"Brace yourself, Florida voters, for a bootlicking. Fresh from plugging corn subsidies in Iowa and decrying lost car-industry jobs in Michigan, presidential pandering is making its way to Florida. First out of the box: Republican Rudy Giuliani, who has spent the last week endearing himself to voters with promises of lowering hurricane insurance rates." "Candidates about to sweet-talk us silly".
Karl Rove's Florida Frankenstein in a quandry: The GOPers are tripping over themselves for the endorsement of Florida's "reactionary ogre" - "McCain is hoping to campaign Monday in Miami with U.S. Sen. Mel Martinez in the hopes that the popular Florida Republican can help him win crucial votes in South Florida's Hispanic community."
But Martinez isn't sure he'll endorse him now because he feels badly for McCain's opponent, Rudy Giuliani -- who also thought he had a shot at Martinez's support, according to two sources familiar with the endorsement discussions."McCain expects Martinez's help -- so does Giuliani". See also "Races may stay muddled until conventions".
With his loyalties divided, Martinez, known as a pleaser to his political friends, froze Friday.
Rudy gets spacey: "About 35 space industry leaders met with Rudy Giuliani early Friday evening in Port Canaveral to push their vision of a well-funded space industry." "Giuliani pushes space program during visit". See also "Giuliani vows to keep U.S. in space race lead".
Rudy gettin' desperate: "The church service was going well."
The 7,000 congregants liked having Rudy Giuliani with them, and the Republican presidential candidate, swaying and clapping to the music, seemed happy to be their guest."Giuliani campaigns hard in Florida as poll numbers sag". More: "Giuliani coming despite dispute".
It was a solid start to a statewide tour, one the Giuliani campaign hoped would build momentum and nudge aside news about Giuliani's sagging poll numbers and the campaign's possible money problems.
Then someone spotted her. A few seats from Giuliani sat Katherine Harris, the former congresswoman whose disastrous 2006 Senate run made her an outcast within the GOP.
Instead of focusing on Giuliani, reporters asked about Harris, wondering whether she was stumping for the former New York mayor.
The Dems don't debate: "Some students are taking the Democrats' likely snub of the FAU debates more personally because it's their school that's being stood up." "Democrats' debate snub irks students, profs at FAU".
FlaDems irrelevant? Not: "Not everyone sees Florida Democrats as irrelevant. RealClearPolitics.com executive editor Tom Bevan wrote in a column Friday that 'the entire media universe will be watching Democratic results in Florida, guaranteeing the Sunshine State a big impact on the presidential race as it hurtles toward a critical moment the following week on Tsunami Tuesday.'" "Adam C. Smith: Democrats' votes may not count, but do matter". More: "Q&A: Parties' penalties cut power of state's vote".
If you must watch, here are some of the ads: "Romney's 'Chairs' ad" and "Giuliani's 'Quotes' ad". See also "Giuliani, Romney take shots at rivals as state's ad season heats up".
Bill Nelson AWOL
"Four U.S. Senators [Ted Kennedy and fellow Democrats Dick Durbin of Illinois and Sherrod Brown of Ohio and Vermont Independent Bernie Sanders] on Friday joined advocates to urge Burger King Corp. and Florida tomato growers to help boost farm worker wages." "U.S. Sens. urge BK and tomato growers to boost farmworker wages".
"When Miami-Dade voters go to the polls Jan. 29 to make a decision on slot machines, the immediate upshot will be the future of three struggling pari-mutuel operations in dire need of customers, revenue and makeovers."
But larger questions that could be answered are whether residents are ready to follow Broward County's lead, expand local wagering opportunities and potentially propel South Florida toward becoming a gambling destination that could one day rival Las Vegas or Atlantic City."Miami vote on slot machines may affect South Florida".
What's next? Droopy pants?
"Florida banks urged to disallow caps, sunglasses to deter crime".
"Eight people whose skeletal remains were discovered last year in a wooded area just outside downtown Fort Myers were the victims of homicide, police said Friday." "Case of 8 skeletons now officially ruled homicides".
