"Nothing like evidence that Florida could be a challenge for John McCain to boost Charlie Crist's vice presidential prospects. The Veep-O-Meter this week takes a big swing in the direction of Crist flying on Air Force Two on the heels of a Quinnipiac poll showing McCain vulnerable in the must-win Sunshine State." "McCain can't take Florida for granted". Might it be a twofer?: "Bill Nelson for vice president?"
"Miami-Dade's Cuban- American legislators once again are pushing for laws regulating travel and business between the United States and Cuba."
'Nobody understands it unless they've been through it. Some of them never will,'' said Rep. Eduardo ''Eddy'' Gonzalez, a Hialeah Republican, who along with Rep. David Rivera, the author of the Cuba travel bill, and Rep. Luis Garcia, a Miami Beach Democrat, are all pushing for measures related to Cuba."Area legislators push for Cuba regulations". We'll do a separate post to remind Mr. Gonzalez as to "how things were in Cuba before Fidel".
''For us, it's personal because we grew up with our parents raising us with the American dream, but also telling us about how things were in Cuba before Fidel,'' Gonzalez said.
He has pitched a bill that would ban American doctors from practicing in the state if they traveled to Cuba for medical training.
The knuckle dragger "immigration bills" pending in the House are going nowhere. RPOFer proposals to deport illegal immigrants in Florida jail and denying food-stamp benefits to illegal-immigrant children are apparently being decried as "political stunts" by Marco Rubio. Surely Saint Marco is not breaking with his friends on the fringe?
"Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio, the son of immigrants and the chamber's first Cuban-American presiding officer, is navigating a quagmire over immigration policy that could spill into his future job prospects."
Quietly, some of his Republican brethren have grumbled that a bevy of immigration bills aimed at deporting illegal immigrants in state prisons, denying food-stamp benefits to illegal-immigrant families and toughening employment standards have stalled in the chamber."Last week, two ominous signs emerged."
A Senate committee unanimously passed the proposal to force Florida local governments to enforce federal immigration laws, and a video showed up on YouTube blaming Rubio for standing in the way of progress."Immigration reform is a slippery slope for any politician aspiring for statewide office."
The Internet spot, produced by a group called BorderControlNow.com, blames Rubio for "working behind the scenes to kill the very bills intended to help you and your family" and asks citizens to call the speaker and "demand that these bills be put to a vote."
Coincidentally, Rubio huddled with his lieutenants and plans to hold a workshop this week on the bills. This late in the 60-day session, a "workshop" could be tantamount to a kiss of death for a controversial bill.
Rubio says he's sensitive to legislators who want to look strong on immigration.
And with a potential Miami mayoral bid approaching for the term-limited lawmaker, he's one of them. ...
However, "I'm not sure what the state's role is. There's a difference between serious proposals that we can do to help things and political stunts."
Just look to Florida Sen. Mel Martinez, who exhausted much of his political capital as Republican National Committee general chairman by supporting President Bush's doomed immigration reform assailed by conservatives as "amnesty" for illegals."House speaker strikes delicate balance on immigration policy".
"A resegregation of sorts"
"In Florida, the numbers are even more dramatic. In 2000, 53 of every 1,000 blacks spent their last years in nursing homes, compared with 33 of every 1,000 whites, the latest census figures show. The result is a resegregation of sorts, with blacks concentrated in nursing homes and whites in assisted-living facilities". "Nursing homes see shift in racial makeup of residents".
Lock 'em up
The Daytona Beach News-Journal editorial board: "Florida lawmakers stumbled into a sticky trap when they legislated tougher prison sentences in the late 1980s." Being unable to see farther than the ends of their noses,
every headline-grabbing crime story spurred them to cast a wider and more punitive net, with little regard to the cost, human or otherwise."Rigid penalties, high costs, but are we safer?".
As a result, some dangerous people will almost surely never see the light of day. But thousands of inmates will spend far longer in prison than their crimes merit -- and their families and communities will suffer for it. Many people incarcerated in state prisons never commit another crime after being released, but the longer prisoners are behind bars the less chance they have of reclaiming productive lives.
Meanwhile, the public must bear the increasing cost of maintaining these expensive failure factories, with little assurance of greater public safety. Private prisons -- once touted as the answer to expensive corrections budgets -- haven't worked, sacrificing accountability while saving little.
