"Crist made a Central Florida circuit judge the Florida Supreme Court's fourth-ever black justice on Wednesday, disappointing conservatives seeking to tilt the court more to the right. Judge James E.C. Perry, 65, of Sanford grew up in rural North Carolina, overcoming poverty and Jim Crow prejudice."
The wingers ain't happy:
John Stemberger, leader of Florida Family Policy Council, called Crist's decision crucial because of the possible ideological shift on the court. In his first two picks, Crist favored the Republican Party base by picking Charles Canady and Ricky Polston, who are white males with conservative bona fides. His third pick, Jorge Labarga, the lone Hispanic member, has a reputation as a moderate."Democrat named to high court".
''He missed a real opportunity not only to appoint the most qualified candidate, but also to bring the court back into ideological balance,'' Stemberger said. Crist ``made an appointment rooted in politics and one which will entrench the Florida high court back into a 5-2, left-leaning majority for at least the next decade.''
More: "Crist names Perry to Supreme Court over conservative opposition". See also "Crist's Pick For Supreme Court May Anger Conservatives", "Crist's Pick For High Court Gets Mixed Reaction", "Crist appoints Longwood judge to Florida Supreme Court", "Perry named to Supreme Court" and "Crist appoints Sanford judge to Florida Supreme Court".
Score one for the Realtors
"The Florida House is moving forward with an aggressive tax break for first-time home buyers that would offer thousands in upfront savings to lure reluctant buyers into Florida's ailing real estate market." "First-time home buyers could get tax break".
Courtesy of "Jeb!" and his "values" crowd
The Jebacies keepa comin'. Yesterday we read that "Florida among worst in U.S. for homeless kids". Today we get this: "Florida mental health care gets a 'D'".
Another Ponzi scheme
Mike Thomas: "Crist's hurricane-insurance plan robs Peter to pay Ponzi".
Big of 'em
"Facing a dismal budget, Florida legislators are struggling to find new money to help stave off a mass exodus of workers from the Space Coast when the space shuttle is retired in 2010." "Florida House gives blessing, not cash, to state space-research institute".
"The plan to build a Central Florida commuter-rail system took another step Wednesday when the Senate Judiciary Committee approved a bill that is critical to the future of the project." "Rail plan clears another hurdle". See also "Favor to Lakeland in SunRail plan draws flak".
Gay adoption back on the front burner
"As gay-rights advocates and religious groups queue up in an effort to influence the outcome of a Miami appeals court case that will help decide whether gay people can adopt children in Florida, a state lawmaker has quietly introduced two bills that could render the dispute moot. State Sen. Nan Rich, a Weston Democrat who is co-chair of the Senate Children, Families and Elder Affairs Committee, has filed a bill to repeal the 1977 Florida law that prohibits gay men and lesbians from adopting children." "Lawmaker seeking to legalize adoption by gays in Florida".
Billy Boy said jump!
... and Robaina didn't:
A Miami state representative was stripped of a powerful House leadership position Wednesday after he bucked House Speaker Larry Cretul over a bill to limit lawyer fees."Miami Rep. Julio Robaina stripped of powerful House position".
''The speaker felt we're not team players,'' said Republican Rep. Julio Robaina, who was removed from his post as chairman of the House Criminal and Civil Justice Policy Council. ``I think a very bad message was sent today.''
At issue: Attorney General Bill McCollum's effort to cap the fees of private attorneys hired to push state cases. The proposed fees vary depending on size of a settlement, ranging from 25 percent of the first $10 million to $50 million in cases where the award tops $930 million. ...
Robaina blamed ''politics.''. He's running for a state Senate seat. McCollum might run for governor if Charlie Crist runs for U.S. Senate.
The Tallahassee Democrat editorial board: "A proposed constitutional amendment that would forever cap local and state taxes at 2010-2011 levels and limit any future increases to county population or school-enrollment growth was defeated Tuesday in a Senate committee and given little chance in House action this year."
The defeat in the Senate gives local governments some breathing room and time to adjust to property tax reductions that are just now being felt by public schools, police, firefighters, road-maintenance crews — and did we mention public schools?"With Florida's economy in what appears to be an ongoing slump, this sure isn't the year to toy with worried voters — telling them they can have it all: lower taxes and all the health, safety and educational basics they expect to have delivered to them and their young children, aging parents and college students. Having it all is no longer an option, if it every was."
While Gov. Charlie Crist mentioned in February his curious desire for further property tax reductions — limiting to 5 percent any annual increase in the assessed value of businesses, vacation homes and any property except homesteads — in his State of the State address, he appeared to have thought better of that hasty plan. He is now apparently supporting that 2010-2011 cap with the requirement for a referendum on any new tax, assessment or fee that the Senate committee sent sprawling Tuesday. ...Read it all here: "We need tax reform, not tax pandering".
Here's Civics 101 on that: In a republic, elected officials are supposed to make a few uncomfortable decisions, being smart enough to explain why any tax increase is needed and brave enough to risk voter wrath from time to time if their decisions support the greater good.
Lobbyists at work
"The House Finance and Tax Committee on Wednesday wrapped up its six-week review of sales tax exemptions as it watched a parade of lobbyists defend $385 million worth of exemptions -- everything from tax breaks on Super Bowl tickets and skybox seats to religious items and bottled water." "Florida sales tax breaks aren't likely to be dumped". See also "Sales tax issue gains little traction".
Billy's "political mess"
Even Billy's hometown newspaper ain't amused at his latest mess. The Orlando Sentinel editorial board: "Attorney General Bill McCollum says his pricey television ad warning about cyber crime is all about protecting kids."
And that anyone attacking him for running it must be politically motivated.See what they mean here: "A TV ad about Internet predators sure looks political".
If anyone's being political, it's Mr. McCollum. Instead of putting the production of the ad out to bid, Mr. McCollum handed the project to the same out-of-state firm that worked on his 2006 campaign.
There's a thought
The Orlando Sentinel editorial board: "Legislators could bring in billions more by joining a pact to collect unpaid taxes".
The St. Petersburg Times editorial board wants to know why the Juvenile Welfare Board of Pinellas County created "a private agency called Pinellas Core Management Services to distribute public tax dollars to small nonprofits that provide programming in needy neighborhoods? Isn't distribution of tax dollars JWB's job?" Much more here: "Welfare board owes answers".
Troxler: "Seminole casinos: Deal or no deal?".
"'Transparency Florida' site to detail spending, even state workers' cell phone charges". See also "Senators hope to `put Florida's checkbook online'".
The St. Petersburg Times editorial board: "Developers' dream, Florida's nightmare".
The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "The Office of Insurance Regulation should not back down from its demand that State Farm not leave Florida hanging if the company leaves Florida." "State policy, not State Farm's".
"Atwater hassled by Tcoast State Farm agent".
"Several long-awaited Everglades restoration projects got a cash infusion from the $410 billion spending bill President Obama signed into law Wednesday." "Federal spending bill includes funds for 7 Everglades projects".
"Drainage, water projects could face steep cuts as managers make U.S. Sugar deal".
"Where's the state 'recovery czar'?".
"No easy calls this year on St. Petersburg mayor's race".
It never fails ...
"On a generally smooth election night, results in Riviera Beach were unclear until nearly 1 a.m. today because of incomplete information on the Palm Beach County elections Web site." "Glitches delayed Web posting of some Palm Beach County elections results".
Poor Palm Beacher
"Obama v. Limbaugh: Poll finds it's no contest".