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Here's today's "FloBama".
The Saint Petersburg Times editorial board: "Leave it to Bill McCollum to further cheapen a national debate on health care that already has been degraded by simplistic, inaccurate buzzwords."
Florida's Republican attorney general Tuesday blasted the idea of a government-run health insurance option and tore a page out of the Washington GOP playbook as he warned of the evils of socialized medicine. If these are the sort of scare tactics McCollum plans to engage in during his run for governor, it's going to be an awfully long campaign with too many slogans and too little serious discussion of the challenges facing this state."Slogans aren't solutions".
We have a few regrets as well
"Martinez exits Senate -- with some regrets":
Martinez got off to a rocky start in the Senate and often seemed to have trouble finding his footing. During the pitched right-to-life battle over Terri Schiavo in 2005, he drew withering criticism for passing a memo to a fellow senator that suggested Republicans could benefit politically."Martinez said he plans to return to private life, likely practicing law." Back to slip and fall cases, Mel? Or will you become a "government relations" expert at some white shoe firm?
And he made an early exit as chairman of the Republican National Committee. But he declared "tremendous progress'' Wednesday on a number of issues, including helping to modernize the military through increased shipbuilding and working to protect home buyers. He noted that the Senate was poised to pass legislation that he had championed to boost tourism to the United States.
And he cited the 2006 compromise that he and Nelson struck with pro-drilling forces to open up millions of acres in the western Gulf of Mexico for oil drilling, while keeping rigs at least 125 miles off the Florida coast.
More: "Mel Martinez's Senate swan song: Pride, regrets".
RPOFer name calling
Comparing House Speaker Larry Cretul to a dictator, a Miami state representative Wednesday filed a formal complaint alleging that his fellow Republican broke House rules by reshuffling committees without a vote of the full chamber.
Rep. J.C. Planas acknowledges that his complaint is rare, ultra-wonky and unpopular with some fellow Republicans. But he said someone needed to stand up and stop current and future leaders of the House from acting like strongmen."Miami legislator files complaint against Florida House speaker".
"The fact that Hugo Chávez in Venezuela reshuffles the legislative deck so he can get his items passed is something that's bad enough,'' Planas said.
"The big cats once roamed by the thousands throughout the southeastern, but there are now just about 100 Florida panthers remaining in the world." "Another Fla. panther found dead on interstate".
"Ex-House Speaker Ray Sansom wil be tried on charges of official misconduct alongside former college president Bob Richburg, but the men will be tried separately on perjury charges, a judge ruled." "Judge issues rules for ex-House speaker's trial". See also "Sansom faces joint trial on misconduct charges". See also "Sansom, codefendants to be tried together" and "Ray Sansom, Bob Richburg will be tried together on one charge, separately on another".
Grand jury investigation of the PSC?
The Tallahassee Democrat editorial board: "A former plain-speaking state senator, Nancy Argenziano, who represented parts of the capital city, is taking her refreshing signature indignation to her job as a public service commissioner."
She's asking for a grand jury investigation into what appears to be inappropriate influence on the Public Service Commission process by utility company lobbyists and even the Legislature."PIN politics".
Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, echoed her indignation, calling for a state Senate investigation of this "disaster in the making" at the PSC, which he defines as the "one entity that the utility customer has in place to watch out for their interests." ...
Ms. Argenziano says the Legislature is also too willing to intimidate and influence the PSC, with legislators nominating commissioners — and getting generous campaign contributions from utilities. ...
Ms. Argenziano says the Legislature is also too willing to intimidate and influence the PSC, with legislators nominating commissioners — and getting generous campaign contributions from utilities.
Mr. Fasano has suggested that the Senate investigate the PSC and "make certain that a proper balance between the needs of the business community and the utility customer is maintained" and not be "so obviously skewed towards the utilities."
Such an inquiry, however, would be an opportunity for lawmakers to consider just how hands-off their own relationships with utility lobbyists are. The Legislature is very involved in PSC appointments and confirmations of the governor's picks — though it's never been quite clear if the PSC is a body within the state's legislative branch, or the executive, and thus who really has such powers.
