"Incoming Gov. Rick Scott has $2 million on hand to celebrate his inauguration. And more cash is on the way."
Contribution reports released Monday show Scott has collected more than double the amount Gov. Charlie Crist spent on the inauguration following his 2006 victory."Some are from groups he ridiculed during the campaign as "insiders'' and blamed for helping push the state into an economic crisis. Now he says the money shows these groups are buying into his agenda. Some of the checks are from:"
• Blue Cross Blue Shield, the largest health insurer in the state;"Scott's inauguration kitty: $2M and counting".
• The GEO Group, which operates three private prisons in Florida and dozens more around the world; and
• U.S. Sugar, whose $197 million deal with the state for Everglades restoration Scott ridiculed during the campaign as a "secret tax'' on South Florida landowners.
Scott has also taken maximum contributions from lobbying firms (Brewton Plante, Tripp Scott and Holland & Knight) and groups that initially helped fund his primary rival (Robert Gidel's Liberty Partners and Green Solar Transportation, run by a pair of South Florida doctors, Paul Zimmerman and Gerald Glass).
Ricky "a bewildered bystander"
The Saint Petersburg Times editors: "Rick Scott should accept the money for high-speed rail and embrace a regional project that will provide a tremendous economic boost to the Central Florida economy." "Rick Scott should accept rail funds".
The Tampa Tribune editorial board: "Rick Scott seems offended about the rapid-rail project, as if the federal bureaucracy has wrestled Florida to the ground and stuffed several billion dollars down its throat."
Scott has put that schedule in doubt. He wants someone to guarantee him the project will come in on budget, on time and perform exactly as promised. Let's not forget that it's a state project, not a federal one. How it is managed is up to Scott's administration. How it performs will depend on the competence of a yet-to-be-named private vendor."Train needs conductor". See also "Rick Scott -- and Rail Ally -- Could Save Bullet Train".
Florida is at a decision point on its biggest infrastructure project. The federal government is offering 100 percent financing, with no monthly payments, ever. No state can expect a better deal.
It's estimated it will create at least 23,000 direct jobs and thousands more indirect jobs. State Sen. Paula Dockery of Lakeland says companies that want the rail contract may even offer to build a plant in Florida to manufacture rail cars.
Hearing Scott's elementary questions about rapid rail is disconcerting, like being on a train and seeing the conductor wandering down the aisle asking passengers where the train is going.
When he takes office next month, this will be Scott's project. He should be acting like the conductor, not a bewildered bystander.
"A CoreLogic report released Monday shows 46.4 percent of Florida mortgages are in negative equity, while another 4 percent are nearing negative equity." "Report: Nearly half of all Florida mortgages underwater".
Déjà vu all over again
"A bald tax-cutting governor looking to slash expenses and privatize prisons? Sounds familiar!" "Rick Scott, Meet George Drew".
More accurately: the "worst electorate"
"Two top-tier Florida candidates – Gov. Charlie Crist and Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink – won the dubious distinction of making MSNBC’s “Worst Candidate of 2010″ list".
Crist – an independent who jumped the GOP ship when it looked like he couldn’t win a primary against Marco Rubio in the U.S. Senate race – and Sink – a Democrat who lost her bid for governor to Republican Rick Scott – were named as two of the three “worst candidates” by MSNBC hosts Chuck Todd and Savannah Guthrie."Dubious honor: Crist, Sink worst candidates of 2010, MSNBC declares".
But the worst of the worst, according to MSNBC’s "The Daily Rundown" hosts?
Can Ricky think beyond tax cuts?
"State economists are updating Florida's general revenue estimate, and the outlook is not promising." "State economists updating Florida revenue estimate".
Teabaggers dancing in the streets
"Florida's legal challenge to the new health-care law was bolstered on Monday when a federal judge in Virginia ruled that the government cannot require everyone to get insurance." "Ruling bolsters Florida challenge to health care law".
The Sun Sentinel editorial board: "Environmental causes have historically pitted opposing forces in a pitched battle: It's either jobs and the economy, on the pro-development side, or the environment, on the land-preservation front."
