"Republican Gov. Charlie Crist released a memo Tuesday showing he approached Republican leaders in the legislature, including Senate President Jeff Atwater, R-North Palm Beach, before approving $20 million in cash incentives for a Port St. Lucie animation company. Crist did not have to brief the leaders, but the governor said he was uncomfortable with the legislature's decision in the frantic final days of the lawmaking session this year to remove the few restrictions on the state fund that provides economic incentives to private businesses." "Crist ‘regretted’ secrecy, notified legislative leaders in May of economic incentives to businesses". Background: "Secret legislative move leads to quick $20 million for project in St. Lucie".
There's some serious inside-RPOFer fighting going on here: "Florida House Economic Development Policy Committee Chairwoman Jennifer Carroll, R-Fleming Island, sent a letter Tuesday to Gov. Charlie Crist calling for an investigation into $20 million his office awarded to Wyndcrest Holdings, the parent company of Digital Domain that is attempting to open an animated movie production studio in Port St. Lucie." "Florida House chairwoman calls for investigation into $20M for Port St. Lucie animation company".
McCollum dead in the water
"Attorney General Bill McCollum, who raised only half as much money last quarter as Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, said Tuesday it's too early to start comparing fundraising gaps in the race for governor." "McCollum campaign reports $853,000". See also "Dems hold rare money-raising edge in Florida governor's race".
Primary challenges for Kottkamp and McCollum?
"Upstart U.S. Senate candidate Marco Rubio appears poised to give Crist a spirited Republican primary contest for the seat next year, with $1 million raised last quarter and a growing base of conservative support."
And he may have company."Republican primary candidates may step forward for governor, attorney general".
State GOP officials say Pensacola Republican Holly Benson, a former legislator and current state Agency for Health Care Administration secretary, is considering challenging Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp for the attorney general nomination. Some Republicans have been quietly promoting her all summer.
Then there's state Sen. Paula Dockery, R-Lakeland, who helped derail Central Florida's SunRail commuter train in the Legislature.
Dockery has said she's leaning toward challenging Longwood Republican Bill McCollum in a gubernatorial primary and will decide in the coming weeks.
"The money-polluted special-interest culture of the Florida Legislature"
The Sun-Sentinel editorial board: "The charges against ophthalmologist and political operator Alan Mendelsohn may be the strongest argument yet for cleaning up the money-polluted special-interest culture of the Florida Legislature." "Indictment against Alan Mendelsohn builds strong argument for controlling interest groups".
The latest from the "there is no global warming" crowd
"Floridians must accept that the state's economy is evolving from one centered on tourism, construction and agriculture to one driven by science and engineering, global competition and a stronger sense of place, the head of the state's Chamber of Commerce said Tuesday." "Diversity Is State's Future".
And they can't even blame the teachers' union ...
"Since opening in 2007, Charter on the Beach Middle School has struggled to boost student achievement. The school has also had financial troubles and is running a net deficit, according to the school system. ... In a Miami-Dade School Board agenda item, district officials listed more than a dozen reasons for moving to terminate the school's charter. Among them:"
• The school failed to provide mandatory programs for special-education students and English-language learners."Struggling Miami Beach charter school could be closed".
• Some teachers were not properly certified. Some did not use lesson plans. In certain instances, the material being taught in classrooms did not follow state standards.
• The school was not providing remedial classes for the low-performing students.
• Instructional materials were in short supply -- and out of date.
• The school had fallen into a state of financial emergency and ``lost significant portions of its accounting data.''
Wexler takes a walk
"U.S. Rep. Robert Wexler of Boca Raton, a self-described ``fire-breathing liberal,'' defender of Israel and friend of both President Barack Obama and Gov. Charlie Crist, is quitting Congress to head a think tank seeking peace in the Middle East."
The jockeying to represent his heavily Democratic congressional district began in earnest Tuesday as the news of his departure began to leak out."Congressman Robert Wexler to resign from seat, join Middle East think tank".
"I'm still a little bit in shock over all this,'' said state Sen. Jeremy Ring, D-Parkland, though he added he was "for sure'' considering a run for the seat.
Other potential Democratic contenders in the district covering parts of North Broward and Palm Beach counties are state Sen. Ted Deutch of Delray Beach, West Palm Beach Mayor Lois Frankel, Broward County Mayor Stacy Ritter and former Broward County Commissioner Ben Graber.
Once Wexler's resignation becomes official, state law requires Crist to call a special election.
"The candidate speculation mill began cranking up Tuesday, with at least half a dozen Democrats getting mention." "Wexler announcement could trigger Democratic free-for-all".
They're dropping like flies
"Two more top-tier Republicans decided Tuesday that they would not challenge U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson for his Orlando congressional seat -- leaving the GOP establishment without a favored candidate against the outspoken freshman Democrat. Within hours of each other, former state Sen. Daniel Webster and conservative businessman Jerry Pierce announced they would not run, a setback for the party given Webster's experience and Pierce's commitment to spend $200,000 of his own money."
