The Palm Beach Post editors:"It's important that voters are who they say they are. But there's a limit to how far elections officials can go to deter fraud. Those limits are reached when the rules disenfranchise legitimate voters."
It took a lawsuit and a ruling from a federal judge to keep a Republican-initiated Florida law from blocking up to 14,000 people from voting in the upcoming presidential primary. ..."Making voters primary".
The state has a short but sordid history under Republican governors [read: Jebbie] of using technology to keep mostly poor and minority voters from voting. The worst example came under Gov. Bush, whose administration used corrupted computer records to block
... The state has a short but sordid history under Republican governors of using technology to keep mostly poor and minority voters from voting ... non-felons as well as ex-felons from voting. The now-stalled "no-match" law requires potential voters to provide a driver license, Social Security number or other form of ID to register. If a single digit doesn't match a state database, which could too easily be the fault of human error, the voter would not be registered.
About 14,000 potential voters were on hold when the NAACP and others sued, saying the law unfairly blocks African-Americans and Hispanics. Aside from typos, the groups worried that errors would arise from nontraditional spellings of names among African-Americans and difficulty matching multiple surnames among Hispanics. Judge Mickle found proof the law caused "actual harm to real individuals," reason enough to halt enforcement.
... Republicans look for ways to limit access to the ballot box ...Throughout the nation, Republicans have shown little concern for the actual harm they do to individuals in the name of safeguarding elections from voter fraud. ...
While Republicans look for ways to limit access to the ballot box, the courts correctly side with unfettered access for legitimate voters, acknowledging that far too often the real fraudulent act is committed in the name of contesting fraud.
The little people just don't get it
The "Jeb!"-apologists over at the Orlando Sentinel are all atwitter - they find it "frustrating that more people don't understand the importance and success of Florida's landmark effort to hold schools accountable by requiring students to pass the FCAT."
It's hard to say what's most worrisome about a recent opinion poll that showed a majority of people surveyed still clings to an unrealistically rosy picture of Florida's universities and believes the state's high-stakes test for school students is unnecessary. ..."Our position: Tough school standards and better universities are worth fighting for". Restated, the editors are disappointed that the folks with kids in public school - 'ya know, the little people who actually deal with the test in practice - realize that that Jebbie's misuse of the FCAT was bad policy.
But the test has done wonders for Florida's children. No longer can schools hide behind confusing statistics and confusing measurements for achievement -- they're issued an A through F grade. This is important for minority students in poor neighborhoods; they've showed remarkable education gains since former Gov. Jeb Bush made the FCAT the cornerstone of his reforms in 1999.
Perhaps the rest of us are not as dumb as the Sentinel editors believe. Heck, just down the road, the Palm Beach Post editors recently made this lest than stunning observation: "the test - as Florida has come to use it - isn't really about students. The state uses it to assign school grades, which are a Jeb Bush brainstorm originally intended as a means to provide vouchers to private schools."
And what is it with the constant trumpeting of alleged "remarkable education gains" and that "the test has done wonders for Florida's children"; the reality is very different:
- October, 2007: "Half the high schools in Florida ... are 'dropout factories,' with thousands of students disappearing before their senior year, according to a new report. Florida and South Carolina rated the worst in the nation."
- September, 2007: "Florida's high schools can't get their ACT together. And their SATs are stagnant. High school students performed worse this year than last on the American College Test, the second straight year of declines. The results place Florida 48th among the states."
- December, 2006: "A study sponsored by the Florida Association of School Boards last year found Florida ranked in the lower quarter of states on 10 performance indicators. Also, 71 percent of Florida schools this year failed to make adequate yearly progress under the federal No Child Left Behind Law. That includes many schools that received an A or B from the state.".
- November, 2005: "The most shameful failure, however, is that of the state of Florida for providing private schools with not even a minimum degree of oversight."
- More editorializing: "According to Jeb Bush, every education program he undertook was 'historic.'
... The requirement that everyone in the Department of Education genuflect to Jeb led to the sycophantic choices for commissioner ... So, why don't more qualified candidates want to be Florida's commissioner of education? ... Bush built a department dedicated not to education but to himself and to his ideology that favored private schools over public schools, with vouchers and bogus school grades as the prime weapons. The requirement that everyone in the Department of Education genuflect to Jeb led to the sycophantic choices for commissioner".
- The educators get it: See "More than three dozen UF faculty members snubbed the Republican Party celebrity this week, killing a proposal to give him an honorary degree."
- On a related note: "The Senate sent a bill to the governor Thursday naming university buildings and facilities after supporters, with one notable naming proposal conspicuously absent.
Continue to 2nd paragraph Earlier in the week, the House dropped its plan to name the University of Florida's College of Education after Jeb Bush".
"Walking the fine line"
"This election season, candidates are walking the fine line between public anger over illegal immigration and the growing clout of the country's largest minority group. At the same time politicians are talking more about tougher border control and cracking down on immigration violations, they're also ramping up efforts to connect with Hispanic voters." "Candidates avoid Hispanics' ire".
