Carey Baker's "cynical political game"
The Orlando Sentinel editorial board slams the latest tomfoolery by Carey Baker: "The urgency for health-care reform was affirmed recently by new reports that show jumps in health insurance premiums outpaced income or inflation, and nearly half of all Americans under 65 went uninsured at least one month over the past decade."
Just when the focus ought to be narrowly fixed on drafting a workable prescription for America's ailing health-care system, however, State Sen. Carey Baker, R-Eustis, and state Rep. Scott Plakon, R-Longwood, trot out a cynical political game."Pull plug on Baker act".
Their Florida Health Care Freedom Act would amend the state constitution to let Florida opt out of any federal health-care plan — ostensibly to protect Floridians' rights to chart their own health-care course.
"The federal government will not only choose your doctor and ration your treatment, but also penalize people that want to pay for their own lawful health care services," he says. "That's just wrong."
What's wrong is this partisan proposal, a transparent effort to muddy the already turbulent waters of the health-care debate by politicians who offer no viable alternatives.
An adult speaks to the issue: "Kosmas: Ease into total coverage".
Charlie puts his blinders on
"If they didn't know much about Jeb Bush, people listening to Charlie Crist at a GOP conference in Michigan this weekend may have been under the impression the ex-governor was tax and spender ignoring schools:"
"We understood we needed to reign in spending. When I got elected governor our state budget was $73-billion. I cut it $8-billion in 2 1/2 years. Now it's down to $66-billion," Crist told the crowd. ..."Charlie Crist dissing Jeb Bush's legacy?".
Listening to the speech, we didn't hear Crist say Florida was plagued by high unemployment when he enttered office, but of course it wasn't. Unemployment, now at 10.7 percent, was 3.3 percent when Crist took office.
The numbers Charlie conveniently forgets
The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "Recent numbers issued by the U.S. Census Bureau paint a grim picture of Florida that will get even more somber if lawmakers in Washington fail to enact health care reform."
# The number of uninsured Floridians increased from 2.8 million in 2001 to 3.7 million in 2008. With 21 percent of its residents uninsured, Florida ranks fourth worst in the nation."Florida's scary vital signs".
# The percentage of Florida adults under 65 without insurance increased from 22 percent to 26 percent. This figure only considers people who are uninsured for an entire year - it does not include Floridians who have recently lost coverage through the recession.
# Private coverage is eroding. The percentage of Floridians with employer-provider coverage decreased from 66 percent in 2001 to 62 percent in 2008.
# Lack of insurance isn't just a problem for low-income people. An additional 23,000 Floridians from high-income households are now among the uninsured.
# Since 2000, average family premiums - $12,780 for those insured through employers have increased by 88 percent in Florida.
To make matters worse, the census bureau reports that Florida is one of five states that saw its median household income fall between 2007 and 2008.
Haridopolos "raking it in"
The Tallahassee Democrat editorial board: "What is still little-known by the general public is that any lawmaker can routinely accept much larger checks for food, drink and travel through committees allowed under state law — called committees of continuous existence (aka 527s, so-named for an IRS code) — and also through state parties."
There's no limit on how much a special interest can give to the committees of continuous existence, which are set up with names such as Preserve the American Dream, Committee for Florida's Fiscal Future, Conservative Citizens for Justice and Citizens for Housing and Urban Growth. Those are just four of some 100 committees that have proliferated in recent years, set up by a lawmaker and controlled by him or her — with contributions coming in from special interests that have, ostensibly, that same vital concern for that American Dream, Fiscal Future, Justice or Urban Growth."Those political committees are raking it in".
The money can be dispersed however the lawmaker chooses, to win allies on votes of bills they are sponsoring, or to win positions of power, such as speaker or senate president, by helping other members with their own campaign expenses. ...
Last week, it was reported that Sen. Mike Haridopolos, R-Melbourne, has collected $1.1 million in his Freedom First Committee, formed in May — partly to help ensure his position as Senate president after the 2010 election, and partly to ensure as many GOP victories as possible.
"Pay close attention, Florida"
The Sun-Sentinel editorial board:
Pay close attention, Florida."Tallahassee mulls drilling off Florida's Gulf Coast".
The push is still on to turn Florida into a gas- and oil-producing state and, unlike similar efforts in Congress, this push is appealing to a far more receptive audience.
Since 1990, Florida has had strict prohibitions limiting offshore drilling, but state business leaders and out-of-state oil and gas interests believe they have a persuasive argument — a $2 billion-plus annual payment to state coffers, along with assurances to protect the beauty of the state's Gulf Coast. ...
However, the more important question is: Does the proposal have merit? The answer is still unclear. Opening Florida's Gulf Coast to more energy exploration is a huge policy shift for a state that has long prided itself, and profited from, its environment and coastal communities; that change should not be made lightly, if at all.
Too many questions and too few specific answers remain.
