Never a shortage of wack jobs in West Central Florida:
At least three Tampa Bay area people have become minor celebrities - like it or not - in the aftermath of a tumultuous town hall forum on health care last week that drew national attention.Much more detail here: "Health reform ruckus turns locals into minor celebrities".
Randy Arthur, owner of an Oldsmar air-conditioning service, became an icon of right-wing Web sites after a photo of him was published in The Tampa Tribune showing his knit shirt ripped after tangling with organizers at the event. ["Arthur says he was slammed against a wall. Tampa police say the investigation indicates a door guard slipped and grabbed Arthur's shirt as he was falling."]
Karen Miracle of Brandon, who is active in the Democratic Party, has been vilified on the same Web sites because of a published photo that appears - misleadingly, she says - to show her slapping a man during a disagreement at the event.
The man in the photo with her, Barry Osteen of Lutz, a telephone technician, has been asked to appear on Rush Limbaugh's radio show and CNN but told the Tribune he's dismayed the incident occurred.
In the aftermath, the East Hillsborough County Democratic Club, of which Miracle is an officer, has postponed its monthly meeting because of worries about protesters and security.
Arthur sought to file a police complaint against members of the forum's organizing groups who were acting as door guards at the meeting.
Tampa police say they didn't find any criminal conduct and don't plan to file charges.
Arthur said he intends to call the state attorney "and give my side of the story."
"Crist is trying to woo conservatives"
Marc Caputo: "Narrowly avoiding censure in a dramatic county vote [see 'Palm Beach County GOP motion to censure Crist fails on tie vote'], Gov. Charlie Crist is trying to woo conservatives as many turn against him."
Facing perilous conservative revolts, Gov. Charlie Crist has been quietly reaching out to Republican county leaders throughout the state to gauge his political support, defend his policies -- and to turn on the charm."Crist defending his conservative credentials". See also "Palm Beach County GOP's bid to censure Crist fails in tie vote".
Crist began calling Republicans soon after he announced his bid for U.S. Senate in May. By then, he had already inflamed rank-and-file conservatives for embracing Barack Obama and his Democratic stimulus spending plan.
Much more at The Politico's "The Crist charm offensive".
"Cuba capable of waging a cyberwar". The evidence?: "The Cuban government has emphasized training talented young engineers in computation and cybernetics."
Related: "'Recent' photo shows healthier looking Fidel Castro".
"Hurricane Charley hit in 2004. Governor Charlie hit in 2007. Between them, Charley and Charlie have redefined the property-insurance market in Florida. Hurricane Charley showed us that no place in Florida was safe from mega-storms." "We can't afford another Charley, thanks to Charlie".
"Need to get their act together"
The Sun-Sentinel editorial board: "You'd think Florida's elected officials — both state and federal — would be on the same page when it comes to seeking billions of dollars in federal stimulus money for high-speed rail. They're not, and that's a problem." "Florida officials need to get their act together when seeking federal projects".
Bloom off the rose
"For the first time in more than 60 years, Florida is losing residents." "Florida's population boom fades; state will mark first decline in residents in more than 60 years".
Posters of Obama in "white face"
"Posters depicting President Barack Obama in makeup similar to the Joker from the most recent Batman movie have popped up across Lake County."
Clermont Postmaster Willie Montgomery said today that the posters were discovered yesterday. Customers complained about the pasted images, he said."Obama Joker posters upset Lake County residents". See also "Obama 'Joker' leaflets pop up in Fla. county".
"Everybody that saw those posters found them to be very offensive," Montgomery said.
Beware "elite ... business and government leaders"
"An elite group of business and government leaders vowed Wednesday to find as much as $4 billion in savings from efficiencies in the state budget in time to recommend them to the Legislature this spring."
Sponsored by TaxWatch, the government watchdog group, and chaired by a health care executive from Jacksonville, the Government Cost Savings Task Force packs substantial corporate and political firepower. Its ranks include executives from AT&T, Publix, SunTrust and Gulf Power, as well as the House speaker-designate, the House minority leader, the Senate budget chairman, the attorney general and the chief financial officer."Task force looks to save Florida $4B".
Bill Cotterell thinks he'd be a perfect fit in the U.S. Senate; after all, "the Republican Party nationally has become known as the party of grumpy, old, white, conservative men. Got it. For that kind of salary and perks, I can combine the probing curiosity and intellectual depth of a George W. Bush with the warmth and whimsy of a Dick Cheney." "Here's a suggestion for that Senate seat".
