"To help shrink state government, the new leaders of the Legislature have brought in a stable of advisors at six-figure salaries."
In the House, incoming Speaker Dean Cannon has given salaries of at least $100,000 to 28 staffers. In the Senate, 33 will earn six figures under incoming President Mike Haridopolos."State GOP staffers raking in six-figure salaries".
Both leaders say the pay is justified for their skilled workers, yet the numbers stand out in a state where average wages are stagnating, 1 million Floridians can't find work and Republican Gov.-elect Rick Scott wants to eliminate up to 6,000 state jobs. ...
Cannon and Haridopolos voted to cut worker pay in 2009, but the measure was vetoed by Gov. Charlie Crist.
"Florida, America's new bellwether state"
Time: "If any state illustrates the screeching U-turn that American politics has taken in two short years, it's Florida."
In the 2008 presidential election, Sunshine State voters made Barack Obama the first northern Democrat to win the peninsula since Franklin Roosevelt in 1944 — and a big reason was their desire for the more pragmatic, less partisan leadership they prized in their governor, moderate Republican Charlie Crist. But on Tuesday night, Floridians ... made it clear why they had dumped Crist for the more conservative Marco Rubio in the marquee race for the state's open U.S. Senate seat.Much more here: "Rubio Leads GOP Rebound in Fla."
Haridopolos unofficially kicks off his Senate campaign
"New Florida Senate President Mike Haridopolos, a Republican from Merritt Island, will be the featured speaker this month at the Atlantic Federated Republican Women's Club luncheon." "State Senate leader to speak to area GOP".
"After less than 72 stormy hours as Republican U.S. Rep.-elect Allen West's prospective chief of staff, conservative radio firebrand Joyce Kaufman says she won't go to Capitol Hill and allow West's critics to use her for 'an electronic lynching by proxy.' Kaufman said the last straw was a threat of violence against Broward County schools in which an e-mailer cited a video clip of Kaufman telling a tea party rally that 'if ballots don't work, bullets will.' The clip from a July 3 event was featured by MSNBC's Rachel Maddow Tuesday night and on Lou Dobbs' nationally syndicated radio show Thursday afternoon." "Broward schools threat spurs Joyce Kaufman to give up Allen West's chief-of-staff job". See also "Joyce Kaufman's comments on declining Allen West chief of staff position" and "Broward school alert ends with political fallout".
"Miami police charged him with indecent exposure and profanity because of an overly revealing performance in Coconut Grove." "Why would Charlie Crist pardon Jim Morrison?"
Memories of a crime
"There's an unreality about Bush v. Gore, even 10 years later. An election decided by 537 votes, out of 6 million cast? In a state where the leading candidate's brother is governor? Where one of his honorary campaign co-chairs is secretary of state, in charge of certifying the results?" "Bill Cotterell: Village Square program brings back memories of 2000".
Public meeting blather
The Sun Sentinel editorial board: "Let the people speak at public meetings".
Schools will hire more teachers and add classrooms
"The Florida School Boards Association now estimates that the public will have to pay up to $1 billion more this year to comply with tighter class-size formulas. The defeat of Amendment 8, which would have returned the state to last year's class-size formulas, means schools will have to hire more teachers and add more classrooms to meet stricter class-by-class caps. More flexible schoolwide averages for pupil-to-teacher ratios no longer apply." "Class-Size Vote Will Add $1 Billion to State Budget".
Florida elections controlled by Teabaggers and religious extremists
"Tea partiers aren't the only ones claiming credit for the conservative sweep in Florida this year. The Miami-based Christian Family Coalition said it did its part, as well."
"More than 80 percent of Christian Family Coalition-backed candidates won their races," crowed Anthony Verdugo, founder and president of the organization."Christian Family Coalition Claims Victories". Related: "Republican Leaders Grab The Tea Party With Both Hands".
CFC-endorsed candidates ranged from newly elected Attorney General Pam Bondi and incoming Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam to a host of legislative and local office-seekers. There were 18 winning candidates in all (see list here).
By contrast, Verdugo said two-thirds of "homosexual-backed" candidates lost. By "homosexual-backed" he singled out candidates endorsed by the gay-rights group Save Dade, an organization he calls "far outside the mainstream."
Though CFC promotes a more overtly conservative social agenda than tea party groups, Verdugo said the two movements have much in common.
RPOFers split on drug dealing
"A veto override planned by Florida’s Republican legislative leaders is driving a wedge between major GOP donors, with business groups and health care giants Wednesday renewing their fight over a prescription drug bill." "Prescription Drug Bill Divides GOP Donors".
Imagine that, "limiting the amount of waste dumped in Florida water"
"Florida politicians, industry heads and even former environmental agency heads have all become vocal opponents of EPA efforts to implement water quality standards that would limit the amount of waste that can be dumped in Florida waterbodies. They have all engaged in letter-writing campaigns decrying the costs to industry associated with following the rules. Through a public records request, The Florida Independent has obtained an email from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection that details at least one effort to convince several Florida politicians to oppose the criteria." "Internal email details effort to convince Florida politicians to fight water quality standards".
Fear and Loathing in Florida
"This is as good as Hunter Thompson's Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, but this is real life in Florida's courtrooms right now. The scope is staggering and this is a must read for everyone." "New Matt Taibbi / Rolling Stone... Florida's Rocket Docket". See "Courts Helping Banks Screw Over Homeowners" ("Retired judges are rushing through complex cases to speed foreclosures in Florida").
