"Florida Republicans don't yet agree on who should oppose President Barack Obama next year, but they agree that the state must play an early and decisive role in selecting their party's nominee. That goal took a step forward Friday with the selection of a nine-member committee that will quickly set the date of the state's 2012 presidential primary, most likely in early February."
The Republican National Committee has decreed that only those states can hold primaries or caucuses before March 6 without being penalized by losing half their delegates. But Arizona recently set its primary for Feb. 28. In response South Carolina, which has been scheduled to vote the same day, is expected to move earlier."A consensus has taken hold among state Republican leaders that Florida should be fifth in the national primary and caucus parade, following only Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina."
Scott appointed Martinez to the panel, along with a deputy chief of staff and former GOP political operative, Jenn Ungru, and former Democratic Sen. Al Lawson of Tallahassee."Florida super committee picked to set presidential primary date". See also "Panel set to select date of Florida presidential primary", "Former Gov. Martinez on panel to pick Florida primary date" and "Rick Scott, GOP Leaders Name Primary-Date Panel".
Senate President Mike Haridopolos selected three senators: fellow Republicans Rene Garcia of Hialeah and John Thrasher of St. Augustine and Democrat Gary Siplin of Orlando, who at times votes with Republicans.
House Speaker Dean Cannon chose three fellow lawmakers: Republicans Carlos Lopez-Cantera of Miami and Seth McKeel of Lakeland, and Democrat Cynthia Stafford of Miami.
Each of the three Republican leaders was required to appoint a Democrat.
Waitin' on Ricky's jobs
"Florida's unemployment rate seems stuck in place, not worsening but staying at an uncomfortably high 10.7 percent for three months. Be prepared for it to stay high for quite some time. The latest state projections place the jobless rate at 10.6 percent through the end of 2012, a state economist said Friday." "State jobless rate may stay above 10%". See also "Florida Jobless Rate Steady, but Slight Increase Predicted".
Our Governor remains oblivious: "Responding to new unemployment numbers, Scott says Florida ‘on the right path’".
"Argenziano ramping up her attacks on Republicans."
"Blocked from running as a Democrat, Nancy Argenziano says she will challenge U.S. Rep. Steve Southerland, R-Tallahassee, as a member of the Independent Party. A new state law prohibiting candidates from switching parties within a year of an election qualifying period snared Argenziano."
Calling the party-switch restriction "one of the least-known provisions of a horrendous bill," Argenziano is already ramping up her attacks on Republicans."Blasting GOP, Nancy Argenziano Will Run for Congress as Independent".
"The ringmasters -- [Sen.] J.D. Alexander and [Senate President] Mike Haridopolos -- gutted the hell out of everything with this bill," she said. "Republicans are so quick to follow because they are enamored of their chairmanships or whatever."
Rep. Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala, who sponsored the election-reform law in question, House Bill 1355, said Argenziano's predicament "is her own fault."
"If she had read the rules, she could have done what Charlie Crist did and simply register 'No Party Affiliation,'" Baxley said, referring to Crist's "independent" U.S. Senate run in 2010.
Argenziano says she is seeking legal advice on a possible challenge to HB 1355. She believes it could be unconstitutional because it treats NPA registrants differently.
The ACLU and union organizations are said to be looking at challenging other provisions of the law, including those that tighten voter registration rules and make stricter regulations governing third parties.
Fred O'Neal, founder of the Florida TEA (Taxed Enough Already) Party, expects many minor parties will be strangled by the new regulatory red tape.
Theme park OSHA fines a pittance
"Federal investigators have cited Walt Disney World with four workplace-safety violations, and proposed $69,000 in fines, following a probe into the death of a resort mechanic who was killed while working on a roller coaster in Disney's Animal Kingdom."
While a relative pittance for a company of Disney's size, the $69,000 in total fines proposed by OSHA is a hefty amount for the agency. OSHA proposed fines totaling $75,000 for SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment following a probe triggered by the February 2010 death of a SeaWorld Orlando killer-whale trainer."Disney cited for safety violations in worker's roller coaster death".
"Weekly Roundup: Fall is in the Air". See also "The Week in Review for Sept. 12-Sept. 16".