Dec. 31 Deadline
"Before heading to that New Year's Eve party Monday, don't forget: Dec. 31 also is the deadline to register to vote in January's presidential primaries. So what, you say? You think Jan. 29 won't matter because you're not a registered Republican or Democrat ... ? Any voter can cast a ballot on a statewide constitutional amendment affecting property taxes. Also, if independents or minor-party members switch to one of the major parties by Monday, they can vote in a primary, too." "Voter Registration Deadline Approaches For Primary". See also "Monday is deadline to register, switch parties in primary".
New Census Bureau state population estimates were released today:
Florida, a state whose economy has been fueled largely by a steady stream of retirees crossing the border each year, gained in population but at a slower rate than usual. Florida was the 19th-fastest-growing state through July 2007 compared with the previous year when it ranked ninth."Census: Florida population growth slows".
Florida's population increased by 1.1 percent to 18.3 million as of July 2007. The previous year the rate of increase was 1.8 percent.
"If there's one state that's a little surprising, I would say it's Florida," said Greg Harper, a demographer with the bureau.
"While Lake Okeechobee remains at record low levels and drought continues through much of central South Florida, water managers sent 250 billion gallons of coastal runoff out to sea during the summer rainy season." "Lake O, funding go dry as water is wasted at sea".
"With the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary within the next two weeks, Rudy Giuliani will make a three-day campaign swing through Florida starting today. Giuliani's trip to Florida underscores his unconventional campaign strategy, heavily emphasizing larger, later-voting states including Florida and the Feb. 5 primary states over the early states - Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina - that now are drawing most of the attention of the leading candidates." "Giuliani Stumping Florida". See also "Iowa? Nah -- Giuliani pins hopes on Florida". More: "Giuliani keeps focus on Florida".
Rudy's Florida strategy?: all war, all the time: "More troops needed, Giuliani says in Largo".
And isn't this pretty: "Giuliani begins Florida swing, stumps to veterans". One wonders if he'll get around to explaining this: "VA medical centers criticized for shunting patients to other hospitals".
"Worst in nation"
"Florida cities are worst in nation in housing prices".
"Presidential contender Mike Huckabee arrived in Florida on Wednesday but was planning on spending less than a day in the state before returning to Iowa, which hosts the leadoff nominating caucuses next week." "Huckabee campaigns briefly in Florida before heading back to Iowa".
Another Charlie flop
"Despite Gov. Charlie Crist's best efforts to persuade insurance companies to lower the rates they charge home and business owners, little progress was made in 2007." "Governor vows to lower rates for homeowners and businesses".
Can't get any more local than this
"When Miami Lakes town employees arrived at work one day this month, something was askew: Not a single copy of the popular Miami Laker -- a hometown Miami Lakes newspaper that has covered town politics for decades -- could be found at Town Hall. Who took the papers?" "Flak prompts newspaper to stop covering politics".
"Starting New Year's Day, Florida jurors will be allowed to ask questions of witnesses in civil and criminal trials. The Florida Supreme Court adopted the new rule last fall to help jurors get at the truth, but the court's controversial decision has some judges and lawyers fretting about the potential for problems." "Juror Questions Improve Search For Truth".
"Gas could be $3.75 a gallon by spring".
Like something outa The Handmaid's Tale
"A felony weapons charge has been dropped against a 10-year-old girl who brought a kitchen knife to school to cut up her lunch, authorities said Wednesday." "Ocala girl who brought knife to school for lunch won't be prosecuted".
Another lefty scientific conspiracy, with an anti-wingnut title to boot: "Red tide strikes Florida's Treasure Coast".
Buffett branching out?
"Jimmy Buffett, the Florida troubadour, environmental activist, Parrothead-In-Chief and soon-to-be casino mogul, wants to know more about Gov. Charlie Crist's gambling compact with the Florida Seminoles." "Buffett ready to learn more about Seminole gambling deal".
Electronic picket line
"A video on YouTube highlights the union's dispute over pay with Mayor Pam Iorio." "Tampa firefighters lobby mayor on the Web".
"Just count the lawyers"
"If anyone doubts how seriously Florida takes voting, just count the lawyers." "Voting fights heat up".
"It took years, but Hillsborough County finally has negotiated a deal to buy more than 1,000 acres of environmentally sensitive land that adjoins Pinellas County's Brooker Creek Preserve. The result is a green swath of more than 9,300 acres spanning the Pinellas-Hillsborough line." "Precious parcel wins protection promise".
"An open seat on the Miramar City Commission has attracted three likely candidates for a special election. The seat became available after Gov. Charlie Crist suspended Fitzroy Salesman from office last week. A date for the special election has not yet been set, but March 11 is a possibility." "Miramar gears up for special election to replace Salesman".
Labels: "A short but sordid history under Republican governors"