"CNN and the Tea Party Express hosted a Republican presidential debate Monday night at the State Fairgrounds in Tampa. Here's a look at how the candidates did: Breaking down the GOP presidential debate in Tampa". See also "Analysis: GOP foes seek cracks in Perry's record", "At GOP debate in Tampa, Texas Gov. Rick Perry draws attacks from all sides", "Rick Perry Draws Fire as GOP Candidates Clash in Tampa Debate", "Debate shifts the GOP focus to Florida", "Social Security lead issue in debate as GOP candidates target front-runner Perry" and "Star of the show: Rick Perry".
"Florida will be the center of the political universe in 2012"
The Daytona Beach News-Journal editorial board writes "forget about Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina. Florida will be the center of the political universe in 2012."
Florida is a king-maker in both the primary and general election contests for president, the GOP candidates are coming back for the Presidency 5 convention and debate held in Orlando from Sept. 22 to Sept. 24, with the sponsors being Fox News and the state GOP. The Presidency 5 convention will end with a non-binding straw poll -- an event that is growing in importance as Republicans battle it out for frontrunner status."Candidates zero in on Florida".
Florida has been a key swing state in presidential elections and an important primary state -- especially on the GOP side -- for years. ...
In the past, Florida lawmakers have erred in scheduling the primary too soon in the election calendar, in a vain attempt to compete with New Hampshire and Iowa as the "first" states. When lawmakers scheduled the primary for Jan. 29 in 2008, both parties retaliated by cutting Florida's clout at the nominating conventions.
Let's hope that doesn't happen again. Florida should be content to come after the warm-up states: Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada. This would position Florida as the clean-up hitter in the national contest.
The presidential game already is under way. And the candidates are flocking to Florida long before the snow begins to fall in Iowa and New Hampshire.
"Resigned under pressure today"
"High-ranking Department of Children and Families administrator Nancy Dreicer resigned under pressure today, after The Palm Beach Post reported that a judge ruled she fraudulently tried to stiff creditors." "Key Florida children's agency official quits amid fraud rulings over her company".
"Faith and Freedom", Republican style
"The Faith and Freedom Coalition will be hold a kickoff for the Republican Party of Florida’s Presidency 5 event next week in Orlando. The FFC event will be held on Thursday, Sept. 22, the first day of Presidency 5, which will feature a debate between the candidates and a straw poll vote." "Social Conservatives Host 2012 Candidates and Florida Republicans at P5".
Thrasher on Greer: "I hear nothing, I see nothing, I know nothing!"
"The state senator who succeeded Jim Greer as head of the Republican Party of Florida signed a severance agreement that promised the disgraced party chairman tens of thousands of dollars. But state Sen. John Thrasher now says he never thought the contract with Greer was executed."
Depositions filed last week at the Orange County Courthouse show how top GOP officials such as Thrasher have distanced themselves from the severance agreement they signed, promising Greer more than $11,000 a month for almost a year after he stepped down as party chair in February 2010."Depositions released in Jim Greer's case".
Greer is charged with steering almost $200,000 of party money toward a fundraising firm, Victory Strategies, he had formed with a top aide while keeping his interest in the company a secret. He has pleaded not guilty and says he is the victim of party conservatives who turned against then-Gov. Charlie Crist, Greer's political benefactor.
Thrasher repeatedly said he "doesn't recall" details of how Greer's severance contract was developed [and] also said he doesn't recall making public statements to reporters in the weeks leading up to Greer's departure that no such agreement existed.
Scheme "to funnel 'secret, illegal contributions'"
"In a recently filed court document, a one-time business partner of Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Sarasota, requests that the Federal Election Commission add Buchanan to a case that was initially filed against him and the duo’s former car dealership, Hyundai of North Jacksonville."
The FEC initially filed suit against Buchanan’s former business partner, Sam Kazran, and the Hyundai dealership in December — alleging that nearly $68,000 of donations to Buchanan’s 2006 and 2008 campaigns had been reimbursed with dealership funds. In a court filing, the FEC said the reimbursements were part of an “extensive and ongoing scheme” to funnel “secret, illegal contributions” to the campaigns."Buchanan’s former business partner says FEC has ‘overlooked,’ ‘ignored’ key facts".
