"The $110,000 paycheck isn't too shabby in a recession. Better yet, the job wasn't advertised. That's because it was offered to only one man: House Speaker Ray Sansom." "Sansom galloped to goals in blinders".
"Attorney General Bill McCollum said he has 'no jurisdiction' to investigate ties between House Speaker Ray Sansom and developer Jay Odom." "Abuse of office?".
Still the same
"Despite some controversies over their tenure, both of Florida's state party chairmen, Democrat Karen Thurman and Republican Jim Greer, appear headed for re-election to their posts. Both have opponents announced to run against them in their upcoming party elections. Miami party activist Brett Berlin has said he will challenge Thurman in the Democratic election Saturday, and Eric Miller of Martin County, who says he represents conservative Republicans, is running against Greer at the party's annual meeting Jan. 10." "State Party Leaders Likely Here To Stay".
Deadline tomorrow for 'Glades
"The vote that could finalize a $1.34 billion purchase of sugar farms is now only days away, but the blockbuster deal is not a lock." "Florida-U.S. Sugar deal still not assured".
Meanwhile, "The South Florida Water Management District faces a Tuesday deadline to decide whether to pay $1.34 billion to U.S. Sugar Corp. for a vast farming tract needed for an ambitious plan to restore the Everglades." "Deadline nears on Everglades Restoration decision". See also "Everglades at a crossroads as vote nears on U.S. sugar deal".
"The November election saw a remarkable surge of interest from young people, who not only jammed the polls but worked tirelessly on behalf of their presidential picks. Their enthusiasm helped secure the White House for Barack Obama, whose own relative youth had pundits saying this marked the rise of a new generation to power."
"The Republicans are mobilizing in kind."
The newly elected Hillsborough Republican Executive Committee chairwoman, Deborah Cox-Roush, is arranging meetings with leaders of Young Republicans clubs and planning candidate training schools."Political parties seek to tap Tampa Bay's energized youth".
Jane Healy: "Mirage No. 1: "
That Charlie Crist really is the "people's governor" and not just another politician cozying up with special interests."Mirage No. 2:"
That Florida is getting more environmentally friendly because some large landowners donate land for conservation."Spendthrift Crist latest part of Florida mirage".
"little more than a publicity stunt"
The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "If Gov. Crist really wants to help Florida homeowners, he will propose a mandatory moratorium on foreclosures instead of a voluntary one that is little more than a publicity stunt."
He also will require that lenders then work with borrowers to keep them in their homes."Crist offers subprime help".
Two weeks ago, Gov. Crist and representatives of the banking and mortgage lending industry announced a voluntary 45-day moratorium that is supposed to provide homeowners relief through the holidays. It delays new foreclosure proceedings until after Jan. 15, but provides no help to those already scheduled to lose their homes.
Charlie's "Accelerate Florida may be more salesmanship than substance"
"It was sold as an economic steroid shot."
Confronting a souring jobs picture, Gov. Charlie Crist announced in August a program called "Accelerate Florida" that would speed up already planned road-building and school construction to try to stimulate the economy."'Accelerate Florida' road projects may be more salesmanship than economic boost".
In a letter to president-elect Barack Obama this month, he claimed the 179 road projects and $1.4 billion in spending was "creating an estimated 38,000 jobs and pumping money into Florida's economy sooner than previously planned."
But Accelerate Florida may be more salesmanship than substance.
"Broward and Miami-Dade voters who used provisional ballots on Nov. 4 can check to see whether their votes were counted by using a new provisional ballot tracker at www.browardsoe.org or www.miamidade.gov/elections/. The tracker shows voters whether the ballot was counted and if not, why." "Provisional ballots in Dade, Broward can be tracked".
The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "Last summer, State Farm lost its attempt for a 47 percent increase in homeowner premiums. So State Farm came back last week for a 67 percent increase that, correctly, was rejected." "State could play tough again to solve the insurance crisis".
"Uninsured" and "underinsured"
The Daytona Beach News Journal editorial board reminds us not to "confuse universal health insurance with a proper health care system. The two should be synonymous. Instead, they're increasingly disconnected."
It's not just about the 45 million uninsured. It's about an almost equal number of underinsured people. It's about health costs being the leading reason for family bankruptcy filings, at least until the housing crisis hit, because the health-insurance system isn't doing the job. Too often, it's bleeding family finances, not protecting them, as it should."Universal health care is urgently needed, but not without reforming an insurance system sickeningly tiered to benefit those able to pay most while leaving the rest enslaved by debt when illness hits. "
But striving for a universal health care system won't be enough. Not if all that means is that most people are mandated to carry health insurance, while the insurance coverage itself isn't mandated to provide broad coverage. Several states, Florida among them, have crafted bare-bones insurance initiatives that give the sheen of broader coverage while leaving the essential problem -- runaway costs -- untouched. The purpose of health insurance isn't to protect against illnesses. It can't. Illnesses inevitably happen and, hopefully, get treated. The purpose of health insurance is to protect against financial ruin when illnesses hit. When even a middle-class family with ordinary health insurance can be bankrupted the moment a catastrophic illness strikes, it's not the health care system that's broken, but the insurance system. Making that system universal would only enlarge the problem, enlarging the insurance industry's clientele without addressing the underlying crisis."Insurance leaves many facing crushing costs".
