The New York Times reports that "Federal prosecutors in Los Angeles on Wednesday indicted a Jordanian businessman with connections to the Florida Republican Party on charges of funneling illegal contributions to three former presidential candidates and Gov. Charlie Crist of Florida." "Businessman With Ties to Florida G.O.P. Fund-Raiser Sargeant Is Indicted" (via "Man with ties to Harry Sargeant indicted").
Brain dead budget
The St. Petersburg Times editorial board: "" "Crist’s budget proposal sounds like a return to the good old days. More money for schools and health care. No new taxes or layoffs. There’s even money for new prison guard radios. What economic hard times? Then the fine print explains why it’s too good to be true and why the governor’s optimism is a close relative to denial." "A shortsighted budget".
The New York Times: "Florida, which struggled with balloting problems in the 2000 presidential election, switched virtually all voting to paper ballots and optical scanners for the 2008 election. A study has found, however, that twice as many ballots were rejected as invalid in 2008 as in 2004. ... Secretary of State Kurt S. Browning said he was not surprised by the jump in invalid ballots in 2008" "Invalid Ballots in Florida Doubled in 2008".
... is the only word that seems to fit.
"The leader of state House Republicans is sounding the alarm about a group of activists who want to host Florida Muslim Capitol Day."
''By now, I can't imagine you haven't heard about this upcoming lobbying day for Muslims in Tallahassee,'' Rep. Adam Hasner of Delray Beach wrote in an e-mail forwarded to more than a dozen Tallahassee lobbyists who are Jewish.Read it all here: "House Republican leader Adam Hasner opposes Muslim lobbying effort". See also "Hasner says, Yikes! Muslims in Tallahassee". More: "Read what Rep. Adam Hasner wrote".
``Do you all intend to be part of an information campaign in opposition to it?''
Hasner speculated the group, United Voices for America, will ''push back'' against a resolution he proposed calling for solidarity with Israel. Hasner is Jewish.
Not so, said the group's founder, Tampa native Ahmed Bedier. He said the group plans to talk to state lawmakers about education, healthcare and the economy during the March 10 visit.
In an e-mail to the Herald/Times, Hasner suggested Bedier had ties to Hamas because he once led the Tampa office of the Council of American-Islamic Relations. ...
Hasner pushed for a meeting of a ''Jewish Caucus,'' which doesn't yet exist, to determine a response to the Muslim lobbying effort.
Other Jewish lawmakers said they're not sure it's a problem. ''They have as much right to represent themselves as anyone else,'' said Rep. Jim Waldman, D-Coconut Creek.
The St. Petersburg Times editorial board: "As the Florida Legislature looks for ways to save money, the state's public defenders have an idea worth considering: Suspend the death penalty. It would save the state a fortune." See what they mean here: "Death penalty: a price too high".
A bit much
The South Florida Sun Sentinel editorial board: "Pulling blood at DUI stops a heavy-handed fishing expedition".
"The 80-year-old mastermind of the successful Florida Prepaid College Program says he is willing to spend a half-million dollars to fight proposed legislation that would allow universities to increase their own tuition, fearing it will kill the prepaid program by making it too expensive for parents." "Creator of Florida Prepaid plan declares $500,000 war on tuition increase, says it will kill 'legacy'".
"Money, White House pick revive Everglades restoration hopes" "Money, White House pick revive Everglades restoration hopes".
"Employers have been dismissing more workers in mass layoffs in recent months, both nationally and in South Florida." "Mass layoffs on the rise in South Florida, across U.S.".
"A new property-tax plan proposed by Florida Gov. Charlie Crist would shift the tax burden away from first-time buyers and onto the backs of existing-home owners, according to an analysis by Orange County's property appraiser." "Own home? Tax burden shifts to you in Crist plan".
"New Wal-Mart to create 400 jobs in Jacksonville".
Mel can't help himself ...
"The House on Wednesday approved language that would allow Cuban-Americans to visit their relatives on the island more frequently and also ease some U.S. restrictions on trade with Cuba."
But opponents of more-normal ties with Cuba, including Florida's Cuban-born GOP Sen. Mel Martinez, say they will work to block final passage of the House's proposed shifts to U.S. policy when the spending bill comes to the Senate, likely next week."House Approves Fewer Restrictions On Cuba Travel". See also "House bill cuts Cuba travel enforcement".
"I am very concerned about any efforts to modify our policies toward the Cuban government so long as the authoritarian regime continues to deny basic human rights to its people," said Martinez.
All about the cash
"In 2009, candidates and their consultants are texting, instant messaging and Facebooking their way into lobbyists' attention zones." "High-tech fundraising hits Florida politics".
"Jeb!" spreads his cheeks ...
... and The Palm Beach Post editorial board inserts its nose: "Scripps: Jeb's real legacy".
"Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is endorsing Lakeland lawyer Dennis Ross' run for the 12th Congressional District seat being vacated by Adam Putnam, according to local Republican Party sources." "Dennis Ross Gets Jeb Bush's Support".
"The Board of Governors is set to vote on an agreement designed to protect the future financial stability of Florida's public universities and the state's prepaid tuition program." "Fla. board takes up prepaid tuition agreement".
"Rub out what's left"
The Orlando Sentinel editorial board:
Days before the start of the legislative session, Tallahassee's resembling a MASH unit, trying to restore the state's health by stabilizing services ranging from education to transportation."Even in a recession, lawmakers must respect the environment".
If state government's triage neglects the environment — typically ignored or mistreated during dire economic times — it can forget about any chances of a full recovery.
Unfortunately, efforts are under way that essentially could rub out what's left of the state's efforts to manage growth. And building on the progress the state has made in the fight against climate change is no longer certain, either.
Sansom death spiral
"A Leon County grand jury began digging into House Speaker Ray Sansom's dealings with Northwest Florida State College on Tuesday." "Grand jury resumes Sansom probe".
The best he could do?
Bill Cotterell: "As a news source, the Internet needs an editor".
"First step in an ethics case: The citizen".
"An election mix-up that had some voters confused about where to vote next month was not a conspiracy. Just plain old human error, the city clerk said."
Voters in a precinct of northeast Fort Lauderdale Is your Fort Lauderdale restaurant clean? - Click Here.'s District I had to vote in Pompano Beach for the Feb. 10 primary. But they got letters from the city recently saying they'd be voting in Fort Lauderdale at Cardinal Gibbons High School for the March 10 runoff between Commissioner Christine Teel and Bruce Roberts, her challenger."Lauderdale staffer's tech error creates precinct confusion for some voters".
Joel Englehardt: "Has the county ignored plasma arc gasification? No. Has the county thoroughly studied the the technology's potential? No. Should the county commit to a study before committing to a $2''billion future? Yes."
"No McCarty replacement for 2 weeks, Crist's office says".
Don't be calling the police chief
"A state judge says Orlando Commissioner Daisy Lynum misused her authority when she called the police chief in the middle of her son's late-night traffic stop three years ago. But Lynum doesn't deserve the maximum $10,000 fine — the punishment recommended by the lawyers prosecuting the ethics case, Administrative Law Judge Daniel Manry wrote in an order released Wednesday. Rather, Orlando's longest-serving commissioner should be publicly censured and reprimanded, Manry says." "Judge: Orlando commissioner Daisy Lynum misused authority in son's traffic stop".