"That leaves a pair of Tea Party activists -- Patricia Sullivan from Eustis and Dan Fanelli of Orlando -- and transplanted Miami developer Armando Gutierrez Jr., as likely Grayson foes." "Two more top-tier Republicans bow out of Grayson race".
"Florida should frame fiscal picture with logic"
The Daytona Beach News Journal editorial board: "Over the past three years, the state budget shrank nearly $6 billion. And the cuts hit some of the most vulnerable in Florida: public-school students, the elderly, the impoverished and the disabled."
The news for the coming year is worse. A revenue estimate released earlier this month predicts that state revenue will fall $2.7 billion short in the 2010-2011 budget year."But for the sake of Florida's economic future, leaders should agree on several key points now:"
Florida lawmakers should face reality as they prepare to write next year's budget. Drastic budget cuts are already eroding the state's ability to rebuild a strong, stable economy. Carving billions of dollars from school, health and social-services budgets has left Florida ranking low in critical workforce readiness and quality of life measures.
Education provides a prime example. The state's public school system is 50th in the nation in per capita school spending, and rated an "F" in an Education Week ranking of student readiness for college. The school system also scrapes the bottom in graduation rates.
· Tap unclaimed revenue sources. "Budget for the future".
· Close other loopholes.
· Ratify the Seminole gaming compact.
· Don't overburden local governments.
No more LeMieuxs
"Gov. Charlie Crist's decision to pick his top political advisor, George LeMieux, to fill the temporary U.S. Senate vacancy was widely criticized, and now some lawmakers want to take that power away. State Rep. Rick Kriseman, D-St. Petersburg, this week filed a bill (HB 213) mandating special elections in the event of future vacancies." "Elections sought to fill Senate vacancies".
Crist plays death politics
The Tampa Tribune editorial board: "Charlie Crist sends a dangerous message when he allows petition drives to influence the signing of death warrants. Allowing public outrage to affect signings diminishes the justice system and politicizes the gravest of decisions."
Last week Crist signed a death warrant against the killer of a Polk County sheriff's deputy and two others during a vicious 1981 crime spree. The decision came about a week after Polk Sheriff Grady Judd started an online petition drive urging the governor to sign the warrant."Crist needs to rein in death-by-petition". For more see yesterday's "Crist insists he's a wingnut".
A coincidence? It doesn't look that way.
Even at a Jaycees meeting
"After today's passage of a health care bill by the Senate Finance Committee, the debate over what should be done to reform the nation's health care system continued in a Tampa hotel meeting room. The Tampa Jaycees sponsored the event, which included members of the Hillsborough Young Democrats and Republicans." "Health care bill divisive locally as well as nationally".
"Why, oh why, do conservatives hate America so?"
This is off topic, but we join Eugene Robinson in asking that "somebody explain this to me:"
The president of the United States wins the Nobel Peace Prize, and Rush Limbaugh joins with the Taliban in bitterly denouncing the award? Glenn Beck has a conniption fit and demands that the president not accept what may be the world's most prestigious honor? The Republican National Committee issues a statement sarcastically mocking our nation's leader — elected, you will recall, by a healthy majority — as unworthy of such recognition?"Conservatives just can't stop railing against President Obama".
Why, oh why, do conservatives hate America so? ...
The problem for the addlebrained Obama-rejectionists is that the president, as far as they are concerned, couldn't possibly do anything right, and thus is unworthy of any conceivable recognition. If Obama ended all hunger in the world, they'd accuse him of promoting obesity. If he solved global warming, they'd complain it was getting chilly. If he got Mahmoud Abbas and Binyamin Netanyahu to join him around the campfire in a chorus of "Kumbaya," the rejectionists would claim that his singing was out of tune.
Let the rejectionists fulminate and sputter until they wear themselves out. Politically, they're only bashing themselves. As Republican leaders — except RNC Chairman Michael Steele — are beginning to realize, "I'm With the Taliban Against America" is not likely to be a winning slogan.
Naples News editorial board: "Class-size amendment ... let’s hear all possibilities before abandoning repeal".
"No one consulted or even warned them"
"An association of solar energy businesses in Florida stunned environmentalists last month by declaring its support for offshore oil drilling. Turns out, some of the trade group's members were just as surprised -- and outraged, since no one consulted or even warned them about it." "Solar group's endorsement of offshore drilling causes controversy".
Entrepreneurs in action
"The oil giant ExxonMobil claims Florida's price gouging law is too vague and that the company might not supply fuel in future emergencies if the law isn't clarified." "Oil giant challenges gouging law". See also "Steve Bousquet - St. Petersburg Times".