This is plain stupid. As Florida begs for a stim money waiver, "A legislative panel on Wednesday approved $3.8 million in new spending to help cut a backlog of 90,000 applications for concealed weapons permits that one top official attributed to Florida's economic woes." "Panel OKs money to cut Fla. gun permit backlog". See also "Florida approves hire of 61 temporary workers to reduce gun permit backlog".
Background: "Florida can't keep up with concealed weapons permit requests". See also "Economy blamed for increase in concealed weapon permits in Florida" and "Gun Sales, Permit Applications Jump In Florida".
Big of 'em
"Two legislators Wednesday called for uniform statewide rules to protect construction workers at job sites using large cranes. " "Lawmakers call for safer construction sites".
Here's another idea - stop hiring half-trained rats from South Carolina to operate heavy equipment.
More privatization stupidity
"The agency in charge of putting jobless folks back to work needs more people to answer their phone calls. Today, it got permission to spend $6.2 million to hire a private vendor instead of adding to the 500 agency employees already doing the job."
Agency spokesman Robbie Cunningham said he didn't know whether the private vendor would create jobs to fulfill the call center contract, which has already been put out for bid."Joblessness agency gets OK to hire firm to help unemployed".
"A majority of Florida voters wants the Legislature to approve a gambling agreement that expands games but they don't want a university tuition hike, according to a new poll from Quinnipiac University." "Poll: Floridians back gambling expansion to avoid budget cuts".
Lay down with dogs
"Many Republicans say the legislation was rushed through Congress with wasteful spending that will not create jobs. A few GOP governors are even considering refusing the money. Although elected officials typically flock to appearances with the popular governor, state Sen. Jeff Atwater and state Rep. Ellyn Bogdanoff -- Republicans who represent the neighborhood that hosted the meeting -- did not attend." "Crist defends support of stimulus package".
Yesterday's Q poll
"Florida voters want Charlie Crist to remain governor instead of going to the U.S. Senate, but he is a strong contender for either race, new poll results show. Though no Democratic contenders for the Senate slot are obvious front-runners, Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio leads the pack." "Poll: Crist, Iorio Lead Packs In Senate Race". See also "Poll: Florida voters would support Crist for US Senate run".
Much more here: "Q poll details" (scroll down).
Luv them sky boxes with the catered food
The Tampa Trib editors: "It's understandable that Florida lawmakers, facing a $5 billion deficit, would want to scrutinize every public expenditure. But it's baffling that some would not quickly recognize the value of the Florida Sports Foundation, which helps local communities land major sporting events." "Florida Sports Foundation Scores For State Economy".
Believe it or not
The Daytona Beach News Journal editorial board:
The motion [the Mayor] presented called for the city to provide his and other commissioners' legal fund whenever they choose to sue individuals over "slanderous or libelous comments or claims, or unsubstantiated allegations, past, present and future," or whenever "the mayor feels is necessary.""Caution: Criticizing the mayor can get you sued".
The vote was 4-3 in favor. And just like that, Mulder turned Deltona's city government into his personal attack dog, funded at public expense.
Perhaps Tallahassee will do something?
"Obama mortgage plan won't help Fla. much, analysts say".
Ponzi scheme at an end?
"Theories abound on why people are finding Florida less attractive."
The recession. The awful housing market. Hurricanes. High insurance costs. Battered retirement funds. And, perhaps, the end of the "9-11 effect," which demographer Jan Vink said caused more people to move out of New York to Florida after the terrorism attacks in 2001. That migration spike peaked in 2005, but Vink isn't sure what has caused it to taper off."Population increases have traditionally been the economic engine in this state of almost 19 million residents."
"Were houses getting too expensive?" said Vink, who works for Cornell University's Program on Applied Demographics in New York. "Did people start to feel nervous about the downturn in the economy?"
Florida appears to be suffering more than other states that have lured large numbers of newcomers in recent years.
Enticed by subtropical weather and relatively inexpensive housing, new Florida residents bought homes, added to the tax base and created demand for new shopping malls, schools and other development."AP Analysis: Fewer outsiders are moving to Florida".
While annual population growth for the past decade ran between 2 percent and 2.5 percent, it dropped to 0.7 percent in 2008. Florida now has its highest unemployment rate in 16 years - 8.1 percent in December - and one of the nation's highest home foreclosure rates. With thousands leaving the state almost as fast as others arrived, Florida's population increased by only about 127,000 last year.
"The $1.2 billion SunRail transit deal to bring commuter trains to Central Florida cleared its first legislative stop Wednesday, over objections that it was a poor investment in the midst of a recession. Although unions, other groups and a few legislators teed off on the deal between the state and CSX Corp., it passed its only House committee hearing by a 14-3 vote."
But not all of the plan's critics have gone away. The council defeated an amendment offered by Rep. Geraldine Thompson, D-Orlando, to try to protect the jobs of union members working for CSX."SunRail chugs through House vote, 14-3".
