"Florida Governor foresees Obama loss similar to Jimmy Carter's" (via The Buzz's, "Charlie Crist: Barack Obama will be one-termer".
Rubio hanging in there
Adam Smith asks "what are we to make of all these GOP straw polls?"
Two explanations that aren't necessarily mutually exclusive: (1) Charlie Crist has a serious problem with the conservative base that eventually could spell trouble, and (2) local Republican executive committee members are breathtakingly out of touch with mainstream Republican voters. ..."Rubio beats Crist, at least in straw polls".
Rubio has been riding a long wave of helpful publicity, from straw polls to the backlash over Crist appointing his longtime adviser George LeMieux to the Senate. The latest gift is a column by the influential George Will, who trashes Crist's conservative credentials and predicts Rubio will be Florida's next U.S. senator. ...
But there's a good chance all that glowing Rubio press ceases around Oct. 15. That's when campaign finance reports are due, and when Rubio will likely again face questions about his viability against champion money-raiser Crist.
Haridopolos and Cannon fight for oil campaign dollars
Aaron Deslatte: "Politics is about timing, and incoming House Speaker Dean Cannon, R-Winter Park, and future Senate President Mike Haridopolos, R-Indialantic, think the ingredients have cooked long enough."
Haridopolos wants to host town-hall meetings around the state — much as he did with property taxes three years ago [who knew?] — to air out the issue of authorizing the Cabinet to issue leases for oil drilling within roughly five miles of Florida's beaches.There's more:
Cannon wants to do his own road show, including a public forum that would be webcast.
Such drilling was unthinkable to Democrats and Republicans two years ago. But recent polls show a majority of Floridians are supportive, and oil companies are pushing for a quick vote.
Limiting state and local revenue increases by a formula tied to population and income growth is especially ripe, given that wages are stagnant, unemployment is at 10.7 percent and population is declining, he said. "I think people are looking for that [revenue] predictability.""Legislature's incoming leaders focus on oil drilling, government spending".
Lawmakers in previous sessions have been reluctant to pass such a cap. But with Haridopolos entering the apex of his influence, 2010 might be his year.
The The Orlando Sentinel editorial board ain't thrilled, at least with the oil drilling part: "Winter Park's Dean Cannon keeps hawking his proposal to lift the state's ban on offshore drilling. The more you know about it, however, the more you come away from it convinced Florida shouldn't have anything to do with the thing in its current form. Its promises don't float. It's riddled with defects. And the consequences could prove so substantial that rushing it through the Legislature next month, which Mr. Cannon intends, could harm the public as much as it might help Exxon, Citgo and Shell." "Too slick for Florida".
Jeremy Wallace: "While much of the nation has been focused on the health care debate in Washington, a three-pronged effort to open Florida's Gulf Coast to oil drilling has quietly been gaining strength and appears set to become a major battle later this fall." "Drilling camp making inroads".
Being a contrarian gets you noticed: "Jane Healy: Drilling could help state, deserves a hearing"
"Proposals to heal Corruption County"
The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "Two proposals to heal Corruption County emerged last week. Both offer good ideas for creation of an inspector general's office and commission on ethics. Both could wind up as competing choices before voters in November 2010. That would be a mistake."
One proposal comes from Palm Beach County. It offers ordinances to create the inspector general's office, a commission on ethics and a tougher code of ethics. The ordinances would go before the county commission in December to be put into place by January. Later, the county would draft charter language to go before voters in November 2010. Placing the anti-corruption measures in the charter protects them from political manipulation."Corruption County collision".
The second proposal comes from a consortium of the Economic Council of Palm Beach County, Leadership Palm Beach County, the Voters Coalition and the Business Forum of Palm Beach County, which includes builders, Realtors and chambers of commerce. These groups promise a petition drive for their charter amendment if they disagree with the county's approach.
Stealth group "free-for-all"
The Saint Petersburg Times editorial board: "Lawmakers need to act quickly to ensure voters aren't in the dark. The Legislature must craft a new law requiring timely financial disclosure by stealth groups that pop up days before an election. Failing to regulate such groups creates a free-for-all where there is no way to know who is behind well-financed political messages." "Voters' right to know".
"A week before the governor must decide whether to reappoint him to the Public Service Commission, the chairman of the state utility regulation panel ruled Friday that the largest rate case of his term should extend into January -- and into the new terms of either his or his successor." "State regulators extend deadline for FPL's request to raise rates".
