"Mayor Pam Iorio said Tuesday she is considering running for the U.S. Senate next year."
"I am analyzing it, and that's where I am right now," Iorio said in an interview. "I have not ruled it out.""Iorio Is Considering A Bid For U.S. Senate Seat". See also "Iorio says she might run for U.S. Senate".
If she ran, Iorio would enter a Democratic primary which already has two prominent, announced candidates - U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek of Miami and state Sen. Dan Gelber of Miami Beach - and more expected.
And then there's Dan, who "vows service, Graham-style".
Lipstick on a pig
At least Florida's not at the absolute bottom of the economic barrel.
"For months Florida led the country in lost jobs while South Florida witnessed the greatest decline in home prices compared with other major urban areas. But statistics show the state and region escaped being ranked at the bottom as 2008 ended."
The state ranked second in the United States for job losses in 2008, while the fall in South Florida's home prices turned out to be only the fourth-worst in 29 major urban areas."Still, three sets of economic statistics released Tuesday painted a gloomy picture of the state's economy."
Meanwhile, the state's consumers showed a slight increase in confidence, even as the country as a whole saw a drop.
"Some key facts:"
• Florida lost 255,200 jobs last year, more than any other state except California, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The Sunshine State would have come in first, but California had a particularly miserable December, while Florida's job losses were statistically unchanged from the previous month."State economy not quite worst".
• South Florida home prices fell 28.7 percent for the 12 months ended in November, according to the Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller home price index. Finishing worse were Phoenix (down 32.9 percent), Las Vegas (down 31.6 percent) and San Francisco (down 30.8 percent).
• A University of Florida survey found that consumer confidence rose one point,to 68, in December, while a national study showed a drop.
"In a surprise, Floridians' confidence improved last month, according to the University of Florida's state optimism survey. Although state residents are more optimistic about their personal finances, they still have a gloomy outlook for the nation's economic future." "Consumer mood sags to all-time low". See also "Black Moon Rising".
"Attorney General Bill McCollum gave Northwest Florida State College trustees a quick course in Florida's 'Government in the Sunshine' law Tuesday, asking Panhandle prosecutors to look into whether officials of the Niceville campus evaded the statute to meet with House Speaker Ray Sansom." "McCollum reminds NFSC trustees of 'Sunshine' laws".
"The investigation into House Speaker Ray Sansom's dealings with his local college continues as the attorney general calls one meeting involving the college trustees 'very questionable.'" "Florida House speaker probe now involves trustees". See also "College In Sansom Inquiry Chastised About Meeting".
"The heavyweight bout for City Hall's future has begun."
"The speakers at Miami's Grapeland Water Park pumped out the Rocky III theme song, Eye of the Tiger. A moment later, Miami City Commissioner Joe Sanchez took the stage, announcing his candidacy for Miami mayor. ... Sanchez will face another sitting commissioner, Tomás Regalado, in this fall's mayoral race. Lesser-known candidate Juan Miguel Alfonso has also filed." "Joe Sanchez launches campaign for Miami mayor".
Goose stepping ...
... like they always do: "South Florida Republicans remain leery about President Obama's proposed economic stimulus, despite a personal plea from the new leader." "S. Florida Republicans resist stimulus plan". See also "State and federal Republican legislators take opposite sides on stimulus".
Were these cuts ever anything but veto fodder?
"Risking the wrath of legislators, Gov. Charlie Crist on Tuesday used his line-item veto power to reverse $90.9 million in spending cuts and $273.6 million in diversions from trust funds." "Governor restores funding for education, public safety". See also "Gov. Crist says no to $90 million in spending cuts", "Crist restores cuts, mainly to land buying program", "Crist restores millions in cutbacks" and "Crist Vetoes $365 Million In State Spending Cuts".
The Tallahassee Democrat editorial board: "The vetoes may incur the wrath, or at least the collective frustration of many lawmakers, but they also should cause many to shift gears slightly, considering options such as ratification of the Seminole Indian Gaming Compact that he says will yield $137.5 million in recurring funds this fiscal year, and other modifications such as a cigarette tax and enforcing sales tax collections on internet sales that might help bail out the ship of state." "With all due respect: Vetoes send essential signals".
He did - "Crist is wise to be suspicious of the Legislature's plan to suspend Florida Forever funding this year. This looks to be not the temporary measure backers claim, but an effort to kill the state's highly successful land acquisition program altogether." "Governor Should Veto Florida Forever Suspension".
"Prior to Barack Obama's win, Hillsborough went Democratic for president only twice in 40 years, for Jimmy Carter in 1976 and Bill Clinton in 1996. Before wins in November by County Commissioner Kevin Beckner and Elections Supervisor Phyllis Busansky, there was only one Democratic commissioner, Kevin White, and one countywide elected official, Clerk of Court Pat Frank." "New Hillsborough Chairwoman Sees Democratic Resurgence".
"Crist said Tuesday that a former staffer in his office might have violated state ethics laws when he shepherded a $500,000 grant to a Panhandle sports-medicine clinic -- and then went to work for the clinic to administer the grant." "Crist: Ex-aide's job may flunk 'smell test'".
A generous B-minus
Scott Maxwell "tapped a group of local officials -- whose grades for [Charlie] averaged out to a B-minus". Some of the details follow:
*Casino revenue: A. While some politicians were pounding their fists about gambling that is already here, Crist struck a deal with the Seminoles to cut taxpayers in on the action -- and ultimately may get his way.Much more here: "Grading Gov. Crist reveals harsh truths, despite his desire to succeed".
