"It's typical Meek: bold — but polite. He goes on to cite his background as a state trooper, legislator and congressman — all qualities he says would make him an effective replacement for retiring GOP Sen. Mel Martinez." "Rep. Kendrick Meek is no mild contender".
Federal transportation money statewide endangered
The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "The looming death of Tri-Rail now endangers federal transportation money statewide." "Protect Tri-Rail investment".
Thank you, Mr. Obama
"Federal stimulus saves about 2,700 public university jobs".
"A poor launching pad"
"When the four-member state Cabinet meets to set state policy, one geographic area is noticeably absent: South Florida. The three-county region, far more liberal than the rest of the state, has been a poor launching pad for statewide political ambitions. The last candidate hailing from South Florida to be elected statewide: former Gov. Jeb Bush in 1998." "South Florida legislators may be in running for state's chief financial officer, attorney general".
Alex offers refunds
"When Democrat Alex Sink sought reelection as Florida's chief financial officer, she was such a safe bet to win a second term that a number of Republicans raced to her campaign with $500 checks in hand. But the stakes became much higher when Sink switched races last month to run for governor in 2010, going up against longtime Republican and party favorite Bill McCollum. Now by law she must contact all contributors and offer them their money back -- minus what has already been spent."
"Brian Ballard, one of Tallahassee's most prominent lobbyists, gave Sink a $500 check through his law firm, as did his wife, Kathryn. But Ballard is a member of the statewide finance committee for Sink's Republican opponent, Attorney General McCollum. He wants a refund." "Alex Sink offers refunds to reelection contributors".
Another failed Jebacy
"The Florida Legislature's watchdog agency on Thursday recommended against expanding an experimental Medicaid program, once touted by former Gov. Jeb Bush as a national model, unless more data can be obtained."
The Office of Program Policy Analysis & Government Accountability issued a final report saying little data is available to show the pilot program that uses private health management companies has improved access to medical care or its quality since its October 2006 launch. Such tracking information is not expected until January."Legislative agency pans Fla. Medicaid experiment".
The agency also found a lack of data on whether any cost savings have resulted from the program, which began in Broward and Duval counties and later expanded to Baker, Clay and Nassau counties. Bush obtained legislative and federal approval for the pilot as a response to rapidly rising Medicaid costs.
The report says another reason to hold off on adding the Panhandle and South Florida's Miami-Dade and Monroe counties to the experiment is because that would cost the state an additional $7.1 million in the budget year starting July 1. It also cited questions raised by patients, doctors and other stakeholders and "symptoms of plan instability."
"A state judge is ordering two prison officials to testify today on their role in a disputed decision to switch vendors for mental health care to inmates in South Florida."
"I direct that they appear," Leon County Circuit Judge Frank Sheffield said at a hearing Thursday."Judge orders testimony in prison mental health lawsuit".
The judge ordered the two employees, Millie Seay and Jimmy Smith, to testify in a lawsuit brought by a company that has been fired by the Department of Corrections.
The firm, MHM Correctional Services of Virginia, is seeking to block the state from replacing it with Correctional Medical Services of St. Louis, at what MHM says is $5 million more.
The lawsuit sheds light on the intense competition among firms to secure lucrative contracts with agencies in Gov. Charlie Crist's administration.
The Saint Petersburg Times editorial board: "Innocent Floridians who are arrested only to have their charges dropped or who are found not guilty at trial should not have their DNA permanently kept on file by the government." "DNA law fails civil rights test".
"The Legislature has made it harder for out-of-state college students to gain Florida residency." "Legislators make it harder to become a Florida resident".
"Officials of the State Board of Administration will present the details this morning regarding the launch of the Florida Growth Fund, an investment program that will back technology and growth-related companies with a significant presence in Florida." "Florida Growth Fund to be launched this morning".
"A record number of Florida schools earned an A from the state this year, but that success was tempered by setbacks at the high school level and a high failure rate over federal math and reading standards." "In FCAT grades, mixed signals".
"Tuition at Florida's public universities will rise another 7 percent in the fall as schools look to maintain course offerings, improve graduation rates and provide financial aid in light of budget reductions and a weak economy." "Universities to raise tuition another 7 percent". See also "University tuition hike approved" and "State university tuition on rise".
Luvin' the federal cash
"Florida's third-largest industry, the driver of $60 billion in economic activity, needs special attention, and Thursday, Gov. Charlie Crist signed into law a bill aimed at protecting the state's military bases." "Crist signs bill that aims to protect state's military bases".
"The 'drill, baby drill' crowd"
"When state House Speaker-designate Dean Cannon proposed in April to lift the ban on offshore oil drilling in state waters, U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson was blunt in his opposition."
"I can't believe some Florida lawmakers might actually be serious about allowing oil drilling within ten miles offshore," Nelson, D-Fla., responded on Twitter."Foes in Florida offshore drilling debate unite, sort of".
Now Nelson is campaigning hard against an offshore oil drilling plan moving rapidly through Congress. This week, Cannon responded with …. thanks?
"I want to thank you for opposing that measure and helping to raise awareness of this important issue for our state and nation," Cannon, R-Winter Park, wrote in a June 18 letter, which he released to reporters late Thursday.
The Tampa Tribune editorial board: "The 'drill, baby drill' crowd is at it again. Advocates are clamoring, in Washington and Tallahassee, in legislation and ballot initiatives, to drill off Florida." "Drilling off Florida is a false promise".
Voter initiative process "rescu[ed]"
The Tallahassee Democrat editorial board: "The Hometown Democracy folks will declare it a victory that the Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that people who sign petitions for constitutional amendment can't revoke their signatures later on."
What the decision means to no-growth advocates of the Hometown Democracy amendment is that the thousands of signatures they've already collected will count toward putting their amendment on the ballot in 2010, even if thousands of those folks no longer want the ballot to go forward."Editorial: Petition protocol".
In short, what the Hometown Democracy amendment to the state constitution will do is require direct voter approval of thousands of land-use amendments, no doubt to the extent that voters will eventually ignore rather than embrace their right to vote on myriad public issues.
The Saint Petersburg Times editorial board: "The Florida Supreme Court came to the rescue of the state’s voter initiative process, protecting it from undue legislative meddling in a welcome ruling Wednesday. With a full written decision to come, the justices issued a brief 4-2 ruling to strike down a law that had let voters revoke their signatures on initiative petitions to put constitutional amendments on statewide ballots. " "Court to the voters' rescue".
"Crist on Thursday signed into law new rules that will limit state employees' ability to collect a paycheck and a pension from the same agency." "Gov. Charlie Crist limits 'double-dipping' for state workers". See also "New law prevents 'double dipping' by state workers".
"That Gov. C. is hot, hot, hot".
"Florida will launch a new program to monitor prescription drug sales next year to crack down on illegal pills under a bill signed by the governor." "New Florida law takes aim at illegal pill trade".
"New Smyrna trims list of city manager candidates". Related: "NSB's budget outlook for 2009 pleases officials".
"Recovering from surgery to remove a cancerous tumor from his pancreas, state Sen. Jim King sent a memo Thursday that said he was moving from a hospital to a rehabilitation facility 'cancer free.'" "Sen. King says he's 'cancer-free'".