"The late Sen. Jim King won a reputation during more than two decades in the Florida Legislature as a consensus builder who helped bridge the gap not only between Republicans and Democrats but also within the Senate GOP caucus itself."
Although his North Florida district was among the state's most conservative, he was seen as a moderate Republican, and, under his influence, the Senate usually was, too. Or at least the more moderate of the two chambers."Once known for moderation and compromise, Florida's Senate has become a bastion of conservative politics".
Not this year.
Joe in town
"VP Biden meets with Haitian-Americans in Miami".
Crist will turn on state employees
Bill Cotterell: "State employees have more to worry about this month than in most budget negotiations."
... Republicans who run the Capitol distrust government itself — and thus have no particular concern for its employees. ..."State workers wear the bull's-eye".
Trailing Marco Rubio in the GOP Senate race, it's not likely Crist will get in the way if the Legislature turns on state employees. Voters in Republican primaries tend to believe the myth that Florida government is big, wasteful, inefficient and in need of all the trimming it can get.
Has it come to this?
"Johnston's IQ scores have varied throughout his life, ranging from 57 to 83. His attorney, Todd Johnston, has argued that the latest most accurate test scores him at 61 — lower than previous tests — and qualifies him to be spared the state's death penalty. The state has pointed to earlier tests in 2005 that scored Johnston's IQ at 84." "Death-row debate: Will killer’s low IQ save him from lethal injection?".
Will they twitter death cases?
"Florida Supreme Court now using Twitter".
Florida tea partiers a GOP front group
"Florida has a Tea Party and a tea party movement, and no, they are not the same thing."
As tens of thousands of angry conservative voters began protesting big government and federal spending, Fred O'Neal decided to tap into that energy and create a state-recognized political party - the Tea Party. The party now has a candidate on the 2010 ballot to challenge Democratic U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson."Florida's Tea Party, tea party movement not the same".
But many tea party activists don't agree with the strategy. They want to be a force of change that backs candidates who share their beliefs - not a third party that could split votes and benefit Democratic candidates.
"There's been a steady campaign to try to drive a wedge between the Tea Party and the other people in the tea party movement," O'Neal acknowledged. "They're trying to basically discredit what we're doing."
While O'Neal is hearing from some local groups interested in connecting with the party, he's also facing a lawsuit filed by other leaders who don't want him to have the rights to the name.
The Orlando Sentinel editorial board: "At the midway point, legislators are getting a few things right, and way too many things wrong." "Session 2010: Halftime in Tallahassee".
"The roller-coaster ride of controversial bills continues this week as legislators have a jampacked schedule of lengthy debates and long days."
On Monday, the House's Education Policy Council has scheduled a marathon eight-hour meeting to allow teachers to vent about their proposals to increase graduation standards, eliminate teacher tenure and link pay to student test scores. ..."Florida legislators expect a week of lengthy meetings, testy debates". See also "Fla. House panel focus of teacher pay debate". See also "Teachers, allies are expected in Capitol".
Also Monday, the House Rules & Calendar Council will meet to discuss HJR 37 by [con law wizard] Rep. Scott Plakon, which would prohibit Floridians from being mandated to purchase healthcare insurance. ...
On Tuesday, the Senate will take up its just-completed gambling deal with the Seminole Tribe as well as its bill to lower tax rates for the parimutuel industry. ...
On Thursday, the House Select Committee on Seminole Compact will take up the gambling deal.
"A house of cards"
The Tampa Tribune editors: "Property insurance in Florida, as Rep. Bill Proctor of St. Augustine says, is a house of cards. One major storm would blow it all away and with it the state's economic future. Legislation sponsored by Proctor would begin to establish a market-based foundation for the state's property insurance." "Put property insurance on firm ground".
"The risk of embarrassment"
"In four public polls conducted over the past two months — two of them by or for Democrats, Daily Kos/Research 2000 and Public Policy Polling, and two by Republican or Republican-leaning pollsters, Fabrizio, McLaughlin & Associates and Rasmussen Reports — Rubio leads three-way contests. Three of the surveys show Crist in second place, while one has him third."
Insiders seem to agree that a Crist Independent bid would damage the governor’s credibility and rob him of much of the Republican and Democratic support he currently has in hypothetical ballot tests, certainly putting him at great risk of a third-place finish."Should Crist Roll the Dice to Save Long-Shot Senate Bid?"
Running as an Independent would confirm the line of attack that Crist’s critics have leveled at him — that he is an opportunist who will do or say anything that he needs to in order to further his personal goals. And that would peel Republican and Democratic supporters away from him quickly.
