Last week we asked whether "Charlie has appointed someone who is essentially a tanning bed attendant to a highly paid position in state government?" "Charlie's Angel". It seems he has and it is starting to stink.
The Miami Herald this morning: "Crist has appointed the wife of one of his top aides to a nearly $100,000-a-year state job, a move that is drawing charges of favoritism."
Crist named Sara Gonzalez earlier this month to take over the state office responsible for hearing state worker complaints and watching over Florida's public employee unions.More from the delightful Ms. Gonzales
Gonzalez, the wife of Crist's recently hired general counsel, Jason Gonzalez, was working as a physician's assistant at a dermatology office in Tallahassee. Her appointment as the new chairman of the Public Employees Relations Commission breaks with a 33-year-old tradition of having an attorney in charge of the office.
Sara Gonzalez said Tuesday that her ''job application'' and her husband's job with Crist are ''two totally separate matters.'' She said there is nothing in state law that requires the chairman to have a law degree and pointed out that her husband does not directly supervise any state employees who are allowed to take job disputes to the commission."Erin Isaac, a spokeswoman for Crist, defended the choice."
''I was appointed to this position because the governor values my private independent management experience,'' said Gonzalez, who said she oversaw eight employees at Dermatology Advanced Care.
''Governor Crist prioritizes integrity, honesty and character when making appointments,'' Isaac said. "Sara is no exception, and the governor is confident she will serve the people well.''"Crist names aide's wife to state post". The Herald is polling readers about the appointment. You can vote here.
More from AP this afternoon: "Gov. Charlie Crist on Wednesday defended his decision to hire the wife of his general counsel at an annual salary of nearly $100,000 despite a job application where the qualifications section was virtually blank."
Crist said Wednesday he was comfortable with the hire."Florida Gov. Crist adds aide's wife to Fla. payroll, but without qualification".
He says: "She's honest, she's smart, she's got an advanced degree, new blood.''
"Overpaid teachers"? Where?
"Central Fla. county wants money back from overpaid teachers".
Wake me when its over
"Desperate to make Florida's Democratic primary vote count, two top state Democratic senators issued an appeal Wednesday to the campaigns of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton to seat some or all of Florida's delegates."
In proposing their new plan, Sens. Steve Geller and Jeremy Ring said that, at the least, half of Florida's delegates should be seated, based on the Jan. 29 vote. That would give Obama 42 delegates and Clinton 63."New Democrat delegate plan emerges".
The other half of the delegates would be awarded on the following proposed bases, which could essentially give Clinton a net of 18 delegates:
• An even 50/50 split.
• A proportional share based on the total popular vote received nationally, excluding Florida and Michigan, after the last primary vote June 3.
• A proportional share based on the total delegate counts nationally, excluding Florida and Michigan, after the last primary vote June 3.
"With the Florida Democratic Party giving up on a do-over presidential primary, two Florida super delegates said Tuesday state and national party officers need to work out a compromise and seat the state's delegation at the party's national nominating convention."
A top strategist for the Hillary Clinton campaign, meanwhile, warned that it is "goofy" and "dangerous" for the Democratic National Committee to snub Florida and Michigan — two swing states with 44 electoral votes — by not letting them vote in Denver this summer. Senior campaign adviser Harold Ickes said in a conference call that the Clinton campaign still holds out hope for new primaries, rejected by the Florida party on Monday but still possible in Michigan."Strategist: Snubbing Fla., Mich. 'goofy'". More: "Clinton challenges Obama to back new primaries in Fla., Mich.", ""Clinton challenges Obama to back primaries in Michigan, Florida"." and "Clinton camp claims Obama blocking revotes in Fla., Mich.".
The St. Petersburg Times editorial board: "Reality has finally set in for Florida Democrats. There will be no do-over presidential primary. No new election this spring. No mail-in ballots. Now it is up to Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and party leaders to agree on a solution to this debacle." "Divide Florida's delegates, move on".
Charlie don't surf
"Republican presidential contender John McCain has built a reputation of reaching across the aisle, but a new Miami Herald poll shows that most Florida Democrats aren't grabbing hold."
Eighty-one percent are unlikely to support the presumptive GOP nominee in November, according to the statewide survey of 600 Democrats."Florida Dems cool to McCain, even if he picks Crist". See also "McCain-Crist not huge Dem draw" ("Telegenic, politically savvy, and popular in a critical state, Gov. Charlie Crist has lots of pluses to offer as a running mate for John McCain. But delivering a boatload of cross-over Democratic votes in Florida may not be among them.")
An even larger majority -- 87 percent -- say their decision wouldn't change even if McCain picked Republican Gov. Charlie Crist as his running mate.
Pollster Tom Eldon said President Bush's low standing with Democrats is weighing McCain down.
"A bill that would more than double the number of needy children given vouchers to go to private schools at public expense advanced Wednesday in the Florida Senate." "Bill would more than double voucher program for poor children".
The bill sponsor? Rocket scientist Sen. Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, with the support of former Gov. Jeb[!] Bush's "Foundation for Florida's Future [sic]".
When in doubt, go with the most regressive tax ...
"If voters in November decide to cut school property taxes by $9.6 billion, the next speaker of the Florida House said Tuesday he might raise the state's 6-cent sales tax by two pennies or even more to make up the difference." "Florida tax-trade proposal: If property taxes are cut, raise sales tax by 2 pennies".
"Economists estimated that doing away with the required local effort will create a $9.3 billion hole in education funding. The sales tax increase would generate between $2.3 billion to $4 billion. Lawmakers would have to raise tax collections by repealing some of the sales tax exemptions or imposing taxes on services because the proposal would require them to fully fund schools." "Sales tax plan would cut property taxes but fall short of paying for schools".
