The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "On Friday, Gov. Crist released what he called his proposed 2009-2010 state budget. In fact, it was the first Charlie Crist for Senate in 2010 commercial."
At a time when Tallahassee needs to think years ahead, Gov. Crist is focused on his next office. He would use the federal stimulus money not to position Florida for the future but to position Charlie Crist in Washington, where he would think about running for president while those back home deal with the budget mess he left behind."Crist thus presumes that after two years, Florida's economy will have recovered to the point where sales taxes and other revenues will make up that $8''billion."
No one in Tallahassee believes that is possible. Gov. Crist probably doesn't believe it. But his budget would allow him to look like the good guy long enough on spending, and he also proposed another round of tax-cutting constitutional amendments that would appear with him on the 2010 ballot. "We don't have to raise taxes," the governor bubbled. "We might be able to cut property taxes some more. We have more money for education funding. We can spend more money on our roads and our infrastructure; we can provide health care for our people. That's remarkable."Read it all: "Reject Crist's selfish budget".
No, that's delusional, at least as Gov. Crist envisions it. And there's more.
Put on a happy face: "Lee County Public Schools would have nearly no cuts if Florida receives federal stimulus funding and Gov. Charlie Crist's proposed budget were adopted, board members were told Tuesday during their afternoon briefing." "Crist budget at head of its class".
Adult supervision needed
"Fiercely opposed to the idea of raising taxes, Republican leaders in the Florida House urged finding other ways to combat Florida's $5 billion-plus budget deficit."
House Republicans face a billion-dollar challenge: addressing a severe budget shortfall without raising taxes."But the House has drawn a hard line: Cut the budget until it balances."
Even some veteran antitax hawks in the Senate acknowledge something needs to give in light of the $5 billion or more hole. They are seriously looking at a higher cigarette tax and removing sales tax exemptions.
Anything can change in the fast-moving 60-day session, which begins Tuesday. And the $4.7 billion in federal stimulus money Gov. Charlie Crist wants to use could alleviate some pressure, which would be ironic given how many Republican lawmakers have scoffed at the ''bailout'' package."Tax hike not an option for Florida House Republicans".
Ironic? Try hypocritical.
Isn't the answer obvious?
Michael Putney in the The Miami Herald:
All this hyper-Crist exposure has me asking: Is Charlie the genuinely concerned Republican moderate/populist he professes to be ("I work for the people, they're my boss'')? Or is he a slightly ditzy, disconnected lightweight who has succeeded on the strength of great political instincts ... ."Charlie, do we really know you?"
"Dead in the water"?
"A historic land deal aimed at helping restore the dying Everglades, and lauded by Gov. Charlie Crist as 'monumental as the creation of our nation's first national park,' may end up dead in the water."
The state is currently working to secure financing so it can buy 180,000 acres of land in the Everglades from U.S. Sugar Corp., the nation's largest producer of cane sugar, for $1.34 billion."State Glades Deal May Be Dead in Water".
The company agreed last year to sell its nearly 300 square miles of farmland to Florida, which wants to use some of it for environmental restoration and do away with acres of agriculture that have long been blamed for polluting the Everglades ecosystem.
The state is hoping to secure financing by the summer, but it must first win court approval to issue bonds after several opponents challenged the project. If the state does eventually get approval, it may then be difficult to find investors to finance the bonds, given the nation's tight credit markets. But state officials have said they're hoping the economy recovers a bit before they begin that process.
In the meantime, U.S. Sugar is still entertaining bids from competitors, putting the state deal in jeopardy.
"In a maneuver seemingly aimed at an unsolicited Tennessee suitor, U.S. Sugar moved to block hostile takeovers while negotiating a state contract to use its acres to clean Everglades water. ... The boardroom and backroom drama continues to churn behind Gov. Charlie Crist's $1.34 billion land deal with the U.S. Sugar Corp. The sugar giant's board of directors, controlled by foundations and the descendants of its founder, adopted a 'poison pill' provision on Monday intended to protect its financial interests and block hostile takeovers." "U.S. Sugar's 'poison pill' clause blocks takeovers". See also "U.S. Sugar board enacts 'poison pill' against hostile takeover".
Another failed privatization scheme
"The largest county in Florida's Medicaid privatization experiment wants out of the troubled program amid complaints that residents are getting shoddy medical treatment."
Two years into the pilot, residents "tell these terrible stories about how their medical treatment is so compromised that it is unacceptable," said state Rep. Elaine Schwartz, D-Hollywood. She worked with Broward County commissioners to draft a resolution that supports a repeal of the pilot in Broward and opposes expanding it into other counties."Broward County wants out of Fla. Medicaid pilot".
When it passed in 2005, Gov. Jeb Bush touted the five-year pilot, which operates similar to an HMO, as a national model for improving care while limiting state costs. Since then, a flood of critics say the program is mired in bureaucracy, and patients complain they struggle to get doctor's appointments and medicines.
Hurry up with that concealed weapon permit backlog ...
"Gun-toting Miramar commissioner who drew weapon on teens wanted faster checkout at Winn-Dixie, witness says".
Charlie "in a fix"
"In the next week or so, Gov. Charlie Crist faces one of the toughest political decisions of his tenure as governor: A Supreme Court appointment that pits conservatives in his own party against a minority community Crist is courting."
Religious conservatives and the National Rifle Association are backing Judge C. Alan Lawson of the 5th District Court of Appeal, calling him the most qualified of the four candidates presented to Crist."Crist In A Fix Over State Court Post".
