"It's all about keeping political power"
The Miami Herald editorial board: "It's no wonder a group of legislators last year tried to quash a state petition drive to reform how Florida redraws its congressional and legislative districts."
The drive threatens lawmakers because it would put an end to the blatant gerrymandering that protects incumbents and the political party in power at redistricting time."Take back democracy".
The legislators suing to stop the petition lost -- deservedly so. The petition challengers were Republican. But there is little doubt that if the Democrats controlled the Legislature they would have tried to stop it, too. It's all about keeping political power.
Now voters have a chance to take democracy back and get a fair system of representation.
The goal of the drive, sponsored by the nonpartisan FairDistrictsFlorida.org, is to obtain 676,811 legitimate signatures by Feb. 1, 2010, to put two constitutional-amendment proposals on the ballot that year.
"What will Crist be remembered for?"
Jane Healy asks whether "Charlie Crist be remembered for anything?"
Mike Thomas wants other than Bill McCollum should carry the RPOFer torch; he writes that: "State Sen. Paula Dockery knocked commuter rail off the tracks. Now she is looking to derail the Bill McCollum Express." "Paula Dockery for governor?".
Hate to bust Mikey's bubble - the fellow who daily daydreams about FCATs, "throwing their asses out", indictments of Buddy Dyer, Schiavoesque constitutional crises, and privatization scandals - but the "State Republicans [are trying to] discourage Sen. Paula Dockery on McCollum gubernatorial challenge".
"Cap, trade, conserve, tax: Florida's way out of crisis"
Daytona Beach News Journal editorial board: "Ultimately, cap-and-trade is only one of the approaches to a cleaner, more sustainable energy future. As the politically favored approach today, it's also an economically prudent one for a state like Florida. Its biggest obstacle is noise pollution by those who, not surprisingly, want to keep spewing the other kind of pollution unhindered." "Local warming".
Joe sneaking up on Floridians
"Joe Scarborough has been busy."
He's been cozied up to by the women on "The View," mercilessly roasted by comedian Jon Stewart and toasted as the "new face of the Republican Party" by conservative scion Christopher Buckley."Could elected office be in Scarborough's future once more?"
Scarborough, 46, has been a private attorney, a Republican congressman, a prime-time television host, even a guitar-slinging rocker.
But his star is brighter today than ever.
Not anytime soon, Scarborough said."Conservatism, according to Joe".
Sooner than we think, we expect. Much sooner.
Charter school flops
"Students in Florida's charter schools are not making the same kind of academic gains as their counterparts in traditional schools, according to a report released from Stanford University."
The study, the first of its kind, looked at academic growth on the state achievement exams."Florida's charter schools faulted".
The authors of the report released Monday identified Florida as one of six states with the least-effective charter schools.
"What's going on in Miami?"
"During the final two years of his life, the typical senior in Miami sees doctors 106 times. He receives an astonishing array of lab tests, MRIs and medical procedures, and spends a month in hospital beds."
The bill for all that care adds up. Medicare, the federal health program for seniors, spends a staggering $16,351 a year per Miami patient, more than anywhere else in the nation, and roughly double the 2006 national average."Same medical cost everywhere".
That distinction places Miami at the center of the nation's debate over health costs, and has people everywhere asking the same question: What's going on in Miami?
Maxwell inserts nose into Boss man Zell's derriere
Another gem from Scott Maxwell: "Firefighters have a duty to suck it up, make a deal".
See also "Orlando Sentinel embarrasses itself", "The 'Journalists' at the Zell Corporation ...", "The Orlando Sentinel editors are at it again" and best of all, this: "Exclusive: Sam Zell Says 'Fuck You' To His Journalist".
5000 Florida felonies in 2000
Randy Schultz excuses the commission of some 5000 Florida felonies in 2000, pointing out that
the only documented "irregularity" from Florida's 2000 election happened before Election Day. Elections supervisors in Martin and Seminole counties allowed Republican operatives to correct about 5,000 absentee ballot applications. Under state law, which you assume the two Republican supervisors knew, it was a felony for anyone but the voter, a direct family member or a guardian to intervene in the request for an absentee ballot."Iran 2009, not Florida 2000".
The Seminole supervisor allowed Republicans to set up and work inside her office. The Martin supervisor let operatives take applications to GOP headquarters. Without those 5,000 votes, Mr. Bush would have lost Florida and the election.
Lawsuits attempted to have all 15,000 absentee ballots in those counties tossed out. But judges in Tallahassee ruled, correctly*, that the votes themselves were valid. Throwing out all ballots would have disenfranchised those who filled out the applications correctly. Still, the court noted the "irregularities" in Martin and Seminole counties.
No one was ever charged for what even 2000 apologist Schultz concedes were the commission of some 5000 Florida felonies by RPOF "operatives" back in the 2000 election.
