"Figures released this month by the Agriculture Department paint a grim picture of widespread dependence nationwide but especially in Florida, where a record 3.1 million people — one in six residents — received food-stamp aid in September." "1 in 6 Floridians now depends on food stamps".
"The capital is awash in egos gone wild"
Daniel Ruth: "Only in that strange and mysterious land of Tallahassee, the Potemkin Village of the Panhandle, would elected representatives who are more ehttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifthically compromised than a Dale Mabry brass-pole-swinging floozie lather themselves up in conflicts of interest without a scintilla of embarrassment."
Think about this. Illinois' Rod Blagojevich picked the wrong state to get indicted as governor. In Tallahassee, they would be erecting statues honoring his chutzpah.
"The capital is awash in egos gone wild."
Senate President Mike Haridopolos, R-It Was a Dark and Stormy Night, shamelessly palmed $150,000 in public money from a community college to pen an unreadable tome on Florida political history that makes a finger painting look like The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire. Sen. J.D. Alexander, R-Waaaaa!, is extracting his revenge on higher education because he didn't get his way on splitting off USF Polytechnic as an independent campus.
The latest example of the Florida Legislature treating its responsibilities as if they were little more than a yummy feeding trough full of Beluga caviar, begins, but hardly ends, with Port Richey Republican state Rep. John Legg, who used his juice in Tallahassee to benefit a charter school run by a nonprofit he helped found."Ehtical conflict? What ethical conflict?".
Igniting an "Enduring Cultural Transformation"?
"The leader of an influential anti-gay, anti-abortion Florida group has issued a new fundraising pitch to help gin up support for the work of its “Ignite an Enduring Cultural Transformation” campaign during the state’s upcoming legislative session." "Family Policy Council president asks for help funding ‘aggressive’ 2012 plan".
Jeremy Wallace: "U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan was one of five Republicans in Congress to miss a vote on a proposal to extend the payroll tax cut for another two years." "Vern Buchanan misses vote on payroll tax cut".
"Session Outlook: The 2012 Florida Legislature".
Awake the State
"Awake the State will hold protests targeting Gov. Rick Scott and the GOP-led Legislature all over the state on the first day of Florida’s legislative session, Jan. 10." "Awake the State plans rallies for first day of legislative session".
One-way bus tickets
"After placing 7,000 people in shelters and housing programs earlier this year, Fort Lauderdale is considering an alternative solution to homelessness -- buying those without a roof over their heads a one-way bus ticket out of the city, The Palm Beach Post reports." "Florida City May Buy One-Way Bus Tickets For Homeless To Clear Streets".
Putting the brakes on Charter madness
"Two school boards in Central Florida were faced with a similar dilemma this fall — either approve a charter school application that board members felt was lacking, or face a fight with the state."
Seminole County embraced the fight, filing suit against the state Board of Education and rejecting the applicant, a school that would be managed by Charter Schools USA.
"Seminole fights law letting top charters expand".
Orange County, by contrast, grudgingly accept an application backed by charter management company Academica after being told by their lawyers that they had little chance to win an expected appeal by the company.
Both Seminole and Polk county schools filed suit in Leon County earlier this month, asking a judge to clarify parts of an untested new law that allows "high-performing charter school systems" to replicate their programs in other school districts.
The legislation, which was embraced by Florida-based charter management companies such as Academica and Charter Schools USA, gives local school boards minimal rights to reject such applications, then gives the rejected schools access to a special appeal process.
"It totally takes away the board's absolute authority to decide who opens a school in the district," said Darvin Boothe, who lobbied the Legislature against the new law on behalf of Seminole schools.
Seminole's suit contends that the law doesn't define what it means to "substantially replicate" a school. In that county's case, the application says the new K-8 school would be a copy of an A-rated middle school, North Broward Academy of Excellence Middle School.
The Broward County school has 345 students in grades 6 to 8, while the application for Renaissance Charter at Seminole would have 1,415 students in kindergarten to grade 8.
Ned Julian, the Seminole board attorney, said the law's language is too vague to stand up in court.
West sidesteps a scolding
"Allen West Avoids House Scolding" Background: "House Democrats introduce resolution condemning West’s Goebbels comment".
