Florida becomes relevant?
"The results of the Iowa caucuses are testing the political firewalls that Republican Rudy Giuliani and Democrat Hillary Clinton have built in Florida, analysts and partisans said Friday."
Huckabee's win increases the chances that there will be no clear Republican front-runner when Floridians vote 24 days from now. Mitt Romney's second-place Iowa finish damages his hopes of reducing the Republican race to a Giuliani-Romney duel by the time Florida Republicans cast their ballots."Florida voters may wind up playing critical role". Concerning Huckabee: "He wowed Iowa, but can Huckabee do Florida".
Obama's Iowa victory and John Edwards' second-place finish remove the air of inevitability that has surrounded Clinton, who has consistently led in national polls and enjoyed better than a 2-to-1 polling edge over Obama in Florida.
Giuliani also has led most Florida polls, though his margin has been shrinking and one December poll showed Huckabee ahead in the state.
"A big reason for the high numbers you see for Hillary and Rudy in Florida is they are the candidates people know," said Democratic Florida political consultant Robin Rorapaugh. "But Florida voters are about to learn a whole lot about a guy named Barack Obama and a guy named Mike Huckabee. That will definitely have an effect."
More: "Florida stays crucial for candidates in Jan. 29 primary" and "Suddenly, Florida Is No. 1 With A Ballot".
"If Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., slumps, she could look to Florida -- where she had led her rivals in the polls -- for at least a symbolic victory even if no delegates are awarded." "Florida looms larger now". But it may not be smooth sailing for Hill, at least with respect to the black vote::
A longtime state senator from Jacksonville said Friday that Obama's Iowa win could swing some Clinton supporters over to Obama."But one observer said Obama's strong showing in Iowa may not be enough to win back support from black elected officials in Florida who have already backed Clinton."
"Probably those who were just supporting both of them at the same time will come over now," said Sen. Tony Hill, D-Jacksonville, who is backing Obama.
"We do not anticipate that impacting the results in Florida at all," said David Goldenberg, a spokesman for Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Miramar, one of three members of Florida's black congressional delegation who is backing Clinton. "Sen. Clinton has been beloved by Democrats in Florida and many Republicans and independents as well.""Yet on Friday, one black state senator said support for Obama or Clinton by blacks could rest on whether either one makes appearances in the state."
State Sen. Al Lawson, D-Tallahassee, had supported Clinton over Obama, even though he wanted to back Obama."Local black voters see many positives in Obama's win". More generally: "Obama faces more difficult test in Florida".
But he said his endorsement is up for grabs for either candidate if they decide to break the campaign boycott in the weeks before the Florida primary.
"I was supporting her, but I just stopped supporting any of the candidates until they campaign in Florida," he said.
The News-Journal editors: "Florida's primary will be Jan. 29. The national Democratic Party, punishing Florida for moving up its primary date, will not include Florida's delegates among the 2,026 needed for a candidate to win the party's nomination. But it's not just about the delegates' tally. Arguably, it's hardly about the delegates' tally. It's about voter sentiment. In that sense, Florida's primary will matter a great deal. Like Iowa's, Florida's primary is an indication of how a big swing state will vote." "Iowa results heighten voters' primary influence".
The St Pete Times editorial board: "Iowans have performed a great public service for Floridians. The remarkable victories by Republican Mike Huckabee and Democrat Barack Obama in the Iowa caucuses reshaped the political landscape and ensured there will be no presumptive party nominees by the Jan. 29 Florida primary. ... For Floridians, it is time to pay closer attention to presidential politics now that it is apparent the state's primary will be an important factor. But Democrats will alienate Florida voters and miss an opportunity to press for change unless they drop their boycott and make the primary results count." "Florida voters, step forward".
Much more here: "Political scientist Daniel Smith at the University of Florida said Iowa provides some evidence that Florida will turn out differently than many expected just a few weeks ago." "Desire for change could affect Florida presidential primaries".
Sentinel editors "confounded"
The Orlando Sentinel editors today: "The SBA's own auditors warned managers last year that risky investments weren't being watched closely. After studying investments between 2003 and 2004, the auditors raised a host of concerns. Had former SBA Executive Director Coleman Stipanovich responded more quickly to the audit, maybe the panic that nearly wiped out the important $27 billion local-government investment pool could have been avoided." "Our position: The state investment fund still doesn't have enough controls in place".
The editors also find it "confounding that some of the riskier investments backed by subprime mortgages were made after experts reported problems with the subprime meltdown."
Shouldn't the media - to avoid being "confounded" - be asking questions regarding the July and August sales of $842 million in mortgage bonds from Lehman, a month after Jebbie (in June) was hired as a consultant for Lehman:
- Did conversations take place, between state investment managers and Bush after he was hired by Lehman as to investments? "The Huckster and the Wreckage" ("Jeb Bush and the Subprime Mortgage Crisis"). Just askin'.