"Local governments pulled $1.1 billion from the state-run investment pool on Friday after managers of the fund raised the amount of money that cities, counties, school districts and others can withdraw." "$1.1 billion taken from investment pool funds".
Forget those ABs
The Palm Beach Post editors: "Absentee voting is not a requirement. Voters who are able should go to the polls. They won't have to worry about how many stamps go on the envelope. They won't have to worry about making mistakes that void their ballots. But because going to the polls requires trust of voting systems, political parties urge their voters to cast a ballot from home. They don't tell voters that more absentee ballots are disqualified than ballots cast on electronic machines. That's because there are more ways to screw up an absentee ballot, and voters are notorious for finding them." "Avoid absentee problems by going to the polls".
"Floating desalination factory possible solution to water woes".
The Orlando Sentinel editorial board: "Our position: Tallahassee leaders, including Crist, need to make good on schools".
"Fortunately, Florida Power & Light Co. has withdrawn plans to build 400-foot windmills on two oceanfront parks in St. Lucie County. Unfortunately, moving three of the wind turbines to other public land bought for conservation would be no improvement. It would be the same problem in a new location." "New FPL plan no better".
"A small property tax break"
"Florida homeowners would get a small property tax break for energy efficiency and hurricane protection improvements if voters adopt a proposed state constitutional amendment approved Friday for the November ballot. The measure would exempt storm shutters and hurricane-resistant shingles, doors and windows from being included in property tax assessments. It also would exempt solar water heating systems and other energy-saving improvements." "Storm, energy tax breaks on ballot". See also "Reform panel puts 2 items on ballot".
Empty suit meets Bushco poodle
"Crist talks environment with Tony Blair".
"Allstate has turned the tables"
"Allstate has turned the tables on Florida regulators, forcing the state to prove why failure to produce confidential records warrants a statewide policy freeze." "Court of appeal lifts Allstate's suspension; state has 10 days to justify freeze".
"Bald eagle shot; killer is sought".
GOPers runnin' government like a business
"Florida's insurance program for children will spend $250,000 this year to pay two executive directors due to a generous clause in a five-year-old contract." "Agency ex-director still gets full salary".
Charlie's "mystery money"
Those who are chortling over the $900-million in mystery money that fuels Gov. Charlie Crist's public schools budget request for next year are missing an even more entertaining feature.
He also has served up a plan that would increase property taxes in order to reduce them."Crist doesn't deny that he released his proposal Thursday in his attempt to persuade voters that they can cut their property taxes without harming schools by approving Amendment 1 on Jan. 29.
In fact, he actually inserted a budget line item straight from the campaign trail. Under the heading of "categorical programs," a new one appears: Hold Education Harmless."Nice trick: Raise taxes to cut them".
The attached amount, $138-million, was not pulled out of the air. It reflects the projected first-year loss to schools from the property tax exemptions that would be increased under Amendment 1. But here's the kicker: He would pay for it by increasing what is known as the "required local effort" by $338-million. "Local effort" means local property taxes.
In other words, Crist would increase property taxes to reduce them.
"Tens of thousands of Floridians will be barred from voting"
"Tens of thousands of Floridians will be barred from voting in the 2008 national election if a state voter registration law is allowed to go back into effect, lawyers for minority groups said Friday."
In a hearing before a panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta, lawyers for the Florida NAACP and other groups asked that a temporary injunction against the 2005 law stay in place."Groups fear law will bar Floridians from the polls". See also "Florida law blocks voters, judges told" ("The legislation, which is temporarily on hold, was enacted in the wake of the 2000 dispute.")
The law requires that information on voter applications match driver's license or Social Security card databases. Florida officials -- still haunted by the election of 2000 -- say the law is a centerpiece of their efforts to prevent fraud and restore public confidence in the electoral process.
But the law created a system in which a simple mistake on a voter registration application can knock would-be voters out of an election, even if they present a valid driver's license or passport.
"Can $800 in your pocket bail out the economy?" "President Bush, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and members of Congress seem to think so. Washington is talking about issuing tax-rebate checks in hopes of staving off a recession." See also "President Bush's plans stir little hope of aiding South Florida economy".