"A $2.8 billion deficit-elimination package is set for a final action to close out a special legislative session. The House and Senate will vote the plan up or down Wednesday. It cannot be amended. Republicans control both chambers and have enough votes to pass the package even if most Democrats oppose it as they did when differing versions cleared the House and Senate last week." "Fla. deficit-elimination set for vote".
The Orlando Sentinel editorial board writes that "the cost-cutting bill they'll probably adopt today is stunning for its lack of vision, for its political myopia." "We think: If only lawmakers had the heart, the brains, the nerve".
The St. Petersburg Times editorial board call it what it is, "A failure of leadership": "The sooner the governor and the Legislature acknowledge reality and develop a balanced approach to this crisis that both Republicans and Democrats can embrace, the better for all Floridians."
The RPOFers have succeeded in "keeping passions low: Republicans never considered cuts to hot-button programs such as the medically needy program that provides care to catastrophically ill patients. Florida's badly underfunded court system never geared up for a fight, either, because legislators imposed new traffic fines to limit their cuts to about 1 percent. In the regular session, those programs again will be on the chopping block, as well as schools and universities that already have endured three rounds of cuts." "Budget's being hacked, but real protests are still to come".
"Steering Florida out of the nationwide recession will require state legislators to take a new look at all sales-tax exemptions, freeze the class-size amendment and slash the permitting red tape that often causes new business opportunities to slip away to other states, a panel of economic experts [sic] told a special Senate committee Tuesday."
Who were these geniuses comprising the "panel of economic experts", pray tell?
Why ... they're just the usual suspects, with their self-serving business agendas: "Former House Speaker Allan Bense, incoming vice-chairman of Enterprise Florida; Marshall Criser III, president of AT&T Florida and chairman of the state Chamber of Commerce, and Gulf Power Co. President Susan Story, who chairs the Florida Council of 100" "Senate committee hears from economic experts".
"The Oct. 7 scuffle between Circuit Judge Maria Espinosa Dennis and Judge David Miller over a broken fax machine ended within minutes, but it began months of judicial infighting and allegations of a coverup." "State attorney rules on Dade judges' physical in-court scuffle".
"It's official. Congressman Kendrick Meek's hat is in the ring for U.S. Senate. Meek, a former highway patrol officer*, is a Miami Democrat who wants to fill the seat being vacated by Orlando Republican Mel Martinez."
"Meek's toughest Democratic rival could be Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, who is being strongly urged by her supporters to run. Other Democrats mulling the race are two congressmen, Allen Boyd of Monticello and Ron Klein of South Florida, and state Sen. Dan Gelber of Miami Beach." "Kendrick Meek enters U.S. Senate race for Martinez seat".
"Meek has already landed Steve Hildebrand, a veteran Democratic strategist who served as President-elect Barack Obamas's deputy campaign manager and spent the last month of the race in Florida." "Meek gains a key advisor".
"Meek declined to provide his fund-raising goal. Later Robin Rorapaugh of Hollywood, who ran Bill McBride's winning gubernatorial primary campaign in 2002 and Peter Deutsch's unsuccessful U.S. Senate primary campaign in 2004, said it could easily top $10 million to $12 million." "Kendrick Meek becomes first major candidate for Florida's U.S. Senate seat".
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*Which prompt's one to ask whether the PBA, which purports to represent troopers, yet considered by many to be little more than an arm of the RPOF, will support Meek?
Will they stay ... or will they go?
Adam Smith: "Ultimately, most of the Florida Senate contenders have to choose: a safe re-election or a shot at the U.S. Senate?"
"If it was about me, I would continue my service in the House and be in a very comfortable seat politically, knowing I would return term after term," said U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek, D-Miami, who on Tuesday became the first major candidate to jump in the race. "But I don't want to run in neutral any time.""Candidates dive in, but will they stay?".
Meek, 42, is tight with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and is the only Florida Democrat with a coveted spot on the powerful Ways and Means Committee. And like most members representing gerrymandered districts, he probably could keep that seat however long he wanted.
So he could sacrifice a lot with this venture, and he's not alone.
Other members of Congress looking at the race include Republicans Vern Buchanan and Connie Mack, and Democrats Allen Boyd and Ron Klein. Likewise, Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink and Attorney General Bill McCollum would have to give up their Cabinet seats.
"A group of conservationists and elected officials say dealing with climate change needs to be priority when it comes to protecting the Gulf of Mexico. The activist group Gulf Restoration Network is staging a news conference Wednesday morning in Tampa to demand action from a multistate organization that is charged with protecting the gulf." "Group says climate change is critical to Gulf".
"The official who will choose the company to run the state's small business loan program said Tuesday that excluding a potential vendor who helped shape it would be unfair." "Official: Let consultant bid on project".
The Palm Beach Post editorial board thinks otherwise: "The only way for Florida's tourism chief to prove that the fix isn't in for Steve Quello is to not give Mr. Quello a job he all but created for himself." "'Too cozy' for Florida's good".
Will Mel and the Diaz-Bararts hit the beach?
The Fidel death watch continues: "U.S. keeps eye on Fidel Castro's shaky health".
Is Florida ready for another "Howdy Doody Looking Nimrod" in DC?
... A modest guy: "I have an energy and passion for serving the people of Florida that is unrivaled." "Hasner 'keeping all options open' for Senate".
