"Florida Senate President Jeff Atwater said Wednesday that a"
"tectonic shift" in the state's battered economy requires a special session in January to balance the state's budget."Senate leader: Budget woes need fast action".
Will the pipsqueaks rise to the occasion? Don't count on it, with brilliant ideas like this coming to the fore: "Cigarette Tax Eyed As Tallahassee Faces Budget Shortfalls".
See also "Florida's budget hole:$2.3-billion", "Crist ponders what to chop from budget" and "Florida lawmakers list options for dealing with nearly $2.3B budget deficit" ("the full 40-member chamber held a rare out-of-session meeting to be briefed on the state's dismal economic outlook.")
Next thing you know ...
... these lazy bastards will be running into a burning buildings while the rest of us are running out: "Tampa firefighters' pay request shameless".
"Crist eliminated the only Hispanic nominee for an as-yet unfilled Florida Supreme Court vacancy Wednesday by appointing him, instead, to a secondary appellate court. Crist also sent a letter to the chairman of the Supreme Court Judicial Nominating Commission asking the panel to submit additional nominees to increase the diversity of the slate." "Hispanic Supreme Court finalist gets appeal post".
More: "Crist appoints two Palm Beach County judges to appellate bench
thanks ... but no thanks ...
"Mary Brandenburg of West Palm Beach and two other Democrats in their final term in the Florida House were in line for committee leadership positions unveiled by Republican House Speaker Ray Sansom this week, but the minority party leader declined the assignments, according to public records obtained by The Palm Beach Post. House Democratic Leader Franklin Sands of Weston said he turned down the offer from Sansom because ... ." Democratic leader defends rejection of leadership posts".
"While Crist was signing the agreements, children's-services groups and the son of the late Gov. Lawton Chiles were marking the 10-year anniversary of the governor's death by drawing attention to the plight of uninsured children."
"Very sadly, since he's gone from the scene, we've seen a political dynamic where tax cuts are trumping children's funding issues," said Lawton "Bud" Chiles III.See also "Widow, son mark anniversary of Chiles' death by highlighting kids' needs".
"Budget cuts have severely decimated any safety net that exists for children and families."
Florida has the nation's highest rate of uninsured children, the highest dropout rate and one of the country's highest juvenile incarceration rates, the group said.
Chiles and Crist are facing off over one of the budget-cutting strategies Crist favors: tapping the Lawton Chiles Endowment for as much as $1 billion for basic state government operations.
The Daytona Beach News Journal editors: "As the economy tanks, more Floridians will need advice (especially in the areas of labor and real-estate law.) That makes a joint effort by the Florida Supreme Court and the bar association particularly timely. This week, they provided a report on ways to encourage more pro bono legal work." "Legal help when facing a giant".
Fake health care "reform"
"Florida ranks third in the nation, with about 3.7 million uninsured. That number is likely growing because of the deteriorating economy." "Crist, critics clash on health plan".
Charlie's "solution" - fake health care reform in the form of eliminating state minimum standards:
Arvin Lewis, vice president of patient, business and financial services at Halifax Health, doesn't expect the new coverage will cut down significantly on the number of uninsured people coming through the hospital doors.One of the many problems with this fake program is, well ... that it sucks:
"But any coverage is better than no coverage," he said, calling the plans "very thin" coverage.
Douglas Gibson, an agent at Commercial Coverages Inc. in Daytona Beach, said he doesn't expect too many people to be attracted by the provisions, such as 12 days of hospitalization at a co-pay of $750 a day, as it is in one of the plans offered by Florida Health Care. That could leave a patient with a $9,000 bill, he pointed out."Plan provides low-cost health coverage to state's uninsured".
"I don't see a whole lot of people who are in the lower income brackets buying this, because they know they can go to the hospital if they get sick," he said.
"He didn't act alone"
"For all the brazenness and hypocrisy of House Speaker Ray Sansom's funneling millions to the college that now employs him, he didn't act alone."
