Our digest and commentary on today's Florida political news and punditry follows.
"With unemployment rising and incomes falling more than expected, Florida's slowdown is here to stay for another full year, the state's top analysts reported Wednesday in their gloomiest report yet." "Outlook Grim For Fla. Economy".
South Florida races heat up
"Democrats for the second fundraising period in a row have outpaced Miami's three Republican members of Congress, suggesting an increasingly competitive challenge for the incumbents." "Miami GOP congressional incumbents outraised again".
"Democrats Alan Grayson and Charlie Stuart are headed for an expensive showdown in their congressional primary next month. They raised a combined $761,000 this spring -- but in vastly different ways, election records show." "Grayson, Stuart fill election coffers".
"Citing deep budget cuts and a crushing workload, Miami's public defender wants to turn away thousands of poor people accused of crimes such as sexual assault and armed robbery because his attorneys can't properly represent them in court." "Public defenders make drastic proposals amid cuts".
Dubya's "passion for empty symbolism"
The Palm Beach Post editorial Board: "Despite President Bush's less-than-subtle jab this week, Florida is not the reason why gas prices are more than $4 per gallon. On Monday, Mr. Bush indulged his passion for empty symbolism by lifting a presidential ban on offshore oil and gas drilling, a ban his father established. The gesture is symbolic because Congress would have to go along, and Congress won't, primarily because Democrats won't." "Bush hitting dry holes in energy blame game".
"Jeb Bush told the Keynoter this week that if he'd known while he was Florida's governor that oil would spike above $4.30 a gallon in the Keys, he would have been in favor of drilling for oil off Florida's coast." "Keysnoter: Jeb Bush: Hindsight on oil drilling is 20/20".
"Polluting Florida's waterways"
"Five environmental groups sued the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday, claiming the federal government is violating the Clean Water Act by failing to set standards for farm and urban runoff that is polluting Florida's waterways." "Environmentalists sue EPA for cleaner water rules".
Florida Greens "shocked and I'm suspicious"
"The Green Party doesn't know five candidates who filed at the last minute in five legislative races. All changed their affiliations, and some their addresses, before or shortly after qualifying in June."
"I'm shocked and I'm suspicious," said Echo Steiner of Lake Worth, the state co-chair of the Green Party."Greens claim no knowledge of 5 party candidates".
Party officials have sent certified letters, e-mails and even tried knocking on doors so they can vet the candidates and officially endorse them. The candidates have until July 21 to fill out a questionnaire.
Democrats, who often lose votes to third-party candidates in competitive races, are accusing Republicans of being responsible.
"If it's true, this will be the first time in history that a state party has had a coordinated effort to put sham candidates on a ballot to manipulate an election," said Aronberg, D-Greenacres.
Corporate welfare now for "high paying jobs" in 2017?
"Under the proposed deal, Charles Stark Draper Laboratories of Cambridge would open satellite offices in St. Petersburg and at the University of South Florida in Tampa, creating at least 165 high-paying jobs plus $50-million in new research grants for the university."
Good luck in trying to enforce this:
... Draper must reach its 100-job quota by 2017."Bay area attracts new lab with incentives"
Is this "insurance"?
The Daytona Beach News-Journal editorial board: "This year, Gov. Charlie Crist rolled out his "Cover Florida" plan, which promises bare-bones insurance for a premium of $150 a month. Employers with fewer than 50 workers will also be eligible for new stripped-down policies through Health Choices. Both programs promise prices sure to be attractive to many of the state's employers who currently offer coverage. But both will also deny employees the benefit of more than 50 state laws that require coverage for pregnancy, mammograms and well-baby care -- raising the question of whether the new policies can be termed 'insurance' in its commonly understood meaning." "America uncovered".
"A new survey finds Tampa has the most expensive parking of Florida's big cities." "Tampa takes state title for parking costs".
"Annual alligator egg collection under way in Fla.".
Another privatization flop
The St. Petersburg Times editorial board: For "six years Pinellas County contracted with WellCare Health Plans Inc. of Tampa, a private managed-care company to handle delivery of medical care to the county's poor."
When that didn't work, and, "after months of study and negotiation by local public health experts, [the County has been able] to cobble together a network of clinics that would provide a 'medical home' for regular checkups, immunizations and the like for adults ages 18 to 64 who have no money, no insurance, and no access regular medical care. The program will use existing medical facilities: three state-operated Pinellas County Health Department locations, and the five clinics operated by nonprofit Community Health Centers of Pinellas Inc. Officials say doctors and nurses will be added at those locations, if necessary, to serve the new clients. A case manager also will be provided to ensure clients get their medical needs met." "Medical care for poor gets healthy boost".
Marlins need love
"Poll of Miami-Dade voters shows lack of support for Marlins ballpark".
You were warned ...
Mike Thomas: "Anyone remember this quote from Florida TaxWatch, the government-watchdog group, that I ran in this column before the January vote?"
"The proposal does not restrict local governments' ability to increase millage rates to recoup revenue losses, thereby lessening the savings for some and shifting more tax burden to others.""Go for it, Orlando: Property tax is a stake in the future". More: "Property-tax bills likely to rise in Orlando ".
A half-dozen "prominent" Republican lawmakers "told the St. Petersburg Times they would support offshore drilling with safeguards."
Others include Sens. Mike Fasano of New Port Richey, Mike Haridopolos of Indialantic, J.D. Alexander of Lake Wales, Ronda Storms of Valrico and Rep. Will Weatherford of Wesley Chapel, a likely future House speaker."GOP legislators split over drilling off Florida".
But that view is far from universal among the Legislature's Republican majority, suggesting a tense debate should the federal government lift its offshore drilling moratorium in the eastern Gulf of Mexico and leave the issue up to individual states. Just last month Gov. Charlie Crist backed such a plan by Arizona Sen. John McCain, the presumed Republican presidential nominee.
Republicans who oppose drilling include state Sens. Dennis Jones of Treasure Island, Victor Crist of Tampa, Paula Dockery of Lakeland, Alex Diaz de la Portilla of Miami, and state Rep. Ed Hooper of Clearwater. The incoming House speaker, Rep. Ray Sansom of Destin, opposes offshore drilling."
Don't forget the "for"
"The Florida Election Commission has fined two Broward County Commission candidates for misrepresenting themselves. County Commissioner Josephus Eggelletion filed the complaint against two challengers, Lauderdale Lakes Commissioner John Billingsley and Rev. Allen B. Jackson, for not using the word 'for' between their names and 'County Commissioner' in campaign ads. " "Missing 'for' costs hopefuls".
Unions out of control
The Tampa Tribune editorial board says "it's nearly impossible to find a politician who's willing to guard the public's wallet when the police union calls.".
"Florida's second-biggest property insurer, said Wednesday that it will need to raise homeowner rates by almost 70 percent in some parts of Palm Beach County, almost 63 percent in parts of the Treasure Coast and an overall average of 47.1 percent statewide." "State Farm wants 47% home insurance rate hike for Florida". See also "Updated: State Farm seeks 47-percent rate increase; area policyholders could see more than 50-percent jump".
Bill Maxwell ...
... is trying to make a point, but I'm not sure how well he does it here: "Don't dare disagree with Obama".
"Nonpartisan Palm Beach County Voters Coalition"
"The nonpartisan Palm Beach County Voters Coalition is calling for the defeat of Elections Supervisor Arthur Anderson, Property Appraiser Gary Nikolits and school board member Mark Hansen." "Palm Beach County voters coalition announces endorsements".