Health Care fight
"Boyd said he cannot support America's Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009 (H.R. 3200) in its current form." "Boyd talks health care at forum". Related: "Miller: Health-care bill ‘a very, very bad piece of legislation’", "Health Care Reform Debate Hits Lakeland" and "Klein, Rooney, Wexler to wade into health care debate at appearances next week".
Good luck with this: "Hope remains for civility in health care debate".
"Pictures of famous quitters -- Mel Martinez".
Charlie a "finger-in-the-wind Democrat-lite"?
"To some observers, [Crist's] success in the largest swing state could be a national model for a GOP in the wilderness, proof that the party still appeals to independent voters."
But those observers do not tend to be Republicans, much less the conservative partisans who tend to dominate closed Republican primaries. They've got a different vision for the party's future, and it looks more like Crist's 38-year-old Cuban-American primary challenger, Marco Rubio, a dynamic and telegenic ideologue who was the first minority speaker of the Florida house of representatives and is now described by fluttery admirers as an Obama of the right. He's a passionate defender of traditional Republican principles and wasn't part of the generation of Republican leaders who betrayed them. He speaks for the tea-party base, the limited-government purists who believe the GOP lost favor because its leaders were insufficiently rather than overly conservative. They see Crist as part of the problem, a big-spending, eco-radical, finger-in-the-wind Democrat-lite."GOP at War with Itself in Florida Senate Race".
"Link ad" legislation
"State Rep. Eric Eisnaugle, R-Orlando, plans to draft and file legislation to solve"
the problem of Internet "link ads" that led to a state Elections Commission investigation in the St. Petersburg mayor's race."State lawmaker to file legislation on link ads".
The state's laws "should not be archaic," Eisnaugle said in a news release.
"Florida's election laws were written well before the internet became a part of daily life for Floridians and do not recognize the important dynamic of online communications. I plan on bringing together stakeholders in the technology community and state elections officials to help match our laws with the next generation of communications."
The issue arose with Elections Commission charges against mayoral candidate Scott Wagman's link ads on Google, Facebook and other web sites.
The ads are only a few words, and can't be made long enough to include the disclaimers required by state law stating that the campaign paid for the ad and the candidate approved it.
"Wednesday wasn't a normal day"
"Public schools and teachers' unions don't say nice things about those who support school vouchers, sending kids to private schools with public money. Most of the time, such folks just don't get along."
But Wednesday wasn't a normal day."Hillsborough schools and teachers' union join hands with Florida voucher advocates to train private school teachers".
In a move that experts are calling nearly unprecedented, the Hillsborough County schools and teachers' union have joined forces with a nonprofit Florida voucher group to help train private school teachers.
Step Up for Students — which runs the state's tax credit voucher program — plans to spend at least $100,000 on classes for teachers who serve its scholarship students, among the county's most economically disadvantaged children. The school district and union will provide space in the jointly developed Center for Technology and Education.
"Bottom line is these are our children, they are disadvantaged children, and they often return to our public schools," said Jean Clements, president of the Hillsborough Classroom Teachers' Association. "I want them to get the best possible education, wherever they get it."
"Barbra Stern, daughter of a veteran campaign consultant, will run for a hotly contested House seat as a Democrat in a Republican district." "Stern to run as Democrat in Dist. 91".
"Preventing plea bargains"?
Daytona Beach News Journal editorial board: "Preventing plea bargains unlikely to insulate Florida from violence".
"Biden will be heading to Orlando to headline an Aug. 19 lunch for Grayson, a first-term Democrat." "Biden fundraising for Grayson".
No lobbyists please:
Remember last year, when then-candidate Barack Obama pledged to take no contributions from federal lobbyists?"Lobbyist ban kills Batchelor role in Grayson fundraiser".
As president, Obama has continued that prohibition at fundraisers where he or a top member of his administration is the drawing card.
So when U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Orlando, sent out word Wednesday that Vice President Joe Biden will speak at a $1,000-a-plate lunch for him in Orlando next week, the invitation declared: "For this event, contributions from federally registered lobbyist or lobbying firms ... are prohibited."
There was just one problem. One member of Grayson's host committee is Dick Batchelor, a veteran political consultant and registered federal lobbyist for Florida Hospital since 1993.
Batchelor wasn't happy when this was pointed out to him, and he initially said he would step down from the host committee as soon as Republicans swore off taking contributions from lobbyists.
But when reminded of Obama's lobbyist - donation ban, he quickly relented and said he would ask that his name be dropped from the host committee, out of respect for the White House.
Workers' compensation whistleblowers
"A new Web site accepting whistleblower complaints on Florida workers' compensation has produced hundreds of new complaints in just months of operation." "Fla. worker's comp. complaint site already active".