The St. Petersburg Times editorial board: "House Speaker Ray Sansom is in a state of denial."
The Destin Republican denies there was anything wrong with taking an unadvertised job at his local college after steering millions of public dollars there. He denies there was anything wrong with a college board meeting held in Tallahassee, 150 miles from the Niceville campus. He denies knowing much of anything about how the emergency training center the college is building with money he secured is virtually identical in design and location to a hangar sought by a friend and political contributor. Deny, deny, deny."Sansom denials not convincing". More: "Sansom ethics complaint takes baby step".
Back at the ranch, "Embattled House Speaker Ray Sansom hires prominent attorney".
"Pickett's Charge meets Gomer Pyle"
Former Tampa Trip columnist, Daniel Ruth lights it up at the The St. Petersburg Times these days:
Over at its answer to Pickett's Charge meets Gomer Pyle, the Sons of Confederate Veterans have erected an enormous Rebel battle flag along with a placard both blaming and thanking this humble scribbler for its presence."Banner of shame flaps over Tampa".
"We would like to acknowledge Mr. Daniel Ruth, columnist … who through his arrogance, intellectual and moral dishonesty, and insensitivity, was the real catalyst for the creation and development of this project," the sign reads at the site near the intersection of I-4 and I-75.
Tut-tut, don't you just hate it when obsequious people try to lather you up?
Expect some vetoes
Charlie has "vowed to use his line-item veto power next week to reverse at least some of the budget cuts passed by lawmakers last week, including a 2-percent cut to a program that pays teachers a bonus for earning national board certification. " "Crist vows to veto some cuts" ("'Public education and public safety are near and dear to my heart'"). More "Crist veto could blunt some budget cuts".
Meantime, "Poll: Floridians oppose Bright Futures cuts". See also "Lawmakers Seek More Funds For Disabled Care".
Previously: "Updated: Lawson will oppose future cuts to public schools, universities".
Quinnipiac University poll
"Charlie Crist has a sky-high 65 - 24 percent approval rating and he is as well liked among Florida voters as President Barack Obama, "
according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today. Most of the potential U.S. Senate candidates are unknown to most voters.Here's the poll's "Release Detail". See also "Poll: Crist still favored by public".
Had Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink decided to run for the U.S. Senate, she would have had a small early lead in the Democratic field, and run almost even with the best-known GOP potential candidate, Attorney General Bill McCollum, with 35 percent for Sink and 36 percent for McCollum, the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University poll finds.
Although McCollum holds a wide lead in name recognition among the GOP candidates, U.S. Rep. Connie Mack IV, son of the former senator with the same name, runs closely to him in a trial heat of GOP contenders and also is viewed very positively by the party-rank-in-file.
"'Florida drowning in jobless claims'"
"As the ranks of Florida’s unemployed grow, the state labor department is finding itself deluged with applications for compensation, which maxes out at $275 per week." "Florida drowning in jobless claims". More: "Could you live on $275 a week? That's Florida's maximum unemployment benefit", "A look at Broward County's jobless claims by zip code", "Florida unemployment rate hits 16-year high".
See also "Sentinel: Florida jobless rate hits '92 level". In Charlotte County, "On jobs, we near a grim threshold".
The Tampa Trib editors: "One of the state's most progressive initiatives is the Florida Resident Access Grant."
The appropriately named program helps Floridians attend the state's 28 nonprofit independent universities and colleges, which are traditionally more expensive than public schools of higher learning."Don't Limit College Access".
A few years ago, independent colleges and universities convinced state officials to raise the amount to $3,000 per student, which was a milestone. Unfortunately, that higher level of support only lasted a couple of years, and the current amount per student of $2,837 is $160 less than 2007-08.
Last year Gov. Charlie Crist even wanted to scuttle the entire award for new applicants, with the exception of those attending three historically black schools. His proposal, which was successfully fought, was outrageous, considering the program has enabled hundreds of thousands of residents obtain college degrees and lead productive lives.
Although the state is mired in a financial crisis that lawmakers will continue to address this spring, officials need to look elsewhere to save money. FRAG, as it's called, is now in its 30th year and is a worthy investment not only in eligible students but also in private colleges and universities and the state as a whole.
After sucking off the federal tit for decades ...
"Crist wants Florida to get fair share of stimulus money".
