RPOF curries favor of "voters who want services but don't want to pay for them"
The Orlando Sentinel editorial board: "Who knew how easy it was to painlessly solve the problems facing Florida's state budget and economy? All it takes is a tiny tax cut on notebooks, socks and pencils."
Sure, schools are struggling, health care is hurting, college funding is squeezed, parks are reducing hours and layoffs are looming as the state faces a $2.6 billion deficit in the budget year that starts July 1."This same mentality was on display last week in Orlando at the summit on job creation called by Winter Park Rep. Dean Cannon and Merritt Island Sen. Mike Haridopolos,"
No big deal — this is an election year. That makes it a perfect time for Gov. Charlie Crist and legislators to exhume the back-to-school sales-tax holiday, which was wisely buried the past two years because of budget shortfalls. Reviving it now would endear them to voters who want services but don't want to pay for them.
the two men in line to be the next leaders of the Legislature's Republican majority. They and Mr. Crist called for — what else? — lower taxes. Never mind that legislators have cut billions of dollars in taxes over the past decade, or that business was booming in Florida under the current tax structure before the nation's economy tanked."A pricey political ploy". See also "" and "".
Billy no longer "naive" about MLK Day
"Florida Attorney General and Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill McCollum said today his 1983 vote to oppose a Martin Luther King Jr. federal holiday was a mistake."
When did he come to that realization?"McCollum: I was ‘naïve’ to oppose MLK holiday". Speaking of "naive": "McCollum: ObamaCare isn't constitutional" ("Democrats, liberals and other constitutional scholars are likely to disagree. The best analysis of their point of view is in this Slate article.")
“In the ’80s after the vote,” he said. “Shortly after the vote. I couldn’t tell you the exact year, but this is what? Twenty-five years later? It was very apparent to me upon reflection soon after that that it was not a good vote even though it does cost a lot of money.”
One hopes Billy did better in con law back in law school than Charlie did.
"Yes, I failed the bar exam twice; the third time I passed it," Crist said during an interview on education topics Friday. "It's not something I'm particularly proud of, but I think the lesson is to never give up.""Candidate failed 2 bar exams".
Crist, who grew up in St. Petersburg, received a law degree from Cumberland School of Law in Birmingham, Ala., in 1981.
The Saint Petersburg Times editorial board: "No one said it would be easy to hold former House Speaker Ray Sansom and his pals accountable for misusing public money to pursue their personal agendas. Yet narrow court rulings and Sansom's stonewalling have made it even more difficult than anticipated. State Attorney Willie Meggs and state lawmakers have been creative in coping with the unexpected, and they must remain dogged in their pursuit of an appropriate outcome for taxpayers." "Don't let Sansom off the hook". Related: "Affidavits indicate Sansom's college job was supervisory" ("Sansom’s attorney, Richard Coates, told the St. Petersburg Times that Sansom 'had no supervisory authority or control over the leadership institute.'")
"Spare them the hate"
Mike Mayo "When I wrote that South Florida would be needed as a sanctuary for desperate post-earthquake Haitians in my Sunday column, I knew two things would happen:"
1) There'd be a lot of hateful comments and generalizations about Haitians."Let's try to separate the hate from Haiti".
2) People would ask, "How many Haitians are you going to take into your home?"
You didn't disappoint.
"Take your 'compassion' to Haiti, f---tard," was the subject line of one of the more literate e-mails I got.
"I know you will be taking in a few of those machete swinging Haitians into your home," wrote Richard A. "You might want to tie down a few things but I doubt if that will be much help." ...
They've been through hell on earth.
The least we could do is spare them the hate.
Veteran disability backlog
"Florida veterans are urging Congress to shorten the backlog for disability claims and to eliminate an overlap in survivors' benefits." "Florida veterans look for help".
FlaDems "pinching themselves instead of their pennies"
Aaron Deslatte: "The intra-party rebellion that ousted Florida Republican Chairman Jim Greer this month was fueled by images of limo rides, expensive meals, cocktail soirees at ritzy South Florida resorts, even cigars bought by the case."
Meanwhile, Florida Democrats are pinching themselves instead of their pennies.The RPOF "has been rocked by criticism of Greer's spending, which Republican critics blame, along with the recession, for a funding falloff."
Heading into a bleak election year nationally, the state Democratic Party raised nearly $6.8 million in 2009, a record total that cuts significantly into the cash advantage Republicans have historically held and helps illustrate why GOP insiders forced a shake-up within their ranks.
Democrats can thank an influx of powerful industries, such as Florida Power & Light, Progress Energy and TECO Energy, which gave a combined $400,000 in their bid to win higher electric rates and ease regulatory burdens from any renewable-energy legislation passed.
For years, big corporations such as these gave only sparingly to the minority party in Tallahassee, which relied on trial lawyers, labor unions and a handful of wealthy donors for money. But times have changed.
