"The state's revenue picture continues to deteriorate"
"Crist said Wednesday that he would try to protect Florida's classrooms from more cuts this year, but that may not be possible as the state's revenue picture continues to deteriorate."
Even the massive federal economic-stimulus package Congress is hashing out won't necessarily help public schools much, and certainly not immediately. The package could send billions to Florida, but any education dollars likely cannot be spent until July 1, when the new fiscal year starts."Crist warns of possibility of more school budget cuts".
In the meantime, the Florida Legislature may find itself $700 million in the red as soon as next month, state budget writers said. That would force lawmakers either to cut the budget again -- on the heels of a series of cuts, the most recent in January -- or patch the deficit with new money from somewhere.
Crist said he would urge lawmakers to avoid additional classroom cuts this year, perhaps by tapping the $140 million-plus that the Seminole Tribe of Florida has paid for its expanded gaming operations. But until lawmakers sign off on an agreement with the tribe, those dollars can't be spent.
"Anger in Tallahassee over Gov. Charlie Crist's $1.34 billion bid to restore the Everglades could help a proposed law that threatens to block financing for the deal. A newly introduced bill would require Crist's proposal - which calls for the South Florida Water Management District to buy 180,000 acres from U.S. Sugar Corp. - to face an up-or-down vote by residents in the district's 16 counties." "State Senate bill would give voters say on U.S. Sugar deal".
Related: "Sugar deal requires tougher pollution standards" ("Farming on land intended for Everglades restoration remains a sticking point in the state's $1.34 billion deal with U.S. Sugar Corp.")
Effect of the stimulus package compromise undetermined
"The governor's office says it doesn't yet know how a tentative stimulus compromise in Congress would affect Florida. Earlier Wednesday, Gov. Charlie Crist's budget director said Florida would get $13.7 billion under the House stimulus bill but only $10.4 billion from the Senate version." "Effect of stimulus compromise on Fla. uncertain".
"President Barack Obama told Florida lawmakers this week that he was down to four names in his search for a new NASA chief, although Obama would not reveal the finalists, according to congressional sources." "Obama narrows list of candidates for NASA chief to 4".
Barreiro claims he was ''set up''
"A high-level state juvenile justice official was fired after pornography was found on his state computer, but "
Gus Barreiro says he was ''set up'' by people "trying to ruin my life.''"Juvenile Justice worker fired for porn, says he was set up". See also "Report: Fired state juvenile justice exec had 382 porn pictures on his state computer" and "Juvenile Justice Department official who was fired over porn says he was set up".
Barreiro, 49, a former [Republican] state representative from Miami Beach, was fired Jan. 15 from a $72,000-a-year job as chief of residential programs for the Department of Juvenile Justice.
The reason for Barreiro's firing: ''improper conduct/computer misuse.'' But the department did not explain the circumstances that led to his ouster until Wednesday, when the agency released the results of an internal investigation of an inspection of Barreiro's computer.
The 13-page report, marked ''for adult viewing only,'' said an examination of the hard drive of Barreiro's state-issued laptop contained ''300 to 400'' images of adult pornography.
"Unfortunately, Central Florida appraiser right about real-estate bust".
Running government like a business
"Irate senators gave a verbal spanking for the second day to Visit Florida officials who contracted with a Missouri vendor to field telephone calls about Sunshine State vacations. ... The Senate Transportation and Economic Development Appropriations Committee [also] learned that at least one Visit Florida executive earned a $50,000 bonus last year and that the five highest paid officials there earn collectively more than $800,000 annually. Visit Florida president Bud Nocera earns $222,000 per yea" "Senators grill Visit Florida over spending".
"Florida tourism executives endured a second day of withering criticism from legislators Wednesday for spending scarce tax dollars on bonuses for executives, overseas travel and other perks."
Desperate to close a state budget deficit that could reach $6 billion next year, senators pored line by line through spending by VisitFlorida, a tax-supported agency that promotes Florida around the world. Senators questioned $1.3 million for travel, $500,000 to entertain travel writers and $85,000 for four directors' meetings."Legislators dissect VisitFlorida spending and question the agency's judgment".
"Imagine what it must be like on the state plane with Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp as he flies around tending to crucial duties only coincidentally frequently located in his home town." "Look! Up in the sky! It's the lieutenant governor!".
Charlie's high flying hypocrisy
The Daytona Beach News Journal editorial board: "Remember back in the mid-1990s, when a then little-known senator from St. Petersburg was making a huge fuss about the late Gov. Lawton Chiles' free-flying use of state airplanes? We bet Gov. Charlie Crist remembers." "Ground the Lt. Governor".
Drill baby, drill!
"D.T. Minich, executive director of the St. Petersburg-Clearwater Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, told the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee on Wednesday that drilling in the eastern Gulf of Mexico is not worth the risk to the environment and the area's economy." "Congressional panel told drilling in gulf off Florida too big of a risk".
