"[A] group of New York firefighters who lost sons in the Sept. 11 World Trade Center attacks is organizing a political committee to take on former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani."
Jim Riches, a New York deputy fire chief whose firefighter son was killed on Sept. 11, said the group aims to raise doubts about the central premise of Giuliani's presidential campaign - his leadership role in the aftermath of the attacks. "If we have to follow him around all 2008, we'll do it," Riches said."N.Y. Firefighters Group Forms To Battle Giuliani".
Lauded as "America's Mayor" for his blunt talk and compassion amid the attacks, Giuliani's political stock soared and he went on to build a multimillion-dollar consulting group emphasizing his leadership skills. ... the former New York mayor's frequent references to Sept. 11 on the campaign trail have infuriated Riches and about 20 activists who lost firefighter sons. The New Yorkers blame Giuliani for decision-making failures that they think contributed to the deaths.
After protesting near Giuliani fundraising events in New York to little fanfare, they plan to raise their voices in Florida, South Carolina and other primary states seen as essential to Giuliani's path to the GOP nomination. "When he announced his plans to run for president, we felt he was doing it on the backs of our dead sons," Riches said.
"A $2.4 billion shortage"
"Faced with a $2.4 billion shortage, House and Senate money managers have warned Florida lawmakers that election-year goodies will be in critically short supply during the coming legislative session." "House, Senate face $2.4B budget shortage".
A Florida thing ...
"Florida asked a federal judge Thursday to stay his decision against a state voter registration law being challenged by civil rights groups while the ruling is under appeal. If granted, the stay could prevent thousands of people from casting ballots Jan. 29 in Florida's presidential primary and a property tax-cutting referendum because registration books will close Dec. 31." "State appeals voter registration ruling, still trying to comply". See also "Election officials: Business as usual".
"Huckabee's breakneck rise"
"Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee's breakneck rise in the national polls has reached Florida, prodding a fledgling band of supporters to throw together a ground game in the nation's fourth-largest state."
Three Florida polls in the past week put Huckabee in first or second place, jockeying with longtime front-runner Rudy Giuliani. That's a stunning turn of events for a candidate who ranked near the bottom just last month and has invested little time and no money in the state."Florida polls show Huckabee surge". See also "Polls have Huckabee gaining in Fla.".
The Miami Herald editors: "In the bad old days, state and federal election officials demanded that voters pay a 'poll tax' or pass a 'literacy test' to register for voting. Today, Florida has a 'no match' law, which requires voters to provide information that matches data in state and federal databases. Seeing the 'no-match' law for what it is -- an obstacle to voting -- a federal judge on Tuesday ordered Florida to stop enforcing the recently enacted registration law. U.S. District Judge Stephan Mickle obviously understands that the role of government in a democracy is to eliminate barriers to full participation by citizens, not to erect barriers to discourage voting." "Voting rights".
On the trail again ...
"Republican presidential hopefuls Rudy Giuliani and Mike Huckabee are planning only a brief Yuletide respite before hitting the campaign trail in Florida." "Giuliani, Huckabee plan Florida swings".
"The state's attorney general filed suit on Thursday to delay the Florida compact permitting expanded gambling by the Seminole Tribe. The U.S. Department of the Interior was poised to approve the plan, though the Florida Supreme Court has not yet ruled on its validity, according to a statement from Attorney General Bill McCollum. The suit seeks an injunction against the U.S. Department of the Interior to prevent the compact's publication before Florida's highest court makes a decision." "State files suit to block gambling compact with Seminoles". See also "AG suing federal government to stop gambling agreement".
And your point is ... ?
The Sun-Sentinel editors: "Let's call this proposed state constitutional ban on gay marriage exactly what it is: unneeded, divisive, and a transparent attempt to get out the ultra-conservative vote." "Proposed gay marriage ban unneeded, insulting".
"State and local taxes paid by illegal immigrants fail to offset the cost of public services that state and local governments in Florida and elsewhere provide, a new study done for Congress says." "Illegal Immigrants Costly To States, Study Says".
