Never mind that accountability stuff
Bill Cotterell reminds us that for at least the first six of Jebbie's eight years as governor, "the awe-struck Republican Legislature pretty much took his word that everything was running right."
For the Bush acolytes, watchdogs were to be well-muzzled and kept on short leashes. Criticism was equated with disloyalty.Cotterell continues:
One of Bush's few failures with the Legislature was an effort to merge the Auditor General's Office with the Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability.
Toward the end of his two terms, when the People First contract with Convergys was ravaging the state human-resources system, the Legislature asserted itself a little more strongly. Then-Sen. Nancy Argenziano, R-Dunnellon, was head of the Senate Governmental Operations Committee, which did a thorough investigation of Bush's biggest outsourcing initiative.
One result was creation of the Council on Efficient Government, which would evaluate the "business case" for the biggest state contracts and make recommendations for improvements. The idea was to get some outside, unbiased eyes on these contracts — acknowledging that administrators who are good at running prisons or colleges might be no match for the sales staff of a multinational software conglomerate or insurance company.
A seven-member panel of experts was assembled — not just guys from out of town with briefcases, but people with genuine expertise from government and the private sector. But now, maybe because Convergys has faded from the news and People First seems to be running better, the reformist ardor has cooled.Much more here: "Don't get too efficient".
The state budget pending before Gov. Charlie Crist will abolish what's left of the Council on Efficient Government and cut OPPAGA's budget by about 34 percent. Both entities are victims of their own success.
OPPAGA is the Legislature's eyes and ears throughout state government. OPPAGA and the Auditor General's Office produce reliable, expert assessments of where the money goes and how well agencies operate. Legislators don't always want to hear an objective, professional analysis of such things — especially if it occasionally contradicts the conventional wisdom.
OPPAGA is expected to absorb part of the cuts by not filling vacancies (that old myth that, if a job isn't filled, the service it would provide must not really be needed) and through other efficiencies. The CEG, though, won't survive.
"Short of actually driving the first spike into a new piece of steel track, builders of the SunRail train are poised to make their most high-profile move in creating the commuter system: Buying the locomotives and coaches." "SunRail gets set to buy trains".
"With Rep. Ellyn Bogdanoff, R-Ft. Lauderdale, leaving her seat to run for the state Senate, an intriguing contest is shaping up in House District 91. ... While the district is Republican-leaning -- and there are three serious candidates for the GOP nomination -- there is also a strong Democratic candidate in the race.
" "With Bogdanoff Leaving, Candidates Jump in Race for House Seat".
Same old, same old
Robotic RPOFers at the Pasco County Ronald Reagan dinner
seemed captivated by Bush, who urged Republicans to advance campaign themes this election year that emphasized "entrepreneurial capitalism," a "zeal for reform," "bedrock principles," and a drive to "restore personal responsibility.""Bush, Rubio Rally GOP: 'Remember when Florida Had Republican Governor?'"..
Bush accused President Barack Obama of advocating a redistribution of the wealth in the U.S., while also causing an "avalanche" of government spending. He said the nation’s deficit and rising debt would either force world financial markets to decide the nation’s future, or voters could take action this fall.
Entrepreneurs in action
"The battle to fend off a huge oil spill is mostly drawn now, with Florida having had 19 days to arm itself with volunteers, floating booms and heavy equipment, while the slick in the Gulf of Mexico has been reinforced each week with more than a million gallons of crude." "As oil spill grows in the Gulf, Floridians worry and wait". See also "BP scrambles with new plan as colossal oil spill grows", "Tampa Bay officials prepare for oil hitting here", "After cap failure, BP mulls oil leak options", "With no clear plan, experts brace for worst on oil spill" and "With no clear plan, experts brace for worst on oil spill".
"One of the lawyers who goes way back with Ponzi schemer Scott Rothstein is a target of a federal investigation and expects to be indicted, the former partner's attorney told a judge during a Friday court hearing. Howard Kusnick, who first practiced years ago with Rothstein in their small firm in Plantation and later joined the Rothstein Rosenfeldt Adler law firm in downtown Fort Lauderdale, is a target of the federal investigation that brought down Rothstein, said Kusnick's civil attorney, Rachel Kelman." "Attorney: Former Rothstein law partner is target of federal investigation, expects to be indicted".
The Sun Sentinel editorial board: "With the plague of official corruption that has infected Florida in recent years, it's disconcerting that a majority of state legislators couldn't agree on a series of antidotes before their regular session ended last week."
Former House Speaker Ray Sansom is under indictment. Gov. Charlie Crist has removed about 40 officeholders due to corruption charges, including numerous ones across South Florida."Unfinished work better left for next governor, Legislature".
Yet the Legislature failed to pass several bills that would have held public officials to higher standards and given prosecutors more tools to crack down on corruption. Now the governor is considering calling the Legislature back soon for a special session to take care of this unfinished business. He has received a plea to do so from the sponsor of several of the failed bills, Sen. Dan Gelber, D-Miami Beach.
We agree anti-corruption laws need to be strengthened. But politics and precedent argue against hauling legislators back to Tallahassee this year to do it in a special session.
Lawmakers did pass at least one anti-corruption bill — from a Democratic rival of Sen. Gelber for attorney general, Sen. Dave Aronberg of Greenacres — that would let counties hike penalties for official misconduct. The Legislature should have done more, but it also neglected other critical issues.
If special sessions were called every time the Legislature failed to act on important issues, its part-time members might never get out of Tallahassee.
"National Dems Flirting With Crist?".
"About 20 people showed up at a state legislator's office today to protest a controversial abortion bill passed last month, urging Gov. Charlie Crist to veto it. The demonstration took place in front of the office of state Rep. John Legg, a supporter of House Bill 1143, which contains a provision requiring all women seeking elective abortions - even those in the first trimester - to first get an ultrasound." "Protesters want Crist to veto abortion bill".
"A bill that could raise some insurance premiums for property owners and reduce the costs of processing claims for insurance companies is waiting for Gov. Charlie Crist’s signature or veto." "Bill allowing insurance rate hikes awaiting Crist's decision".
Wingnuts run wild in South Florida
"Mirroring what’s happening nationally, the Southwest Florida tea party movement has grown from a fledgling group, with five members in the Naples chapter two years ago, to a large group anxious to announce on street corners its views about limiting government."
Estimating the numbers involved in the local tea party movement is difficult. The group doesn’t have membership dues or regular meetings, but last month’s Tax Day rally marked the second year of boisterous protests. Meanwhile, new splinter groups such as the Southwest Florida 9.12 project — named for the day after 9-11, when Americans were united — boasts 900 members, Cape Coral 9.12 organizer George Miller said. ..."Southwest Florida faces behind tea party". Related: "Tea party activist urges others to run for office".
According to a recent New York Times/CBS News poll, 18 percent of Americans identify themselves as tea party supporters and they tend to be Republican, white, male, married and older than 45.
The poll said supporters hold more conservative views than Republicans. Political observers say the movement has influenced state races.
Tea partiers threw their support behind then long-shot Marco Rubio in the Florida Senate race.