"Crist is back on the clock. After vetoing the controversial teacher tenure bill Thursday — one day before his deadline — Crist now has until April 30 to chew over another enormous decision: stay in the Republican primary or run for U.S. Senate as an independent. " "Gov. Charlie Crist's Senate race decision: Republican party or independent?".
Another rumour, this time courtesy of Sunshine State News: "A day before unconfirmed reports surfaced that Gov. Charlie Crist will bow out of the U.S. Senate race and let George LeMieux and Marco Rubio duke it out for the Republican nomination, Crist considered one of his defining acts as chief executive of Florida. ... A call to LeMieux's office for comment on his intentions was not immediately returned." "Crist's Choice: Go Rogue or Get Out".
In the meantime, "some of Florida Gov. Charlie Crist’s top fundraisers are warning that they will no longer support him if he bolts the Republican Party to run for the Senate as an independent." "Top Charlie Crist supporters torn over indy bid".
"Jeb!" lapdogs unleashed by their owner
Jebbie's lapdogs have been unleashed by their owner to attack poor Charlie. Mike Thomas "reports" this morning that Crist "has been liberated from caring what the party's conservative base thinks about him."
He has salvaged his Senate campaign, he has his populist mojo back, and he has taken his revenge on Jeb Bush."Whatever uneasy truce existed between the two came to an end."
For months Bush professed neutrality in the Rubio-Crist race. But time and again he lauds Rubio and takes shots at Crist. His disdain peaked in February when he called Crist's support of Obama's stimulus program "unforgiveable.''
Merit pay and the elimination of teacher tenure, also in the bill, are unfinished business from Bush's rein as governor. The House and Senate were lined up deliver them. All Bush needed was Crist.Let's stop for a moment and ask where that comes from, to wit: the oft repeated assertion that Jeb Bush is "obsessed with policy".
But Bush has all he political instincts of a water buffalo[*].
He is obsessed with policy.
After following Mr. Bush's Florida political career, it seems obvious to this blogger that Jeb Bush is obsessed with nothing more than routine right-wing politics.
Folks that share Jebbie's bland right wing views - like Mr. Thomas - find it more comfortable to consider Bush's views, and in turn theirs, the function of "policy wonkishness", which of course is another way of saying that they're smarter than the rest of us ... smarter because, you know ... their views are the result of their being steeped, you know ... in a deep understanding of "policy", while the rest of us are knee-jerkers.
"Jeb!" exposed himself (I know, a very bad visual) on this point many years ago when he sarcastically referred to folks who disagreed with him as "deep thinkers". The point being, of course, that it is "Jeb!", and his acolytes, who are the real "deep thinkers".**
Deep thinker Thomas continues:
For Crist, policy simply is a tool for achieving political success."Charlie puts himself first in merit pay saga".
Crist certainly wasn't going to take a bullet on merit pay for a guy who was so obviously out to end his political career.
The two never talked about the bill. Crist mocked a phone message that Bush left, urging the governor to sign it.
The teachers' unions had best enjoy this victory while they can. They have another year in which their members' job security and pay raises won't depend on the quality of their work. But many of the legislative leaders behind merit pay will be back next year. Bill McCollum is far out front in the gubernatorial race.
And Jeb isn't going anywhere.
Thomas hopes that "Jeb isn't going anywhere" because Thomas, and much of the rest of the sorry lot comprising Florida's political reporters (with a handful of exceptions), pray that Jebbie reappears on the political scene so they can ride on the big bus with the real reporters.
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*Read: Jebbie doesn't care about politics, but rather cares only about doing the right thing viz. his deeply considered policy choices.
**There must be something in the water cooler at the Orlando Sentinel. Back on March 28 of this year, Scott Maxwell announced that "Jeb Bush actually knew policy and, for the most part, respected the role of government and its elected officials." Say again?
Major RPOFer miscalculation
"Republican lawmakers who rammed a teacher tenure bill through the Legislature this session hoped for an education revolution but instead unleashed a revolt — a grass roots movement of parents and teachers armed with a thorny election year issue that could dog politicians to the polls."