From the "values" crowd
"Miami Beach is one of many Florida cities opposing a provision of the Legislature's budget-cutting bill that effectively killed already-approved grants from the state's housing trust fund. This doesn't put a hold on new spending. It reaches back and rescinds spending that already has been committed to build or refurbish low- and moderate-income housing projects all over the state." "Local perspectives".
The Orlando Sentinel editorial board: "You don't have to go as far as Wall Street to find executives floating to earth beneath golden parachutes. You can find them on Baker Street in Mount Dora, Park Avenue in Winter Park, Providence Boulevard in Deltona and on State Road 434 in Winter Springs. That's where gullible, sometimes erratic city councils and city commissions are handing out big paydays to city managers, usually just to be rid of them." "Payouts to departing city managers are getting out of hand".
"The most crowded statewide contest in 40 years"?
Aaron Deslatte: "Florida voters will require a lot of courting from the field of politicians considering a 2010 U.S. Senate run. Unless your name is Charlie Crist or Connie Mack, chances are the average spectator doesn't know you."
Heaven help us: "Mack is benefiting greatly from his father, the former U.S. Sen. Connie Mack. Mack IV, 41, has been in Congress just over four years." "Names to beat for Senate".
Bill Cotterell last week: "With the two biggest names in Florida politics out of it, the 2010 U.S. Senate race might be the most crowded statewide contest in 40 years." "Field for U.S. Senate race could be crowded".
And this is a regular laff riot:
Crist was asked today if he has any interest in running."Crist on U.S. Senate seat....".
“No, I’m working so hard right now on this budget, you know, I really haven’t given it much thought.”
In case you missed it, "Former Rep. Loranne Ausley has had enough of retirement. The Democrat from Tallahassee has filed to run for state Senate District 6, the seat Senate Democratic Leader Al Lawson, also of Tallahassee, has to vacate next year because of term limits. Term limits forced Ausley to surrender her House seat last year." "Ausley to run for state Senate seat".
Bill Maxwell: "In 2009, community colleges offer one of the best hopes of turning around their individual states' and the nation's faltering economies." "Don't sell community colleges short".
"A circuit court judge has dismissed an advocacy group's lawsuit against the state over cuts to services for the developmentally disabled." "Advocates Fail In First Court Case".
"U.S. Rep. Kosmas to greet public at Orlando ceremony".
"Too much for county commissioners to grasp"
Joel Engelhardt: "Some Palm Beach County commissioners apparently don't think they need to do anything special to combat corruption."
As far as they're concerned, the same-old, same-old is just fine until the feds drag them away."Don't talk means don't talk".
Too costly, Commissioners Addie Greene and Jeff Koons say to the idea of following Miami-Dade County's example and establishing an inspector general dedicated to ferreting out corruption. It's not needed because the FBI is already here. Besides, the county attorney trains commissioners on ethics and how to meet their obligations under Florida's Government in the Sunshine Law.
Even that simple law, however, seems too much for county commissioners to grasp.
"Two members of the Commission on Open Government — the head of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the Hillsborough County attorney — vigorously oppose the panel's plan for ending stiff charges for providing copies of public records to citizens. " "Fees for open-records statutes stir controversy".
Yet more Jebacies
"Housing starts hit record low".
And then there's this: ""Economy's woes force Polk County to cut 12,000 from health care for poor" and"Six schools will close; more in peril"
Where's the People's Governor?
"55% approve of gay adoption".
"In audit after audit over the past eight years ..."
"The State Board of Administration is supposed to play it safe. It protects $97.3-billion in pension money for nearly 1-million current and retired teachers, public employees and their families."
It invests an additional $25.3-billion for more than 800 school districts and state and local government entities to, among other things, pay police and teachers, buy books and health care for children and help hurricane victims."Times: How to scramble state's nest egg".
But in audit after audit over the past eight years, the supposedly low-risk agency was warned again and again about making risky, complex investments, without proper controls.
Now, with the economy tanking, the overexposure to risk highlighted in those audits has come back to haunt the SBA. In the past 18 months, one-third of the agency's assets — $61.4-billion — have been wiped out.
Where was "Jeb!"?
"Florida is being forced to set new pollution limits for its lakes, rivers and estuaries after environmental groups sued federal regulators for ignoring water quality laws."
Limiting nitrogen and phosphorous levels is aimed at curbing pollution that can trigger algae blooms, and other water quality problems that threaten public health and wildlife."After 10-year delay, curbing pollutants".