"Like treating Type 2 diabetes with Twinkies"
Mike Thomas: "Florida is on the edge of a depression with plunging home prices, rampant foreclosures and abandoned houses rotting in the heat and dragging down neighborhoods."
It raises an interesting question. Who is more extreme, the people responsible for this conflagration — and whose response to it is to build more-more-more — or the people who want to give voters the option of reining it in?"Blocking build-build-builders".
"I think the housing bust has exposed the reality of developer control for what it is," says Blackner. "They had everything they wanted for the last five to six years. They crashed the economy. They have no solution other than bring the bubble back. Hometown Democracy is the only genuine reform on the table that can change the politics of growth once and for all."
Is that radical?
Or is this radical? There are 300,000 empty houses in Florida. "For Lease" signs have replaced merchandise in storefront windows. Office vacancies are skyrocketing. The state's population is declining for the first time since World War II. Yet there are requests pending to build more than 600,000 more homes, along with millions more square feet of commercial space. There are plans to conjure up massive new cities from scratch in the middle of nowhere.
This is like treating Type 2 diabetes with Twinkies.
"Crist faces a deadline this week to decide whom to put on the embattled board that sets electric rates." "Gov. Crist to fill empty posts on PSC". See also "High stakes ride on Crist's PSC picks".
Another fine RPOFer
"Three years ago, Mark Foley stood before TV cameras, acknowledged his long-hidden homosexuality and confessed to sending sexually suggestive e-mail and instant messages to teenage male congressional pages. Vilified from coast to coast as an example of a Republican Congress that had given in to self-indulgence and corruption, he resigned. That ended a career in public office that spanned three decades, including five House terms." "Disgraced lawmaker re-emerges".
The Miami Herald editorial board: "The U.S. Department of Transportation has told Florida that it has a good chance of winning approval of a high-speed rail project that meets the right criteria to win some of the $8 billion in stimulus money the White House is offering to help build rapid transit."
The Miami-Orlando corridor should be first in line because it makes the most economic sense. But Gov. Charlie Crist is pushing for an Orlando-Tampa line first. Supporters of the Miami-Orlando route are challenging the governor's choice, arguing that there will be more ridership on the north-south line to pay for operations and that the distance between Tampa and Orlando is too short to allow for truly high speed rail."Speed up Miami-Orlando bullet train". Related: "Rail looks promising for Pinellas".
The Tampa-Orlando route lacks the required connecting public transportation system whereas Miami already has the newly completed Miami Intermodal Center next to Miami International Airport.
The Florida Department of Transportation is seeking $2.5 billion to build a Tampa to Orlando route first and asking for $30 million for environmental-impact work to build the Orlando-Miami line second. According to FDOT, the federal Railroad Administration wants only proposals where the environmental impact study already has federal approval.
The Tampa-Orlando line has that approval, but is it the right choice to win federal dollars?
"You bet I would!"
Gerald Ensley: "Earlier this month, a member of the audience at the town hall meeting on health care reform challenged U.S. Rep. Allen Boyd. The questioner, upset Boyd supported measures that many in the angry audience didn't, asked the Congressman: 'Would you vote for something if 75 percent of your constituents opposed it?'"
Boyd never really answered, obfuscating about the difficulty of knowing if 75 percent truly opposed a measure. But I know how he should have answered the question:"Elected few can do a better job than the masses".
"You bet I would!"
"The National Rifle Association has taken aim at the coalition of some 450 mayors — 45 of them in Florida — alerting gun owners that the group will lobby Congress to end 'reciprocity' among states that issue concealed-weapons permits, tighten restrictions on sales at weekend gun shows and weaken privacy protections for gun owners." "Gun-control group catches heat".
"A microcosm of the broader effort to revive the River of Grass"
"Of the many engineering atrocities inflicted on the Everglades, the C-111 ranks high on the list. The canal was cut across deep South Miami-Dade in the 1960s for the Aerojet Corp., which was then building moon rocket engines so big they had to be barged."
The rocket plant closed decades ago. The C-111, also known as the Aerojet canal, has remained, sucking water that once flowed into Florida Bay and piping it 20 miles the wrong way, east across U.S. 1 into Barnes Sound."Everglades canal overhaul faces obstacles"
Now, after years of delay, the South Florida Water Management District is poised to begin healing the unnatural wound of the C-111 with $25 million in projects.
