"The important business of selling out to special interests"
Carl Hiaasen has some fun at the expense of those who "conduct the important business of selling out to special interests." Hiaasen imagines
an open letter from concerned members of the Florida House of Representatives to the Sergeant of Arms:"Then we come to find out that the new law also allows loaded handguns inside government buildings such as school board headquarters, city halls, county halls and even the venerable state Capitol here in Tallahassee, where we the undersigned happened to work."
We couldn’t help but notice that our colleagues in the Senate were provided with enhanced security measures as a result of our controversial – but patriotic! – decision to allow licensed owners of concealed weapons to carry their loaded guns through the corridors of the Capitol.
As everybody knows, the legislation wasn’t our idea. It was written by lobbyists for the National Rifle Association, a fine organization that isn’t nearly as crazed and paranoid as some people make it out to be. Also, the NRA contributes generously to most of our political campaigns, which is why we blindly do whatever it tells us to do. ...
We’d be fibbing if we said every single member of the House actually read this bill and comprehended all its ramifications. Basically, we took the NRA’s word that it was no biggie.
Bearing in mind that citizens occasionally get angry at their politicians, and also bearing in mind that even a normally sober firearms owner can have a bad day, the NRA kindly allowed us to bar gun toters from the legislative chambers and committee rooms, where we conduct the important business of selling out to special interests. ...Much more here: "Why some lawmakers are in panic".
However, the law doesn’t prevent armed voters from freely walking the hallways of the Capitol, or visiting the offices of we the undersigned. Consequently, we were intrigued by media reports about the so-called panic buttons that have been given to members of the Senate, even to the Democrats who voted against the darn law. Not that we have an inferiority complex, but we who serve in the House are curious to know why our phones weren’t also equipped with emergency devices.
It’s true that there are only 40 state senators while there are 120 representatives. And it’s also true that Florida is in a severe budget crisis, and that government needs to shave expenses wherever possible.
But, seriously, how much money can these stupid little gizmos possibly cost? Don’t we have any pull at Radio Shack?
After consulting the House leadership, we’ve decided to the take the high road and assume that the absence of panic buttons isn’t a snub, but rather the result of clerical oversight or perhaps assembly-line problems at the panic-button factory in Taiwan. This temporary disparity in the level of safety precautions doesn’t mean that the life of a House member is somehow less valued than that of a senator. In truth, all of us in the legislative branch stand equal in the eyes of those who are seeking to buy our favor.
Therefore, as Sergeant of Arms, you are hereby instructed to promptly obtain and install the proper quantity of panic buttons in the offices of the House of Representatives.
Charter's "rife with insider deals and potential conflicts"
"During the past 15 years, Florida has embarked on a dramatic shift in public education, steering billions in taxpayer dollars from traditional school districts to independently run charter schools."
What started as an educational movement has turned into one of the region’s fastest-growing industries, backed by real-estate developers and promoted by politicians."Florida charter schools: big money, little oversight".
But while charter schools have grown into a $400-million-a-year business in South Florida, receiving about $6,000 in taxpayer dollars for every student enrolled, they continue to operate with little public oversight. Even when charter schools have been caught violating state laws, school districts have few tools to demand compliance.
Charter schools have become a parallel school system unto themselves, a system controlled largely by for-profit management companies and private landlords — one and the same, in many cases — and rife with insider deals and potential conflicts of interest.
In many instances, the educational mission of the school clashes with the profit-making mission of the management company, a Miami Herald examination of South Florida’s charter school industry has found. ...
When school districts have taken a hard line with charter schools, they have found their decisions second-guessed by state education officials in Tallahassee.
I-4 corridor getting lonely
"When will GOP swing back for visits to sway voters along I-4?".
A 26 percent approval rating will do that
The Miami Herald editorial board writes that Scott "had to do something to shore up his image after months of dismal showings in polling about his job performance."
The latest poll, released Thursday, by Quinnipiac University, put Mr. Scott at the top of the least popular governors in the nation. His approval rating was 33 percent, with 52 percent of Floridians polled disapproving of his stewardship of Florida.So,
Another survey by Public Policy Polling, released last week on the same day the governor unveiled his budget proposal, was even worse, with Mr. Scott garnering only a 26 percent approval rating.
[w]hether it was the polling results or a year of learning on the job, Mr. Scott has made the connection between the state’s economic well-being and the need to have an educated workforce. He has learned from parents and teachers and business leaders across the Sunshine State that continually draining public school funding won’t attract new business to Florida, and that taking more from schools won’t produce more jobs. Now, he’s all about “education and jobs.”"Governor, can you spare another billion?".
