"The House Ethics Committee has chosen to extend an investigation into Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Sarasota."
The investigation comes on the heels of an FEC suit over a pattern of questionable contributions made to Buchanan’s 2006 and 2008 campaigns. Though the congressman wasn’t named as a defendent, his former business partner and a car dealership the two once co-owned were accused of offering reimbursements for money donated to his campaign and of violating excessive contribution laws."Ethics Committee extends investigation into Buchanan (Updated)". See also "House Ethics Committee investigates Buchanan" and "Sarasota GOP defends Buchanan".
The FEC eventually called the activity an “extensive and ongoing scheme” and fined his former dealership almost $68,000; Buchanan himself was never found to be at fault. But a recently leaked FEC report reveals that some members did doubt his innocence.
According to its website, the House Committee on Ethics has the jurisdiction to “recommend administrative actions to establish or enforce standards of official conduct” and must “report to appropriate federal or state authorities substantial evidence of a violation of any law applicable to the performance of official duties that may have been disclosed in a Committee investigation.”
"Former South Miami mayor Julio Robaina wants his old job back. Robaina, who also has served as a state representative, is challenging incumbent Mayor Philip Stoddard in the Feb. 14 election." "Robaina challenges Stoddard for South Miami mayor".
"A Miami lawmaker wants public charter schools to be more transparent.State. Sen Larcenia Bullard, D-Miami, filed a bill Wednesday that would require charter schools to post information about their management companies on their school websites."
Her proposal was submitted days after The Miami Herald concluded a three-part series examining South Florida’s $400 million-a-year charter school industry. The charter school shills are already talking it down: The Chair of
The investigation found that charter schools have given rise to a cottage industry of for-profit management companies, some of which have almost total financial control over the charter schools they run.
Charter schools receive public funding, but are under the purview of independent governing boards instead of local school districts.In South Florida, two-thirds of charter schools have contracts with management companies, entities that can provide accounting, payroll and academic services.
The companies charge fees ranging from 5 to 18 percent of a school’s income, and in many cases also control the land and buildings used by the school. Some set the rent at more than 25 percent of the school’s revenue, records show.
Herald reporters found a pattern of insider deals and potential conflicts of interest within the industry.
the House Education Committee, State Rep. Bill Proctor, said he would be willing to review any similar bills that might be filed in the House. But Proctor, a Republican from St. Augustine, said he believes charter schools will take a back seat to merit pay and higher-education reform during the upcoming legislative session, which will begin Jan. 10."Bill would require transparency in charter school management".
Redistricting and the budget will keep 'em busy
"When House members return to Tallahassee for the regular session, the speaker doesn’t expect there to be much time for items outside of redistricting and the budget." "House Floor Action to Be Reduced in 2012 by Redistricting, Budget".
Text message Chapter 119 loophole?
"Florida public records laws are often called among the toughest in the nation. But that was b4 txt msging. The state updated its public records rules last year to advise that text messages, Facebook comments, Tweets and other communications on "emerging communications technologies'' might be public records, depending on their content."
If the message is "C U 4 lunch,'' it's not a public record. If it's a message conveying information about something that is coming up for a vote, it might be."R text messages a loophole in Florida records law?".
But who's keeping copies of those? No one, it appears.
PBC epicenter of opposition to Florida's new voting law
"Palm Beach County is emerging as an epicenter of opposition to Florida's controversial new voting law that supporters say will curb voter fraud but critics call a part of a scheme to deny many Floridians the right to vote in next year's elections." "Palm Beach County an epicenter of opposition to Florida's new election law".
"Florida home sales up, prices flat"
"There were 12,996 home resales last month, but the median sale price decreased $500 from the same time last year to $130,100." "Florida home sales up, prices flat in November".
Pollution advocates gear up
"The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday released controversial new air-pollution standards that have been long sought by environmental and health advocates but could force expensive upgrades at some Florida power plants." "EPA Puts Out New Air Pollution Standards".
In the hole
"Florida officials in 2003 changed policy to prohibit inmates from advertising for pen pals or getting mail from pen pal groups. It said the change was made after receiving complaints from victims and their families who saw prisoners' ads." "Appeals court sides with Dept. of Corrections in pen pal ad case".
"Insurers have faked some of its 'crises' to pump up profits"
The Sun Sentinel editorial board: "A new study by the Americans for Insurance Reform should reverberate in Tallahassee as Gov. Rick Scott and state lawmakers prepare to reform no-fault auto insurance, or PIP. The project of the New York Law School's Center for Justice and Democracy claims insurers have faked some of its 'crises' to pump up profits and concludes that the professed need for premiums to outpace claims and other expenses is simply a myth." "PIP reform needs sworn testimony".
A good spot for a casino
"The Miami area is the main focus of most casino operators but Broward County also is vying for attention." "Investors search South Florida for prime casino spots".
Pre-session teacher bashing
This from the usual suspects: "Teachers' Hourly Compensation Doubles Up Private-Sector Average".
What's wrong with Hillsborough?
"Hispanic groups object to districts".
Criticism from a very unlikely place ... Seminole County
"Florida's tax-credit scholarship program for low-income students is 'a travesty' and 'part of the agenda' to weaken public schools, Seminole County education leaders say. Their main complaint:"
There's little known about what the nearly 38,000 students in the program are learning in exchange for the $175 million spent this year to send them to private — most often religious — schools."Seminole school leaders blast tax-credit scholarships".
Such public criticism of the scholarship program, which is very popular among conservative Republicans running the state, is rare.
But education leaders in Seminole, with its high-performing schools, have been more vocal lately as they struggle to find ways to cut more than $22 million from next year's budget. Already, the district has closed one school and is expected to shutter perhaps three more, in addition to other cutbacks.
They blame the tax-credit scholarship program for siphoning off taxpayer dollars just when school districts across Florida most need the money.
Under the program, low-income parents dissatisfied with public schools can send their children to private school at taxpayers' expense. Taxes that are otherwise due to the state instead go to the scholarship fund, which is projected to hit $250 million next year.
Seminole school-district officials also see a double standard that other school leaders across Florida object too as well.
The state, they contend, has created a huge gap in its education-accountability system by largely exempting the scholarship students and the schools they attend from the academic standards that public schools face.
"He kept $1 million in cash handy for payoffs"
"In transcripts from his deposition, the convicted Ponzi schemer says, 'We were handing out money like Santa Claus hands out candy canes.'" "Rothstein says he kept $1 million in cash handy for payoffs".
RNC "mostly false" about DWS
The Republican National Committee and its associated mouthpieces can't handle Debbie Wasserman Schultz:
Did Wasserman Schultz really insist that unemployment did not go up during Obama's term, as propagated by the Republican National Committee? No. Wasserman Schultz insisted something else — that it hadn't gone up precipitously and that it is not going up. We rate the RNC's claim Mostly False."PolitiFact: Did Wasserman Schultz deny a rise in unemployment under Obama?".