"Outside auditors charged with overseeing the State Board of Administration knew more than a year ago that an internal report had red-flagged the agency for not adequately supervising the risky investments made by its money managers."
The SBA's internal auditor, Flerida Rivera-Alsing, reported the findings in fall 2006 to the three-person panel of inspectors general who in turn are answerable to the governor, attorney general and chief financial officer, officials said."2007 audit reported state's risky investments". Bill Cotterell writes that "State board missed 'red flags' in investment pool freeze" ("the task is to find out 'who knew what, when.'").
Meanwhile, there is an "investigation" of the scandal in Tallahassee. Our typically "incredulous lawmakers spent nearly two hours Monday grilling witnesses about risky investments managed by the State Board of Administration that resulted in a freeze of the fund, but they left with more questions than answers." "Investment pool advisers ignored audit's alerts".
Another way of putting it, our typically "Baffled lawmakers demanded answers Monday about how the state agency that invests local government money could have put the funds into mortgage-related securities that later caused a panic, but didn't receive any." "Lawmakers want to know what happened at investment pool".
Some call it "evolution"
The Sun-Sentinel editors:
In an attempt to reach the 21st century, revisions are being considered to the state science standards. Among the changes, the word "evolution" would finally be substituted for the more generic "biological changes over time."Not exactly Earth shattering. Unfortunately, the stawlarts of Florida's Republican Party see things differently. Most recently, RPOF foot soldiers showed up at a hearing on the issue in Jacksonville,
toting Bibles [and] opposed any attempt to emphasize evolution in public schools.The editors conclude that it is
time to definitively call it what it is, and not use the politically correct "biological changes over time." And there shouldn't be a need to give equal time to creationism and intelligent design in science class."Let's use 'evolution' and get on with it".
Let's leave science to the scientists. Scientific evidence has long backed up evolution to explain the development of species, and it's time that message reached the state's public schools. Florida students have scored poorly on college entrance tests, and science surely hasn't been a strong point.
The suggested new state science standards were developed by a committee of scientists and educators who looked at world class standards. They obviously feel it's time Florida joins the world.
Here's an idea - let's not "use 'evolution' and get on with it"; rather, let's have our Legislators - GOPers and Dems alike - stand up and vote on the issue. Let Floridians see how their Legislators, and their respective political parties, feel about this defining issue.
The Palm Beach Post editors: "How much better could it get for Florida? The Democratic presidential nomination, once almost conceded to Hillary Clinton, is in play.
Sen. Clinton still leads national polls, but she's expected to be 0-for-2 after today's New Hampshire primary. Ahead lie Michigan on Jan. 15, Nevada on Jan. 19 and South Carolina on Jan. 26. Given Sen. Obama's momentum, Sen. Clinton and Sen. Obama could have a real face-off in Florida three days later, before Democrats in 22 states choose candidates on Feb. 5. Imagine the attention the state could get, since Republican Rudy Giuliani already has made Florida his battleground state."But there's a problem with this picture:
Except that Sen. Clinton and Sen. Obama, like the other leading Democratic contenders, quavered before the Democratic National Committee and pledged not to campaign in Florida.""Drop the pledge, Dems". Joel Engelhardt has a very different take:
"Before leading the circus to New Hampshire last week, Democratic candidates for president inundated Iowa with their words and images. Barack Obama talked about change. Hillary Clinton talked about experience and change. John Edwards talked about change and evil special interests."Because of a fortuitous decision by the Democratic National Committee, Floridians won't be hearing these heartfelt messages as the Jan. 29 presidential primary nears."
Think about it. A presidential election without over-the-top television ads and overblown campaign appearances. No mind-numbing assault on the senses through non-stop TV ads, radio, mailers, billboards and mechanized phone calls. We've been spared."Did Floridians catch a break?".
"The issue isn't electronics, but verifying votes"
The News-Journal editors: "In Florida's Jan. 29 presidential preference primary, most voters will cast paper ballots that can be counted by machine, and state law mandates that all voters use paper ballots by fall. It's a step in the right direction, but some states are moving further." "Paper counts".
So nice to read that insurance companies "projects a final
2007 profit in Florida of $3.4 billion." "Insurance industry projects $3.4 billion 2007 profit in Fla.".