"If voters pass the sweeping property-tax cut headed for the November ballot, it could cost you more to hire a lawyer, get a haircut, or go to the opera or racetrack." "If property tax falls, new taxes likely would rise".
"Lawmakers seek to calm 'FCAT frenzy' in schools".
Wrongfully imprisoning some folks OK?
"A House council passed two bills Tuesday, one that will compensate a man for being wrongfully imprisoned for more than 24 years, and one that will automatically compensate anyone without a felony conviction who is wrongfully convicted."
Alan Crotzer seeks $1.25 million in compensation for the nearly quarter century he spent behind bars for a crime he didn't commit. In 1981 he was convicted of two brutal rapes and robbery, crimes that DNA evidence ultimately cleared him of. ..."Bills pass in House council to compensate Crotzer and others wrongfully imprisoned".
Rep. Ellyn Bogdanoff, R-Fort Lauderdale, said she's been working for two years on a global bill to automatically compensate those who are wrongfully incarcerated.
The bill (HB 1025) would give those exonerated up to $50,000, capped at $1.5 million, for each year they've been imprisoned. But it would not compensate anyone who has a prior felony.
"We are not taking away the claims bill process," said Bogdanoff, of those with prior felonies who still seek payment after being wrongfully convicted. "Not everybody who has a five-page rap sheet should be compensated."
Still, there were detractors who said the bill would be fine without that provision.
"Any person who has been wrongfully committed ... that person has the right to be compensated like everyone else," said Rep. Curtis Richardson, D-Tallahassee, who sponsored a defeated amendment that would have deleted the "clean hands" provision.
On a related note, "if state officials had gotten their way seven years ago, Marissa Amora would be dead, and there would be no need for a claims bill this year that seeks more than $26 million to care for her for the rest of her life." "A real right-to-life case".
That's our Buddy
The Tampa Tribune editorial board: "Hillsborough Supervisor of Elections Buddy Johnson has every right to seek a 'greenbelt' tax reduction on nearly 20 acres he owns off Thonotosassa Road near Plant City, but the huge tax break he wants for the property raises questions about his political acumen." "Hosting Cows For Tax Shelter Political Liability For Elections Boss".
"Lawmakers are considering a plan that would slash future funding for the Johnnie B. Byrd Sr. Alzheimer's Disease Center & Research Institute." "Byrd Center Funding At Risk".
"Part-time residents warn that without more significant changes, more and more Northerners will choose to spend their winter in other Sunbelt states. States including Arizona already are lobbying hard for them, noting that both classes of taxpayers operate on a level playing field." "Tax idea a start, part-timers say".
"A Sack Of Anvils"
Daniel Ruth on the Judge and the Stripper: "For all you budding, glad-handing, aspiring trough feeders, let this be a sobering lesson." "A Wise Man Knows When To Run Away".
The Orlando Sentinel editorial board: "People who are homeless are more likely to spend time in prison -- often for petty crimes such as loitering. A study from the University of Texas put the estimated taxpayer cost at $14,480 a year for one homeless person, taking into account anything from jail time to mental-health and substance-abuse services." "Our position: By creating a safety net now, taxpayers can avoid large costs later".
"School districts could gain flexibility to deal with class-size changes in mid-year, under a bill that cruised through a House council Tuesday." "Dems support class-size change".
"Florida Power & Light Co.'s request for two new nuclear-power units at its Turkey Point plant in Dade County on Tuesday cleared a major hurdle toward state approval." "Request moves forward for new nuclear-power units".
"Helping former foster teens get their own records and making the state's child welfare agency more open when it comes to its investigations is part of a bill being considered by legislators." "Official wants some DCF records opened".
"Dozens of people with disabilities from around the state gathered in the Capitol on Tuesday to increase legislative and public awareness of their needs and abilities." "Crowds gather at Capitol for Disabilities Awareness Day".
Trimmin' the fat?
"Bradford County is studying the possibility of opening its courthouse only four days a week and taking more sheriff's deputies off the streets, Commissioner John Cooper said." "Fiscally constrained counties look to state for promised funds".
"Bowing to band boosters - the world's most powerful lobby, one senator joked - lawmakers backed away from mandating physical education for every Florida middle schooler." "Art and band parents beat back physical ed requirement for middle schoolers".
"The Florida Capitol buzzes about biofuels and climate change, but two Pinellas County lawmakers just want the state to do a better job taking out the trash." "Capitol casting its eyes on recycling".
"Named the Jeffrey Johnston Stand Up for All Students Act for a boy who committed suicide after being harassed, the bill (SB 790, HB 669) has been unsuccessful the last few years. It requires all 67 school districts to establish an anti-bullying, anti-harassment policy or face losing funds geared at making schools safe." "Proposed law would require statewide reports about school bullies".
"Florida insurance regulators moved Wednesday to suspend American General Life Insurance from doing business in the state, in part as a result of a congressional member having her application rejected." "State want to suspend American General over life insurance". See also "State wants to suspend American General over Wasserman Schultz life insurance request".
"Former state Sen. Les Miller of Tampa told his colleagues on a powerful tax panel Monday that he and another panel member had chatted recently about tax reform in an airport. Miller's admission of the conversation in a public meeting has raised a serious question: Did he and colleague Nancy Riley of Clearwater violate Florida's Government-in-the-Sunshine Law? " "Did tax panelists' airport chat break rules?".
The Miami Herald editorial board: "Crist should know better. He has been involved in Florida politics long enough to know that the Legislature's 20-year binge of anti-crime laws and new prison construction is wasteful and counterproductive. Yet the governor last week vowed to stay the course with crime-and-punishment policies that are costly and inefficient." "Prison policies in need of an overhaul".