Stephen Goldstein: "Florida state senator, education commissioner, attorney general, governor — it appears as though that's the beginning, middle, and end of Charlie Crist's political career."
Once seeming invincible in his bid for the U.S. Senate seat prematurely vacated by Mel Martinez, Charlie is now in a dead heat with former Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio. His upstart challenger came at him out of right field, appealing to the ultra-conservative base of the Republican Party.Read what Goldstein suggests here:"Crist faltering: Time for the governor to look at Plan B. Or C. Or…".
No doubt, the guv is reeling from the assault on his best-laid plans. Who would 'a thunk it? He probably can't be thinking straight. But he's gotta have a Plan B. So, out of the goodness of my heart, I've given a lot of thought to what Chas can do when, as is increasingly likely, he loses the Republican nomination. I'm pleased to say that I've come up with a world of bright futures for him.
"If you thought state budgets were in bad shape last year, just wait: 2010 promises to be brutal for lawmakers - many facing re-election - as they scramble to find enough money to keep their states running without raising taxes. Tax collections continue to sputter. Federal stimulus dollars are about to dry up. Rainy day funds have been tapped. And demand for services - like Medicaid, food stamps and unemployment benefits - is soaring." "State budget pictures bleak as lawmakers head back".
Well ... Charlie's busy "fighting poll numbers"
Josh Hafenbrack has been reading the cross-tabs: "After years of enviable approval ratings and bipartisan accolades, Gov. Charlie Crist discovered a political problem in 2009: He has no base. Or at least not an enthusiastic base — a core of supporters to rely on in tough times." "Polls suggest Crist needs to win back conservatives in Senate race". See also "Crist begins decade fighting poll numbers".
The Tallahassee Democrat editorial board: "Statistics are elusive in the arena of child-abuse deaths, but the new numbers, regardless of how they compare to previous years, are unnerving. About 200 children were fatally abused in Florida in 2008, which is a 20 percent increase over the year 2007." "Child-abuse deaths".
The St. Pete Times editors: "By showing favoritism to one law firm firm, no matter the ultimate impact, Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink's office has opened itself to scrutiny that won't soon fade. " "Favoritism cloud hangs over Sink".
RPOFers set to kow tow to developers
The Tampa Trib editors: "Florida's job loss is the state's biggest issue, and legislative leaders are right to put a better employment climate at the top of their agenda."
Florida's job loss is the state's biggest issue, and legislative leaders are right to put a better employment climate at the top of their agenda."State needs honest fight for jobs".
But the state's residents need to watch carefully to make sure the Legislature doesn't once again try to weaken growth rules, scrap environmental protections, ignore road and water needs and generally promote the fast-buck mentality that has left Florida in deeper financial trouble than most other states.
One goal of the upcoming summit on jobs in Orlando, led by Senate President-designate Mike Haridopolos and House Speaker-designate Dean Cannon, is to "remove government obstacles to growth."
Many obstacles do exist, but removing them is no guarantee of growth, and the wrong kinds of growth are no guarantee of economic improvement. Many poor, Third World nations are growing rapidly, but no one wants to move there or invest there. ...
The way to restore growth is face the state's problems honestly, not seek scapegoats.
Right wing gibberish
Mary Ann Lindley gives us a strange column this morning: "In the drizzle of Thursday morning, Charlie Ranson and his wife Sheryl were running along a side street where I was driving to work on the last day of what I believe to be the last day of the decade ... Ranson is running for the U.S. Congress, taking on incumbent Allen Boyd, though on this particular morning he was merely running toward the intersection of Alachua and Hillcrest."
Because he's running as a Republican, Ranson may have a good chance of getting in the Aug. 24 primary showdown with either Democrat Boyd or Al Lawson, our term-limited state senator whose large legislative district is similar to the rambling 2nd Congressional District. It's a rural and rather conservative district except for Tallahassee, which is the largest population center and typically votes for Democrats."The race is on: Civility and humility vs zealotry and ideology".
When smart, thoughtful, well-meaning people decide to run for office, I applaud them. Ranson, a lawyer with a Harvard MBA degree, son of a central Florida (Apopka) preacher and teacher, qualifies as all three.
With all due respect, what is it about Republican Ranson that suggests he is "smart, thoughtful" and "well-meaning", as opposed to a being yet another zealous right-wing ideologue? Indeed, what about this background takes Ranson out of the zealous ideologue category?
- Ranson has worked as Executive Director of the Florida TaxWatch Center for a Competitive FloridaSee also "Ranson declares for Congress" ("The campaign today posted Ranson’s announcement on the internet ... containing key elements of Ranson’s personal and professional background, conservative principles and ideology").
- [He] Helped defeat a statewide sales tax on services
- [Ranson is Director of The] Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce
More "liberal media" crap.
Justice ain't cheap
The Daytona Beach News-Journal editorial board writes that its "analysis of 16 years of alcohol-related driving arrests in Volusia County reveals a disturbing pattern. A first-time DUI charge was reduced or dismissed 64 percent of the time when the defendant hired a private attorney. When the defendant had a public defender, charges were reduced or dropped just 30 percent of the time. Overall, 48 percent of DUI-level charges are reduced or dropped." "DUI disparities".
"South Florida cannot hope to regain its economic strength ..."
The Miami Herald editors: "For most of the past decade, the United States has been living beyond its means, borrowing money frantically to compensate for tax cuts and pay for unfunded wars, new entitlements, bank bailouts, you name it. The breakdown in fiscal discipline is evident in the numbers."
In financial terms, fiscal year 2009 was a horror. The $1.4 trillion budget shortfall was equal to 10 percent of the economy, the worst showing since World War II. Much of it was due to the bailouts under former President Bush and President Obama and the $787 billion stimulus package, which kept the economy from sliding into another Great Depression."Ideally, Congress should be able to discipline itself."
History suggests it can't."Drowning in red ink".
That's why some deficit-conscious lawmakers, including Florida Senators Bill Nelson and George LeMieux, want to create a bipartisan task force to find ways to overcome the budget crisis. That's a good idea, but Congress must commit itself to heeding the recommendations. Another strong proposal would create a similar commission on "entitlement reform'' -- i.e., stopping the runaway growth in Social Security and Medicare.
None of this will be painless. Only by spending less and getting more revenue can the government avoid new rounds of crushing debt. New taxes could hobble the economic recovery, but the government has to find ways to balance its books. It must look for savings in programs. A war surtax is worth considering, too.
Perhaps a small increase in the federal gasoline tax, which could bring in tens of billions of dollars, is warranted. A broad consumption tax, eliminating exemptions in the income tax (and cutting rates), a carbon tax -- all of these are measures that may be necessary in order to get out of a very big hole.
Some ideas have more merit than others. As the year goes on, we will be examining fiscal-rescue plans and the proposals that President Obama has promised to offer in greater depth. What is beyond question at this point is that South Florida cannot hope to regain its economic strength unless the federal government puts its own fiscal house in order.