"Former House Speaker Marco Rubio has quietly registered as a candidate for the Senate seat to be vacated by Mel Martinez in 2010."
The low-key approach allows Rubio to cultivate donors and activists around the state and assemble a campaign team while tamping down expectations about poll numbers and fundraising. If Gov. Charlie Crist decides to run for the Senate, Rubio is expected to switch gears and run for governor -- most likely making the announcement at a traditional press conference."Marco Rubio quietly registers to run for U.S. Senate". This musta been a treat: "Rubio to meet with Tampa Bay young Repubs".
Meanwhile, Adam Smith writes that "The biggest parlor game around town these days is speculating on what Charlie Crist will announce in May: "
Is he running for the U.S. Senate in 2010 or for a second term as governor?"What will Gov. Crist do next?".
The vast majority of guessers predict, with little evidence to back it up, that Crist will jump to the Senate even as they wonder how he could walk away from the Governor's Mansion. ...
Unless the international economic collapse turns around quickly, being one of 100 senators could be far more appealing than holding what may become among the roughest political jobs in the world. Even Gov. Crist's infectious optimism can't mask the grim picture many Florida leaders see ahead for the state. ...
His decision will depend in large part on what happens over the next 60 days in Tallahassee. Once the session ends, can Crist say with a straight face that Florida is on solid-enough footing for him to move on?
It's no secret the White House remains on Crist's radar, and governors tend to make better presidential candidates than senators.
There's another factor for Crist that many people talk about: Carole Crist, his new wife. If she'd prefer Washington to Tallahassee, as Crist friends and acquaintances speculate, it could be the most important factor of all.
Charlie "sees only an 'opportunity' for him to become a U.S. senator in 2010"
The Palm Beach Post editorial board: Crist "inspired so little favorable reaction because he pretended that it's 2005. Cut the budget? No way. Let's increase it. Look at new sources of revenue? No. Improve tax and budget systems? No. Reform the FCAT-based public school system? No. Rely instead on another gimmick."
The governor said that "with every crisis comes opportunity." He's right about that, but he seems intent on squandering the opportunity for Florida to be better in the coming decades, not just the coming months. The governor sees only an "opportunity" for him to become a U.S. senator in 2010 and leave a booby-trapped budget for his successor."Whose 'future' is it really?".
No other motive explains the governor's message Tuesday evening: Facing the worst economic crisis of the past 50 years, Florida can increase spending and cut taxes. To make his happy-days budget work, however, Gov. Crist counts on using billions in one-time money from the federal stimulus package over the next two years for regular state expenses. That fiscally reckless policy could bite the state hard in three years.
"Legislators will ask: Is Gov. Crist's budget based on fact or fiction?".
What idiot wrote this headline?
In the never ending quest to smear public employees, the Zell Corporation/South Florida Sun Sentinel headline reads:
Davie firefighters to get 7.5% raiseYou have to dig in to the story to learn that, in reality, this is a "2.5 percent salary increase each year for the next three years".
Manna from heaven
"Crist has upped his estimate of federal money coming to Florida through the stimulus package passed last month." "Crist: More stimulus help coming".
More: "Crist: More stimulus help coming", "Florida gets $1 billion more in stimulus money", "New estimate ups Fla. stimulus to $13.4 billion", "State's new stimulus czar has extra money to deal with" and "Crist says feds to increase aid".
Giving "workers the option"
"The AFL-CIO Executive Council meeting and newly appointed Labor Secretary Hilda Solis are both in Miami this week drumming up support for the bill that would give workers the option of unionizing by getting a majority of the workers to sign cards or a petition instead of holding secret ballot elections." "Biden to speak at AFL-CIO meeting in Miami".
Willfully ignorant Chamber shill
"Renewing his campaign to protect secret ballots in union votes, House Republican Leader Adam Hasner of Boca Raton today accused his Democratic counterparts of hypocrisy on the issue." "Hasner questions Dems secret ballot".
Hasner, Chamber shill that he is, willfully ignores the fact that the "Employee Free Choice Act" would "give workers the option of unionizing by getting a majority of the workers to sign cards or a petition instead of holding secret ballot elections."
"Guess who showed up at the offices of President Barack Obama's secretary of education today? Jeb Bush." "Jeb Bush at Obama's Education Dep't".
