"Florida is about to get a glimpse of what governing is like with an accidental speaker — a man who didn't ambitiously crave the office for many years — presiding over the House of Representatives."
After more than a decade of rather heavy-handed speakers such as Tom Feeney, Johnnie Byrd and Marco Rubio — all of whom excelled at laying down the law and ensuring members were ideologically in lockstep — the anointing of Rep. Larry Cretul as speaker Monday night suggests a new, if brief, era of understatement."Accidental speaker: Cretul wins lottery of leadership".
"A new, if brief, era of understatement"? We can only hope.
The St. Petersburg Times editorial board: "In his first news conference, Cretul set the right tone."
He emphasized that his primary focus will be the state budget crisis, and he said Floridians should not expect "hair-raising speeches" or "knee-jerk reactions'' from him. There are plenty of those in Tallahassee already. The low-key, little-known legislator said he has no higher political ambitions and has not promised anyone anything in return for support. Those could turn out to be strengths as he inherits a leadership team assembled by Sansom. Such an unencumbered House speaker should see the state's problems more clearly and be able to deal with them more honestly.The editors continue: "Regardless of the outcome of the investigations, Sansom abused his public position to benefit his friends and future employer. It has cost him one of the most powerful political positions in Florida, and that may be only the beginning." "Cretul's challenge". The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "That's one problem solved".
Charlie delaying Senate announcement until after the Session
"Crist put the political rumor mill in overdrive Tuesday when he gave the strongest indication yet that he is considering a run for the U.S. Senate." "Crist coy about possibility he will run for U.S. Senate in 2010". See also "Crist to decide on Senate run in May".
"Crist confirmed he is mulling over a potential bid and will make a decision sometime after the 60-day spring legislative session slated to start March 3. Crist has been heavily courted by Washington Republicans to get into the race, with his stratospheric approval ratings and transformative centrist politics." "Crist confirms he might run for U.S. Senate". Speaking of "stratospheric" - "Poll: 73% dig Charlie Crist".
"Crist said Tuesday he's waiting until after Florida's legislative session ends in May to announce whether he will enter the U.S. Senate race, a statement that suggested to several political insiders that he's inclined to run." "Crist's Coyness Hints At Senate Race". But Tally begs to differ.
Barack, Mel and Charlie ...
"The White House on Tuesday amped up the pressure to speedily pass a giant economic-stimulus package, with President Barack Obama dialing three Republican governors -- including Florida's Charlie Crist -- to thank them for backing the measure. But even as Obama spoke with Crist -- along with Govs. Arnold Schwarzenegger of California and M. Jodi Rell of Connecticut -- Republican senators, including Florida's Mel Martinez, rolled out an alternative plan that narrows spending and focuses on tax breaks." "Obama thanks Crist for support of stimulus plan".
Sugar deal souring
"A Florida Senate panel today skewered state officials who put together Gov. Charlie Crist's deal to purchase U.S. Sugar, signaling a potentially tough road for the project in the upcoming legislative session." "State lawmakers skewer U.S. Sugar deal".
"Martinez presents his stimulus plan". More funnies: "Campaign aims to strengthen marriages, reduce divorce rate in Florida" and "Bilirakis Is Homeland Security Watchdog".
"Eight years after he and four of his U.S. Supreme Court colleagues effectively decided the 2000 presidential election, Justice Antonin Scalia visited this hotbed of recount passion Tuesday and was asked to reflect on the momentous Bush vs. Gore decision." "Scalia on 2000: 'Get over it'".
As Charlie flirts with Obama ...
"Property values are plummeting across Central Florida -- by double digits in many areas -- leaving school districts and local governments bracing for service cuts and tax-rate hikes in the next budget year." "Tax hikes: Another bitter pill for Central Florida homeowners".
"Auditors say former Hillsborough Elections Supervisor Buddy Johnson mishandled grant money, failed to properly oversee finances within his office and broke state law by overspending his budget." "Audit faults Buddy Johnson". Background: "Buddy Johnson's troubles".
"The GEO Group Inc. said in a statement Tuesday that inmates in two of the Reeves County Detention Center's three units remain under staff view in a central area of the complex. The Boca Raton, Fla.-based company says inmates remain 'cooperative and compliant.'" "Company says Texas prison's damage 'significant'".
