"Florida could find itself with a ... two-party system"
Mark Lane: "More interesting than the expected Crist-Rubio fundraising blowout is the unexpected fundraising performance of the state Democratic Party."
For the first time since Republicans took control of the Legislature, the state Democrats raised more money than the Republicans in the second quarter of a year. The party raised $1,196,529 compared with the Republicans' $1,160,064."Funds flow to Crist and Dems".
Florida's Democrats have been looking for things to turn around since . . . well, you can take your pick: Since they lost control of the Legislature in 1996. Since they lost control of the governor's mansion in 1998. Since the 2000 presidential election drama.
And although they finally won a state race when Alex Sink became Florida chief financial officer and gained a handful of legislative and U.S. House seats, that turnaround never happened. Despite Barack Obama winning the state in 2008. Despite a growing advantage in number of registered voters.
Things were so bad in 2005 that the IRS slapped a lien on the state party for back taxes and it had less than $100,000 in its bank accounts.
So maybe, just maybe -- if candidates appear and run and elections actually get contested -- Florida could find itself with a fully functioning two-party system next year.
The kind where competing candidates actually show up places and ask us to vote for them.
It's a wild thought, but it's possible. In fact, reading between the lines in this quarter's reports, it looks like the smart money already is on that happening.
Absence of honor
The The Orlando Sentinel editorial board is at it yet again this morning (emphasis supplied):
In this economy, employees — even union workers — are making concessions, not padding their benefits. Unions, on the other hand, historically fight government mergers and consolidations."Absence of leadership".
The sloppy remark, that "Even union workers" are making concessions is just another slam at unions by the ignorant anti-union* hypocrites** on the Sentinel editorial board.
The editors sidestep the fact that non-union workers (like the Sentinel employees) make concessions, not because they are smart like the editors, but because they have absolutely no choice - you see, non-union workers serve at the whim of their masters (for more on the "rights" of non-union workers, see "Take this job ...").
Equally ignorant is the editors' blithe assertion that "Unions ... historically fight government mergers and consolidations." What "history" provides support for that generalization?
To be sure, the Orlando City firefighters in the case the subject of the editorial might oppose consolidation, but does that establish a historical truism (to wit: "Unions ... historically fight government mergers and consolidations")? Has it been established that the other unionized municipal firefighters within Orange County oppose consolidation, or that the unionized Orange County firefighters oppose consolidation? What "historical" precedent are the editors referring to, or are they yet again merely pulling anti-union blather out of their derrieres?
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*See, e.g., "Orlando Sentinel embarrasses itself", "The Orlando Sentinel editors are at it again"."Those icky 'unions'", "Oh ... The Horror", "The Annual 'Labor Day' Insult".
For more on the Sentinel's behind the scene views on labor, see "Send in the scabs", "Picking scabs, part two" and "Scab 30" (scroll down)
**The Orlando Sentinel has editorialized long and hard against newspapers being subject to lawsuits for so-called "false light" torts, while at the very same time the Sentinel's lawyers were threatening another newspaper with, you guessed it, a "false light" tort lawsuit. See "Oh ... The Hypocrisy".
Will he ... or won't he?
"So far, even with other statewide races crowded with candidates, Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp is the only big-name Republican talking seriously about running in the GOP primary for attorney general." "Kottkamp eyes GOP attorney general race".
"Republican message needs an upgrade, Jeb Bush says".
The rudderless RPOF
Jane Healy: "Who exactly are Florida Republicans? Are they Gov. Charlie Crist, who had a chance to remake the state Supreme Court with a Republican bent but instead appointed a Democrat as the last of his four appointments? Or are they more aligned with former state House Speaker Marco Rubio, a conservative challenging Crist for the nomination to the U.S. Senate?"
Who knows? The Florida Republicans right now really don't have a head of the party to set the direction. They did when Jeb Bush was governor. Much of Bush's support, after all, came from Republicans and some independents. But Crist, whose approval ratings are every bit as high as Bush's, gets much of his support from Democrats.Much more here: "GOP needs to get a clue, or continue losing ground".
So is Florida Republican Chairman Jim Greer the real head of the party, the one to lead the 2010 candidates to victory? Not quite. Greer talks a good game about uniting the party, but his main thrust seems to be getting Crist elected and perhaps getting himself named head of the national party.
Without a head of the state party, the most likely situation for 2010 is every candidate for himself or herself, without anyone at the top pulling them along. This is no small issue, with four open Cabinet seats, including governor, up for grabs.
The Daytona Beach News Journal editorial board: "after overcoming enormous hurdles, including several perniciously erected barriers by legislative lackeys of Florida's growth machine, [Amendment 4] has made it to next year's general election ballot as Amendment 4."