Gov. Charlie Crist and other Republican lawmakers have been his enablers. They were complicit in Sansom's use of school construction money as a personal slush fund while he was the House budget chief. Legislators could have challenged the Destin Republican's raids and blocked them. The governor could have vetoed them. Their silence then — and now — points to the sad state of Florida politics where the interests of all Florida taxpayers are too often subjugated for the politically well-connected few."Sansom didn't act alone".
Not one prominent Republican official has publicly condemned Sansom's actions.
The Miami Herald editors: "By his own actions, incoming Florida House Speaker Ray Sansom has created doubt about whether he has political savvy and legislative wisdom necessary to lead lawmakers through a traumatic session at a time when the state is facing a painful budget crisis. Though we liked his prospects, we now wonder if he is the right man for the job in view of the growing scandal over how he managed to get a plush job at a community college on the same day he became speaker." "Self-inflicted wound for House speaker".
"Search for gas-price gougers narrows".
"5-foot gator spotted crossing downtown Orlando street".
"The aging men who call themselves the 'White House Boys'"
The Tallahassee Democrat editors: "Their horrific stories sound chillingly familiar. We've read and heard about similar ones from parts of the world where, for a period of time, decency and humanity are challenged by the darkest, most evil tendencies in human nature. Atrocities. Crimes against humanity." "Cold-case justice: Dozier probe's not simply symbolic".
Maitland housewife stays on message
In the endless fight to prove that everyone in Maitland is not a Bushco hood ornament, we get this - what should be obvious - gem from Mike Thomas today: "State's hypocrisy on gay adoptions could tear apart this family".
Signs of life.
"A major Florida farming group came out today against the state's $1.34 billion land deal with U.S. Sugar Corp. - just days before South Florida water managers are set to vote on the purchase. The Florida Farm Bureau Federation issued a news release denouncing 'the unnecessary acquisition of more land by government,' saying the deal would harm local economies along with the Everglades it is intended to save." "Farm bureau blasts U.S. Sugar deal; government group expresses concerns".
"The U.S. Department of Agriculture today trimmed its December orange crop forecast for Florida's 2008-2009 harvest season, reducing its earlier estimate by 1 million boxes to 165 million boxes." "Department of Agriculture trims orange crop forecast".
Sounds like Chicago politics (but without the prosecutor)
Scott Maxwell has a little fun at the expense of the "Peoples Governor"; he does "a little checking" of his own in an effort to learn how "Charlie Crist, his fiancee, his fiancee's sister, nine bodyguards and several dozen of Charlie's closest friends and business associates somehow managed to spend [$430,000] this past summer on a European trade mission."
Imagine if someone named Blagojevich had pulled the same stunt?
Some exerpts from the fun little column follow*:
*Room service. Let's start with Crist's room-service and minibar bills. They totaled $1,300.Enjoy the entire piece by Mr. Maxwell here: "Scott Maxwell: Crist enjoyed pricey perks on business trip to Europe thanks to taxpayers".
First of all, I'm thinking soon-to-be Mrs. Gov. Good Times was responsible for some of the drink bills. Because "minibar" receipts show someone (or some ones) in Crist's room imbibed 14 times in Crist's suite on the three-day stay in London. ...
Which brings us to the next reason the trip tab was so high . . . [ellipsis original]
*Entourage envy. I obtained a list of those who traveled with Crist. It was six pages long.
A total of about 90 people traveled with Gov. Globetrotter at different stages of his European vacation. There were top executives from big law firms, big banks, Realtors -- even an engineer from Universal Orlando. And, of course, the official trade-mission photographer.
Looks like someone (who was trying to boost his prospects as John McCain's running mate at the time) wanted to show those fancy foreign dignitaries that his entourage was bigger than their entourage.
