"As the Republican governor reaches the halfway point of his four-year term Saturday,
the state unemployment rate is 7.3 percent, doubling in the past 16 months; 63 percent more homes are in foreclosure than when he was sworn in; and the percentage of Florida's children without health insurance is twice the national average.But we love our Charlie here in Florida, yes we do ...
In 2008, Crist urged state water managers to overpay for 180,000 acres in the Everglades amid one of the worst real estate markets in memory, his 12-day European trade mission blew its budget by 70 percent, and his choice for president became just the third Republican to lose Florida since 1968.
"And if Charlie Crist was running for reelection today, he would crush anybody," former state Senate Democratic Leader Steven Geller said."Crist ratings high at term's midpoint despite missteps and economic woes".
Despite a list of economic and political indicators that could spell doom for many elected officials, Crist's approval rating was pegged at a stratospheric 74 percent on Dec. 10, according to a Rasmussen Reports.
"It's hard for me to be more pleased, given the economic challenges we have, how well things have gone. And I think I know why," Crist said in an interview with The Palm Beach Post. "Around here, we don't care what somebody's party affiliation is."
As the Florida economy has worsened, Crist has increasingly reminded voters about his bipartisanship. His staff often attempts to draw parallels between Democratic President-elect Obama's campaign against "politics as usual" and Crist's history of welcoming would-be opponents and critics onto his stage.
A boy band thing
"The suit claims Crist, who was attorney general from 2002 to 2006, was slow to investigate Pearlman's investment schemes because the governor received $12,000 in campaign contributions from Pearlman." "Investors sue Crist, say Pearlman probe was slow".
"Crist on Friday appointed the 56-year-old West Palm Beach attorney to the Florida Supreme Court to fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Justice Harry Lee Anstead. It was Crist's third appointment to the state's high court since late August." "Governor names Labarga to Florida Supreme Court". See also "Crist promotes Labarga to Supreme Court" and "Crist Makes 3rd Pick To Fill Florida Supreme Court Seats".
This after Charlie had tried to circumvent the process, thereby allowing him slip a wingnut Jeb-bot into the mix, one Frank Jimenez; Charlie almost pulled it off, and the compliant "JNC grudgingly complied, voting 5-4 in a tense phone call to re-open its process and adding former Jeb Bush general counsel Frank Jimenez to the list." "Gov. Charlie Crist names Cuban-American circuit judge to Florida Supreme Court".
Our little secret
"As the Legislature prepares to convene Monday for a special session, both minority party members and newcomers are more or less excluded from the process of closing a $2.3 billion budget gap. The crucial decisions are being made by a handful of leaders and information will be presented to the masses, that is, the full Legislature, when the leadership is good and ready." "Our Opinion: ... lawmakers enjoy cloud cover".
Never mind the pesticide drift
"Doubts and bad feelings linger in this once-tight community."
There are people like Sarah Barker, a five-year resident who lives across the street from the elementary school and next door to a cabbage farm. She allowed the students and the Pesticide Action Network group to place the pesticide drift catcher in her yard. She is worried about smelling the chlorine-like odor of the pesticidesAnd then there's good 'ole Wayne: "Wayne Smith, a third-generation Hastings farmer and pesticide dealer ... feels that liberal environmentalists from outside of town are trying to meddle in local issues." "Chemical concern drifts into Fla. town".
Fidel's sneak attack on pillars of the Capitalist system?
"Suspects [many wearing fedoras] continue to flee to Cuba and elsewhere with millions of taxpayer dollars, trying to evade prosecution for Medicare fraud. ... A Miami Herald investigation first spotlighted the phenomenon of Cuban immigrants dominating Miami-Dade's Medicare fraud industry in August. Court records showed that in many instances, fraud suspects were able to easily escape to Cuba before they were charged and prosecuted." "Fugitives flee South Florida with Medicare millions".
Surely these Cuban crooks are Commie secret agents, fostering the "inevitable collapse of capitalism" and fomenting class warfare.
