Carl Hiaasen: "It wasn't surprising that President Barack Obama came to Florida to push his economic stimulus package, because no place in the United States has fallen so hard, so fast. And when the mega-recession finally ends, Florida will be one of the last places in the country to turn itself around. That's because other states have actual industry, while our employment base depends fatally on double-digit population growth and, to a lesser extent, tourism."
Developers have controlled state and county governments for so long that no Plan B exists. Lost and clueless, lawmakers desperately hack away at public budgets while clinging to the hope that boom times will return."Reaping the fruit planted by greed".
For good reason, Florida has become the poster child for America's fiscal disintegration. We stand at the top of the leaderboard in rising unemployment, foreclosures and, of course, mortgage fraud.
Wet feet, dry feet, black feet
"U.S. immigration authorities say they've ordered 30,000 Haitians to leave the country." "30,000 Haitians ordered to leave US".
Charlie to disappear $600 million more from the state budget
"Property taxes in Florida have not dropped 'like a rock' as Gov. Charlie Crist said they would, but he's going to keep trying to make good on a promise made two years ago."
The Republican governor's goals for the spring lawmaking session include no fewer than four separate tax proposals that would go before voters on the 2010 ballot, when Crist himself would be seeking voters' favor as a candidate for reelection as governor or for the U.S. Senate."Gov. Charlie Crist to unveil at least 4 tax-cut proposals". See also "Crist's four proposals for tax relief".
The total taxpayer savings -- or cost to all local governments and schools statewide -- could weigh in at roughly $600 million, according to preliminary staff estimates and prior analyses of similar proposals to help homeowners, and cap and limit local-government taxation.
Charlie wants to cut taxes and the feds hand money to Florida? "Florida could get $12 billion in stimulus". There's something rotten in Denmark.
"Fundraising is already tough right now for non-profits, but it just got a little tougher for three of the state's public universities. Florida, Florida State and Florida A&M won't be receiving some $64 million in state matching grants this year. Legislators put a hold on the funds because of the budget deficit." "Florida universities lose gift matching grants".
"Financial arrogance at work"
Jane Healy: "It's bad enough when New York City bankers grouse that pay for senior executives benefiting from a government bailout shouldn't be capped at $500,000. But turns out that mentality has infected all sorts of corners in Central Florida as well. Here are just two examples of the financial arrogance at work." See what she means: "Monied arrogance spreads to Central Florida".
"States Face Competing Priorities For Stimulus Cash".
Another RPOFer Black thing
"Acknowledging that some of his supporters might feel 'uncomfortable' going public, Derek Black wants Palm Beach County Republican Executive Committee members to cast secret ballots to decide whether he can join their ranks. Black, 20, is the son of former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard Don Black and a close associate of David Duke. He engineers radio broadcasts for his dad's 'White Pride World Wide' Web site and spoke at a recent conference that promoted 'the rights and heritage of European Americans.'"
"I would ask that the REC not vote him on," says county Republican Chairman Sid Dinerstein. "He doesn't share our values in any way.""Ex-Klansman's son requests secret ballots to decide fate".
Actually, Sid, you may want to take a look at "After All, He Is Black" before you start talking about RPOFer "values".
Meet you at the book fire in Miami
The Miami Herald editorial board: "In July 2006, U.S. District Judge Alan Gold issued a preliminary injunction prohibiting the Miami-Dade County School Board from removing the book Vamos a Cuba from its libraries. At the time, we applauded this sound affirmation of First Amendment rights. Unfortunately, it wasn't the last word. The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta has overturned Judge Gold's injunction -- but that shouldn't be the last word, either." "Latest book ruling needs another review".
Never mind the Florida constitution
"Class-size rules could fall victim to the budget ax. The state's controversial class-size rules have been called unworkable and too costly for years, even before voters approved them in 2002. But they have remained in place, getting phased in as required and slowly reducing class sizes in schools across Florida." "Class sizes at mercy of budget cuts". See also "Cuts may violate class-size regulation".
"A new poll conducted by Strategic Vision shows Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio relatively weak in a Democratic primary for Mel Martinez's U.S. Senate seat against Ron Klein, Kendrick Meek and Dan Gelber. But she's the strongest of the Dems when put head to head against Republicans — including Charlie Crist." "Iorio by the numbers".
Another privatization flop
"Florida is coping with the effects of a failed and expensive food-privatization venture of former Gov. Jeb Bush."
In 2001, the state turned over most prison food operations to Aramark Corp., even after Ohio had scrapped a similar experiment, citing bad results."Florida inmates are tightening their belts, too".
After seven years marked by numerous irregularities, fines for sloppy service and a state report that flagged the vendor's ''windfall'' profits, Aramark pulled out of Florida prisons last month. The firm said it could no longer make money due to rising prices of bread, milk and other staples amid pressure from the state to cut costs.
From the "values" crowd
"Wayne LaRue Smith wanted to ensure that the foster child he was raising wouldn't be taken from him, so he sought permanent guardianship. He really wanted to adopt, but under a 32-year-old Florida law that bans adoption by gay people, that seemed out of the question."
Now, two years later, Smith faces a legal Catch-22. In August, a judge declared the state's gay adoption law unconstitutional, allowing Smith to adopt his foster son. But state child welfare administrators have declined to provide the boy a host of financial benefits available to foster kids who are adopted."Gay adoptive parent fights DCF for subsidy".
