"President Barack Obama on Thursday promised that he would one day be a passenger on a high-speed train connecting Orlando with Tampa."
The project was one of 13 involving 31 states that Obama announced would receive a total of $8 billion in federal-stimulus funds for fast trains. The Central Florida plan got $1.25 billion -- nearly half of what state officials requested for it."Obama's on board with Florida's high-speed rail". The Saint Petersburg Times editorial board: "A big win for Florida".
More: "Skeptics question cost as high-speed rail advocates celebrate 'down payment'" and "Obama hands Florida $1.25 billion for rail". See also "Dockery cheers Obama for making his rail dream come true" and this recommended dKos diary: "Why FL just got High Speed Rail". The Tampa Tribune editorial board: "Fast train requires state's quick decision". The Orlando Sentinel editors: "Florida on fast track".
"Crist says sayonara to Jeb picks on universities board".
"Welcome to the New Florida. This is a land where, in addition to tourism, agriculture and construction, the state has another leg on which to stand -- something policymakers are describing as 'the knowledge economy.'"
It's a place where higher education churns out more than degrees. Where entrepreneurs are developed. Where patents are awarded and companies want to move, to take advantage of the highly educated work force."Crist to push for $100M for universities".
Sound like post-recession dreaming?
Gov. Charlie Crist on Thursday embraced the concept with both arms at a press conference during the Florida Board of Governors' meeting in Tampa, announcing he will recommend a spending increase of $100 million for Florida's 11 state universities next year.
"It's the economy, stupid"
"As Florida politicians get ready for this year's legislative session and elections, they are focused on a well-worn message: It's the economy, stupid."
Top state leaders and candidates paraded in front of journalists Wednesday at the Capitol to vow that their priority in 2010 will be fixing the economy and creating jobs.and then there's this wisdom from Billy and Marco:
Attorney General Bill McCollum, who is seeking the Republican nomination for governor, largely echoed Sink's view that the state needs a more diverse economy. But in a dig at the Democrat, he downplayed government's role in putting people to work."Florida lawmakers focus on poor economy". Related: "Crist, Rubio join candidates for governor in addressing the media".
"It's not government that creates jobs," McCollum said. "It's the private sector that creates jobs."
Former House Speaker Marco Rubio, who is running against Crist for the GOP nomination for U.S. Senate, criticized the growth of the federal government and said businesses are hampered by uncertainty about taxes.
At the national level, "Economy grows at 5.7 pct pace, fastest since 2003" ("The two straight quarters of growth followed a record four quarters of decline." However, "the expansion in the fourth quarter was fueled by companies refilling depleted stockpiles, a trend that will eventually fade.")
"In Charlie's shoes"
"Put yourself in Charlie's shoes." Must we? Kim Wilmath of The Saint Petersburg Times describes the scene:
So now, with Obama in Tampa announcing funds for the high-speed rail project Crist worked so hard to secure, how does Crist react?No Obama-Crist hug this time".
What if Obama goes in for the kill? Should Crist pull away? Does he dare hug back?
The answer comes a few seconds later, when Obama steps off Air Force One with his hand outstretched. Click, click, click go the cameras.
Crist manages to get away with a firm handshake. But it's a close call.
Obama's other hand lingers on Crist's elbow as Crist leans in with furrowed brows. In 27 seconds, it's all over.
Welcome to Florida, Mr. Obama
"President Barack Obama's visit to the University of Tampa felt more like a campaign rally than a town-hall meeting, thanks to an audience of more than 2,500 people."
Amid declining poll numbers and political fortunes, President Barack Obama on Thursday tried to reconnect with the fickle state that helped put him in the White House and urged voters to keep the faith despite Florida's withering recession."President Obama addresses raucous Tampa crowd". See also "Many ticket holders didn't make it inside" and "".
He aimed his message at the coveted independent voters clustered in this part of Florida who broke with tradition in 2008 and cast ballots for the Democratic nominee. Independent voters have recently carried Republican candidates to statewide victories in Massachusetts, Virginia and New Jersey, raising the GOP's hopes for the 2010 election.
The Tampa town hall was the first joint appearance outside the Washington area by Obama and Vice President Joe Biden since last February, when they traveled to Colorado to sign the economic stimulus bill into law.
"Already among the lowest"
Scott Maxwell slams "Charlie Crist's proposal to cut corporate income taxes — which are already among the lowest in the United States."
"A whole new spin on the term fat cats"
Daniel Ruth: "You know you're dealing with a buffet line of freeloading Kato Kaelin types sitting around doing little more than pushing a bunch of paper when the Tampa Bay Workforce Alliance board spent more time shuffling napkins than job applications." "Cupcakes and cluelessness".
Not a forgiving crowd
"Republican congressional hopeful Ed Lynch says his $1.365 million in tax liens and the $143,617 in court judgments against his contracting business shouldn't be viewed as negatives but as proof he's willing to stand up to the federal government."