"In his campaign for the GOP nomination in the race to unseat Sen. Bill Nelson, Adam Hasner has been positioning himself as a tea party favorite on a slew of issues, but none seem as close to his heart as his long-time crusade against the supposed threat of Sharia in the U.S." "How one GOP Senate candidate’s ‘good friend’ is fighting ‘Stealth Jihad’ in Florida".
Stearns can't get his hypocrisy straight
"Though Congressman Cliff Stearns, R-Ocala, is criticizing President Obama’s push for green jobs, the Florida lawmaker was happy to welcome a federally funded green jobs effort in his own district last year." "Stearns criticized for inconsistency on green jobs stimulus money".
Florida's "handful of gimme and a mouthful of much obliged"
"Florida gets almost $1 million from Affordable Care Act to open new community health centers".
Thank you, Mr. Obama
The Sun Sentinel editorial board: "There's a lot to like about a new federal plan that could help boost Everglades and South Florida wetlands restoration efforts by preserving as many as 150,000 acres between Orlando and Lake Okeechobee — many of them wetlands that feed the River of Grass. The plan, costing at least $600 million, would make the federal government a more active partner in Everglades restoration — a responsibility it hasn't fully lived up to since agreeing in 2000 to share the project's funding."
"The money would come from offshore oil leases. By preserving the wetlands, forests and prairies north of Lake O, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service would be safeguarding habitats that several protected species call home — the Florida black bear, panther, scrub jay and Everglades snail kites, among them." "Proposed purchase of land north of Lake O has potential benefits for Everglades".
Evers changes his mind
"Sen. Greg Evers, R-Crestview, filed SB 238 on Wednesday to repeal a requirement in state law for gasoline to have 10 percent ethanol. 'We were led to believe you would see virtually no changes in the gasoline,' Evers said Wednesday. 'And that's just not the case.'" "Senator files bill repealing ethanol fuel requirement that he voted for in 2008".
"A working group set by the state's insurance consumer advocate to review the state's personal injury protection mandate held its first meeting on Thursday. Insurance companies, physician groups and the state's trial attorneys traded barbs at the inaugural session." "Group urged to take a "rough" look at Florida's no-fault auto insurance law".
Entrepreneurs in action
"A federal judge socked a convicted Miami healthcare executive with a 50-year prison sentence, the longest term ever imposed on a Medicare fraud offender." "Judge sends Medicare offender to prison for 50 years".
"The Tampa Bay area doesn't have a representative on Congress' deficit-cutting supercommittee, but that doesn't mean the region lacks a stake in the outcome. The 12-person committee, officially known as the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, has until late November to craft a plan that cuts the nation's budget deficit by $1.2 trillion. If that fails, billions in cuts kick in for the military, Medicare and other programs in 2013. That's when local governments could feel the pain."
Federal grants recently bought breathing gear for Tampa firefighters. They boost security at the Port of Tampa and help house Hillsborough County residents crippled by AIDS. They cover 90 percent of Pasco County's elderly nutrition program, providing 200,000 meals a year to needy senior citizens. They finance the drug court program in Clearwater."Federal deficit cuts would hurt Tampa Bay area's neediest".
"They're the unsung programs that don't get much attention," said U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Tampa.
Florida gives up collecting millions in taxes, fees and fines
Gary Fineout: "Despite a long-running budget crunch, Florida is giving up on collecting tens of millions in taxes, fees and fines owed the state."
Last year Florida wrote off more than $109 million as uncollectable, forgiving the debts of everyone from those whose businesses owed unemployment taxes, to people who received treatment from county health departments and polluters fined for spilling oil or other chemicals."Fla. forgave $109 million in taxes and fines".
The state annually collects $37 billion in taxes and fees so $109 million is a relatively small amount but state lawmakers this past year were confronted with a nearly $4 billion budget gap.
Some have suggested cracking down on those who refuse to pay up. A state panel responsible for keeping watch on the state's election laws wants scofflaws blocked from being able to campaign for office if they have unpaid fines.
"Rampant infighting inside Carroll's office"
"The Florida Department of Law Enforcement confirmed Friday that investigators are looking into a possible illegal recording within Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll's office."