Gotta do sumthin 'bout "double dippers"
The war on "double dippers" - the folks who are collecting a government pension while still getting a regular paycheck from taxpayers- continues full speed ahead: "At USF, it's hard to tell who's double-dipping", "'Double dipping' runs deep in region", "Some decide to skip their chance to double-dip" and "Strapped colleges are paying double-dippers".
Don't know about you, but I see absolutely no problem with this: "McCain lists his major sources of income as his Senate salary of $169,300 and a Navy pension of about $56,000. More: "Guv'ment double dippin' crooks"."
Beware "sharp-tongued bloggers"
Rumor has it that "Online political action can effect offline change". Check out Josh Hafenbrack's piece on how "social-networking portals, the video-sharing site YouTube and sharp-tongued bloggers are playing an increasing role in shaping policy and opinion, from the presidential campaign trail to county and city halls and the state Capitol."
"Just in from The Associated Press: The Florida Democratic Party has chosen 27 party leaders and elected officials as delegates to the national nominating convention. ... It’s unclear whether these delegates will be seated at the convention." "Florida Democrats choose 27 leaders to be convention delegates". See also "27 Florida delegates chosen for Democratic National Convention".
Randy Schultz: "Even if this bill becomes law - it did fly through one Senate committee 8-0 last week, but no House votes have been scheduled - don't expect police to start cruising beside you to check for surreptitious calling. Like failing to wear a seat belt, this would be a secondary violation. You couldn't get a ticket - one point against your license and a $60 fine - unless a cop had stopped you for something else." "Put brakes on generation driven to text".
He might even wear a purple tie
"Barack Obama hasn't set foot in Florida since November, and he hasn't done anything besides private money-raising in the state since August. So when the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination finally returns to Florida, look for him to try to make a splash and show some love to America's biggest battleground state." "The Buzz: Obama expected to make splashy return to Florida".
The South Florida Sun-Sentinel editorial board advises that "Florida's social service agency spends $250 million per year to house people deemed not competent to stand trial. Most of them are mentally ill, and would be better served in a community-based mental health program, and at a much lower cost." "Florida wastes billions on competency restoration program".
Teachers skip school on Friday's, they cheat on the FCAT, ...
... and they even fail to teach journalists' how to edit (see below)
Sweet was the last of just 10 teachers whose certificates were been permanently revoked in that time.... they get the summer off, and they get paid to sleep (oops! that's firefighters) and nuthin' bad ever happens to them. "Fla. teacher cheating penalties few but harsh, can end careers".
Just when you thought it was safe to make a Chapter 119 request ...
"Another misguided bill in Tallahassee seeks a major exemption from Florida's exemplary open-government laws." "Sour smell of secrecy".
More from the "values" crowd
"Returned by state child welfare workers to an abusive home, Marissa Amora was beaten nearly to death at age 2. And then she waited. Four years, for a jury to order the Florida Department of Children and Families to pay for its neglect. Another two years, for a new governor and new DCF secretary who stopped challenging the court order to pay $26.8 million, most of it for her lifetime of medical care."
Now, the Legislature is ready to force Marissa - who at 9 is permanently brain-damaged, reliant on a feeding tube and able to express herself only as a toddler could - to wait again, and indefinitely."A Marissa compromise".
"Many poor children lacking dental care".
The Palm Beach Post editorial Board: "Ultimately, conservation will save utilities money. To supply new residents, though, utilities must reduce consumption or find new sources. Conservation, for example, is cheaper than building a reverse osmosis plant to make salty water drinkable. But even if the low-cost water ride Floridians have enjoyed for decades is over, utilities won't encourage conservation - which, let's face it, is voluntary - if customers believe that they are being unduly penalized for conserving." "Saving but paying more? Head off water torture".
'Ya gotta problem wit dat?
Why is this an issue? The Miami Herald editorial board:
It makes no sense for South Florida counties to dump 300 million of gallons of lightly treated sewage into the ocean every day. Yet Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties have been dumping sewage in the ocean for decades, refusing to stop, they say, because it is too expensive to reclaim or clean up the dirty water."Water no longer cheap and unlimited".
Is that what Charlie means by "green"?