And then there's this: "State Sen. Frederica Wilson, former state Rep. Phillip Brutus and Miami Gardens Commissioner André Williams, all Democrats, said they would run for Meek's seat -- announcements that will trigger races for their own posts. More ripple effects are on the way, with roughly a dozen potential contenders for the Senate waiting in the wings.".
"When the Miami-Dade School Board meets Wednesday, a group of parents and students will be protesting just outside the main doors, angry about statewide budget cuts to public education spending." "Parents, students to protest school cuts".
"The duo have camped out in two tents on private property across from the school [ironically enough, of Ronald Reagan* Doral Senior High School]. Bottles of water are their only sustenance and they have vowed not to eat anything until their concerns about the underfunded school system are recognized not only by school district leaders but by state officials." "Moms go on hunger strike to protest Miami-Dade school budget cuts".
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*Recall this: "The ketchup as a vegetable controversy or ketchupgate refers to a proposed United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food and Drug Administration directive, early in the administration of Ronald Reagan, that would have reclassified ketchup and pickle relish from condiments to a vegetable, allowing public schools to cut out a serving of cooked or fresh vegetable from hot lunch program child-nutrition requirements. The White House Office of Management and Budget estimated a potential US $1 billion annual savings in the cost of subsidized meals for low-income students."
"Some lawmakers want the state to crack down on businesses they say are acting as 'co-conspirators' with the Seminole Indians to offer blackjack and other casino-style games." "State May Aim At Vendors".
Probably the best place to be
"Inauguration Will Be Shown At Ybor Movie Theater".
"Florida's exposure to costly hurricane damage continues to escalate sharply despite ongoing efforts to shore up homes and discourage coastal development, state regulators said Tuesday." "State insurers' exposure to hurricane losses tops $2-trillion".
As the Lobbyists (who run Florida) Turn
"Miller said Yaeger told her he was taping the conversation but she had no idea he was making a video. Kelly says she did not know anything about a video or audio recording. Yaeger says he used a visible television camera mounted on a tripod in a corner of his office. He says he overheard Miller warn Kelly about the taping system, but both women deny the exchange and both say they didn't see a camera in the room." "Lobbyists take dispute to court". More on this Yaeger fellow: "Lobbyist to appeal fines for not filing client reports".
"Florida's top election official said Tuesday that the state will investigate how Hillsborough's former supervisor of elections spent more than $2-million in federal grant money if ongoing audits don't come up with the answer." "State may investigate Buddy Johnson".
"Showing a side of herself that the public rarely saw during her 18 years as a county commissioner, Mary McCarty denounced herself as a 'hypocrite' Tuesday in an apology directed to the people she was elected to serve." "Colleagues' reaction: McCarty apology either 'honest' or just 'words'". More: "McCarty: 'I'm sorry'".
"Water from mighty St. Johns River will flow from Seminole faucets".
"After receiving a slew of complaints, Pinellas County is working toward tightening its ordinances on backside-baring wear." "Pinellas May Forbid Too-Skimpy Swimsuits".
After all, "why worry about a financial crisis when you can shift the public debate to scantily clad beachgoers?" "Naked politics intrudes on beach".
The Miami Herald editorial board: " The buzz about Miami-Dade County imposing a fire fee misses the point. The county's fire-rescue department is funded with taxes on property owners in the agency's service district, which includes the unincorporated area and several cities, both old and new. When times are flush, as they were until the housing bubble burst, the county's fire-rescue service enjoys fat budgets. But now times are leaner, and some of the department's wealthiest donor communities -- Pinecrest, Surfside and Indian Creek -- want out of the county district because neighboring cities with fire departments are offering them better deals." "Scuttle talk about Miami-Dade fire fee".
"Three South Florida family foundations -- one operated by Fontainebleau hotel magnate Stephen Muss, another by auto dealers Alan and Robert Potamkin, and a third by auto dealer Norman Braman -- invested millions with disgraced money manager Bernard L. Madoff, federal filings show." "Foundations face Madoff losses".
A Jax thing
"A lawsuit by a woman arrested at a Florida hospital emergency room after racing there in premature labor may go to trial after a federal appeals court panel upheld on Tuesday part of a lower court's ruling."
The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals denied Jacksonville deputies Matthew Sirmons and James Mills qualified immunity from Melanie Williams's lawsuit. ..."Fla. woman's false arrest case may go to trial".
Williams, seven-and-half months pregnant and bleeding from the vagina, ran a red light driving herself to St. Vincent's Hospital on Mother's Day 2005. She told the officers who stopped her that she was headed to the emergency room. When one started writing out a ticket, she sped off.
They followed her to the hospital, where one officer wrestled her down and the other applied handcuffs. Williams was admitted to the hospital and later had a healthy baby.
"Hysterics may achieve a few ends. Safety and justice aren't among them."
The Daytona Beach News Journal editorial board: "In Florida, convicted sex offenders are branded as such for life. They may not live within 1,000 feet of places where children gather. In several cities in Volusia County, the buffer was extended to up to 2,500 feet, rendering most of those cities off-limits to offenders. Neither law enforcement nor local elected officials should be surprised at the consequences. Offenders have been made into pariahs. Some of them are leading their lives as pariahs, in parks, on benches or off law enforcement's radar. That's not helping them reintegrate into society as productive citizens. It's exacerbating their sense of alienation. However misinformed the impulse, it's also making people more anxious from the supposed lurking effect of offenders roaming certain neighborhoods." "Hysteria won't protect society from sex offenders".