Frank Cerabino continues his "shining Waffle House on the hill" theme with another exceptional column this week: "We got a rare glimpse into the world of Florida lawmaking this week when a state legislator credited lunchtime banter he overheard at a Waffle House for his inspiration to execute Death Row inmates by firing squads."
Now it's all starting to make sense. Thinking of a Panhandle Waffle House as Florida's version of Chautauqua puts the state's headlong charge toward the 19th Century into the proper perspective."So far, there's no word yet on whether Drake would be interested in combining his firing-squad bill with the bill filed by Rep. Ritch Workman, R-Melbourne, to make the barroom sport of dwarf-tossing legal again in Florida."
State Rep. Brad Drake, R-Eucheeanna, says it's time to stop coddling condemned criminals by injecting them with lethal sedatives.
And who better to know about lethal injections than the pork-chop-'n-eggs crowd at the Waffle House?
"I am sick and tired of this sensitivity movement for criminals " Drake wrote in a statement. "I have no desire to humanely respect those that are inhumane."
Talk like that is practically tough enough to unclog an artery.
Throwing spear-tipped dwarfs at condemned prisoners could save on bullets, not to mention allowing legislators to take credit for being tough on crime while creating jobs at the same time."For legislators, Waffle House wisdom rules".
I know. It sounds far-fetched.
But it's best to reserve judgment on the flying-dwarf-assisted-execution idea until we get the detailed analysis back from the Waffle House.
Buchanan: "I know nothing, I see nothing, and I say nothing!"
"A federal court has fined an auto dealership formerly co-owned by Florida congressman Vern Buchanan for a scheme to reimburse employees for political contributions to his campaign. ... The FEC says Kazran funneled $67,900 in illegal donations to Buchanan's past campaigns. Buchanan's campaign has repeatedly denied any knowledge of the scheme." "Car dealership fined for Buchanan contributions". See also "Former Buchanan dealership fined for campaign violations".
Scott public records continue to dribble out
"The Governor's Office released 87 pages of public records Friday showing e-mails Gov. Rick Scott sent and received in the final days of his transition into office that have yet to be made public."
The documents, which the Governor's Office has had for nearly six months, include about 65 new e-mails beyond what the Times/Herald received in August, when Scott and his team acknowledged transition e-mails were deleted in a possible violation of state public record law. ..."More Rick Scott e-mails surface, shed little light on transition".
The BlackBerry pages shed little light on the nascent days of Scott's administration. The pages show messages were sent and received, but the information is incomplete. In some instances, it's unclear if Scott was the recipient or sender.
The Governor's Office also redacted information from 74 e-mails they said were "not state business," including at least 24 from top-level staff on his transition. Many of those e-mails were about Republican Party business or involved his family, according to Scott's office.
"The governing board of the South Florida Water Management District ... voted unanimously to move forward with eight public/private partnership projects to store water in the Northern Everglades." "Water Management District unanimously approves Everglades projects". See also "Floridians: `Don’t cut Everglades funds’".
"They paved paradise and put up a parkin' lot"
"Gov. Rick Scott has made some interesting environmental appointments lately. His choice for an appointee to the state’s wildlife commission was a former paving contractor who has tangled with environmental regulators in the past, and on Thursday, Scott tapped an ex-chemical exec to sit on the board of the St. Johns River Water Management District."
Scott’s appointment of Charles Roberts raised eyebrows, considering there were several other, seemingly more qualified, applicants."Scott appoints ex-paver, former chemical exec to environmental positions".
The Daytona Beach News-Journal editorial board believes the "Proposed Amtrak route needs a careful look".
"Last thing Miami needs"
Fabiola Santiago asks "Who wants to be in the midst of addicted gamblers, high-stakes prostitution and organized crime? If you think the streets aren’t safe now, wait until easy money starts to flow, wait until the gamblers and the gangsters are fully in charge. Wait until the people most needing jobs stay jobless because last time I checked, there wasn’t a training school in town for wheelers and dealers. Wait until the crime rate soars so high your taxes have no way to go but up, up, and up to pay for the law enforcement." "Last thing Miami needs is to become Vegas".
"Weekly Roundup: No Money, More Problems for Lawmakers".
"Since protesters took over a New York City park, demonstrations have sprouted from Boston to Los Angeles and Detroit. In Miami, participants expect at least 500 to attend Saturday". "Slow to start, Occupy Wall Street hits Miami". See also "Miami begins to mobilize in solidarity with Occupy Wall Street".
"Occupy Movement Arrives on Steps of Old Capitol".
"Waving Americans flags and holding handmade signs, more than 300 demonstrators are at Senator Beth Johnson park this morning preparing for today's Occupy Orlando march." "Occupy Orlando: Protesters set to march past downtown Orlando banks".
Occupy Fort Lauderdale
"At least 200 people — men and women, young and old, white, black, Latino, married couples and singles — met in downtown Fort Lauderdale on Saturday evening in the first Occupy Fort Lauderdale general assembly, to voice their ideas and hopes as well as frustration and anger with corporate greed and the two-party system." "Occupy Fort Lauderdale draws hundreds of protesters".
"Participants in today’s Occupy Sarasota protest, inspired by the unfolding Occupy Wall Street movement in New York City, spoke with The Florida Independent about why they decided to join the fledgling campaign, and what’s next for Occupy protesters in the Sunshine State." "Occupy Sarasota protesters speak out".
"Florida Democrats found a new worry this week"
"With an election year bearing down and President Obama already in a fierce fight for a second term, Florida Democrats found a new worry this week. The state Democratic Party reported its worst fund-raising quarter in five years, falling farther behind already dominant Florida Republicans in the crucial sprint for campaign cash. Over the past three months, the GOP collected $5.5 million, compared to $894,000 for Democrats, state records show."
