Scott parties, as record numbers are on food stamps
"Well-heeled donors are lining up to make sure that Gov.-elect Rick Scott, the political newcomer who promised no more politics as usual, will celebrate his Jan. 4 inauguration in style."
Health Management Associates, a company from Scott's hometown of Naples that runs dozens of clinics and 22 hospitals, contributed $25,000. So did Gary Morse, developer of The Villages in Central Florida. Florida Crystals of West Palm Beach hit the $25,000 ceiling as did U.S. Sugar."Wealthy donors lining up to help Scott celebrate inauguration in style".
Scott, a wealthy health care executive, is known as the $73 million man for the amount of money he spent bankrolling his own campaign. ...
Scott spokeswoman Erin Isaac dismissed any notion that contributors are expecting payback and that the ceremonies are too lavish at a time when more than 1 million Floridians are out of work and record numbers are receiving food stamps.
"No and no," Isaac said in a tersely worded e-mail.
Chief fundraiser and Tallahassee lobbyist Brian Ballard said the inauguration committee has not set a contribution target.
Union friendly states outpacing Florida
The Palm Beach Post editors write this morning that "Scott wants to end Florida's corporate income tax as a way of luring businesses. It will take more than that."
According to the Tax Foundation's 2011 State Business Tax Climate Index, Florida already ranks fifth in terms of its tax structure being "most welcoming to economic activity." South Dakota is the most welcoming state, followed by Alaska and Wyoming. Fourth is Nevada, and if any state has suffered more from the bursting of the housing bubble, it is Nevada. Being tax-friendly didn't save it."For another gauge of where Florida stands as an economic draw, consider the new business climate rankings from Site Selection magazine."
It surveys corporate real estate executives, who judge states based on the quality of the workforce, transportation, utilities, incentives, ease of permitting, higher education and, yes, taxes.Much more here: "Push to attract more jobs should not included sacrificing Florida's environment".
In that survey, Florida ranked 14th, between Kansas and Michigan. Higher-tax states such as Ohio and Pennsylvania, which also have more union membership than Florida - a right-to-work state - rank higher.
Laffer: The phone call that never came
"Campaigning for governor, Rick Scott wasn’t particularly courteous when talking about President Barack Obama, whose policies he slammed on the campaign trail. But somehow the incoming governor was surprised this week to be left waiting for a courtesy call from Obama that never came: a heads-up about a ban on new drilling in the Gulf of Mexico." "Weekly Roundup: A Phone Call Would've Been Nice".
The Sarasota Herald Tribune editors point out that "Obama's reversal on Gulf drilling limits was right" "Changing the oil policy".
Sorry Ricky, but there's no one left to bill
"Scott, who had never run for office before his election last month, has the least political experience of any Florida governor in the modern era. Former Gov. Claude Kirk, a Jacksonville insurance executive elected in 1966, comes closest ... Scott's corporate tenure, however, was also marked by his forced resignation over a Medicare billing scandal, which led to his firm agreeing to the largest fraud settlement in U.S. history." "Early test for Gov. Scott Taking The Reins: Can an experienced CEO adapt to Tallahassee realities?"
Bushco's "convenient terrorist"
"The upcoming trial of Luis Posada Carriles will mark the first time that evidence gathered by Cuban authorities and the FBI will be presented in a U.S. courtroom to show the former CIA operative's alleged role in a string of Havana bombings."
The Cuban exile militant [sic] stands accused of lying under oath about his leading part in the hotel bombing campaign that killed an Italian tourist -- though he is not charged with causing the death."Posada, accused bomber, to face perjury charges".
Trained by the CIA in sabotage and explosives during the Cold War, Posada has been embraced as a hero in South Florida's Cuban exile community but vilified as a terrorist in Cuba and Venezuela and held responsible for the hotel assaults as well as a 1976 Cuban airliner bombing that killed 73, including the Cuban youth fencing team.
