"Agriculture Commissioner Charlie Bronson ended his brief flirtation with a 2010 gubernatorial bid on Thursday, likely clearing the deck for Republicans to avert a costly primary fight. Bronson, born and raised in Osceola County, bowed out to let fellow Republican Attorney General Bill McCollum start running as the nominee-apparent, building grassroots and fundraising operations without a GOP rival." "Bronson says he's not running for governor". See also "Agriculture Commissioner Bronson will not run for Florida governor".
"But Bronson did not endorse McCollum, and he continued to express unhappiness with party leaders' efforts to avoid an expensive primary before the general election against presumptive Democratic candidate Alex Sink"
Sink, the state's chief financial officer, is also expected to avoid a primary race."Ag Commissioner Bronson bows out of governor's race; doesn't endorse fellow Republican McCollum".
"This will either be the greatest plan ever of all times or it's going to be the biggest failure of all times," said Bronson, who apparently succumbed to pressure from state Republican Party Chairman Jim Greer.
Earlier this week, Greer introduced McCollum as the "next Republican governor of Florida" when McCollum announced he was entering the race being vacated by Gov. Charlie Crist. Crist is running to replace retiring U.S. Sen. Mel Martinez rather than seeking a second term in the governor's mansion.
Bronson, a long-time Republican and former party chief, has argued that a primary excites voters and allows for the exchange of ideas.
"While insisting that he will 'make no apologies' for taking sides in the race for governor, state GOP Chairman Jim Greer says the party is neutral in the U.S. Senate primary." "Greer says GOP will remain neutral in primaries".
"Secure our future responsibly".
From the "values" crowd
"As a new budget reality settles in at the state Capitol, environmental advocates wonder what the future holds for land preservation in Florida. ... as the annual legislative session ended this month, lawmakers did not approve additional money for the Florida Forever program next fiscal year, effectively suspending the program." "Budget leaves little for land-buying".
Charlie trolls for developer cash
"Gov. Charlie Crist says he will probably sign a bill environmentalists and growth management advocacy groups say will lead to more sprawl." "Crist to sign growth bill Thursday". The Tampa Tribune editorial board: "Bill stacks deck to favor developers".
"Robbing Peter to pay Paul"
"Finally, it appears, the shell game the Republican-led Florida Legislature has been playing with the state budget to avoid raising general taxes is coming back to haunt them."
Lawmakers swept nearly $590 million from dozens of state trust funds to prop up their proposed $66.5 billion budget. What the unexpected outcry has laid bare is the hypocrisy of legislative leaders who have been unwilling to consider broad tax reform but are willing to renege on promises they made when imposing special taxes or user fees to finance specific government services."Budget reveals a broken system".
Consider, for example, the gasoline taxes motorists pay every time they fill up. State law says that money is to go toward transportation. But in next year's budget, $120 million will flow instead into the general fund to pay for everything from schools to prisons. The trust fund raid will have significant repercussions for Tampa Bay, stalling improvements for Interstate 75 in Hillsborough County. And the Department of Transportation warned the raid will have a ripple effect for years as projects further down the pipeline are delayed as well, including more improvements for I-275 through Tampa.
In these tough financial times, the Legislature is engaging in a short-sighted version of robbing Peter to pay Paul. It proposes sweeping $92 million from the state's affordable housing trust funds, which are underwritten by a portion of the state's real estate transfer taxes. Those funds help subsidize low-cost apartments and help families buy homes. Aren't both still needed in this recession?
Charlie "striking a blow for recession-weary Floridians"
"Beginning a whirlwind tour of the state a week after he announced his U.S. Senate campaign, Gov. Charlie Crist signed three economic development bills at the Capitol on Thursday, saying he was striking a blow for recession-weary Floridians." "Crist signs economic-development bills into law".
"Crist adds McCain to Senate endorsers".
The Saint Petersburg Times editorial board: "Like that old hospital adage that there is always someone else sicker than you, Floridians coming to terms with the state's patchwork effort to make up a $6 billion budget deficit can look west to see things could be far worse." "It's not so bad— we could be California".
"McCollum is flamboyantly colorless"
Regardless of whether Sink, the Democrat, or McCollum, the Republican, wins we'll see a big change in gubernatorial style. ..."Three-dots: The early election lineup continues to solidify".
Sink, who is charming in small groups, can, when facing a crowd, deliver a speech like a high school principal reading the morning announcements.
