"A call by Florida's most powerful business lobby to halt prison construction and reform the criminal justice system is gaining surprising traction among policymakers in the wake of a deepening budget crisis and growing evidence that building new prison beds will not reduce crime."
Four months after the head of Associated Industries of Florida stunned lawmakers with his plea to slow prison growth, a who's-who of business, religious and political leaders are asking Gov. Charlie Crist to consider alternatives to incarceration for non-violent offenders, particularly drug addicts."Prison system change sought".
Huckabee mancrushes Rubio
"Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee is endorsing Marco Rubio for Senate."
Huckabee said, "I'm in awe of him. "Huckabee backs Rubio in Senate race".
"Former Arkansas governor and presidential candidate Mike Huckabee (R) on Tuesday lit into the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) for endorsing Gov. Charlie Crist over another Republican in Florida’s open Senate race." "Huckabee rips into NRSC for backing Crist".
Scanner problems in 13 Florida counties
"A type of ballot scanner used in 13 counties, including Pasco and Pinellas, accounts for a disproportionate number of invalid votes cast in 2008, a report from an elections watchdog group reveals."
That may be true, said Secretary of State Kurt Browning, Florida's top elections official, but those overvotes are a reflection of voter intent, he said, not machine malfunction or poor design."Group faults ballot scanner for Florida overvotes".
An overvote, which does not count, occurs when a person marks more than one choice in an election race or ballot question decision. The overvote rate rose from 0.05 percent in 2004 to 0.28 percent in 2008, which Browning attributed to the statewide switch in 2007 to all-paper ballot voting and optical scanners. ...
However, the Florida Fair Elections Center says it's not that simple. On Tuesday, the group reported that the IntElect DS200 scanner counted only 40 percent of Florida ballots, yet accounted for more than 80 percent of the overvotes statewide in the 2008 general election.
"It's a disproportionate effect," said Mary "Kitty" Garber, research director for the elections center, who wrote the report.
You gotta ploblem wit dat?
Daytona Beach News Journal editorial board: "Florida Power and Light, the state's biggest electricity provider, wants to give its shareholders a profit boost -- at the expense of customers." "For profits' sake".
From the "values" crowd
"394 Broward County teachers lose their jobs".
Hasner's political hackery
The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "Last week, Floridians learned that the state's unemployment rate hit 10.2 percent in May, the highest rate since 1975, after the Arab oil embargo damaged the construction and travel industries. It's double the unemployment rate of just a year ago."
The rising joblessness figures are a big surprise to nobody. But they underline how foolish the Legislature was, during this year's session, to turn down $444 million from the federal government that could have eased the impact on Floridians who can't find work. House Majority Leader Adam Hasner, R-Delray Beach, called the money an "unfunded mandate." But it wasn't. Florida would have had to increase some benefits. But the increased costs were less per year than the feds would have provided. Though Rep. Hasner insisted that the increases would be permanent, federal guidance indicated that the increased payments could have been canceled once the economy improved."State's $444 million mistake".
"Hillsborough elections supervisor Busansky dies at age 72". The Tampa Tribune editorial board: "Unforgettable Phyllis Busansky". Steve Otto: "Busansky spoke for those who couldn't". Sue Carlton: "Busansky's legacy of courage". More: "A lifetime of public service".
The The Saint Petersburg Times editorial board: "Building on what Busansky started".
Crist raises ire of court clerks
"Crist approved a bill that will force court clerks statewide to cut millions of dollars from their budgets and layoff hundreds of workers. The legislation will change the way Florida funds its 67 clerks' offices, putting them on the same budget process as judges, public defenders and state attorneys. The bill takes effect July 1. Crist's approval late last week came after legislators, many who initially supported the bill, asked the governor to veto it.All clerk's offices in Central Florida will see cutbacks." "Crist signs bill that mandates court clerks to slash budgets".
"Ecopassage makes sense in many ways"
The Tallahassee Democrat editorial board: "If you're looking to criticize government spending, the words '$3.4 million' and 'turtles' offer a pretty easy target."
But when you get past nearly everyone's first reaction to the Lake Jackson ecopassage project, you find that it's a worthwhile project that fits our state's recent tradition of environmental stewardship and comes at a good moment in hard economic times. ..."It's not just turtles".
