"Crist's rhetoric doesn't match reality"
"As Gov. Charlie Crist praised the Legislature for its "great work" Friday night, his own human services secretary, Bob Butterworth, stood a few feet away and gave a very different critique of the 2008 session."
From budget cuts for child abuse investigators to the defeat of a bill to move the mentally ill from jails into treatment, Butterworth said legislators did little to help Florida's sick and neglected."Once again, it appears, Crist's rhetoric doesn't match reality."
"I'm very upset," said Butterworth, who will lose 250 jobs in the Department of Children and Families under the 2008-09 budget. And it took last-minute maneuvering to maintain a program where the state subsidizes adoptions of foster children.
Does he have a blind spot where lawmakers are concerned, and could it backfire in an election year as the effects of budget cuts sink in?"Florida governor praises budget, while Democrats grimace".
No, Crist insists. Lawmakers wisely resisted the temptation to raise taxes, he says.
"Lawmakers have signed off on the $66.2 billion budget that is now on its way to Gov. Charlie Crist for approval." "Florida's new budget has less money for schools, Medicaid, courts".
The Tampa Tribune editorial board: "Session Was No Great Success, But Kept Bad Bills Off The Books". The Tallahassee Democrat editorial board: "Time to exhale".
"Pay to play"
"The way things stand, the perception (if not yet 100 percent the reality) is that politicians do the bidding of lobbyists whose arms have been twisted for contributions in exchange for, as some wag put it, 'the attention of the mighty.'" A worthy piece this morning from The Tallahassee Democrat's: Mary Ann Lindley, "It's pay to play in the Legislature".
The South Florida Sun-Sentinel, which apparently should be confused with the Republican Party of Florida, actually published this headline - to a news story, not an editorial - this morning:
Crist wrings success out of legislative session"Florida Gov. Charlie Crist wrings success out of legislative session". The accompanying story includes blather like "the Republican governor's top priorities survived mostly intact because they didn't cost money", which is all well and good - but isn't "success" a relative term, defined by one's political views; and doesn't the word "wringing" connote some some sort of effort by the putative "wringer"?
Alternate headlines could just as easily have been:
Crist wrings failure out of legislative sessionOr,
Crist stands by and does nothing during legislative sessionHeadlines like these go beyond reporting facts, but delve into the arena of political perspective. The headline you choose is entirely an editorial decision, reflective of a political viewpoint, as opposed to a dispassionate rendering of the news. Stated differently, such headlines belong on the editorial pages.
And what is it with this "wringing" thing? I suspect the author of the headline means "wringing" in this sense:
to extract or get by forceful effort or meansWith all due respect, Charlie hasn't done anything in Tally that could even remotely be described as by "forceful effort", unless you count campaigning for McCain's VP slot.
"Start measuring those vice presidential mansion drapes [and the in-house tanning bed], Charlie Crist, because a new poll suggests John McCain will need all the help he can get in must-win Florida. Quinnipiac University's latest poll shows Hillary Rodham Clinton beating McCain in Florida 49 to 41 percent, while McCain is essentially tied with Barack Obama, 44 percent to Obama's 43 percent." "McCain needs Crist's help in Florida, poll suggests" ("The April 23-29 poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 2.6 percentage points").
"A new poll suggests presumptive Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain has lost ground in Florida, which could increase the odds that he would pick Gov. Charlie Crist as his running mate." "Crist: A Rising Star?".
RPOFers take in the shorts
Those "reading is Fundamental" programs apparently worked: "For the first time since 1984, Democrats have edged past Republicans in voter registration in Pinellas County, considered by some to be the birthplace of the Florida Republican Party." "GOP Voters Are No Longer In Majority In Pinellas".
"Political whims, fickle public attention and outdated standards"
The Palm Beach Post editorial Board: "The system that compensates victims of state negligence must be improved. Now, victims languish for years, subject to political whims, fickle public attention and outdated standards." "Victims' wait for justice is yet another injustice".
Poor Lil' Marco
"Despite an attempt from House Republicans to reignite divisive property tax battles with their Senate counterparts, lawmakers agreed this morning to a package of less ambitious changes." "Property tax bill goes to Crist".
The St. Petersburg Times editorial board: "Hillary Clinton and John McCain think they can buy your vote for $25. That's about how much a typical motorist would save if the two presidential candidates get their way and the federal gas tax is suspended for three months this summer. Even that scenario requires a willing suspension of disbelief — that the tax cut will actually be reflected in retail gas prices and that increased consumption won't drive the price even higher." "Gas tax gimmick an insult to voters".
For some reason Charlie's mimicry of McBush on this issue is given a pass.
Leave it to the Tribune Company
The Orlando Sentinel editorial board: "The federal government shouldn't be in the propaganda business either".
Thomas doesn't want you to think that the RPOFers are alone in the blame for the CSX thing. "So the lawyers got their lap-dog Democrats in the Senate to block the deal." See what he means here: "Lawyers' grease trumps saving gas as rail deals falter".
"A fine idea at the time ..."
The Palm Beach Post editorial Board: "'Sounds good in theory...'"
The responsible way to complete that sentence is " ... but does it work?" The irresponsible way to complete that sentence is " ... so let's do it." Under the sway of politicians and bureaucrats who sometimes are too "bold" [sic] for the state's own good, Florida has tended to say, "So, let's do it."So what was it that sounded good at the time? "One example exposed during this legislative session was the Department of Transportation's practice of paying as much as $250,000 to losing bidders on major projects."
