Courtesy of (homesick) Mel
"Voting-rights advocates say appointed senators are unlikely to be strong representatives of their state." "Martinez's exit to limit Florida's political clout".
Crist's "slow-lane approach" to stim spending
The Daytona Beach News Journal editorial board: "Statewide, stimulus money saved 26,000 education jobs."
That's important in a state where almost 1 million working-age people are out of work. Florida's 10.6 percent unemployment rate is the highest since 1975, when it reached 11 percent, and nearing double what it was in 2008. So why isn't the state helping to keep road-construction crews employed the way it is teachers? Florida has the money to do so -- $1.35 billion in federal stimulus funds earmarked for road projects. Yet Florida ranks dead last among the 50 states and the District of Columbia in spending that portion of the stimulus. So far, Florida has spent just 2 percent of the money. The national average is 23 percent."Florida should accelerate stimulus spending".
Another fine Jebacy
"Experts fear a collapse of the entire ecosystem, threatening not only some of the nation's most popular tourism destinations - Everglades National Park and the Florida Keys - but a commercial and recreational fishery worth millions of dollars."
to the north of the bay, man's unforgiving push to develop South Florida has left the land dissected with roads, dikes and miles of flood control canals to make way for homes and farms, choking off the freshwater flow and slowly killing the bay."Florida Bay's Ecosystem Feared on Brink of Collapse".
What a bargain
Michael Peltier: "Democratic and Republican staff members charged with raising money for state House and Senate campaigns said they expect to spend an average of at least $500,000 per House seat for the upcoming 2010 election cycle. And House races are relative bargains. Open Senate seat races will be even more expensive. Party planners say those races could total $2.5 million each." "Elections pricey for political parties".
Get a job
"State Rep. David Rivera of Miami just called [Beth Reinhard] on his way home from a Washington fundraiser for his state Senate campaign with this possibility: If Gov. Charlie Crist appoints U.S. Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart of Miami to fill the rest of U.S. Sen. Mel Martinez's term, and Rep. Mario-Diaz Balart runs for his brother's more Republican-friendly seat, then Rivera says he would run for Mario's seat." "".
Taking a walk
"Barry Carson’s brief trip to the men’s room spared Gov. Charlie Crist the embarrassment of being censured by Palm Beach County’s Republican Party last week. Carson, a Republican Executive Committee member from Jupiter, was out of the room and missed the vote when the rest of the committee split 65-65 on a resolution Wednesday night to rebuke Crist for his various departures from GOP orthodoxy." "Republican activist flushes chance to censure Crist; state GOP keeps eye on proceedings".
Florida, "'ground zero in the bust'"
The New York Times:
Once again, Florida — where frugality gave way to indulgence after World War II, where the drug war took garish form, and where a divisive post-election recount in 2000 altered the country’s political direction — is magnifying a moment of national redefinition."On the Mat, Florida Wonders Which Way Is Up". See also "Florida, a 'broken-down piece of meat'".
"There is a psychological edge in being at ground zero in the bust," said Carl Hiaasen, the well-known chronicler of Florida in newspaper columns and novels like "Strip Tease."
The best they can do?
"Dan Webster gets a nod for run against Alan Grayson".
"Descendants of two of the country's most influential evangelical leaders - Billy Graham and the late D. James Kennedy - are feuding over control of a Florida megachurch that is a bedrock of the religious right."
Under the leadership of Kennedy, the former pastor who died in 2007, Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church was a forerunner to modern evangelical megachurches and a fiercely conservative voice on social issues like homosexuality and abortion in the mostly liberal city of Fort Lauderdale."Rift Develops at Prominent Florida Megachurch".
Graham's grandson, Tullian Tchividjian (pronounced TUH'-lee-uhn chuh-VI'-dee-uhn), took over earlier this year as its pastor.
But some Kennedy loyalists, including his daughter Jennifer Kennedy Cassidy, are upset with the direction Tchividjian is taking the church and have called for his ouster.
Tchividjian cuts a far different image from Kennedy. His hair is spiky, his beard sometimes scruffy. He has forgone wearing a choir robe at services, as Kennedy had.
And while he has shown no sign of theological differences with Kennedy, he has rejected politics as the most important way to change the country, while Kennedy was extremely active in politics as an influential Christian broadcaster.
Cassidy and five other members recently circulated a letter with a petition urging a meeting to consider the firing of Tchividjian, indicating he had misled them in their search for a new pastor.
Dissenters at the church have been vague in their criticism of Tchividjian's leadership. Their letter called him "a disaster" who has shown "a complete lack of respect" and made "grievous missteps."