Democrats started eyeing newly vulnerable Republicans to target for voting for the bill. And the Democrat-leaning teachers union, which had complained of being shut out of the process, began sharpening its swords."Backlash on Senate Bill 6 could hit Republicans in fall".
"Clearly, there may be some more opportunities because of what went on here," said Jeff Wright of the Florida Education Association, the state teachers union. "We suddenly have a lot of our members who are interested in running for office." ...
Among those who should feel nervous, Democrats said: Republicans in tight election races such as Reps. Rob Schenck of Spring Hill, Chris Dorworth of Lake Mary and Marti Coley of Marianna. ...
The FEA's Wright said that while the teachers union "seeded'' the growing protests, paying for television ads and urging teachers to organize, even union leaders were surprised by the spontaneous parent-led demonstrations around the state against the bill.
"We'll take credit for it, sure," he said. "But this became so much more than FEA."
"Who is running the asylum?"
"Crist's stump speech transformed Saturday into a full-throated defense of his veto of Senate Bill 6, as teachers in this GOP bedrock rallied and vowed to 'remember in November.'"
Crist attacked the GOP leadership for taking an extreme approach and not listening to the public."Crist basks in teachers' admiration as he campaigns on SB6 veto".
"We got calls in our office," Crist said, "that not only were arms being twisted, they were being broken … to convince them to vote for this thing."
He added later: "You have to kind of scratch your head and think: Who is running the asylum?"
Rubio: Just another RPOFer
Florida's political journalists, such as they are, are starting to slowly observe that Emperor Rubio has no clothes. Beth Reinhard writes this morning, if only in passing, that as "a state lawmaker, he pushed $250 million in pet projects, voted for Crist's climate change initiative and blocked measures to crack down on illegal immigration."
The theme of Rubio's bus tour, "take a stand,'' suggests that he is willing to say what he believes, no matter the cost. Yet much of what he says is straight from the Republican playbook: lower taxes, less spending, smaller government."To fans, Rubio is 'future of Republican party'".
We're looking for the health care questions from the media at these campaign appearances: "Romney to campaign with Rubio in Tampa".
RPOFers never cease to entertain
"Greer is neither apologizing nor going quietly."
In a lawsuit filed in Sanford two weeks ago, he accuses his successor, state Sen. John Thrasher, R-St. Augustine, and two state legislators, House Speaker-designate Dean Cannon, R- Winter Park, and Senate President-designate Mike Haridopolos, R-Merritt Island, of offering him a secret $123,000 severance deal and then cheating him out of the money."Greer's rise in GOP was as stunning as his fall".
Greer would not agree to be interviewed for this story, nor would many of his closest friends.
So how did Greer, a politician who had risen no higher than deputy mayor of Oviedo, come to head the state party?
Background: "Florida GOP: Follow the story of ex-chair Jim Greer and fundraiser Delmar Johnson". Related: "Gov. Charlie Crist often flies on private jets but keeps details under wraps" and "Florida GOP leaders question secret deal's legality".
Bushco dead enders
"With lame duck Republican Gov. Charlie Crist weighing an independent bid for the U.S. Senate, Democrats are more convinced than ever that a shadow captain is guiding the ship of state. Former Gov. Jeb Bush was a driving force behind the controversial merit-pay plan for teachers that Crist vetoed Thursday. But other prized elements of Bush's conservative agenda -- corporate tax breaks, a move to water down a class-size mandate, expanded corporate vouchers, property-insurance reforms -- still dominate the remaining two weeks of session." "Former Gov. Jeb Bush and his conservative agenda still a driving force in Florida".
"With a $440,000 campaign war chest and a string of legislative victories this session, state Rep. Will Weatherford looks poised to waltz into office again this November." "Weatherford's star is rising".
"Sharper vision for NASA"
The Saint Petersburg Times editorial board: "The sharper vision for NASA that President Barack Obama provided last week is good for the space program, private industry and the state of Florida." "Obama's new ambitions for space".
The Orlando Sentinel editors: "Fair Districts Florida got enough signatures from fed-up residents to put amendments on the ballot this fall that could end the gerrymandering."
So naturally, Tallahassee's ruling elite hates it.Much more here: "Fighting fairer elections".
