The Tallahassee Democrat editorial board thinks Charlie's "Plan A" is simply fabulous:
Plan A includes the governor's optimism — after meeting with U.S. Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan last week — that Florida will receive a waiver for the release of $2 billion, out of the $44 billion in federal stimulus dollars for education nationwide. ...
"Crist conveys 'Plan A' to lawmakers".
Plan A embraces receipt of nearly $1 billion from the federal Recovery Act, which the governor has declared as essential and practical during this recession, "a historical time" that he said must be seen for what it is.
The governor's Plan A also includes a solid arrangement with the Seminole Indian Tribe to expand gambling and, in turn, gain some $400 million a year in proceeds.
Another facet of Plan A is not a new tax on cigarettes ...
Finally, Plan A depends upon incrementally positive movement in the stock market and real estate sales ... So, when asked what his Plan B was, Mr. Crist smiled winningly and said simply, "I'm for Plan A. Our backup plan is Plan A."
"With nine days left in the 2009 legislative session, the House and Senate remain far apart on how to resolve their differences over taxing and spending." "Budget deal elusive in final days of Florida legislative session".
"House and Senate negotiators worked largely behind closed doors on Monday on a budget compromise as the clock ticked toward a May 1 deadline to adjourn." "House, Senate work behind closed doors as the end of session nears". See also "Updated: House budget chief: 'Stay tuned' in budget logjam".
"Herald-Tribune: Dems brace for Crist Senate run".
The Orlando Sentinel editorial board: "The battle to hold Florida's public servants accountable got a welcome boost last week from State Attorney Willie Meggs in Tallahassee. Then it suffered a withering blow from Gov. Charlie Crist."
Mr. Meggs persuaded a grand jury to indict former House Speaker Ray Sansom for funneling millions in taxpayer dollars to Northwest Florida State College to build an aircraft hangar sought by a friend and major political contributor. College President Bob Richburg, who had lined up a six-figure job for Mr. Sansom, also was indicted.
"Justice's yin and yang".
The same day the grand jury issued its indictment, Mr. Crist decided against asking the Florida Ethics Commission to rule on whether a former employee in the governor's Office of Trade, Tourism and Economic Development violated the law when he helped set up a $500,000 grant for a company, then took a position with the company at more than double his state salary.
Mr. Crist's cop-out came after the governor's own investigators concluded that the employee, Brice Harris, had violated state ethics laws.
"It's getting easier for homeowners at risk of foreclosure to negotiate with lenders, but expertise is critical in making progress with a massive overload of bad loans." "CFO Sink holds round table on foreclosures".
Flori-duh, a national laughingstock (yet again)
The New York Times editors over the week end:
Since 2000, Florida has been synonymous with badly run and undemocratic elections. This distinction has not come to it by chance. Many of the state’s election officials and legislators work hard to keep eligible voters from casting ballots. The Florida Legislature is at it again, threatening to pass new rules that would make it harder for eligible voters, especially those from minorities and those who are poor, to register and vote.
"Suppressing the Vote in Florida".
Republican state legislators, who are behind the latest bills, want to make it illegal for anyone to get within 100 feet of a line of voters. That provision would criminalize election protection programs ...
The Daytona Beach News Journal editorial Board today:"There's not enough room to detail all the bad ideas in this bill. Here are some of the worst:"
· Strip out ID provisions that allow seniors and people with disabilities to easily prove who they are at the polls.
"Elections bill stinks, but tactics make it worse". See also "Bill to change election laws is drawing criticism".
· Limit voters who move within 29 days of an election to provisional ballots. (The House version is more permissive, allowing voters to change their addresses until the day before election day -- but would still require a trip to the supervisor's office to present proper identification, rather than allowing voters to verify their addresses at the polls.)
· Hamstring local supervisors of elections, often the last line of defense against Tallahassee-backed partisan attempts to disenfranchise voters, by forcing them to bow to the state Division of Elections on voter-roll purges and elections-equipment audits. Most problems with voting equipment in Florida were discovered by supervisors, not the Division of Elections.
· Make it illegal for anyone -- including volunteer advocates on hand to help voters who might otherwise be blocked from casting their ballot -- to come within 100 feet of voters on Election Day.
· Intimidate volunteer groups, like the League of Women Voters, by threatening them with potentially massive fines and even criminal sanctions if they don't turn in completed voter registrations within a short time (48 hours in the Senate version, five days in the House.)
Charlie's Senate campaign manager reads the newspapers: "Crist on Monday strongly hinted that he would veto a proposed rewrite of Florida's election laws as a broad array of grass-roots groups launched an all-out assault on the legislation." "Governor leery of voter law changes".
Yippee! More tax breaks
"A House panel is promoting a tax bill that's high on new tax breaks and short on revenue." "House to consider bill that seeks taxes on mailed magazines, newspapers". Related: "House panel tax plan only adds to budget gap".
"Broward judge in Anna Nicole Smith case is accused of exploiting 83-year-old neighbor".
Our "vacuous Republican governor"
Could our cerebral Democratic president and vacuous Republican governor be political soul mates, two men without an ideological foundation or purpose other than the pursuit of power, adulation and making people happy?"Crist, Obama share scary similarities".
"Vacuous" is putting it nicely
Who elected this dope anyway?
Crist said Monday educators are hyping the impact of budget cuts to panic Floridians into writing their legislators as state spending decisions are made in the final days of the legislative session. "Governor critical of dire predictions".
Wonder why Florida's newspapers are in trouble? Here's a hint.
What's next? Drilling in the River of Grass?
