Things are heating up in South Florida, as each of the three stooges looks to be challenged:
Joe Garcia, the brash Democratic strategist and former director of the Cuban American National Foundation, officially announced on Thursday that he will challenge U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart in the November election, setting the stage for a second South Florida grudge match. ... His entry into the congressional race comes on the heels of former Hialeah Mayor Raul Martinez's decision to take on Diaz-Balart's older brother, U.S. Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart. ...Diaz-Balart responded with, well ... the typical brain dead Diaz-Balart family arguments:
Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the third Cuban-American Republican from Miami, is also expected to draw a challenger.
The races are likely to be seen as testing a theory that a younger generation of Hispanic voters is more interested in domestic issues than ousting Fidel Castro.
Lincoln Diaz-Balart has told The Miami Herald and El Nuevo Herald that the challenge is part of a ploy by Castro sympathizers to lift or weaken the U.S. trade embargo against Cuba."Garcia said the remarks are an effort to deflect attention from the lawmakers' records."
He and Martinez say they support the embargo, but oppose the restrictions on family travel to Cuba that the Bush administration imposed in 2004."It's official: Joe Garcia takes on Mario Diaz-Balart".
...Diaz-Balart: the challenge is part of a ploy by Castro sympathizers...'What the Diaz-Balarts call a `global conspiracy to lift the embargo' in the United States is called an election for Congress and it happens every two years and thank God for that,'' Garcia said. "This is about the district, its people and who can better represent them in Washington. This is about healthcare, jobs, the economy. The real issues in the district.''
The more you learn about GOPers ...
"The longer a Latino is in the United States, the more likely he or she will identify with the Democratic Party -- possibly even in Florida, where the Republican leanings of Cuban Americans have made it an exception to the national trend, a new study states." "Unregistered Hispanic voters lean to Democrats".
"The choir of voices calling for an apology from U.S. Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite got louder Thursday with a group of Central Florida Democratic leaders joining in."
But Brown-Waite, R-Brooksville, remains resolute in her refusal to say she is sorry for calling Puerto Ricans "foreign citizens" last week in a news release about President Bush's economic stimulus package."In her statement, Brown-Waite further blasted critics, saying they were attacking her 'in desperation to capture the Latino votes in Florida.'"
At the City Hall rally in Orlando, some questioned why U.S. Reps. Ric Keller, R-Orlando, and Tom Feeney, R-Oviedo, have not denounced their colleague's comments in spite of having large Hispanic constituencies."Dems blast Brown-Waite and rally for an apology".
The same criticism was leveled against Gov. Charlie Crist.
"Those who are silent and haven't called on her to apologize are endorsing her position," said Charlie Stuart, a Democratic congressional candidate running for Orlando's District 8.
"While Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama slug it out in an unexpectedly tight national battle for their party's presidential nomination, Florida Democrats remain in political limbo, not knowing whether their votes could tip the balance. State party leaders on Thursday voiced confidence that Florida's 210 delegates would be seated at this summer's nominating convention in Denver. They just don't know when that will happen." "Florida Democrats still unsure whether delegates will be seated".
One man's "radical" ...
"A radical proposal promoted by House Speaker Marco Rubio to cap all property taxes is going to get a hearing in both the House and Senate when the lawmaking session begins in March, but there is no guarantee it will make it to the November ballot."
The proposal to cap annual taxes at 1.35 percent of a property's taxable value will be written up as a constitutional amendment and heard in legislative committees. But the idea, patterned after Proposition 13 in California 30 years ago and currently the subject of a citizen petition drive, is neither endorsed by Senate President Ken Pruitt nor supported by the business groups that fuel many of the campaigns of the Republican-led Legislature."Radical tax cut may not get on the ballot".
The understatement of the year: "the business groups that fuel many of the campaigns of the Republican-led Legislature".
Drowning the baby
"Now that Florida voters have mandated property-tax relief, they want to cap government spending, the state's largest business organization said Thursday." "Business leaders meet with Crist". The Chamber hacks want to cap spending, so long as it isn't spending they are cool with, like state "investment" (read tax dollars) to "attract innovative new businesses". You know, "innovative new businesses" just like theirs.
"Florida's Supreme Court on Thursday heard arguments in two cases caught up in its ongoing struggle over the constitutionality of paying for public projects with property taxes." "Court hears tax finance arguments".
The private sector
"Local governments disgruntled with the state-run pool that invests cash for cities and counties now have an alternative pool that promises to avoid some types of securities that were downgraded and caused a run last year on the state pool." "Firm starts alternative investment pool for local governments".
"Crist to announce new juvenile justice chief Friday". See also "Savvy chief at child justice".
As the First DCA Turns
"Judge Charles Kahn's hot temper and sexual affairs have nothing to do with charges of misconduct against a fellow 1st District Court of Appeal judge and mention of it should be barred as evidence, lawyers for the Judicial Qualification Commission argue. Judge Michael Allen faces disciplinary action for his 2006 concurring opinion that said Kahn's participation in the appeal of legendary political operator W.D. Childers had the appearance of impropriety." "Judge's impropriety not relevant, says attorney".
"A Senate committee gave swift approval Wednesday to a bill that would allow slot machines at every racetrack and jai-alai fronton in Florida, and bring the state an estimated $354 million more in additional annual tax revenues for education." "Bill to expand slots to all tracks advances".
Stop the madness
"Outgoing Juvenile Justice Secretary Walt McNeil said Thursday that he did not see any problem with allowing three employees of his state agency to work on a juvenile justice reform project in Texas - in partnership with a top executive for a large Florida contractor they were supposed to oversee." "Juvenile Justice boss OKs staff loan".
"Iowa and New Hampshire continued to wield outsized influence. California and other Super Tuesday states sealed the deal. But Florida and its controversial early Republican primary played as big a role as any state in shaping the 2008 GOP presidential nomination." "Florida primary set stage for Romney's departure from race".
"Sierra's leader laments friction in state chapter".
Even a broken clock ...
President George W. Bush's latest budget -- a $3 trillion plan that projects a $400 billion deficit -- there's at least one bright spot. For the first time in three years, he is not proposing to sell land in national forests, including Ocala." "At last, Bush has given up on bad idea of selling parts of national forests".
"Two Tampa Bay area lawmakers want to put a $1 tax on strip-club admissions so they can give low-income nursing-home residents more spending money." "Lawmakers want to tax strip clubs to aid the elderly".
"Florida homeowners could be forced to fix their roofs and install hurricane-proof windows as a condition for keeping their policies with the state-backed Citizens Property Insurance Corp. under a change being pushed by House Speaker Marco Rubio." "Rubio wants Citizens customers to storm-proof".
Oops .. he did it again
"House Speaker Marco Rubio named a select panel of lawmakers Thursday to decide whether to banish a Palm Bay lobbyist who has repeatedly skirted state rules that he publicly disclose who pays him." "Panel to decide Palm Bay lobbyist's fate".
The Sun-Sentinel editors: "Despite the record turnout, voting in the presidential primary hummed along smoothly and peacefully across Palm Beach County last week — even at the more than 70 schools doubling as polling places, where academics proceeded uninterrupted by the enthusiastic democratic exercise." "Closing schools on Election Day cheats students out of a valuable experience".