Kazran and the dealership were eventually fined nearly $68,000 for using the funds to reimburse employees for their donations, but Kazran has long alleged that Buchanan (who was a majority stakeholder in the company at the time) ordered the violations. In fact, he gave a lengthy deposition to the FEC with specific claims and voicemails from Buchanan himself. In August, two former Buchanan employees backed Kazran’s story — claiming they had been reimbursed for their donations, which they were initially pressured into making.
Kazran has since been attacked by Buchanan’s spokespeople, and says he wants to clear his name.
In his new document, Kazran requests that the court reconsider a motion that sought to name Buchanan and Vern Buchanan for Congress as the proper parties in the action.
"The same empty talk from Florida Republicans"
The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "We're hearing the same empty talk from Florida Republicans about not taking money from President Obama's second stimulus plan that we heard about President Obama's first stimulus plan." "Take bucks, don't pass them".
The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "For a change, the next big increases in the cost of homeowners insurance won't fall hardest on South Floridians. The issue itself, though, shows how far the state remains from solving the homeowners insurance crisis." "Dig Florida out of a hole". See also "Citizens Board Agrees to Stair-Step Statewide Sinkhole Insurance Rate Hike" and "Citizens board approves caps to sinkhole premium increases".
The Saint Petersburg Times editors: "Citizens Property Insurance Corp. took a significant step forward Monday by pledging to spread over time its indefensible proposed rate increases for sinkhole coverage. But the new plan still would be untenable for many elderly and middle class homeowners in the Tampa Bay region." "Pain eased, not erased, by Citizens".
"Austere budget cuts"
"Economists tell the Public News Service that austere budget cuts in states such as Florida are 'a big part of why the economy is back at risk.'" "Public News Service: Austere budget cuts increase risk of another recession".
See you in Havana
The Saint Petersburg Times editorial board: "Capitalize on new Tampa-Cuba flights".
Teabaggers agree with ACLU
"Denting the stereotype of tea parties as a wholly owned subsidiary of the Republican Party, tea activists around Florida are applauding a federal judge's decision upholding the Fair Districts amendments." "Tea Partiers Hail Judge's 'Fair Districts' Ruling, Agree With ACLU".
"State Legislature turned away $2.8 million"
"The state Legislature turned away $2.8 million in annual funding from the federal government for comprehensive sex education in Florida." "Legislature turns away millions for comprehensive sex education".
"Department of Economic Opportunity"
"Agency for Workforce Innovation director Cynthia Lorenzo will be chief operating officer at the new Department of Economic Opportunity, the new agency's executive director Doug Darling announced Monday." "Department of Economic Opportunity Leadership Named".
"Lightning in a bottle" for gambling?
"The sponsor of the bill to bring resort casinos to South Florida believes that the arrival of gambling giant Genting, the state's dismal economy and a rush of casino cash gives legislators a chance this year to catch 'lightning in a bottle' and pass the long-sought legislation." "Legislators are counting on rare moment to bring resort casinos to Florida".
"Defaulting at higher rates than a year ago"
"More Florida students can't afford to pay their student loans and are defaulting at higher rates than a year ago, due to the economic malaise, higher interest rates and the rise of for-profit colleges, which often charge higher tuition than public colleges." "Florida student loan defaults rise".
A "clear wake-up call"
"Florida's chief financial officer is well aware that the state has had a "clear wake-up call" with increasing unemployment rates and underwater mortgages. " "Florida's chief financial officer urges legislators to reform tax code, balance budget".
"Unwilling to be a lapdog"
"The Florida Commission on Ethics has suffered its share of criticism over the years for being feckless, a toothless tiger."
Such criticism has a cheap-shot quality. The small watchdog agency is limited by the power it gets from the Legislature, which writes the ethics laws that govern elected officials."Scofflaws frustrate Florida ethics watchdogs".
Nine citizens serve on the Ethics Commission — a closely balanced group of Republicans and Democrats chosen by the governor, Senate president and House speaker. A couple of recent developments in Ethics Land suggest that the current group is unwilling to be a lapdog for people who thumb their noses at ethics in government.
Both developments involve a law that dates to 1976 when Reubin Askew was governor. He led a statewide petition drive to force candidates, elected officials and many appointees to reveal information about their personal finances as a check against potential conflicts of interest.
Not everybody takes financial disclosure as seriously as the Ethics Commission does.
"Not a threat: FBI"
"Saudi couple who left country quickly not a threat: FBI".