"Jeb!" denies he's a crook
"In July and August of 2007, the state agency that manages billions of dollars in public investments bought at least $2.3-billion in securities from three Wall Street firms."
Within just weeks, financial rating firms began downgrading those investments — a development that diminished their value and touched off a series of aftershocks at the State Board of Administration:Nice to see our slumbering traditional media giving a little attention to the "Jeb!" piece of the story, if only by necessity:
• In February, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission asked the SBA to turn over a mountain of records on the investments. The SEC wants to know if the state agency mishandled the investments and the Wall Street firms made improper sales.
• In April, an audit ordered by the SBA's board of trustees found widespread problems in five of the investment funds managed by the agency. Some of the securities' sales were improper, the audit said, and oversight was lax.
• Now, a legal showdown may be near. Lawyers hired by the SBA have concluded they have grounds to sue the Wall Street firms, and the state's Office of Financial Regulation — a watchdog agency that supervises financial institutions — has issued subpoenas.
"The taxpayers should be wondering about a whole array of issues around this situation,'' said Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, who has pushed for investigations of the debacle.
Lehman Brothers hired former Gov. Jeb Bush as a consultant in June 2007 — five months after he left office and the SBA board of trustees. In July and August, Lehman sold many of the securities that were soon downgraded.Sunshine weighs in:
Earlier this week, Bush repeated earlier statements that he played no role in the Lehman Brothers sales.
"I was not involved in these investments by the State Board of Administration,'' Bush said in an e-mail. "The decisions were made by the SBA when I was no longer governor. In my role as a consultant to Lehman Brothers, I have absolutely nothing to do with any sales or trading related to the State Board of Administration.
Crist also said that Bush was an honorable person and that he couldn't believe he would ever be "involved in anything nefarious.'' But he suggested that Lehman Brothers may have hired Bush to try to gain influence with the SBA."Who's to blame for state's losses?".
"I hope that he wasn't sort of used,'' Crist said.
Five months ago we explored Jebbie's potential involvement in all of this issue in some detail in "The Palm Beach Post calls for investigation of Jebbie". See also "Saint Jebbie gets another pass".
No mention of "Jeb!" in this Orlando Sentinel piece today: "State poised to sue 3 securities brokers". Are the ink stained wretches afraid to take a jab at a fellow Sentinel writer? See "Jebbie takes a job as a staff writer with the Orlando Sentinel".
Florida's Puerto Rican vote
"Half the state's 750,000 Puerto Ricans live in Central Florida. Most of them are Democrats, yet four of the five Puerto Rican elected officials in the region are Republicans, reinforcing the community's prized independence in a closely divided state." "Political parties embrace Florida's Puerto Ricans".
"Democratic stalwarts from across Florida will appeal for political relevance Saturday when they try to persuade the national party to give them a say in the presidential nominating contest. Their best hope: seating half the state's delegation, or every member of the delegation with half a vote." "Decision day on Florida delegates".
"Florida's Democratic delegates could get their convention party hats back today when an obscure rules committee meets to reconsider the state's punishment for a rogue primary." "DNC panel to weigh delegates dispute". See also "Florida delegates likely to be seated for national convention in August". The St. Petersburg Times editorial board: "Democrats need to end the fighting".
"An obscure subset of the Democratic National Committee today could help write the final chapter to Hillary Rodham Clinton's presidential campaign."
Or it could thrust Florida into the eye of another history-making political storm - a place Florida is uncomfortably accustomed to being."Committee Meets Today To Discuss Delegate Squabble". See also "Democrats convene today to discuss Florida delegates" and "Dems expect DNC to settle".
The DNC's Rules and Bylaws Committee will decide whether to restore Florida's and Michigan's presidential convention delegates, fully, partially or not at all.
That will decide, in effect, whether the Jan. 29 Florida primary votes count, and it will make or break Clinton's attempt to win some profit in delegates from the two primaries.
There has been speculation, and some urging from party leaders, that an adverse decision should persuade Clinton to end her presidential bid - perhaps as early as next week - leaving Barack Obama the presumed nominee.
Bill Cotterell reminds us that the "Primary date was law, not some club's bylaw".
"Among the hundreds of characters who make up the perpetually dysfunctional Florida Democratic Party, no one in the past 30 years has so consistently and effectively been at the forefront of coups against party leaders than Jon Ausman."
Volatile, profane and some say brilliant, Ausman, 54, has a tendency to show up for business meetings either looking like an unmade bed or drenched in sweat in his skin-tight cycling outfit."Longtime Democratic rebel could solve delegate crisis". Related: "Begone to the nomination race that wouldn't quit".
Today, though, Florida's top Democratic rabble-rouser becomes the vessel for resolving the bitter dispute over whether Florida has any official say in the presidential nomination. The race for leader of the free world will halt as the national party considers Ausman's legal appeal to reinstate at least some of the state's 211 delegates to the Democratic National Convention.
Pay no attention to the RPOF lobbyist behind the curtain
"Two companies with strong political connections are waging a behind-the-scenes fight over who gets to provide millions of dollars' worth of pharmaceuticals to the state's prison system." However, "the bigger issue involves reformers in the DOC who want to end its experiment with 'privatized' health care to help contain exploding costs, including $75million a year for drugs."