"Traditional donors, Realtors, attorneys have been off," said RPOF Vice Chairman Allen Cox, who is resigning after leading the charge to force Greer out. "But there's also less enthusiasm within the party. ...Deslatte has much more here: "Florida Dems cut into GOP's big cash advantage".
Under Greer, the state GOP shifted nearly $4.3 million into its federal bank account, which is used to pay for salaries, voter registration and other organizing related to federal campaigns. That compares with $1.6 million shifted in 2005, the last time there were open races for both a governor and U.S. Senate.
Greer's critics have questioned whether the money was shifted to aid Crist's campaign. But spending from the federal account is not disclosed until Jan. 31, and Greer did not respond to a request for comment.
"That side of the house was very tightly held by Jim," said Republican National Committeewoman Sharon Day of Fort Lauderdale, who is campaigning to replace Greer and blocked him last summer from steering party resources to Crist.
"We really don't know."
But GOP Executive Director Delmar Johnson said there was no help to Crist.
"There was no additional money spent to help one candidate over another," said Johnson, who is one of the 15 full-time and four part-time employees dismissed last week in advance of selecting a new chairman.
Those layoffs included gutting Greer's operations aimed at youth and minority outreach, as well as the party's field staff, efforts critics said largely failed to make up ground lost to Democrats in 2008.
Democrats amassed a 670,000-vote advantage that helped deliver the state to President Barack Obama, and have grown it to more than 700,000, while GOP critics contend there have been only token efforts to lure younger voters and Hispanics to the party.
"Sen. Mike Haridopolos quips that a proposed constitutional amendment to change how voter districts are drawn should be called `'the full employment act for lawyers,' because it will spark so many challenges in court if approved by voters."
But four politically connected law firms have already seen financial gains in the redistricting battle that will play out through 2012, if not longer. In just nine months, the firms have received more than $272,000 in taxpayer dollars.And just who are these legal geniuses?:
If past redistricting cycles are any indication, the final tab will grow by millions.
Since the Senate in April retained two firms to handle redistricting matters, the firms -- whose lawyers include a former Republican Senate president and a former Republican House member -- have billed nearly $155,000.
The House has paid $117,589 to two firms retained in August, for a total of nearly $273,000 between the two chambers.
The House so far has paid over $92,000 to the Orlando-based GrayRobinson firm, which previously employed House Speaker designate Dean Cannon, who will be in charge of his chamber when districts are redrawn. Also working for the House is attorney Miguel DeGrandy, who has received more than $22,000. The former Miami state representative worked on an alliance with black Democrats to redraw districts in 1992 -- changes that also resulted in Republicans gaining seats during the 1996 election. ..."Redistricting issue already running up lawyers' fees".
The Senate paid almost $102,000 through January to the Tallahassee firm of Pennington, Moore, Wilkinson, Bell and Dunbar, P.A.
The firm has several attorneys and shareholders, including Sam Bell, a former state representative who served as House counsel on redistricting in 1992; and Peter Dunbar, a former state representative who served as general counsel under Gov. Bob Martinez. ...
The Senate has also paid more than $53,000 to Tripp Scott, P.A., the firm of former Senate President Jim Scott, who served as counsel to the Legislature during the 2002 redistricting. He was Senate president in 1995 when the Senate and the U.S. Department of Justice settled a federal lawsuit filed by Tampa Bay residents who argued that a minority district that meandered through several area counties was unconstitutional. ...
His partner Ed Pozzuoli, a former Broward GOP chairman and friend to U.S. Sen. George LeMieux, also lobbies for Weston and Oakland Park and a number of other clients.
Teachers collectively say "no"
"Florida's application for the Race to the Top federal money is due today, but it has been rejected by many teachers' unions in the state". "Teacher unions oppose school grants".
Scarier, larger and meaner
The Miami Herald editorial board: "A hunt for Burmese pythons in the Everglades turned up an even scarier predator: the African rock python. Biologists say it's larger than the Burmese and meaner." "Glades menace".
"Only 24 to 28 percent"
The Sun-Sentinel editorial board: "State regulators paint a compelling picture of why Florida needs to do a better job of recycling. Imagine a four-lane highway of solid waste, 3 feet deep, from Tallahassee to Seattle — and then back again. That's how much solid waste Florida generates in a year, the Department of Environmental Protection says in a new report to the Legislature. Yet it recycles only 24 to 28 percent of it. The DEP suggests ways Florida can substantially increase that number. And several of its recommendations make sense. But together, they won't get Florida where it needs to go." "Recycling will pay off, if Tallahassee gets onboard".
"An appearance by Vice President Joe Biden and a parade marked Martin Luther King Day in South Florida." "Biden appearance and parade mark Martin Luther King Day".