"Mike Huckabee's staunchest Florida supporters believe his Iowa surprise was enough to catapult him to victory in Florida's Jan. 29 contest -- so much so that they spent a chilly Sunday hitting the pavement for the Baptist minister who has upended the Republican race for the presidency." And this isn't a great visual:
Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio, swaddled in a dark sweater and a thermal top, and his top lieutenant, state Rep. David Rivera, traded South Florida for southern New Hampshire, calling GOP voters from Huckabee's makeshift New Hampshire headquarters here and thrusting Florida oranges to passing motorists, urging them to vote for the former Arkansas governor."Rubio, Rivera stump for Huckabee in New Hampshire".
"Scant evidence of serious problems"
The Supreme Court is hearing oral argument today on "whether the procedures used in lethal injections violate the Constitution's prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment."
In 35 of the 36 states with the death penalty, including Florida, lethal injection involves a three-drug protocol developed by Oklahoma's medical examiner in 1977: sodium thiopental to render the inmate unconscious, pancuronium bromide to paralyze the muscles and potassium chloride to cause cardiac arrest."Lethal injection fight before Supreme Court hinges on pain question". See also "Florida may face changes to lethal injection".
Lawyers for the inmates say the protocol is complicated and must be performed with precision to avoid the risk of agonizing pain.
They argue that poorly trained personnel could inadequately administer the drugs and that the paralyzing agent masks what could be a tortuous death.
... states with the death penalty argue that the challengers have provided scant evidence of serious problems in the more than 900 executions performed by lethal injection ...
In a Florida case in December 2006, it took Angel Diaz more than half an hour - twice as long as usual - to die from a lethal injection. An investigation found that the injection had been poorly performed, with the needles pushed through the veins to the flesh underneath, lessening the drugs' effectiveness.
"It is a shockingly problematic method of execution," said Deborah Denno, a Fordham University law professor who has compiled much of the research about how lethal injection is carried out.
One must concede that "challengers have provided scant evidence of serious problems in the more than 900 executions performed by lethal injection." After all, most of those with direct evidence of the process are unavailable to testify.
Charlie's tax cut "claim is wildly exaggerated"
"Among the promises made by proponents of the Jan. 29 referendum on cutting property taxes, one vow has shined as a simple enticement to all homeowners. 'We have a chance to double the homestead exemption,' Gov. Charlie Crist repeated in an e-mail last week, echoing what he and lawmakers have promoted as the centerpiece of the tax plan. But that claim is wildly exaggerated." "Don't Bank That Florida 'Tax Cut' Just Yet".
Bill Cotterell: "So much for running government like a business, an oft-cited principle of conservative lawmakers."
The work-force report said the average salaries for employees in the State Personnel System — at all levels — rose 12.7 percent since 2002, or in ex-Gov. Jeb Bush's second term. But in the private sector, the average wage for all industries rose 18.7 percent. ..."In government, numbers can tell whatever story you want".
The 2002-06 span is significant not only because it covers Bush's re-election and second term, but also the five years after passage of Service First, the former governor's sweeping overhaul of state government's personnel systems.
Jebbie's corporate welfare
"What the railroad wants, the railroad gets."
That seems to be Florida's policy since the state has doled out millions to six of these privately run businesses to improve their tracks."State Gives Railroad Executives Straight Track To Tax Dollars".
What's more, those millions have come with the approval of oversight committees that include railroad executives who stand to benefit most from this use of the state's transportation dollars.
And those executives got their appointments from state leaders who received, or whose party collected, significant political contributions. ...
Since 2005, through legislation championed by former Gov. Jeb Bush, millions have gone to a half-dozen rail companies whose owners and executives were insiders in the planning process.
Pumping up the vote
"Sharpton was in Orlando as part of an effort to mobilize black voters for the Jan. 29 Democratic primary sponsored by the local NAACP and the Black Partnership, a coalition of organizations." "The Rev. Al Sharpton visits Orlando, urges voters to go to the polls".
Looks like a slam dunk
"Campaigning for Orlando's top spot has been quiet in the weeks before the Jan. 29 vote." "Familiar foes face off in Orlando mayoral election".
The retiree thing
The Miami-Herald editors: "The word has gotten out about Florida. It is not the paradise that many people once thought it was. According to recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau, Florida's population grew only 1.1 percent in 2007 -- compared to 1.8 percent in 2006 -- the slowest pace in 10 years. More people, especially retirees, are looking to states like Georgia, South and North Carolina and Tennessee to spend their golden years."
