There will be blood
"The legal case for ousting Jim Greer".
Top 10 Florida political stories of the year
"Top 10 Florida political stories for 2009". A different list: "Weak economy, high unemployment voted top stories of the year in Florida".
"Fort Lauderdale lawyer Scott Rothstein was a Republican ATM. In four years, he and his law firm gave $650,000 to Republican candidates and the state GOP. They gave nothing to Florida's Democratic Party and just a pittance to state candidates."
On Sept. 9, the state Democratic Party received a $200,000 check from Rothstein's firm, money he had pledged to donate at a fundraiser he hosted at his home for Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink."Alex Sink's deputy helped Scott Rothstein law firm". Related: "AP: 2009 Was The Year Of The Collapsing Ponzi Scheme".
About three weeks after the $200,000 contribution was recorded, Rothstein's firm landed on a list of law firms being considered for potentially lucrative work with the State Board of Administration - with an assist from Sink's chief of staff.
Sink, who along with Gov. Charlie Crist and Attorney General Bill McCollum oversee the board, said there was no connection between the contribution and her deputy's intervention for Rothstein's firm. She said she didn't know her chief of staff had put in a word for the law firm until the St. Petersburg Times asked her about it.
Can they fly with Kevlar?
"20 whooping cranes learning to migrate to Florida".
The Daytona Beach News Journal editors: "Since 2001, when it was at $1.62 billion, the Department of Corrections' budget has increased by 50 percent. It's at $2.43 billion today, a 5.7 percent increase over last year's $2.3 billion. The department's budget devours almost 10 percent of the state's general revenue to maintain a total payroll of 30,500 that keeps 100,000 inmates in prison -- a 3-to-1 per-inmate ratio. That's about eight times better than the state's teacher-pupil ratio. Despite a crime rate that has fallen steadily through the decade, the inmate population has risen 46 percent since 2001."
Criminals aren't getting more violent or committing more crimes. The state's incarceration laws have been made harsher since the mid-1980s (when Florida abolished parole) and the 1990s (when Florida harshed up mandatory sentences on adults and youthful offenders and ended the release of any state prison inmate before he or she serves at least 85 percent of a sentence). Yet, criminologists cast serious doubt on the effectiveness of harsher sentences, which contradict the principle of rehabilitation. It's called a department of corrections, not a department of punishment."At its current pace, the Florida prison system will need to build, at least, 15 more prisons in the next five years, a $2 billion expense before the cost of running them kicks in."
It would be folly. Legislators are looking for a better way. Texas is their example. Texas sentences mirrored Florida's. So did its exploding population. So, Texas changed its corrections approach, focusing especially on drug rehabilitation and education for inmates and sustained rehabilitation programs after release. (Criminologists point to drug rehab's effectiveness: Just 6 percent of violent offenders who have undergone rehab recommit crimes after their release, compared with 33 percent of those who don't get rehab. Yet, in Florida this year, the prison system's drug-treatment programs were cut by $6.2 million, education programs by $3.4 million.)"Overtime served".
Priot to the Detroit incident, drooling anti-union fool, "Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., ha[d] placed a hold on the president's choice to head the TSA over the senator's concern that the new leader would let TSA screeners join a labor union." "Key security agencies lack permanent leaders". Tom Blackburn asks: "Are we really going to pay the 40 Republicans in the Senate $174,000 apiece for doing nothing all year?"
Meantime, the Orlando Sentinel, goes for the GOPer spin in its online front page, asking the following: "Fire Homeland Security chief?"
Chiles sick to his stomach
"Lawton "Bud" Chiles: Charlie Crist 'makes me sick to my stomach'".
Florida Power & Light
The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "Just before Christmas, Florida Power & Light learned that, for the company, it shapes up as an unhappy new year." "Dimming demand of FPL".
"A complaint that Rep. David Rivera, R-Miami, violated House rules by allegedly soliciting contributions during a legislative session was dismissed today by House Rules Chairman Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton."