"['Rep. Dean Cannon, the Orlando Republican who is slated to become House leader in 2010'] is launching a bill to raise money by allowing oil and gas companies to seek permission to drill in Florida's coastal waters." "Legislator's proposal backs oil drilling [as close as 3 miles] off Florida's coast".
The rest of the RPOFer brain trust seems eager to get on board the stupid express: "Policy Council vice chairman Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, said there is plenty of time to discuss the topic. ... The House is contemplating oil drilling but refused to take up Gov. Charlie Crist's major green energy plans this session, said Eric Draper, lobbyist for Audubon of Florida." "House may rethink oil drilling ban".
"Wealthy polo-loving crowd jarred by horses' deaths".
"On the same day Ray Sansom went before a grand jury to defend against charges he slipped $6 million into the state budget for a friend's jet business, a contractor sent out a notice describing the project as an "airplane hangar." " "Bid notice rebuts Ray Sansom". Background: "The rise and fall of Ray Sansom".
Back at the ranch:
Perhaps the reaction by state lawmakers to former House Speaker Ray Sansom's indictment should have been expected. They already were demonstrating how out of touch they are by their efforts to dismantle growth management, starve higher education and interfere with the right to vote. But their casual dismissal of the grand jury's indictment and scathing criticism of the political process reaffirms that the legislative branch of government has lost its way."A cocoon of corrupt practices".
RPOFers at work
"A proposed tax on bottled water sank in a House tax council on Monday, signaling its demise this legislative session."
The House Finance and Tax Council voted down a bid to apply the state's 6-cent sales tax to bottled water.
"Plan to tax bottled water evaporates".
"Water is an incredibly valuable resource in Florida; we have shortfalls all the time," said Rep. Scott Randolph, D-Orlando, who tried to attach the amendment to a wide-ranging committee bill to make changes to the tax code.
"We are allowing a commercial business to take from our natural resources, and then force onto taxpayers the cost of alternative water supplies, and yet we're refusing to tax either the product or the taking of it from the ground," he argued.
"A proposed prescription-drug monitoring system is ready for a vote in the House and Senate, after an hour of debate in its last major committee stop." "Plan to monitor pain pills nears final vote".
Looking for a place to live
"State Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officials say the ... Florida black bear weighing about 180 pounds, is the first live bear reported in Broward County since 1978." "Rare bear spotted near homes in Broward County". Related: "Woman attacked by wild hog".
The Tampa Tribune editors: "Thanks to leadership in the state Senate, Florida Forever, the state's model land preservation program, has been given new life."
Late last week, Al Lawson, the chamber's minority leader from Tallahassee, Carey Baker, a Eustis Republican who chairs the General Government Appropriations Committee, and Dan Gelber, D-Miami Beach, teamed to pass legislation that would allocate $3.5 million to the program for the upcoming budget year - enough to issue $50 million in bonds"Rescuing a state jewel".
The little train that could ...
"SunRail plan survives close vote, chugs on".
Speaking of trains ...
"Tax on car rentals could help Tri-Rail".
"An important step"
The South Florida Sun-Sentinel editorial board: "Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made an important step when she indicated the U.S. government's willingness to review its deportation policy for Haitians." "Give Haitians Temporary Protected Status now".
Raw political courage
"Legislators may consider reviving tax holiday for school supplies".
Tea party twits
Joel Engelhardt: "Wednesday's 'Tea Party' in hundreds of cities, including West Palm Beach and Stuart, wasn't the free-form protest tinged with anarchism so happily embraced by some liberals. This Tea Party was the button-down Republican version. Lots of advance work. Pre-made signs distributed to protesters. T-shirts and mugs adorned with clever logos. The Tea Party concept is as pre-calculated as the 'grass-roots' Republican protest led by Washington campaign veterans that temporarily stopped the Miami-Dade County presidential election recount in 2000."
The Tea Party concept represents a skillful, organized effort to pressure the government to continue to cut spending on the old, the poor and the sick. It pits groups that want to help people against those who don't want tax money going to help others, at least until they need help themselves. Newfound debt defiance is not as simple as the right-wing talking points, even those chanted in a rising chorus, would have Americans believe.
"Reading Tea Party leaves".
End socialism in America? Eradicate Social Security and Medicare and food stamps and unemployment compensation? If that happened, the next protest wouldn't be a pre-planned, button-down event. And it wouldn't be peaceful.
"A bill is moving through the Senate that would prohibit students at Florida public schools from showing their underwear in a 'vulgar' manner." "Britches come up in Senate panel debate".
Which makes one wonder what happened to
"Governor sets executions for two Death Row inmates".
"Rep. Connie Mack, R-Fort Myers, said Monday that the debate over President Obama's choice to smile and shake the hand of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez — a frequent critic of the U.S. —distracted from the real issues at the recent Summit of the Americas." "Mack calls debate over Obama's Chavez handshake 'distracting'".
"One day after dropping out of the race, former [RPOFer] state Rep. Marty Bowen endorsed U.S. Rep. Adam Putnam for Florida Agriculture Commissioner." "Bowen Endorses Putnam in Ag Race".
"A push to toughen police oversight of confidential informants lost steam on Monday, even as 'Rachel's Law' cleared a final hurdle before heading to the House floor." "Weakened 'Rachel's Law' moves forward in House".
PBC Impact fees
The South Florida Sun-Sentinel editorial board: "Palm Beach County commissioners will once again consider a sticky revenue-generating option today: hiking impact fees on new construction." "Struggling housing industry can't handle higher impact fees right now".
"Palm Beach County's patronage-based system for choosing its bond underwriting team has been costly for taxpayers and opened a wide door for corruption, according to a long-anticipated review released Monday." "Clerk: Palm Beach County's corruption-prone bond system cost taxpayers up to $1.3 million a year".