[Republican] U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma got things stirred up when he included the ecopassage on a list of 100 projects he considered boondoggles in the national economic-stimulus package, and [wingnut] local tax tea party activists have their sights on killing the project.
But animals of all kinds — 60-some species, not just turtles — are being crushed on that stretch of U.S. 27. ...
It's not just about turtles. It's not taking jobs from police officers. It's a project that says a lot about what we value. It's being put out for bid in July and construction should begin in September, and we hope that local contractors will seek the work and that residents will welcome the ecopassage.
"A Department of Education employee is suing the agency, claiming she is being laid off in retaliation for reporting exposure to tuberculosis in her offices. " "Suit claims worker laid off for reporting TB exposure at agency office".
Something has to give
"Bear spotted in South Florida eluding officials".
Our AWOL Governor
"Crist has spent the past two days fundraising, including an event in D.C. yesterday and one this evening in Atlanta. As for governing, his official schedule has shown no public events, just a few phone calls with staff."
The Washington event drew John McCain (Ariz.), John Cornyn (Texas), Lindsey Graham (S.C.), Orrin Hatch (Utah), Mitch McConnell (Ky.), Richard Burr (N.C.), Olympia Snowe (Maine) and Florida's Mel Martinez. Crist's former chief of staff, lawyer George LeMieux, tagged along at the D.C. event Tuesday night and declined to estimate how big a financial haul Crist's campaign received. "They did well," he said."Is Crist 'governing' or fundraising out of state?".
The Atlanta event (click image to enlarge) shows as invited guests Georgia Aerospace Systems' Thomas Mensah; both Georgia U.S. senators, Johnny Isakson and Saxby Chambliss; Gov. Sonny Perdue; and attorney Willie Gary.
How nice of Mr. Gary to be holding hands with Mr. Crist. I'm sure the Rubio camp, and the RPOFer wingnuts will have something to say about the company Charlie keeps.
Background: "Willie Gary says sex allegations are extortion (Bill Clinton Fund Raiser)". See also "Prominent Trial Lawyer Loses Child Support Fight" ("Fulton County judge has ordered prominent trial lawyer Willie E. Gary to pay his former paramour $6 million in child support payments").
"South Florida community colleges face overload".
RPOFer at work
"Rep. Ray Sansom charged 'private' meeting to Republican Party American Express".
More Sansom: "Ex-Speaker Sansom's computer in hands of state investigators as legislative secrecy hampers probe".
Vern brings home the bacon
"A controversial plan to move mail processing and distribution operations from the U.S. Postal Service distribution center in Manatee to Tampa is going to get another look. U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan said Tuesday his office has secured an agreement with the USPS Office of Inspector General for a review of the postal service’s decision to cut 59 local positions and move processing operations to Tampa. " "Buchanan scores audit of post office plan".
"Mayport wins latest carrier battle in Congress".
Second amendment follies
"Inmate pulls gun in escape attempt in central Fla.".
The Miami Herald editorial board: "Under the new law, doctors and pharmacists will be required to record patient prescription information in a state-controlled database. This way, doctors can detect if patients are going from one doctor to the next in search of pills -- to feed a habit or for resale. Regulators and police also would be able to check the database in certain situations. Pain clinics will face annual inspections." "Pill mills be gone".
The Orlando Sentinel editorial board: "Like dice, gambling and controversy sometimes come in pairs, especially in Central Florida. So it's not surprising that a proposal to open a poker room in Longwood is running into some opposition in that Seminole County city." "Betting, but with limits".
"McCollum in Boca: tough on terror, 'skeptic' on drilling". The wingnuts are coming out of the woodwork: "Jeb Bush raising money for Bill McCollum".
"Now it is a pair of Democrats"
"For years, anti-drilling forces turned to Congressional Democrats to beat back GOP-led efforts to drill off Florida's coast. But now it is a pair of Democrats behind what environmentalists consider one of the most threatening pieces of legislation in years. The proposal, led by Democratic Sens. Byron Dorgan of North Dakota and Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico, would allow drilling 45 miles from most of the Gulf Coast, and as close as 10 miles in the Florida Panhandle." "Democrats Behind Latest Drive For Drilling".