Scott Maxwell: "If you want proof of the GOP's woes, look no further than Bill McCollum."
Party insiders cleared the deck for him this week, essentially pinning the GOP's gubernatorial hopes on a two-time loser"What should also concern loyal Republicans is that McCollum isn't just the favorite pick of the GOP party bosses; he's the opponent Democrats would pick, too."
McCollum, after all, radiates about as much charisma as a pile of mulch.Maxwell continues, writing that "if Sink only has McCollum to face, she should count her blessings."
In fact, the only thing that made him look lively back in 2000 was the fact that he was standing next to Bill Nelson.
So Dems just love the idea of McCollum sharing the stage with their down-home CFO, Alex Sink.
They also love the fact that McCollum's best asset is his tenure — something that Americans decided was more a liability during last year's change-themed elections. (Hence this celebratory release from Florida Democrats: "Lifelong Politician Bill McCollum — 32 Years Running for Office.")
After all, the guy has about as much cross-party support as Dick Cheney.Much more at "McCollum's early anointment may haunt GOP". But see "Poll shows Florida gubernatorial candidate McCollum ahead of Sink".
He ticked off Democrats when he went after Bill Clinton in Congress and angered many black leaders when he fought Gov. Charlie Crist's efforts to restore civil rights to felons who had repaid their debt to society. And now he's even irritating members of his own party in what looks like a return to the days of party-boss, backroom-board dealing.
Anything for a buck
"Wal-Mart ... among stores busted for selling alcohol to underage customers".
"Florida's wildly popular Bright Futures merit scholarship is facing a dimmer future because of its ballooning costs, sparking worries that some students could be frozen out at a time when college costs are skyrocketing." "Is Bright Futures fading?".
Never too young to be dumb
"In her first session as a Florida legislator, this year, Republican Rachel Burgin emphasized social conservative issues and often followed in the footsteps of her predecessor, former state Rep. Trey Traviesa."
Burgin, who got her state House seat through an appointment process that caused controversy last year, hit a few bumps, including one bill regulating massage parlor advertising that drew some mockery."Youngest legislator making her mark".
Dems can only hope
"For those looking for the future of the Republican Party, he might just be the guy running for agriculture commissioner of Florida: Adam Putnam." "Putnam might be the future of the GOP".
Drill Baby, Drill!
"Two Central Florida lawmakers [Reps. Dean Cannon, R-Winter Park and Charles Van Zant, R-Keystone Heights] are preparing to again try to lift the ban on offshore oil drilling within 10 miles of Florida's Gulf Coast." "Offshore drilling bill still on horizon".
Will there be a parade down Main Street?
"Three decades have past since Florida resumed executions when John Spenkelink was strapped into Old Sparky and electrocuted, the nation's first involuntary execution after a Supreme Court ban was lifted." "Fla. marks 30 years since death penalty's return".
Ron McAndrew, who spent 25 years in Florida corrections before retiring, including working his way up from an entry-level corrections officer to a warden in the Florida State Penitentiary, penned this: "Florida must abolish flawed death penalty".
"Gainesville carbon cure"
Mike Thomas: "Gainesville carbon cure trumps cap-and-trade".
All they're missing is the hoods
"At a time when the Florida electorate is growing increasingly diverse, the Republican party is gearing up to field an all-male, all-white slate in 2010."
The Republican front-runners for statewide office include Gov. Charlie Crist for Senate, Attorney General Bill McCollum for governor, Senate President Jeff Atwater for chief financial officer and U.S. Rep. Adam Putnam for agriculture commissioner. [The fiery haired] Putnam is the only one of the GOP candidates under 50 years old."All-white slate may be liability".
"Indefensible breach of government-in-the-sunshine"
The Saint Petersburg Times editorial board: "Florida forces elected officials to spend public money on incentives for businesses without telling taxpayers which companies are seeking the cash, an indefensible breach of government-in-the-sunshine. But it's particularly outrageous when those elected officials themselves are in the dark." "Blindly giving away taxpayers' money".
See you in Havana
"In a fresh overture to Cuba, President Barack Obama is asking the communist government to resume talks on legal immigration of Cubans to the United States." "Obama in fresh overture to Cuba on immigration".
"Pick a problem, almost any problem"
Stephen Goldstein ain't happy: "how stupid, regressive, irrational, dumb, and backward Florida appears. Pick a problem, almost any problem, and we're never ahead-of-the-curve finding solutions to it; we're constantly losing ground." "Transportation woes: Political tactics dumb and dumber".
From the "values" crowd
House Majority Leader Hasner
was instrumental in killing an effort to get $444 million in federal stimulus dollars by broadening who is eligible for unemployment compensation."Biz group gives Adam Hasner thumbs up".
But he was unable to drum up enough support for another of the association’s top priorities - a constitutional amendment to guarantee secret-ballot elections when workers vote to unionize.
Entrepreneurship, Florida style
The South Florida Sun-Sentinel editorial board: "Medicare and Medicaid continue to attract crooks and con artists. Tens of billions of taxpayer dollars a year are lost to fraud or abuse in these programs for elderly, disabled and poor Americans."
