"House Speaker Larry Cretul reshuffled the leadership deck Monday by demoting some members, promoting others and stripping disgraced ex-Speaker Ray Sansom of all committee assignments."
Cretul, an Ocala Republican who took over for Sansom in February, merged two powerful budget-writing committees into one smaller one headed by Rep. David Rivera, R-Miami, who appeared to be the big winner in the power shuffle."'This is an abomination,' said Rep. J.C. Planas, R-Miami, who lost the chairmanship of a committee on domestic security and instead was named chairman of the Joint Committee on Public Counsel Oversight."
Cretul also eliminated four committees and reduced the number of lawmakers on each committee, which critics said reduces the number of House members in the decision-making process.
Planas said he planned to file a complaint against the speaker, claiming the changes violated House rules because the membership had voted for a committee structure with two separate budget chairmen. Planas said Cretul was acting like Sansom by "bending the rules to consolidate his power.''"Speaker makes changes in key committee posts". See also "Planas to file rules complaint against Speaker's 'abomination'".
U.S. retirement visa?
The Orlando Sentinel editorial board: "As envisioned by its advocates, a new U.S. retirement visa would be available to foreign retirees who buy a home for at least the median value in the community where they would be living. They'd have to pass a security check and agree not to take a job. They'd need to document sufficient assets, and health insurance, to avoid burdening U.S. social safety-net programs." "Roll out welcome mat".
Best of all, they can't vote.
As time goes by ...
"The nine finalists [to replace Martinez] are Bilirakis; Shaw; Frey; former Secretary of State Jim Smith; state Rep. Jennifer Carroll of Jacksonville; former state Sen. Dan Webster of Winter Garden; University of North Florida President John Delaney; George LeMieux, Crist's former campaign manager and chief of staff; and former U.S. Attorney Roberto Martinez of Miami." "Quest to fill Martinez's seat continues".
"Blow for economic populism"?
Mike Thomas: "In the latest blow for economic populism, the Public Service Commission is demanding the state's two biggest electric utilities hand over the salaries of top wage-earners." "We have right to know salaries of top utilities' executives". See also "FPL hands over executives’ salaries to state — but you still can’t see them".
"With the number of out-of-work Floridians hitting levels not seen since 1975, the state's savings account to pay unemployment compensation claims officially ran dry Monday." "State to borrow to pay benefits Unemployment compensation account drained".
"Sparks flew during the first day of hearings on Florida Power & Light's proposed rate increase Monday as state regulators ordered a conflict of interest investigation into their own staff and FPL turned over confidential documents detailing what it pays 400 top executives." "Politics roil Florida Power & Light rate hearing".
"Stealthy ... Conservative Voters' Coalition"
"A stealthy group called the Conservative Voters' Coalition is sending out absentee-ballot requests that claim the Black Panthers, MoveOn.org, and ACORN might get involved in the state Senate District 8 primary on Sept 15."
The direct-mail piece that started arriving in mail boxes late last week warns Republicans that "armed thugs may try and scare you away from the voting booth.""State Senate special election takes a racial turn". See also "The Mystery Behind The Race-Baiting Mailing In Senate District 8".
The mailer pictures President Barack Obama and makes the accusation that he "let the Black Panthers get a free pass for intimidating voters on Election Day" and asks "Is this the change YOU want to believe in? Violence and intimidation at the voting booth."
There are five GOP candidates in the primary, including former House Speaker John Thrasher and state Rep. Stan Jordan, but only one is black: Jacksonville City Councilman Art Graham, who told the Jaxpoliticsonline.com blog that he did not feel the people behind the mailer "give the voters enough credit."
The lobbyist who helped set up the so-called 527 group is Tallahassee lawyer David Ramba, who registered its paperwork two weeks ago with the IRS and does political work for a number of Republican legislators.
Ramba would only say he was hired to create the group by a Florida State University adjunct instructor named Erin Dicesare, who would be listed as its chairperson.
RPOF cat fight
"Patrick Castronovo, a Lauderdale Lakes committeeman, made a motion to hold a straw poll to choose between two Republican candidates for Senate in 2010 -- Gov. Charlie Crist and the more-conservative former Florida House speaker, Marco Rubio. But he was immediately drowned out by Broward GOP Chairman Chip LaMarca, who pounded the gavel."
The discussion devolved into boos and shouts at times as activists argued about whether to hold a straw poll in the future. Some members walked out in disgust."No GOP straw vote in Broward for now". See also "Crist-Rubio battle for U.S. Senate nomination splits Broward Republicans".