Pierre Tristam has more in "The Convenient Terrorist" ("Who says the Bushes don’t coddle terrorists? All three of them—Jeb and the two Georges—successfully freed convicted Cuban, anti-Castro terrorists ... The latest twist in this sordid tale took place on April 19  when federal authorities released on bail Luis Posada Carriles, who’d been in prison for entering the country illegally.") Related: "How to Walk in Bushtime" and "Bush's Hypocrisy: Cuban Terrorists" ("For three decades, both Bosch and Posada have been under the Bush family’s wing, starting with former President George H.W. Bush (who was CIA director when the airline bombing occurred in 1976) and including Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and President George W. Bush.")
Jane Healy: "It's time for Scott to embrace rail projects".
"Obscene is the first word that comes to mind"
Carl Hiaasen: "Just in time for the holidays, Congress has terminated unemployment benefits for millions of out-of-work Americans. We’re told this was done as an act of fiscal responsibility, to help prune the gargantuan national deficit."
It’s somewhat revealing, then, to follow another big battle on Capitol Hill. This one centers on the so-called Bush tax cuts, which are due to expire at the end of the month."In a giving mood, but only toward rich". More: "Senate Republicans Block Middle Class Tax Cuts" and "Nelson and LeMieux vote party line on extending tax cuts for all but the wealthy".
Democrats want to keep the lower rates for all Americans except individuals making more than $200,000 a year and couples earning more than $250,000. Republicans want to extend the lower tax rates for everybody, including the wealthy -- their most prized constituency.
The problem with the GOP tax plan is that it would add about $700 billion to the deficit over the next decade. A few years ago this would have been business as usual, because the Bush administration was printing money as fast as the Republican leadership could spend it. ...
This month alone, two million Americans will see their unemployment paychecks stop, all in the name of cost-cutting for the good of the federal budget. Meanwhile, the so-called deficit hawks want to give away a total of $700 billion to folks like me, who can get along just fine without it. Obscene is the first word that comes to mind. Sad is the second.
Mike Thomas: "Scott says having more insurers will increase competition and drive down prices. To that I say: fat chance. ... Good luck, Gov.-elect Scott." "Brace for storm of insurance-rate hikes".
The Confederacy is rising agin'
"After the midterms, the Republican Party now controls 72 percent of U.S. Senate seats in the 11 former Confederate states. Virginia is the contrarian holdout — the only Southern state without at least one Republican senator."
But perhaps the most dramatic — and equally important — changes have happened at the state level. The Republicans now occupy every governor's mansion in the South, save Arkansas and North Carolina. Travel further down the ballot, and things get no better for the Democrats. From governor to secretary of state to adjutant general, the GOP controls 81 percent of Southern statewide elective offices."GOP's Southern stampede".
In seven states — including Florida — Republicans control every one.
Greedy public employees
"A 22-year-old woman who cheated death Wednesday night in a fiery crash that killed one man and left another badly hurt paused on Friday to thank a Boca Raton police officer who pulled her from a burning sport-utility vehicle." "Woman pulled from burning car thanks Boca Raton police officer who rescued her".
"You can take the man out of firefighting but, apparently, you can't take firefighting out of the man. During Wednesday night's deadly car accident on Interstate 95 in Boca Raton, a retired EMS supervisor [who retired in October after a 30-year career with Palm Beach County Fire Rescue] helped control the flames in the burning SUV while a police officer shot out a window and rescued the trapped passenger." "Retired firefighter played roll in I-95 crash rescue".
"Mark Foley, once the most tarnished politician in the nation, could emerge as the face of West Palm Beach for the next four to eight years. That would have sounded preposterous after the Lake Worth Republican resigned from Congress in 2006, exposed for sending sexual Internet messages to male pages. Four years later, he's considering a run for West Palm mayor. And political watchers say he could have a good chance." "Will Mark Foley win West Palm city hall?".
Frank Cerabino: "Pardon me, but let's talk Doors and drawers".
"First-hand experience in the matter"
Jackie Bueno Sousa: "Given the number of times his actions have raised questions about possible conflicts of interest, you might think Miami-Dade County Commissioner Jose 'Pepe' Diaz isn't clear on what constitutes ethical behavior. Quite the contrary -- few public officials may have a better handle on the ins and outs of the county's conflict-of-interest rules. After all, Diaz certainly has had plenty of first-hand experience in the matter." "Diaz an expert on skirting ethics rules". The Miami Herald editorial board: "Miami-Dade’s conflicts of interest".