Saved from ourselves?
"The U.S. Senate could spare Florida from losing $3.5 billion in education funding that was at risk when House lawmakers wrote their version of a massive economic-stimulus bill. A draft version of the Senate bill includes a provision that would allow the education secretary to waive a rule that would penalize states that didn't meet funding requirements. This clause could have cost Florida $3.5 billion because its education funding has dropped in recent years. According to one lawmaker, the state budget already is short about $600 million in K-12 education.""
Neither of Florida's two senators knew who inserted the new language ... ."Florida might not lose $3.5 billion for education funding".
"The court rejected lawmakers' limp arguments"
The Tampa Trib editors write that "it was good news last week when the Florida Supreme Court ruled initiatives to prevent favoritism in legislative and congressional redistricting could be placed on the ballot in 2010 if the amendments' sponsor, FairDistrictsFlorida.org, can collect enough signatures from the state's voters."
To make the ballot, each amendment will need 676,811 signatures. These are petitions worth signing."Sign Petitions To Support Sensible Political Districts".
"The overall goal of the proposed amendments is to require the Legislature to redistrict in a manner that prohibits favoritism or discrimination, while respecting geographical considerations," wrote Justice Fred Lewis for the court.
The proposed amendments would require that districts be compact and respect community boundaries. The districts should be as equal in population as feasible and should not discriminate on the basis of race or language.
Approving these standards will improve the process. Wedges should not be driven between communities, counties and voters, yet that's what politically driven redistricting does. Removing selfish political motives from the process is the main goal of FairDistrictsFlorida.
The Republican-dominated Legislature, of course, fought the ballot initiatives, arguing the language is misleading and violates the single-subject rule. But the court rejected lawmakers' limp arguments.
"'Without the arts in our country . . . well, we wouldn't have a country'"
"Scott Maxwell: We need to trim luxuries - but the arts are a necessity".
"Crist spent the morning touting the state's $36 billion sports industry, an economic engine that continues to hum despite the worst recession since World War II." "Florida's sports industry thriving during recession".
One man's "'impressive'"
"Florida Education Commissioner Eric Smith said Tuesday that Florida needs to make sure the dismal economy does not undercut its 'impressive' academic progress during the past decade." "School funding 'a real concern,' Florida's schools chief says".
"Dockery pleads with Crist to redo CSX deal".
Ain't goin' to Disneyland (or World ... or whatever)
"Parks and resorts reported revenue of $2.67 billion, down 4 percent." "Disney profits down 32 percent".
"Manny Diaz to make it to the White House".
"Miami Beach concert promoter Jack Utsick has rejected court orders to return to Miami, where he is under investigation by the FBI for allegedly fleecing his investors out of millions." "Feds want promoter Jack Utsick in Miami for Ponzi case".
"State Farm defends decision to leave Florida".
Guns, guns ...
The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "We don't intend to reargue the Second Amendment. "
The Supreme Court decided that in a way that most gun-rights groups and President Obama say they can live with: Americans can own firearms, but government can restrict that ownership."Another child got a gun".
Still, the fatal shooting of one child by another west of Lake Worth shows that with the constitutional right of gun ownership comes the societal responsibility of gun ownership. A 9-year-old boy is not able to point a .40-caliber pistol at his 11-year-old friend and fire, never thinking that the gun was loaded, unless adults fail in their responsibility.
"After complaints from advocates, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles said Tuesday that it will modify its policy for issuing drivers licenses to immigrant crime victims." "Florida's DMV does a U-turn on policy for immigrant crime victims".
"Delta Air Lines, the world's largest airline, may get a government subsidy to resume nonstop flights this year between Tallahassee and three Florida cities, including Fort Lauderdale." "Your tax dollars may subsidize Delta flights to Tallahassee, other Florida cities". See also "Tax dollars may subsidize nonstop flights to Tallahassee".
"It was 2007 when City Commissioners first began talking about a special assessment district, which assesses charges against a property to pay for things such as road improvements. In Deltona's case, it was to fund fire services and an activity center -- a 900-acre area the city is planning to develop near Interstate 4. The issue created such a public outcry that leaders killed it. Now another proposal laying the groundwork for a fee to pay for fire services is on the agenda for tonight's 6:30 commission meeting." "Deltona rethinks charge for fire service".