State leaders should worry about this for at least two reasons:"Florida is losing some of its luster".
• First, the retirees. When all of the pluses and minuses are added up, retirees provide about $4 in revenue for every $3 they cost in government services, according a University of Florida study. Florida may not want to recruit retirees as aggressively as it has in the past, but they still are a demographic group worth having and worth luring -- especially when many other states are actively recruiting them. Ignoring seniors, as seems to be the policy now, is a losing proposition.
• Second, Florida's economy is highly dependent on population growth. This is a problem. Depending on population growth to fund essential services, such as education, healthcare, prisons and roads, is a poor economic model. Depending on population growth means that Florida relies heavily on construction, home-building, real-estate and related industries to keep state revenues flowing.
"Teen seeks aid getting rebels to free his dad"
"SARASOTA - While most 15-years-olds are working toward getting their driver's licenses, Kyle Stansell is working toward getting his father released from Colombian rebels. Stansell and his grandparents recently took a trip to Venezuela to meet President Hugo Chavez and learn what he could about his father's situation. ... Stansell said his trip to Venezuela and Colombia, where he met with Chavez and other government officials, was the most promising development in years." "Chavez might be key for release of American hostage".
"Robie Mortin, 92, has never forgotten New Year's Day 85 years ago. 'I was 8 years old when this whole thing happened, home with our father in bed asleep, less than a mile from where they hung Uncle Sam,' Mortin remembers." "Rosewood Massacre's memories remain vivid".
The Orlando Sentinel editors: "This much is certain when dealing with the contentious crossfire involving illegal immigrants: Solutions need to be addressed on a federal level. It's not a state issue, and certainly not a local issue. So why are state legislators trying to squeeze a total of six bills through the next session that would serve no purpose other than to dump the problem on state and local governments?" "Illegal immigration needs a national, not Florida, solution".
Registrations up in Sarasota County
"In the past two presidential primaries, only one in five registered voters in Florida bothered to cast ballots."
This year looks different: thousands of people have registered or switched parties in recent months, leading some elections officials to predict the highest turnout in at least a decade."More register, but will they vote?".
In Sarasota County alone, 4,200 residents registered to vote in the past two months. Charlotte County received twice as many requests for absentee ballots as in 2004.
"There is a high level of energy out there on both sides," said Bob Jackson, who teaches politics and election studies at Florida State University. "It's a more engaging and competitive process that you'd be hard-pressed to find in any other year."
Kathy Dent, Sarasota County's elections supervisor, expects 35 to 40 percent turnout, which would be double the previous two presidential primaries.
But we're the "Dudas" ...
"A. Duda & Sons is challenging a water management district rule requiring the company to get a permit for work that ultimately drained more than two square miles of wetlands in West Viera." "Duda wetland hearing today".
"Mahoney said fighting for legislation that sets the stage for the Indian River Lagoon cleanup and bio-fuel production in the agricultural communities around Lake Okeechobee topped his list of accomplishments in his first year in office. In an interview last week, Mahoney, D-Palm Beach Gardens, said he's confident he will win re-election this year and hopes to work with a new president who will shift the focus of the war on terror to capturing Osama bin Laden and defeating al-Qaida." "Rep. Tim Mahoney would renew push to capture bin Laden".
"Legislature is not willing to spend what it takes"
The Orlando Sentinel editors: "The Board of Governors is best suited to set tuition rates. The Legislature is not willing to spend what it takes to provide the quality universities Florida deserves." "The universities' board of governors, not legislators, should set tuition rates".
Dems doing it right in Palm Beach
"Though they've been snubbed by their party's presidential candidates, Palm Beach County Democrats seem to be more fired up about Florida's Jan. 29 primary than local Republicans. One indicator: Democratic absentee ballot requests outnumber Republican requests by more than a 2-to-1 margin in the county." "Absentee ballot requests pour in from Democrats".
It would be interested to know if this is the result of an organized Dem effort.
"A few ounces of common sense"? Good luck
The St. Pete Times editorial board: "The case of Kenneth Young [then a 14-year-old who neither killed nor injured anyone and was sentenced to spend his entire life in a Florida prison], who is now 22 and a model inmate, speaks to the brittle nature of Florida's criminal justice system and why it can stand a few ounces of common sense. Unfortunately, the Legislature has yet to provide any." "When it's wrong to throw away the key".