Florida, the Food Stamp State
"Statewide, 1.8 million people in 921,385 households are on food stamps". "1 in 10 Floridians On Food Stamps, A 30% Increase" ("1.8 million people in 921,385 households are on food stamps").
The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "Halfway through Tallahassee's special session on the budget, we're sorry to report that the Legislature is meeting our very low expectations." "Get creative in Tallahassee".
Next year's budget could be $4 billion in the red
"The House and Senate on Friday passed competing budget-cutting proposals to deal with the state's $2.4 billion shortfall, setting up a weekend of negotiations to settle differences." "Florida House, Senate set to negotiate state-budget compromise this weekend".
"State legislators are close to striking an agreement on plugging a $2.4 billion budget hole."
Traffic fines are going up and nearly 1,500 open state jobs could disappear now that legislators Friday approved rival plans to plug a $2.4 billion budget hole by slashing spending and raiding special accounts."Senate President Jeff Atwater said the numbers will change as the two chambers confer over the weekend. They'll likely agree next week on a final budget plan that has enough of a cushion to account for plummeting tax collections, which could put next year's budget about $4 billion in the red."
The plans from the House and Senate have far more similarities than differences. The House proposal to plug the deficit, however, would leave the state with a surplus of more than $400 million.
The Senate plan cuts about $2.3 billion -- about $100 million shy of what's needed. The reason: The Senate proposal makes far smaller cuts to social services and sweeps less from special accounts called trust funds.
The two chambers cut education, environmental programs, transportation projects and Medicaid reimbursement rates for hospitals, nursing homes, pharmacies and others who help the disabled."Florida legislators near deal on closing $2B budget hole". See also from the Miami Herald, "1,500 open state jobs likely to disappear", "Florida lawmakers weigh tobacco tax", "Medicaid slashed as demand soars" ("if you're poor, don't get sick"), "See how the chambers differ on how much to cut from the Florida budget" and Associated Press reports: "State Budget Fix Likely To Have Far-Reaching Effects".
"The Florida Senate wants to strip more than $700,000 from the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer and Research Center, on top of the $10 million that lawmakers took from the center last spring." "Moffitt Lobbies To Restore Research, Building Budgets".
"Surprising jump in U.S. jobless rate suggests more pain ahead".
"With the promise of sugar land in hand, Everglades activists look to the Obama admini- stration for millions in restoration funding." "Obama seen as hope for Glades restoration".
No word on whether Jebbie ...
... brought his suitcase "packed with cash" on his latest trip to Nigeria.
We read that "John Ellis "Jeb" Bush, will join Nigerian governors at an early breakfast session at THISDAY Awards/Festival of Ideas holding next Wednesday at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja." "Nigeria: Thisday Awards - Bush Joins Governors at Breakfast Session".
Reminds us of when
Jeb Bush was hopscotching through Nigeria in a corporate jet, on his way to meet government officials he hoped would buy $74 million worth of water pumps from his South Florida business partner."Florida Governor's Past Is Full of Fast Success, Brushes with Mystery".
On the jet with Bush was a Nigerian associate in the deal, Al-Haji Mohammed Indimi, who carried several heavy Hartmann suitcases. At least one of the bags, the airplane's pilot says, was packed with cash to bribe the Nigerian officials.
Did Jeb Bush know about the cash in the suitcase? Did he understand what the money was for?
In the year 2020
"At a meeting Friday, commissioners opposed a more lenient rule that would have allowed utilities to get to the 20 percent goal by 2041." "Renewable energy goal could be 2020".
"Like a football coach shrugging off a tough loss, Jim Greer urged Florida Republicans on Friday night to think about what went right in the 2008 elections and start getting in shape for a political rematch in less than 18 months." "Florida GOP gathers to plan for 2010". See also "" and "".
"A scruffy man, lurking outside, darts in behind her"
"A blond girl heads from a playground into a women's restroom."
A scruffy man, lurking outside, darts in behind her. "Your City Commission Made This Legal," the words on the TV screen read."Fla. conservatives fight transgender restroom rule".
The dark ad came from opponents of a gender identity provision added last year to the city's anti-discrimination ordinance, which now allows the city's roughly 100 transgender residents to use whichever restroom they're most comfortable using. ...
The city commission approved the restroom provision by a 4-3 vote a year ago. Before the ink could dry, Bible-quoting opponents angrily began working for its repeal.
Here's an idea for the angry "Bible-quoting opponents" ... move to Oklahoma* ... after all, you're "Free to Choose".
- - - - - - - - - -
"McCain took every county in Oklahoma, which gave him his largest percentage total among U.S. states."
While Florida burns ...
... Charlie dances ...
Crist has been featured in at least one announcement, however, about an unofficial black-tie dance ball to be thrown by Floridians in Washington on the evening of Jan. 19, the night before the inauguration, at the prestigious Corcoran Gallery of Art."Who's Footing Bill For Inauguration Trips?".
This sold-out "Sunshine and Stars 2009 Florida Inauguration Ball" is being sponsored with corporate donations such as $50,000 from Blue Cross Blue Shield and $25,000 from Florida Power & Light.
Tickets to the event ranged from $250 to $500, and 600 attendees are expected.
"Look forward to seeing you there," Crist's message concluded.
A separate, unofficial "Friends of Florida" gathering is set after the inauguration, also sponsored by corporate donations, at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of the American Indian on the National Mall.
