"Wellington judge [Jorge Labarga] talks with Crist as a finalist for spot on the Florida Supreme Court". See also "Hispanic Florida Supreme Court hopeful reconsidered". Background: "Has Labarga backed into a FSC appointment?"
The St. Petersburg Times calls for universal coverage
The St. Petersburg Times editorial board: "As Gov. Charlie Crist unveiled options under the state's 'Cover Florida' program earlier this month, he declared, 'Affordable access to health care will be a reality for Florida's hard-working families and businesses.'" As usual, Charlie was off base. The Times editors write that
a close examination of the offerings show a sober reality for the 3.8-million Floridians who are uninsured: The only option coming close to traditional-style health insurance will cost a family of four roughly $8,400 annually — or about 18 percent of the state's median household income of $46,000. While Cover Florida is a start, it won't come close to solving the problem.So, what do the editors suggest?
President-elect Barack Obama has selected former South Dakota U.S. Sen. Tom Daschle to oversee Obama's promised health care reform. And U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor of Tampa has signed on to the House committee that will lead the charge. Until there's a better solution nationally — with universal coverage for all — Crist's offerings of Cover Florida may provide some relief to some Floridians. But it's no substitute for full reform."A start on health reform".
Enough to avert a Crist-Chiles showdown?
"Crist said Wednesday he tried to make budget cuts as painless as possible in his proposal to plug a $2.3 billion hole in the state's spending plan."
Key to Crist's plan is $600 million borrowed from the Lawton Chiles Endowment and using $135 million in payments from the Seminole Tribe that's a part of an agreement Crist made but the court's struck down."Gov. Crist: Chiles fund will be repaid fast".
Crist said the Chiles money will be repaid promptly. The late governor's family has threatened legal action if the state sells assets of the health-care fund, and may ask that the Chiles name be removed from the endowment if it is treated like a regular revenue source.
Another fine Jebacy
The St. Petersburg Times editorial board: "The Legislature has single-mindedly focused on privatized home care — giving primarily for-profit companies hundreds of millions of Medicaid dollars over the past five years — while keeping the budgets flat for two similar public programs. The result is that taxpayers are spending more and getting less. And some of Florida's frail elderly languish and die on waiting lists for public programs that don't get enough money." "Elder care needs fixing".
Probably no deal
"Crist acknowledges there's little chance lawmakers will approve a deal to expand Seminole Indian gaming during a special legislative session next month. The ever-optimistic governor, though, said Wednesday that he included $135 million from the gambling compact in his deficit reduction plan for the special session "because hope springs eternal."" "Crist Admits Seminole Deal Has Little Hope".
"Election ballots could be safely distributed electronically to Americans overseas, but getting their votes back securely could present problems, a study released Wednesday says." "Problems seen in e-voting overseas".
"Fla. Medicare fraud debate focuses on patients".
Public finance ...
... Florida style: "FHP troopers out in full force for holiday weekend".
We'll stick with the slavery thing, thank you very much
"The state has a fund to attract big film productions here, but it's been slashed from $25 million last year to $5 million, thanks to the financial crisis. Other states - like Louisiana, New Mexico and Michigan - are offering more generous incentives than Florida can afford, says film industry worker Sam Tedesco." "Florida faces competition in being site for movies".
Indeed, "Florida is beginning to fall off studios' radar. A fund the state provides to attract big film productions was slashed from $25 million last year to $5 million as the state struggled with its fiscal crisis. Now in its fifth year, Florida's budget for incentives is being dwarfed by other states, such as Louisiana, New Mexico and Michigan." "Florida's star is dimming as other states lure movie studios".
"A study is now under way to explore the feasibility of alternative rail freight routes through Polk County, and the lobbyists on both sides of the CSX deal are poised for a rematch during the next regular session of the Florida Legislature next spring." "The Fight Isn't Over: Keeping CSX Deal In Spotlight".
You never know ...
"Detective who couldn't get toilet to work finds stolen gun in it".
Is this journalism?
Billy House breathlessly reports this nonsense: "With the economy teetering and thousands of Floridians and other Americans losing their jobs, three Florida members of Congress say they would vote to give up their automatic $4,700 pay raise next year." "Tribune: 3 Legislators Are In Favor Of Forgoing Their Raises".
Blood on their hands
"Jeb Bush And His Amen Chorus Of Goose-Stepping Legislators"* have blood on their hands:
It took a big explosion and workers dying to get everyone's attention, but a state task force now says that Florida's experiment with voluntary safety and health standards for public employees is insufficient. The state needs to return to the days when state law protected worker safety."[R]ather than hop to it and bring the state's public employees back under a legal umbrella of safe work practices, the Legislature established a task force. Often, that's a way to bury an issue. The task force issues a report and its recommendations get shelved."
In 1999, a Republican-led Legislature decided to release state and local governments from a legal regime of safety and health requirements for their workers. Dozens of worker safety compliance positions were eliminated as part of a larger reorganization that reflected the deregulatory spirit pervading Tallahassee.
In place of state law, then-Gov. Jeb Bush issued an executive order directing state agencies "to voluntarily comply" with the federal Occupational Safety and Health Act's standards, and leaving cities and counties to decide for themselves what they needed to do. But no state resources were devoted to ensuring compliance or guiding safety efforts. The move was a wink and a nod toward protecting employees, and little more.
Then in 2006 a tragic explosion of methanol occurred at a wastewater treatment plant in Daytona Beach.
The Florida Public Task Force on Workplace Safety has now issued its majority report affirming the upshot of what the federal investigation board said: Florida needs legislation to require all public employers to comply with OSHA standards for general industry. The task force recommends that the state and local governments come into compliance within three years.Much more here: "Put state back to work on job safety".
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*We can't take credit for "Jeb Bush And His Amen Chorus Of Goose-Stepping Legislators". Rather, the credit belongs to the authors of a March 17, 2003 Daytona Beach News Journal editorial that sadly is no longer online.
"After a long wait ..."
"After a long wait, the home of the butterfly ballot is getting a seat of power in national Democratic politics. A retired real estate agent in Lake Worth [(Evelyn Garcia)] is among 10 Floridians who have been elected to the Democratic National Committee. Local party leaders say it marks the first time in years a Palm Beach County resident has held the post - eight years after the county's electoral fumbles helped torpedo Al Gore's White House hopes." "Palm Beach County woman wins slot on Democratic National Committee".
"Hillsborough elections supervisor Buddy Johnson is taking his budget book and going home. " "Johnson withdraws $2.3-million request".
"John Due sat on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial 45 years ago, close enough to look up at Martin Luther King Jr. as he delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech." "Quincy man ready to witness history, again".
"The Broward County school district is looking into making some money from a little-used parking lot in a high-demand area of downtown Fort Lauderdale." "Broward schools consider renting out parking lot".