"Does any of this sound sickeningly familiar?"
The South Florida Sun-Sentinel editorial board: "Undervotes, overvotes. Confusion over vote totals. An election in question, 10 days later, hanging on a fraction of the ballots cast. Does any of this sound sickeningly familiar? It should, because Palm Beach County's search for 3,400 missing ballots in a tight judge's race has all the feel of the 2000 presidential election debacle, without the national spotlight. But could that be far behind?" Although not quite calling for the return of "electronic voting", the editors put the blame on paper ballots, and say that it is "time to get nervous."
The paper trail championed so fervently by U.S. Rep. Robert Wexler, D-Delray Beach, and mandated throughout Florida with Gov. Charlie Crist's help, was supposed to give voters a verifiable recount system that restored voter trust and confidence. Instead, it's delivered more angst and confusion.Will every vote count in Palm Beach County?. See also "Election officials want courts to settle dispute" and "Hunt for missing ballots widens in Palm Beach County".
Finding the missing votes in a judge's contest decided by 60 votes or less is just part of the challenge. In a county that decided the 2000 presidential race by 537 votes, it means making sure there won't be a repeat in November, when voters will decide one of the most important presidential elections of our time.
The Palm Beach Post editorial Board argues that PBC SOE "Anderson should respond by handing over essential control of the office to Secretary of State Kurt Browning's Division of Elections. The goal must be to guarantee that the chain of ballot custody is not broken. To do that, there must procedures in place that are followed in the heat of a high-turnout, high-profile election." "Save the Nov. 4 election".
Joel Engelhardt identifies what he sees as "The flaw that links LePore, Anderson": "Back then, the supervisor was Theresa LePore. Now, it's Arthur Anderson. Eight years later, though, one thing has not changed. The supervisor's 'information technology' officer, the guy running the machinery of vote-counting in Palm Beach County, is Jeff Darter."
Yet another endorsement (from the same company)
After careful deliberations, the Tampa Tribune editorial board "endorses McCain for president".
"Florida's tax system ... antiquated, unfair and inadequate"
The St. Petersburg Times editorial board: "Every serious examination of Florida's tax system over the past two decades has found it to be antiquated, unfair and inadequate. But no one will fix it. The latest failure — from a constitutionally created commission established for precisely this type of tax reform — turns the spotlight back where it belongs. The state doesn't necessarily need a constitutional amendment to tackle tax reform. It only needs a governor and state legislators with a shared vision and strong spines."
"Crist and legislative leaders act as though tax cuts should be the only priority in a state whose taxes rank 47th lowest in the nation. The only "tax reform" in the past decade has been the piecemeal creation of more tax breaks, the reduction of business taxes and the elimination of taxes on wealthy stockholders. Instead of achieving fairness, lawmakers [read "Jeb Bush And His Amen Chorus Of Goose-Stepping Legislators"] have only made a bad tax system worse." "Seeking spines in capital". The Miami Herald editorial board: "Hope wanes for tax reform, budget relief".
Run, Charlie, Run!
"That's right, we're talking about the White House. As unbelievable as that may sound, Crist himself is starting the talk up here in Minnesota -- or rather his speaking schedule is." RPOFer Chair Greer insists that Mr. Happy Face 'is talked about now as a national leader'". "Up next in 2012: Charlie Crist?"
When you finish laughing, read the rest of it here. Yee haw!
The weatherman cometh
"Crist: Ike a threat to entire peninsula". After you catch your breath from that: "Crist offers more warnings as Ike, Hanna take aim".
"We've been bamboozled"
"The election cycle means it is unlikely voters will see another [sic] bold option before 2010 even though the demand for relief has not waned in the face of falling property values. But among the potential ideas being pushed by lawmakers or citizen activists:"
• Cap local and state governments revenue and spending."Property tax cut may wait despite public anger". The St. Petersburg Times editorial board: "Ballot items rightly removed".
• Cap all property taxes at 1.35 percent of taxable value, in effect limiting local millage rates to $13.50 per $1,000 in assessed value.