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*Election law expert Randy Schultz, as did the Florida Supreme Court, overlooks the plethora of Florida cases where absentee ballots were thrown out to maintain the integrity of the election. In Bolden v. Potter, 452 So.2d 564 (Fla.1984), the Supreme Court of Florida held that: “Although the will of the electorate must be protected, so must the sanctity of the ballot and the integrity of the election. Courts cannot ignore fraudulent conduct which is purposefully done to foul the election or corrupt the ballot. See Wilson v. Revels, 61 So.2d 491 (Fla.1952).” Id. at 567. The Supreme Court of Florida went on to expressly approve the trial court's remedy, which was to invalidate all of the absentee ballots and, thereafter, to solely rely on the machine vote to determine the outcome of the election. See also, Peacock v. Wise, 351 So.2d 1134 (Fla. 1st DCA 1977) (holding that the trial court was correct in declaring all absentee ballots invalid and ousting the appellant from the office of clerk of the circuit court as a result, based upon the machine vote); McLean v. Bellamy, 437 So.2d 737 (Fla. 1st DCA 1983) (“the machine votes shall solely determine the election results” as a proper remedy for absentee ballot fraud). See also In re The Protest of Election Returns and Absentee Ballots in the Nov. 4, 1997 Election for the City of Miami, Fla., 707 So.2d 1170, 1174 (Fla.Dist.Ct.App.1998) (pointing out that "unlike the right to vote, which is assured every citizen by the United States Constitution, the ability to vote by absentee ballot is a privilege.")
The Seminole and Martin County plaintiffs sought an order declaring all absentee ballots invalid because several thousand of them were obtained via conduct Schultz concedes was the felonious intervention of RPOF operatives; the remedy - which admittedly would have resulted in the invalidation of many absentee ballots that had been properly requested and voted, was nevertheless entirely consistent with longstanding Florida case law (see cases cited above).
Counselor Schultz also sidestepped the rule, explained by Yale law professor Jed Rubenfeld in the New York Times, that "normally, a state court must follow a state constitution. But in presidential elections, the United States Supreme Court indicated, federal constitutional and statutory law make the state legislature the supreme authority, so that statutory requirements must be strictly complied with. The state courts have no power to depart from the legislature's commands on the basis of either equity or the state's constitution." "A Setup for a Seminole Surprise".
Plainly, opposing the felonious revival of otherwise invalid absentee ballot requests - which was all that was at issue in the Seminole and Martin County cases - was entirely consistent with the legal doctrine explicated by SCOTUS in the Palm Beach County v. Harris decision, to wit: vacating "the Florida Supreme Court's decision, on Nov. 21, extending a deadline for manual recounts ... to ensure that the state court had not relied on Florida's Constitution [and principles of equity], instead of following the [strict] directives of Florida's Legislature, in its ruling."
FDLE offices closed
"Budget cuts have forced the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to close its Fort Lauderdale field office and transfer its 19 employees to the agency's Miami office." "Budget cuts lead to FDLE office closures".
"U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek met with supporters, including West Palm Beach Mayor Lois Frankel, Saturday to promote his bid to qualify for the 2010 U.S. Senate race using the signatures of registered voters." "Democrat Kendrick Meek makes his case for the 2010 U.S. Senate seat in West Palm Beach".
"So long, stump speech. Hello, Twitter. Florida candidates are launching their campaigns using social-networking shorthand, in tweets and Facebook messages instantly beamed to their online networks of friends and supporters and beyond." "Florida candidates launch campaigns in cyberspace".
"Immigration and health-care policies"
The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "Nine years ago, a drunken driver sent an illegal immigrant to Martin Memorial Medical Center, where he ran up more than $1 million in bills."
Today, Luis Jimenez, a former landscape worker who was left with the IQ of a 10-year-old, lives with his mother in a Guatemalan village. Meanwhile, doctors and lawyers in Florida are preparing for a three-week trial - set to begin Tuesday in Stuart - that will highlight holes in and raise questions about U.S. immigration and health-care policies."Mr. Jimenez' legal guardian, Montejo Gaspar Montejo of Indiantown, alleges that Martin Memorial administrators falsely imprisoned Mr. Jimenez when they put him on a plane - against Mr. Montejo's wishes - and returned him to Guatemala because they no longer wanted to pay for his care. The hospital, which had a court order allowing the transfer, denies the allegation, saying that treatment close to family was better for Mr. Jimenez."
Mr. Jimenez spent three years at Martin Memorial, far longer than he needed to, but the hospital had nowhere to send him. As an undocumented immigrant who had no insurance and was ineligible for Medicaid, he couldn't pay a rehabilitation facility. Martin Memorial, like all providers that receive Medicare and Medicaid payments, can, under federal guidelines, discharge patients only to a facility that will provide the next level of appropriate care."The illegal vs. the hospital".
So the hospital asked a circuit court judge for permission to move Mr. Jimenez to a hospital in Guatemala. In June 2003, the judge agreed. In May 2004, the 4th District Court of Appeal overturned that decision, ruling that the judge had no authority to order what amounted to a deportation. But Martin Memorial had sent Mr. Jimenez out of the country. Just as Mr. Montejo had predicted, that hospital kicked him out when he couldn't pay. As did the next hospital.
"FCAT is doing more damage than good"
Dan Gelber: "As a parent of three kids in public schools and as a legislator who has been fighting overreliance on the FCAT for almost a decade, I know overemphasis of the FCAT is doing more damage than good." "Too much emphasis on one test".
"Culture of denial"
The Orlando Sentinel editorial board: "First came the grand jury report in February that hammered the Orlando-Orange County Expressway Authority for its 'culture of corruption,' where from 2002 to 2006 the road building agency pressured its vendors to contribute to political candidates and causes. Then came the authority's culture of denial". "Beware this culture club".
"A $1 billion increase next year"
"A regulatory and public-relations fight is building about how much Florida Power & Light customers should pay for electricity -- and how much profit the utility should make. FPL wants state regulators to approve a plan that includes a $1 billion increase next year in part of the company's rates and heftier potential profits." "Sparks fly over FPL rate proposal".