"Caught in a politically awkward decision, Gov. Charlie Crist is narrowing the list of candidates he is considering to fill the unexpired term of retiring U.S. Sen. Mel Martinez."
Crist is running for the seat next year and is under pressure to find a fellow Republican who won't upstage him or embarrass him or further alienate him from the more conservative wing of his party. His office confirmed Monday that he has asked former Gov. Bob Martinez, Congressman Lincoln Diaz-Balart and former attorney general and secretary of state Jim Smith, now a successful Tallahassee lobbyist, to submit formal applications."Governor weighs potential picks to replace Martinez".
Related: "Skeptical rural residents grill Boyd at health-care town-hall meeting" and "Crist will meet with Bobby Martinez Tuesday as Diaz-Balart may be out for U.S. Senate".
"Republican sources say former Lt. Gov. Toni Jennings, former Sen. Connie Mack (R), ex-Rep. Clay Shaw (R) and state Sen. Daniel Webster (R) could also be on the list, along with a surprise dark horse — former Crist chief of staff George LeMieux, now the chairman of a major Florida law firm." "Crist's list for Martinez seat grows longer".
Big of him
"Lincoln Diaz-Balart bows out of U.S. Senate consideration".
"For the first time in 63 years"
"Florida's population has declined for the first time in 63 years, state researchers said Monday as they blamed the recession for plunging tax revenues and a steep drop in new residents." "Florida population drops for first time since 1946".
"Well-known environmental lobbyist Eric Draper is leaving the race for agriculture commissioner." "Eric Draper drops out of race for Florida agriculture commissioner". See also "Draper drops out of race for agriculture commissioner".
"As hundreds of critics and supporters of health-care reform lined the streets outside, U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Orlando, held a spirited but civil town-hall meeting Monday night inside a union hall where his supporters outnumbered critics. Questions came from all sides of the debate, however." "Alan Grayson hosts town hall meeting in Orlando". Related: "Tell Kosmas about health care by phone" and "Scott Maxwell: Live from the Alan Grayson town hall". See also "Large turnout looms at meeting" ("A large turnout from both sides of the healthcare debate is expected for a town hall meeting Thursday in Delray Beach.")
"Outsized salaries and benefits for top executives"?
The Saint Petersburg Times editorial board: "Nancy Argenziano, the brash former state senator, has it right: There's no legitimate reason for the Public Service Commission to allow Florida utilities to hide from the public how much they pay their top employees."
That's the issue today in Tallahassee as Argenziano and her fellow PSC members decide whether Progress Energy Florida and Florida Power & Light can hide their compensation schedules from the public even as they seek extraordinary hikes to their base rates. There is only one answer: No. ..."Public needs to see top salaries".
Ratepayers have a right to know if outsized salaries and benefits for top executives are padding their monthly electricity bills.
The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "Last week, the district and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced that they officially have worked out their differences. The cooperation is especially timely, because for the first time in years Congress has agreed to uphold its end of the financial bargain and send money toward the Everglades. The paper differences could have delayed $41 million toward the $438 million Picayune Strand project in Collier County." "Back on Everglades track".
"Authorities are investigating an alleged Twitter swindler who set up a fake account and sent out fictitious messages pretending to be local [Brevard County] Republican Party Chairman Jason Steele." "GOP chief says his Twitter ID a fake".
"Organizers of a grassroots movement to push for federal funding of high-speed rail will meet at 11:45 this morning in the Commission Chambers of Lakeland City Hall for major kick off of the campaign." "Ledger: High-Speed Rail Talk on Fast Track".
Stim trickles in
"The initial results indicate that the vaunted stimulus bill will help many people survive hard times, largely by extending unemployment benefits. It may have stemmed layoffs, especially in schools and local governments." "Federal stimulus creating few new jobs in Florida so far".
Entrepreneurs in action
"A company that overcharged families of prison inmates for phone calls agreed to fines but no refunds." "Phone company fined for overcharges".
Private school downturn
"Private school enrollment in Florida has fallen faster and further than public school enrollment. Though the numbers began dropping before the economy did, the recession and slowing in-migration from elsewhere in the United States receive most of the blame for the 4.2% dip last year and 15.7% drop since private enrollment peaked in 2003. But the rise of charter schools, which offer some of the advantages of private schools — smaller enrollments, local board governance, uniforms, parental involvement and mandatory parent “volunteer” hours — for free also is playing a role." "Fla. Private Schools Take a Hit".
The Miami Herald editorial board: "Legislators should sign pledge for Tri-Rail funding source". "Stay on track".
"... Free speech took a beating ..."
"Alarmed citizens and environmental groups think free speech took a beating earlier this year when Florida lawmakers dropped the requirement for public hearings over water-use permits sought by utilities, governments and businesses. Authorities have sought to assure the public that a way still exists to voice concerns about Florida's overtaxed water sources — a state-hearing process that proceeds like a lawsuit and trial."
But that route is already proving potentially disastrous for a small environmental group that's fighting Central Florida's quest to tap the St. Johns River for drinking water and lawn irrigation."Activists feel stifled in fight over St. Johns".
The St. Johns Riverkeeper in Jacksonville was the loser in a state hearing it had requested in an attempt to stop authorities from issuing Seminole County a permit to pump from the river. Now the county, as the victor, wants the group to pay as much as $1.4 million as reimbursement for Seminole's legal expenses.
It has labeled the group's appeal of its permit "frivolous," describing it in legal documents as based on opinion and lacking scientific evidence. The group says the county is using the appeals process to suppress its free-speech rights.
"The candidates running to be St. Petersburg's next mayor are determined to prove they're environmentally friendly. But they tend to be vague on the details. " "Candidates tout green agendas".
Daytona Beach News Journal editorial board: "With the highest unemployment rate in Volusia County and a tax base riddled with residential foreclosures, a climbing crime rate and a rapidly growing number of residents receiving food stamps, Deltona qualifies as a city in crisis. Not surprisingly, the city's always-slender resources for those facing job loss, economic privation or even homelessness are also strained almost to the point of bankruptcy." "Down and out in Deltona".
Labels: Crist in a "politically awkward decision"