However, federal officials say it could take one to two years to develop pollution limits. And putting them into effect could stretch years beyond that.
The Environmental Protection Agency, which was supposed to force the state to set those limits a decade ago, directed the state Department of Environmental Protection last week to do so.
"An indictment says Cruz engaged in a scheme that led to the issuing of more than $24 million in fraudulent mortgage loans, and losses of more than $6 million to lenders." "Woman sentenced for South Florida mortgage fraud".
"Times: Johnson's ad spending dwarfs others'".
Lake Sidney Lanier
The Daytona Beach News Journal editorial board: Florida, Alabama and Georgia presented arguments in federal court in Jacksonville "in a dispute over Georgia's claim to water impounded in Lake Sidney Lanier. It is the latest confrontation in a two-decade battle over water rights vital to the economies of each state. The Jacksonville ruling, on the heels of a key U.S. Supreme Court decision last week, could at last clear the way for a tri-state agreement." "Draining a river".
"Heartland Payment Systems, a credit card processor with clients in Florida, said a massive data breach might have exposed the personal information contained in more than 100 million credit and debit card transactions in 2008. ... It is not known how many Floridians may have been affected by this breach, but the numbers could reach hundreds of thousands since Heartland has many clients in the state and a long-standing relationship with the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association." "Floridians may be victims of massive credit card data breach".
The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "Wellington council members talk about jobs and job centers as if wishes could transform the bedroom community of 58,000 into a commercial hub. But when they could invest in something that actually could build a foundation for jobs and jobs centers - a community college campus - they balk." "Wellington wrong to balk".
"'The appearance of impropriety'"
"The Florida Highway Patrol has received free license plates for troopers' cars for years under a handshake agreement with a vendor that sought agency contracts."
The practice continued after enactment of a 2006 gift ban aimed at banning free merchandise to state officials, but will end because the agency's director wants to avoid what she calls "the appearance of impropriety.""Patrol to end free license-plate deal".
"Even more difficult to sell"
"Lending giant Fannie Mae is slapping tough new requirements on mortgages for Florida condos, moves analysts believe will make it even more difficult to sell units in buildings already starved for residents and struggling financially. " "New rules raise bar for Florida condo mortgages".
The Tampa Trib editors: "Next week the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council is scheduled to take final action on a plan to allow open-water aquaculture in the gulf. The federal regulatory agency, historically dominated by commercial fishing interests, is playing Russian roulette with our coastal fisheries. Open-water aquaculture, where fish are raised in large pens or nets, has proved devastating in other countries." "Gulf No Place For Fish Farms". See also the The St. Petersburg Times editorial board's "Reject flawed plan for fish farms in gulf".
"Friday kicked off election season"
"Friday kicked off election season in Orange County for six cities and towns as more than a dozen candidates signed up for a March date at the ballot box." "Several cities in Orange County kick off election season with eye toward March".
"Homelessness and hopelessness"
The Daytona Beach News Journal editorial board writes that "Homelessness and hopelessness are often closely allied. And the despair reaches past the men, women and children who don't have a roof to call their own." "Solutions that work".
First thing you do, file them papers
"The Florida Elections Commission has fined [Dade City] City Commissioner Steve Van Gorden $3,000 for campaign law violations in his 2008 municipal race. The commission found that Van Gorden accepted 10 campaign contributions totaling $4,550 for his re-election race before he appointed a campaign treasurer." "Van Gorden Pays For Election 'Mistake'".
The Tallahassee Democrat editorial board: "While some critics may be cheering, it cannot be lost on the broader community that the announcement by Biomass Gas & Electric to not locate its proposed renewable energy center in our city, or even in this county, sends a chilling signal far and wide that the Florida capital city remains a stunningly difficult place to do business." "Lights out".
"Miami Mayor Manny Diaz told a crowd gathered for the annual ING Miami Marathon on Friday that this would be his last time addressing them as mayor -- something some in attendence took to mean Diaz would soon be taking a post with the Obama administration." "Miami mayor's remark misread as hint about Obama job".
"With tighter budgets and a sluggish economy, local governments are keeping an eye on every penny. For Flagler County officials, that also means keeping tabs on the county's investments." "Flagler officials examine portfolio".
"State Rep. Dwayne Taylor, D-Daytona Beach, will hold a town hall meeting Jan. 28 to discuss the recently completed special-legislative session and issues facing the state." "State Rep. Taylor plans town hall meeting".