Sansom death spiral
The Miami Herald editorial board: "The ethical and legal clouds hanging over Speaker of the House Ray Sansom, R-Destin, loom larger as next week's special session of the Legislature approaches. Since we last touched on the speaker's tangled relationship with a community college in his district, a series of disclosures has raised new questions about the propriety of his actions. Now, the speaker has been obliged to hire an attorney to defend himself." "Florida House speaker leads by bad example".
"Fasano says he didn't realize the impact on consumers"
The St. Petersburg Times editorial board: "With Florida in a deep economic recession, the timing could not be worse for Progress Energy's utility bills to start rising by 25 percent this month to cover increased fuel costs and construction of a nuclear plant in Levy County. It's easy to see why two Republican legislators, Sen. Mike Fasano of New Port Richey and Rep. Peter Nehr of Tarpon Springs, have called for Progress Energy to postpone collecting the surcharge for the nuclear plant. That is a simplistic solution that could jeopardize the construction of the plant, but legislators and Progress Energy officials should explore whether there might be a more viable option for helping utility customers in the months ahead."
A 2006 law, which Fasano voted for, allows utilities to assess customers for partial construction costs for a nuclear power plant before it's operating. Besides reducing utilities' risks, the law was aimed at shoring up confidence among lenders and spreading the cost over a longer period of time. The law shifted the expense to utility ratepayers long before they see the benefit of the less expensive nuclear power. Fasano says he didn't realize the impact on consumers, but the time has passed for debating whether this is sound public policy for this particular project. Progress Energy has proceeded based on the change."Taking the sting out of power bills".
But real films are union made ... what's a wingnut to do?!?
The Orlando Sentinel editorial board: "A bill introduced this year in the Legislature will allow production companies filming in Florida to qualify for as much as a 20-percent tax credit on in-state production costs. Certain stipulations, including hiring in-state workers, must be met for a company to qualify. The film company would have the option of applying that tax credit toward a future project, or selling that credit to a Florida-based corporation." "Incentives will allow state to become competitive in film game".
World class universities?
"Cuts to higher education could eventually mean larger classes, degrees eliminated, reduced summer class schedules and a loss in research investment that in turn could mean less in federal grants and matching funds ...". "Cuts to higher-education budget felt at universities".
Call in FEMA
"Thousands of shoes were dumped on a Miami expressway causing significant traffic delays. ... [[FHP spokesman Pat] Santangelo says the shoes appear to be used, and most were tied together in pairs.... Santangelo says he's not sure where the shoes came from. There were no signs of a crash, and no one stopped to claim them." "Shoes dumped on Miami expressway".
Let's pretend we're spies
"Americans haven't experienced a terrorist attack on U.S. soil since 9-11, and that's something to be thankful for. But we shouldn't let our guard down, or be lulled into a sense of false security." "Boaters can play a role in defending South Florida against terrorism".
Just go away
"Terry Mahoney, his wife of 24 years, filed for divorce in October, a week after the prominent Democrat admitted having had numerous extramarital affairs and paying more than $121,000 in hush money to former lover Patricia Allen, whom he hired and fired." "House pact broken, Mahoney's wife says".
"Piccillo is the Land O'Lakes Republican-turned-Democrat who made national political news this summer supporting Barack Obama. Then the unemployed 35-year-old made much bigger news in October when at a big rally in Tampa he introduced Joe Biden as 'John McCain.'" "Jim Piccillo finds new forum for campaign energy".
"What did Floridians complain about the most in 2008?".
"The safest place to sit on an airplane" to Orlando?
"Nine Muslim passengers were kicked off a flight from Washington, D.C., to Florida after other passengers reported hearing a suspicious remark about airplane security."
AirTran Airways spokesman Tad Hutcheson called the incident on the New Year's Day flight from Reagan National Airport to Orlando, Fla., a misunderstanding, but defended the company's response. He said the airline followed federal rules and did nothing wrong."The men had beards and the women wore headscarves".
One of the Muslim passengers, Kashif Irfan, told The Washington Post the confusion began when his brother was talking about the safest place to sit on an airplane.
Irfan, 34, is an anesthesiologist and his brother is a lawyer. Both live in Alexandria, Va., with their families, and were born in Detroit. They were traveling with their wives, Irfan's sister-in-law and Irfan's three sons, ages 7, 4 and 2."Library patrons exchange food for fines".