"We believe the specifics of this are irresponsible," said Florida AFL-CIO President Cynthia Hall, who along with other union representatives has said the commuter expansion would cost unionized signalmen their jobs.
"They're the best-trained workers," Hall said. "They're the ones who keep the trains from crashing."
Under the deal, the state would buy 61 miles of freight line running through downtown Orlando, which would be shared by commuter and CSX trains. SunRail could hire nonunion signalmen to dispatch the trains.
But a nonunion SunRail rocks, according to the Zell Corp.
The Orlando Sentinel editorial board: "Obama shouldn't pour more taxpayer cash into GM and Chrysler".
"A political committee controlled in part by Rep. Ray Sansom that received $100,000 from the developer in the Sansom controversy has closed down."
Rep. Dean Cannon, R-Winter Park, on Feb. 6 disbanded the Leadership for Florida's Future, a committee formed in June "to promote strong leadership in Florida," according to its Web site."Political fund with Sansom ties is shut down".
Dozens of similar committees are controlled by individual legislators and can legally accept contributions in any amounts, while donations given directly to candidates are capped $500.
The committee raised $378,000, including $100,000 in one check from Crystal Beach Development of Destin, owned by Sansom's friend Jay Odom.
The last check, for $30,000, came from AT&T Services on Jan. 5. The committee Web site is www.leadershipforfloridasfuture.org.
Cannon, who's in line to become House speaker in 2010, controlled the fund's money along with Sansom and Rep. Will Weatherford of Wesley Chapel, who is in line to become speaker in 2012.
"State economists have revised financial statements for two proposed state constitutional amendments on legislative and congressional redistricting." The Florida Supreme Court "rejected financial statements predicting the amendments would cost Floridians "'millions of dollars,' calling that forecast vague and misleading."
The economists Wednesday submitted new statements saying costs cannot be precisely determined but that they could go up if the amendments cause more litigation than usual over redistricting."Fla. redistricting financial statements revised".
"Hispanics' roots run deep across Florida".
The St. Petersburg Times editorial board: "The state has virtually no choice but to impose the most severe watering restrictions in history to help the parched Tampa Bay region muddle through until the rainy season. The drought is severe, and the lack of rain has left the region’s sustainable water supply projects without the resources they need to function. The alternative to further restrictions — pumping even more from the aquifer — makes no financial or environmental sense. Residents need to conserve more, but area water managers need to realize that credibly pushing conservation goes hand in hand with accountability." "Save water, add credibility".
"Boca lawmaker suggests bio-copter tour for big investors".
"Don't blame Florida"
The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "Florida is prepared to let State Farm drop all of its 1.2 million property insurance policies. If that happens, however, don't blame Florida." "State made right calls in State Farm showdown".
The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "From its reputation as a difficult place to do business, to its failure to provide sufficient educational opportunities, to its lengthening list of corrupt politicians, Palm Beach County must change its ways"
'Ya reckon? Consider this brilliant idea:
The report, by Market Street Services of Atlanta, sets out clear goals based on research. Efforts to recruit nurses are hampered by a chronic lack of nursing instructors. Why aren't there enough instructors? Because the pay is too low. "Fix corruption, and more".
"Florida lawmakers hunt for ways to spur revenue growth".
Past his prime
The The Tallahassee Democrat finds it necessary to print these unhelpful words of Reaganite dead ender Grover Norquist: "On the heels of President Obama's 61-cent increase in the federal cigarette tax, Florida legislators are considering a $1-per-pack increase in the state's cigarette tax when they return in March. The bill's sponsor, state Rep. Jim Waldman, D-Coconut Creek, has been getting support for his proposal by floating the tax hike as a 'user fee' and a quick fix for the state's budget problems. On both of these points, he is unmistakably wrong." "Cigarette tax is not a magic cure".
Nelson says no thanks
"Sen. Bill Nelson plans to donate to charity the campaign contributions he received from donors under investigation for mishandling money, his office said Wednesday." "Nelson to give contributions to charity".
Adult supervision needed
"When Gov. Charlie Crist unveils his budget Friday, the numbers are sure to be rose colored. Crist has the luxury of basing his figures on November revenue-estimates that are sure to be wrong when state economists meet again in March to estimate the state's revenues, which have declined precipitously."
So Senate budget chief and leading Republican Crist-nemesis JD Alexander has a solution: "I would expect we would ask him to come back and update his budget," Alexander said. "If we were $100 million off, it would be one thing. If we were off a couple billion, it would be another... given the revised estimates what would he do?""JD's tax-and-budget gambit with Crist".
"State Rep. Dorothy Hukill, R-Port Orange, has opened a campaign account to begin raising money for her 2010 re-election bid. But she also has filed paperwork indicating she will run in 2012 for the state Senate. Hukill wants to try to replace Sen. Evelyn Lynn, an Ormond Beach Republican who will be forced to leave office in 2012 because of term limits." "Hukill files for 2012 state Senate bid".