Carl Hiaasen: "Unlike Sarah Palin, Charlie Crist has chosen not to quit his governorship early. Florida's own one-term wonder is using his remaining time to ingratiate himself with as many deep-pocket interest groups as possible."
The governor's unseemly burst of groveling is directly connected to his upcoming run for the U.S. Senate. Sucking up to the National Rifle Association and the Christian right, Crist last week declared his opposition to the Supreme Court nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor, whose confirmation is already a done deal."And the bucks keep flowing in".
Many of Crist's longtime supporters were surprised, but they shouldn't have been. Charlie has no problem with timely pandering....
Like his stance against Sotomayor, Crist's unexpected support for the lax development law disappointed those still clinging to the notion that he's a different breed.
The same fellow who fancies himself a crusader for the Everglades has -- if SB 360 is allowed to stand -- essentially guaranteed that the remaining wetlands of western Miami-Dade will be paved, dooming any hope for reviving the Everglades.
Only as craven political strategy does Crist's latest cave-in makes sense.
Why are these men smiling? ...
... cause they just bought them some Charlie: "Some of Gov. Charlie Crist's donors who have maxed out".
Rubio getting into Crist's head?
Adam Smith: "Maybe Marco Rubio is getting into Charlie Crist's head.
Gov. Crist may be the overwhelming favorite to win the Republican Senate nomination, but his announcement last week that he opposed Sonia Sotomayor's nomination to the Supreme Court smacked of a guy wary of Rubio's efforts to cast him as too liberal for the GOP faithful.Meantime,
Crist said he was concerned about Sotomayor's commitment to the Second Amendment, which is rather odd since Crist himself infuriated some conservatives by appointing James Perry, a Democrat opposed by the National Rifle Association, to the Florida Supreme Court.
After a staff shakeup that pushed out Rubio's chief money-raiser and campaign manager, the Miami Republican is bringing in former Dick Armey adviser Pat Shortridge to serve as a senior campaign adviser."Senate hopeful Marco Rubio shoves rival Florida Gov. Charlie Crist right on judicial nominees".
"Rather than drive or fly commercial planes, a small group of lawmakers has billed taxpayers for the convenience of getting to Tallahassee on private planes -- some of them linked to lobbyists and companies with a stake in the decisions legislators make."
The 19 Democratic and Republican legislators took private flights totaling more than $37,000 during the recent legislative session, state records show. That represents a fraction of the state's $66.5 billion budget, but it raises questions about the relationships between lawmakers and the groups seeking their votes. And in a time of deep budget cuts, critics say it would be better to find a cheap commercial flight or simply drive -- as constituents do."The costliest flier was"
Rep. Tom Grady, R-Naples, a successful trial attorney whose net worth exceeds $10 million. He regularly charged taxpayers for use of a private plane arranged by the Naples technology firm InfiNetwork, one of whose executives donated $250 to Grady's campaign. The bill for taxpayers: $7,800."Lawmakers fly private on taxpayers' dime".
Contrast that with Miami Rep. James Bush III, 54, a teacher and minister who sometimes gets to Tallahassee on a Greyhound bus. The trip takes about 12 hours and costs less than $100 each way.
``My purpose is to go and help the taxpayers and get to my committee meetings,'' said Bush, a Democrat. "That's why the people elected me as their representative. That's why it is important to do things in a reasonable manner.'' ...
Rep. Matt Hudson, a fellow Naples Republican, found a better value [than Grady]. His April 25 Delta flight round trip from Tallahassee to Fort Myers had one stopover in Atlanta, and it cost taxpayers less than $525 round trip.
The rental car from Naples to Fort Myers cost less than $40. He also drives a rental car from Naples to Broward County, part of which is in his district, where he can get a direct, round-trip flight from Fort Lauderdale to Tallahassee for less than $315.
"Business didn't delay these appointments. Politics did"
The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "Only confirmation by the Senate is required for water district board members. With the Legislature having finished its annual session, even that won't be an issue until March. Judging by Gov. Crist's work schedule, pressing business didn't delay these appointments. Politics did." "Prevent political stall-ball".
This is what passes for RPOF leadership these days?"U.S. Rep. Adam Putnam, who’s leaving Congress next year and hopes to become state agriculture commissioner, says it makes sense for Florida to capitalize on the economic problems in other states, and go to those places to steal their businesses, research and development, and university faculty." "Broward Politics: Candidate says it's a good time to steal jobs from other states to help Florida".
They're just books
"Jacksonville Mayor [Republican] John Peyton is proposing $1.1 million in cuts to the public library budget because of a shortfall in general revenue." "Jacksonville libraries may take hit".
Aaron Deslatte: "Florida's legislative black caucus could be heading toward an internal feud over a ballot initiative aimed at stopping lawmakers from gerrymandering districts." "Gerrymandering issue divides black caucus".
Another fine Jebacy ...
The Daytona Beach News Journal editorial board: "When it comes to high school graduation rates, Florida stands out like a big sore thumb."
A new report by the same institute that labeled Florida a "dropout factory" in 2007 paints the failure in stark numbers. In 185 high schools across the state, fewer than two-thirds of ninth-graders will earn a high school diploma. These "low-graduation rate" high schools make up 41 percent of all Florida high schools."A state of failure".