"Rep. Dave Murzin, R-Pensacola, said many of his constituents either want to keep Stephen Foster's 'Old Folks at Home' or don't like any of the three songs up for a public vote — the results of which will be announced Friday in Tampa." "Lawmaker: Florida needs state anthem".
The St Pete Times editorial board: "The question of how far prisons may go in exposing inmates to a religious message before violating church-state separation was answered recently by a federal appellate court in St. Louis. A three-judge panel of the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously ruled that the prison system in Iowa was promoting religious indoctrination by supporting an evangelical Christian program."
The ruling doesn't bind Florida, but it has persuasive value as the state evaluates its own faith-based prison programs for any constitutional flaws. "Pushing religion in prisons".
Ever since former Gov. Jeb Bush opened the first faith-based prison in the nation, Florida has been leading the way in intertwining religion into efforts to prepare inmates for life after incarceration.
It has not yet been established that these programs reduce recidivism, whereas the evidence is long-standing and solid that providing inmates with reading skills and vocational training does. But Florida is well into the faith-based incarceration business and now runs three prisons - two for men and one for women - designated as "faith and character based institutions," in addition to seven faith-based dormitories in other prisons.
"Preserving wildlife corridors"
"Despite the recent downturn in the state's torrid development pace, plenty of homes and roads are planned that threaten to slice into critical wildlife habitat."
As roads and residents work their way into Florida's shrinking wilderness areas, more wildlife will undoubtedly be killed by increasing traffic."Corridors carve out road to refuge for Florida wildlife".
There is a solution, however. Preserving wildlife corridors and modifying man-made barriers are key to making roads both animal-friendly and safe. From simple devices such as wildlife tunnels under roads to lush land bridges that take critters safely over busy interstate highways, planners are finding creative ways to minimize human and animal interaction.
This also allows animals to use the corridors -- their own super-highways -- to roam over a wide range of habitat.
A loser's last gasps: "Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani plans to visit Brevard County on Wednesday afternoon, with a public rally in Melbourne and a stop at Harris Corp." "Giuliani to pay a visit to Brevard".
And then there's the rebate thing ...
"For the third consecutive year, complaints filed against telemarketers for violating the state's Do Not Call law have topped the list of Floridians' consumer concerns in 2007, officials said Monday." "Telemarketers are state's top consumer complaint".
"The agenda for this two-day event is packed with presentations from a star-studded cast from the worlds of politics, economics, business and education." "Business summit will help chart economic prospects".
"Doubling the homestead exemption!"
The idea sounds simple, significant - and it's Gov. Charlie Crist's No. 1 weapon in selling the property tax cut plan that goes before voters Jan. 29."Homestead exemption promise doesn't add up". See also "Crist pushes property tax amendment".
The poll-tested concept has rolled off his tongue in public appearances from Miami to Tallahassee. He used it again Monday in Broward County to promote passage of Amendment 1.
But to say the measure would double the current $25,000 homestead exemption is misleading.
"Florida Atlantic University President Frank Brogan faced stinging questions from a panel of state lawmakers on Monday regarding the nearly $600,000 severance pay of a former high-ranking university employee. But Brogan insisted that there was nothing nefarious about paying former FAU chief fund-raiser Lawrence Davenport to get rid of him, despite differing stories about why he was leaving and why the severance was so high." "Legislators grill Brogan on controversial severance".
Scott Maxwell: "Robert Wexler is unapologetic and unabashed in his pursuit. He wants impeachment hearings." "If you call for impeachment, and nobody answers".
Surely it was a staffer's fault
"Press releases were flying":
Consequently, the First came one from U.S. Sen. Mel Martinez, assuring residents that their safety was being protected by both him and U.S. Rep. "Ric Keller (D-Orlando)." Cool. Except Keller's actually a Republican . . . and Martinez ran the Republican National Committee and should know that. But no big deal."Um, I'm not sure ...".
A good thing
Did you know that "record numbers of Democrats are asking for absentee ballots"?
"Manatee deaths dropped by 100 in 2007 after a record-setting 417 were killed the previous year, state wildlife managers reported Monday." "A break for manatees: Deaths down in 2007".
"The Seminole Tribe paid $50 million to the state Monday, as required under its gambling agreement with Gov. Charlie Crist, after the controversial deal became official." "Seminoles pay state $50 million in casino deal". See also "Seminole gambling compact with state officially in effect".
"Florida's child-welfare agency tapped a new leader to run the Miami district's operations." "DCF gets a fix-it specialist".