Runnin' government like a business
In a giving mood? Consider Joe Garcia, and Annette Taddeo.
Start your day with the Florida Progressive Coalition.
With election season upon us, check out these blogs: Miami-Dade Dems blog, S. Fla. Daily Blog, Joy Reid's blog, Eye on Miami, Be Think, the warrior at Bark Bark Woof Woof, and the "Blogfather" at Flablog.
"For the second time in a month, Holly Benson, a former state lawmaker and key member of Gov. Charlie Crist's administration, faces accusations of political maneuvering in agencies she oversees."
A whistle-blower lawsuit filed Wednesday in circuit court in Tallahassee alleges Benson intervened in a regulatory decision about whether special Bud Light beer bottles touting Hooters restaurants broke state liquor law."Regulator who was overruled fires whistle-blower suit".
The complaint alleges Benson, while running the Department of Business and Professional Regulation, asked her staff to reconsider a crackdown on beverage distributor Lewis Bear Co. after the company's chief, David Bear, asked her to intervene. Bear is a political contributor and longtime family friend of Benson's.
Now secretary of the Agency of Health Care Administration, Benson recently drew criticism for firing an inspector general critical of the privatization of Medicaid, a top priority of Benson while in the Legislature.
How convenient ...
"For years, it was one of the strongest arguments for blocking oil and gas drilling off Florida's west coast, particularly for conservatives who weren't fretting over the environment:"
Putting rigs in the eastern Gulf of Mexico would compromise one of the nation's largest unobstructed test ranges for the U.S. military's air and sea forces."Military softens gulf drilling stance, senators say".
But with a new drilling-friendly political climate and improved technology that allows wellheads and pumps to be placed in thousands of feet of water, senators pushing to open the eastern gulf to oil and natural gas exploration say the military is open to relaxing its long-standing opposition.
A white thing
"Man held in Miami on charge of threatening to assassinate Obama". On a related note: "White supremacists hope Obama win prompts backlash".
A Jebacy of hackery
"For almost 30 years, under a system designed by former Democratic Gov. Reubin Askew, the governor appointed three of the commission's members, three were chosen by the Florida Bar and then those six selected the final three members. The commission would give the governor three nominees for each high court vacancy to pick from. The system's supporters said it reduced political influence on the process."
But Bush and other conservatives complained the system resulted in 'activist' justices who were too quick to overturn laws passed by elected officials. Bush said the Supreme Court and the state's lower appellate courts had 'seized control over policy decisions.'
In 2001, the GOP-controlled Legislature overhauled the system. The governor now appoints all nine members of the nominating commission, although the bar recommends candidates for four positions. The commission then recommends up to six candidates per vacancy to the governor, giving him more latitude in selecting new justices." "Crist has strong hand in naming new justices".
"Republican Party of Florida finance chairman" an "accused swindler"
"McCain's campaign said Thursday it is returning $50,000 in contributions solicited by a foreign citizen. The move follows the disclosure that the money was being raised by a Jordanian man who is a business partner of Florida Republican Harry Sargeant III, of Delray Beach, who has collected hundreds of thousands of dollars for McCain."
Sargeant, who does business with the federal government, is facing problems on Capitol Hill."McCain returns $50,000 raised by a Jordanian". But it goes much farther than that:
A House committee chairman, Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., is looking into Sargeant's defense work shipping fuel to U.S. bases in Iraq as part of an inquiry into whether contractors are overcharging the Pentagon.
Sargeant and Abu Naba'a are being sued in Florida by a former partner, the husband of a half-sister of the king of Jordan. The suit accused them of swindling.
Harry Sargeant III, the Republican Party of Florida finance chairman and part owner of a Boca Raton-based oil trading firm, has been credited with collecting more than $500,000 for McCain.Tally grub Brian Ballard
called Sargeant a "honest and honorable man,"* also said that bundlers had to "be very careful.""McCain returns suspect money". Not sure one would want this fellow, (partner and son-in-law to one of the biggest slime balls in Florida political history**) as a character reference.
