"One by one, SunRail commuter-train supporters are quieting the critics. They've won Lakeland's endorsement and gotten trial lawyers to back off. By seeking millions of extra federal dollars and altering liability provisions, they hope to quell even more adversaries. But one foe might be intractable: the unions."
Organized-labor officials complain the state is using SunRail to bust the unions that dominate much of the railroad industry — and they can't allow that to happen.The unions' fears seem well-founded: a memo written by DOT officials in 2005
"The goal, of course, is to go nonunion. We just get eliminated," said John Gaige, a 62-year-old union signalman who works in South Florida.
State officials deny the charge. They contend they are neither pro- nor anti-union, but promoting a right-to-work place [sic] where employers can hire whomever they choose....
SunRail would run for 61.5 miles through Central Florida, with 17 stops, from DeLand in Volusia County through downtown Orlando to Poinciana in Osceola County. Four counties and the city of Orlando would be responsible for operating the $1.2 billion venture, though they would hire private companies to do the work.
The state Legislature still would have to approve an insurance arrangement deciding who pays if there is an accident because Florida intends to purchase the tracks from the CSX railroad company based in Jacksonville....
Union officials say they won't budge because SunRail is being promoted as the template for all future commuter trains in the state. In other words, if the union is excluded from SunRail, workers could lose out on hundreds of new jobs if planned projects in Jacksonville and Tampa are realized.
says, in part, "Ideally, the FDOT proposal would provide the freedom to undertake the operations and maintenance of the corridor using non-union contract labor, which would be the most effective and efficient approach.""Commuter train: Unions are not on board with SunRail".
"Key West has not had air travel to Cuba since 1959, but the city's airport is hoping to restore the route -- if it can get permission from the U.S. Department of Treasury." "Key West looks to restore flights to Cuba".
Grayson supports public option
"U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson defended Washington health care reform efforts Monday at a forum organized by his office, and strongly defended the need for a public option in any resulting legislation. The freshman Orlando Democrat said most Americans live in a state or region where one or two health insurance companies dominate up to 80 percent of the market, deriding it as a 'monopoly or an oligopoly' where insurers can 'jack up prices knowing people literally have no where else to go.'" "Grayson tells health professionals he favors 'public option' plan".
Crist blames his staff
The Orlando Sentinel editorial board: "Crist blamed the 'inexcusable mistake' on staffers and gave the anti-Semitic DVD two thumbs down. That's a pretty embarrassing gaffe for the man who would be senator." "Crist's letter furor".
It's all a big left wing conspiracy
More right wing hysteria, this time from a Zell Corporation blogger, who "searched the local newspapers this morning looking for any mention of the complaint filed by U.S. Naval Commander Jeffrey Gordon against the Miami Herald’s military reporter, Carol Rosenberg."*
The blogger continues: "Do not let the defenders of our freedom suffer abuse from any of the military-hating, lying lumps of leftist horse manure masquerading as journalists. The left-wing press would like to ignore this story. Don’t let them do it. Take action, and take it now." "Is the "left-wing" media burying stories?" Background from the Washington Post: "Navy Spokesman Alleges Abuse by Miami Reporter".
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*Would this be the same Miami Herald, whose endorsement "of President Reagan for a second term prompted the newspaper's editor to resign because The Herald's publisher had overruled an editorial board decision to endorse Walter F. Mondale, according to Jim Hampton, the editor." "Endorsement Agonies At The Miami Herald".
Bought and paid for
"Two senators from oil-producing states have introduced legislation that would bring oil drilling to within 45 miles of Florida's Gulf coast. The bill sponsored by Sens. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, and Mary Landrieu, D-Louisiana, would effectively void a 2006 law crafted by Florida's congressional delegation, which put a massive swath of federal waters close to the state off-limits until at least 2022." "Supporters of drilling eyeing area off coast".
"A nonprofit group that provides eyeglasses to poor children in Florida has been ordered to reimburse more than $100,000 to the state in questionable expenses including hotel bills, legal fees and payments to a lobbyist." "State, eye care provider feud".
Jury OKs "private deportation of undocumented immigrant"
"A South Central Florida hospital that quietly chartered a plane and sent a seriously brain-injured illegal immigrant back to Guatemala over the objections of his family and legal guardian did not act unreasonably, a jury found Monday."
Like millions of others, Jimenez came to the United States to work as a day laborer, sending money home to his family. In 2000, a drunk driver crashed into a van he was riding in, leaving him a paraplegic with the cognitive ability of a fourth-grader."Jury rules in favor of hospital that deported injured Guatemalan".
"Jim King's death silences a voice of reason"
"King's adherence to core conservative principals found a sharp contrast during his term as Senate president. As House Speaker Johnnie Byrd lurched from one divisive debate to another, King didn't bother to hide his disdain. That divide might have culminated in October 2003, when, under pressure from Byrd and Gov. Jeb Bush, King supported an emergency law to reinsert the feeding tube of Terri Schiavo, a Pinellas County woman who was in an irreversible vegetative state."
"King said later that he regretted that vote almost immediately, feeling he'd betrayed his own position as a staunch advocate of the right of individuals and families to make end-of-life decisions. And when the question was pressed on the Legislature again in 2005, King sided with Democrats in rejecting an appeal for further legislative intervention." "Florida loses a titan". The Tallahassee Democrat editorial board: "Political legend".