Bondi gets amendment to permit state money for religious institutions back on ballot
"A question asking Florida voters to do away with a century-old constitutional prohibition on using state money for religious institutions is back on the ballot for now after Attorney General Pam Bondi rewrote the ballot summary as is allowed by a new state law." "Bondi uses new law to put measure back on ballot; would allow taxes to go to religious institutions".
"Attorney General Pam Bondi has resubmitted ballot language a week after a Leon County judge agreed with critics that the wording of the 'Religious Freedom' amendment was too 'ambiguous.' The revised ballot summary for Amendment 7 on the November 2012 ballot adopts suggestions from Leon County Circuit Judge Terry Lewis, the attorney general’s office stated in a release." "Bondi Revises Ballot Language for 'Religious Freedom' Amendment".
While the rest of us were whining about his pension
"Lakeland officer shot Sunday has died".
"What took Genshaft so long"?
The Saint Petersburg Times editorial board: "It turns out that Judy Genshaft is still president of the University of South Florida. She finally moved decisively and appropriately Tuesday to remove the chancellor of USF Polytechnic who had been conspiring with a powerful state senator to make the Lakeland campus an independent university. The only question is what took Genshaft so long to deal with a top administrator who was on his own mission and had forgotten the name of his boss." "Genshaft shows who's boss". Background: "USF Polytechnic chancellor fired".
"Occupy Wall Street-inspired groups from around the state have begun to draft proposals to be handed to House Speaker Dean Cannon, R-Winter Park, on the first day of the Florida legislative session, Jan. 10." "People’s Convention of Florida drafts proposals for 2012 session". See also "Occupy Tampa supporters angry about protester’s prolonged detention".
Industry groups seek to defund Florida water standards
"A number of industry groups, including the American Farm Bureau Federation and the Fertilizer Institute, are calling on Congress to include a provision that would defund a set of Florida-specific water quality standards in the 2012 appropriations bill." "Industry groups want Congress to defund EPA water rules".
Gingrich runs wild in Florida
"GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich today announced campaign chairs and co-chairs for all of Florida’s 67 counties." "Gingrich announces Florida campaign leaders".
"Motivated by politics rather than sound education goals"
Bill Maxwell: "Florida Education Commissioner Gerard Robinson wants to raise the minimum scores on the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test for grades 3-10. Without evidence, he claims the tougher test will help our high school graduates become college-ready." Maxwell
spoke with nine-year veteran Melissa Heeren. This term, she teaches AP Computer Science and Introduction to Information Technology at Lakewood High in St. Petersburg.
"Taking a red pencil to the FCAT".
How would higher FCAT cut scores impact teachers and their students?
"Teachers define goals and learning objectives before creating a lesson plan. My biggest question is: What is the goal of the higher cut scores? What are we trying to do? Is the concern that the current cut scores allow unqualified students to graduate from high school?
"Where is the data analysis identifying this problem? In the absence of solid answers to these questions, the move to raise the cut scores seems motivated by politics rather than sound education goals."
Raw political courage
"Scott Wants Lottery Sales Increased to Help Schools".
Buying an election
"On Tuesday, the team at Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies unleashed their latest volleys against President Barack Obama and Democrat incumbent U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson. The two Democrat incumbents are expected to face tough fights in Florida as they seek re-election in 2012." "Conservative Group Continues to Fire Away at Obama and Bill Nelson".
"Florida's controversial Medicaid Reform experiment"
"Five years of Florida's controversial Medicaid Reform experiment in managed care are already in the books. From the outset, permission to operate Reform was contingent upon the state's promise that access would be protected, as confirmed through ongoing analysis of patient-level 'encounter data'. Yet that data and any meaningful programmatic analysis of it remain inexplicably unavailable. But alternative sources of data corroborate the mounting anecdotal reports of problems with access in Reform." "Access to Care Plummeted In Medicaid Reform Experiment".
"Thousands of Floridians have given up looking for work"
"The improvement is not as good as it appears, however, because of Florida's population growth and the fact that thousands of Floridians have given up looking for work, at least temporarily, and are no longer counted among the jobless." "Florida unemployment drop among best in the country".