Even the Jeb-apologists at the The Miami Herald concede that "10 years later, Florida's FCAT, school grade reforms get mixed grades".
Mary Ann Lindley this morning: "it was shocking to me last week to learn that, in the latest round of Florida FCAT tests, only 37 percent of our Florida 10th-graders can read at grade level. And these are the kids who haven't already dropped out! These are the kids who are still in high school — and yet 63 percent of them are struggling to understand what they're reading." "Find self-esteem by connecting the dots".
Meantime, Florida's newspaper companies remind us that Florida "prides itself on 'cutting edge' education reform".
"The bust in property values opened vast budget holes for local governments, and taxpayers across the region are sure to notice the difference." "Taxpayers will soon get less from local governments caught in budget crunch".
Feel free to pull a John Galt
Myriam Marquez carries the torch for millionaire entrepreneur who doesn't like the Chrysler bankruptcy plan, and of course blames Obama: "Auto bailout is undermining small businesses".
"What not to do"
Jane Healy: "Now that elected officials have started discussing budgets and similar matters for the next year, it's a good time to look at examples of what not to do."
What not to do, Part I: Use taxpayers' money to promote yourself.Much more here: "All this talk of money: Here's what not to do".
This role stars Florida legislators. According to a report by the Sentinel's Tallahassee bureau, about 56 legislators have spent $243,000 in the past year sending mailers to their constituents supposedly keeping them up to date but really just spinning the voters.
And that's only a start. Another 25 have had their staffs design, print and mail these "newsletters" but haven't put in their tabs yet. Of course, this comes at a time when the state is laying off workers and raising $2 billion in taxes and fees....
House members, for instance, are allowed to run six pictures of themselves. Do people really need — or even want — to see six pictures of their legislator?
Scenes from the country club ...
... "ACK! BRBLE! PFFT!" "This happens every time the minimum wage goes up".
John Hedrick, the point person for the Sierra Club on the Hometown Democracy campaign: "People need veto power of Hometown Democracy". But see "Amendment 4 would stop growth".
Why do the Trib editors hate working people?
The Tampa Tribune editorial board make fools of themselves this morning: "Make federal workers share our pain". For another recent hit by these geniuses see "Trib editors go off deep end".
We don't need the stinkin' government telling us what we can do
Wildlife expert battles 14-foot python inside pipe".
"State Rep. Marlene O'Toole has introduced a bill that would preclude the federal government from regulating guns, ammunition and related accessories that are manufactured and kept in Florida." "Villages lawmaker's gun bill seeks haven from feds".
"Southwest Florida has gone decades without a hometown candidate for statewide political office for residents to rally around."
The next 18 months, however, look different. Two candidates for Florida's attorney general have close ties to the area."Southwest Florida has pick of candidates".
Republican Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp grew up here and held a House seat, representing Cape Coral, before being picked as Gov. Charlie Crist's running mate almost three years ago.
State Sen. Dave Aronberg, D-Greenacres, has represented large parts of Lee County since he was elected in 2002, winning plaudits for his attention to the area even from GOP voters.
Now those two are positioned for opposition in the same race, and it's already giving some prominent residents who have relationships with both extreme heartburn.
Good luck with that
Daniel Ruth: "Doing the right thing for homeless".
After all, it's Hillsborough County
The Saint Petersburg Times editorial board:
The furor Hillsborough County Administrator Pat Bean created by handing double-digit pay raises to senior staff members points to a larger problem: a chief executive who is weak and lacks creativity at a time when the county needs a strong leader with vision. There is no perfect time to force out an executive with 32 years of institutional history, especially when that would carry a severance cost of a quarter-million dollars. But it is time for county commissioners to replace Bean."Replace ineffective leader".
Mica in action
"U.S. Rep. John Mica wades into proposed snapper ban".
40 years for two innocent men
Scott Maxwell: "State Attorney Norm Wolfinger has finally launched an investigation into the tale of twisted justice that involves false testimony, wrongfully imprisoned men and a supposedly magic dog in Brevard County."
when contacted last week, all but one of the leading candidates for governor and attorney general vowed to look into the Preston cases, if elected.Here's the story: "Investigations and elections provide new hope for justice".
Democratic candidate for governor Alex Sink said such a review was simply "logical," given what's known.
Republican A.G. hopeful Jeff Kottkamp said, "Equal justice for all is a guiding principle of our society. Obviously a case of wrongful incarceration — or in this instance, cases ... is something we cannot tolerate."
Kottkamp's passionate remarks stand in stark contrast to the uninterested and dismissive responses from both his boss, Gov. Charlie Crist, and the man he wants to replace, Attorney General Bill McCollum.
Despite repeated calls to investigate the Preston cases — and the possibility that others may have been wrongfully convicted — both Crist and McCollum have sat on the sidelines, saying that getting involved is simply not their job.
William March: "New research on political opinions of U.S. service members suggests the stereotype of the military as uniformly conservative and Republican doesn't hold true." "Studies debunk military myths".
Get a room
"South Florida's hotel business continued to slump in June, as the recession battered occupancy and pushed down room rates." "South Florida's hotel business lags in June".