The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "State Sen. Jim King, who died of cancer on Sunday, did something in 2005 that few politicians at any level do: He admitted a mistake, and did something to avoid a repeat."
After pressure from then-House Speaker Johnnie Byrd, who was looking for an issue on which to hang his U.S. Senate campaign the next year, the Legislature approved H35-E, to overturn a court ruling that allowed removal of the feeding tube keeping Ms. Schiavo alive. The margin was just 23-15 in the Senate, where Sen. King was president. Without his help, the bill might have failed. Then-Gov. Jeb Bush signed the legislation, and the case went back to the courts."Jim King's finest moment".
Not surprisingly, the law was ruled unconstitutional. It was an attempt by the legislative branch to create a onetime exemption to Florida's death-and-dying laws. But in March 2005, after the Florida Supreme Court had ruled, the state House again tried to intervene. Mr. Bush was willing to send in state law enforcement to prevent removal of the tube.[*]
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*Why or why can't Florida's media companies get this story right. Jebbie was not merely "willing to send in state law enforcement", he actually did send in state law enforcement, and would have precipitated a constitutional crisis, but for courage of local law enforcement officers telling FDLE agaents that they intended to enforce the courts orders. Believe it or not, just
Hours after a judge ordered that Terri Schiavo was not to be removed from her hospice, team of state agents was ''en route'' to seize [Schiavo] and have her feeding tube reinserted -- but the agents stopped short when local police told them they intended to enforce the judge's order, The Herald has learned."Plan to seize Schiavo fizzles".
Agents of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement told police in Pinellas Park, the small town where Schiavo [lay] at Hospice House Woodside, on Thursday that they were on the way to take her to a hospital to resume her feeding.
For a brief period, local police, who have officers at the hospice to keep protesters out, prepared for what sources called "a showdown.''
In the end, the squad from the FDLE and the Department of Children & Families backed down, apparently concerned about confronting local police outside the hospice.
''We told them that unless they had the judge with them when they came, they were not going to get in,'' said a source with the local police.
Pleeeze, let's get the story straight.
The cost of silly RPOFer "Tuff on Crime" blather
Fred Grimm: "It's not enough to know we've overreacted. Not hardly. Not when it comes to criminal justice."
Not even when it becomes obvious that "get tough'' policies have become counterproductive and insanely expensive."Get-tough stand is too expensive, isn't productive".
Florida's get-tough sentencing policies have packed the state's 60 prisons with 100,000 prisoners, too many of them of the non-violent, drug-addicted variety. We'll spend $2.4 billion this year to warehouse state prisoners. The trend lines indicate we'll need another 15 prisons within the next five years to maintain our irrational exuberance for harsh sentences with no rehab.
Prison costs go up in a budget-slashing year because we insist on packing druggies and juvies off to prison while spending relatively little on counseling or drug treatment or job training or in-prison education. Half of Florida's inmates, released unprepared to cope with the outside world, re-offend.
"The gerrymandered boundaries for state Senate District 28 caused some confusion as early voting for the Aug. 4 election kicked off Monday. 'We had 10 people just show up and not one is in the district,' said St. Lucie County Supervisor of Elections Gertrude Walker said shortly after the polls opened Monday morning." "Gerrymandered District 28 makes for confusion on early voting's first day".
"The dead zone"
"The dead zone -- an area so low in oxygen that it hosts almost no life -- still spanned 3,000 square miles when measurements were taken last week. In comparison, a coalition of state and federal agencies wants to see the dead zone shrink to a five-year average of 2,000 square miles by 2015. That average now is about 6,000 square miles, with 2009 included." "Pollution still feeding Gulf dead zone".
"Rep. Klein pushes bill to expand Fort Lauderdale missing-children program".
"Florida's population growth and economic prosperity will require a gas pipeline, angling down the peninsula from near the state line to south of the Space Coast, a Florida Power & Light Co. executive testified Monday. And the state's biggest power company's investors should pay for the $1.6 billion project, rather than spreading the cost over millions of Floridians, an attorney for a major gas-transmission company told the Public Service Commission." "FPL: State's growth calls for new gas pipeline".
The Saint Petersburg Times editorial board: "It's not enough, apparently, that State Farm Florida will cancel its remaining 700,000 homeowners policies over the next two years. Now the state's largest private property insurer wants to pick the pockets of its customers one last time as it flees the state." "Like a good neighbor ... not".
Young Republicans in action
"While enrolled in a Tennessee legislative internship program for college students, [former (Port Orange) Spruce Creek student-body president McKensie] Morrison developed a sexual relationship with state Sen. Paul Stanley, a married father of two, according to a Tennessee Bureau of Investigation affidavit filed in a Tennessee court." "Sex scandal is grad's latest run-in with law".
You know, the same Tennessee State Senator Paul Stanley who, while in the House served as Republican Floor Leader and has 100% rating from the National Federation of Independent Businesses, NRA and Tennessee Right to Life, and blathers about being an Evangelical Christian Investment Banker, and of course a proud member of the "Chamber of Commerce".