- Did those investments comprise mortgages sourced by Florida developers who contribute to Republican campaigns?
- How was Jeb Bush compensated by Lehman: was it a monthly retainer, a "success" fee, or was he paid a commission on the sale of those bonds?
- Did Lehman in 2007 make contributions to charities or organizations related to Jeb Bush or his loyalists?
"Graham reserved his biggest praise for Republican Sen. John McCain"
"Four years after his failed bid for president, former U.S. Sen. Bob Graham is joining a group of moderate Democrats and Republicans to urge the current field to renounce partisan bickering and end Washington gridlock."
Some participants in Monday's meeting, hosted by University of Oklahoma President David Boren, have suggested they might go so far as to back an independent, third-party candidate, such as New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg."Graham yet to declare his pick".
But Graham, one of Florida's best-known and most successful Democrats, said he's never met Bloomberg and hasn't ruled out endorsing one of the Democratic presidential candidates.
''I want to make it absolutely clear this is not a rally for any independent candidate,'' Graham said. ``We're trying to fix the two-party system.'' ...
An endorsement from Graham would be a coup for a presidential contender seeking to shore up support in the anti-war wing of the party. But when asked to analyze the current field, Graham reserved his biggest praise for Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona.
And your point is?
This Trib piece today begins with this shot at the Dems: "Thousands of Bay area voters have switched their party affiliations since Aug. 25, when the Democratic National Committee voted to strip Florida of its delegates to the nominating convention."
You'd never know, until you got deeper into the article that Dems actually got more party switchers: "In all, 5,634 Hillsborough, Pasco and Pinellas voters have switched to the Republican Party since Aug. 25. An additional 6,369 switched to the Democratic Party". "Thousands Of Voters Change Party Affiliation".
Daytona Beach City Commissioner Dwayne Taylor has opened an account and is raising money for the "Democratic nomination to represent District 27 in the Florida House of Representatives. The district stretches across Volusia County from Daytona Beach to DeLand. DeLand Democrat Joyce Cusack, now in her fourth term representing District 27, is prevented by term limits from running again. Also seeking the Democratic nomination is Terry Dilligard, a former DeLand city commissioner. Dilligard and Taylor will square off in the Aug. 26 primary." "Commissioner announces run for state seat".
The fruits of privatization
"A new survey suggests Florida has done a poor job of equipping foster children for life out of care." Surely there is a reason for this?
Some advocates insist, though, that DCF and its contracted private foster care agencies -- called community-based care agencies, or CBCs -- have done poorly with the few dollars they have received."Foster kids ill-prepared for adulthood". More: "Florida to foster families".
"400 pounds of bombs unearthed at Odyssey Middle School in Orlando". Well, not quite Verdun: "it is estimated that 12 million unexploded shells still lie in the soil around Verdun.".
Volusia County "State Attorney John Tanner's claims that an appointed prosecutor ran a biased probe against him may be heard in court sometime next month, according to a court schedule discussed Friday. Attorneys discussed the handling of this last loose end from Tanner's legal effort to keep a grand-jury report about him sealed." "Hearing is possible for State Attorney John Tanner". See also "New deposition ordered in state attorney battle".
"Dan, Ken, Marco and Steve"
The Sun-Sentinel editors write a letter - "Dear Dan, Ken, Marco and Steve:
It seems like yesterday when you guys had just assumed your leadership positions in the Florida Legislature. ..."Douglas C. Lyons: South Florida's 'Fantastic 4' legislative leaders were anything but".
Instead of stepping up, though, you guys stepped in it.
The Legislature had a dismal year in 2007, having spent endless sessions flubbing the year's most pressing issues — property insurance relief and tax reform. Granted, the stakes, and expectations, were high, but many Floridians simply didn't think you guys acquitted yourselves well. Their local tax notices and property insurance cancellations told them that much.
The Fantastic 4, you guys weren't.
The outlook for 2008 isn't much better.
Although the media strives to be "balanced", we note that Dan and Steve are members of the minority party.
"South Florida so cold that iguanas fell out of trees".
"In the nearly 20 years since Victoria Sando was paralyzed by a suicidal ex-boss who shot her five times in a parking lot, the 55-year-old Dania Beach woman has had days when she thought life could not get any tougher." It did: "Desire for change could affect Florida presidential primaries".
"Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum's last-minute push to delay the approval of Gov. Charlie Crist's gambling deal with the Seminole Tribe fell short Friday when a federal district judge in Washington refused to block the deal" "Seminoles' gambling deal clears another hurdle".
