The Saint Petersburg Times editors point out that "the Florida Legislature has claimed the expansion of charter schools does not steal resources from public schools that serve most students. But lawmakers can no longer make that claim. A new state law and the 2011-12 budget significantly tilt the balance away from public schools to favor charters, their limited constituency and the people and companies that profit from them."
Scott and lawmakers also failed to provide any state money for construction or maintenance for 3,355 traditional public schools, but found about $55 million in taxpayer dollars to offer to operators of the state's 459 privately run charter schools — some of which use for-profit firms to run their schools.
"Schools law favors the few"
The [comedy] film Waiting for Superman has popularized the notion that turning public schools over to private providers will fix what's wrong with public education. But as the latest round of Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test scores shows once again, Florida's two-decade experiment with charter schools has yet to prove they do better, on average, than public schools.
This lack of distinction comes despite significant advantages.
The most dangerous place ...
... is between Rubio and a camera: "Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., will be making two Sunday show appearances this week." "Rubio making the media rounds this weekend".
Ricky's jobs MIA
Florida's unemployment "rate stays at 10.6 percent, nearly 1 million still out of work ". "No Change in Florida’s Jobless Rate for June". See also "Region's jobless rate jumps to 10.9 percent", "Florida's unemployment rate stays unchanged", "Florida's jobless rate holds steady at 10.6 percent" and "Florida unemployment rate unchanged at 10.6 percent".
"Employment rates actually fell across the state, but the statistical measure of unemployment remained unchanged due to seasonal adjustments, which are intend to allow number crunchers to get a read on economic trends that aren’t obscured by events that typically happen in June, such as layoffs in education and agriculture." "Scott less than stoked about jobs report, 'encouraged that Florida is still bucking the national trend'".
Jesse Jackson to hold Florida rallies opposing new voting law
"In another sign of the national implications of Florida's new voting laws, the Rev. Jesse Jackson is holding rallies in Tampa and Orlando next week to criticize changes approved by the Legislature and Gov. Rick Scott." "Jesse Jackson to fight Fla. voter law".
"Lollapalooza of litigation"
Lloyd Dunkelberger: "The state capital has become a lollapalooza of litigation. This week alone, two major lawsuits were filed in Tallahassee challenging measures passed by the Republican-dominated Legislature earlier this year." "Florida's capital a lollapalooza of litigation".
"Diaz de la Portilla faces arrest over dogs"
"A dispute over dogs could lead to jail for a former Miami state senator, who’s fighting his ex wife — and now a judge — in court." "Former Miami Sen. Alex Diaz de la Portilla faces arrest over dogs in divorce dispute".
"Federal officials are receiving plenty of opposition to Florida’s plan to move 3 million Medicaid patients into managed-care plans". "Opposition mounts to Florida’s plan for managed-care for Medicaid patients".
See you in Havana
"A second bid to overturn President Barack Obama’s easing of restrictions on travel to Cuba has been endorsed in the U.S. Congress, this time an amendment submitted by South Florida Republican Rep. David Rivera and approved in a strongly bipartisan 36-6 vote." "2nd bill limiting Cuba travel approved in Congress".
The Orlando Sentinel editorial board: "Passenger-rail enthusiasts rightly are training their attention on SunRail following Gov. Rick Scott's decision this month to get out of the way. But it's unwise to focus solely on the commuter train which, upon its completion, will run from Deland through downtown Orlando to Poinciana." "SunRail's only the start".
"The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles has been selling information about Florida drivers to private companies for years. But many Floridians remain unaware of the practice. And once they find out about it, they may not like it." "Report: Florida agency selling driver's license info".
Super PACs to inundate Florida
"Hard-hitting political ads against President Barack Obama, U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson and U.S. Rep. Allen West are popping up across Florida in a scramble to define the message of the 2012 elections, still 16 months away."
But the radio and TV attacks — which focus on jobs, Medicare and the federal debt — are not paid by the candidates' opponents or the Democratic and Republican parties.
"In 2012 election, expect more attack ads with rise of Super PACs".
They are launched by so-called independent expenditure groups that are forming at remarkable speed, raising tens of millions of dollars and fundamentally altering political campaigns.
Julien’s Mercedes-Benz was parked in the driveway
Freshman Democrat "State Rep. John Patrick Julien, who did not live in his Florida House district before being elected last year, says he has moved into the district. A neighbor says otherwise." "Lawmaker faces question about living in district".