"Going green in Florida looks like more nukes and high-voltage transmission lines will be crisscrossing the state." "Florida may see more nuclear plants".
Charlie's been found!
"Florida lawmakers thought reintroducing physical education to the state's public schools was going to be no sweat. Turns out, it's an ongoing workout. Many elementary schools are not fully complying with the spirit of the new mandatory physical education requirements — 150 minutes of P.E. weekly — and lawmakers and Gov. Charlie Crist aren't satisfied." "Despite money problems, lawmakers want school children in P.E.".
Election law "experts" chime in
The Orlando Sentinel editorial board: "Our position: Sen. Nelson's election reforms have some good ideas among bad ones".
The CSX thing
After being asleep at the wheel - while the West Florida traditional media beats up on CSX ("Secret Deal For Railroad Hub Lays Bare Shady Practices At DOT") - a slumbering midget yawns and stretches: "Commuter rail: Don't let fools knock it off track".
"The [Brevard County] leader of The Nature Conservancy said there is no conflict between the organization funding the political campaign for $60 million in bonds to buy conservation land and later receiving a $278,000-a-year contract to negotiate on the county’s behalf." "Nature Conservancy denies conflict in its political contributions".
Daniel Ruth responds to his critics
on The Tampa Tribune editorial board with the usual panache, but at the close of his column lapses into a dream: "Following a column on the Legislature's budget struggles, LaraDiamond weighed in with ..."
Wait a minute! With a name like LaraDiamond, doesn't that sound like some pulp fiction Raymond Chandleresque femme fatale? But I digress."Fat? Stupid? Sissy? Come On! You Ruth Critics Can Do Better Than That".
Lara mused: "Amen, Brother Daniel! When people complain about paying taxes, I always wonder if they think things like roads and garbage collectors just fall from the sky.
"Each time you blindly vote for a person simply on the basis of a promise to cut taxes, you vote to reduce these things and so many others you take for granted."
And then I'd like to think LaraDiamond lit up a cigarette, poured herself a martini, slipped into a slinky evening gown complete with stiletto heals and went looking for - trouble.
A fine idea at the time ...
"Called 'A Business-Community School,' the program was created two years ago by the state Legislature. The intent was to reduce crowding, offset construction costs, use available space smartly and strengthen public/private partnerships." "Few takers for plan to teach kids at work sites".
We don't need no stinkin' constitutions
The Tallahassee Democrat editorial board: "The Florida Legislature is persistent in efforts to undo or marginalize constitutional amendments that the voters of the state approved in 1998 or thereafter." "Undoing amendments".
"Bill argues more than abstinence is needed".
Been to a City Commission meeting lately?
Because these folks - most of whom are well intentioned - are, like the rest of us, not "well-versed in
business management*, complex tax issues, planning, budgetary spending and the dynamics of the legislative process".
"The job used to be so simple: show up at meetings, listen to the public's concerns, vote on ordinances and a yearly budget prepared by staff. But with the seemingly endless barrage of mandates coming from Tallahassee, the demands on Florida's municipal leaders are increasing. Nowadays, municipal leaders need to be well-versed in business management, complex tax issues, planning, budgetary spending and the dynamics of the legislative process." "No Longer A Part-Time Job".
- - - - - - - - - -
*As has been demonstrated over the years, the last thing an elected official needs is any more versing (well or otherwise) in "business management".
Why not make it $253 gazillion
"A jury awarded nearly $253 million to the children of one of Fidel Castro's former friends who died in jail — a judgment that was seen more as a political statement against the Cuban government than as a financial windfall." "Kin of Castro ex-ally awarded windfall" ("Cuba's government was served with court papers but chose not to be represented in court.")
The Traditional Media in action
As of 9:30AM, there are four separate links on The South Florida Sun-Sentinel's "Region/Florida" page to articles about topless fishing trips.
Gotta problem being "institutionalized"?
Six "nursing home residents backed by the AARP Foundation have filed a class-action lawsuit against the state of Florida under the Americans with Disabilities Act, citing a 1999 court ruling that helped spring mentally ill people from big, impersonal hospitals. Plaintiffs in the nursing home case say they are in the same boat. They could live more cheaply in home-like settings, they say, if only the state would shed its bias toward institutions."