"A state legislator [Rep. Esteban 'Steve' Bovo, a freshman Republican from Hialeah], his wife and a former Florida House speaker [Republican Marco Rubio] are all linked to hospital lobbying and consulting in two deals that are raising eyebrows." "Lawmaker joins 2 others in web of lobbying ties". See also "The $198,000 Rubio-Bovo connection".
After another "Jeb!" privatization flop, Florida "socializes" its prison food service
"Florida is now coping with the effects of a failed and expensive food-privatization venture of former Gov. Jeb Bush." "Budget crunch forces Florida prisons to feed inmates for less".
"Florida is returning to in-house food service for its prisons while the Legislature cuts spending in the nation's third-largest state prison system."
The state paid the two vendors $85 million for the fiscal year 2007-2008. The current year's food budget is $76 million."Fla. returns to in-house food service for prisons.
Adam C. Smith: "Florida Democrats are preparing to tap into Barack Obama's grass roots machine to build the biggest political operation ever seen from the state party."
Normally at this early stage of an election cycle, the chronically cash-strapped Florida Democratic Party is shedding jobs and struggling to keep the lights on. Not this year. State party leaders expect soon to hire dozens of professional organizers to harness and assist Obama's vast army of volunteers. ..."Florida Democrats try to harness Obama supporters". See also "Tampa Bay area Obama organizers collect ideas to pass on to White House".
Specific plans and goals are still under discussion in Washington and Tallahassee. But the ebullient talk among Florida Democrats stems from an ambitious and uncertain plan often dubbed Obama 2.0 — an effort to keep engaged the vast and potent base of true believers that helped elect Obama president in November. ...
In Florida, the plan is to have paid staffers in place to assist the citizens already actively working with Organizing for America.
Obama comes to Florida
Update: "Crist will join Obama in Fort Myers".
"Hundreds of people are lined up in southwest Florida for tickets to a town hall meeting with President Barack Obama." He'll have plenty to talk about in this solidly red area: the "unemployment rate has climbed to 10 percent, and its housing market is among the nation's worst." "Hundreds queue for tickets to Obama event in Fla.". See also "Tickets To Obama Town Hall Available Monday", "Tickets to Obama town-hall Tuesday in Fort Myers available Monday morning", "Fort Myers residents line up now to see Obama on Tuesday" and "Fort Myers residents line up early to see Obama on Tuesday".
The $425,000 Republican
"Lt. Gov. bills taxpayers $425,000 for state plane trips |". "Kottkamp defended his travel, saying that it's easier for him to work from southwest Florida than Tallahassee ... ." "Florida lieutenant governor to pay state for family's trips".
What's a conspicuous consumer to do?
"Oh, it's another sun-blessed, balmy day in Palm Beach County. Were it not for the foreclosures, collapse in tourism and Madoff scandal, all would seem perfect. Did I mention retailing? Dior on Worth Avenue vanished the day after Christmas. The Macy's at the Palm Beach Mall closed several weeks later." "Somber days in Palm Beach".
Another fine Bushco legacy
The Daytona Beach News Journal editorial board: "In 2003, Florida collected $558 million in inheritance taxes. "
Last year, it didn't collect a cent. Florida's constitution allows the imposition of an estate tax, but only if it can be credited against its federal equivalent. As the federal estate tax has phased out since the 2001 tax cuts (it falls to zero in the 2010 tax year), so has Florida's, denying the federal government and the state large revenues. At its pre-2001 rate, the estate tax would have generated $334 billion in federal revenue between 2011 and 2016."Florida shouldn't turn away estate-tax revenue".
Because of the twin effects of an increasing population and an increase in deaths of retirees, Florida's revenue from the tax would have likely exceeded $600 million a year. That money would have gone a long way to ease Florida's budget woes. Federal law and the state constitution prevent tapping into that revenue stream. Both can change.
Next year the estate tax is scheduled to be eliminated altogether. It would be reinstated at its pre-2001 level if the Bush tax cuts are allowed to expire, on schedule, in 2011. Should that happen, all estates valued at $1 million or less would remain exempt from taxation, but all estates valued above that level would be taxed at 55 percent. Florida would generate estate-tax revenue again, too, because state tax credits, repealed in the 2001 federal law, would be restored.
"'A form of pollution'"
"Florida's canals and lakes have sheltered tropical imports for decades, with 34 species known to be reproducing. There have long been plenty in the park as well. A weathered sign at the popular Anhinga Trail, built along a pit dredged for road fill, explains that many fish seen from the boardwalk aren't locals. Since 2000, however, park scientists have charted a surge of invasives." "Exotic fish pose threat to native species in Everglades".
"Florida's prices are above the national average, which AAA says is about $1.92 a gallon." "Fla. gas prices up 17 cents in past month".
Oh ... the horror!
"In just a few short weeks, freshman U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Orlando, has delivered more memorable quotes than some members of Congress do in an entire career."
He has fired up the liberal base by picking a fight with Rush Limbaugh, calling the conservative radio host a "has-been hypocrite loser." ..."Grayson raises voice, hackles in D.C.".
And last week, at a hearing on accused swindler Bernard Madoff, Grayson derided Madoff's "penthouse" accommodations and demanded that he be sent to jail while awaiting trial on charges of stealing billions.
Afterward, he issued a statement: "As Bob Dylan once sang, Madoff is 'free to drink martinis and watch the sun rise,' while his victims are 'innocent men [sic] in a living hell.' "
"23 percent fewer people are visiting malls today compared with five years ago"
"Already facing challenges because of consumer shifts toward open-air shopping centers and discounters, malls have been hit with another blow: the struggling economy. Tenants are leaving in droves as retail chains that suffered the worst holiday shopping season in nearly 40 years shutter stores nationwide." "Economic downturn slams Orlando-area malls".
"Joe Scarborough for senate?".
"Precinct breakdown from Palm Beach election reveals north-south split".
"African honeybees found across S. Fla.". See also "Africanized bees spread throughout Florida".
"Now comes the hard part"
The South Florida Sun Sentinel editorial board: "It wasn't all that long ago — just a couple of months — that voting was all the rage."
In South Florida and nationally, there were videos and photos of people waiting hours just for the chance to vote. Young, old, black, white, Hispanic. Everybody wanted to be part of the process. It was suddenly a badge of honor to be involved. People who had never voted before got themselves to the polls. Nothing was cooler than voting in November."Voting matters just as much now as it did in November".
Now comes the hard part. Let's see if that voting momentum and enthusiasm carries over locally, even a little bit.
The second clown from the right
"That's a nasty, impolite question"
"A 20-year-old college student apparently riled Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia as his book tour wound through Florida." "AP: Scalia riled by collegiate questioner".
South Georgia Democrats
"After an election that had some political scientists shocked at a narrow Republican presidential win in conservative Duval County - one that built hope in a Democratic surge - hundreds of local Democrats have cut party ties to join the GOP. And more so than the other way around." "Post election shift a sort of party puzzle".
Related: "After All, He Is Black".
"He won't deserve it"
The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "Sometime this year, St. Lucie County Judge Cliff Barnes will present himself before the Florida Supreme Court and receive a public reprimand for violating the Code of Judicial Conduct. He won't deserve it." "An undeserved reprimand".
"Panhandle school ditches grades".
"The Legislature last year passed a law requiring schools to reduce textbook expenses for students." "Fla. officials release textbook pricing guidelines".
"WPB commissioner, real estate lawyer say relationship over condo project not unethical".
The most dangerous place in the world?
What is "the most dangerous place in the world?" Answer: getting between a Jebbite and a boat show. "Miami boat show hopes for sales amid recession".