Lynch's rivals in Tuesday's special GOP primary for congressional District 19 have brought up the liens and judgments directly and indirectly at public forums. Both Joe Budd and Curt Price have said they won't support Lynch in the April 13 general election if Lynch wins the primary."GOP foes: We won't back Lynch if he wins primary".
The three Republicans, along with Democrats Ted Deutch and Ben Graber and a no-party candidate Jim McCormick, hope to replace former Democratic Rep. Robert Wexler, who left office this month to head a Middle East think tank.
"Unfortunately for the GOP ..."
The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "After the party's upset Senate victory in Massachusetts, Republicans got so giddy as to wonder whether — even though party registration is 2-to-1 against them — they could win the congressional seat held since 1996 by Democrat Robert Wexler."
Unfortunately for the GOP, the two best candidates in Tuesday's primary are Democrats. Among the three Republicans, by process of elimination, The Post recommends Joe Budd."Choose Budd, Deutch in Tuesday's House 19 primaries".
"Case shows S. Fla. is rife with 'mini-Rothsteins'".
Rothstein "could seek to have his term significantly reduced if he plays a key role in the ongoing probe of others in his bankrupt Fort Lauderdale law firm who prosecutors say may have benefited from the $1.2 billion Ponzi scheme."Rothstein hopes to reduce sentence by helping in probe of others at firm".
Mark Lane: wishes he "lived in the same world as Gov. Charlie Crist."
CristWorld sounds like a great place. A place where spending for education goes up during a recession. A place legislators say they were wrong and are open to looking at things anew. A place where taxes go down, but more money appears.Much more here: "Crist budget is too good".
The CristWorld education budget was unveiled Monday. It calls for a $500 million increase in funding for public schools.
The CristWorld higher education budget was released Thursday, and it's even more impressive. It calls for a healthy $100 million increase but only as a down payment on a $1.75 billion increase over five years. It would double the amount the university system gets from general revenue.
Good news all around. The past two years have been hard on education in Florida. As is the rule in hard times, state budget cuts fell hard on the schools. Florida now spends $280 less per student than it did in the 2007-2008 budget year. There were all those teacher layoffs last summer, and there would have been more if federal stimulus money hadn't come to the rescue.
But this was good news from the governor. There is no job creation plan that pays off as surely, widely or consistently as funding good schools and universities.
So why the worry? Can't we all live in CristWorld?
Speaking of "CristWorld"
"Despite unemployment nearing 12 percent, Gov. Charlie Crist said Thursday Florida's economy is starting to rebound and needs some incentive funding for space and the film industries." "Crist: Economy rebounding".
Related: "Crist: Invest in space, film industry" and "Crist: Budget outlook hopeful for state workers; legislative leaders skeptical".
"It's become a fact of life"
The Sun-Sentinel editorial board: "It's become a fact of life in local and national politics: elected officials bowing out, for one reason or another, before their terms are up, forcing special elections to fill their seats so their constituents don't go unrepresented for too long." "PBC Elections Office should be reimbursed, and fast".
"It's the judges, stupid"
Stephen Goldstein: "Floridians, more than other Americans, ought to remember:"
It's the judges, stupid — even more than the economy! Black-robers, especially those with a lifetime appointment, make decisions that too often affect our lives for generations beyond any law passed by elected officials. So, with this country now tipped to the radical right, we need to put a non-pandering, ultraliberal Floridian with backbone in the U.S. Senate and the governor's mansion."Stephen L. goldstein: We need liberals to stack the courts". On the other hand, the knuckle-draggers - the folks who live on suppressing the vote - actually believe "'Progressives' seek to shut up others.".
Real tuff lawyer
"Nancy Grace felt sick through deposition, TMZ reports".
"Kottkamp speaks to area Republicans".
Gary Fineout: "Herron pressing the state on 527s".
"Ben Graber was a state House member from Broward County from 1988 to 1994 and a Broward County commissioner from 2000 to 2006."
But he’s lived in unincorporated Delray Beach since 2007. And with about 70 percent of congressional District 19 Democratic primary voters living in Palm Beach County, Graber today sent out a “Dear Neighbor” blast e-mail decrying the “false rumor” that he’s a Browardian."Dem candidate Graber: I’m a Palm Beach County guy now!".
"The often-reviled FCAT"
The Saint Petersburg Times editorial board: "They used to be called 'finals.' Now, a bipartisan group of state lawmakers is calling them standardized end-of-course exams. By whatever name, such tests — if wisely written and smartly used — could be an intelligent replacement in high school for the often-reviled FCAT." "Making a better test than FCAT".
No, it wasn't a Chamber meeting
"Report: 350 accused drug dealers and prostitutes arrested in sting".
Better than nothing
The Daytona Beach News Journal editorial board: "Recognizing the historic opportunity to preserve environmentally sensitive land, Gov. Charlie Crist will recommend spending a scant $2 million to revive the state's Florida Forever program in the next state budget. It's a small sum, but 2 million times better than the program received last year." "Small sum could help keep Florida green forever".