Adam C. Smith: "It seems an insane question to raise 604 days before Florida elects its next U.S. senator: Is Kendrick Meek already on the verge of walking away with the Democratic nomination?" "Florida Democrat Kendrick Meek builds support, war chest for Senate run".
"Quit starving our schools and universities"
The Tallahassee Democrat editorial board: "here in Florida we are letting our public schools and universities languish, even though we once passed a constitutional amendment demanding quality public education. We continue to ignore its call."
What we do in Florida is bow to the lowest-common denominator approach to managing government, which by extension includes public schools, colleges and universities."It's not that hard". Bob Graham says "Add funding, subtract politics".
It's a shame and an embarrassment, and it is so self-defeating that one can only conclude our educational system has personally failed our state legislators who don't seem to know how to connect the dots.
"It's Tallahassee legislating at its worst"
The Tampa Trib editors: "When the state's development friendly lawmakers aren't trying to undo growth management laws, they're trying to gut or eliminate altogether the agency charged with enforcing them, the Department of Community Affairs."
It's Tallahassee legislating at its worst."Stop Unwarranted Assault On DCA".
Gov. Jeb Bush at one time proposed folding DCA into the Department of State, but, fortunately, public outcry stopped that scheme. Instead, in Bush's last term, misguided lawmakers decided to slowly bleed the department by eliminating three or four positions a year.
The attack on development oversight has continued the last two years. Last year Secretary Tom Pelham lost eight positions. But some lawmakers pledged to Pelham that the positions would be restored if he supported their flawed growth management legislation. Pelham declined.
A couple of weeks ago, another handful of planners were let go.
The worst offenders are in the House. Speaker-elect Dean Cannon, R-Winter Park, has long had it in for the department. But Rep. Rich Glorioso, a Plant City Republican, also wants the agency's budget slashed by 50 percent this session.
In this otherwise obvious column, Scott Maxwell reveals the Bushco dead-enderism that continues to pollute Florida "journalism":
Many of our current leaders are disciples of Jeb Bush, who opposed the class-size amendment and wanted to redirect public money into private schools. The new generation of Jeb Lites crave his popularity, but lack his intellect."Is it any shock lawmakers want to renege on class-size promise?".
Jebbie's "intellect"? I get that "Jeb!" had an e-mail address, wears glasses, uses a Blackberry, and graduated from college with a Bachelors in Latin American Studies ... more power to him; but to suggest that Jebbie is some sort of an "intellectual", is enough to cause one to ROTF&LMAO.
On the cheap
"Consumer advocates in Florida are warning that some health insurers are using misleading tactics to steer patients toward cheaper medicines — and the results can be harmful." "Health insurers push generics, but what are patients getting?".
The poor things
Aaron Deslatte: "Florida's economic meltdown is affecting even the hardiest of industries: lobbyists." "Lobbyists down but not out in Tallahassee". Related: "Through lean times, lobbyists are feasting".
"From research labs to city halls, South Floridians are scrambling to get a piece of the economic stimulus money that will flow from federal coffers." "South Fla. scrambles for economic stimulus money".
"Sen. Mike Haridopolos, R-Indialantic, and Rep. Dean Cannon, R- Winter Park, are slated to assume the top leadership jobs in their respective chambers in 2010. "
If Florida opts to balance its $66 billion budget with heaping helpings of federal stimulus money — Crist has recommended using $4.7billion in the 2009-10 budget — they'll be the presiding officers when the money runs out."Pay now — or pay later?"
Not coincidentally, they are among the most forceful critics of the $787billion stimulus bill.
Not a nice visual
"In the face of massive budget cuts and new figures that showed 800,000 jobless Floridians and the worst unemployment rate in 16 years, state lawmakers are growing angrier by the day." "Wanted: Jobs for Florida".
"It began with three mothers. And grew to include the signatures of more than 2,000 parents, students, teachers and other community members. The 500-foot scroll is headed for Tallahassee on Tuesday as part of a plea to lawmakers to not cut money to public education." "Signed scroll headed to Tallahassee".
See you in Havana
Mike Thomas: "With Cuba, emotions have blocked rational policy."
Our approach to the island is dictated by a Cuban exile community that cannot see beyond its hatred of Castro. Nobody dare run for office in Florida, or for president of the United States for that matter, without paying homage to the failed embargo."Embargo of Cuba robs U.S. of influence".
Sen. Mel Martinez is among them. His parents evacuated him to the United States when he was 15 years old to escape Castro. His hatred is understandable, his hard line consistent.
He now is trying to block legislation that would ease the embargo, starting with travel restrictions.
That Martinez means well is not in doubt. But he is helping to perpetuate the very thing he despises.
From the "values" crowd
"Libraries in Pasco County may close on Mondays".
Once in a blue moon ...
Florida's editorial board's will remove their noses from the Florida Chamber's Limbaugh-sized derriere. The St. Petersburg Times editorial board gives us a stunner today:
Three of Florida's most powerful business groups — Enterprise Florida, the Chamber of Commerce and the Council of 100 — have offered 250 recommendations to the Legislature about how to respond to the economic recession. But their prescription reflects the self-interests of big business and developers rather than the welfare of all Floridians. It approaches the future by embracing the worst excesses of the past, and it would move Florida backward, not forward."Business ideas bad for Florida".
"That dreary annual IQ test"
Carl Hiaasen: "Every year, state water managers allow large bottling firms to siphon nearly two billion gallons from fresh springs and aquifers. The fees are laughably puny."
Now the issue is floating up again in that dreary annual IQ test otherwise known as the meeting of the Florida Legislature. Gov. Charlie Crist is pushing for a modest 6-cents-per gallon tax on water taken by commercial bottlers. ...Read it all here: "Public spigot stays open for water bottlers". The Tampa Trib editors: "A Refreshing Approach To Bottled Water".
Perceptively noting that the budget is in shambles and the state is desperate for revenue, even some Republicans have expressed support for cashing in on the bottled-water craze.
In a charming understatement, Sen. Evelyn Lynn of Ormond Beach said ''it's somewhat of a contradiction'' for Florida to let bottling firms have all the water they want while curtailing use by homeowners.
However, Lynn wants to tax water bottles at the point of sale, meaning the money would come from the pockets of consumers. Crist's proposed fee is fairer, laying the burden where it belongs -- on the companies that are getting rich from tapping Florida's underground aquifers.
Not surprisingly, the industry greatly prefers a sales tax over an extraction fee. Its lobbyists are fiercely working to kill the governor's plan.
Bottlers say it's wrong to single out one group among the many private and public users of spring water. Although agriculture does draw billions of gallons from the same sources, few ranches or farms enjoy spectacular profits that water bottlers do.
The times are jittery for corporations such as Nestle and Coca-Cola, under fire for contributing a waste stream of plastic containers to the nation's landfills and dumps.
Words mean things
Mark Lane's "Words of the week".
"... the world record for spinning its wheels the longest"
The Tampa Trib editors: "Over many years the issue of rail transit in Tampa has been studied, argued, abandoned, resurrected, and refined, but never have voters been asked if they want to tax themselves to begin building a useful rail system."
Tampa probably holds the world record for spinning its wheels the longest on this issue. So it was frustrating to hear three county commissioners last week attack Commissioner Mark Sharpe, who had the courage to mention "referendum" out loud at a board meeting."Rail Proposal Gets Personal".
"Pat Mica, wife of U.S. Rep. John Mica, has been selected to commission the U.S. Coast Guard's newest cutter, the Alligator, in a ceremony planned for 10 a.m., Monday, at the St. Petersburg Coast Guard Station." "Congressman Mica's wife to commission Coast Guard cutter".