"Cheers of 'President Palin.'" in Orlando
"Former Republican vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin rolled through Central Florida on Tuesday, finding raucous fans in a conservative retirement community before ending her day in Orlando to Former Republican vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin rolled through Central Florida on Tuesday, finding raucous fans in a conservative retirement community before ending her day in Orlando to cheers of 'President Palin.'"
More than 1,000 people stood in line for hours at the Barnes & Noble at Colonial Plaza Market Center in Orlando for the chance to meet Palin. Many camped out the night before to get a wristband that, along with a book receipt, would guarantee a spot in line."Palin plays lovable 'Rogue' at The Villages". See also "To Florida fans, Palin still the one", "Campaign 2012? Palin draws crowd in The Villages for ‘Going Rogue’ signing" and "'President Palin?' Fans cheer the possibility".
Palin's Orlando visit was part of a 31-city national tour that is largely avoiding big urban centers that voted for Barack Obama in 2008 in favor of more conservative communities. Orlando was one of only 11 scheduled stops in cities where a majority voted for Obama.
Limbaugh, Palin, Rubio and Crist
"Rush Limbaugh says Gov. Charlie Crist ought to take a lesson from Sarah Palin's popularity."
Limbaugh said he hasn't met Crist or former Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio. He didn't make a formal endorsement but said "I like Rubio." He said Crist has lately been promoting his own conservative credentials, on issues such as guns and abortion. ..."Rush Limbaugh praises Rubio, Palin on Tallahassee radio show".
Those are the voters Crist and Rubio will need to galvanize in the U.S. Senate primary next August.
"Republicans, the only chance they have to win a national election is to go conservative," said Limbaugh. He said the Crist-Rubio campaigns offer "a pretty stark contrast" of conservative values.
Limbaugh's praise is another conservative boost for Rubio, who recently made the cover of National Review magazine and has drawn endorsements from some of the more conservative members of Congress.
"A high-profile, politically-charged spectacle"
"Former House Speaker Marco Rubio and ex-Senate President Ken Pruitt could be called as witnesses in the House case against Rep. Ray Sansom, according to new documents that foreshadow a high-profile, politically-charged spectacle."
The names -- and many others -- were presented to Sansom's attorney by House prosecutor Melanie Hines. Sansom lawyer Richard Coates offered his own preliminary witness list that includes developer Jay Odom and former Northwest Florida State College president Bob Richburg. ..."Big names might take stand in Ray Sansom case". See also "" and "".
The potential inclusion of Rubio in particular will attract attention as he's running for the GOP nomination for U.S. Senate against Gov. Charlie Crist. Rubio was speaker during the two years that Sansom funneled millions to the college.
The Miami Republican has said he delegated responsibility to his top budget chief, and there is no evidence Rubio knew a $6 million airport building could have benefited Odom's corporate-jet business.
Pruitt, R-Port St. Lucie, was Senate president during the same time Rubio led the House.
Treating public education "like a hemorrhoid"
Scott Maxwell: "Florida politicians are among the least sympathetic creatures to inhabit the Sunshine State."
As I've said before, legislators and the governor of this state have long treated public education like a hemorrhoid — more of an annoyance they are forced to deal with than anything they truly care about.Much more here: "Mothers know best: Pols are ruining education".
They run campaigns vowing to be the public schools' best friend. Then, after getting elected, they become more concerned with steering money into their campaign accounts and toward special interests than they are with your children.
That's not anecdotal populist rage. It's fact.
We have low graduation rates, classrooms that have more kids than parents want, below-average teacher salaries and per-pupil spending that lags most states in America.
Despite legislators' vows to increase school budgets, state funding is lower this year than it was in 2003.
Yet during those years, Florida politicians found money to pay for things they truly wanted — like renovating the state House dining room and paying for planes to fly themselves all over the state and the globe.
While legislators were crying poor-mouth to our schools, they were defending tax breaks for everyone from lawyers to bottled-water companies — and handing out new breaks to out-of-state homeowners.
Even when voters try to help schools by passing the lottery and a class-size amendment to the state Constitution, lawmakers simply responded with shell games and loopholes.
How many years were we going to let these guys renege on their promises before calling them on the carpet?
Or better yet, summoning them to the courtroom.
Nelson wows Chamber crowd
"Senator Nelson slams Obama, Gulf drilling".
The Miami Herald editors: "Finally, some forward movement on securing the future of Tri-Rail and establishing SunRail, a commuter service in Orlando. Accomplishing these would keep Florida in the running for $2.5 billion in federal stimulus money for a Tampa-Orlando-Miami bullet train route."
Federal transportation officials have made it clear that Florida won't get a share of the $8 billion, which dozens of states are vying for, to build its bullet train unless the state first shows a commitment to mass transit. Specifically, finding a permanent funding source for Tri-Rail and giving SunRail the go ahead. Time's running short, because the federal money will be awarded early next year, well before the state Legislature meets in March."Don't lose momentum on Tri-Rail". Related: "Unexpected tax dollars could clear way for SunRail".
That leaves just one possibility: a special session in December. Gov. Charlie Crist on Monday said he wanted to call the session. He should do so, now.
The other encouraging sign is that legislative leaders appear to be serious about solving Tri-Rail's chronic deficit and contributing to SunRail's start-up. They may even have found a funding source that's more palatable to some lawmakers than a proposed $2 surcharge on rental cars in the counties the train serves.
LeMieux Laff riot
If this isn't the pot calling the kettle black:
A slew of South Florida political scandals have uncovered "a culture of corruption'' that must be stamped out, freshman Florida Sen. George LeMieux said Tuesday. ..."Sen. LeMieux decries 'culture of corruption' in South Florida".
