Mike Thomas points out that our Governor has no clothes: "The worse Florida's economy gets -- the more his policies flop and fail -- the more popular he gets."
This month, with home sales crashing and job losses leading the nation, Charlie zoomed to a record 73 percent approval rating."As rendezvous with harsh reality nears, Crist may consider Senate bid".
His poll numbers have an inverse relationship with reality.
There is little more to be gained, and lots to be lost, by staying in Tallahassee.
The longer he remains, the more time people will have to connect the dots between past promises and current realities.
Meantime, "Crist to decide on U.S. Senate bid after legislative session ends in May".
"A river of cash"?
The South Florida Sun Sentinel has a comprehensive review of the stimulus legislation, and how it might affect Floridians: "The relief could start a river of cash flowing to hard-pressed Floridians." For example, "Laid-off workers would get big help with a huge problem: keeping medical coverage."
First, the government would pay 65 percent of the often sky-high cost of maintaining coverage through the former employer's plan. This benefit alone would be worth thousands per year for a family. ..."Florida's unemployed would qualify for up to 33 weeks of benefits, up from 26, depending on when they filed for unemployment. They would get an added $25 per week, temporarily raising Florida's weekly maximum benefit to $300. The catch", and it is a big one, is this:
In Florida, the average COBRA policy for a family costs $1,037 a month; the average unemployment amount is $1,013.
Second, the government would pay to allow modest-income workers who lose their jobs to be covered by Medicaid through 2010, even if their income would normally be too high to qualify.
Florida must allow more people to qualify for unemployment [something the Legislature hates]. Do that, the House bill says, and the state could get as much as $436 million, according to the Manhattan-based National Employment Law Project.Some of the other things Obama wants:
The state would have to add benefits for at least two of the following types of unemployed workers: part time; those who leave jobs for family reasons; individuals in state-approved training after their unemployment runs out.
Advocates for the Everglades expect a boost for restoration by getting a piece of the $4.5 billion of extra funds for the Army Corps of Engineers. ...Much more here: "What economic stimulus could mean for you". See also "Lowdown on the stimulus: Compare the plans".
Florida would get about $4 billion extra over two years to mend the health-care system for the poor. ...
House leaders estimate that Florida would get roughly $2 billion to upgrade roads, bridges and mass-transit systems.
BTW, our lame duck Senator, former "ambulance chaser" (a/k/a "trial lawyer in RPOF-speak), Mel "Martinez is 'increasingly skeptical' about the plan because it includes spending that would not immediately lead to job growth." That's our Mel.
Running government like a business
"Florida's little-known lieutenant governor, Jeff Kottkamp, billed taxpayers $425,000 for 365 flights on state planes during his first two years in office, the Sun Sentinel found."
Two-thirds of the flights involved getting Kottkamp to and from Fort Myers, where he and his wife own a $1.4 million house. State planes flew empty one-way 70 times to pick him up or drop him off in his hometown, flight records show."Plane truth: trips home cost taxpayers". See also "Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp talks about plane usage".
Kottkamp's wife and toddler son flew for free on about two dozen trips, despite rules requiring them to pay.
Empty suit in a dither
"Insurers Raise Ire of Sunny Populist Crist".
Dragging them knuckles again
"State Sen. Stephen Wise, a Jacksonville Republican, said he plans to introduce a bill to require teachers who teach evolution to also discuss the idea of intelligent design."
Wise said that if the Legislature passes the bill, he wouldn't be surprised if there's a legal challenge."Wise to introduce bill on intelligent design".
"You just never know. They use the courts all the time. I guess if they have enough money they can get it in the courts," he said. "Someplace along the line you've got to be able to make a value judgment of what it is you think is the appropriate thing."
Intelligent design has been in the courts before. In 2005, a federal judge barred a Pennsylvania school district from teaching intelligent design in public schools, calling it an example of "breathtaking inanity." The judge, a Republican, wrote that there was "overwhelming evidence" that the theory is a "religious view," not scientific theory.
"Less than a week after stepping down from his post as speaker of the Florida House of Representatives amid allegations of ethics violations, Ray Sansom spoke at a Governmental Prayer Breakfast in Pensacola."
The sole purpose of the breakfast, according to organizers: "To encourage moral and spiritual values in government.""In midst of scandal, Sansom talks ethics".
"Debbie Cox-Roush, new chairman of the Hillsborough County Republican Party, ran for the post because she wasn't happy the county voted for Barack Obama, and vows local Republicans won't let that happen again." "New GOP Chairman: Loss 'Won't Happen Again'".
Mixing business and government
"The publicly subsidized Orlando/Orange County Convention & Visitors Bureau threw its retiring president an approximately $103,000 farewell party and handed the same executive an extra $360,000 in pay and benefits." "Orlando/Orange visitors bureau spent $103,000 on retirement party -- and taken out of auditors' report".
Get 'yer tickets ...
"Tickets are available on a first-come, first-serve basis for President Obama's Tuesday town hall meeting in Fort Myers." "Get your tickets to Obama's Fort Myers town hall meeting".
Welcome to Florida, Mr. President
The New York Times: "In Florida, Despair and Foreclosures".