The recording is of Carroll's chief of staff, John Konkus, whispering to another staffer that Gov. Rick Scott is "not leading" on an internal issue."Inquiry into Carroll recordings". See also "FDLE looking into recording of phone call in Lt. Gov. Carroll's office".
Konkus is heard talking to Carletha Cole, another Carroll staffer who recently was fired after she complained to the Florida Times-Union about rampant infighting inside Carroll's office.
It's the second FDLE investigation in a month involving the Governor's Office, which declined to comment.
"FPL planning natural gas mega-pipeline".
Florida's Perry problem
"Florida’s most experienced political professionals are closely divided on whether Rick Perry or Mitt Romney will win Florida’s Republican presidential primary, but overwhelmingly they see Romney as the stronger candidate to beat Barack Obama in Florida." "Fla. insiders like Mitt against Obama".
Alleged journalists attack unionized workers yet again
The uninformed gasbags comprising The Miami Herald editorial board write that "Hollywood voters rightly say unions have to pay" in connection with the recent referendum slashing employee pensions. "".
With all due respect, these "unions" are not out-of-state thugs as the willfully ignorant editorial board writers imply - you know, the same hacks who jump whenever their owners snap their fingers - but rather they are the local firemen and cops who form a local association and voluntarily pay dues. Under Florida law, these "unions" are powerless - the cities and counties have unilateral authority to set wages and benefits. Funny how that is never mentioned by Florida's ink stained wretches.
More importantly, the referendum does not mean "unions have to pay", but rather our local firemen and cops have to pay.
"Twisted debate on Cuba"
The Saint Petersburg Times editorial board: "Tampa City Council member Mike Suarez is enabling area residents to hear a twisted debate on Cuba without having to travel all the way to Miami. Suarez objected twice in recent weeks when his colleague, vice chairwoman Mary Mulhern, asked the council to send a letter to the Cuban government welcoming the resumption of cultural ties. President Barack Obama cleared the way this year for Tampa to resume direct flights to Havana after a 50-year hiatus. Mulhern, who made the trip last week, saw the letter as a form of protocol that would build trade relations down the road. But Suarez jumped the shark, protesting that the letter would constitute a political overture to the Communist government." "Let old Cuban dramas rest".
"Don't you just hate it when the EPA stops polluters?"
Lauren Ritchie explains the fight between Florida's Agri-GOP and the EPA: "What's at stake is the health of Florida waters — its lakes, rivers, streams and canals — and whether people can fish, boat, swim and play in them in the future."
This all started in 1998, when the EPA ordered states to set limits on water pollution caused by nitrogen and phosphorous (think: fertilizer)."The big question in all this is whether the EPA will stick to its position or yield to pressure from not only the agricultural industry but also Florida Gov. Rick Scott and the Legislature, who both told EPA to take a hike."
The federal agency warned it would impose its own rules if states didn't get in gear by 2004. Of course, Florida didn't.
In 2008, the Tallahassee law firm called Earthjustice got fed up and sued on behalf of five environmental groups to make the EPA enforce the Clean Water Act. ...
These rules are critical because they will determine the destiny of Florida's waterways for years to come.
The EPA plan isn't perfect, but it's doable, can be easily understood even by those without a science background and would produce results that would help clean up water pollution that both the federal agency and the state recognize is rampant in Florida.
Perhaps that's why the proposal is being demonized by Big Agriculture, an industry that doesn't even fall under these provisions because it's primarily regulated through a separate set of rules.
Still, its lobbyists are out doing an extensive trick-pony roadshow to ratchet up the pressure. They say the EPA is limiting agricultural runoff in other states, and they're afraid they'll be next.
Don't you just hate it when the EPA stops polluters?
Scott contends that Florida can take care of its waters better than the EPA can. Really? Is that why 688 of them fail to meet water quality standards?"EPA must be steadfast in protecting Florida waterways". Related: "Criticism greets Department of Environmental Protection water rule draft".
Here's the danger: If the polluters can push the feds out of the picture, Florida's surface waters will be subject to death by a thousand little cuts. Scott, after all, doesn't have what might be described as a sterling reputation for defending the environment.