Ms. Argenziano's proposal of a grand jury would lead to a more credible examination of the PSC's apparent indifference to even the appearance of impropriety in multibillion-dollar rate-making decisions that will affect millions of Floridians.
The Daytona Beach News Journal editorial board: "PSC Commissioner Nancy Argenziano, herself a former state lawmaker, has accused some legislators of arm-twisting commissioners for being too rough on utilities. Argenziano wants a grand jury investigation -- another good suggestion."
Timing is crucial. The commission scheduled hearings this month on FPL's requested rate increase and nuclear-power surcharges. Progress Energy's similarly large rate increase is pending. Two commissioners' terms expire this year, triggering a decision by Gov. Charlie Crist to reappoint them or choose replacements."Trust shattered". See also "Public Service Commission halts own BlackBerry texting" and "PSC chief clamps down on text messages".
None of these crucial decisions should be made while the agency is under a cloud. The sooner state officials dissipate the suspicions hanging over the commission, the sooner it can get back to its original mission -- protecting Florida consumers while ensuring the safe, reliable and cost-efficient delivery of power across the state.
A new list
"Yet criticism is already brewing over the proposal to revamp the state's listing procedures. Species on the state list that aren't also on the federal roster will be re-evaluated by FWC using its science-based protocols." "Florida wildlife leaders consider using federal standards for imperiled species".
The "socialism" thing
Howard Troxler asks: "Is there anything more "socialist" than a fire truck? " "If we like it, it's not 'socialist'".
Senator LeWho in action
Big of him: "LeMieux also said he is willing to listen and learn as the Senate takes up issues like a major health care overhaul." "LeMieux preparing to be next Florida senator".
"Florida officials" share their deep thoughts
"Some initial reactions to Obama’s health care speech from Florida officials".
Laff riot: "Putnam: Health Speech Broke No New Ground".
"At least five ACORN workers are behind bars and law enforcement officials are seeking six others for forging signatures on voter registration applications last year. The workers were turned in by ACORN, Association of Community Organizations for Refom Now, supervisors in June 2008." "ACORN workers busted for fraud".
"Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernández Rundle praised ACORN. 'We've been very aggressive about a lot of these cases," she said. "But we would not have known about these workers unless ACORN brought it to us.'" "Seven arrested, four still sought, in Miami-Dade voter fraud case".
"Now here is a shocker"
Mike Thomas: "NASA star trek needs extreme makeover".
"Playing it safe"
"President Barack Obama's decision to address a joint session of Congress on health care left little doubt where that issue ranks on the national agenda. "
But for Bill Nelson, Florida's senior U.S. senator — heck, Florida's only senator with any experience — health care has come somewhere behind Burmese pythons and Chinese drywall."So where's Sen. Bill?".
Don't get us wrong — those two issues are important in Florida. Yet they pale next to a potential overhaul of the nation's health-care system, especially for a state with the highest percentage of Medicare recipients.
Mr. Nelson, who should be mixing it up at the center of this historic debate, has been watching from the periphery. Instead of playing a leading role, he's been playing it safe.
Klein and the public option
"Klein’s support for public option grows in anticipation of Obama’s speech".
"Too important for a quickie meeting"
The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "The idea that Florida would stop being Florida is too important for a quickie meeting of the Legislature to debate a gambling compact and deal with other unfinished business." "Advice for special session: Don't take up drilling". Related: "Poll: Most Floridians support some offshore drilling".
"South Florida water managers Wednesday approved a $1.5 billion budget plan that avoids a property tax increase next year while including a half-billion-dollar Everglades restoration land deal with U.S. Sugar Corp." "South Florida water managers hold the line on taxes, despite U.S. Sugar land deal".
Tri-Rail, Sun-Rail games
The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "The agency that operates Tri-Rail will not cut service for the budget year starting Oct. 1, but it will raid reserves. That won't have to happen if the Legislature approves a $2-per-day rental car tax that Tri-Rail supporters have sought since 2003. Trading that tax - not subject to referendum - for South Florida support of SunRail, the Orlando system, wouldn't be the prettiest politics, but after six years, we won't be picky." "More advice for special session: Give Tri-Rail some help".