"A small vote in Florida raises specter of KKK".
The Miami Herald editors: "Because farmworkers don't enjoy the protections of the National Labor Relations Act, they have traditionally been prey to abuses that a succession of administrations have tried to correct through Labor Department policy rules. The latest changes don't augur well for the farmworkers."
Rules that are to be published this week and which would take effect just days before President Bush leaves office would: make it easier to hire foreign ''guest workers'' -- to the detriment of Americans willing to work in the fields; lower wage standards; and weaken oversight of farm hiring.All of a sudden unions are OK?: "The proposal includes some of the changes in the H-2A proposal but with a significant difference: It would link the program to a path for legalization of undocumented farmworkers who pledge to continue working in agriculture for a certain period."
This revision will hurt those who can least afford any cuts in pay or erosion of job protections. The changes in hiring rules are particularly egregious because the greatest fear of domestic farmworkers is being displaced by foreign guest workers who are less familiar with their rights and more likely to remain quiet when those rights are abused for fear of being deported.
Reversing the new H-2A rules, as they are known, won't be easy. It would require going through a lengthy ''notice and comment'' rule-changing process again next year. The best thing that President-elect Barack Obama can do is to push for enactment of a bipartisan AgJobs bill already in Congress that has the support of both farmworker unions and agricultural growers.
Florida is home to about 10 percent of the nation's farm workforce. If this administration won't do anything to lift their standards, the next one should make it a priority. "Rule changes target vulnerable workers".
Lazy paramedic who ran this call probably expects a raise
"Another child, this time a boy less than a year old, has been killed in the crossfire of a shooting in Northwest Miami-Dade." "Baby shot by masked man in spray of gunfire dies".
"A state panel has delayed a conference call meeting on Gov. Charlie Crist's request for a more diverse slate of nominees to fill an opening on Florida's highest court. ... It wasn't immediately clear why the meeting was postponed." "Fla. Supreme Court nominating panel delays meeting".
Union member writes a letter
"Not everyone within the AFL-CIO is against Miami Mayor Manny Diaz receiving a post in the Obama administration. A week after the president of the South Florida AFL-CIO told The Miami Herald, 'Diaz's track record is he's ignored the middle class,' AFSCME Local 1907 -- a member of the local AFL-CIO -- has penned a letter defending Diaz. Local 1907 is the general employees' union at Miami City Hall." "Union leader defends Miami mayor".
All in the family
"Can a Miami Beach City Commission seat stay in the family? Jane Dee Gross certainly hopes so. The Miami Beach activist intends to file to run for her husband's Group II seat in January." "Wife wants Miami Beach seat held by husband".
"Preparing for a difficult legislative session, Volusia County lawmakers heard pleas Wednesday to approve a Central Florida commuter-rail system and to help programs and services weather state budget cuts. But as the Volusia legislative delegation held an annual public hearing in DeLand, one thing was missing: A steady stream of requests from government officials and community groups to pay for new local projects." "Commuter rail officials' top issue".
"Republican Lee County Commissioner Ray Judah is calling for the resignation of the GOP's local leader, a request that symbolizes a fracture in the county's dominant party." "Fractures in Lee County GOP widening".
Not a good sign
"Fewer donations and lagging investments has a state American Red Cross chapter hurting." "Red Cross in Tampa lays off 22".
The Orlando Sentinel editorial board: "Wilton Dedge and William Dillon have more in common than the initials in their names. Both were convicted of heinous crimes in Brevard County -- Mr. Dedge for rape, Mr. Dillon for murder. Both spent more than two decades of their lives behind bars. Both were finally released, thanks to DNA testing. And both owe their loss of freedom, at least in part, to John Preston. Mr. Preston is a one-time dog handler whose dogs performed tracking feats in the 1980s that bordered on miraculous. The news reports were astounding. Mr. Preston's dog could follow a human scent months -- even years -- after a crime was committed." "We think: Gov. Crist should order an investigation into dog handler's cases".
Fear based economy
"The number of Hispanics being attacked in the Tampa area is on the rise, but police say it's not racially motivated. ... A community activist says many Hispanics carry cash because they believe they don't have the proper documentation to open bank accounts." "Number of Hispanics attacked near Tampa increases".