Adam Smith: "It's the oddest reality show to come along in ages: Survivor: Charlie Crist's Senator Selection Saga. Eight men and one woman scattered across a peninsula and competing for the affections of a white-haired leader. The prize? A 16-month job as seat-warmer in the U.S. Senate." All are old white men, except for the designated black RPOFer,
State Rep. Jennifer Carroll of the Jacksonville area. A conservative African-American Navy veteran, Carroll would surely earn Crist a huge burst of glowing national attention for looking like a new breed of Republican. But Carroll is no stand-out in the Legislature (and she once claimed an MBA from a diploma mill called Kensington University that was later ordered closed). She could be a risky, unpredictable choice."Handicapping Gov. Charlie Crist's list to replace Sen. Mel Martinez ".
"Klein tells tele-town hall he’s 'not quite there yet' on supporting Dem health care bill, public option". See also "Sun-Sentinel: Klein holds town hall hearing on health care".
"Florida GOP chief threatens legal action against stealthy 527 group"
"Florida Republican Chairman Jim Greer is blasting a racially-tinged mailer in a special state Senate election that warns that Black Panthers and "armed thugs" might try to intimidate voters."
The crux is a shadowy, so-called 527 organization called the "Conservative Voters' Coalition" that is sending out absentee-ballot requests, claiming to be a Republican organization, and warning the Black Panthers, MoveOn.org, and ACORN might get involved in the District 8 primary on Sept 15.And get this:
The direct-mail piece warns voters that "armed thugs may try and scare you away from the voting booth."
Greer calls the mailer a "clear violation" of the state law requiring groups to get permission from a state party's executive committee before using its name or symbols, and warned that the party "is exploring all available legal options to ensure that eligible voters are not misled or disenfranchised by the activities of you or your organization."
But the GOP had to send the letter to a 27-year-old Florida State University graduate student named Erin Di Cesare -- because thanks to a federal court ruling throwing out the state's electioneering communications law, there is no requirement that the group disclose its donors.
Di Cesare is a registered Democrat who is listed as chair for the 527 group. She could not be reached for comment Wednesday. Her lawyer, David Ramba, said this week he doesn't know who was financing the mailers and called Di Cesare -- who has no listed phone number -- a "front" for the real orchestrator.More here: "Racially charged mailer overshadows special Senate election".
"I don't know who she's fronting for," Ramba said, adding "It's a clean mailer. It's legal."
Florida Division of Elections spokeswoman Jennifer Krell-Davis said her agency had been sent the mailer but that it didn't appear to break the law because it doesn't use the exact depiction of the elephant symbol on file with the state.
"The one on the mailer is poorly drawn and has a checkmark in the middle of it with the words 'Conservative Voters' Coalition' surrounding it," she told the Sentinel.
Entrepreneurs in action
"Phone giants, utilities, tobacco companies and a sugar giant led the charge among industries that spent about $108.7 million on Florida lobbyists this spring. ... Not surprisingly, the spending often coincided with big political wins." "Industries spent $108.7 million to lobby state lawmakers".
"U.S. Rep. John Mica continued his campaign against a proposal to reform health care, telling a group of business people and government officials he objects to the creation of more bureaucracy."
His solution?: "His solution to soaring health-care costs and lack of access to care and insurance is to "address liability" through tort reform and reduce Medicare fraud." "Mica continues campaign against health care reform plan".
"Florida's 32-year-old ban on gay adoption"
"A Miami appeals court that will help decide the fate of Florida's ban on adoption by gay people grilled lawyers on both sides of the dispute Wednesday as it grappled with a thorny question: Does the law protect children from a risky lifestyle, or merely punish a group disliked by lawmakers?"
During oral arguments before the Third District Court of Appeal, an attorney representing the Department of Children & Families defended Florida's 32-year-old ban on gay adoption by insisting the state has a sensible interest in protecting children from social ills that are more common among gay men and women."Florida's ban on gay adoption goes before appeals court".