The new leaders think state employees can save millions of dollars by buying and dispensing drugs for the nation's third-largest prison system. But in Tallahassee, where state contracts are the coin of the realm, taking them away is never easy.And just who are these communist "leaders", who want to de-privatize (might we even say "socialize") the business of these hard-charging capitalists?
DOC's new leaders are convinced that, after years of cost overruns, they can save money by running the drug operations themselves. But proving that, they say, would take time — and cost money."2 companies butt heads over providing medicine to Florida inmates".
"I'm just frustrated," DOC legislative-affairs director J. Alex Kelly wrote to legislative staff, "that any of the legislators are fighting us on saving money and are instead interested in forcing us to spend more money to appease a vendor — very ironic in a tight budget year."
The department called the budget language "politically inappropriate" and asked Crist to veto it. Crist spokesman Sterling Ivey said the office is considering it.
"When the agency recommends very strongly against something, we do take that under advisement, as we're doing with all the budget."
Must we always subsidize our courageous, risk taking entrepreneurs?
The Palm Beach Post editorial Board: "Four years after Palm Beach County made a deal with Ocean Properties of Delray Beach to build a 400-room convention center hotel in downtown West Palm Beach, Ocean has reneged on its contract. County commissioners can't let the company get away with it. Ocean Properties isn't walking away from the contract, but the company wants to rewrite the terms. Ocean is demanding a far greater subsidy to revive the deal a month after construction was to have started." "Make hotel developer honor county contract".
"While bemoaning tough economic times and slashing state spending on health and education, state legislators helped themselves to $110.5 million worth of election-year budget 'turkeys,' a fiscal watchdog organization said Friday." "$110.5M in budget 'turkeys' spotlighted".
The "fiscal watchdog organization" is of course the perennially unscrutinized the "Florida TaxWatch". To be sure, it is occasionally mentioned that Florida TaxWatch "gets much of its financial support from its large corporations", but there is much more to this delightful group than that blurb would suggest. We'll take a more detailed look at the group in a separate post.
Ruth radio retired
Daniel Ruth writes this morning that
after nearly eight years of holding forth for three hours from 9 a.m. to noon on WFLA, 970-AM, I concluded my final broadcast."Ruth Off The Radio".
Some friends have suggested I was canceled because of the perception that I am some kind of liberal, as if pointing out on a regular basis we are led by a buffo in the White House and believing in the U.S. Constitution somehow defines me as a radical, liberal, troublemaking wisenheimer.
It is true that some listeners have accused me of being a pinko Commie, usually right after I suggested that Global Warming was a serious problem, or maybe it's a bad idea to execute people who might be innocent, or perhaps it might be nice if after torturing terrorism suspects we let them talk to a lawyer and see the evidence against them.
You know, crazy, wacky, insane, extremist ideas like that.
"Experimenting with Internet voting"
"Voting activists demanded Thursday that state officials stop one Florida county from experimenting with Internet voting this fall. If Secretary of State Kurt Browning allows Okaloosa County to go ahead with the project, the issue could wind up in court, said Dan McCrea, president of the Florida Voters Coalition." "Activists Target Internet Voting".
The Orlando Sentinel editorial board: "Our position: Legislature didn't go far enough in compensating the wrongfully convicted".
We all know that the The Tampa Tribune editorial board is a mouthpiece for the Chamber of Commerce, the Right-to-Work Committee and every other knuckle dragging, anti-union group on the planet.
So, we are not disappointed when we read abject garbage like this on the editorial pages: "Deputies' Union Vote Benefits Public". "Hillsborough County Sheriff David Gee deserves applause for taking a tough stand against excessive union demands, despite a union-funded attack campaign and threats of political repercussions."
But his rank-and-file deputies deserve praise as well for turning away from a union that seems to have lost all regard for taxpayers.The geniuses on the Tribune editorial board continue with this:
Last week Hillsborough's detention-deputy chapter of the West Central Florida Police Benevolent Association voted by a 449-137 margin to drop the union. In February, patrol deputies also voted to drop out of the union in a lopsided vote.
Now the sheriff and his deputies and guards can work on a realistic contract, one that compensates them fairly for their labors without gouging taxpayers.And with who will the sheriff "work on a realistic contract"? Who will represent the brave employees when they "work on a realistic contract"?
By the way, please send us a copy of that "realistic contract" when it is finally "work[ed]" out between the sheriff and his brave, non-union deputies.
And what is this supposed to mean?:
The episode should give the public confidence in Gee's leadership and his deputies' commitment to service.What century do these idiot editors live in?
The Maitland housewife ...
... pointed his finger at his neighbors the other day in "You asked for cheap schools: Happy now?".
We know Jebbie hated teachers ...
but isn't it a bit silly, as Jac Wilder VerSteeg wrote the other day, that "because of policies established under Gov. Bush, students who score better than most other students in the nation still can be denied a Florida high school diploma." "Test scores up. Hold the champagne.".
So, as Florida's (unionized) teachers' hard work result in students that "score better than most other students in the nation", the wingnuts can nevertheless claim that - with the silly FCAT scores - Florida really needs to do something about the sorry state of public education ... here's an idea ... charters and vouchers. That's the ticket.