Not a great start
"Floridians could pay more for bottled water, eyeglasses, Super Bowl tickets and other items if lawmakers decide to remove some of the 239 sales tax exemptions to help shore up a third consecutive year of budget shortfalls."
But for a Republican majority that has spent most of the past decade creating tax exemptions, reversing course could be an uphill battle.And check out the mind set of the fellow running the group looking at whether and which exemptions to close:
"If you raise taxes on businesses, business will leave. If you raise taxes on retirees, retirees will leave," said Rep. Tom Grady, R-Naples."Sales tax changes may prove tough".
Grady and other Finance and Tax Council members on Wednesday started the task of sifting through 60 years of exemptions to the state's 6 percent sales tax, which cost the state about $12 billion per year. The committee is not considering repealing the exemptions for legal, banking and other services, which cost the state another $23 billion.
Each of the 15 council members were given about 15 exemptions to research and determine reasons to keep or repeal it. The council discussed half of the exemptions on Wednesday.
Form over substance
"For a case study in political sloganeering, look no further than the fall of 'Acceler8' and rise of 'Accelerate.'" "What's in a name? Crist's economic program, Bush's old Everglades initiative share similar labels".
"In Broward, 4,403 people were either facing foreclosure or lost their homes in January, up 29 percent from 3,426 last January, In Palm Beach County, 1,744 owners were in some stage of foreclosure last month, up 2 percent from 1,713 a year ago, according to RealtyTrac." "Foreclosures keep mounting in South Florida".
Related: "Humbled Key West mayor working to save his homes from foreclosure".
"A more measured approach to crime and criminals"
The St. Petersburg Times editorial board: "Florida's budget crisis may bring a modicum of reasonableness to the debate over criminal justice policy."
Instead of the "tough on crime" mantra that politicians spout to win elections and that usually leads to more prison beds, suggestions are cropping up for alternatives as a way to save big bucks. These ideas are not percolating up from liberal sources alone. Some of the most ardent supporters for a more measured approach to crime and criminals include a conservative Republican lawmaker and a fiscal watchdog group."New ideas on prisons".
Florida houses 100,000 inmates in prison and expects to house another 15,000 by 2014. Three new prisons are on the drawing board. This fiscal year $340 million was allocated for prison construction, and much more will be required in the years to come.
Racist RPOFer comeback attempt
Update: "Hillsborough County Republican Party official Carol Carter, who resigned last week over an e-mail some considered racially offensive, is getting support from a high-level party official in an attempt to keep her post."
State party Vice Chairman Allen Cox is trying to drum up support statewide for Carter, who on Wednesday sought to rescind her resignation as Hillsborough County's state committeewoman. "Cox, in his e-mail, seeks support for Carter from party leaders including former party Chairman Carole Jean Jordan, a longtime friend of Carter's; Sharon Day, a delegate from Florida to the Republican National Committee; state Rep. Jennifer Carroll, the only black Republican in the state Legislature; and Deon Long, head of Florida's Federation of Black Republican Clubs."
State party Chairman Jim Greer, however, said on Wednesday that he considers Carter's resignation final, raising the possibility it could generate a high-level battle in the party.
In an e-mail Monday to party activists in Florida, Cox says, "We know Carol to be a person of integrity without any prejudice, and to characterize her otherwise is slander." He asks them to e-mail or call Carter and urge her not to resign.
Carter said other black GOP leaders, plus Day and Jordan, have called her to express support, and that Carroll has contacted Greer on her behalf."Republican Bosses Join E-Mail Fray".
. . . . . original post
"A longtime Republican leader in Hillsborough County is trying to get her party post back, nearly one week after she resigned over a racially charged* e-mail referring to President Barack Obama's inauguration and Hurricane Katrina.**"
Carol Carter asked the state party chairman, Jim Greer, on Wednesday to rescind the resignation she submitted last Thursday. She said she apologized and suggested that all executive committee members, including herself, attend sensitivity training.Back in Uncle Tom's cabin:
Deon Long, president of the Florida Federation of Black Republicans, said he and other members were not offended by the e-mail."GOP official wants to reclaim her post". See generally "After All, He Is Black".
''It's like she got the death penalty for crossing the street, and I'm unequivocal in support of her,'' Long said. ``We can't be so overly sensitive that we can't make any reference to race.''***
- - - - - - - - - -
*"Racially charged"? Why can't the Florida's newspaper company employees (Beth Reinhard) use the right word, to wit" "racist". Are our "journalists" timid, or just afraid of upsetting their bosses, or their RPOFer friends and sources? What's the problem with calling a spade a spade? For more on this newspaper company timidity, see "Calling a 'racist' a 'racist'".
