The Saint Petersburg Times editors: "Gambling deals with an Indian tribe. Oil drilling rights for mysterious investors. Leasing highways to foreign corporations. Florida legislators will consider selling just about anything to raise money and avoid tax increases. So it’s no wonder that hawking space on license plates is on the agenda in Tallahassee." "License to make a quick buck".
The Daytona Beach News Journal editorial board: "Florida has 12,000 miles of interstate highways, turnpikes and state roads. That's 12,000 miles -- and untold square miles -- of prime advertising space."
Imagine that: Your drive from Daytona Beach to DeLand colored not only by billboards left and right but also by painted billboards on pavement. Imagine the financial benefit to the state. Guard rails, too, could be prime advertising space. The money could help pay for roads."When responsible governments are in deficit, they raise taxes, cut spending or both. The Legislature has compulsively cut taxes for a decade and cut services, including such basic and essential services as health care for the poor and education. Turning to corporate sponsors for revenue by dragging motorists' personal properties into the bargain cheapens the integrity of government and turns motorists into shills for business while evading government's fundamental responsibility." "Shilling for tag ads".
What about public schoolteachers? Their outer clothing could be emblazoned with ads, and revenue used to offset budget cuts in schools. Students could opt in, too, and sport corporate logos like NASCAR drivers do, with bonus money to schools that convince half or more of their students to sell out.
Obscene? Absurd? Degraded? Yes on all counts, but not much more than Mike Fasano's proposal to turn Floridians' license plates into mini billboards.
Fasano, R-New Port Richey, who chairs the Senate Transportation and Economic Development Appropriations Committee, asked his staff to develop a plan that would emblazon corporate logos on license plates. The aim is to generate revenue for the state, which is facing further budget shortfalls. To sweeten the deal for drivers, Fasano proposes to bribe them. Drivers would get to choose what corporate logo they'd want. In exchange, they'd get a $30 or $35 discount next time they renew their license tag. Fasano isn't clear how much money the scheme would raise, but he thinks the idea has wheels.
It may. But it shouldn't. Count the reasons.
RPOFer test scores
"Florida's unemployment rate reached 11.9 percent in January, tying the highest number on record." "It's not getting any easier for Florida's jobless". See also "Florida jobless rate at 11.9 percent". Related: "Online anonymity frustrates Fla's record jobless".
As Florida burns ...
... the Legislature is hard at work: "Florida bill would curb kids' tanning-salon use"
Tea-baggers in a dither
"Government meetings have to be open to the public, but that doesn't mean citizens have a right to speak at them, a Florida appeals court ruled today." "Court: Citizens don't have right to speak at government meetings".
"Crist's tunnel vision"
The Tallahassee Democrat editorial board: "Charlie Crist, the 'People's Governor,' might also like to be remembered as the 'Insurance Governor.' He proudly proclaims that the average bill for property insurance statewide has dropped 16 percent since he took office three-and-a-half years ago, and no doubt many homeowners are grateful for that."
But Mr. Crist's tunnel vision about keeping insurance rates low led him last year to unwisely veto the Consumer Choice Bill, which would have allowed some of the largest insurers to raise rates without going through the usual regulatory process. The Democrat's editorial board thought that letting the free market work on the state's troubled insurance industry was a good idea last year, and we think it's still a good idea."Insurance choice".
The consumer choice concept is back in the Legislature again, with House Bill 447 and Senate Bill 876 (lacking a sexy name this year, the bills are simply called "Residential Property Insurance"). The biggest change this time around, according to House sponsor Rep. Bill Proctor, R-St. Augustine, is that all licensed insurance companies would be covered rather than a couple dozen solid, sound companies.
One thing that has not changed is Mr. Crist's distaste for the idea. He vows another veto.
Now, cheap usually sounds good. But there is nothing usual about property insurance in Florida.
"A proposed gambling compact that would give four Seminole casinos exclusive rights to blackjack and other banked card games in Florida continues to hold the state capitol in thrall with the ulimate outcome still unclear. Thursday, a powerful House committee takes up the issue." "Senate Gaming Compact Restrains Governor". Nancy Smith says folks should "Think twice before you bet against the governor's Seminole gambling compact." "It's All About the Money".
"Florida Democrats may be gearing up to face Marco Rubio in the U.S. Senate race this November, but polls suggest that Gov. Charlie Crist would be a tougher opponent." "Crist Tougher vs. Meek".
