"Sen. Mel Martinez has surpassed $3 million raised for his campaign war chest since taking office, well ahead of the pace of most other U.S. senators whose current terms also expire in 2010, new campaign finance reports show." "Martinez Stashing Cash For 2010 Bid". "One reason for that may be that the names of at least five prominent state Democrats are being floated as potential contenders for Martinez's Senate seat."
The latest is that of Tampa's freshman U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor."There had been speculation that Martinez might not seek a second term. But no longer."
Other names of possible Democratic candidates for Martinez's seat in 2010 include Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, state House Minority Leader Dan Gelber, former congressman and gubernatorial candidate Jim Davis, and Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio.
Charlie's self-promotion scheme may backfire because, "when homeowners get their property-tax bills in the fall, they may wonder what happened to the $240 cut politicians promised them for approving a tax amendment in January." "Promised $240 tax cut likely to be eclipsed on many Florida homeowners' bills".
Better than nothing?
"The future of 22 of Florida's delegates to the Democratic National Convention might well depend on the meaning of the word 'shall.'"
So says Jon Ausman, the dean of Florida's Democratic National Committee delegation, who is launching another salvo in the battle between state and national party leaders over the 210 delegates that the national party yanked after Florida scheduled its primary early."Not so fast, says the DNC. Florida has just two options for reinstating its delegates: hold a caucus before June 11 to allocate delegates or take the dispute to a DNC committee later this summer. Ausman has no intention of pushing either option."
Instead, he has combed the rules of the DNC and found what he says is a violation: the DNC committee that penalized the state for leapfrogging its primary ahead of Super Tuesday did not have the authority to break the rule that says DNC members and Democratic members of Congress, so-called superdelegates, shall be seated as delegates. Florida Sen. Bill Nelson and Rep. Corrine Brown are among Florida's 22 superdelegates, who can support whomever they choose."State official says DNC broke rules". More generally: "Insider 'superdelegates' loom large in Democratic showdown".
"There's no provision whatsoever where the Rules and Bylaws Committee has any authority by whatever stretch of the imagination to say members of Congress and DNC members cannot be delegates," said Ausman, one of the delegates at stake.
While "The People's Governor" strides upon the national stage ...
"As many as 60,000 Florida students could get shut out of state universities during the next few years because of enrollment caps and budget cuts, a state education group predicts." "Florida state universities could turn away 60,000 students by 2012, report says".
"More hearings may come soon"
The Miami Herald editorial board: "The Florida Senate committee hearings on property insurance may have uncovered more questions than answers last week. Lawmakers still are searching for ways to stabilize insurance rates for Florida homeowners. More hearings may come soon." "Some answers for Florida homeowners".
The Tallahassee Democrat editorial board: "When Republicans and Democrats approved a plan last year to dramatically expand Florida's hurricane catastrophe fund, increasing taxpayers' exposure to risk in the process, the idea was that the compromise was worth it."
The trade-off, the thinking went, would be a meaningful reduction in homeowners' insurance rates across the state."Sink, Rubio forge insurance alliance".
That the anticipated lowering of premiums hasn't happened is the source of continuing acrimony between state officials and industry representatives. They insisted that they didn't promise the reductions politicians promoted.
In an effort to break the impasse — or at least improve the likelihood of an eventual solution — Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink and House Speaker Marco Rubio are proposing some changes that, while not without some political risk, acknowledge realistically that homeowners must pay more for the privilege of living in a high-risk state.
The Sun Sentinel editorial board: "Cubans are making good on an opening presented to them by Raul Castro to speak up and engage in a debate. How far the country's communist leaders are willing to let this debate go is a major question mark. But if Cubans are willing to speak now, risk potential reprisal later, then the global community needs to take note and act accordingly. Especially the United States, which has sat on its hands for way too long." "Public criticism of Cuban government warrants notice by Washington".
She doth protest too much"
"Ginny Brown-Waite: I know Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens, but let's debate tax reform".
Service taxes redux
"The great property tax debate of 2008 continues. Former Senate President John McKay, a Bradenton Republican, faces a preliminary vote this afternoon over his plan to wipe out $8 billion in local school taxes and replace the money by closing tax loopholes and taxing some services. A key panel of the Taxation and Budget Reform Commission takes up the measure, and a host of others, at 1 p.m. today in the Senate Office Building." "Property tax debate far from over".
No property taxes if ...
The Tampa Tribune editorial board: "The Florida Taxation and Budget Reform Commission has come up with a simple move that could cut taxes, control growth, sustain agriculture and protect open lands all at once. The panel recently unanimously voted to propose a state constitutional amendment that would eliminate property taxes on land that owners agree never to develop. The measure will go before voters next November." "Property Tax Break Proposal Could Save Natural Florida".
The St. Petersburg Times editorial board: "Florida's court system today is not your father's court system. There was a time when judges did little more than preside at trials and render judgments, but that model tends to recycle problems rather than solve them. "
Today's state courts have adapted to meet modern needs, with drug treatment options, subsidized divorce mediation programs and innovative court structures. When the time for budget-cutting comes, it would behoove lawmakers in Tallahassee and local county officials to keep in mind that if the problem-solving elements of the state courts are eliminated, Florida will be buying itself much more expensive social and criminal justice problems down the road."Cuts that cost us more". More: "Judgeships may fall to budget problems, key senator warns".
"At their own peril"
The Orlando Sentinel editorial board: "Lawmakers who think they've escaped the wrath of voters simply because of the setback suffered last week by the so-called Hometown Democracy movement do so at their own peril." "Our position: Legislators would be smart to OK alternative to Hometown Democracy".
"It's shaping up as a breakout year for Florida's growing gambling business." "Times: State gaming on a roll".
More regressive sales taxes?
"A Miami member of the powerful commission that can put tax issues directly before voters will ask the panel Monday to approve a multibillion dollar property tax cut plan. The proposal by Carlos Lacasa would let homeowners and businesses exempt 25 percent of the value of their property from taxes in exchange for a penny increase in the six-cent sales tax." "Panel member to propose super-exemption on taxes".
Tally Tiger Bay
"U.S. Rep. David Obey, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, is the featured speaker at the Capital Tiger Bay Club luncheon. ... Tiger Bay is a non-partisan group that meets a couple times a month to hear candidates and public officials discuss political, business and social issues." "Chairman of House Appropriations Committee to speak in Tallahassee".
"An ironic twist"
"In an ironic twist, the state's reliance on the FCAT and other standardized tests to boost student achievement and hold schools more accountable, is forcing the district to take back teachers it deemed incompetent."
In a few cases in which teachers have been fired for poor performance, the district essentially ignored student test scores. That prompted a district court of appeals to call for the reinstatement of those teachers. The court cited state law requiring that student performance play a starring role in how teachers are evaluated."Post: FCAT tosses teachers lifeline".
The decision can be expensive. The district is paying hundreds of thousands of dollars in back pay to fired teachers whose students' FCAT performance wasn't considered in their dismissals.