The $200-a-ticket event is expected to draw 500 attendees.
In addition, that same night, there is the invitation-only official inauguration ball to be shared by politically well-connected Floridians and those from 10 other states at the D.C. Armory.
Talbot ''Sandy'' D'Alemberte and Bob Graham:
Recently, news reports and editorials about the JNCs have caused great public concern that the process, originally designed to secure the selection of the best-qualified judges regardless of their politics, has become partisan. These reports and editorials raise legal issues that must be addressed as soon as possible."Keep politics out of our state courts".
The legal controversy relates to questions about the governor's power to ask that a JNC, once it has submitted finalists, reconsider and add names to the list. Crist recently asked both the Florida Supreme Court JNC and the 5th District Court of Appeal JNC to take that step. The former agreed, and the latter refused. Both decisions have drawn criticism.
What is it with Florida and "redheaded right-wingers"?
"Dr. Jim Glisson laughs now at the irony: The legislator most responsible for establishing a state holiday honoring the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was a 'redheaded right-winger' born of the segregated South and hailing from one of Florida's most politically conservative districts."
The state wasn't far removed from [de jur] segregation in 1978. Confederate flags still flew on some government buildings ..."In 1978, Eustis 'right-winger' led Florida to early Martin Luther King Jr. holiday".
"Days Without Sunshine"
"These days, Mat Staver and John Stemberger -- two Orlando-area men who led the effort in Florida to ban same-sex marriages -- personify the opposition to gay rights in Florida. But in the 1970s, it was Anita Bryant, the former beauty queen and spokeswoman for orange juice 'from the Florida sunshine tree.'" "Exhibit chronicles orange-juice queen Anita Bryant's anti-gay fight".
"As if it were her due"
The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "Unlike Tony Masilotti, another criminal and ex-Palm Beach County commissioner, Mary McCarty is not accused of making millions from any one crooked deal. Hers was a more subversive, deeply entrenched graft. She used her power to enrich herself as if it were her due." "Prosecutors dispel myth of an unaware McCarty". More: "Feds chronicle decade of fraud in McCartys' case". The South Florida Sun Sentinel editorial board: "McCarty chages another blow to public trust".
BTW, aren't Newell, Masilotti and McCarty all RPOFers? Correct me if I'm wrong.
As Florida burns ...
... RPOFers enjoy the good life:
They chartered a Cessna owned by a South Florida lobbyist. But they said they paid their own way, at $431 each, to avoid violating a state law that bars legislators from taking gifts from lobbyists."Lawmakers take off for Gators".
"There's no gift involved. It's a 'we pay our own way'-type thing," said Rep. Alan Hays, R-Umatilla, a pilot with 31 years of experience who co-piloted the plane from Tallahassee to Opa-locka and back.
Others on the plane, also Republicans, were Reps. Chris Dorworth of Lake Mary, Steve Precourt of Orlando, John Tobia of Satellite Beach and Bryan Nelson of Apopka.
Sansom Hubris Watch
"Even after House Speaker Ray Sansom announced this week that he is quitting a controversial job at a state college, his No. 1 Republican critic fumed with outrage. 'If I were in Ray's position, and I cared about the conservative cause and what was best for the Republican Party, I would step down as speaker,' MSNBC's Morning Joe host Joe Scarborough said in an interview this week." "Scarborough's criticism of Sansom is personal, notable".
Lucy Morgan writes that "Some things never change."
State universities, community colleges and public schools are still hiring legislators."Gravy train chugs on".
They have many job titles: vice presidents, part-time instructors, teachers, program directors — you name it.
But the real title should be lobbyist.
It's that simple.
It's hard to blame the colleges and school systems who decide to have an employee run for the Legislature or hire lawmakers after they are elected. But Floridians should hold everyone responsible for it.
The St. Petersburg Times editorial board - "The same Florida legislators who refuse to make it easier to collect sales taxes on Internet sales or tax services used by more affluent Floridians have found easier marks:"
speeders. Lawmakers are poised to significantly raise the fines for speeding and other traffic violations just to help keep the courts operating. And they aren't even being honest about it. "Officials pull a fast one".
In selling the higher fines to their colleagues during floor votes Friday, supporters argued there is an "epidemic of running of red lights and speeding" in Florida. Don't be fooled. The real problem is that Republican lawmakers aren't willing to have an honest discussion about the state's dismal financial picture and are taking the easy but short-sighted route to balancing the budget....
Yet the Legislature refuses to take even the smallest steps toward considering additional revenue for the short or long term. Democrats' calls to review sales tax exemptions or close a corporate tax income loophole went unheeded. Instead, Republicans are insisting on raiding up to $1-billion more from critical state reserves.
"We have the most partisan nonpartisan races"
"After eight years under Republican Mayor Rick Baker, local Democrats are gunning to elect one of their own in the upcoming mayoral race, and Democratic candidates are happily egging on the partisan frenzy." "Partisan fervor flavors St. Petersburg mayoral election".
"How desperate is Florida for money? So desperate it's changing the design on the official state license plate to save $50,000 a year." "For Florida license plates, the color of money is brown".
The profit motive
"The state officially stopped the Tampa Bay Academy today from providing long-term mental health care to the most troubled children, but the academy's problems aren't unique to its corporate parent in Texas." "State Suspends Tampa Bay Academy's License".