Thank you, Mr. Obama
The Saint Petersburg Times editorial board: "At the one-year anniversary for the federal stimulus package, Democrats and Republicans from Washington to Florida are still arguing over whether it is a success or a failure."
The reality is the bleak economic picture in the Sunshine State would look a lot darker without the federal money."Stimulus delivered goods for Florida".
The tale is in the numbers, even if there are disputes over the precise figures. Without the federal help, the state would have been forced to lay off thousands of teachers and would be facing an even deeper budget crisis. Yes, the state still lost more than 1 million jobs in 2009 and the unemployment rate has risen to 11.8 percent. But it would have been even worse without the stimulus package.
The Daytona Beach News Journal editorial board: "Construction on the $1.2 billion SunRail commuter train between DeLand and Poinciana may begin as early as June, with $300 million in federal stimulus money in the pot."
As job creation, it's better than road construction. New data released by a U.S. House transportation committee and analyzed by several non-governmental organizations show that dollars spent on public transportation produce twice as many jobs as dollars spent on highway construction."Florida benefiting from stimulus but needs more".
SunRail's groundbreaking is especially timely in a state approaching 12 percent unemployment. It's also one more promising element in a federal stimulus package already doing much good. ...
In Florida, the stimulus saved 25,000 teachers' jobs and thousands of additional jobs in county and city governments -- cops, firefighters, garbage collectors. It saved tens of thousands of homeowners from foreclosure, thus preventing the further gutting of communities through darkened lots, and it subsidized local government programs, including in Palm Coast and Volusia County, that fix and sell homes to lower and middle income buyers.
Critics of the stimulus still abound. They point to a national unemployment rate at 9.7 percent and accumulating debt. They also ignore what even Republicans such as Ben Bernanke (the Federal Reserve chief) and Henry Paulson, former treasury secretary, say was averted: a depression. Unemployment is high and in Florida, where a decade of speculative home-building wrecked an economy enslaved to developers, it may get higher still. But had opponents of a stimulus had their way, conditions most likely would have been far worse.
Moreover, the Sun-Sentinel editorial board is "not assured by Gov. Crist's adviser on economic recovery that Florida's doing everything possible to quickly spend federal stimulus money and get more people around the state to work." "Florida sits on federal stimulus money while unemployment rises".
Enough voucher madness
The Saint Petersburg Times editors: "With Florida facing a $3 billion deficit and striving to maintain momentum in improving public schools, this is an odd time to talk about expanding tuition vouchers for private schools."
Yet voucher supporters are pushing legislation that would divert more tax money to the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship and raise the value of each voucher. Legislators should keep the focus on improving public education and reject this legally suspect bid to siphon more public money away to private schools. "Don't spend more on school vouchers".
Entrepreneurs in action
"Miami-Dade, Wackenhut near settlement in alleged overbillings for Metrorail guards".
CPAC next stop for Rubio
"Former Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio will make the biggest speech yet in his Senate campaign, telling the Conservative Political Action Conference he's the better choice to represent their views. He will speak Thursday to more than 3,000 conservative activists in Washington." "FL Senate hopeful Rubio addresses DC conservatives". Meantime, "Crist camp mocks Rubio on eve of CPAC speech; CPAC says Crist wasn’t considered for speaking invite".
"In less than one year, the Republican challenger to Gov. Charlie Crist has leaped from sleeper candidate to near-front runner in the polls."
Rubio's marquee appearance in front of thousands of politicians, activists and opinion makers at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington marks yet another milestone in one of the most astonishing turnarounds in Florida politics."At the same time, Rubio's new status presents new challenges."
How will he continue to pitch himself as a political outsider -- the quality that made him a star on the anti-establishment tea-party circuit -- even as he picks up congressional endorsements and raises money with the Washington elite? Will his political liabilities weigh more heavily under the intense scrutiny bestowed on leading candidates? ..."Rubio facing a new test on big stage".
At a time when being an incumbent can be a career killer, the former House speaker frequently adopts the posture of a fight-the-power revolutionary, referring to ``our movement'' and decrying the "establishment.''
But his schedule this week doesn't look like a path blazed by an insurgent. Wednesday night, he was slated to attend a fundraiser at Ruth's Chris Steak House in Washington co-hosted by the former ambassador to Barbados. After his speech to CPAC -- Glenn Beck, Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney also are on the program -- he's got back-to-back receptions. One is hosted by lobbying powerhouse Peter Madigan, a top fundraiser for Republican presidential nominee John McCain. The other is hosted by a few members of Congress, former Vice President Dick Cheney's daughter, Liz, and former White House advisor, Mary Matalin.
"People raise their eyebrows when they see him doing these fundraisers,'' said Matt Nye, an activist in the Republican party and tea party movement in Brevard County. ...