Imagine what it could do to districts like U.S. Rep. John Mica's, which snakes its way through much of Central Florida to include his home in Winter Park and other Republican strongholds in St. Johns and Flagler counties.
Make it more competitive, for starters, which is reason enough for power brokers to oppose it.
But those running Tallahassee aren't content to merely campaign against the amendments. They'd rather make democracy a farce by gaming the system.
Led by future Senate President Mike Haridopolos of Merritt Island, they're working to put another amendment on the November ballot that would gut the Fair Districts Florida amendments. Provisions that largely preserve current practices would subordinate Fair Districts amendments. For the good of Florida, don't you know.
Mr. Haridopolos says his amendment wouldn't gut Fair Districts but would help "clarify it." How Orwellian of him.
Mr. Haridopolos says his amendment also would prevent the Fair Districts measures from harming minorities. He notes that state Sen. Gary Siplin of Orlando and U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown of Jacksonville, both Democrats and both African-American, oppose Fair Districts' effort.
"A short-sighted decision"
The Saint Petersburg Times editors: "Florida unemployment reached a new high of 12.3 percent in March, far above the national average of 9.7 percent. Yet state lawmakers could make those numbers worse with a House plan to redirect $466 million in transportation dollars next year to help pay for everything from prisons to schools. The Senate needs to reject such a short-sighted decision that would undermine the state's future and eliminate jobs instead of creating them." "Lawmakers shouldn't cut road spending".
Tom Jackson: "Conditions ripe to reconsider tourist tax".
"Mischief galore in this year's legislative session"
Jane Healy: "If you thought things couldn't get worse in Florida when it comes to managing growth, think again. There's mischief galore in this year's legislative session." See what she means here: "Will the Legislature fall for Deseret Ranch deal?".
The Saint Petersburg Times editorial board: "Crist has another education bill on his desk, SB 4, and this is one he should sign. This bill — in stark contrast to the clumsy overreach of tenure-killing and morale-deadening SB 6 that Crist properly vetoed last week — creates a precise map for a better high school education. This is reform done right. Passed with bipartisan support, the bill sponsored by Rep. John Legg, R-Port Richey, will eventually require students to take geometry, Algebra II, biology, chemistry or physics, plus one equally rigorous science course, in order to graduate from high school." "Crist should sign SB 4 education bill".
Fifth year without a pay raise
"State employees and retirees feel targeted as Florida Legislators scrounge for money to patch together a recession-stricken state budget in the final two weeks of their 2010 session."
Pending proposals, at various stages of the legislative process, would:"State employees, retirees worry about being nickel-and-dimed".
- Require all state workers to pay for health insurance. About 27,000 employees, including top managers and legislators themselves, now get state-paid coverage.
- Require employees to pay into the Florida Retirement System for the first time in 30 years. The FRS is entirely employer-paid now but the Senate has passed a bill to make members contribute one-fourth of 1 percent of gross earnings, which supporters and opponents concede is just an opening ante.
- Abolish the retiree health-insurance subsidy of $5 for each year of service, up to 30 years, saving the state about $200 million.
The 2010-11 budget will mark a fifth year without a general pay raise for state employees, and will undoubtedly lead to layoffs and elimination of most vacant positions. In dozens of interviews as the House and Senate budget bills were steered into a joint committee for compromise, employees said they expected to take a whack along with everything else in the budget, but the tab is mounting for them.
Florida for sale
The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "The Legislature's proposed overhaul of Florida's $18 billion Medicaid program would benefit insurance companies, not patients and taxpayers." "First, show that reform works: Legislature rushing to shift Medicaid to managed care".
"Talk of the Legislature heading toward overtime emerged Friday as House and Senate leaders struggled to reach agreement on how much money they have to spend in the 2010-11 budget. With a mid-afternoon deadline looming for setting the start of negotiations this weekend, the two sides remained snagged over whether to include $880 million in long-anticipated Medicaid cash from the federal government." "House, Senate Still Looking for Budget Bottom Line". See also "Fla. lawmakers nix plans for Saturday budget talks" and "House, Senate cancel budget talks".
Darryl E. Owens: "Tea-party movement displays tinges of racism".