They lament the merger with Tchividjian's former church, the far smaller New City Presbyterian, saying "their staff has taken complete control."
"We were told many things that all sounded good at the time, but in fact those soothing words have largely proven empty and it keeps getting worse," the dissenters wrote. "They range from preferences bordering on the mundane to violations of ethical standards that have guarded the purity of the church for decades."
Good luck, Nancy
Beth Kassab: "If anyone knows how to get a message across loud and clear, it's Nancy Argenziano."
She once famously sent a gift-wrapped package of cow manure to a [AIF] lobbyist she was at odds with as a state legislator."PSC member pushes utilities to reveal salaries".
Now, she is a member of the state Public Service Commission, the body charged with regulating investor-owned utilities. Her methods of late may be less brazen than in her manure-wrapping days, but Argenziano is still combative.
She is pushing for Progress Energy Florida and Florida Power & Light to disclose a list of employees who earn more than $165,000 a year in salary, stock, bonus and other pay.
Florida's "ever-graying stable of prisoners"
The Orlando Sentinel editorial board: "Long after the national shouting match over health-care reform dies down, state lawmakers had better brace for another boisterous citizen revolt. This time, over rising medical-care costs behind bars."
Florida's ever-growing and ever-graying stable of prisoners — many serving life sentences — could mean taxpayers will be on the hook for the ever-growing annual health-care tab for thousands of men and women guilty as Cain, but old as Adam."Rx for old cons: Reform".
That's why state lawmakers better take a hard look at sentencing and parole reforms if they want to deflate ballooning taxpayer costs in the long term.
"Thousands of Tampa Bay area property owners could soon be saddled with the cost of installing devices to prevent the contamination of public drinking-water supplies."
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection plans to begin enforcing rules that require government- and investor-owned utilities across the state to retrofit homes and businesses with backflow protection. Homeowners and businesses will have to cover the costs of the devices, which can range from $300 to $25,000 including instillation costs."DEP regulations could cost water customers".
Crotty's "culture of ..." whatever
"'Culture of corruption' has become almost synonymous with Metro Orlando's road-building agency, thanks to an Orange County grand jury that coined the phrase in a report critical of political fundraising within the authority. Orange County Mayor Rich Crotty contends that 'culture of reform' is a better description of what has happened at the Orlando-Orange County Expressway Authority under his leadership." "Toll-road agency still isn't fixed, critics say".
Health insurance and medical interests dropping big $
"On a recent Wednesday morning, 1,000 insurance brokers spread out across Capitol Hill with a singular mission: Kill a proposed government-run healthcare plan."
Among them was J. Hyatt Brown, former Florida House speaker and chairman of Brown & Brown Inc., a national brokerage firm based in Daytona Beach. ...Much more here: "Campaign donations coloring healthcare debate".
Brown is not just talking. He and others at the firm gave Kosmas $20,000 in campaign contributions during a three-month span this year. ...
And now it seems increasingly questionable that the public insurance plan will survive, in part due to reluctant Democrats like Kosmas, Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., and others.
Sunshine state lawmakers have received $709,000 in the first six months of this year from health insurance and medical interests, according to a St. Petersburg Times analysis, up $212,000 from the same period in 2008. Of that, $216,000 has come directly from political action committees controlled by Humana and Pfizer and powerful lobbying groups such as the American Health Care Association.
The most money has gone to Rep. Kendrick Meek, D-Miami, who is running for the Senate seat being vacated by Mel Martinez. This year, Meek has received $254,000 from healthcare interests.
Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Sarasota, has received $69,500, up $30,000 from two years ago. Rep. Allen Boyd, D-Brooksville, has taken in $25,000 from PACs, building on the $42,000 he got in the first six months of the 2008 cycle.
Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite, R-Brooksville, has seen a $16,000 increase from drug makers and insurers. Rep. Gus Bilirakis, R-Palm Harbor, has gotten about $20,000 more.
Entrepreneurs in action
"Some lucky 'patients' get flat-screen televisions as gifts from home care providers. It's the cost of doing business in South Florida -- Medicare fraud that's robbing taxpayers hundreds of millions, even billions, of dollars." "Stop the Medicare scams".
"Smokers can get free gum, counseling from state".
Phew!!! ... no tax increases!
"Starting Sept. 1, it's going to cost a whole lot more to be a Florida driver. Obtaining and renewing vehicle registrations, titles and driver's licenses got more expensive after state lawmakers decided to hike the fees -- to more than double in some cases." "Florida drivers paying the price".