In recent days, Rubio has landed potentially money-raising endorsements from anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist, former presidential candidate Steve Forbes and the No. 3 Republican in the House, Mike Pence of Indiana.
"Bill Nelson: Manned space program isn't dead yet". Related: "State's Lt. Gov. tells Port Salerno audience White House making 'huge' mistake with space exploration decision".
"No taxation without representation"
Michael Bender: "The power to raise property taxes would rest solely with elected officials under a constitutional amendment proposed for the November ballot."
The amendment would revamp the supervision of hospital and children's services districts across the state and make the South Florida Water Management District, which covers 16 counties and includes about 7 million people, the biggest voting district in the state and among the largest in the country, according to the National Association of Election Officials."Taxing boards would be elected under proposal".
"It's something called 'no taxation without representation," said state Rep. Carl Domino, a Jupiter Republican sponsoring the amendment (HJR 493) discussed Wednesday in the House Government Affairs Committee.
As Crist grubs for wingnut votes ...
... his administration underscores his wingnut bona fides.
"State child-welfare administrators have appealed the adoption of an infant foster child by a gay Hollywood woman -- the second challenge to Florida's gay-adoption law currently under review. Joe Follick, a spokesman for the Department of Children & Families, said his agency appealed the decision last month by Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Maria Sampedro-Iglesia to approve Vanessa Alenier's adoption of a relative taken into foster care shortly after his birth." "State challenging gay adoption in Hollywood case".
The Tallahassee Democrat editors: "Florida's unemployment rate is nearly 12 percent, while across the nation it is close to 10 percent. So Job One everywhere has become the creation or salvation of jobs."
Statewide, offshore drilling is being sold as a major job provider. And if you wonder why Northrup Grumman is running advertisements in the Tallahassee Democrat concerning a multibillion-dollar federal defense contract — well, jobs in Florida are part of the picture."Should you care?".
The background is this: Faced with an aging fleet of flying refueling tankers, the federal government sought bids for a new generation of aircraft based on commercially available wide-body planes. Northrop Grumman won the contract in 2008, but Boeing protested. The Government Accountability Office upheld the protest based on eight of the 110 points Boeing raised, so in 2009 a new draft "Request for Proposal" was released.
But this time, Northrop Grumman is the one feeling misused and says it cannot make a successful bid unless new changes are made.
The Miami Herald editorial board: "This year the Legislature can prove that it is not just tough on crime but also fair by creating an innocence commission to prevent more wrongful convictions. It should also simplify the wrongful conviction compensation law". "Justice for the wrongly convicted".
There's always tomorrow
"Legislation that would delay an unemployment compensation tax increase for two years is on a fast track to early passage in the Florida Legislature."
Two similar bills received final committee approval Wednesday in the House and Senate, both by unanimous votes."Legislature working to delay business tax hike".
A sponsor, however, warned that the tax paid by employers must increase eventually.
"Medicaid revamp faces obstacles in Tallahassee".
"A full-throated scream"
The Orlando Sentinel editorial board: "Whispered discontent over the skyrocketing costs of warehousing Florida's prison population has become a full-throated scream." "Reform Florida's sentencing laws".
Sanchez nomination moving
"A federal review of a failed grant program may clear the way for Senate confirmation of Obama administration appointee Frank Sanchez of Tampa." "Tampa's Frank Sanchez may get confirmation hearing for commerce job".
Bill Cotterell: "We fret about the influence of money in politics, how candidates sell out to special interests for campaign cash that, once in office, is repaid with votes on public policy."
Everybody bemoans how they spend that money on advertising that panders to the extremes of whatever they represent."'Serious' candidates have the advantage".
And yet, when somebody comes along without special-interest financing and a stable of slick campaign consultants, the conventional political wisdom says, "Ha! You're not a serious candidate — if you were, businesses would have given you $500,000 and you'd have a fleet of advisers to test-market your messages and package you like toothpaste." Running a campaign of ideas, issues and principles is terrific, once you figure out how to let anybody know you're doing it.
"FDLE forwards 'deferred compensation' complaint to state attorney Meggs".
Morgan v. Snyder
"John Morgan, who has had a Web site up for nearly two months proclaiming his intention to run as a Democrat to challenge two-term state House Rep. William Snyder, R-Stuart, filed his paperwork this week for the office. ... Republicans hold a 45 percent to 30 percent advantage over Democrats among registered voters in the district." "Democrat files to challenge House Rep. William Snyder".
Patient protection bill
"Nurses rally for Fla. patient protection bill".
"The Florida House last year voted to allow exploration for oil and natural gas in state waters, but the Senate did not bring it up for a vote. This year the issue may not come up for a vote -- but it will still weigh heavily in the upcoming session's background." "Drilling's priority diminishes".