"Romney's victory in Michigan scrambled the Republican field Tuesday and guaranteed a mad dash for the Florida primary, with the top four contenders locked in a dead heat in the state that could determine the GOP presidential nominee." "Michigan vote puts Florida in prime spot as Republican field is scrambled". See also "Romney takes first primary; Clinton also wins" and "Result scrambles GOP race".
And then there's Rudy: "Florida and Rudy Giuliani? He thinks they go together like rum and coke, arroz con pollo, corned beef on rye. Rudy sees the Sunshine State as New York's sixth borough. And to paraphrase that overplayed anthem about his hometown: If he can't make it here, he can't make it anywhere." "Giuliani's big bet: Florida". Rudy gets an "A" in hypocrisy 101:
At campaign event after campaign event, Rudy Giuliani slams Democrats' health care mandate proposals as a big-government intrusion into private health care — an idea he tags "Hillarycare.""Rudy Giuliani blasts Democrats on health care in New Smyrna". There's something so very appropriate about this venue: "Rudy Giuliani talks to troopers at Walt Disney World".
On the Florida campaign trail, the dig is a reliable applause line. Yet when it comes to government intervention in homeowners' insurance, Giuliani is advocating a "federal backstop" to spread risks associated with hurricanes and other disasters as he crisscrosses the state looking to rebuild momentum before the Jan. 29 primary.
Did Huck muck up? "Does Mike Huckabee have a no-Cuban immigration proposal?": "Huckabee announced Tuesday a plan to block immigrants hailing from terror-sponsoring nations -- one of the hardest stances in the Republican presidential race that could incidentally lead to restricting immigrants from Cuba." Earth to Huck, "'this could disqualify Cubans by banning legal migration,' said Miami Rep. J.C. Planas, a Rudy Giuliani backer who said Hispanic Republicans are concerned about the tenor the immigration debate." Scrambling, "one of Huckabee's most prominent backers in Florida, Miami Republican state Rep. David Rivera, said the policy probably wouldn't apply to Cubans ...'" (underscoring supplied). Meanwhile, "Castro looks frail but alert in photos taken with Brazil leader".
As for the Dems, see "Clinton and Obama tussle over Florida" and "candidates knotted in Fla. poll" ("Clinton's Florida firewall appears as scorch-proof as ever, while four Republicans are essentially tied for the lead in the state's presidential primaries, according to a new poll released Monday. The former first lady and current New York senator holds a 21-point margin over Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, 52 percent to 31 percent, among likely voters surveyed by Quinnipiac University.")
More: "The Democrats continue going to ridiculous extremes. They banned candidates from appearing at rallies, and from engaging in general campaigning. And now the pledge may keep them from debating at FAU. That makes no sense." "Democrats uncommitted on participating in debates at Florida Atlantic University".
Does anyone care? Mr. March thinks so: "the Florida votes will give the top-performing candidates a huge psychological boost and headlines nationwide - the precious commodity political junkies call 'momentum.'" "Will Your Vote Count?".
Obama (perhaps understandably) doesn't seem to care about Florida: " Barack Obama doesn't care what Florida Democrats say on Jan. 29. In a memo released Tuesday, he reiterated his long-standing view that their primary votes will be worthless." "Obama stirs fight with Florida memo". More: "Clinton and Obama tussle over Florida".
Perhaps Florida should layoff all those firefighters with ""outlandish benefits" and "sweet pay plans" as ...
... "Florida warns of wildfire threat as drought persists".
Supply and demand for investment bankers ...
"In an effort to attract someone with professional investment experience, the next head of the state agency that invests billions for Florida may get paid as much as $350,000 a year." "Board: Up pay for state investment fund chief".
... but not farm workers: "Why not try old fashioned supply and demand?"
Speaking of farmworkers:
Burger King is telling suppliers it may stop buying tomatoes from southwestern Florida, where farmworkers have fought to get the second-largest hamburger chain to pay more for its produce and help boost field worker wages, The Associated Press has learned.AP: Burger King may stop buying tomatoes from southwest Florida
The Coalition of Immokalee Workers has tried for more than a year to get Burger King Corp. to join deals signed by rivals McDonald's Corp. and Taco Bell owner Yum Brands Inc.
Those agreements require the companies pay a penny more per pound for the tomatoes they buy from Florida farms. The farmers then agree to pass along the extra money to the workers, although the agreements are on hold after growers balked at participating this year.
Burger King has adamantly refused to join and repeatedly insinuated the coalition was taking the extra money, even after Yum Brands and several human rights groups dismissed the allegations. ...