"There is evidence that homosexuals have higher rates of mental disorders, suicide and domestic violence,'' said Timothy D. Osterhaus, deputy solicitor general for Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum, who is representing DCF. "This is a plausible rationale.''
And in comments outside a Florida International University courtroom, where the arguments were held, John Stemberger, president of the Florida Family Policy Council, declared it was good public policy to promote the adoption of vulnerable children only by households headed by married mothers and fathers.
"We should focus on what is best for kids, not on what we can get by with,'' said Stemberger, who was heckled and interrupted by activists as he answered questions from the press.
DCF is appealing a November ruling by Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Cindy Lederman that declared the 1977 statute unconstitutional.
"A judge signed off on water managers' plans to borrow money to buy U.S. Sugar lands for Everglades projects, but he capped the amount. " "Sugar deal OK'd with limits".
Sorry, second homers
"An appeals court Wednesday rejected a constitutional challenge to the Save Our Homes property-tax cap, ruling against a group of Alabama residents who own second homes in Florida." "Court nixes challenge to tax cap".
"The Seminole Tribe of Florida is inching closer to completing a gambling deal with the state that would allow it to keep the slot machines and card games at its Hard Rock casinos in return for $150 million in annual payments to the state." "Deal seems closer in gambling negotiations".
Poor little rich boy
"The CEO of the state's largest utility wrapped up three days of testimony on a proposed $1.3 billion a year rate hike insisting that residential electricity rates will go down. Armando Olivera, Florida Power & Light Co.'s CEO, said the utility needs the rate hike to preserve its credit rating or customers will pay more in the long run. ... Late Tuesday, Olivera defended his $3.6 million annual salary package after an attorney for the Florida Retail Federation questioned his earnings compared to those of executives of other Florida companies who earn far less." "FPL: Rate increase will save customers money in the long run".
Cotterell: RPOFers are "tactically wrong"
Bill Cotterell: "Florida Republican Party Chairman Jim Greer and Gov. Charlie Crist are legally right about the state GOP not having to publicly disclose details of charges made on the party's now-canceled credit cards. But they're tactically wrong. "
In any big organization, there are always going to be a few bucks misspent. If you could get detailed monthly bills, you might find that somebody spent a lot on liquor but wouldn't know if they were alone or picking up a tab for a business reception. Or you might learn that somebody (oops!) used the corporate card to buy "Girls Gone Wild" videos."On credit cards, GOP is right ... but wrong".
That can be explained and reimbursed (the GOP is doing youth outreach and spring break is important Florida research, right?). But it's not worth taking the hit for refusing to disclose, as the Democrats are sure to remind us over the next 14 months.
I asked Crist at the meeting "what would be the downside" of showing not just how much the party paid American Express, but what charges were made. As if wanting it both ways, he said "I don't know" two or three times, slowly, as if thinking about it and then cheerfully asked, "What would be the downside of showing your credit card bills?" ...
Meanwhile, look for the Democrats to remind everybody, as often as possible, that they leave home without it. And we might, now and then, hear Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink mention, as she runs for governor, how she has opened "Florida's checkbook" so the public can track every expenditure.
Get off your a** Charlie
"Like an unwieldy 'cash for clunkers' car lumbering down the highway, Florida has been slow in spending federal stimulus money on roads and bridges. ... Florida has been so slow in spending $1.4 billion on transportation projects that it ranks last in the nation, according to a powerful congressman — U.S. Rep. James Oberstar, the Democrat from Minnesota who chairs the committee on transportation and infrastructure." "Florida: Stimulus cash will flow soon".
These geniuses will say anything:
Strongly conservative speakers blasted congressional efforts to reform health care at a Wednesday night forum in Jacksonville that reflected the increasing anger and ardor the debate has attracted in recent weeks. "Locals join national voice against reform".