"Florida will begin offering a discount card for people 60 or older who can't afford prescription drugs, Gov. Charlie Crist says." "Crist Presents Plan For Prescription Drug Discount". See also "Drug discount plan will cover 4 million in Florida, Crist says", "State will offer prescription drug discount cards" and "New state program will help people buy prescription drugs".
"The era of low-cost living in Florida is over." "Opt For Quality, Not Cut-Rate".
"Now, with his lead shrinking in national polls, and even in Florida, according to some measures, Rudy Giuliani is retooling. " "Giuliani forges revisions in his campaign".
The poor thing
"AP: Yecke out as Florida's K-12 chancellor".
"Hialeah Housing Authority chief Alex Morales insists that it was his passion for politics that drove him recently to request a computerized list of every voter in the congressional district represented by U.S. Rep. Lincoln Díaz-Balart. He smirked at the idea that he was doing the bidding of former Hialeah Mayor Raul Martinez, who gave him his current job and has openly flirted with challenging Díaz-Balart in the district that spans much of Hialeah and West Miami-Dade and creeps north to Miramar." "Ally of Raul Martinez requests voter records".
OK, I won't
"'Don't tase me, bro!' among top 10 quotes of 2007".
"Any meeting that ends with plans for another meeting can't be a total success, but the governors of Florida, Alabama and Georgia claimed this week that they made progress toward ending a 17-year water war. And they may be right. For now, thanks in part to a two-day downpour which kept water flowing in areas all three states could use, the governors have a plan. Each will send experts to Washington next month to complete a new water-sharing plan by February that federal regulators can approve by March 15." "Florida won this round".
In a suing mood
"Crist said Wednesday that he wants three trial lawyers to review documents for a possible class-action lawsuit against property insurers, alleging that the industry hasn't passed on savings to consumers as required by a new Florida law." "Insurers defend themselves as Gov. Crist says review may lead to lawsuit". See also "Crist considers suit against property-insurance industry".
The Orlando Sentinel editors: "Once lauded nationally but now lampooned regularly by developers and local government officials alike, the state's growth-management act badly needs a boost. Tom Pelham, Florida Department of Community Affairs secretary, is ready to do the heavy lifting." "Our position: If Florida's to grow right, the Legislature can't dance around DCA Secretary Tom Pelham's plan".
Florida's booming economy
"The number of visitors to Orlando tumbled by 1.5 million people in 2006, according to data included in a report released Wednesday by the region's tourism bureau." "Number of visitors to Orlando down in 2006, new report says".
It will be curious to see how this impacts the editorial content of the Orlando Sentinel: "With Sam Zell, Orlando Sentinel's parent company goes private". After all, "nearly 70 percent of
prospective Tribune Co. owner's donations to Republicans". "In Political Contributions, Zell Leans Right and Wife Leans Left". And we've seen this before, haven't we?
Graphically demonstrating the change in culture at the company, Zell was tieless and wore jeans and cowboy boots in his appearance at buttoned-down Tribune Tower.I suppose the Sentinel editors consider this "merit pay", as the current CEO
will leave the company with $38.3 million in severance and stock holdings accumulated over a 25-year career with the company."FitzSimons to leave Tribune".
Jac Wilder VerSteeg: "The Legislature has pretended to pay for the class-size amendment that by 2010 will require that each individual class through third grade have no more than 18 students, through eighth grade no more than 22 and in high school no more than 25. So now, the latest plan is to pretend that an average class size of 18 is the same as an actual class size of 18. Averaging is a wonderful way to count. On average, the Dolphins and Patriots together are winning more than half of their games." "School districts' selective math".
"Rubio pushes 'other' tax cut".
"An Oklahoma senator wants an investigation into a disputed $10 million congressional earmark for an Interstate 75 interchange in Southwest Florida."
Republican Sen. Tom Coburn said Tuesday he wants a special committee to investigate the earmark to a 2005 transportation bill that provides money to connect Coconut Road to I-75 in Lee County near Fort Myers."Senator seeks inquiry on earmark".
The earmark was inserted into the bill by U.S. Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, even though local lawmakers did not ask for it.
Watchdog groups have charged that he did it to benefit a developer who owns land around the interchange and who hosted a $40,000 fundraiser for Young in 2005.