The Tomato Exchange has long opposed the penny deal. Earlier this season, the group, which represents nearly all tomato farms, threatened to levy $100,000 fines on members who participated in the McDonald's and Yum Brands deals. The growers say the deal may violate antitrust laws. As a result, no Florida growers are participating in the deals this year.
Some antitrust experts have said the growers may be the ones violating such laws.
U.S. Sen. Bernard Sanders, a Vermont independent who usually sides with the Democrats, said he planned to tour the Immokalee region Friday to learn more about the worker situation.
"The Peoples' Governor"
"Crist's campaign for the Jan. 29 property tax amendment has been made possible with the help of corporate contributions. ... Crist hits the road Wednesday to push his property tax amendment with the help of some of the state's largest industries that have a stake in earning the governor's favor in the months ahead." "Big business aids Crist on tax cut vote".
Unfortunately, Florida's farmworkers were unable to chip in, even though they, too "have a stake in earning the governor's favor in the months ahead." Well, at keast they can rely on a politician from Vermont (see above) to take a look at their plight.
Ed. Note: Have we missed the editorial comment on the farmworker issue? We can't recall the cocktail swilling set spouting off on this issue. Surely the editors can break away from the club to at least pretend to give a damn about some of the most exploited members of Florida society. Then again, getting a tee time has been tough in recent weeks, with the warm weather and all. That said, we can probably expect an editorial chastising Bernie Sanders for sticking his big Vermont nose into Florida's business. See also "The Theory of the Leisure Class", by Thorstein Veblen, one of the early University of Chicago economists.
Jebbie won't go away and play with his corrupt new band, "'Jeb!' and the Fraudsters". Instead we get junk like this:
Bush announced the formation Tuesday of a second organization to advance his education policy goals, including school accountability, teacher merit pay and vouchers that allow children to attend private schools at public expense.Check out these education "experts":
The new Foundation for Excellence in Education will focus on carrying out programs to demonstrate such policies including cash awards of at least $2,500 for up to 100 of Florida's top teachers and their classrooms. Selection will be based on how much their students have improved on standardized reading and math tests.
Unlike Bush's Foundation for Florida's Future, which advocates education policy, the new organization will qualify for tax-free contributions, said Tiffany Koenigkramer, a spokeswoman for both groups.
Bush is board chairman for both foundations. The other two board members also are the same: Dr. Zach Zachariah, a cardiologist and member of the Board of Governors, which oversees the State University System, and Brian Yablonski, a former Bush staffer now vice president of public affairs for The St. Joe Co., a major land developer."Jeb Bush forms new education group to reward top teachers".
Patricia Levesque serves as executive director of both foundations. She and Yablonski also are members of the Taxation and Budget Reform Commission, which can put proposed constitutional amendments on the ballot and make recommendations to the Legislature.
Surely it is a coincidence that Doctor Zach was a Bush Pioneer raising at least $100,000 for Bushco ("Shrub's Money Tree"). See also "Bush Identifies Some of His Biggest Financial Backers".
"A proposed constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage in Florida may not make it to voters this year, after organizers -- who proclaimed a month ago they had gotten it on the November ballot -- found out Monday they haven't collected enough signatures after all." "Same-sex marriage ban may not make ballot". See also "Recount knocks gay marriage ban off ballot" and "Signature drives for constitutional amendments falling short".
Where's the beef?
Tom Blackburn the other day: "Many states, including Florida, now require photo ID for voting. It seems reasonable. What Indiana did goes further. Hoosiers have to have a current, government ID - driver license or a passport - not just anything with your photo, such as your company's employee ID or an expired driver license." "Picture this: Real voters, fake fraud".
"The term in office might be short, but the list of candidates certainly isn't. Four Republicans and two Democrats will face off in the Jan. 29 special primary election for a chance to serve the last eight months of disgraced state Rep. Bob Allen's stint in the Florida House." "Numerous candidates seek to fill the Florida House seat vacated by Bob Allen".
Insurers "flogged" ... "they didn't make it through lunch"
"Allstate Insurance Co. executives showed up at 9:30 Tuesday morning for what they thought would be two days of Tallahassee hearings on how the insurer calculates rates. They didn't make it through lunch." "Allstate hearing is short, not sweet". More: "Allstate frustrates state regulators", "Regulators flog Allstate in public hearing", "Allstate backpedals on rate hike during angry session with state regulators" and "Allstate feels the squeeze".
