Crist getting desperate
Adam Smith: "Addressing a hometown crowd at a Pinellas Republican Party meeting Monday night, the governor, facing a tougher-than-expected U.S. Senate primary, cast former House Speaker Rubio as someone whose conservative boasts should not be trusted."
But Crist never mentioned that he signed a budget this year that includes more than $2-billion in new taxes and fees. In fact, several times Crist made claims about his record that have been widely debunked or undercut by reality ... "In Pinellas, Gov. Crist takes aim at Rubio's conservative credentials". See also "Ignoring debunkers, Charlie Crist in home turf casts Marco Rubio as phony".
In a new line of attack, Crist also made an only slightly veiled reference to Rubio's personal finances. The last time the Miami Republican filed a campaign disclosure form, it showed the father of four had more than $900,000 in debt from mortgages and student loans and had a net worth of under $10,000.
"SunRail was banished to a side track in May when the state Senate voted down the Central Florida commuter train. ... Now, it's full steam ahead, thanks to lawmakers' approval last week in a special legislative session." "SunRail's approved -- but there's a lot left to do".
"Not every politician gets a day like the one that state Sen. Mike Fasano had Monday. He stood side-by-side with Gov. Charlie Crist and other elected officials, in front of a brand-new, $7.5-million building called the Mike Fasano Regional Hurricane Shelter." "Fasano hurricane shelter dedicated".
"To Florida Department of Transportation administrators, it was just a cute attempt to keep things light in the frantic days before a special legislative session — but it has blown up in their faces." "'Wafflegate': SunRail critics say email subject lines were an attempt to dodge public-records requests". See also "Grand jury sought on DOT 'Wafflegate'".
The gender thing
"Despite having a higher percentage of women than the nation as a whole, Florida has never elected a female governor."
Not one woman has even been nominated by a major party for the state's highest office."Gov. Race Includes Gender Issue".
But that ceiling is on the verge of being shattered.
Alex Sink, the state's chief financial officer, is all but certain to be the Democratic nominee for governor in 2010. And State Sen. Paula Dockery is waging a spirited [read: bound to lose] fight with state Attorney General Bill McCollum for the Republican nomination.
Zell Corporation goes after Grayson
The Orlando Sentinel (a/k/a the Zell Corporation) takes another swipe at Alan Grayson: "Few members of Congress are as relentless at self-promotion as U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson."
Since January, the Orlando Democrat has flooded inboxes and mailboxes in his four-county Central Florida district with glowing accounts of his first year in Congress, even quoting the mayor of Belle Isle praising him for being a "key part" of what makes the city "so great.""Sentinel: Lawmakers promote themselves using taxpayer-funded mailers". More about the Zell Corporation here: "Orlando Sentinel embarrasses itself".
But Grayson's re-election campaign isn't paying for the outreach. Taxpayers are — to the tune of $82,000 through Sept. 30. The expense, called franking, is intended to help lawmakers keep in touch with constituents and covers mailed letters and postcards, although e-mail has grown in popularity.
Overall, Grayson's spending on franked communications is the largest reported by the eight members of the Central Florida congressional delegation this year. And in the July-to-September quarter, according to congressional spending records put online for the first time, he ranked eighth in the 435-member U.S. House.
"'As usual, it's top-heavy'"
"With a revenue shortfall projected at more than $2 billion, legislators are certain to make further job cuts in the 2010 session, but the DMS figures showed an already-lean work force."
The state ranked last in the nation in personnel cost per resident, at $38, and was tied with Illinois for 50th in its ratio of actual employees to state population, at 118 per 10,000 residents. Florida was second to Illinois in authorized job positions to population with 103 per 10,000."State jobs shrink as recession continues".
"The report confirms, yet again, that we have the hardest working and dedicated state employees in the country," said state Rep. Michelle Rehwinkel Vasilinda, D-Tallahassee, whose district includes the largest segment of state emlpoyees. "If we continue to cut state employees or their salaries, we will slash the quality of life for all of us and negatively impact our ability to attract new business."
Jeanette Wynn, state president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, said the report showed too many managers. There were 20,289 employees in Senior Management and the mid-management Selected Exempt class last June 30, a reduction of 604 from a year ago -- with 89,187 Career Service workers, down by 2,379 from last year.
