"For the past year, Delmar Johnson mixed and mingled with the well-heeled and powerful, chasing checks from large Republican donors from fishing piers in Key West to a football stadium in Boston."
But even as the economy soured and GOP fundraising lagged, Johnson earned more than perhaps any party leader in Florida history -- at least $408,000 as executive director and chief fundraiser for the Republican Party of Florida. His total pay was more than triple what party chairman Jim Greer made."But even as the economy soured and GOP fundraising lagged, Johnson earned more than perhaps any party leader in Florida history -- at least $408,000 as executive director and chief fundraiser for the Republican Party of Florida. His total pay was more than triple what party chairman Jim Greer made."
But even as the economy soured and GOP fundraising lagged, Johnson earned more than perhaps any party leader in Florida history -- at least $408,000 as executive director and chief fundraiser for the Republican Party of Florida. His total pay was more than triple what party chairman Jim Greer made."GOP donors say they didn't know of fundraiser's lucrative contract".
Nearly $200,000 of that came through a contract signed by Greer and Johnson naming Johnson as the party's chief fundraiser. That contract was apparently never divulged even to senior members of the party's executive committee.
Anger over the party's flailing finances prompted an unusual combination of grass-roots activists and big-ticket donors to force Greer's resignation last month. And that was before party elders knew of Johnson's fundraising contract – and his outsized earnings.
Now a number of prominent donors are coming forward to complain they were kept in the dark about the contract, and they want Johnson to refund what he was paid.
Desperate Charlie to "Play the leadership card"
Adam C. Smith: "Crist supporters across Florida are in varying degrees of panic, and for good reason: Two polls released this week show the once inevitable Republican U.S. Senate nominee trailing Marco Rubio by 12 points and 14 points among Republican voters. A third poll released last week showed Rubio ahead by 3 points."
"Inside the political echo chambers of Tallahassee and Washington, conventional wisdom is setting in that Crist is past the point of no return and doomed to experience one of the most stunning political downfalls Florida has ever seen. Meanwhile everyone — from his closest supporters to fiercest enemies — has an opinion on what the governor needs to do:"
Start carpet bombing the TV airwaves with negative ads about Rubio. Give up and run for re-election as governor. Make a hard turn to the right and relentlessly flog everything Barack Obama does. Run as an independent. Run as a moderate. Apologize profusely for endorsing the stimulus package. And on and on."Crist plans to focus on leadership".
Crist's plan? Play the leadership card.
Plug 'em in
"City, county hope to plug in electric cars".
Scott Maxwell: "The judge's ruling said exactly what most people would want to hear in an adoption case."
It said that the 1-year-old boy who had been living with his foster parents was "happy and thriving" — and that a permanent adoption made perfect sense."And they have the gall to do it in God's name."
It should be a simple story with a happy ending.
Except it is not.
That judge's ruling — which focused solely on the child's well-being — enraged some on the religious right.
Why? Because the little boy's adoptive parents are gay.
So now those who profit from division are pouncing.
On some twisted level, you can see why they have been reduced to misleading histrionics."Religious right selfishly turns boy into pawn in gay-adoption battle".
Because they are losing the fight.
Florida is the last state in the U.S. with an outright ban on gay adoption. And three court rulings in recent months suggest the archaic law may be on its last legs.
The rationale for preventing balanced, loving parents from adopting children — when the state has a backlog of needy children, no less — is hard to justify in concept.
"After inquiry, four Juvenile Justice officials give up take-home cars".
"A Florida Senate committee unanimously approved a bill Tuesday that would tighten the ethics requirements on the Public Service Commission, but the measure was immediately criticized as too soft on the companies the commission regulates." "Panel approves bill to tighten rules on PSC".
A Governor scorned ...
The Sun-Sentinel editorial board: "Optimism is one thing; a realistic state budget apparently is something else. But that's where state lawmakers are now that Gov. Charlie Crist has put forth a $69.2 billion budget plan that is long on hope and somewhat short on reality." "Governor's budget leaves much to be desired".
"House lawmakers scorned Gov. Charlie Crist's budget proposal on Tuesday for relying on close to $2 billion that Florida may not have to spend next year."
That includes a property tax hike that Crist is counting on school boards in Hillsborough and about two-dozen other counties to levy for education."Crist budget criticized for funding assumptions". See also "Deutch called the Dem winner in District 19".
Crist's $69.2 billion plan would boost spending on education and the environment while cutting business taxes and reinstating a sales tax holiday. All told, his proposal would increase spending by about $3 billion despite steep rises in Medicaid and other costs.
Crist is including in his budget federal aid for Medicaid, raids on state reserves and $432 million resulting from a gaming compact with the Seminole Tribe in addition to a projected $2 billion growth in state revenue.
"Even before its justices rule, the Florida Supreme Court has erected a potential legal hurdle to Gov. Charlie Crist's $536 million land deal with the U.S. Sugar Corp. The court has agreed to hear a challenge of plans to bankroll the $536 million purchase with bonds issued by the South Florida Water Management District." "Florida Supreme Court to hear case over U.S. Sugar land deal".
Raw political courage
"PBC school district cites tea party movement; says 1,600 jobs could be cut this year".
The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "Online retailer Amazon.com just reported the company's biggest profit. Will that news be enough to motivate Gov. Crist and the Legislature?"