Galvano ruled that the complaint was not valid because it was based on a report from The Palm Beach Post, and not on “personal knowledge.”"Fundraising complaint against Florida House budget chairman dismissed".
"A visit with the highest-paid government employees would take you from the University of South Florida, to the state Legislature in Tallahassee, to the Southwest Florida Water Management District in Brooksville."
That's where you'll find the biggest share of people getting six-figure salaries among the two dozen state and local government agencies – employing more than 200,000 people – that are tracked by TBO."6-figure salaries most common at USF, Legislature, Swiftmud".
It's a level of pay that's coming under greater scrutiny in tight economic times by a public that's always skeptical of who's on its payroll.
Foley whines: "'This is the senator that hired his staffer and then took her on trips…and divorced his wife….and they had me run out of town.'" "Mark Foley, on Facebook, weighs in on Democratic Sen. Max Baucus".
Oil and water to mix
"Opponents of South Florida's new year-round watering rules are taking their fight to the Legislature, opting for legislative muscle over courtroom battles." "New South Florida water rules dodge appeals, but face test in Tallahassee".
GOP has "released the rats"
Anthony Man writes that "tea party supporters and related groups have picked up where the demonstrations left off. They are active throughout the United States and in South Florida, where they're holding regular protests, preparing to register voters and recruiting more and more followers."
So far, the movement is loosely organized, and it's impossible to say how many tea party supporters there are in South Florida. Activities depend on participants' energy and interests."In Broward,"
tea partiers have gathered, rain or shine, with signs and American flags every Saturday for more than 40 straight weeks at the intersection of Oakland Park Boulevard and Federal Highway. Demonstrators can bring signs addressing whatever issues they consider most important."Ticked-off tea partiers sense chance for change".
In Palm Beach County, tea party organizers are conducting voter registration drives, looking for an office and seeking volunteers who speak Hebrew, are willing to make phone calls, and are able to knock on doors.
So are members of related groups, such as the 9-12 Project, whose members in Miami-Dade have been lobbying state legislators. Spawned by Fox News commentator Glenn Beck, 9-12 members say they're dedicated to returning the United States to the sense of unity felt the day after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
"For far too long the silent majority has been silent," said Beth Culbertson, of Parkland. Culbertson, who has participated in the Fort Lauderdale protests and is starting similar weekly events in her city, said her goal is "awareness, for Americans to wake up. We have corruption. We have big taxing, big spending, big government. Enough. Stop with the spending. Just stop with the spending. Just stop it. This administration is driving us over a cliff. It's not all this administration. It's the one before it, too. We have had enough. It's not about left. It's not about right. Our common ground is freedom."
Sid Dinerstein, chairman of the Palm Beach County Republican Party, said he thinks the tea party movement ultimately will help his party. "While we can't predict how this will play out, the country needs the discussion that the tea party people are asking us to have."
A growing and vibrant tea party movement could also threaten the Republican Party, by stealing away voters from its base.
"How do you really manage these things? It's like trying to put the genie back in the bottle," said [Robert] Watson, the political science professor. "You've released the rats to terrorize your enemy, but how do you get them back in the pen?"
From the "just say 'no' crowd"
"U.S. Rep. Jeff Miller will host town hall meetings next week to discuss health care." "Miller to host town halls on health care".
Perhaps Mr. Miller will explain what his plan is, inasmuch as he voted against the House bill and opposes the public option.
"Facing one of the worst foreclosure crises in the nation, Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice Peggy Quince ordered judges statewide Monday to starting sending foreclosure cases to a new "managed mediation" program in which financially strapped homeowners can try to negotiate a way out of losing their homes."
Florida's court system expects to have nearly a half-million homeowners in foreclosure proceedings when the ball drops on the New Year later this week, flooding court dockets statewide. Quince noted in her administrative order that "the crisis continues unabated.""Top state court gives homeowners chance to fight foreclosure".