"As usual, it's top-heavy, with 20,000 management employees supervising about 90,000 Career Service employees," said Wynn, a retired Florida State Hospital worker. "If the Legislature needs to make cuts, they ought to cut from the top -- reduce all that management, not the workers."
"More reasons to reject ..."
Scott Maddox: "There are some very good reasons for Floridians to consider drilling for oil off our coast, but there are probably more reasons to reject such an idea." "Drilling won't give us what proponents promise".
Why the "One Florida" hoopla?
The Miami Herald editorial board:
Statewide, the percent of Hispanic and Asian students increased almost to parity with the percent of the overall minority population."Florida universities must do more to attract minorities".
Hispanics, for instance, are 21 percent of Florida's population, and in 2008 they made up 18 percent of university students at the 11 schools -- up from 13.8 percent in 1998.
But the percent for African-American students has stagnated. Blacks are 16 percent of the state's population. In 1998, African Americans were 14 percent of college students. In 2008, they constituted 13.6 percent.
"Dirty little secret"
The Saint Petersburg Times editorial board: "School principals and administrators in Pinellas and Hillsborough counties — and throughout Florida — boast about the rising number of high school students enrolled in college-level Advanced Placement classes. Here's their dirty little secret: The passing rates on the AP exam are often pathetic. It is a scandalous situation that fails students, misleads parents and wastes public money." "AP scores reveal cracks in facade".
"State wastes money and lives by wrongful imprisonment "
The Daytona Beach News Journal editors: "When James Bain entered prison, he was a slight 19-year-old; now his beard and hair are shot with gray. Over 35 years, Florida spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to keep him in prison. Many Floridians would say it was worth it -- Bain was convicted of a hideous crime, the abduction and rape of a 9-old-boy."
There's just one problem. Bain didn't do it. After 35 years -- 11 of which Bain spent pleading for DNA tests on the remaining evidence in the case -- genetic tests proved he was not the one who broke into the boy's Lake Wales home, dragged him to a nearby field and raped him.But didn't Florida just pass a wrongful conviction compensation law? Yeah ... but the "values crowd" had their hands all over it:
Bain's attorneys and his 77-year-old mother hope he is free by Christmas. He could be eligible for $1.75 million in compensation from the state. That money can never repay him for the life he might have lived, the career and family he might have had -- but it gives him the possibility of a life outside prison bars.
The case illustrates how much money the state loses when it puts an innocent person in prison. If the compensation called for in state law is approved, Florida will have spent close to $3 million in 2008 dollars for locking up this innocent man. In the meantime, the person guilty of the rape (and there is no doubt that the victim was assaulted) has gone free, potentially to commit other crimes.
In 2008, the state Legislature passed a law setting up so-called automatic compensation for people imprisoned after being wrongly convicted of crimes, including $50,000 for each year spent behind bars and 120 hours of tuition at a state college or university. As innocence cases go, Bain's would seem to be a slam-dunk.Much more here: "Dollars and innocence".
But a review of the 12 cases of exoneration in Florida shows that the process is far from automatic. ...
Florida's compensation law has two other fatal flaws, says Seth Miller, director of the Florida Innocence Project. It requires exonerees to prove "actual innocence" -- a higher standard than prosecutors are required to prove to send someone to prison. And it has a "clean hands" provision that denies compensation to anyone who's had a prior felony conviction, no matter how distant or unrelated it is.
The current statute fails to bring justice to people who lost years of their lives to the state's mistakes. Fixing the compensation law should be a moral imperative for lawmakers.
"Water sharing dispute"
"The governors of Alabama, Georgia and Florida are meeting for the first time in two years to discuss a water sharing dispute that has been going on for two decades." "Alabama, Georgia, Florida governors talk water".
The Sun-Sentinel editorial board: "Lawmakers are right that it's not the time to call a special legislative session to address gambling issues. But dealing with gambling, as Tallahassee must this coming spring, is long overdue." "No special session on gambling.".
At the federal trough
"Federal grant may give Florida schools up to $700 million".
Entrepreneurs in action
"Busts in 3 states over Medicare fraud".