"Politically addicted to ... harsh punishments"
The Daytona Beach News Journal editorial board: "Everyone in Florida government is singing the Budget Blues. But underlying the melody is a drumbeat many state leaders profess not to hear:
The sound of countless prison doors slamming shut. Like it or not, the state's incarceration policies have a direct and growing impact on the current budget crisis."Florida's prison system is growing faster than that of any other state."
Few people are pushing for dangerous murderers and rapists to be released. But neither can they dispute that Florida's incarceration spree occurred at a time when crime rates were actually trending downward. Florida hasn't become a more dangerous place to live, it's just become one that has become politically addicted to the idea of increasingly harsh punishments."One of the more important checks against legislative excess has been hobbled. Lawmakers have significantly eroded the ability of judges to determine fair, justifiable sentences for a wide range of crimes." This undermining of judicial discretion began
in the mid-1990s, when the Legislature passed a series of laws aimed at stripping discretion from judges. There were "minimum mandatory" laws that demanded specific sentences for specific crimes, regardless of circumstances. Habitual offender statutes added more prison time, again taking away judges' discretion and resulting in cases like that of a burglar who received a life sentence for stealing a handful of children's videotapes."Singing the prison blues".
My name is Ray Sansom, and I'm a ...
Steve Bousquet has a "Three-step program to prevent Ray Sansom-type scandals in Florida".
Our intrepid reporters can't help but soft pedal this issue: "Wanted: GOP official who won't write embarrassing e-mails".
"Embarrassing"? A bit more than that, dontcha think?
Background: "Calling a "racist" a "racist"" and "Racist? You decide".
Our Florida House has ...
... "Too many speakers?"
Trapped in a flop
"One year after the property tax amendment hit the books, its promise of rescuing homeowners has been drowned in deeper troubles." "Housing slump puts squeeze on property tax cut". See also "Despite Amendment 1, Floridians are still trapped in their homes".
"They'll be turning their backs"
The Daytona Beach News Journal editors: "The recently signed legislation extending health insurance to low-income children across America should be seen as a victory in Florida, where nearly 800,000 children lack coverage. Instead, it could be a liability."
To pull down maximum funding under the State Children's Health Insurance Program, Florida would have to spend at least $39 million from its own coffers on KidCare, Florida's SCHIP program. "But if Florida lawmakers don't find the $39 million, they will be waving away a matching $86 million from Washington. And they'll be turning their backs on children who desperately need the health coverage." "Florida should step up on kids' health program".
And those coffers are bare, largely because of the fiscal shortsightedness of lawmakers who squandered billions on special-interest tax breaks and now dig their heels in at the thought of new taxes.
Carl Hiaasen: "Bernie Madoff -- the prisoner of Park Avenue".
"Prior actions have doomed our efforts ..."
Another fine Jebacy.
The Tallahassee Democrat editorial board: "In Duval County, arts and physical education teaching jobs could be on the chopping block. Teachers have forfeited their raises in Pasco County. In Volusia County, building sales and up to seven school closures are being considered. Franklin and Jefferson county schools are flat broke."
Our state has not only failed to hold education harmless, we're slowly bleeding it to death while demanding a ransom."Monday's Editorial: Cuts to education are going to hurt".
What, then, should we consider cutting when prior actions have doomed our efforts to maintain adequate funding for public schools?
Pierre Tristam goes surfing
"As White House Web sites go, Bush could give Obama lessons".
The The St. Petersburg Times editorial board can't be serious:
The Florida Supreme Court's decision to block an ill-conceived, simplistic property tax cut from the ballot is good news for Florida and an unexpected gift for state lawmakers. Last month's ruling is the second in recent months where the court has disqualified a proposed amendment due to misleading language. The result is an unexpected window for the Legislature to embrace real tax revenue reform. Senate President Jeff Atwater and incoming House Speaker Larry Cretul should take advantage of this opening and get it right."Lawmakers' chance to get tax reform right".
"Lobbyists looking to disrupt the sale"
The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "A story by Paul Quinlan in last Monday's Post shows that members of the Crist administration used a legal maneuver to silence concerns over the $1.34 billion price. This newspaper has noted the conflict of Gov. Crist's Department of Environmental Protection secretary, Michael Sole, leading negotiations with U.S. Sugar even though the South Florida Water Management District is paying for the land. Now we know that DEP officials at the top dismissed concerns of DEP officials at the bottom." "Tell public why regulators criticized U.S. Sugar price".
"Bad for business"
The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "For years, lawyers have argued that the failure to adequately finance Florida's court system is bad for justice. Now the Florida Bar is getting really serious. The new push is that failing to pay for the courts is bad for business." "Florida's costly court crisis".
"The writing on the wall"
Aaron Deslatte: "Big Tobacco, pajama-clad Internet sellers, and just about every business with a cushy tax break can see the writing on the wall: Florida may be coming for them. Even with anti-tax Republicans in charge of the Legislature, the cash-strapped state needs money." "Tallahassee lobbyists man ramparts to defend tax breaks".
Even the wingnuts know a farce when they smell it.
Times are tuff ...
"Boynton Beach man calls 911 after Burger King says there's no lemonade".