With Congress considering proposals to extend coverage to millions more at a cost to taxpayers of at least $1.2 trillion over the next decade, it's more crucial than ever to crack down on cheating."Costly Medicare, Medicaid fraud in need of legislative crackdown".
South Florida has become the nation's hotbed for bilking Medicare and Medicaid. And U.S. Attorney R. Alexander Acosta of Miami has prosecuted more than 700 people responsible for more than $2 billion in fraudulent Medicare billings since 2006. ...
The word is out in South Florida. In 2005, health providers here submitted 22 times as many claims for HIV drug infusion therapy as the rest of the country combined. Some former drug dealers in South Florida reportedly have switched to health fraud as a more lucrative criminal activity.
Check Book Charlie at work
"Gov. Charlie Crist apparently spoke too soon when he told school districts last month that 'there's no need to talk about firing teachers.' Hundreds of teachers in Orange County face unemployment when the new school year starts, joined by hundreds of others -- possibly more -- throughout Florida." "Hundreds of teachers face job losses in Orange County".
"Hardly anyone blames Charlie"
Carl Hiaasen the other day: As Check Book Charlie
launches off on his thrilling new quest, Floridians remain stuck with brutal unemployment, a patchwork farce of a budget and an embarrassing, rudderless Legislature. The schools are drowning, crime is rising, important services are being slashed and we lead the nation in both foreclosures and mortgage fraud."Crist launches yet another thrilling quest".
Yet, judging by the numbers, hardly anyone blames Charlie. You can't describe his presence as electrifying, but the governor definitely has a gift for appearing sincere, well-intentioned and harmless. These days, that counts for plenty with voters.
The news of his candidacy didn't gladden the hearts of Democratic leaders, who were hoping Rubio would be the Republican choice in the race to replace outgoing Sen. Mel Martinez.
A darling of the Fox News crowd, Rubio comes from the lunar Limbaugh-Cheney wing of the party. He accuses moderates such as Crist of dodging core Republican values, when what they're actually trying to dodge is another bleak and humiliating election day.
Rubio has slammed Crist for accepting federal stimulus dollars and last week broadcast a Web video of the governor sharing a stage with President Barack Obama. Considering Obama's high ratings in the national polls, Rubio's strategy is baffling, to say the least.
Unlike Crist, the former House speaker has practically zero crossover appeal to Democrats, and he would have been a highly vulnerable opponent in the upcoming campaign.
But now the Democratic candidate, whoever that might be, will likely face a sitting governor whose durable popularity cuts across party lines. Unless he turns up in a Craigslist ad or as a wardrobe advisor to Miss California, Crist will be hard to beat. ...
Crist says he wants to go to Washington because he can better serve Floridians there. I remember another nice guy who left Washington because he said it was too hard to get anything done. His name was Lawton Chiles, and he came home and ran for governor.
It all boils down to the nature of one's ambition. Crist wants to be president someday, and there's nothing wrong with that. But a term in the Senate is six years, Charlie, not two. Try to control yourself.
"State auditors found that several top Florida officials used government planes to commute to Tallahassee and should repay taxpayers, according to a draft of an inspector general memorandum. ... The auditors did not identify the officials they suspected were using state planes to commute. ... Crist took 22 trips since January that began or ended in his hometown of Tampa-St. Petersburg or in South Florida, where his wife has a Miami condominium, flight logs show." "Auditors: Top politicians using state planes to commute, should reimburse taxpayers".
"With private investors seeking to broker a sale of the 12,000-acre Cone Ranch near Plant City, worried environmentalists are pushing for the property to be protected under Hillsborough County's land conservation program." "Potential sale of Cone Ranch worries environmentalists".
The Tallahassee Democrat editorial board: "When House Speaker Ray Sansom was indicted by a Leon County Grand Jury just as the legislative session was beginning in March, legislative processes were also blasted in a scathing report about the way decisions are made on spending tax money."
Having such a scolding fresh in mind, lawmakers nonetheless proceeded to hold budget sessions out of the sunshine and leave major budget decisions and hotly political negotiations to not only the last minute but also in the hands of about half a dozen powerful leaders out of 160 members of the Legislature."Sunshine tools".
Though nearly anything she or any other announced candidate will do for the next 13 months may be considered useful political material, Florida CFO Alex Sink is nonetheless attempting to bring into the sunshine some of the fiscal decisions over which she and the Florida Cabinet have control.
Last week she launched a Web page to open state finances to public scrutiny. Although she is running for governor, Ms. Sink said the "Florida's Checkbook" project has been in development for six months and the new "Florida Financials" Web site allows citizens to see how much money is coming in and going out of the treasury.
"Bill gives power to 5 unelected execs"
"For years environmentalists and developers often said governing board members of Florida's five regional water management districts had too much authority and should be elected rather than appointed."
Now the Florida Legislature has agreed to transfer a big chunk of that authority into the hands of just five people, the executive directors hired by those boards. The rule change comes courtesy of an amendment tucked into a seemingly innocuous legislative bill that sets Florida on a course to use less water on landscaping."Water control may change".
Environmental advocates statewide are infuriated because the rule could move key discussions over who gets water -- and how much -- from public meetings to executive offices.