The theory was that reimbursing some expenses of bid presentation would encourage more bids, and that the increased competition would result in lower costs. Sounds good in theory. Or at least plausible. The problem is that DOT acted on the theory without legal authority to do so and without keeping track of whether it worked. ...Here's the kicker:
Though DOT got skewered for acting precipitously, the Legislature - following in the ideological footsteps of former Gov. Jeb Bush - has established its own "so let's do it" record. On the sounds-good theory that private business does a better job for less than government can, Florida got suckered and/or embarrassed in privatization deals involving human resources, prisons, foster care, purchasing, schools and even the purging of alleged felons from voter lists.
With its grand privatization schemes, however, Florida has looked even worse paying the winners."Sounded good at the time ". A contemporary poet puts it this way:
It was a fine idea at the time"Elvis Costello - Brilliant Mistake Lyrics".
Now it's a brilliant mistake
Luv them tuff talkin' country clubbers:
Senate President Ken Pruitt, R-Port St. Lucie, credited Rubio for a $66.2 billion budget that includes no tax increases or gambling money and little cash from reserves."'Pain' seen in session fallout". More logrolling here: "Rubio leaves mixed record".
"Wherever you're going and whatever you plan on doing, sign me up, big guy, because I'll be there," Pruitt told Rubio after the session adjourned. "And I'll be there to watch your back."
Wingnuttery on hold
"A souring economy and a worrisome election year forced Florida's Republican-led Legislature to moderate its politics in the session that ended Friday because it had no other choice." "Necessity, not politics, ruled '08 session".
"The absurd world of public education in a state that put tax exemptions ahead of schoolchildren"
The St. Petersburg Times editorial board: "Three months after Pinellas voters approved higher property taxes so teachers could get better pay, the school system is now actually considering a 2 percent pay cut. Welcome to the absurd world of public education in a state that put tax exemptions ahead of schoolchildren, where superintendent Clayton Wilcox is forced to choose among budgetary options that are bad and worse." "School cuts: from bad to worse".
"Winners and Losers"
- The AP has a lengthy review of what it desribes as the "Winners and Losers in the 2008 Florida Legislature". More: "Florida legislation that passed and that failed".
- "Tampa Bay area's legislative rewards small in lean budget year".
- "In spite of a leaner budget year for Florida, Palm Beach County has pulled in millions in state money for projects ranging from environmental cleanup to a medical school at Florida Atlantic University." "Big projects for Palm Beach County survived cuts in state budget".
- "State may cut Skyway bridge suicide patrol".
- "Broward County had a number of projects and programs funded, albeit at reduced levels, in the state's $66.2 billion budget scheduled to take effect July 1" More here: "Broward County programs and projects funded in state budget".
- "Baggy pants won't be outlawed, but the bullies will have to be stopped. Students and teachers will have more time to prepare for the FCAT." "Revisions in FCAT are among changes in education".
In the end, though, losers do win ("Lawmakers: Pay losing contract bidders") so long as you are a government contractor.
Sorry Randy, but the future is now
The Palm Beach Post's Randy Schultz: "After the sort of soul-searching only higher education can produce, the University of Florida has come to an important conclusion about that Tasering of a student back in September: UF would do it again."
The tortured 52-page report by the wonderfully named Committee on a Civil, Safe and Open Environment doesn't say that directly. The next time, campus police would try other options and use more sense. Good thought. But after you get past all the supplements, footnotes and amens to the First Amendment, you reach this key phrase: "Conduct is not protected." And conduct, not speech, got Andrew M. Meyer, UF student and journalist wannabe, Tasered.Schultz continues:
Mr. Meyer had a blog, which these days is like saying you have a driver license*.Schultz continues:
In the first weeks after the incident, though, Mr. Meyer got his fame cameo, including an appearance on the Today show. "Don't Tase me, bro!" T-shirts were selling on the Internet. Ah, but the last posting on the donttaserme blog, linked from theandrewmeyer.com, was more than three months ago. It concludes with a warning to be "vigilent." Obviously, that vigilance doesn't apply to proofreading**.
If this had happened most places, the reaction would have been muted. At a university, though, it became An Issue.
Admittedly, if you watch the Sunday gasbags or Washington reporters at news conferences [or read the commentary of Florida's traditional media political writers], the art of asking probing, revealing questions can seem dead. Like Mr. Meyer, they care more about their questions than the answers. Could there be a future in journalism for Mr. Meyer after all? If so, don't let me be around to see it, bro."UF would Tase you again, bro!".
"South Florida residents fought to help create, defend the Jewish state". See also "Israel's 60th anniversary events in South Florida".
"Flood of foreclosures"
"Pressed by desperate homeowners in South Florida, members of Congress are promoting legislation to try to stem the tide of home foreclosures and prevent further erosion of property values. The House is expected to pass a bill this week that would encourage lenders to refinance troubled home mortgages on easier terms, backed by the Federal Housing Administration. The idea is to stabilize the real-estate market and prevent housing prices from plummeting because of a flood of foreclosures." "Under pressure from South Florida homeowners, House to act on mortgage crisis".