"How some shallow politicians judge public school"
The Tampa Trib editors: "Some lawmakers are questioning the 10 percent bonus - worth more than $4,000 - that is awarded to teachers who earn their national certification. The reason? The legislators don't think there is enough evidence certified teachers produce students with higher test scores"
.It is further evidence of how some shallow politicians judge public schools solely by test scores, without any regard for the challenges teachers face. ..."Hands Off Certified Teacher Bonuses".
Earning certification from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards is a long, rigorous process that makes teachers intently examine their teaching methods and demonstrate their skill. It is widely viewed as the most prestigious credential a teacher can earn. ...
But state lawmakers seem to be looking for an excuse to cut the program. State Sen. Stephen Wise, R-Jacksonville and chairman of the Senate's education appropriations committee, is among those questioning whether the teachers should get the bonus if it can't be directly tied to higher FCAT scores. ... this is misusing FCAT and making it the only mark of a good teacher.
That was never the intent of the test.
"He's called the Maestro, the shadow governor, the brains behind Charlie Crist. For George LeMieux, Crist's chief of staff, it has been a long and exhilarating ride, and on Thursday it was over. ... He had left Crist's side and it now was time to say goodbye, even though LeMieux isn't going anywhere." "Crist's shadow steps away".
Oh, well ...
The headline reads "Class-size rules could sap billions", although it is unclear why the word "sap" is (mis)used by the headline writer.
Pruitt rears his ugly head
"When the Legislature was forced to cut $1 billion from the state budget last October, state Sen. J.D. Alexander rammed through a requirement that the state sell one of its three airplanes to save $200,000 a year. His argument was simple: The aircraft used by the governor, Cabinet and legislators to fly across the state shouldn't take priority over education and social-services spending."
But a week later, he heard from his boss, Senate President Ken Pruitt. ..."So, behind closed doors, the money was put back in."
Pruitt ... the Port St. Lucie Republican flew on the planes more than any other lawmaker in 2007.
The secret decision to keep the plane runs counter to what Pruitt said publicly that week in October. "State plane was quietly saved from budget cuts".
As lawmakers were raising tuition for college students, cutting Medicaid payments to nursing homes and hospitals and scaling back environmental initiatives, Alexander urged the sale of the plane.
Asked for comment, Pruitt told the Orlando Sentinel, "I've driven [from Port. St. Lucie to Tallahassee] for 17 years, and I'll drive again. It doesn't matter to me."
"Liberal media" slams firefighters "outlandish benefits" and "sweet pay plans"
This morning the Palm Beach Post editors breathlessly report, and duly complain, that "more than 200 [Palm Beach County] fire-rescue workers logged more than $10,000 in overtime last year." Outrageous! Next thing you know, some of these lazy slugs* might have the audacity to send their bratty kids to college.
Worse still, a handful of firefighters-paramedics-special ops teams members have worked so much needed overtime (you know, playing checkers and chasing Dalmatians around the stations), that their pay in rare cases was actually "rivaling top county administrators". What is this world coming to!?
The Post editors apparently think there's something profoundly wrong with fire-rescue workers working so many extra hours that their pay might actually "rival" that of sainted "county administrators". After all, it is only fair that paper pushing administrators be paid more than the idiots who pick severed heads off the road at car accidents; get up to their elbows in blood, vomit, urine and feces at emergency medical scenes; make in the street life and death medical decisions; deliver babies; and, oh yeah, run into burning buildings to save the lives of complete strangers.
And, dontcha love it when the "liberal media" manages to slam both unions and firefighters in the same breath; the Post editors: "Firefighters have sweet pay plans, mostly because of politically connected unions." "Priority is public safety, not firefighter overtime".
The Post's views also happen to comport with the views of the local wingnuts: "Sid Dinerstein, chairman of the Palm Beach County Republican Party and critic of the county's budget, said ... 'That's the scam,' he said. 'It's a rip-off of the taxpayers.'"
Believe it or not, there's more; after slamming Palm Beach County firefighters, the Post turns to neighboring Martin County, scowling: "Martin leaders must do a better job of negotiating with firefighters. A hard look at the amount of paid vacation time, 10 percent raises and other benefits is needed to ensure that the county is not providing its firefighters outlandish benefits far beyond those provided in neighboring counties." "A new burning issue: Martin's firefighter pay".
That's Florida's "liberal" media for 'ya.
*We say "lazy slugs", because some may recall these sage words from the "liberal": Post:
Sitting at home on the couch, finishing off a six-pack of beer and a pack of cigarettes and having a heart attack? It's considered an on-the-job injury for firefighters ...Isn't that a nice visual. Another blow for the working class from Florida's "liberal" media. More: "The Annual 'Labor Day' Insult" and "Who Writes this Garbage?"