"You don't know every person you're collecting money from," Ballard said.
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* Wouldn't you know it, there's some war profiteering going on by the "honest and honorable" Republican Party of Florida's finance chairman. You see, "Sargeant and Abu Naba'a are being sued in Florida by a former partner, the husband of a half-sister of the King of Jordan. The lawsuit alleges that Sargeant and Abu Naba'a swindled the business partner out of his share of the profits from valuable contracts with the U.S. government. The plaintiff, Mohammad Anwar Farid Al-Saleh, says he obtained authorization from Jordan to permit Sargeant's company to ship oil across Jordanian territory to U.S. bases in Iraq." "McCain campaign to return 50K in donations".
**Older folks will recall one Steve Pajcic, the kid from Jax, who went to Princeton, where he played basketball; and after graduating magna cum laude from Princeton, Pajcic attended Harvard Law School, graduating with honors. Not bad for a public school kid who attended inner-city schools in Jacksonville.
In 1974, he was elected to the first of six terms to the Florida House of Representatives, where he showed particular interest in educational issues and actually worked on crazy things like farmworker rights.
Wikipedia tells the rest of the story: "In 1986 he ran for the Democratic nomination for governor of Florida. In the primary election Pajcic slightly led the second-place finisher, state Attorney General Jim Smith; but, as neither had received 50%, per Florida law, a runoff primary was held. During the brief campaign before the run-off, Smith's rhetoric was seen by many as unprecedented in its vitriol for an intraparty contest."
"In a televised debate, the candidates were asked if, should they fail to win the nomination, would they endorse their runoff opponent in the general election against the Republican nominee. Both Smith and Pajcic answered in the affirmative. However, when Pajcic emerged victorious, Smith evaded the issue of an endorsement for several days [something about riding his tractor around his panhandle farm]. Eventually, Smith came out and openly endorsed the Republican candidate, Tampa mayor Bob Martinez. This split in Democratic ranks was a major contributor to the election of Martinez as only the second Republican governor in Florida history, as even Martinez himself acknowledged in later years."
Smith, and in turn his family, has since cashed in on his RPOF whoredom as a "lobbyist"; and RPOFers in the Legislature have been paying him back (via access purchased and sold in the form of "lobbying") ever since.
From the "values" crowd
"A quarter of the 31,000 Floridians who get state money for help with developmental disabilities could get less from the state after an administrative-law judge ruled new procedures for assigning levels of care is legal. Judge Eleanor Hunter said rules set earlier this year by the Agency for Persons with Disabilities are valid. The rules establish four tiers of care that set different spending caps in the $833 million Medicaid program." "Developmental-disabilities funds may be cut in Florida".
"Talking about renewable energy is nothing new in the Sunshine State, but the push for cleaner energy could soon become a legal mandate." "Florida utilities face new requirements for renewable energy".
"If it were up to the state's Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, the state's top mortgage regulator would be out of a job. But she can't fire him, even though her office houses his department." Perennial candidate Bill McCollum "said he would comment once he sees a proposal." "In wake of broker exposé, legislators seeking change".
The Daytona Beach News-Journal editorial board writes that "electronic counts shouldn't be relied on unless they're backed by random, hand-count auditing -- reserving the potential for a full hand recount if necessary. Many states have moved in that direction. Florida has yet to catch up. Its auditing rules are too weak and are not likely to catch the most egregious deceptions. Elections advocates across the country have looked to Congress to provide direction on this issue of national importance." "Paper provides best election security".
So they exaggerated a bit ...
"Bidding to unseat embattled Orlando state Sen. Gary Siplin, Florida trial lawyers are touting challenger Maurice "Doc" Woodard in mailers and cable-television ads as a 'lifelong Democrat.' But it turns out he was a Republican voter until last year." "Gary Siplin challenger touted as 'lifelong Democrat' spent years as a Republican".