On the other hand, some liberal groups and black activists - including state NAACP President Adora Obi Nweze, whom Crist recently named as his minority affairs adviser - are ardently backing Seminole County-based Circuit Judge James E.C. Perry.
"Leonard Abess Jr., the Miami banker who quietly gave $60 million of his own money to his loyal staff, was hailed Tuesday night by President Barack Obama as a symbol of hope in uncertain times." "Obama's praise makes Miami banker 'more than a little nervous'".
Where's the "outrage out of the Hannity-Limbaugh slur factories"?
Pierre Tristam: "Yet here we are, wasting on autopilot almost $16 billion a month -- no questions asked, no debate, no outrage out of the Hannity-Limbaugh slur factories -- while lawmakers closer to home agonize over rail projects, health plans, classroom teachers, mortgage rescues." "Railing about commuter rail -- why not waste for war?".
The Orlando Sentinel editorial board: "It's vital to make sure Florida's new medical schools get the money they need".
The Tampa Trib editors: "State Sen. Charlie Justice, D-St. Petersburg, is sponsoring smart legislation that would make county election supervisors nonpartisan jobs and, as in the case of trial judges, prohibit political parties or groups from endorsing or supporting candidates in their campaigns."
Anyone who doubts the necessity of the change need only consider former Hillsborough Supervisor of Elections Buddy Johnson, whose political affiliations got him appointed to a job he thoroughly botched - spending too much money, losing ballots and mangling election returns. His actions now are being investigated by the FBI."Strip The Party Politics From Supervisor Post".
There have been other attempts to make the elections supervisors nonpartisan, but they have failed. This year, however, the bill should move forward. It passed out of the Senate Ethics and Elections Committee last week.
Caught with ir hands in the cookie jar, "[t]he state GOP has distanced itself from a Panhandle developer involved in the Ray Sansom controversy, while the developer himself has stepped down from a state insurance board."
Jay Odom, a longtime friend and political contributor to Sansom, the ousted House speaker, had provided aircraft services to the Republican Party of Florida, but the party has decided to no longer use his companies."Florida GOP won't use aircraft of Sansom contributor".
Another lazy public employee ...
Broward Mass Transit bus driver Mary "Kilroy grabbed a beige sheet from her car - she uses it to hide packages - and laid it on the cement ground by the fuel pumps. Guided by a 911 operator, she encouraged Belizare to 'bear down.' When the baby appeared, his tiny neck encircled by the umbilical cord, she pulled it away. After a few moments came the lovely sound of his first cry." "Bus driver delivers baby at Tamarac gas station".
"A Pinellas County activist said today he is filing an ethics complaint against Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp over the cost to the state of flying and driving Kottkamp between his Fort Myers home and Tallahassee. David Plyer, a retired engineer and part-time grocery worker from Clearwater, alleged in a letter mailed Monday to the state Ethics Commission that Kottkamp, a Republican, violated state law by misusing his position for personal benefit." "Activist Filing Ethics Complaint Against Kottkamp". See also "Ethics complaint lodged against Lt. Gov. Kottkamp".
"Florida has long skimped ..."
The Daytona Beach News Journal editors: "Florida has long skimped on need-based aid for low-income students."
Despite having some of the lowest college tuitions in the nation, Florida gained an "F" in affordability in a 2006 ranking by the National Center on Public Policy in Higher Education, due to a lack of support for low-income students and the proliferation of fees and other costs that aren't covered by Bright Futures scholarships or prepaid tuition. Students who don't qualify for Bright Futures -- either due to low grade-point averages, or an educational hiatus, are in even more desperate straits."For Florida students, hope will be more expensive".
The bill approved by the Senate would make things worse.
A Florida thing
"A court case challenging the outcome of a judge's race in Monroe County has forced election officials to track down 69 voters scattered over seven states and four countries. " "Monroe County judgeship lawsuit tracks down absentee voters".
faith based ...
"DJJ program aims to link families, faith".
Does the contractor ...
... have health insurance? Will the workers come from Florida?
"The Florida Department of Transportation decided Tuesday to award a key SunRail construction contract for $163.3 million [to Atlanta-based Archer Western Contractors and New York City-based Railworks Track Systems] -- a number that's higher than a bid threshold the state established but within the project budget, DOT administrators said." "DBNJ: State OKs rail contract despite high bid price".
"Buried contaminants don't always stay put"
The Daytona Beach News Journal editorial board: "Florida's high water table means that buried contaminants don't always stay put. Dangerous chemicals can 'plume,' or spread from a dump site, turning up in wells miles away.". "City, state confront underground trouble from possible landfill pollution".
The Miami Herald editorial board: "There was a time when wetlands were considered useless -- places too wet for growing crops or building homes. We know better now, but that hasn't stopped us from continuing to destroy wetlands at a record rate. The results of a study issued this month by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service report a high rate of wetlands decline along the Atlantic Coast and the Gulf of Mexico, with a net loss of 59,000 acres each year between 1998 and 2004, and no slowdown in sight." "Stanch the rate of wetlands destruction".
A Deltona thing ... what else is there to say?
The Daytona Beach News Journal editorial board: "Deltona Mayor Dennis Mulder isn't getting it. ... Mulder still wants the city to take legal action against critics. That alone is a bizarre, gratuitous step for any city to take at any time, let alone during an economic crisis when elected officials should be worried about public budgets and public services, not private reputations. And where will Mulder, who also intends to spend his own money in his defense, draw the line between his and the city's business, when he claims that 'If I weren't mayor, no harm would have ever come to my reputation'?". "Mulder's misguided crusade".