I understand the bipartisanship thing, but giving Uber hack, failed "education governor" access to Obama's cabinet. Heaven help us.
RPOFers making Limbaugh proud
"If the Legislature accepts federal stimulus money, unemployment compensation and food stamps will get a boost."
But Rush Limbaugh's crew is having second thoughts about helping those lazy unemployed people:
The Legislature might balk at expanding unemployment-compensation benefits further because the state might have to spend more to get more -- an underlying principle of the stimulus package. To get the full $444 million to boost benefits, the state might have to increase unemployment spending by $51 million to $226 million."Stimulus could mean billions in aid for Florida".
Crist's budget chief, Jerry McDaniel, acknowledged that fully expanding benefits ''might potentially increase taxes on businesses,'' because they pay into a trust fund for unemployment benefits.
Some Republicans are chafing at the ''strings attached'' to the federal stimulus legislation.
"A day after Gov. Charlie Crist urged state lawmakers to quickly approve a gaming compact he negotiated with the Seminole tribe, key lawmakers said they might not seal the deal before their 60-day session ends."
The compact that Crist parlayed in 2007 authorized casino-style slot machines at the Seminoles' casinos and gave them exclusive rights to offer banked card games. In exchange, the state was to receive a hefty cut."Session Could End Without Gaming Pact". See also "Seminole gambling a top priority", "Fla. lawmakers won't OK current Seminole gambling compact" and "Indian gaming is long shot in Florida Legislature".
The state Supreme Court voided the compact in the summer, finding that Crist had overstepped his authority. Lawmakers are now contemplating whether to ratify that compact, which Crist is holding up as a reliable source of revenue - at least $2.5 billion over 25 years.
Biden in Miami
"Vice President Joe Biden will be in Miami Thursday and Friday for a series of events that include a speech to labor union officials and a visit to a transit hub under construction near Miami International Airport, where he will likely highlight President Obama's stimulus aid for transportation projects." "Vice President Joe Biden to visit Miami, push transit funds".
Out of control
Florida's "agencies spent at least $17 million annually on more than 41,000 cell phones, air cards and PDAs, including Blackberries."
the report may only capture a fraction of the devices used by state employees because Florida doesn't currently have a way to track all the devices and their cost."Report May Rein In State Blackberry Use".
"Laundering more than $25,000 in political donations"
"Two owners of a Florida business that operates airport concessions were charged Wednesday with laundering more than $25,000 in political donations to Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's 2005 campaign." "2 accused of laundering LA mayoral contributions".
Mel the Earmarker
"One government watch group, Taxpayers for Common Sense, has determined from the more than 1,000 pages of budget bill language that Florida GOP Sen. Mel Martinez is the 35th-biggest Senate recipient of earmarked dollars for a state in the bill. The state's other senator, Democrat Bill Nelson, was ranked 37th." "Earmarks Not Evaluated Properly, Critics Say".
"State Sen. Paula Dockery failed Wednesday to limit the state's legal liability in a deal to buy CSX Transportation rail corridors for publicly financed commuter rail projects. Dockery, R-Lakeland, has been leading the opposition to the state deal with CSX because it would shift freight-train traffic from Orlando through downtown Lakeland. Last year, she successfully used the liability issue to defeat the measure." "Amendments To CSX Liability Bill Voted Down". See also "Revised Orlando commuter rail bill still drawing legislative critics" and "Commuter rail on track with key vote".
"A $410 billion catchall government-spending bill could be derailed by a combination of sticker shock and objections to a provision that would relax trade and travel restrictions with Cuba." "Easing up on Cuba could sink $410B bill".
"Craig Fugate, who guided Florida's disaster response through vicious back-to-back hurricane seasons, has been tapped to head the Federal Emergency Management Agency." "Florida emergency chief Craig Fugate to lead FEMA".
The St. Petersburg Times editorial board: "Strong choice to lead FEMA". See also "Obama taps Florida's disaster-tested emergency director to head FEMA" and "Obama nominates Florida's Craig Fugate to lead FEMA".
"An unnecessary legislative battle"
The Tampa Trib editors: "An unnecessary legislative battle is brewing between two groups that should be natural allies - Florida's judges and popularly elected clerks of the circuit courts." "Court Clerks Offices Serve Essential Public Function".
