Yesterday we read about how "Rubio wording benefits big ally". Today we get this:
"The state agency that runs the Florida Turnpike is at odds with House Speaker Marco Rubio over the way contracts are awarded for providing food and gasoline at the turnpike's eight service plazas."
The turnpike agency says it wants to combine the contracts so that one vendor can bid to run the food and gas concessions at the plazas. That's one way of luring vendors willing to spend money to make needed renovations at the 1980s-era facilities. Officials say it's an industry trend, and it makes financial sense."Rubio says that's anticompetitive and shuts out small Florida businesses that want to be players in the turnpike concession."
One of those small Florida businesses happens to be owned by one of Rubio's friends - but the speaker says that's not his motivation and is defending his position."Rubio, Department of Transportation spar over turnpike plazas".
Stewards of the earth
"Critical funding that helps restore eroded beaches and provides clean drinking water to 5 million South Floridians is at risk this year." "State may ax Everglades, beach restoration money".
"Florida's program for buying environmentally sensitive land has protected an area equal to more than 3 1/2 Rhode Islands. But the program could come to a halt next year for the first time in two decades, even as some legislators work to extend the program for another 10 years." "Money woes may force Florida to stop preserving sensitive land". A little background on the "values" crowd role in all this: "House Republicans bail on Everglades preservation, cleanup".
Runnin' government like a bidness
The St. Petersburg Times editorial board: "The University of Florida, as it turns out, is not the only state institution of higher education that is vying for the affections of Senate Finance and Tax Chairman Mike Haridopolos."
Long before he lined up the votes to become Senate president in 2010 and long before UF handed him a $75,000 job for which he is seldom required to report, Haridopolos landed a book advance that would make true academicians blush."Senator sues for $150,000". The Orlando Sentinel editorial board: "Haridopolos' wasteful book deal should never have happened".
As reported by the Orlando Sentinel, the $150,000 book advance came courtesy of Brevard Community College. Haridopolos had been a history instructor at Brevard before being elected to the Legislature, but he began missing so many classes that fellow faculty members complained. So in 2003 then-president Thomas Gamble offered Haridopolos about $38,000 a year for four years in order to write a "publishable work" of "historic value."
The resulting 175-page manuscript now sits somewhere on a shelf on the BCC campus, and a Sentinel reporter had to make an appointment to read it. The reporter described the six chapters as a "collection of political musings and advice to future political candidates." Among the manuscript's insights: "A cell phone will be essential." An early draft offered: "My advice, pick your favorite color and make your signs that color."
Hard charging entrepreneurs hit the jackpot in the school charter bidness
"A Maitland charter school paid four administrators more than $520,000 last year and, even though the school was deeply in debt, allowed lavish and uncontrolled spending by two of those administrators, according to an audit by the Orange County school district." "Orlando-area Summit Charter School must fix problems or close".
The Palm Beach Post editorial Board: "Today, the Senate Health Regulation Committee, chaired by Sen. Jeff Atwater, R-North Palm Beach, will hear Senate Bill 2400. It would require that any woman seeking an abortion during the first trimester be given an ultrasound. This legislation is not about patient safety or a more informed choice. It is part harassment and part intimidation, to make a woman who has chosen to have an abortion reach a different choice."
A better way to reduce abortions is to reduce unplanned pregnancies. Senate Bill 780 would do that, by getting information about emergency birth control to more rape victims. That Democratic-sponsored bill, though, is going nowhere, because many abortion-rights opponents also oppose birth control. Yet a Florida State University survey showed that only 26 percent of the women in Florida who need family planning services have access to them. A study by the Florida Department of Health showed that every dollar spent on family planning saves $24 because that investment cuts the number of unplanned pregnancies."Not choice, harassment".
Men are sponsoring both of these bills supposedly aimed at helping pregnant women. How about some legislation that would help women control when they want to get pregnant?
Mike Thomas makes an interesting point: "The abortion battle increasingly is becoming one waged by affluent, white conservative men against poor, minority women." "Anti-abortion tactic reflects politics at its most cynical".
"The number of accused felons ruled mentally incompetent for trial has doubled over five years, crowding Florida institutions with the most expensive type of offenders at a time of severe budget restraints, according to a new legislative study." "Number of mentally-ill felons has doubled in Florida according to DCF".
"Insurance regulators want to start the arm-twisting of Allstate immediately and on Monday asked a court if it could." "Florida's insurance regulators seek immediate Allstate ban".
"Government watchdogs say the donations suggest that some candidates may be trying to buy an appointment." "Orlando airport board applicants donated to Crist".
Whatever they want
"Joel Engelhardt": "Developers go to Tallahassee to get what they want. Rather than fear the state, they embrace it. The Legislature has responded as if local government is the enemy. It's odd, since many legislators rose to power as local politicians." "Developers bypass local politicians".
Sometimes only ad hominem will do
The Orlando Sentinel editorial board gleefully smacks Cuba "Letting Cubans stay in hotels does little good when they can't afford it". At the same time, the Sentinel's sister paper reports that "Ex-owners around South Florida trash foreclosed homes before leaving"
Guns at work
The South Florida Sun-Sentinel editorial board: "You don't uphold one constitutional right by eroding another. Yet, that's what the Legislature is intent on doing." "Gun bill would allow one constitutional right to erode another".
Background checks for suitors
"Like a suitor who won't give up, Rep. Kevin Ambler is asking Florida lawmakers to help chaperone Internet dating again. Ambler, R-Lutz, wants to pass a bill (HB 411) requiring dating Web sites to do a criminal background checks — or disclose that they don't — when dealing with paying Florida customers." "Legislator wants background checks in online dating mix".
Will he leave "blood on the floor" of the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing room?
The South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports that Bill
Nelson, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, will be among Democrats who will grill [sic] Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. military commander in Iraq, and Ryan Crocker, the ambassador to Iraq, during their much-anticipated testimony to Congress on the status of the war.Why don't I expect much in the way of "grilling" today?
There may be "blood", at least "on the floor" of the convention
"U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson warned Monday that the Democratic Party faces the serious threat of a deeply fractured, summer-long presidential nominating process that may put "blood on the floor" at the August convention. Speaking to reporters at his Palm Beach County office, Nelson said the ongoing tiff between the Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama campaigns about how to count Florida delegates may not get resolved until the convention is underway in Denver." "Nelson warns of "blood on floor" if Democrats fight over delegates".
Okay, we've got his new nickname: "Bloody Bill".
Ending the American dream, South Florida style
"Ransacked homes are another symptom of the housing crisis that began in 2006 after five years of record price increases. In many cases, people stretched to buy homes but can't keep up with the payments now that their adjustable-rate mortgages are resetting much higher." "Ex-owners around South Florida trash foreclosed homes before leaving".
Bill Maxwell: "'Swanee River' out of flow as Florida state song".
The Florida Supreme Court has asked a judicial panel to explain why it filed ethics charges, apparently for the first time in the state's history, against a judge over what he wrote in an opinion. The justices issued the order Friday to the Judicial Qualifications Commission. First District Court of Appeal Judge Michael Allen last week asked the high court to halt disciplinary proceedings against him that stemmed from the bribery case of former Florida Senate President W.D. Childers." "Supreme Court asked to halt case against judge over opinion". More on this Hawkes fellow.
This is actually a great story, involving all kinds of inside baseball and panhandle politics. For a little background see: "Dysfunction In Black Robes", "Speaker examining appellate judge's actions", "Lawmakers' E-mails Reveal Friendships Amid Investigation" and "Judge: Rubio isn’t my tool in inquiry"