"Crist will decide this week whom to appoint to two key posts on the state board that regulates utilities, a decision that will influence energy policy and affect Florida's electric, water and sewer rates for years to come." "Gov. Chrlie Crist to fill two open posts on PSC". Related: "State regulators extend deadline for FPL's request to raise rates".
Marco needs cash
"Can Rubio translate momentum into money?".
Too many Rooneys
"three Rooneys eye 2010".
Get serious about TriRail
The Miami Herald editorial board: "If Florida is serious about attracting federal dollars to help build a bullet train that would generate jobs for South Florida and millions of dollars from tourists, the state has to first commit to the rail system we already have: TriRail." "TriRail funding key to getting bullet train".
"Voting-rights advocates ... were understandably alarmed"
Daytona Beach News Journal editorial board: "Vote security and accuracy is a nonpartisan issue. People of all political affiliations want to know that when they cast a vote, it's going to count, and that the total will be reported without risk of tampering."
Recent controversies put spotlight on the technology used to record and tabulate votes -- and the companies behind it. And when the two companies that dominate the voting-technology market announced their merger this month, voting-rights advocates and elections supervisors were understandably alarmed."Technology key to accurate vote".
Between them, Premiere Elections Solutions (a spinoff of Diebold) and Elections Systems and Software control voting technology in 65 of Florida's 67 counties. (Indian River and Palm Beach counties use Sequoia Voting Systems.) Nationwide, the Premiere/ES&S dominance is just as marked: They provide equipment to nearly 75 percent of the elections supervisors across the country.
The past behavior of both companies raises questions about how they would act when joined.
"GOPers cheer Dion, boo UN".
"Trial lawyers' backing should have been public"
Daytona Beach News Journal editorial board: "The racism-tinged fliers that targeted voters in the recent state Senate Dist. 8 campaign were a prime example of vile stealth campaigning. And while trial lawyers eventually admitted they were behind the scurrilous ads, voters were left wondering -- for too long -- exactly who was lurking behind the group listed on the fliers." "Unmask attack ads".
Billy's conflict of interest
"When it comes to the board that supervises state public investments, Florida is different. It may be the only state that has its attorney general double as an investment fund trustee. Ethics watchdogs say it's an inherent conflict of interest: The state's top law enforcement officer and top legal adviser cannot provide independent legal advice to a board that he sits on." "Attorney General Bill McCollum's role as trustee for state investment fund may be a conflict". Related: "Does Bill McCollum have a conflct serving on SBA?".
Times are tuff for those unearned income folks
"For decades, the Sunshine State has been utility-friendly, making regulatory decisions that have allowed its power companies to earn some of the highest profits in the nation. That in turn has brought those companies a wealth of investors. But the outcome of a proposed $1.3 billion-a-year base rate increase for Florida Power & Light Co. could indicate a shift in policy for the state." "Investors, utilities fear wide financial fallout if state rebuffs FPL".
"Lately, employees haven't even gotten a bonus"
Bill Cotterell: "No bad thing lasts forever, so it's nice to see that the state of Florida actually expects its employees will get pay raises again some day."
Not next year. And not as much as had been predicted in previous forecasts by the Florida Retirement System."Potential retirees play the numbers game".
The state recently sent annual statements and its fall bulletin to FRS pension plan members, summarizing changes in pension laws and making projections of what they have to look forward to — or dread — depending how well each employee is fixed for Social Security and private retirement preparations. The cover letter reminded members that the projections are just "a snapshot in time" and that things can get better or worse.
Routinely, year after year, pension projections had been made with an assumption of 3-percent raises. If you work for the state, you might have noticed your salary has not been going up 3 percent in recent years. In fact, you've undoubtedly noticed that it hasn't gone up at all, unless you take an odd thrill in $1,000 "bonuses" that work out to about $13 a week after taxes.
And lately, employees haven't even gotten a bonus.
Déjà vu all over again
The Sun-Sentinel editorial board: "Amid more lapses in judgment, Florida's Public Service Commission again finds itself under scrutiny."
The regulatory board went through a similar crisis of confidence a few years ago. The issue then was attendance by PSC officials at a 2002 telecommunications convention in Miami Beach. Further damaging the PSC's standing at the time, too, was recognition that numerous former PSC staff members had gone to work for the companies they once regulated. Well, guess what? That hasn't changed much."PSC reforms needed NOW".
Whining from the rugged individualists at the Trib
The Tampa Tribune editorial board: "Once again, property owners in sinkhole-prone Pasco and Hernando counties are getting shafted by the governor and Legislature. A new law taking effect in January gives insurance companies the option of summarily dropping property owners who have standard sinkhole coverage – a major protection that helps people fix their homes when a sinkhole is detected." "A sinking feeling in Pasco and Hernando".
The Chattahoochee River
"Officials say they've been closely monitoring water quality in the Chattahoochee River and other waterways affected by the rainstorms that struck Georgia and other states in the Southeast." "River water concerns cited after SE rainstorms".
At least it ain't a tax
"FIU to charge fee for commencement ceremonies".