"The first woman to hold the post"
"State Sen. Nan Rich, a Democrat from Weston in Broward County, was selected Wednesday as the Senate Democratic leader beginning after the 2010 elections, becoming the first woman to hold the post." "State Sen. Nan Rich selected as Senate Democratic leader, beginning in 2010". See also "Sen. Rich to take state reins as Senate Minority Leader".
The Miami Herald editors: "Jeff Kottkamp, Florida's lieutenant governor, needs to learn how to travel lighter and cheaper. His travel expenses are way out of line for his job title: $400,000 for the two years he has been in office. Does the state's No. 2 really need a Florida Highway Patrol trooper to protect him around the clock? No." "Unnecessary security".
"Community Renewal Act"
The Tallahassee Democrat editorial board: "Growth and development have been essential elements of Florida's economy for decades."
But developers are often caught in a bureaucratic nightmare as they seek permitting, while development itself, without smart planning, can chew up our natural landscape, spawn urban sprawl and create transportation headaches."'Streamline' carefully: Community Renewal Act needs work".
On top of that, Florida's concurrency requirements — those rules that say developers must help pay for additional infrastructure their projects generate — have not worked as well as intended. ...
One effort to mitigate some of these conflicting issues is Senate Bill 360, the Community Renewal Act, which would "streamline" permitting by eliminating transportation concurrency and developments of regional impact in "dense urban land areas." ...
Lawmakers should take the time to closely examine the density definition of SB 360, to make sure we protect coastal areas and water supplies, to ensure that the scope and size of the bill fit what is needed, and to set a date to review whether the bill is working.
The latest from them Libruls ...
... on The St. Petersburg Times editorial board: "Sensible limits on lawyers' fees".
Joel Engelhardt: "No one knew what to expect Friday at Palm Beach County Tax Collector Anne Gannon's corruption workshop. She lined up two prosecutors, a former prosecutor and a lawyer to speak. She invited elected officials from across the county to listen. Or did she? Could the whole thing have been a giant sting operation, designed to lure them into a single room for a headline-grabbing bust, like those suspects lured to assemble by the promise of lottery riches?" "Big turnout for Corruption 101".
"A last-minute deal with the state's most powerful law-enforcement agencies may rescue a bill known as 'Rachel's Law' that sought to tighten oversight of confidential informants." "'Rachel's Law,' named for confidential informant Rachel Hoffman, gets second look".
"Sink: Fla. not doing enough to get federal grants".
"As lawmakers scour the budget"
"As lawmakers scour the budget for every dollar of savings, senators are looking at private physicians who are paid hundreds of thousands of dollars by the state's health department treating low-income residents for dental work and care of pregnant women." "Senator questions state pay to private doctors".
"The lure of federal money may make the difference for a seat belt enforcement bill in the Florida Legislature after years of frustration. ... Supporters say it would save hundreds of lives by allowing police to ticket motorists for failing to buckle up as a primary offense." "PNJ: Lawmakers choose seat belts over budget cuts".
Gay-Straight Alliance club
"Two Yulee High School students will be in federal court seeking a preliminary injunction which will allow them to start a Gay-Straight Alliance club ... The students were denied permission to start the school club designed to promote tolerance." "2 Yulee students challenging Nassau County Schools".
Armando Olivera, president and CEO of Florida Power & Light Company, and Debbie Harrison, director of the South Florida Program for the World Wildlife Fund, write in the The Daytona Beach News Journal today that "FPL's DeSoto project key step toward solar".
"The Kennedy Space Center's chief of staff and an Apollo astronaut told state legislators Wednesday that Florida's best days in space exploration are still to come, despite tough economic times." "Space Center: Florida's best days still to come".
Big of 'em
"A proposal to punish human smugglers who ply Florida's waters sailed through a Senate committee Wednesday." "Human smuggling bill moves forward".
"A legal advocate's group filed a complaint with the state Ethics Commission on Monday, claiming Mayor Dennis Mulder violated ethics rules when he voted to use taxpayer money to defend his government and employees from critics." "Deltona mayor comes under fire".
"Return to wild"
"The marine park says the endangered amphibian, named Axel, was the victim of a boat strike and washed ashore with a severe wound to the head. He's now ready to return home." "Green sea turtle in Florida to return to wild".