"Just three days after Kendrick Meek's leading Democratic rival for the U.S. Senate stepped aside, a family friend and colleague in Congress stunned the party establishment and jumped in."
Democratic U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown of Jacksonville said Tuesday that she is forming an ''exploratory committee'' that will allow her to raise money and campaign for the seat currently held by Republican Mel Martinez. He is retiring in 2010."U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown competes with Kendrick Meek for Senate seat". See also "Corrine Brown eyes run for Senate" and "U.S. House Veteran May Try Senate".
Brown, along with Meek's mother and Alcee Hastings of Miramar, became the first black members of Congress from Florida since Reconstruction when they were elected together in 1992. Carrie Meek retired in 2002, paving the way for her son to win her seat.
Callers to 1-800-403-2195 will be treated to hold music while he scheduler tries to find Crist, reminders that Crist has missed 62 days of work, and invitations to schedule meetings with Crist on "big yachts" and "rubbing elbows" with celebrities." See "DSCC launches Charlie Crist hotline" and "DSCC: Crist, MIA At Work" (links courtesy of the Senate Guru).
"The Godfather of Tallahassee's Republican culture of corruption"
"Marco Rubio is running for U.S. Senate with a potentially serious blemish on his public record: His hand-picked budget chief was indicted for official misconduct during Rubio's tenure as Florida House speaker."
There's no evidence Rubio knew that Sansom had budgeted $6 million for a donors' aircraft hangar in the guise of funding a college educational facility, as alleged in the indictment. That budget item apparently raised no red flags with the speaker, and his rival for the Republican Senate nomination, Gov. Charlie Crist, declined to veto that appropriation despite it being flagged as a ''turkey'' by Florida TaxWatch."U.S. Senate candidate Marco Rubio seeks distance from indicted official".
But that's not stopping the Florida Democratic Party from dubbing the Miami Republican ''the Godfather of Tallahassee's Republican culture of corruption,'' and his association with Sansom is prime fodder for attack.
"Idiot wind, blowing every time you move your mouth ..."
"Charlie Crist -- governor and Senate candidate -- flew to two Florida cities for ceremonial bill signings at taxpayer expense. ... Crist had actually signed both bills into law earlier in the day in the state Capitol. The ''fly-around,'' as it is known, put the issue he was touting, and his image, on newscasts in the state's two biggest TV markets." "Crist's 'fly-around' costs taxpayers".
That's a lotta fly-arounds
"More Than 100 Bills Await Crist's Decision".
"Clinton said a rancorous Organization of American States conference in Honduras failed to reach a consensus on moves to allow Cuba to rejoin. Clinton said before departing for Egypt to join President Barack Obama that a frantic day of negotiations had not produced agreement among the 34 members about what to do about Cuba. But she said the talks would continue in her absence and that a deal could be possible." "No consensus on letting Cuba rejoin OAS, Clinton says".
Crist bathes in Obama's reflected glory
"Crist on Monday signed legislation that will extend unemployment benefits for an estimated 250,000 jobless Floridians beginning in early July."
The extended benefits will take another month or so to be distributed because of computer programming issues at Florida's Agency for Workforce Innovation, which handles unemployment for the state."Crist signs bill extending Florida jobless benefits through December".
Payments will be retroactive to Feb. 22 for those eligible. Initial payments could be as high as $5,100 for some of Florida's jobless, with additional payments of up to $300 a week for up to 20 weeks, the agency said Tuesday.
The extended benefits will boost Florida's economy with an infusion of an estimated $418 million in federal funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, signed by President Obama on Feb. 22, according to the agency.
The Jebonomics dynamo
"The Sunshine State ranked 48th in the country in economic growth in 2008, according to new federal data." "State ranks 48th in economic growth".
"Leadership Florida and the Florida Press Association announced Tuesday that they plan to hold a series of debates, probably in August and October 2010, featuring primary and general election candidates in the races for governor and U.S. Senate."
The 2010 debates will appear on network and independent commercial stations across Florida's 11 designated media markets. WPLG-TV, an ABC affiliate, will broadcast in Miami, as will WKMG-TV (CBS) in Orlando and WJXT-TV in Jacksonville. Commercial stations that will broadcast the debates in Tampa Bay, Sarasota and other markets have not been announced yet."Plans under way for gubernatorial debates". See also "2010 Florida election debates already in planning stages" and "U.S. Senate, governor debates set for 2010".
Both the primary and general election debates will take place at the Broward County campus of Nova Southeastern University. No decision has been made yet on moderators or formats for the debates.
The debate sponsors said they also are weighing the prospect of debates or forums in the races for Attorney General, Chief Financial Officer and Commissioner of Agriculture.
Meek in O-Town
"Rep. Kendrick Meek, a Miami congressman running as a Democrat for the U.S. Senate seat to be vacated by Sen. Mel Martínez, visited Orlando’s Puerto Rican community leaders today to show support for the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor as U.S. Supreme Court Justice." "U.S. Senate candidate joins Orlando's Puerto Ricans behind Sotomayor nomination".
"The state's prescription drug problem is growing and its lax regulation has drawn the equivalent of pharmaceutical tourists from other states with tougher laws. For sure, a database won't solve all the problems, But it's a necessary first step toward curbing the abuse." "Pill database urgently needed".
"It could be a good thing"
The Tallahassee Democrat editorial board: "Students throughout Florida's State University System will begin paying higher tuition, as much as 15 percent more per year, under legislation signed by Gov. Charlie Crist on Monday."