In the past decade, Rothstein -- a Broward lawyer who allegedly bilked investors over bogus legal settlements -- helped steer about $2 million in campaign contributions to political causes, committees and candidates, including Gov. Charlie Crist. ...
Crist appointed LeMieux, his former chief of staff, to the Senate seat for which the governor is now a candidate in an increasingly competitive Republican primary. Rothstein attended LeMieux's swearing-in ceremony in September.
While lawyers in Broward's legal community whispered about Rothstein's source of seemingly inexhaustible funds, politicians and charities tooks loads of his money. ...
Crist has downplayed his relationship with Rothstein, though each attended the other's wedding reception.
"Florida's historic ... shady real estate practices"
The Daytona Beach News Journal editorial board: "When a borrower can no longer afford a mortgage, the lender holding the mortgage has several choices. One is to negotiate new terms directly or through a mediator with the borrower. That's usually to the seller's and borrower's best advantage. Another is to foreclose the property. That's expensive, time-consuming and costly to all parties. The lender takes a considerable loss. The borrower's credit is crippled for years."
A third choice is to execute a short sale. The property is not yet in foreclosure; the lender agrees to sell it at a loss, calculating that the loss would not be as steep as the costs of foreclosure. The borrower also escapes with fewer losses. The practice is legal. It helps sell some properties that otherwise would not sell. And it ensures some return to lenders. There's also such a thing as short-sale flipping. Whoever buys the property in a short sale fixes it up or improves it, then puts it on the market again, usually for a higher price. If the market can bear the price, the new seller makes a profit. All of that is legal as long as the transactions are conducted on good faith."Taxpayers take hit when short-sale 'floppers' scam".
Here's where it gets murky, and where Florida's historic reputation for exploiting shady real estate practices flames on. In hundreds of cases documented by the Sarasota Herald-Tribune just in Sarasota and Manatee counties, short-sale flipping is taking place within days or hours of the initial short sale. Real estate analysts don't have to look too far for an explanation. People buying a property off a short sale are doing so with another buyer already lined up. It's been dubbed "flopping." In many cases, the same property is sold repeatedly, creating a Ponzi scheme in which the ultimate buyer is left holding the bag. Along the way, middlemen have made money but the original lender has been cheated of some profits through deceptive means.
Here's how it works. ...
National Haitian American Elected Officials NetworkPublic Service Commission reviews old grand jury recommendations
"The National Haitian American Elected Officials Network, formed by 22 elected officials from Florida to New Hampshire, met for the first time last month in Washington to discuss immigration legislation and U.S. policy and aid toward Haiti."
Despite its fledgling status and size, the group of state lawmakers, mayors and city-council members managed to attract a handful of power players -- including officials with U.S. aid agencies and Obama's Haiti-born political director, Patrick Gaspard -- to its two-day conference."Haitian-American politicians make new push for power".
"You stay persistent,'' urged Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Miramar, one of several members of Congress who addressed the group. "Remember, it's the squeaky wheel that gets the grease.''
Observers and politicians involved in the effort to launch the network suggest its formation could mark a new chapter for an often fractious community that has not wielded significant political clout, particularly at the national level.
"PSC makes moves"
"After 17 years and another black eye, the PSC makes moves to adopt 1992 grand jury report." "Public Service Commission reviews old grand jury recommendations". Related: "Workshop on PSC brings renewed calls for openness".
Not enough troopers? Wonder why?
The Tampa Tribune editorial board: "Florida, along with a dozen other states, has reduced the size of its highway patrol since 1995 while population and traffic have increased."
Holding the line on spending in recent years has been essential because of the recessionary drop in state income, but skimping on traffic enforcement has been a consistent trend through Florida's good times and bad."Too few troopers is false savings".
Next year lawmakers should reverse the trend.
An analysis by USA Today found that in the past 13 years, Florida's population increased by 28.8 percent and the number of troopers fell by 4.6 percent.
With heavy traffic expected over the long Thanksgiving weekend, the Florida patrol is wisely sending supervisors and administrators out of the office and onto the highways to beef up its presence.
The patrol has not been required to lay off troopers, but strength has fallen as vacancies have gone unfilled, says FHP Capt. Mark Welch.
Perhaps it would be easier to fill these woefully underpaid state trooper vacancies if certain editorial boards weren't constantly attacking "the Florida Retirement System ... [which like all other traditional defined benefit plans is] based on a formula that includes years of service and a percentage of salary."
"Spending habits of work force boards"
"State Sen. Mike Fasano wants to know why the Tampa Bay Workforce Alliance isn't answering questions about how it is spending taxpayer dollars on lunches and food. He also plans to launch a Senate investigation into the spending habits of work force boards across the state."
One of the many meals delivered to the Net Park Corporate office cost taxpayers $155. It included two appetizers, three entrees, and three slices of cheesecake for which the agency paid roughly $9 a slice."Fasano plans probe of agency's food bill".
"George Levin, a wealthy Fort Lauderdale investor with Wall Street connections, thought Scott Rothstein's confidential legal-settlement deals were a sure thing. So much so that Levin invested as much as $125 million of his own money, and hundreds of millions more from other investors through his group of Banyon hedge funds." "Investor pumped millions into Rothstein's scheme". Related: "4 Rothstein Rosenfeldt Adler lawyers probed by Florida Bar", "Hedge fund was doing $75 million per month with Rothstein", "Weeks later, Crist boots Rothstein from judicial commish", "Crist suspends Rothstein from judicial panel", "The good ole days with Alex Sink and Scott Rothstein" and "Prosecutors: Rothstein covered payroll using scheme".
Whatever the TaxWatch wingers want ...
... The Orlando Sentinel editorial board is happy to pass it along: "TaxWatch was right in calling the [school size] amendment a blunder. Refusing to calm the financial storm it has created, and will continue to create, would be an even bigger mistake." "Revisit class-size limits".