"Any American suspected of committing a crime has constitutional rights. But any American who also happens to be a member of Congress has extra constitutional rights. That fact should not prevent Florida investigators from having a look at former Rep. Mark Foley's congressional computers." "Let investigators check Mark Foley's computers". See also "FDLE request to examine Foley computers again denied".
Department of Corrections
"Crist on Tuesday appointed Department of Juvenile Justice Secretary Walt McNeil to take over the Department of Corrections and oversee a burgeoning prison system with a population of inmates approaching 100,000." "Crist picks corrections secretary". See also "Answering the call" and "McNeil named head of prisons".
About amendment 1
"In the Jan. 29 election, Florida voters will decide on a new tax plan. The Tribune explains conflicting views on the plan." "Understanding Amendment 1".
"A judge's ruling that struck down five new state legal offices created to represent poor defendants in special cases went to the Florida Supreme Court on Tuesday." "State justices take on new defenders appeal".
Florida's booming economy
It seems "lower interest rates are not reversing the slump in home sales, and 2008 is still shaping up as a weak year for both sales and construction, industry specialists said this week amid a continuing stream of weak economic news." "Lower rates fail to reverse slump in home sales".
"Officials agree to new oversight of state's investment risks".".
Open for business
"Florida polls are open -- for early birds". See also: "Early voting starts for Jan. 29 presidential primary".
Not everybody is interested: "the number of Florida voters registered for the state election in two weeks is 2.2 percent less than voter rolls showed in November 2006, marking the first time this decade that registration for a presidential primary declined from the previous general election. The decrease was blamed on declining growth in Florida and a requirement that county elections supervisors remove inactive voters from registration lists in odd-numbered years." "Voter registration falls 2.2% statewide since '06".
"Florida Republicans won seven out of eight special elections and collected about $3 for every dollar Democrats raised last year, but off-year voter-registration trends favor the Democrats." "Voter registration favors Dems".
"Alice in Wonderland"
Bill Cotterell the other day: "Marco Rubio won't mind being compared to Reagan. But"
the speaker of the Florida House sounded a little more like the queen in "Alice in Wonderland" last week, as he waxed enthusiastic about abolishing some state agencies.Recall this bit of golden hypocrisy by Saint Rubio:
Rubio, R-Coral Gables, showed due deference to legislative committees conducting sunset reviews on different departments. But his "off with their heads" approach to meeting a state budget crisis showed a willingness to start the trial with the verdict, then gather evidence to support what he's already decided to do. ...
"I think there's an opportunity for agency eliminations," Rubio said. "I think there's an opportunity for consolidation. I think there's an opportunity to go into our base budget and find things that were put there 30 years ago by legislators who aren't even around any more, and remove them."
Having larded the House staff with a $10,000-a-month consultant on fiscal restraint, a $133,000 parliamentarian and an ex-member who got a $100,000 gig helping new members learn the process, Rubio knows a thing or two about overstaffing. But he may have picked a poor example when he said an aide recently told him the state has a "Metrics Commission" to help with conversion to the metric system, which we abandoned 30 years ago.Clearly, Rubio ain't the sharpest knife in the drawer. At the same time, he can challenge anyone when it comes to gas emissions: recall that "this is a guy who goes around saying that lots of people moved to Florida to get away from communism in Cuba and Massachusetts."
What's unsettling is Rubio's blithe confidence that Florida has this big, bloated, duplicative, unresponsive bureaucracy and that, if a scalpel is good, then a chain saw is better. ..."Forget the facts, hand Rubio that chain saw".
Any agency abolition will face a tough time in the Senate, but Rubio is ready to rumble.
"If they come back to me and tell me, 'You know what? We've found there's no inefficiencies in state government, there's no duplication of effort, there's no overlap, there's no redundancy,' I would look at them and say, 'I don't believe you,'" Rubio said of the sunset committees. "But we all know they're not going to say that, because we all know that's not the case in any endeavor, even the private sector."
The new DMS Annual Workforce Report ranked Florida last in its per-capita cost of state personnel, at $36 a year. We're third from the bottom in the ratio of state employees to population, at 106 per 10,000 residents.
"The political committee promoting Miami-Dade County's slot machine referendum released a list Monday of prominent backers. The list includes Miami Mayor Manny Diaz, County Commissioner Sally Heyman and state Rep. David Rivera, a Miami Republican who has been chief deputy to House Speaker Marco Rubio, an outspoken foe of gambling." "28 Dade political leaders on pro-slots list".
A legal thing
"Lawyer Willie Gary goes before court over child support".