontation."Frankel tries to throttle public's right to know".
"Insurance stays at top of Floridians' concerns".
Send this guy a box of diapers
"It seems Florida Republican Don Phillips has a deep fear of homeless people and Democrats. Phillips, a developer, Republican donor and John McCain supporter, sent a letter to Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio and police Chief Steve Hogue asking for protection from both." "Homeless, protesters unsettle GOP stalwart".
"Longtime Panhandle lawman Guy Tunnell took fire from critics statewide in 2006 when he compared the Rev. Jesse Jackson to outlaw Jesse James and Barak Obama to terrorist Osama bin Laden."And when did Tunnell share these delightful insights with us? Why,
at the time he headed Florida's Department of Law Enforcement.And who was the dope who appointed Tunnell to the head of FDLE (of all things)? You guessed it - "Bush appointed Tunnell to head the 2,000-employee FDLE in 2004."
He resigned amid accusations of racism, but found refuge back home in Bay County. By hiring him within 31 days of his leaving another state job, State Attorney Steve Meadows salvaged for Tunnell more than $230,000 in a lump-sum retirement payment.
Meadow's decision to hire Tunnell, allowing him to complete his five-year eligibility in DROP, upset civil rights leaders who considered it further insult by Bay County elected officials. Bay County is where 14-year-old Martin Lee Anderson died after a videotaped altercation with seven guards at a sheriff's office boot camp. Tunnell, who established the boot camp as sheriff, made his comments about Jackson and Obama while preparing for protests at the state Capitol over the handling of the black teen's death by state and local officials.
Tunnell will receive a $520,000 lump-sum payment when he retires Monday after completing four and half years in DROP.
No surprise there - Jebbie insisted that his minions, particularly in law enforcement, be sycophantic hacks. Recall this sordid abuse of police power by Jebbie, as reported in the Miami Herald: "Hours after a judge ordered that Terri Schiavo was not to be removed from her hospice, a team of state [FDLE] agents was 'en route' to seize her and have her feeding tube reinserted ... the standoff could ultimately have led to a constitutional crisis and a confrontation between dueling lawmen. 'There were two sets of law enforcement officers facing off, waiting for the other to blink'".
Now Tunnell wants his old job back:
The Panama City News Herald speculated in a recent editorial that Tunnell, who served as Bay County Sheriff from 1988 to 2003, is leaving six months early to seek to unseat popular Sheriff Frank McKeithen."Former FDLE chief leaves investigative job; mulls sheriff's run".
More panhandle justice
As Guy Tunnell slithers out from under a rock (see also), we are reminded of yet another panhandle story: "A state panel voted unanimously not to keep embattled medical examiner Charles Siebert on the job Saturday, even though he was the only one to apply for the post. Siebert was the medical examiner who conducted the disputed autopsy on a teenager who died after an altercation with guards at a juvenile boot camp last year."
Siebert conducted the autopsy of 14-year-old Martin Lee Anderson, who died in January 2006 after an altercation with guards at a Bay County sheriff's boot camp."Embattled medical examiner Charles Siebert won't keep job".
Siebert ruled Anderson's death was caused by natural complications of sickle-cell trait, a genetic blood disorder. Anderson's body was exhumed, and a second autopsy by another doctor found the guards suffocated him.
"Scott Maxwell: The 25 most powerful people in Central Florida".
Stop the presses!
"A state compact reached last month to allow Las Vegas-style gambling at the Seminole Tribe's casinos could spur major development on and around tribal reservations." "Sun-Sentinel: State gambling deal with Seminoles may be boon for landowners".