The change in the state constitution would, in essence, give voters direct veto power over every major land use change approved by local governments."Hometown Democracy".
We will not support Amendment 4, though our sympathies lie with its authors' intention to restore sanity to Florida's comprehensive planning and loosen developers' steely grip on this state. Amendment 4 is unlikely to achieve those goals. It instead could make a bigger mess of community planning. It would reduce what has at least been a negotiated permitting process between developers and professional public planners to an up-or-down gamble between developers and their opponents, with too many of Florida's natural assets and the livability of Florida communities at stake.
And then there's the sheer volume of requests for comp plan changes, many of them routine and all very technical, that voters would have to consider on their general election ballots. For example, Volusia County had five proposed comp plan documents pending state review through the first half of this year, but it had 17 in 2007, when the economy was better. DeLand had five pending through June, and 10 overall in 2007. Trying to determine which comp plan change would be beneficial to a community and why would be confusing to many voters.
Mike Thomas gets Sicko on us
"Hope and pray that you don't get sick".
The Saint Petersburg Times editorial board: "Commuter rail could still come to Central Florida, and that's a good thing. Rail supporters and CSX revived negotiations last month after learning the project might qualify for funding under the federal stimulus package. That would lower the state's contribution. Now both sides need to redraw a fundamentally flawed deal that favored the for-profit rail carrier at taxpayers' expense." "Hopes for rail renewed".
The Tampa Tribune editorial board is opposed to anything its rank and file employees don't get - after all, the editors don't want their workers to ... you know ... figure out they're not getting benefits that unionized employees (e.g., most state workers) are getting:
Next year the Legislature should take the reform a step farther and put tighter restrictions on the so-called DROP program, which allows veteran employees to bank their pension payments during their last five years on the job."Reducing abuse of state pensions".
"RPOF accused of 'witch hunt' purges".
Dunn it is
"The Buzz is Paul Dunn, who managed Suzanne Kosmas' successful campaign against Tom Feeney, will come on board soon to help lead the team that also includes pollster Dave Beattie, media consultant Rich Davis, and consultant Marc Farinella." "Alex Sink hires campaign manager".
Suit against Progress Energy proceeds
The Saint Petersburg Times editorial board: "Last week's ruling by federal regulators that environmental groups could challenge Progress Energy's plans to build a nuclear plant in Levy County underlines one of the roadblocks the United States faces in addressing climate change." "Getting to a clean energy future".
The Hill: "Crist’s $4.3 million effort for his new Senate campaign is the biggest game-changer among several early announcements, and probably will remain so when all financial reports are received in the coming week."
Crist was expected to raise big money for his campaign, but his total far outpaced anybody’s estimates and makes him an even bigger favorite than he was before."FEC reports show Crist the man to beat in Florida".
Rep. Kendrick Meek (D-Fla.), meanwhile, raised $1.2 million and has put together a respectable $3 million for the race. But if Crist is even close to maintaining his current pace, it will be difficult for Meek to gain much traction.
Former state House Speaker Marco Rubio (R) also saw his stock slide in a big way, with his $340,000 quarter dwarfed by Crist, who already led in primary polls by upwards of 30 points.
Aaron Deslatte: "Judiciary out of reach of open government".
Jac Wilder VerSteeg: "The Legislature never tires of meddling in public education. "
The latest example is the decree that school board members cannot make more money than a starting teacher in their district.Read it here: "Whack Legislature's pay: Vindictive lawmakers cut school boards.".
I'm not a big fan of big paydays for public officials. And how much of a hardship is it if part-time school board members are restricted to the pay of a full-time teacher?
But I have problems with the Legislature's decree. Start with its utter hypocrisy.
"Controversy after controversy led the Legislature to cut off funding last year." "Byrd Alzheimer's center facing financial crisis".
"Barney T. Bishop III: Don't miss chance to drill and boost economy".
"Florida's traditional yet short-sighted program"
The Tallahassee Democrat editorial board: "While it may seem a long way off until another legislative session enlivens the capital city, for champions of serious prison reform as it relates to mental illness and substance abuse, the education of lawmakers and support of the public cannot resume too soon." "Try again".
"Compared to kudzu, the infamous vine that ate The South, Old World climbing fern may be an obscure pest plant. But they're a lot alike. ... But a new weapon -- in development for a dozen years by federal researchers in Fort Lauderdale -- shows significant promise to beat back an invader so aggressive it would cover a third of the wetlands between Orlando and Naples if left unchecked." "Mighty moth may become Everglades' new weed eater".