At that, Florida college students will be paying among the lowest tuitions for public universities in the nation, which is good."Jump, jump".
Or at least it could be a good thing if only our universities weren't in such financial distress as to threaten the quality of educations and the competitive value of degrees students will receive.
"Florida's child welfare agency has stalled trying to launch a once-heralded new computer software system for tracking abused or neglected children that was unveiled to much fanfare last year." "Contracting squabble stalls DCF abuse tracking system".
"One of the biggest - and worst - bills"
The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "One bill that hasn't even reached Gov. Crist's desk is one of the biggest - and worst - bills that got through the Legislature. That would be House Bill 1171, which would allow Florida's largest property insurers to charge whatever they want. The governor has many reasons from a consumer standpoint to veto the bill. It's worth noting, however, a concern about HB 1171 that comes from an unlikely source: the Florida Association of Insurance Agents." "Veto the 'State Farm Bill'".
The South Florida Sun-Sentinel editorial board: "the region has not done enough to build adequate water storage facilities, so we're forced to wage a constant battle between managing our water supply and our safety risk. Municipal water officials in Broward and Palm Beach counties are so tired of this counterproductive tug of war that they're actually weighing something rather revolutionary in a region notorious for its territorial skirmishes: sharing — water, of all things." "Broward, Palm Beach counties ponder something promising: water-sharing reservoir".
River of Grass
"You can get into Everglades National Park, as well as other national parks, for free this summer under a fee-waiver announced Tuesday to offer affordable recreation during a time of economic stress." "You can get into national parks for free this summer".
"Dunkin' Donuts coffee is in, Starbucks is out on Florida's Turnpike. The change is part of a multimillion dollar makeover coming to all eight turnpike service plazas. Turnpike officials recently awarded a 30-year contract to tear down, rebuild and operate the plazas to Areas USA, the Miami operation of a Spain-based company that has concession contracts at Miami and Orlando international airports." "Florida's Turnpike to offer Dunkin' Donuts instead of Starbucks".
"Using taxpayers' money to influence elections"
The Tampa Tribune editorial board: "Local governments throughout Florida are urging Gov. Charlie Crist to veto a bill that would bar them from using taxpayers' money to influence elections."
They claim it is a violation of free speech. It is nothing of the sort."Putting fairness in electioneering".
The measure protects the integrity of elections, specifically those asking voters to approve ballot initiatives, such as tax increases.
Election officials should be able to describe what a ballot initiative will do without putting a self-serving spin on it. But they should not use voters' tax dollars to tell them how to vote.
The electioneering bill, introduced by Sen. Charlie Justice of St. Petersburg and adopted this past session, is not the horror story the Florida League of Cities and a host of elected officials claim.
More privatization follies
"The Florida Senate's budget chief wants Gov. Charlie Crist to halt plans for the no-bid extension of a multimillion-dollar human services contract for five years."
Ways and Means Committee Chairman JD Alexander wrote Crist a letter Tuesday, urging that he direct the Department of Management Services to competitively bid the contract for such services as hiring, benefits and payroll."Fla. Senate budget chief questions no-bid contract".
Known as People First, the privatized personnel system launched by former Gov. Jeb Bush has been plagued by cost overruns and delays since it was outsourced to Cincinnati-based Convergys Corp. in 2002.
"Pruitt, who surprised colleagues on the last day of the extended legislative session by quietly announcing he wouldn’t complete his current four-year term, started with the Boca Raton- and Port St. Lucie-based firm on Monday. The new official title for the former state Senate president is senior advisor for government affairs and public policy." "Pruitt joins law firm providing government advice".
Light at the end of the tunnel?
"The National Association of Realtors reported Tuesday that the number of homes under contract for sale in April posted the largest monthly jump in nearly eight years." "Pending sales for homes headed up".
Entrepreneurs at the trough
"Florida's child-welfare agency's plans to launch a new computer system to track abused or neglected children — unveiled with much fanfare last year — have stalled. ... But the $9.8 million project is mired in a nasty fight between two companies, one of which has alleged the Department of Children and Families botched the bidding process and violated the state's 'Government in the Sunshine' laws." "Florida project to track abused, neglected kids stalls".
PBC ethics reform
The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "Despite budget hearings that begin next week, nothing is more important for the Palm Beach County Commission than changing the county's culture from one of corruption to one of ethics. That will mean building on the momentum from last week's release of the grand jury report that lays out the problem and recommends solutions." "Wanted: Ethics reform push for Palm Beach County".
The Orlando Sentinel editorial board: "Commuter rail wasn't the only transportation project in Central Florida that state legislators stiffed during this year's session. In 11th-hour negotiations on the state's $66.5 billion budget, they threw logic overboard and raided funding for a project to prepare Port Canaveral for bigger cruise ships." "What we think: Don't neglect the port".
"Children caught in the middle of nasty divorces"
"Children caught in the middle of nasty divorces soon may have legal advocates to look after their interests. Gov. Charlie Crist signed into law on Tuesday a bill that will allow courts to appoint certified Guardian ad Litem volunteers to represent children in divorces even if there is no allegation of abuse or neglect." "Divorce law aids children".
"It took three years for legislation to reform the state KidCare program to reach Gov. Charlie Crist, who signed the bill into law on Tuesday. Nan Rich, Senate sponsor of the bill, hopes the new law is just the beginning." "KidCare reform being instituted expands coverage". See also "Crist signs new KidCare legislation".