Harris "veteran" to help lead Gingrich's Florida campaign
The best Newt could do? "Veteran political strategist Jamie Miller will be helping lead Gingrich's Florida campaign. A former political director and director of field operations for the state GOP, the Sarasota-based Miller has worked on a host of Florida campaigns. Perhaps most notably, he managed Katherine Harris' U.S. Senate campaign, a job he would probably prefer us not to mention." "Gingrich (finally) staffing up".
"God commands ... creation care"
Scott Maxwell: "There are plenty of practical reasons to be concerned about the environment and unchecked growth. Sprawl leads to higher taxes. A drained aquifer could lead to water rationing and higher costs. Pollution affects all manner of living things, from plants to humans. Still, those reasons aren't enough for everyone."
So the Rev. Joel Hunter offers people of Christian faith another reason to care for our natural resources — because God commands it."Caring for the environment is a mandate from God".
"It was our first commandment when we were placed down here: Take care of the garden." Hunter said. "Really, it's a matter of obedience." ...
Revelation goes so far as to warn of judgment for "those who destroy the earth."
These words are not vague.
They are a clear mandate for what Hunter calls "creation care."
That mandate is why Hunter — a nationally known and respected pastor who presides over the 15,000-member Northland, A Church Distributed in Longwood — has decided to get more involved.
This month, Hunter agreed to team up with former Gov. Bob Graham as part of a broad and growing coalition of Floridians who are concerned about the continuing attacks on the environment and the laws that protect it.
"I want to be associated with people who have solid thinking and public service — and are willing to reach across party lines," said the man who has prayed with both George W. Bush and Barack Obama.
That bipartisan outreach is a primary goal of Graham's newly formed Florida Conservation Coalition.
Scott "continues to suck up only to tea party voters"
Stephen Goldstein: "As Florida governor, CEO-afflicted Rick Scott still doesn't 'get' that the business of government is 'the people,' not business. Like a short-sighted salesman massaging just his current clients, he continues to suck up only to tea party voters, his 'base' — violating the oath he swore to govern on behalf of all the people. Like other politicos bashing government, as CEO, he made millions from a company that depended upon taxpayer dollars — and sees his job as helping other CEOs do the same." "Business people not America's answer".
"Political pros" out of touch with Fla-baggery
"Newt Gingrich may be riding a wave of momentum three weeks before voting starts in Florida, but among the state's political pros, Mitt Romney remains the heavy favorite to win the Jan. 31 primary, according to our latest Florida Insider Poll." "Despite Gingrich's surge, Romney's still favored among Florida political pros".
"Deform" not "reform"
"Florida GOP may gut programs, call it reform, foes say".
Hasner and LeMieux slamming Mack
"U.S. Rep. Connie Mack may be well ahead in the Republican U.S. Senate primary, but hardly a day goes by without rivals Adam Hasner or George LeMieux slamming the Fort Myers Republican as a creature of Washington who used to love earmarks and Charlie Crist but loathes tough anti-immigration laws." "Please, play nice".
New Volusia and Flagler voting districts
Derek Catron: "When state lawmakers came to Daytona Beach in July to solicit voter views on the once-a-decade process of redrawing political boundaries, the message they heard repeated time and again was this: Create compact districts that give us a greater say over our representation. ... But how will that affect Volusia and Flagler residents? The News-Journal studied the proposals to find out." "New voting districts propose fewer representatives in Legislature, Congress".
"Excellent question. If you’re in the third grade"
Frank Cerabino: "It’s not all that surprising that the chairman of an education committee in the Florida Senate has filed a bill to make sure that the state’s public schools go on Christmas Break rather than Winter Break. Calling the days off — which this year stretches to Jan. 9 — a Winter Break bothers Sen. Stephen Wise, R-Jacksonville, who runs the Florida Senate Committee on Education Pre-K-12."
"At first blush, it appears that Wise is going to great lengths to be offensive. But, as I said, he represents Jacksonville. And he’s also term-limited."
But the evolution of Christmas isn’t a topic I’d expect Wise to think about."Changing Florida schools' Winter Break to Christmas Break not a Wise move".
He’s not big on the idea of evolution, period. He has spent his tenure as one of Florida’s leading lights in education to push for teaching creationism in science classes.
He summed up his feelings on the subject two years ago:
“Why do we still have apes if we came from them?” he asked.
Excellent question. If you’re in the third grade.
But probably not so good if you’re still asking it when you’re the guy who’s making policy for third-graders.
So Wise hasn’t evolved.
And that’s why he’s just the sort of guy to offer the Christmas Break bill.