For the last three months of 2009, Amazon made $384 million. The company attributed the news to strong holiday sales and cost-cutting. Though e-commerce still represents less than 4 percent of all sales nationwide, online holiday buying increased an estimated 5 percent from 2008 and totaled about $27 billion."Online sales tax is fair tax".
Whatever the numbers for Floridians were, Florida will get very little of the sales-tax revenue the state should be getting. Unless online retailers have a physical presence in Florida, they aren't required to collect the sales tax for the state, as traditional retailers must do. Online and catalog buyers are supposed to remit the money. Obviously, most don't.
As the governor and Legislature debate the budget, one common goal should be to make Florida a full partner in the national effort to collect sales taxes from online sales.
Luvin' the Rubio
"Republican Marco Rubio scored another straw-ballot victory today at a luncheon of the politically savvy Capital City Republican Club." "Rubio claims edge over Crist with Capital City Republican Club".
The AIF snaps its fingers ...
"Legislation would shield theme parks and other businesses from lawsuits that can be filed even if parents sign a liability waiver for their children." "Florida bill protects against lawsuits".
Good luck with that
The Tallahassee Democrat editors: "Florida needs leaders who will address the growing public health crisis that is substance abuse." "Our Opinion: Deal with addiction".
"Beware of surprises as Legislature crafts testing scheme"
The Daytona Beach News Journal editorial board:
For 10 years, the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test -- alternately known as the FCAT or the bane of student and teachers -- has held the reputation of every public school and the academic fate of every student in its grip. It's too much power to give a single test, however well-intentioned some of its aims. The Legislature appears ready to move beyond the FCAT. It's a welcome development if lawmakers intend to restore to classroom teachers what the FCAT took away -- the bulk of the authority to determine a student's capabilities. If lawmakers are merely replacing the FCAT with another method of high-stakes, punitive testing, they're wasting time and deceiving educators, parents and students by changing the test's name, not means."Beyond FCAT".
"The man who wrote the Medicaid Reform plan, Alan Levine, said the program faces an uncertain future because no one is championing Bush's legacy in the Capitol." "Jeb Bush's Medicaid plan faces uncertain fate".
"The Associated Press has declared Ted Deutch the winner in the Democratic congressional primary, while Joe Budd and Ed Lynch are neck and neck in the three-way Republican race for the District 19 U.S. House seat. " "Deutch called the Dem winner in District 19". See also "Lynch wins Rep. primary, will face Deutch |".
To trial ...
Steve Bousquet: "A last-ditch attempt by Rep. Ray Sansom to dismiss or delay charges that he damaged the Legislature's integrity failed Tuesday as a panel of his colleagues voted to put the former speaker on trial later this month." "As Sansom watches, House panel votes to put him on trial".
"Republican legislative leaders Tuesday said they want voters to revamp a 2002 constitutional amendment that limits class sizes, warning that school districts will face widespread problems if changes are not made." "Proposed amendment would ease class-size limits". See also "Do-over on class size proposed".
The Saint Petersburg Times editors: "A commonsense proposal to ask voters to adjust the class size amendment in November is taking hold in Tallahassee. Unless changes are made, the class size requirements will hit with full force when a new school year begins in August." "Making class size limits make sense".
Florida businesses "threatened"
"The race is on to head off massive unemployment-tax hikes that threaten most Florida businesses at the end of April. Under a deal struck among Gov. Charlie Crist, Republican legislative leaders and the state's leading business groups, the plan is to delay most of the pain for two years." "Legislation seeks to head off major unemployment-tax hikes".
Interesting word choice, "threaten".
"Republican U.S. Senate candidate Marco Rubio has come out against including illegal immigrants in the national census -- even though doing so could significantly reduce Florida's political power and share of federal funding."
Rubio's stance sets him at odds not only with Gov. Charlie Crist, but also with Republicans in the Florida Legislature who are cranking up efforts to track down and find every resident who lives in the state."Census has Crist and Rubio at odds".
Rubio's opposition is largely theoretical -- the census has already started and illegals are being counted -- but it reflects his efforts to appeal to hard-line conservatives in the contest against the more moderate Crist.
Another one bites the dust
"South Florida transplant Armando Gutierrez says he wanted to serve in Congress – but he also saw a chance to find a way to bring major league baseball to Orlando."
So rather than possibly strike out at both, Gutierrez unexpectedly stepped out of the batter's box Tuesday and ended his bid to take on U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Orlando. In a press statement the 28-year-old -- who wasn't registered to vote here six months ago -- said he was devoting himself solely to the improbable task of bringing big leaguers to play in Orlando.Can the RPOFer bench get any weaker?
Winter Park traffic-signal businessman Bruce O'Donoghue filed to run Monday, joining attorney and failed-2008 GOP primary candidate Todd Long. Those two and Rep. Kurt Kelly, R-Ocala, who won an endorsement from U.S. Rep. Cliff Stearns, R-Ocala, are the front-runners."Gutierrez drops out of race against Grayson".
However, two Tea Party activists -- former pilot Dan Fanelli and Lake County homemaker Patricia Sullivan -- are also running. So is doctor Ken Miller, who recently jumped in after first challenging U.S. Rep. Suzanne Kosmas, D- New Smyrna Beach.
And the list could get longer. Former Ruth's Chris Steakhouse CEO Craig Miller is looking at a run and was said to be in Washington meeting with GOP officials.
"Florida high school students can weigh in on the importance of Florida's 'Government in the Sunshine' and win cash prizes in a contest announced by Gov. Charlie Crist this week." "Contest challenges students on Florida's Sunshine laws".