Castronovo tried to speak again but was drowned out at times as other participants yelled "motion to adjourn."
"How about a Republican not a RINO [Republican In Name Only]!'' yelled out one woman."
"A tactic that pits hard-working people ... against one another"
Raymond T. Edmondson Jr.: "Editorial writers and columnists elsewhere in Florida have lambasted public pension benefits in recent months, declaring that public pension plans are a relic of out-dated economic models and provide overly generous benefits. The standard argument is that taxpayers are footing the bill for lavish retirement benefits for public employees who are living high on the hog at taxpayer expense."
Portraying government employees as the "haves" and private sector employees as the "have-nots" is a creative, but inaccurate, twist on historical reality. This strategy is a sad new chapter in the painful story of an excruciating economic downturn that has negatively affected every citizen. It is a tactic that pits hard-working people on both sides of the pension net against one another to nobody's advantage, and a more balanced view of the facts is in order."Public employee pensions are far from lavish".
"U.S. Rep. John Mica gave a mostly anti-health-care reform telephone audience what they wanted to hear Monday night." "Mica against health-care bill but says reform needed".
"Florida lawmakers should open the Gulf Coast to offshore oil drilling to help fund schools, State Sen. [and alleged academic] Mike Haridopolos believes." "State senator backs drilling off Gulf Coast".
Federal handout, please
"The state is seeking $270 million in federal aid to help pay for the planned SunRail commuter train that would run through Central Florida." "Sentinel: State asks feds for $270 million for commuter rail".
Florida public employees handling massive food stamp increase
The Daytona Beach News Journal editorial board: "Number of Florida households on food stamps as of July: 1.1 million. Increase in caseload from August 2008: 37 percent." "ACCESS to food stamps".
Get a lawyer!
"A complaint [with the IRS] was filled out anonymously and a copy was provided to the Times/Herald on Monday, alleging Sansom violated tax law by using party funds for personal items such as plane tickets to Europe for his family and not declaring it as income." "IRS gets anonymous complaint about Ray Sansom's spending".
The Tallahassee Democrat editorial board: "Florida Republican Party leaders with an instinct for self-preservation ought to not only turn in their party-issued American Express cards but also call their tax attorneys." "Donors deserve to know what parties spend".
Fixing a Jebacy
The Miami Herald editorial board: "Sometimes it pays to get mad. In 2008, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection reported that half of the state's rivers and more than half its lakes had poor water quality."
But the agency had been foot-dragging for years on setting limits on the nutrient runoff from agriculture and sprawling cities with fertilized landscaping and septic systems. So when it looked like the DEP wasn't going to react responsibly to its own report, it was the last straw for five environmental groups."EPA water clean-up deal overdue".
They sued the DEP and the federal Environmental Protection Agency in the Northern District of Florida. Now comes a consent decree from the EPA in a court settlement. The EPA agreed to define the limits for nutrient poisoning that triggers huge algae blooms that choke off all marine life in lakes, rivers and estuaries. The final deadline for the EPA to offer the numeric limits is October 2010. The DEP will have to enforce those limits.
The Miami Herald editorial board: "Several Miami-Dade commissioners are demanding drastic cuts to Mayor Carlos Alvarez's budget amid revelations he gave generous raises to favored staffers while pushing for unprecedented job and salary cuts throughout the rest of County Hall." "Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Alvarez feels backlash over raises". The Miami Herald editorial board: "Miami-Dade staff raises obscene".
Times are tuff
"Bronson man accused of stealing from piggy bank".
The Sun-Sentinel editorial board: "You can almost hear the cacophony of surprise, at least, if not disappointment and ire."
Property owners around South Florida are receiving so-called TRIM notices telling them what they are being billed on their property taxes. Many expected a reduction in taxes, given that the values of their properties have dropped like a rock, so to speak. ..."Go ahead, get angry over your tax bill, but be ready to give something up, too".
Before you venture out to a city hall budget hearing, be forewarned: Be prepared, as a citizen, to give up a service or a convenience in return for a lower tax bill. We can't have it both ways.
Debate in Tally
"The debate over national health-care policy comes to the shadow of Florida's Capitol tonight, with a key congressman and two local physicians taking part in a panel discussion. " "Health-care debate comes here".
Evil labor unions
Florida Chamber of Commerce The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "Once again, it's safety last".
Raw political courage
"The six leading mayoral candidates say they would follow in Mayor Rick Baker's footsteps and continue to make education a city priority. And they want your help." "Candidates pledge to aid schools".
"Wrongly incarcerated man denied compensation".