For Florida Democrats, the grim toll proved especially discouraging -- and ill-timed."Obama, Nelson draw state money away from others". See also "With Obama and Nelson drawing heavily on Florida, state Democrats have trouble raising cash".
It was made public the same day Obama swept through Orlando for a pair of fund-raisers, while promoting the jobs package he is struggling to get through Congress.
The Obama campaign and the Democratic National Committee reported this week that they had raised a formidable $70 million in the last quarter for the president's re-election bid. Two-term Florida Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson also collected nearly $2 million during the third quarter for his re-election campaign.
RPOFers prefer "None of the above" in Senate Primary
"Though it's still 10 months until the U.S. Senate primary, four Republicans have been campaigning for the nomination since spring. Yet poll after poll shows that more than half of GOP voters, asked to choose one of them, respond, 'None of the above.'" "U.S. Senate primary: To GOP voters, 'none of the above' looks good". See also "Hasner tops LeMieux in 3rd quarter Senate GOP money chase". Related: "U.S. Senate candidate Craig Miller to spend day working at Lake County tire shop". Meanwhile, "Hasner out-raises LeMieux in race for Nelson's U.S. Senate seat; Nelson doubles them both"
The Sun Sentinel editorial board: "State takeover of Tri-Rail ill-advised".
The book thing
"Iorio writes about leadership in motivational book".
Stearns at the feet of his master
"Rep. Cliff Stearns, R-Ocala, yesterday appeared on the 700 Club to talk about his recently launched investigation into the finances and policies of Planned Parenthood. During the interview, he discussed the influence of anti-abortion groups on his decision." "Stearns explains Planned Parenthood investigation to Pat Robertson".
Entrepreneurs in action
"Deepwater Horizon Spill Cost to Florida at $12 Million -- and Rising".
Ricky goes to Brazil
"Scott to Head 200-Strong Business Delegation Flying to Brazil to Grow Trade".
"Unintended negative consequences?"
Bill Maxwell: "For nearly two decades, public school educators have been trying to close, or at least narrow, the race- and income-based achievement gaps in graduation rates and test scores. The movement, which became a mandate with passage of the No Child Left Behind Act during President George W. Bush's first term, has become an obsession."
The first serious doubts about the measure's effectiveness came after a 2008 report by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a Washington think tank, which showed that from 2000 to 2007, progress for students who were the highest achievers on the National Assessment of Educational Progress did not increase, while progress for the lowest-achieving students greatly improved."Reform shortchanges high achievers".
Now, Fordham has reaffirmed the 2008 findings and introduced more critical statistics in a new study, "Do High Flyers Maintain Their Altitude?" This study found that the federally mandated effort to make schools more accountable for increasing low-performing students' achievement may be harming the highest-performing students.
Researchers tracked the scores of approximately 82,000 students on the Measure of Academic Progress. They found that many high-performing students lose ground from the elementary grades to middle school and from middle school to high school.
Here is the question for U.S. educators: Is focusing on getting all students to be proficient on reading and math tests having unintended negative consequences? It is a tough question for many Americans to answer, because it goes to the core of our concept of equality.
Still, the mounting empirical evidence cannot be ignored.
"First annual Florida Energy Summit"
"By Friday afternoon, more than 440 people had signed up to attend the first annual Florida Energy Summit Oct. 26-28 in Orlando -- with 46 sponsors exhibiting in the trade show and plenty of time for those numbers to grow significantly." "First Florida Energy Summit Pulling in Participants".
"The trail quickly leads to Republicans"
Aaron Deslatte: "'Follow the money' is an adage for making causal connections between politicians and the interest-groups writing big checks and expecting paybacks in the form of preferable policies. But in modern Florida politics, you don't have to follow it far. The trail quickly leads to Republicans, thanks to the super-majorities they've established in the Florida Legislature over the last decade that give them a virtual public-policy monopoly."
For the last four years, Democrats have pointed to 2012 and the hope that voters would pass redistricting reforms so legislative and congressional maps would become more of an even playing field for a minority party with some 550,000 more voters than Republicans – but the inability to even pass the flu in the Capitol."'Follow the money' leads right to the GOP".
The publicly drawn maps so far suggest the Fair Districts compactness standards could lead to more Democratic-performing maps, but not enough to retake majorities. And the legal requirements to draw minority-access seats could negate even that advantage.
"Last week, Gov. Rick Scott’s new 'economic opportunity' director told legislators and reporters that the state had awarded 'millions of dollars' to companies over the last decade in exchange for jobs that never materialized."
The fledgling Department of Economic Opportunity had produced a legislatively-mandated “business plan” in September noting that of the 729 tax-incentive contracts Florida has signed with businesses over the last decade, just 71 percent were fulfilled."Did state give millions to unreliable companies?".
Although he couldn’t name any specific companies or amounts, DEO Director Doug Darling suggested the agency would take steps to recoup the money in cases where the promised jobs never materialized.
“The last five years have been anything but normal,” he said. “Any decision we make has to be made in light of that. Will a company be able to rebound? We want companies we originally contracted with to be successful. But if they can’t, then we’re going to have to take other steps.”
The Orlando Sentinel made a public records request for the names and amounts last week. On Thursday, the agency released a list of companies that hadn’t made good on jobs pledges over the last three years — but none of them were paid “millions of dollars.”
Could be ... the lobbying and contributions
"Critics say the advertising deal has driven dozens of other traffic schools out of business because of perceptions that Underwood's school is the only one approved by the state. Competitors wonder how much of his success is due to the more than $700,000 he has spent on lobbying and campaign contributions since 2005." "Florida tries to undo traffic school owner's publishing contract".
"Florida Hispanics' frustration"
"Florida Hispanics' frustration with President Barack Obama is jobs".