William March is having the same difficulty this morning, calling it only "an e-mail some considered racially offensive, is getting support from a high-level party official in an attempt to keep her post." Only "some"? "Racially offensive" as opposed to "racist"? Try "blatantly racist" Why all the tiptoeing around?
**"Veteran" Republican Party of Florida state committeewoman Carol Carter's e-mail included the following passage:
How can 2,000,000 blacks get into Washington, DC in 1 day in sub zero temps when 200,000 couldn't get out of New Orleans in 85 degree temps with four days notice?When called on it, Carter reflected the deep thinking of a typical RPOFer:
I have been asked to send this apology for my earlier email. I am sorry that it was received in a negative manner. I do hope that we are going to be allowed to keep our sense of humor"Racial e-mails by Hillsborough GOP leaders" (underscoring added).
***DeLong isn't alone. "After Hurricane Katrina, for example, [one Frances Rice, the leader of the Sarasota-based National Black Republican Association] insisted on sending out a press release praising President Bush's response to the disaster. The board balked because members thought Bush's response was imperfect at best, and those who died or lost their homes were disproportionately black."
"The Palm Beach County Republican Party donated about $20,000 in seed money to start the National Black Republican Association in 2005", and it "has received tens of thousands of dollars in funding from the Republican Party."
The group is bent on "calling Democrats racists". "Leader of black Republicans sparks a backlash".
To get a fuller picture of this delightful group's perspective on the world, they recently declared "Sarah Palin - Conservative of the Year".
"Hillsborough County may find few takers in its search for an outside agency to investigate how former Supervisor of Elections Buddy Johnson racked up a deficit of at least $3 million." "Hillsborough County shops for agency to investigate Buddy Johnson".
Bill holds a press conference
"Citing sensational recent fraud cases, two southwest Florida legislators and Attorney General Bill McCollum on Wednesday called for better licensing scrutiny of investment advisers and state-level prosecution of big fraud cases." "McCollum endorses lawmakers' financial-fraud bill".
Lawson takes on Boyd
"Senate Democratic Leader Al Lawson, who is facing a term-limited retirement, wants to go to Washington."
Lawson, an insurance agent who has represented Tallahassee in the Legislature since 1982, said today he intends next year to take on Congressman Allen Boyd, a Democrat from Monticello."Lawson to take on Boyd for US House seat".
The primary will be bruising, with the nation's economic crisis front and center.
Boyd has represented the sprawling and mostly rural North Florida district since 1997 and is a member of the fiscally conservative "Blue Dog" coalition.
"There are term limits for legislators, and I always thought there should be term limits for members of Congress," Lawson said. "There needs to be a fresh approach."
Lawson has come out of the gate swinging, accusing Boyd of forgetting his struggling constituents.
Boyd voted in favor of a $700 billion taxpayer rescue of the nation's troubled financial industry that was first proposed by former President George W. Bush. Boyd joined most Republicans in Congress in voting against a more than $800 billion economic stimulus package being pushed hard by the new administration of President Barack Obama.
Another press event
"Crist commemorates Lincoln's birthday, NAACP anniversary with civil-rights events".
The South Florida Sun Sentinel editorial board: "Thank goodness for common sense. Palm Beach County, land of endless scandals, was about to become the butt of yet another joke by seating a hot-headed attorney on the judicial bench, after he was suspended from practicing law."
Read all about it here: "Supreme Court injected some needed common sense into judge flap".
Fortunately, the Florida Supreme Court disqualified William Abramson from taking the circuit judge's post. This is the same court that suspended Abramson's law license in December, so the ruling wasn't a major surprise. But it was a big relief.
Abramson won the November judge's race fair and square, pulling off a squeaker upset over longtime Judge Richard Wennet — an occasional hot head in his own right.
But by that time, Abramson had already been reprimanded by the state Supreme Court twice for his courtroom conduct, and Wennet's complaint against him over a 2005 incident had not yet been resolved. The next month, it was, with the court suspending Judge-elect Abramson's law license for 91 days, long enough to require him to seek reinstatement — meaning it's not guaranteed he'll get it.
That's when the real tap dancing began, and a long, ugly race threatened to get more embarrassing.
Boca "is opting out of early voting for next month's election, which has two competitive City Council races. Council members voted unanimously on Tuesday that the city would not open the polls before Election Day, March 10. Low turnout and the cost of poll workers were the primary reasons, said City Clerk Sharma Hagerty." "".
"Michael Mayo: Meet Fort Lauderdale's mayor elect".
"With the forced departure of Mary McCarty from the Palm Beach County Commission, Gov. Crist can change the commission's personality that formed 18 years ago with McCarty's election." "Many McCarty applicants, short list of credible ones".
"A declining housing market and mounting home foreclosures could knock a $58 million hole in Hillsborough County's budget next year and cost dozens of county employees their jobs." "Hillsborough Budget 'Numbers Could Get Progressively Worse,' Official Says".