• Limit assessment increases on commercial property to 5 percent annually, down from 10 percent.
• Change the provision in Save Our Homes that requires property appraisers to increase assessments by 3 percent even when home values decline.
People who expected their taxes would "drop like a rock" — to borrow Gov. Charlie Crist's catchphrase — under the Amendment 1 plan passed in January feel slighted.
"We've been bamboozled," said Craig Campbell, 61, of St. Petersburg, who said he saved $10 under Amendment 1. He'll pay roughly $590 in taxes for a home he bought in the 1970s.
"I voted for Charlie Crist, and I thought he was going to do things," Campbell added. "He has accomplished nothing." Scores of people have written letters to newspapers across the state expressing similar dissatisfaction.
A Miami thing
"Miami Rep. David Rivera's victory in the race for a Miami-Dade Republican Party post set the stage for wide-open state Senate races in 2010."
"Secret money. Three big-name Miami pols."
And a race for a little-known office that even the incumbent said was "a notch above dogcatcher.''"Miami-Dade Republican contest was preview of 2010 free-for-all".
The contest for Miami-Dade Republican State Executive Committeeman ended last month with a big win for Miami Rep. David Rivera over state Sen. Alex Diaz de la Portilla and Rep. Julio Robaina -- but some questions and hard feelings linger.
The election is a warm-up for things to come in 2010, when all three Republican Miami-Dade Senate seats will open due to term limits. Rivera, Robaina and one of Diaz de la Portilla's two brothers -- Miguel or Renier -- are expected to jostle for them. Also potentially in the fray: Rep. Rene Garcia, Rep. Marcelo Llorente and outgoing House Speaker Marco Rubio.
At the Florida trough
"Palin is slated to be in the state as early as next week, depending on the hurricane forecast. John McCain plans to be in Miami for a Sept. 15 fundraiser, one of six campaign receptions planned in the state through Nov. 4." "GOP fest lights fire under Floridians".
"Moms are buzzing over Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin's challenges -- some with applause, others with criticism."
- "The political action group MomsRising.org sent an e-mail to its members Thursday, urging them to sign a letter to Palin asking for the ticket's stance on issues they call critical to mothers: affordable healthcare, affordable child care and equal pay for men and women.""S. Fla. mothers mixed on Palin".
- "In online forums around the country, including MomsMiami.com, which is run by The Miami Herald, mothers are expressing alarm at Palin's lack of national experience -- and taking offense that McCain chose her over more seasoned Republican women.
Out here in the fields ...
Notwithstanding Florida's newspaper companies' relative silence (with occasional exceptions like this extraordinary work)*, the existence of Florida's "Modern-Day Slavery" is no secret.**
However, and although the law is stacked in favor of the slave-owners, there has been occasional litigation. See e.g., "Ag-Mart to pay for limbless child's needs" (about a court settlement to provide "care for 3-year-old Carlitos Candelario, born without arms and legs to parents who picked tomatoes in fields sprayed with pesticides.")
Bill Maxwell has the latest:
Five Immokalee field bosses, all relatives, pleaded guilty to several charges of enslaving Guatemalan and Mexican farmworkers, forcing them to work and brutalizing them."Florida's leading lawmakers [many who wear their religion on their sleeves],
[the slaves were] kept more than a dozen men in boxes, shacks and trucks on their property. The workers were chained, beaten and forced to work on farms in North Carolina, South Carolina and Florida. Incredibly, the indictment shows that the men were forced to pay rent of $20 a week to sleep in a locked furniture van. They were forced to urinate and defecate in a corner of the vehicle. ...
A federal plea deal was entered, giving the two ringleaders 12 years and fines from $750,000 to $1-million each. Formal sentencing is at the end of the year.