And in a state full of colorful political personalities, McCollum is flamboyantly colorless.
His monotone vocal style spans the range of emotions from grudging praise to polite but stern moral disapproval. He sometimes has the speaking style of a police officer writing out a ticket.
Charlie in campaign mode
"Questioning whether Gov. Charlie Crist is following the Florida Constitution, state Supreme Court justices appeared skeptical Wednesday about his rejection of nominees for a seat on a Daytona Beach-based appeals court." "Appellate seat concerns state justices". See also "Court skeptical of judicial rejection", "Gov. Charlie Crist asks judges to weigh in on court diversity goal" and "Florida high court hears judicial diversity case".
"Third-grade FCAT reading scores drop".
"All 11 state universities will have the power to raise tuition annually by as much as 15 percent under a bill awaiting Gov. Charlie Crist's signature. But Florida's two oldest state universities, with their vast and generous alumni bases, are better positioned than the rest to take full advantage of the new revenues — thanks in large part to a provision lawmakers added at their request." "Tuition increase would help some Florida universities more".
Woulda been fun
"George LeMieux won't seek the Republican nomination for state attorney general. The former Broward Republican chairman ran Gov. Charlie Crist's 2006 campaign. He was Crist's first chief of staff in the governor's office and had the same job when Crist was attorney general." "LeMieux won't seek state post".
A snoozer for sure
"Three Republicans just jumped into the race for Florida Senate in Broward and Palm Beach counties, part of the continuing fallout from Gov. Charlie Crist's decision to run for the U.S. Senate instead of seeking a second term."
With Crist moving, the current chief financial officer, Alex Sink, is running for governor and state Sen. Jeff Atwater is going for CFO."Three Republicans vying to succeed state Sen. Jeff Atwater".
That opens his Broward-Palm Beach County state Senate seat, and three Republicans — state Reps. Ellyn Bogdanoff and Carl Domino and businessman Nick Loeb — want it.
Domino and Loeb are from Palm Beach County, which has 64 percent of the district's registered Republican voters.
Bogdanoff is from Broward, which has just 36 percent of the district's Republicans.
Other factors that could influence voters: there are two men and one woman; Bogdanoff is Jewish; Domino is Catholic; and Loeb is Episcopalian but grew up with his father who is Jewish and says that heritage "is very important to me."
Marifeli Pérez-Stable, vice president for democratic governance at the Inter-American Dialogue in Washington, D.C., and a professor at Florida International University: "Moving beyond Fidel".
Florida begs for more
"It was billed as a workshop to answer questions about the Obama administration's plans to build a high-speed rail network across the country. But Florida officials Thursday turned it into a pitch for up to $2 billion in federal money to pay for a 90-mile link between Orlando International Airport and Tampa with a train capable of going at least 110 mph." "Fla. makes pitch for federal money for high-speed train".
From the "deep thinkers"
"GOP drops effort to rename Democrats 'Socialist'".
RPOFers at work
The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "This year, Florida refused to set even a modest goal for renewable energy." "Pedal to conservation metal".
"With the shakeup continuing in Florida politics, state Rep. Pat Patterson [a DeLand Republican] said Wednesday he likely will run in 2010 for state chief financial officer." "Patterson may try for chief financial officer".
"Fla. drivers among the worst in U.S.".
The Daytona Beach News Journal editorial Board: "By law, the state's five water management districts have sole authority to issue permits for developers who want to pull water from the underground aquifer, fill in wetlands or add more pollution to water bodies. The most significant of these permits -- for people who want to withdraw more than 500,000 gallons of water per day, or destroy more than one acre of wetlands -- can only be issued by a vote of the relevant district's governing board."
A last-minute amendment to SB 2080 would take these decisions away from the governing boards and assign them to the districts' executive directors. As a result, the decisions would no longer be open to public debate. And while a permit is rarely denied -- by Florida law, the availability of water cannot act as a constraint on growth -- the potential for public debate often forces concessions and conservation measures that developers wouldn't otherwise consider. Relegating these decisions to the shadows increases the likelihood of political arm-twisting by well-funded, influential developers."Bill would cloak water decisions".
The amendment's pro-development tilt is made even more clear by a provision that allows denials of permits to be appealed to the full board -- but not approvals. And governing-board members would be expressly prohibited from "intervening" in any permitting decision.