A boisterous crowd of about 350 people jammed the Morocco Shrine Auditorium for the event, sponsored by the group Americans for Prosperity[*]....
Robert Sanchez[**], policy director of the Tallahassee-based James Madison Institute, told the audience that one of the House bills would add $1.6 billion to Florida's Medicaid bill, a figure that comes from a recent newspaper report that has since been discredited.
Asked about the remark afterward, Sanchez said, "All I'm saying is I saw a report that it would raise Florida's Medicaid costs."
- - - - - - - - - -
* SourceWatch: "AFP was one of the lead organizations behind the Tax Day Tea Party protests April 15, 2009. Its Director is Art Pope, an ex-legislator who has been called 'The Knight of the Right' and 'North Carolina's Karl Rove.'"
*You remember the spectacular Mr. Sanchez, infamous for having "authored The Herald’s strong endorsement of Ronald Reagan’s re-election after Herald Publisher Richard Capen" overruled the Editorial Page Editors' vote to endorse Walter Mondale." More on this from the New York Times: "Endorsement Agonies At The Miami Herald" ("The Miami Herald's 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.")
As Charlie campaigns ...
"It's like sipping through a straw to put out a raging fire."
The fund that Florida uses to pay unemployment benefits officially ran dry this week. A victim of underfunding, it became overwhelmed by the prolonged recession and the pressure to meet benefit needs brought on by the state's 10.7 percent jobless rate. "Few fixes for Florida's insolvent unemployment benefits fund".
"City of Ocala officials are asking the state for some help in their efforts to create and retain jobs in the aftermath of mortgage lender giant Taylor Bean & Whitaker's closing and the elimination of 1,000 jobs on top of the area's already double-digit unemployment rate." "Ocala seeks state's urgent help on jobs".
"All summer, Tom Pelham has been Public Enemy No. 1 for developers unhappy with his interpretation of a law passed this year designed to ease regulation of growth."
He has said it did not eliminate local rules requiring that builders pay for road improvements."State's top growth-management expert confronts critics".
On Tuesday, Pelham, Florida’s secretary of the Department of Community Affairs and Gov. Charlie Crist’s top growth-management expert, confronted his critics in a workshop at the Quorum Hotel.
"The amount of time high school teachers spend preparing students for the FCAT won’t change this year despite a law that lowers the weight of the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test in determining a school’s grade." "Teachers continue FCAT focus despite law change".
Pam Hasterok: "Even U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson isn't sure what a public health care option is or what it would do."
It wouldn't be socialized health care like European countries have, he told a meeting of political leaders and business people here this week."Health care: Nips, tucks don't cut it".
Other than that, it could be anything.
"It means different things to different people," he said. "What do you think it means?"
No wonder we're all so confused.
No wonder Nelson, who sits on the committee writing Senate health care reform, doubts whether Congress can pass a bill at all.
It ain't me ...
"An attorney for former House Speaker Ray Sansom has filed a second motion seeking dismissal of the official misconduct and perjury charges against the Destin Republican, arguing that he was not responsible for alleged misappropriation of $6 million for an airport hangar project." "Sansom's attorney files for dismissal of official misconduct, perjury charges".
At least they aren't "tax" increases?
Jim Ash: "The reality of a $7 billion state budget shortfall is about to come crashing down on Florida's 18 million motorists."
Can you spell "regressive"?
Lawmakers decided this spring to balance the budget with the help of $800 million in increased fees that will apply to just about everything that has to do with driving, fees that take effect Sept. 1. Driver license renewals, annual vehicle registration fees, license tags, titles, all will be affected."Driving in Florida getting costlier".
"The Florida Energy and Climate Commission is set to make a recommendation on conservation and efficiency goals for the state's major electric utilities." "Fla. energy panel considers conservation proposal".
"A well-intended effort by state lawmakers to push back the FCAT is raising concern over an unintended consequence: The high-stakes exam is scheduled to coincide with Easter and Passover in 2011." "FCAT set for holiday period".