The Coalition of Immokalee Workers conducted the initial investigation in this case and six other successfully prosecuted cases that have freed more than 1,000 field hands.
not to mention ordinary citizens, have rarely expressed outage over such abuses, and even fewer have raised a finger on behalf of farmworkers. Former Gov. Jeb Bush and his labor emissary openly criticized the coalition for its work, and Gov. Charlie Crist has yet to show real interest."Farmworkers exploited, even enslaved, in Florida". See also ""Five to plead guilty on charges of enslaving immigrant laborers,"".
However, if you've got the money - and slave-owners tend to have cash on hand - you can litigate the cases for years, and win if you find friendly judges. See "Slavery Update". More here.
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*See also "Sheriff: There is slavery in Florida tomato fields". We've been covering the issue for years; e.g., "Out here in the fields ...".
**If you haven't seen excerpts from the U.S. Senate hearings on Florida's shame, see the "HELP Committee Hearing - Immokalee Tomato Farmers -- 04/15/2008".
"Expanding Pell Grants and offering $4,000 tax credits to students willing to do public service were ideas offered by representatives of Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama during a forum at Florida State University on Friday." "Obama reps tout education reforms".
"Regulators Friday smacked down State Farm's request to challenge rejection of a proposed 47-percent rate increase." "Regulators deny State Farm request to appeal rate hike".
Plus, where will we get our slaves?
The Tampa Tribune editorial board: "'Send Them All Back' Not So Easy".
That's our Mel, "before-prime-time"
"During a before-prime-time speech, Mel Martinez told the crowd that McCain was the only candidate qualified to be president -- and the only one with 'a history of putting country first.'" "Mel steps in the spotlight".
Precisely what do you mean, Mel, when you say Obama does not have a "history of putting country first"?
The Palm Beach Post editorial Board:
When Republicans tag Barack Obama as the least experienced presidential candidate ever, they generally are talking about executive experience. It's a tricky claim, because John McCain doesn't have any, either. If the topic is "life experience," Sen. McCain and Sen. Obama bring different things to the presidential race, but each has experiences that could prove valuable."The 'experience' trap".
Another problem with touting experience is the current president. He spent just six years in elected office, as the constitutionally weak governor of Texas. And Mr. Bush came to that office with a record of business "experience" that showed him making a fortune only because of ties to his father's friends.
"Alaska Gov. Palin, the moose-hunting "hockey mom" from way outside the Beltway, has energized Florida Republicans, even moving one GOP consultant who attended Palin's Wednesday night speech to compare her to party demigod Ronald Reagan." "Florida GOP wild about 'game-changer' Palin".
"Jim Krog, sought-after lobbyist and political strategist, dies at 60".
Imagine this dope saying this about anyone: "Martinez calls Obama 'unproven' on world stage". Yes, that's the same fool who (what he now says "inadvertently") handed Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) a grossly political memo about how Republicans could exploit the Schiavo matter for political purposes, and then claimed he hadn't done anything of the sort.
The unsigned memo -- which initially misspells Schiavo's first name and gives the wrong number for the pending bill -- includes eight talking points in support of the legislation and calls the controversy "a great political issue." "This legislation ensures that individuals like Terri Schiavo are guaranteed the same legal protections as convicted murderers like Ted Bundy," the memo concludes. "The mystery of the memo's origin had roiled the Capitol, with Republicans accusing Democrats of concocting the document as a dirty trick ...". With these GOPer lies, Harkin was forced to expose the nattering Martinez. Harkin explained that Martinez"said these were talking points -- something that we're working on here," Harkin said. "Counsel to GOP Senator Wrote Memo On Schiavo".
The The St. Petersburg Times: "Martinez said he did not know the staffer wrote the memo; somehow, he said, it ended up in the pocket of his suit jacket, and he handed it to another senator without realizing what it was." "New gaffe, old Martinez defense". This is not the first time that "Karl Rove's Florida Frankenstein" has played the blame game for his own incompetence: "Martinez turns to familiar words to explain his office's role in an unsigned memo on Terri Schiavo.")
One supposes that this Bushco hood ornament would find "Obama 'proven' on world stage" if he called for the U.S. invasion of Cuba.