"Charlie Crist, eager for the state to immediately tap $162 million in gambling proceeds while he campaigns for the U.S. Senate, wants legislators to approve a Seminole gaming compact in an October special session." "Crist wants October special session on Seminole gaming compact, offshore drilling".
"Travelers to Cuba swarm Miami airport concourse; 200,000 expected to visit by year's end as result of loosened policies".
"'Ohhh, that Jim Greer!' shouts Obama. 'Foiled again!'"
Bill Cotterell: "By week's end, Greer was explaining to Chris Matthews on 'Hardball' that"
Obama mighthave whipped a little socialism on the kids, if he hadn't called him out. We'll never know if the White House toned down the text before releasing it on Monday."Fear-mongering won't win this battle".
We can only imagine Obama calling in top staff to say, "Hey, Fidel Castro sent me these neat new guerilla fatigues, William Ayers gave me a Che Guevara poster and Bill Clinton brought back one of those cool North Korean commie hats with the little red star on it. I'm gonna use 'em for my Web cast on Tuesday.""I'm sorry, Comrade President," says an aide, "but the chairman of the Florida Republican Party is onto us. The Kremlin will fax over a new draft that more subtly codes the revolutionary Marxism."
"Ohhh, that Jim Greer!" shouts Obama. "Foiled again!"
Seriously, this week's spectacle could give right-wing fear mongering a bad name. Objecting to a federal stimulus package was one thing, warning against a takeover of auto companies and banks was something else. Challenging Obama on national health care was not only the right but the duty of the loyal opposition.
But worrying that he might brainwash children is beyond the pale. The party of Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt apparently yearns to once again be the party of Joe McCarthy and Spiro Agnew.
Them evil union thugs
In The Miami Herald editorial board's blame the unions editorial this morning, "Miami unions must share the pain", overlooks that unions are their employees, not some separate entity from another planet. Second, they overlook that public employers have the right under Florida law to, in the event of a "financial urgency", unilaterally modify existing contracts with labor unions.
Indoctrination, Florida style
Mark Lane on being "indoctrinated":
Not long ago, I came upon a yellowed copy of the Florida government textbook they used back when I was in junior high school."How I was brainwashed by Nixon and Gov. Burns in school".
That was a long time ago. Back when schools had civics classes that included state government. The book opened with a big black-and-white photo of Haydon Burns, the 35th governor of Florida. And even though explaining state government and history is a part of my job description, he is a man whom I would not be able to pick out of a lineup of mid-20th century men in suits. (That's him, the gray-haired guy next to Don Draper. No. Well, maybe one man over.)
Beneath the photo were a few paragraphs from Gov. Burns' office telling the students it's good to study government, Florida is a nice place, and democracy is a very good thing, indeed.
I did not know it, but I was being indoctrinated. If only my parents had signed a permission slip opting me out.
And then there's something called "Deltona"
Pam Hasterok: "For some, service never ends".
"Citing voluminous studies, the Navy concluded that training 58 miles off Jacksonville would rarely, and barely, disturb right whales."
Environmentalists say the Navy has soft-pedaled risks from the 500-square-mile range."Rare whales' safety pits U.S. Navy against environmentalists".
Ship strikes already rank as the top right whale killer. The Navy also intends to heavily employ sonar that can disrupt feeding and communication, cause hearing damage and -- in extreme cases -- trigger mass strandings such as one in the Bahamas that killed six beaked whales in 2000.
"It's one of the worst possible places,'' said Catherine Wannamaker, an attorney for the Southern Environmental Law Center, one of 21 groups that contested the choice. "It's right next to the calving grounds for one of the rarest whales in the world.''
"Critics call the unfinished reservoir -- scuttled after $260 million in construction costs and now slated for redesign at uncertain expense -- the most glaring example of the expensive hidden costs of the governor's sugar deal, which will pay the sugar giant $536 million for 77,000 acres of fields and groves." "Water district taking $25M hit for halted Glades reservoir work".