Dubyadee can't catch a break
"A federal appeals court will rehear the case it overturned earlier this year against former state Senate President and former Escambia County Commissioner W.D. Childers." "Childers appeal gets rehearing". See also "Former state Senate president's appeal back in court".
Rubio key in earmark kerfuffle
"Rubio key in conservative request to freeze requests for earmarks".
"Faced with evidence of cheating by up to a third of his class — 150 to 200 students — the University of Central Florida business instructor confronted them in a weekly lecture." "UCF business instructor becomes folk hero after taking hard line on cheating".
Foley in a dither
"Former U.S. Rep. Mark Foley is raising questions about the results of Lake Worth's Nov. 2 elections following Tuesday's discovery of 500 missing absentee ballots by Palm Beach County elections officials."
"The most troubling issues rest with the recently reported 500 ballots ... and the abnormalities of the Lake Worth city elections," Foley wrote in a letter sent Thursday to Elections Supervisor Susan Bucher and County Commissioner Karen Marcus, both members of the county canvassing board."Former U.S. Rep. Mark Foley seeking details on Lake Worth vote" (bracketing original).
Bucher said she had not seen the letter. "He can come down here and I can walk him through [the recount process] and explain [the missing ballots]," she said.
Are these the "jobs" Ricky was talking about?
Orlando battles for more low paying service jobs: "Local leaders are quietly preparing a bid to bring the WWE Hall of Fame to Orlando. If successful, it would bring a new tourist stop filled with decades of memorabilia from the professional wrestling powerhouse." "Will Orlando become home for WWE's Hall of Fame?"
"Another against-the-odds task"
"Fresh from an unsuccessful turn as Democrat Alex Sink's running mate, former Sen. Rod Smith said Wednesday he may be willing to assume another against-the-odds task: leadership of the state's battered Democratic Party. But Smith told the News Service of Florida that he's going to take his time about making a decision." "Rod Smith may lead battered state Democratic party".
Let's get real about the Chamber
The Orlando Sentinel editorial board remark that, at a recent meeting, those "wanting to build, operate and ride the high-speed train that's supposed to link Orlando and Tampa beginning in 2015 spoke excitedly of its 168-mile-an-hour speed; its potential to connect with SunRail; and its ability to stimulate if not transform Central Florida's economy."
But many also worried aloud about whether the train would ever really serve passengers between Orlando International Airport, International Drive, Walt Disney World, Lakeland and downtown Tampa. They worried because of what happened Nov. 2: Rick Scott's election as governor."Rick Scott vs. high-speed rail".
As a candidate, Mr. Scott took a dim view of the $2.6 billion project, indicating that he didn't want it in Florida if the state had to fund any part of it. ...
Washington already has awarded Florida $2.05 billion of the project's $2.6 billion cost. State transportation officials expect the feds will deliver an additional $340million. That would leave the state with just $280million to make the train a reality.
In the above editorial, the The Orlando Sentinel editors make the following, rather curious, assertion: "There's so much for leaders like incoming House Speaker Dean Cannon and Senate Majority Leader Andy Gardiner to sell Mr. Scott on. And for leaders like Disney CEO Meg Crofton, Orange County Mayor-elect Teresa Jacobs and regional chambers of commerce heads." Have the editors forgotten that the Chamber poured money into slamming Florida's Democratic candidates, to the benefit of knuckle-draggers like Rick Scott? Have they forgotten that the Florida Chamber has been reduced to a RPOF front group.
Barbering while black or brown
"The state agency that paired with the Orange County Sheriff's Office for a series of unorthodox inspections of Pine Hills-area barbershops told the Orlando Sentinel on Thursday that it will halt the practice until an internal review is completed."
The decision by the [state] Department of Business and Professional Regulation came just four days after the Sentinel reported that agency inspectors, accompanied by as many as 14 deputies, including narcotics agents, entered at least nine barbershops in the [largely black and Hispanic] Pine Hills area in two sweeps on Aug. 21 and Sept. 17. ..."State halts barbershop inspections". Related: "Criminal barbering? Raids at Orange County shops lead to arrests, raise questions".
During the two sweeps, and a smaller operation in October, deputies arrested 39 people — 35 on a misdemeanor charge of barbering without an active license. Arrests on that charge are rare.
How does Orlando get caught up in these things? It wasn't long ago that, in an effort to construct an "election fraud" case against Orlando's Democratic Mayor and, then rising political star, Buddy Dyer, that state law enforcement officers went "into the homes of 40 or 50 black voters, most of them elderly, in what the department describes as a criminal investigation. Many longtime Florida observers have said the use of state troopers for this type of investigation is extremely unusual, and it has caused a storm of controversy. The officers were armed and in plain clothes. For elderly African-American voters, who remember the terrible torment inflicted on blacks who tried to vote in the South in the 1950's and 60's, the sight of armed police officers coming into their homes to interrogate them about voting is chilling indeed." "Voting While Black".
Big of 'em
"Under a proposal to be considered Tuesday by the Legislature, Floridians who installed expensive solar panels will get only part of the state rebate they were expecting." "Florida lawmakers likely to revive A/C, solar-panel rebate offers".