Charlie "heavy on image-boosting and light on listening"
"Crist has embarked on a listening tour to learn how the slumping economy is affecting small businesses, but his stops have been heavy on image-boosting and light on listening." "Gov. Crist on listening-campaign tour in Fla.". See also "Gov. Charlie Crist visits two businesses in Broward County".
"The Florida Board of Governors approved a $3.7 billion budget request Thursday, a $350 million increase over current-year spending. Officials said they realize requesting a budget increase while the economy is poor may be a pipe dream, but they are obligated to spell out all the State University System's needs." "BOG OKs $3.7B budget request".
The Tampa Tribune editorial board: "Historically, there are instances of the dynamics of a campaign changing almost overnight with a sudden revelation that works to one candidate's favor, or disfavor, or the raising of a new issues that can change the way the electorate seemed to be going. So early voting has both advantages and disadvantages, and in a time when it's important for voters to be as informed as possible, it is sometimes wise not to vote in haste just to get the task over with — and even if the vote is cast on little more than the number of campaign signs that appear to be stuck in the ground, or a vague recognition of a candidate's name." "Study up".
Blame the aide
"Crist disavows letters opposing tax swap".
A lil' hypocrisy?
"Republican congressional candidate Hal Valeche, who for months has sought to portray GOP primary rival Tom Rooney as a beneficiary of the gambling industry, was himself the owner of more than $13,000 worth of stock in gaming giant Harrah's Entertainment until last year."
Valeche said the stock was inherited and that he didn't realize it was in his multimillion-dollar portfolio until he reviewed his holdings last year. Valeche, who said he disapproves of gambling, unloaded his 155 Harrah's shares for $13,576 in December, according to a financial disclosure statement."Anti-gaming hopeful takes flak for stock in Harrah's".
The Rooney camp accused investment manager Valeche of hypocrisy and questioned his explanation.
"How could a Wall Street investment banker not know what stocks he owned?" said Rooney campaign manager Phil Vangelakos.
Rooney, Valeche and state Rep. Gayle Harrell, R-Stuart, are running in the Aug. 26 primary for the right to take on freshman U.S. Rep. Tim Mahoney, D-Palm Beach Gardens, in November for the District 16 seat.
"Federal officials have arrested a commercial fisherman believed to be the largest lobster poacher in the Florida Keys after finding 6,000 lobster tails in freezers at the man's million-dollar home on Cudjoe Key." "6,000 lobster tails found at man's home in Keys".
A "state" thing
The Palm Beach Post editorial Board: "The ACLU alleged in its lawsuit, which was filed in March on behalf of parents and students, that the district's graduation rate was too low and that the district allowed too great a gap to exist between the graduation rates of white students and those of African-American and Hispanic students. The ACLU also had charged that the district used bogus methods to inflate graduation rates. As a result, although the school district says its graduation rate is more than 71 percent, the ACLU said the real graduation rate is less than 60 percent."
These conditions, the ACLU said, violated the state constitution's declaration that the state must provide "a uniform, efficient, safe, secure and high quality system" that "allows students to obtain a high quality education." Last week, Palm Beach County Circuit Judge Jonathan D. Gerber agreed that the ACLU picked the wrong target. The Florida Constitution, Judge Gerber wrote, "expressly refers to education as being a 'paramount duty of the state,' and expressly provides that adequate provision for education 'shall be made by law.' ""ACLU school lawsuit aimed at wrong target".
School boards and superintendents are important, the judge said. But "the question here is the enforcement of an express constitutional provision, which refers only to the state. Moreover, only the state legislature can make law."
"The Florida Council on the Social Status for Black Men and Boys quarterly meeting convenes Friday Aug. 8 at the City of Miami Gardens, 1515 Northwest 167th Street Suite 200." "Florida Council on the Social Status for Black Men and Boys to meet Friday".
"FedEx to speed turtles out of state".