"Even though Election Day last year went relatively smoothly across Florida, a civil rights advocacy group that focuses on elections warned that stricter voter registration laws could prevent thousands of eligible voters from joining the rolls in upcoming elections."
A report released Thursday by the Advancement Project also calls for expanded early voting to prevent the long lines many voters faced last year when they cast ballots before Election Day."The Advancement Project, which works to increase voter participation among poor people and minorities, has teamed with the NAACP to challenge Florida's voter verification law in court. The law requires driver's license or Social Security numbers on registration applications to match state databases."
If the numbers or names don't match, applicants can verify their identities by presenting their licenses or other documents to local elections officials. People can verify their information before Election Day or cast a provisional ballot that would be counted if they clear up ambiguities up to two days afterward."The Advancement Project warns of problems with upcoming elections". See also "Expand early voting, end “no match, no vote” law, rights group says".
The advocacy group successfully blocked implementation of the law in 2007, adding 16,000 voters to the rolls. Last year, the law prevented 11,000 applicants from becoming registered voters. Another court challenge is scheduled for late January.
"Environmental activists say U.S. Senate candidate Marco Rubio has changed his position on cap-and-trade solutions to global warming." "Marco Rubio accused of switching stance on global warming".
"Teachers union alleges bus safety problems, corruption".
"The countdown is particularly ominous"
The Daytona Beach News Journal editorial board: "The clock is ticking on east-central Florida's water supply. The countdown is particularly ominous in Volusia and Flagler counties, which draw their drinking water from a vast underground reservoir that seems unconnected to other groundwater supplies in Florida." "Greater focus on conserving water vital to region".
"Floridians can only hope"
The Saint Petersburg Times editorial board: "Floridians can only hope that the cadre of federal agents that descended on Tallahassee this week will stick around a while."
Just a few years after politicians began exploiting a giant loophole in campaign finance laws to create and abuse political slush funds, it's about time somebody showed up to ask tough questions — with subpoena power."Feds dig into cash, Florida politics".
"Fortune magazine is out with its 2010 housing outlook. Could be quite a jolt for folks who think the market is improving, especially here in South Florida. The magazine quotes Mark Zandi, chief economist for Moody’s Economy.com, as saying foreclosures will continue to play a major role in the downturn. Zandi says prices will fall by another 5 or 10 percent nationally and by as much as 33 percent in Miami." "Top economist says S. Fla. home prices to tank in 2010". Related: "Loan modifications remain out of reach for most".
Greer "under fire"
"Republican Party of Florida chairman Jim Greer got a strong vote of confidence Thursday, but the rebellion against him continued to fester, with a longtime party fundraiser calling for his resignation."
The 25-2 vote came at the party's quarterly executive board meeting in Tallahassee, considered friendly turf for Greer. He has spent months deflecting criticism of lavish spending, hardball political tactics and favoritism in statewide primaries for governor and U.S. Senate."Rebellion growing against Florida GOP leader". But see "Greer gets vote of confidence as GOP chief" and "Florida GOP head gets vote of confidence".
Republican National Committeeman Paul Senft called for the vote "in the interest of party unity and for public clarification [that the board has] full confidence in our duly elected chairman, Jim Greer.'' The motion, quickly passed with no discussion, appeared to have been sprung on the board. ...
But fresh signs that Gov. Charlie Crist's hand-picked party chairman is under fire include a circulating petition calling for a meeting next month to recall him from office, and a letter from longtime GOP fundraiser Al Hoffman saying Greer should resign.
See also "PBC state committeeman casts 'no' in vote of confidence in RPOF chair Jim Greer" and "GOP chief Greer to Hoffman: Nuts to you!"
A good neighbor?
Paul Flemming: "Denied a statewide average 47-percent rate hike, State Farm intends to pull out of the state, dropping a million policyholders. It's still working with state regulators about how that should happen. Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty continues to say he thinks State Farm will stick in the state." "The (not technically) State Farm bill is back".
The Miami Herald editorial board: "Leadership won the day in Tallahassee with Tuesday's passage of the rail funding bill. That leadership will keep Florida in the running for $2.5 billion in federal stimulus money for a high-speed rail project and create new jobs." "High-speed rail is on fast track".
Flip-floppers and hypocrites
"Republican U.S. Senate candidate Marco Rubio says that as governor he would have accepted some of the federal stimulus dollars he so often criticizes, and Gov. Charlie Crist says that makes Rubio a flip-flopper and a hypocrite."
The flip-flop charge is, at least, suspect."Stimulus funds remain flash point in U.S. Senate race".
Rubio has indeed been a staunch critic of President Barack Obama's $787 billion stimulus package, which he contends has done little to create jobs and much to expand the federal government's debt load. But the Miami Republican has never criticized Crist for accepting stimulus money -- only for campaigning for it.
William March: "Crist has issued an executive order setting a special election Feb. 23, 2010, to replace Mike Scionti in state House District 58" "Crist sets Feb. 23 election to replace Scionti".
... are now experts on Miranda? The Tampa Tribune editorial board, whine that "The Florida Supreme Court [hardly a bastion of liberalism] went out of its way to avoid the plain meaning of the standard form and instead parsed words in favor of the defendant.". "A 'quite fantastic' Miranda challenge".
The Saint Petersburg Times editors have a different perspective: "Whatever the motives of the Tampa police, the Miranda warnings given to Powell were incomplete. To allow this lack of precision would only encourage other law enforcement agencies, particularly those that find Miranda a nuisance or barrier to police work, to similarly obscure the wording. The Florida Supreme Court's ruling should be affirmed." "Keep police warnings clear, complete".
"Lauderdale police chief's friendship with Scott Rothstein under scrutiny".
"If that's what you think, you're not paying attention"
The Orlando Sentinel editors: "In the middle of an economic meltdown that has left a glut of hundreds of thousands of houses in Florida and brought growth to a standstill, you might think governments would stop clearing the way for developers to turn more rural land into new subdivisions." "Get real on growth".
Scott Maxwell: "We need more like Sen. Paula Hawkins".
Mark Lane: "This is a big victory for Gov. Charlie Crist. And victories make you look good. Right?"
Well, normally yes."Legislature wraps up SunRail with a bow".
Except that the more conservative Republican primary voters who already distrust Crist see this as a vote for more big-time stimulus spending, to which they are vocally, sign-wavingly opposed.
Angry partisans tend to be more motivated to show up in lower-turnout primaries than contented middle-of-the-roaders, so don't expect Crist ads to be trumpeting his SunRail victory -- at least until the general election.
"Whether Florida's $150 billion in investments should be watched over by trustees with more financial expertise who can devote more time to the job will be an issue for the Legislature next year." "Dispute Over State Fund Heads to Legislature".
"Wading birds' rebound is boon for Everglades".