Heaven help us
"Legislator Defies Stereotypes". Actually, this Legislator appears (via the cited bio piece) to be the very personification of a sterotype.
Expect the "Legislature to do nothing"
"Legislature shows little support for strict emission rules."
A decision on whether to adopt the California regulations now goes to the Republican-controlled Legislature, which must approve a change in the state's administrative code. Environmental groups are expected to support enacting the regulations. Auto manufacturers and business groups will urge the Legislature to do nothing."Greener cars not certain in Florida".
More Sore Losermen (and women)
"Venezuelans in South Florida lined up early to vote, many of them expressing sentiments against President Hugo Chávez. They appear to have been outnumbered."
Crowds of supporters chanted ''No'' when Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Miami, arrived at the Kendall Campus to show support to the Venezuelans who came to help decide their country's controversial referendum. ...This sounds familiar:
U.S. Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart, R-Miami, who accompanied Ros-Lehtinen, said ...
''Our solidarity, admiration and support is with the people of Venezuela,'' said Diaz-Balart. ``Our prayers are also with them because we know Chávez is not only a thug and a gangster, but he always attempts to cheat.''
Chávez is also a good friend of Fidel Castro.
Florida International University student Che Guerra, 21, was there because she wants to visit a Venezuela without another term of Chávez. She has many relatives back home on both sides of the referendum.There's a little problem with all the wingnut blather:
She voted No.
''They have hope in the original idea he had, like helping the poor,'' Guerra said of her pro-Chávez relatives. ``My aunt in Venezuela, she's pro-Chávez. I tell her poor people never had anything. You give a little bread, water, they're going to be happy, but it doesn't mean it's good.''
Chávez won with 54 percent of the vote."South Florida says 'No' to Chávez".
Had a mobbed up tyrant like Batista was had won, one expects Ros-Lehtinen and Diaz Balart would be singing a different tune.
Florida wingnuts in a dither
The Miami Herald editorial board: "Crist has come under a hail of brickbats from his Republican friends for daring to show up in Ft. Myers last week to share a platform with the president of the United States."
In this instance, party loyalty as interpreted by some extreme advocates in Mr. Crist's party would have required the governor to snub President Barack Obama on his first visit to Florida following inauguration -- a calculated act of political rudeness. Mr. Crist, instead, welcomed the president in an act of political courtesy. He also thanked him for bringing a message of hope to the people of an area dubbed ``the foreclosure capital of the country.''"But even if anyone thinks his welcome was a little too enthusiastic -- how does this become an act of political treason?"
The ire directed at Gov. Crist by some in the GOP is a reflection of a time when bipartisanship has become a four-letter word. Mr. Crist is not the governor of a party. He's the governor of Florida. He represents the hopes and dreams of 18 million people, not just those of a single political party."Gov. Crist extends political courtesy".
Unfortunately, some regard politics as a zero-sum game. A victory for one side is a loss for the other. In this view, a vote for Mr. Obama's stimulus plan is a vote that bolsters his popularity. By extension, the success of the plan -- which, incidentally, could avert an economic disaster -- would hurt the political chances of the Republican Party.
"Florida probation officers who monitor felons, including sex and drug offenders, could be taking on more work as regular caseloads climb to nearly 100 per officer." "DOC probation caseloads may rise".
This just in from the Zell Corporation
The South Florida Sun Sentinel editorial board: "Despite its grandeur, the stimulus package falls short in key areas. Lawmakers jettisoned money for infrastructure, including for projects in Florida. They slimmed down allocations for payroll tax cuts, allowing write-offs for car loans and new home purchases."
Why were they dropped? Because our elected leaders in Washington overestimated the federal government's reach. Blame that on the ongoing deficits and the massive debt piled on since 2001."Private sector, not government, will have to pull us out of recession".
Blame that also on decades' worth of procrastination in addressing the nearly at-hand, unaccounted expenses from Social Security and Medicare entitlements.
Ahem, Mr. Zell ... you ask "why were they dropped?" ... one suspects that Congressional GOPers - including every RPOFer in Congress - had a bit to do with why the package "dropped" bunches of "money for infrastructure, including for projects in Florida".
Feel free to fade away
The dope who left Florida in a complete mess thinks
it would be great politically for President Obama" to break with one of his party's interest groups, Mr. Bush says. "I hope it's the teachers' union. He can bring about a transformation of education" and speak "on behalf of the kids that traditionally are shut out of the learning process, and [allow] a thousand flowers to bloom, not just one prescribed from Washington.""Republicans Must Be a National Party".
Precisely what is it that the evil "teachers' union" does that prevents "a thousand flowers to bloom"?
Trib wants you to adopt a stray
The Tampa Trib editors: "Many Floridians are howling mad about legislation that would mandate sterilization of dogs and cats, and they should be." "State Lawmaker's Bark Aimed At Wrong Tree".
"Nothing to hide"
The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "The public believes, after watching four Palm Beach County politicians go to prison and a fifth, former County Commissioner Mary McCarty, resign while awaiting sentencing, that politicians don't disclose because they have something to hide." "When in doubt, disclose".
"Crist gets Daytona 500 rolling".
"Republican Shawn Harrison has announced his plans to enter the race for the Florida House of Representatives District 60 seat. Republican Curtis Stokes, who heads the Hillsborough chapter of the NAACP, says he also will run for the seat. Ed Homan now holds that post, but is term-limited out of the 2010 race." "Two hats in ring for District 60 House seat".