The bodyguards alone, split up among the four countries, spent more than $148,000. And keep in mind: We're talking relatively safe places such as London and Paris . . . [ellipsis original] where people go to celebrate their anniversary. One can only imagine the bills if Charlie had gone to Baghdad.
*No Priceline.com. The most laughable line about this whole to-do came from the head of the state's economic-development arm. In planning the trip, Manny Mencia of Enterprise Florida claimed that trip organizers "negotiated to the last cent."
I'm not sure Mr. Mencia realizes how many cents it takes to get to the $2,179 that Crist spent each night for the Hilton London Metropole. But it's a lot -- and safe to say that cheaper, yet classy, venues were probably available.
Still, Mencia's line about Enterprise Florida's version of negotiations explains a lot.
I remember earlier this year when it was revealed that Nestle; Corp. somehow snookered the rubes in Florida government to give it permission to take hundreds of millions of gallons of water every year for the next decade -- all for a $230 permit.
Enterprise Florida was involved in that deal.
So please, Enterprise Florida: No more negotiating! ...
Put it all together, and you can see how Gov. First Class and Co. started creeping toward the half-mil mark.
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*Can you imagine if a union leader did anything remotely like this? Actually, we can: "Miami Teachers Union Head Sentenced".
It has been quite the laffer to read Florida's newspaper companies blasting Illinois state government corruption, after sitting on their hands in Florida for the last decade.
Where were these geniuses - who are all atwitter about the Illinois Governor - when Florida's own Mr. "Make the Money and Run" ...
... who has since cashed in by jumping on board several gravy trains, including Lehman Brothers (the investment company that sold the state millions in bad mortgages), Rayonier (the Jacksonville-based timber and real estate company from which the state purchased nearly $100M in land during Jebbie's tenure), and the "nearly $37,000 a day" Tenet joy ride ...
... was corrupting Florida's election process, fomenting state constitutional crises, gutting Florida's system of public finance*, handing state work to "'a network of contractors who have given him, other Republican politicians and the Florida G.O.P. millions of dollars in campaign donations'", and otherwise according to the radical Time Magazine, leaving Florida with the
worst real estate meltdown since the Depression. We've got a water crisis, insurance crisis, environmental crisis and budget crisis to go with our housing crisis. We're first in the nation in mortgage fraud, second in foreclosures, last in high school graduation rates. Our consumer confidence just hit an all-time low, and our icons are in trouble--the citrus industry, battered by freezes and diseases; the Florida panther, displaced by highways and driveways; the space shuttle, approaching its final countdown. New research suggests that the Everglades is collapsing, that our barrier beaches could be under water within decades, that a major hurricane could cost us $150 billion."Is Florida the Sunset State?"
Perhaps Florida's newspaper company editorial boards should keep their eyes on Tallahassee before blowing hard about other states' political slime.
For example, in addition to the above-damage, "Why is this not being investigated?"
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* Several years ago we read that "Florida's new budget is likely to [and it did] slash funding for the poor, university students and the elderly, but lawmakers are still finding room for a $100 million tax cut for some of the state's wealthier residents and businesses. ... The reduction takes 623,000 investors and businesses off Florida tax rolls" "Florida Budget Likely to Slash Funds for Needy Residents, Yet Tax Cut Planned"
Bushco hood ornament reveals little
Beth Reinhard shared this with her readers a few days ago: "In his new memoir, A Sense of Belonging, the Republican senator from Florida describes not a resounding call to public service but says politics 'sort of sneaked up and tapped me softly on the shoulder.' In fact, Martinez doesn't even get to his time in office until page 199 of the 238-page book. And don't expect any revelations in the last 40 pages about his amazing trajectory from Orange County mayor to Housing and Urban Development secretary to U.S. senator to Republican National Committee chairman. Martinez shares little from his ringside seats during epic battles over the 2000 recount, Terri Schiavo and immigration reform." "Senate-seat contenders see premium spot".
With a public record like his, who can blame him ... .