But lately, the environmental community has gotten smart, presenting a more holistic marketing message, particularly around the all-important Everglades restoration projects at the heart of many of these pro-growth/no-growth disputes. Such projects are not only key to environmental integrity, a recent report points out, but they are also powerful economic engines."Everglades restoration: It's the economy, stupid".
The year-long study, commissioned by the Everglades Foundation and released in October, concluded that advancing Everglades restoration would yield a bumper crop of new jobs, putting 400,000 people to work building reservoirs and stormwater treatment facilities and restoring hunting and fishing grounds, while injecting more than $46 billion into Florida's stalled economy over a 50-year period.
"Today, the state Department of Revenue will send notices to about 200,000 business owners warning them that their unemployment compensation taxes could jump dramatically next year. A similar batch of notices already has been sent, said a department spokeswoman." "Businesses face steep tax hike".
Don't be askin' for federal help
"Southern Farmers Struggle With Devastating Drought".
Another fine Jebacy
"Florida's lowest-performing schools are staying open, and they're not turning around, a new study reports. Despite the imposition of statewide testing and accountability measures, 'The vast majority of the state's low-performing charter and district schools failed to make notable improvements over five years,' said David Stuit, author of the report, 'Are Bad Schools Immortal?'" "Florida's Worst Schools Aren't Improving".
As RPOFers demand more drilling ...
"A baby sea turtle escaped from the jaws of a shark, only to get stuck in oil spilled from BP's well in the Gulf of Mexico. A young dolphin apparently was attacked by his mother, then swam into oil."
The animals are among thousands rescued since more than 200 million gallons of oil began gushing from the Macondo well about 50 miles southeast of the Mississippi River Delta, and among dozens still at Gulf Coast rescue centers five months after the well was capped."Animal rehab centers still working after BP spill".
Since the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded April 20, rescue officials say 2,079 birds, 456 sea turtles, some terrapins and two dolphins have been plucked from the oil.
Another 2,263 birds, 18 turtles and four dolphins were found dead with oil on them. All are being dissected to tell whether it was the crude from the BP well that killed them.
Caring for the animals can be time-consuming and costly, an ongoing legacy of the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, and identifying whether BP is at fault is a complex matter for those working at the centers.
"The Florida Public Service Commission will discuss and possibly vote Tuesday on a settlement with Florida Power & Light Co. that could allow the electric company to charge its ratepayers more -- though not as much as the company originally had sought." "PSC to Move Forward With FPL Rate Hike Despite Suit".
Florida charter schools flop
"Florida data shows that students at charter schools are not significantly more proficient at reading, math and science than those at traditional public schools." "Data shows student proficiency levels not much higher at charter schools".
RPOFers keep heading down the wingnut trail
The Orlando Sentinel editorial board: "The path to a balanced budget keeps getting steeper for Florida legislators. The anticipated gap between taxes and spending next year has grown past $3 billion, due in part to a projected $300 million increase in the cost of the state's Medicaid program."
Meanwhile, more than 1 million Floridians remain unemployed. They are counting on action from their elected representatives in the capital that will revive the state's economy and create jobs."Skip immigration law".
Yet some legislators are eager to distract and divide Tallahassee by pushing an Arizona-style crackdown on illegal immigration. We hope for better judgment from their colleagues. And we hope Gov.-elect Rick Scott, though he touted the Arizona law in his campaign, doesn't go there now.
State Sen. Mike Bennett, a Bradenton Republican, has introduced a bill that would allow police in Florida to ask people they detain and suspect might be illegal immigrants to prove otherwise. Legal immigrants who aren't carrying documentation of their status also could face penalties under the bill.
"While a new state law is hitting some pain clinics hard, authorities worry a loophole in the legislation will be a boon for other seedy pharmacies." "Some pain clinics find loophole in restrictive new Florida law".
Pleeze: Space heater safety
"Fire destroys Orange home, kills residents' dog".