"Tempting and easy to blame the teachers"
Bill Cotterell acknowledges that "it's tempting and easy to blame the teachers, but they don't work on assembly lines. They shape what we send them and trying to reach a kid whose home life is chaotic, even dangerous, will probably fail more often than not." Much more here: "Teachers carry on as state, unions battle". Related: "Bill would tie teacher pay to performance, student test scores" ("The question: Should teacher pay — and job security — depend on how students score on standardized tests?")
More: "Teacher merit-pay plan passes key Florida Senate committee" and "Senate panel passes GOP bills requiring teacher merit pay, new grad standards".
It never ends
"Late results, fouled cartridges hampered Tuesday's Palm Beach County election tallies".
"Florida has a long history of dirty politics."
Take the legend of Sen. George Smathers supposedly declaring in North Florida that Claude Pepper was a "shameless extrovert" with a "thespian" sister. Or the Florida GOP sending mailers calling a legislator "Dr. Date Rape." Or even Mel Martinez's campaign calling Bill McCollum "the new darling of the homosexual extremists.""Charlie Crist Attacks Marco Rubio's Conservative Credentials".
But this week Charlie Crist broke new ground in attack politics in his U.S. Senate campaign. Marco Rubio, he charged, may be a back waxer.
"He's trying to pawn himself off as a fiscal conservative. And yet just in recent weeks, two weeks ago it has come out in news accounts he had a Republican Party of Florida credit card, that he charged a $130 haircut or maybe it was a back wax," the governor of America's fourth-largest state told a startled Greta Van Susteren on Fox News Monday night.
Crist "media blitz"
"Crist used the taxpayer-funded state plane Wednesday for a four-city media blitz that promoted a pro-business initiative but ended with a Miami campaign fundraiser." "Crist combines bill signing tour on state plane with campaign stop".
Meantime, "An independent Charlie Crist bid for the US Senate would work to Marco Rubio's advantage, because Crist would win more Democratic votes than Republican ones. In a hypothetical three way contest Rubio leads with 34% to 27% for Crist and 25% for Kendrick Meek." "Crist's Conundrum".
Run "Jeb!", run!
"The eldest son of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush said in a North Carolina political appearance that he doesn't expect his father to make a run for president in 2012." "Jeb Bush's son: 2012 run by dad unlikely".
The Miami Herald editors: "Like everything involving the Everglades, the state's agreement to purchase 72,800 acres of U.S. Sugar Corp. land for $536 million has its share of champions and critics. But though it's less than perfect, the deal is worth doing." "The eldest son of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush said in a North Carolina political appearance that he doesn't expect his father to make a run for president in 2012.". Related: "Crist's grand Everglades deal under assault".
McCollum blows his top
George Bennett: "Attorney General and GOP governor candidate Bill McCollum dropped by tonight's Palm Beach County Republican Executive Committee powwow and sounded at first like a federal candidate before throwing his likely Democratic opponent, Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, into the mix." "McCollum slams Obama, Pelosi, Reid, Sink, health care overhaul".
DMS on the chopping block
"Senate Looking to Break up DMS, Streamline Data".
"Bad news" for Meek and LeMieux
Kevin Derby writes that "While the recent Public Policy polling numbers are getting a lot of attention for showing Marco Rubio crushing Charlie Crist by 32 points, the poll also offers bad news for U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek, the likely Democratic Senate nominee, and U.S. Sen. George LeMieux."
A Fasano special
"The Legislature is staring at a $3.2 billion deficit, but state Sen. Mike Fasano has tentatively lined up $750,000 for a health care clinic in the regional hurricane shelter that bears his name." "Sen. Fasano seeks $750,000 for health care clinic".
"Legislative leaders at least could be honest ..."
The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "As the Legislature debates bills that would deal the state in for a piece of the red-light camera action, legislative leaders at least could be honest about their motives."
Sure, the bills most likely to pass have "traffic safety" in their titles. Yes, legislators — like county and city officials — claim that safety is the goal. Still, the Republican-led Legislature claims to worry about the reach of government and to respect the rule of law. Since the bills to authorize red-light cameras violate both of those principles, the real motive can be only one thing: money."Caution on traffic cameras: Legislature ignoring law in mad race for money".
"Fingerprint matches increase, but not arrests as Crist claims".
Hillsborough out of control
The Tampa Tribune editorial board: "Put an end to county circus".
"A Florida House panel has approved a bill aimed at barring the public from hearing 911 calls, unless a judge rules in favor to make an exception." "House committee passes 911 privacy bill". See also "Bill limiting public access to 911 recordings passes legislative hurdle".
Takes one to know one
"Florida lawmakers push for clampdown on exotic-reptile trade". Related: "Republican party reptile".