West joins GOP-Bagger rebellion
"South Florida Congressman Allen West has joined a rebellion brewing among House Republicans who refuse to vote for legislation that would extend special unemployment benefits for two months and also extend the current cut in the payroll tax." "Allen West rebels against unemployment benefit stopgap".
Skewed reporting on recycling goals?
"The Legislature in 2010 passed a recycling bill that allowed burning garbage to produce electricity to count toward meeting the state's 75-percent recycling goal established two years earlier. But lobbyists and legislators said they didn't realize that the bill could allow some counties to claim recycling rates in excess of 100 percent." "Statute may require state rule that could skew reporting on recycling goals".
Rubio blames Reid
"U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio battled the White House and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on Monday over who sank the nomination of a Puerto Rican woman that all of them wanted to be ambassador to El Salvador." "Rubio battles White House over ambassador riff".
"It seems to violate the essence of all that is Florida"
Frank Cerabino: "Florida is apparently a welcoming place to grow old, unless you happen to be a judge."
For the past 40 years, we've had a state law that makes judges retire at the age of 70, which in pockets of Boynton Beach is regarded as middle age.
"Age limit for judges undercuts all that is Florida".
At 70, some people around here are still on their middle spouse. So to relegate a seasoned jurist to a mandatory retirement at such a sprightly young age seems like a prescription for filling golf course clubhouses, card rooms and coffee shops with way too many know-it-alls.
People who are not ready to end their days toiling in the realm of guilt or innocence are being unnecessarily herded into the realm of paper or plastic.
It seems to violate the essence of all that is Florida.
At the trough
"Orlando agency prepares for $300M bid for warship training".
"And then there's Florida"
Scott Maxwell: "A.G.'s in Arizona, California, Michigan and Nevada have used everything from lawsuits to criminal subpoenas to go after the fraudsters trying to improperly evict families from their homes."
And then there's Florida.
"On foreclosure fraud, Bondi comes up short".
Here, the biggest news Pam Bondi's office has made on the foreclosure front was for ousting two of her top fraud investigators.
Oh, and also when one of her top advisors left to work for a firm her office was investigating.
Meanwhile, "Months later, no word on attorney firing investigation".
The liberal media?
The wild liberals on the The Saint Petersburg Times editorial board love privatization: "After months of debate, the future of Pinellas County's EMS system should come into sharper focus today. The County Commission is expected to vote on further prioritizing the dispatching of emergency vehicles, changing how taxpayers could pay for the system and experimenting with a lesser role for the private ambulance company that transports patients to hospitals. Those decisions will reveal whether the commission is more interested in saving taxpayers money or protecting the jobs of [unionized public employee] firefighters." "Make EMS more efficient".
Empty suit swings at Nelson
"GOP Hopeful Craig Miller Takes Aim at Bill Nelson".
EB-5 immigration visas
The Orlando Sentinel editor: "The EB-5 immigration visa can be a win for Florida and the United States. It works like this: In return for investing $500,000 in a depressed zone, or in a rural area, or $1 million anywhere else, a foreign national and his family are granted the visa for entry and residence in the United States. If that investment creates 10 jobs for at least two years, that visa becomes permanent."
Since it began in 1990, the program is credited with creating 34,000 jobs. Today, at a time when business financing is tight and unemployment is high, the EB-5 makes more sense than ever.
"Expand visa program to create more jobs".
That's certainly the case in Florida. South Florida has been a hemispheric gateway and crossroads for decades, and it attracts billions of dollars a year in foreign investment. But such investment also has been growing in Central Florida. In figures compiled by Enterprise Florida, the state economic development agency, the Orlando metro area trailed only Miami and Fort Lauderdale as a magnet for investments from abroad.
Petitions for EB-5 visas from Latin American countries have increased by about 71 percent, with Venezuela and Mexico being the most active. Given Florida's deep links to the Americas, a spike in investment from the hemisphere is bound to boost our state more than most others.
"Miami-Dade Commission approves redrawn electoral district boundaries".
"FAMU trustees reject Gov. Rick Scott's request to suspend school president". See also "FAMU Board to Rick Scott: Mind Your Own Business".