*Civil rights: B. Helped restore the civil rights of felons who had paid their debt to society but needs to follow through. Also, he's tried to have it both ways on gay rights.
*Corruption: D. None personally. But the governor's refusal to criticize House Speaker Ray Sansom's efforts to funnel money to a college that then offered him a six-figure paycheck sets a bad example.
*Education: D. Crist simply hasn't done much on this front. And as funding and graduation rates lag the nation, complacency -- or, even worse, further cuts -- simply isn't good enough.
*Elections: A. He got rid of controversial touch-screen machines, extended voting hours and presided over a presidential election that went as well as any in recent history -- even with a historically high turnout.
*Environment: B. ... .
*Health care: B. His Cover Florida plan may not be comprehensive. But he took a significant first step toward addressing one of the nation's most pressing problems.
*Insurance: D. ... .
*Statesmanship: A. Crist does not demonize his opponents. And he's willing to hear criticism. Other politicians should take lessons from him on this front.
*Social services: C. When budget cuts have come around, he has offered only minimal protection to the state's most needy residents -- particularly neglected children and the elderly.
*Taxes: C. Crist demonstrated his campaigning prowess and clout by successfully championing a tax cut. But it was so small for individual homeowners, the impact was barely felt -- while the cost to local government and services certainly was.
*Transportation: C. ... .
*Travel: F. For a while, it seemed like grade-schoolers on field trips were spending more time in Florida's Capitol than Crist. And when he wasn't chasing his vice-presidential aspirations across America, he and his entourage were racking up a $430,000 travel bill during a European trade mission.
*Budget: Incomplete. It's this last one that really could make the difference. Depending on whether Crist makes the tough and courageous decisions to protect what's really important, possibly at the expense of special interests, he could raise his whole midterm grade to a B. Maybe a B-plus.
Telegram for General Holder
The Miami Herald editorial board: "It is time for a reality check in the terror-conspiracy trial of the Liberty City Six, formerly called the Liberty City Seven. Federal prosecutors in Miami on Tuesday began questioning more than 200 prospective jurors for a possible two-month trial in the case, which has been rejected twice by previous juries. It is not too late for prosecutors to make a level-headed judgment: Stop the charade and negotiate a plea deal the defendants can accept -- and that ends this case." "Another bite of the apple for government".
The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "The Bush administration said it broke up a terror cell. Looks more like entrapping a club of delusionals." "The Entrapment Six".
The Daytona Beach News Journal editorial board: "The 90 exemptions to the open meetings law and the 970 exemptions to the public records law have replaced transparency with muddle." "Florida has chance to rediscover open government".
On the Court
"Ricky Polston has been formally invested as a Florida Supreme Court justice. ... Polston, of Tallahassee, began hearing cases shortly after Crist appointed him in October to replace Kenneth Bell, who resigned to return to his hometown, Pensacola." "Polston invested as Fla. Supreme Court justice".
"Uptick since Obama's inauguration to deport Haitians"
"Advocates for Haitian immigrants say there has been an uptick since Obama's inauguration to deport Haitians without a criminal record, many of them married to U.S. citizens or who have American-born children. The numbers provided by immigration officials Monday (41 Haitians deported since December) do not show an uptick. Just business as usual. It's no secret that the Bush administration played politics with the Haitian diaspora wracked by four deadly storms last summer." "Deportations slide under Obama's radar".
"DJJ spokesman Frank Penela characterized the FDLE review as routine in cases where an employee is dismissed for misuse of computer equipment." "FDLE analyzing Barreiro's state computer".
So he was fired for "misuse of computer equipment"? How's that?
The Harvard of East Orange County
"In-state undergraduates living on campus can expect to pay as much as $1,000 more to attend the University of Central Florida next year, according to rough estimates that take into account rising fees, a potential tuition hike and the higher price of room and board." "UCF cost climbs $1,000".
A lawyer thing
The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "William Abramson's attorney acknowledged Tuesday that it might be 'absurd' if the Florida Supreme Court allowed his client, a lawyer who can't practice law, to serve as a circuit court judge in Palm Beach County. Then Mark Herron asked the justices to do just that." "Abramson's impossible case".
The Tampa Trib editors: "The University of South Florida will seek approval Thursday from the state Board of Governors to develop a pharmacy degree program. Given the state's financial woes - USF has already had to cut its budget by about 15 percent in the last year - this may seem a bad time for the university to be adding programs. But the governors should see that the degree program would, at little cost, invigorate the state and local economy, bolster Tampa's evolving reputation as a medical education center and further strengthen the region's appeal to research firms that provide high-paying jobs." "USF Pharmacy School Is Right Prescription".
A bit much?
"Two new electric vehicles may not go on high-speed chases, but they're good for patrolling." "Dade City Police Turn Green With Vehicles".
"Still, the oceans are suffering"
The Miami Herald editorial board: "The nation's fisheries are overseen by regional management councils. Their record of creating sustainable fisheries for commercial and recreational purposes has improved over time as science has come to play a larger role in managing them."
Still, the oceans are suffering. Temperatures are gradually rising while the oxygen content of oceans is dropping. Many fish species are so depleted that they are off-limits for harvest for long periods."Hold off on Gulf aquaculture plan".
As wild fish dwindle, entrepreneurs are expanding the aquaculture industry. But fish farms present their own risks, which explains the opposition to an aquaculture management plan being voted on today by the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council.
"State Farm, which the state turned down for higher homeowners rates, is getting out of the property insurance business in Florida, leaving 1." "State Farm drops Florida property insurance". See also "State Farm pullout leaves Florida policyholders scrambling".