"Florida voters love the Republican they put in the Governor's Mansion, and they want a new one in the White House, according to a Mason-Dixon poll released today."
Gov. Charlie Crist remains wildly popular and fellow Republican, Arizona Sen. John McCain, would beat either of his two leading Democratic presidential rivals, according to the poll. ..."Floridians want Republican in White House". See also "Poll: McCain Ahead In Florida".
The poll showed McCain would beat Illinois Sen. Barack Obama 47 percent to 37 percent if the vote were held today. Sixteen percent of voters were undecided. McCain would beat New York Sen. Hillary Clinton, 49 percent to 40 percent, with 11 percent undecided. ...
Mason Dixon Polling & Research surveyed 625 registered voters between Feb. 21-24. The poll has a margin of error either way of 4 percent.
Dems take a shot at Saint "Jeb!"
"In an unusual 13-page white paper and open letter filled with gloomy facts and statistics about Florida’s economy, education system and social services, Gelber said Florida was 'in a state of denial' and blamed Republican mismanagement and fiscal irresponsibility during the 1998-2006 Jeb Bush administration." Gelber argues that the RPOF's brain dead adherence to Bushco "ideological orthodoxy", has been ... you know ... less than great for Floridians who didn't wake up every morning fretting about intangible taxes and/or next to their youth pastor:
-- The state, Gelber says, is “is mired in its worst fiscal crisis in thirty years.” The housing market is “in free fall”; population growth, which drives the state economy, is slowing; unemployment is increasing and the state’s per capita gross domestic product is 34th in the nation. The state has exceeded national averages in producing jobs, but the jobs were low-paying. Median family income, adjusted for inflation, is less than in 1999."Gelber: Florida 'A State Of Denial'". The RPOF's response is classic:
-- The state has sought to shift the cost of education to property taxes—the “required local effort” property taxes the state makes counties collect. In 1996, education got a third of its budget from the RLE; now it’s 56 percent. Since 2000, RLE taxes have increased by $3.8 billion, while state education funding increased $41.7 million.
-- Billions in state tax cuts have benefited mainly the wealthy and businesses through corporate tax loopholes and abolition of taxes paid mostly by the wealthy – estate and intangibles taxes.
-- State debt has increased from $10.9 billion to $24.1 billion in 10 years. Annual debt service has gone from $801 million to $1.8 billion.
-- Windstorm insurance costs, which rose dramatically after a 2006 bill passed by the GOP legislative majority, are not decreasing and are placing a major burden on home ownership.
-- Florida trails the nation in health care. The state exceeds national averages in the percentage of children lacking health insurance coverage; the percentage of its population lacking access to primary care, and the percentage lacking health insurance – surprising in a state with many Medicare recipients.
-- Public education isn’t in condition to produce a well-trained workforce. Florida was 47th in the nation in 2005, and 45th in 2006, in per capita education expenditures. From 2000-2004, it was 50th in per capita higher education spending. The Legislature is about to debate whether to cut $1 billion from education, or spend reserve funds to avoid the cuts. Meanwhile, the state’s high school graduation rate is last in the nation for the third straight year, and SAT scores have dropped relative to national averages.
“The last decade of Republican control has left Florida families with diminished opportunities and overall quality of life,” Gelber concludes. He said change is needed, even if it “might conflict with some Republicans’ strict ideological orthodoxy.
Florida is “a state that is known around the world for its thriving innovation economy.”"Greer Responds To Gelber". Read Gelber's letter here in .pdf.
"Barack Obama's campaign chairman in Florida said he won't let the Democratic presidential candidate be smeared by falsehoods that he's anti-Israel." "Obama backers try to reassure Jewish voters".
Are ultrasounds merely theories?
"Women would be required to get ultrasounds before having abortions under an antiabortion proposal that gained a powerful ally in the Florida Senate on Thursday." "Bill calls for scan before abortion".
The Tallahassee Democrat editorial board: "Florida Forever remains a prime example of investment spending, which the state cannot forgo even given the challenges of the estimated $4 billion shortfall. Investing in our economy is a survival strategy, and Mr. Crist has supported this program in particular, saying preservation is 'our duty' as 'stewards of the land and water.' Its reauthorization, which ensures a degree of stability during thick and thin, is an important and, as The Nature Conservancy puts it, 'tangible' way of carrying on with hope." "Forever hopeful". See also "" and "".
What to do?
"Florida Democrats can't agree on whether their primary should be rerun, a poll indicated. It also showed Republican John McCain ahead of both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton in Florida." "Florida Democrats split over rerun of primary".
"Advocates turned up the heat Thursday for restoring civil rights to ex-felons, calling for new changes to ease re-entry into the workforce." "Advocates call for civil rights for ex-felons".
"Cuba's government signed two key international human rights treaties Thursday that Fidel Castro long opposed, but said it had reservations about some provisions and accused the United States of impeding the Cuban people's enjoyment of their rights." "Cuba signs rights treaties at UN, with reservations; blasts US".
Lie down with dogs
The United Teachers of Dade are lying down with some serious dogs:
A white paper commissioned by United Teachers of Dade calls for a nonpartisan discussion of long-term issues and options. It urges the participation of all stake-holders, including Florida's business community, under the leadership of Bush's successor, Gov. Charlie Crist.When you lie down with folks like , you wake up with serious fleas:
It was written by Antonio Villamil, who had chaired Bush's council of economic advisers. Bush, a Republican, was at loggerheads with teachers unions, which opposed most of his education policies including private school vouchers and high-stakes testing. Crist, although also a Republican, is on better terms with the teachers.