By the multibillion-dollar measuring stick of Everglades restoration, the construction work is simple and cheap. But the first step toward fixing the C-111 still faces myriad challenges, making it a microcosm of the broader effort to revive the River of Grass.
More on the 'Glades from Sally Swartz: "Watch Everglades on TV, then go".
"'It always comes down to the lobbyists'"
Fred Grimm: "The process seemed purposefully obtuse. Construction bids were bundled and submitted as imprecise estimates, based on obscure criteria, to be negotiated (and massaged and inflated) long after contracts were let."
Broward School Board Member Beverly Gallagher was busted in an undercover FBI sting Wednesday, accused of taking bribes to influence the bid selection on a $71 million school construction project."Corruption charges not shocking".
Sakhnovsky was hardly shocked. The corruption charges against Gallagher only confirmed his long held suspicions.
Nor did the corruption charges shock Pat Santeramo, despite his affection for Gallagher. He knew the system invited exploitation. As president of the Broward Teachers Union, he was there when another selection committee sorted through bids for the district's health insurance contract.
Santeramo, worried about insurance for 22,000 union members, felt an obligation to be there. But it was not exactly scintillating work, slogging through stacks of competing insurance bids.
Santeramo wondered why the same three school board members, year after year, ``would fall all over themselves'' to get on the selection committee.
Santeramo suspects the attraction was a process so full of complexities and subjective criteria that school board members on the committee could finagle any outcome they wished. Santeramo came away convinced that the final decision in the $200 million deal came down to the influence of a certain lobbyist. "It always comes down to the lobbyists,'' he said.
"Imagine this news story ..."
Scott Maxwell: "Maybe you've already formed a strong opinion about teenage runway Rifqa Bary. But imagine if the family that helped her run away from Ohio weren't a Christian one here in Orlando. Imagine, just for a moment, that the circumstances were reversed."
Imagine this news story ...Much more here: "Imagine if Rifqa Bary were Julie Johnson".
COLUMBUS, Ohio — An Orlando girl, feared missing for two weeks, has been found in Ohio — in the home of a Muslim imam.
The girl's parents, devout Christians who live in a modest suburb in east Orlando, were shocked to learn that the imam and his wife had been harboring their daughter, Julie Johnson, all this time without letting them know.
Julie was 16 when she ran away — a minor in the eyes of the law.
The girl's parents assumed that their daughter would soon be returned home. But Ohio authorities have so far refused.
The imam and his wife — who met Julie through an online prayer group — say she no longer wants to be a Christian.
Students without a trust funds
The Tallahassee Democrat editorial board: "Every little bit helps when you're a college student without a trust fund". "Two plans help students afford a degree".
"The election of a new St. Petersburg mayor will offer a chance to improve relations between the city and county, some commissioners say. It's an opportunity to change the dynamics — to 'hit the reset button,' City Council member Karl Nurse said." "Can city-county relations improve?".
"Shifting teachers to hike FCATs proves no cure-all".
"Bad news for Florida"
Daytona Beach News Journal editorial board: "For opponents of health care reform, it's one of their favorite numbers:"
About 250 million Americans have health insurance, and 85 percent of them are satisfied. That, according to a September Gallup poll. So why bother reforming the system? Because the number is as misleading as many of the recent distortions about health care. And the Senate bill Max Baucus introduced last week, which has President Barack Obama's support, plays into the distortion by doing little to help where help is needed most: the uninsured and the under-insured. That's bad news for Florida, which has the nation's second-highest rate of uninsured individuals and whose low-paying service jobs provide bare-bones insurance -- if they provide insurance at all."Satisfied with health care".
"Miami-Dade faces uphill budget battle with labor unions".
Will ethics charges be renewed?
"Ethics investigators failed to match up a utility regulator's story with the record, raising questions about whether the ethics charges should be renewed." "Probe of cleared PSC commissioner called incomplete".
"Disturbing flaws in Florida's background screening system have put children, seniors and the disabled in the care of convicted felons with records that include rape, child molestation and murder, an investigation by the Sun Sentinel newspaper has found." "Newspaper: Faulty system lets felons be caregivers". Related: "Is a felon supervising your child at day care?".