Some observers doubt Crist’s fundraising ability as an Independent, noting that many of his contributors have already maxed out for the primary and general election.
Yes, Crist’s chances of winning a three-way race might be marginally better than his chances of defeating Rubio in a GOP primary, but the risk of embarrassment would also be much greater for the governor.
Good luck with that
"A bill proposed in the state Legislature this year would give gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people a weapon to fight back when they're discriminated against in housing or employment. It's called the Florida Competitive Workforce Act and it would add sexual orientation and gender identity to the state law that already protects people in employment and housing based on race, religion, sex, age and disability. ... Although the session is only half over, no one expects any groundbreaking GLBT legislation to become the law of the land in Florida this year." "Gay rights bills seen as progress".
Bought and paid for
"When powerful industries push their agendas in the state Capitol, they start cutting big checks to the little-known political committees of top Florida legislators who spend the money to help each other and themselves. Total contributed to the committees since the end of the 2008 elections: $4.1 million, according to a Miami Herald/St. Petersburg Times analysis of the 36 committees tied to sitting legislators."
And, up to his neck in all this, budding author Mike Haridopolos:
About 42 percent of the money flowed to four committees tied to one lawmaker, Sen. Mike Haridopolos, R-Melbourne, who will lead the Florida Senate in November. And Haridopolos is pushing for even more fundraising power: He helped pass a bill two weeks ago that could increase -- by a factor of 100 -- the power of legislative leaders to directly contribute money to a candidate's campaign."Consider Haridopolos's Freedom First Committee."
The money trail reveals at least one reason that some big issues -- limiting lawsuits, for instance -- dominate this lawmaking session. And it shows how legislators spend the cash of others by campaigning for friends, hiring consultants and dining around the state in places ranging from Cracker Barrel in Vero Beach to Urbane, an upscale Tallahassee restaurant.
"When I go on the road, I should pay for that?'' Haridopolos responded when asked if some lawmakers are using special interest money for regular living expenses. "My role is to help people get elected.''
It gave $735,200 to another committee that gave money to yet another committee to support the successful Oct. 6 Senate campaign of Republican John Thrasher of St. Augustine. A third committee that also received Freedom First cash, Don't Bank on Sink, launched a now-defunct website criticizing Democratic gubernatorial candidate Alex Sink, the state's chief financial officer."Obscure political committees nudge Legislature's agenda".
About $295,000 of Freedom First's money came in six checks from the Florida and U.S. Chambers of Commerce. Another $105,000 came from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida.
"Commercial buildings are being abandoned"
"As home foreclosures continue to mount throughout Central Florida, code-enforcement officers say apartments, condominiums and other commercial buildings are being abandoned by their owners and repossessed by banks in growing numbers." "Foreclosures' coming wave: Commercial properties".
"Giuliani to help Rubio's Senate campaign in Miami".
Adam C. Smith has several questions, including these:
- If Charlie Crist heard "rumors" that ousted GOP chairman Jim Greer, his close friend, had a piece of a lucrative and possibly illegal, secret contract with the state GOP, what did he do about it?Wouldn't it be great if Florida's "political journalists" actually asked these questions of the principals?
- If state party chairman John Thrasher, House Speaker-designate Dean Cannon and Senate President-designate Mike Haridopolos really wanted to clean up a party beset by allegations of financial irregularities, why wouldn't they come clean weeks ago about having at least started to execute a severance agreement with Greer?
- Is Thrasher remarkably arrogant or remarkably boneheaded to sign a severance agreement for Greer more than a month before Thrasher was even elected party chairman?
- How many current and former legislators with state GOP credit cards are consulting with accountants and/or lawyers about amending their tax returns?
The Saint Petersburg Times editors: "The Florida House is poised to ram through sweeping changes to employment rules for public school teachers this week without listening to critics or allowing any improvements to the legislation." "Teacher bill needs improvements".
Ready, set ... bulldoze
The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "Developers believe it's too hard to exploit Florida's natural resources to build whatever they want. They've enlisted powerful allies to make it easier: the Republican-dominated Florida House of Representatives." "Growth watchdog in danger".
Recession ... what recession?
"They are extravagant and self-indulgent, with their helipads, onboard gyms, mahogany interiors and glass-walled elevators." "Dredging work planned to attract mega yachts".
The Saint Petersburg Times editorial board: "With Florida desperate for some economic good news, a small life preserver has been tossed to the state by two of the country's biggest mortgage underwriters." "Much-needed help for condo market".
"When it comes to storm-surge damage, South Florida has more at risk than any other place in the country. A new study puts it at $53.6 billion." "South Florida leads nation in potential storm-surge losses".