"Talent is the currency of economic development in the 21st century," Villamil said at a news conference with union president Karen Aronowitz. "We cannot continue falling back on educational investments and educational outcomes."
Villamil said the state could consider cost-saving or revenue-raising options such as allowing private companies to build and operate toll roads, privatizing the Lottery, repealing sales tax exemptions, taking steps toward taxing Internet and mail order sales, and easing class-size reduction requirements."Former Bush economist, teachers urge more education spending".
Predictably, Villamil's proposals are largely either patently stupid or laden with wingnut economic "theory". Of particular interest is Villamil's suggestion that there be an "easing" of constitutionally mandated class-size reductions (seems like the union really got their money's worth with that laugher).
Villamil's mention of "repealing sales tax exemptions" is puzzling. After all, Villamil was integral in a very recent "attempt to railroad former Senate President John McKay and his plan to broaden the sales tax". See also "'This thing of ours' - How 'Tallahassee works'" and the particularly snarky "Florida-GOPer Mob War Heats Up After Botched Hit".
Cheap overseas labor
"UK rocket company is considering launch site in Florida".
Ain't gonna happin'
"Chancellor: no changes to Bright Futures scholarships this year".
The comedians on the Tampa Tribune editorial board fall over themselves this morning with their usual master-servant garbage: "outlandish demands have become all too common among police and firefighter unions ... It's to the [Hillsborough County] deputies' credit that they sided with a sheriff who wants to reward professionalism, rather than a union that would safeguard the lazy and inept." "Police Union Sent Packing".
"A Tampa company will recycle or resell most of the 29,000 touch-screen voting machines in Florida after less than six years of use, the secretary of state said Thursday." "Touch-screen voting machines to be recycled or resold". See also "State to sell off old touch-screen systems".
Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Agreement
The Sun-Sentinel editorial board: "It took a while, but the Taxation and Budget Reform Commission stepped up to the plate with an idea that deserves prompt consideration and passage by the Florida Legislature. The commission wants state lawmakers to approve a plan that would revise the Florida tax code to make it more uniform with those of 22 other states so the Sunshine State can capture up to $2 billion in currently uncollected revenues from Internet and mail order sales. Florida's participation in the Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Agreement would allow it to obtain revenue from 1,100 companies that voluntarily collect taxes for the participating states." "Florida's taxation commission has come up with a budget idea that works".
Yesterday, Florida Secretary of State Kurt Browning
announced the appointment of a Justice Department lawyer as director of the Division of Elections. Donald Palmer, a former Navy intelligence officer, has worked in the civil rights division in Washington since 2006.And this is particularly comforting:
Palmer has extensive experience in investigations and litigation involving the Voting Rights Act and federal Help America Vote Act, as well as other voting issues.
Before joining the Justice Department, he was a legislative assistant to U.S. Rep. Tom Feeney of Oviedo.Are we to assume that Mr. Palmer gained his "extensive experience in investigations and litigation involving the Voting Rights Act and federal Help America Vote Act" in the lengthy period between someunknown date in "2006" and the present? Busy bee.
One smile at a time
That's our Charlie, striding the world's stage and making the world a safer place one smile at a time: "Crist to meet with king of Jordan".
Back at the ranch, Charlie's stock keeps rising: "Tensions flare in Florida over the governor's rising national status. in Florida over the governor's rising national status." "Vying for Crist's attention".
That's why the call him the "Florida Frankenstein"
The Sun-Sentinel editorial board writes that "the wait-and-see policy is OK if you're Transylvania." "Waiting for the Castros to die can't pass for U.S. foreign policy in Cuba".
"A budget idea"
The Sun-Sentinel editorial board: "Florida's taxation commission has come up with a budget idea that works".
Florida's Iseman connection
"The lobbyist at the center of reports questioning her relationship with Sen. John McCain is a partner in a lobbying firm that has roots in Tampa. Vicki Iseman works for Alcalde & Fay, whose founder and chief executive officer, Hector Alcalde, is a University of Tampa grad who was chief of staff to former U.S. Rep. Sam Gibbons, D-Tampa, for a dozen years." "Lobbyist's firm tied to Tampa".
"A judge in Charlotte County has dismissed a defamation lawsuit filed by state Rep. Paige V. Kreegel, R-Punta Gorda, against the Florida Home Builders Association, lobbyist Richard Gentry and Kim Leebove, a secretary for Public Concepts, a Palm Beach political consulting firm."
The court found no evidence that could lead a jury to find that campaign literature published during the 2004 election was done with actual malice, according to a decision released Thursday by Judge Donald E. Pellecchia. Gentry, the builders group and Leebove never saw the literature before it was sent out, the judge determined."3 dropped from state legislator's lawsuit".
The builders group helped finance the campaign literature prepared by Public Concepts owner Randy Nielsen and approved by Tallahassee lawyer John French. Brochures mailed to voters said Kreegel had been arrested on criminal mischief charges; in fact, though he was charged with criminal mischief, he was never taken into custody.
The judge said Kreegel's 2005 lawsuit can prevail only if he can prove that the literature was false and published with actual malice or reckless disregard of whether it was false .
French, Nielsen and Public Concepts remain as defendants in the lawsuit, which has not been scheduled for trial. West Palm Beach lawyer Martin said he plans to seek the dismissal of the lawsuit against the remaining defendants.