"U.S. Rep. Tom Rooney, R-Tequesta, is a House deputy whip responsible for lining up Republican votes on key issues, but he says he has no idea what type of debt-ceiling proposal his chamber might be voting on in coming days." "S. Fla. Republican congressmen open to short-term debt deal as time runs down".
"Possible Hardipolos bid for U.S. House next year"
Kenric Ward: "As Republican senatorial candidates scramble for cash to take on well-funded Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson, Mike Haridopolos is sitting on nearly $3 million in contributions."
Where that money goes is of more than passing interest.
"Where Will Mike Haridopolos' Campaign Millions Go?".
Some of the bankroll, whose receipts totaled $3,519,154 in Haridopolos' latest Federal Election Commission filing, has already been expended.
Haridopolos' campaign reported disbursements of $669,884, debts of $56,910 and unspecified "individual refunds" of $18,575.
That leaves $2,849,270 cash on hand, which federal election law says the former Senate contender can use for a future federal campaign.
The law also stipulates that withdrawn candidates can use their war chest to pay campaign-related expenses, including legal bills.
As long as their campaign accounts remain "active," ex-candidates can also tap funds to promote themselves in various ways.
Speculation has swirled over a possible Hardipolos bid for U.S. House next year. With Florida gaining two congressional seats in 2012 -- and one of those likely targeted for Central Florida -- the Brevard County-based lawmaker could be geographically and financially well-positioned for a run.
"Illegal, unregulated gambling"
The Saint Petersburg Times editorial board: "By any commonsense standard, these [Internet sweepstakes cafes] are promoting illegal, unregulated gambling operations. The Florida Legislature should make that clear when its members return to Tallahassee in the spring, but until then, the sheriffs are to be commended for enforcing Florida's gambling laws." "Sheriffs shut down illegal gambling".
"NASA's Coulda-Been Hero Who Wasn't"
Nancy Smith writes that Florida's "Democratic senator never kept Space Coast in President Obama's face". "Bill Nelson, NASA's Coulda-Been Hero Who Wasn't". Response: "NASA's New Direction: 'Ticket to Nowhere'".
Michael Peltier: "Weekly Roundup: Hari-Dropout, Going Courting".
Employers need overtime ... media attacks workers
Get this headline: "City workers earn millions in OT pay".
Homeless vets - inexcusable
"South Florida congressmen reach across party lines to craft bills on homeless vets and VA hospital security". "Rooney and Deutch: Political Enemies? Not on Vets' Issues".
Hawkes case proceeds
"Judge's effort to dismiss 'Taj Mahal courthouse' charges rejected".
"Jeb!" And His Amen Chorus Of Goose-Stepping Legislators have blood on their hands
"Jeb Bush And His Amen Chorus Of Goose-Stepping Legislators" have blood on their hands. Some Floridians remember how
Jeb Bush issued an executive order directing state agencies 'to [merely] voluntarily comply' with the federal Occupational Safety and Health Act's standards, and leaving cities and counties to decide for themselves what they needed to do. But no state resources were devoted to ensuring compliance or guiding safety efforts.It was undersood that
The move was a wink and a nod toward protecting employees, and little more.Then in 2006 a tragic explosion of methanol occurred at a wastewater treatment plant in Daytona Beach.Put state back to work on job safety.
Today, "the memories [of that deadly explosion] still haunt the former Daytona Beach city employee [who survived]. Most of his body was burned that day by a cascade of flaming liquid."
The accident has also haunted federal investigators at the U.S. Chemical Safety Board, which this week took the rare step of classifying Florida's response as "unacceptable" — the first time it has ever branded an entire state and its Legislature with that designation."Its primary concern: The Legislature has failed for three straight years to fix a loophole in state law that essentially exempts cities and counties from following the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration safety guidelines that apply to private and federal employees."
The board wrote that such guidelines — including better training and managerial oversight — "would likely have prevented" the accident at the Bethune Point wastewater-treatment plant that killed Daytona Beach workers Clyde Jones and Eric Johnson and hospitalized Martin for about four months.
told state agencies they must [merely] "voluntarily comply" with federal safety standards. But city and county governments simply were asked to review their practices."Protections for Florida's city workers are 'unacceptable,' federal agency says".
"We are compelled, in frustration, [to grade this] an unacceptable response," said board chairman Rafael Moure-Eraso, who signed the letter to Gov. Rick Scott. "This is kind of a last resort."
In the years since the board completed its 2007 inquiry, it repeatedly has called on Florida to address a lack of protection for city and county workers that has existed since the Legislature in 1999 rolled back workplace rules and abolished a state safety department.