"Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush will be the featured attractions at a Miami conference on Jan. 27 hosted by the Hispanic Leadership Network, which calls itself a center-right advocacy group." "Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush headline Hispanic gathering".
Pols stand up to Mayor's threats in Miami-Dade
"Facing a chamber packed with police officers, the commissioners voted 7-6 against settling a labor impasse between the county and the Dade Police Benevolent Association by forcing the additional concession on 5,400 police and corrections officers."
The panel also refused to impose the controversial 5-percent giveback on its professionals and supervisors, who are represented by the Government Supervisors Association of Florida OPEIU Local 100. That move spells an almost-certain wave of layoffs for them as well."Commissioners and union leaders criticized the mayor for focusing too heavily on employee concessions instead of finding savings elsewhere in the $4.4 billion operating budget."
“It’s an absolute lack of political courage by a board that wants to have its cake and eat it too,’’ the mayor said at the conclusion of a nine-hour meeting. “I’m disgusted at what happened today.’’
The mayor estimated that at least 154 police officers and 145 corrections officers would have to be laid off as the county scrambles to close a budget gap it had expected to fill through additional employee concessions. The county will also likely have to close a corrections facility.
The mayor said he and his staff would meet Thursday night to begin hashing out how to fill the $35-million budget gap that he had envisioned eliminating with the additional health-care contribution. He said other options have already been exhausted.
In addition, Commissioner Jordan took aim at the mayor for moving slowly in reaping savings from his much-ballyhooed reorganization, which reduced the number of county departments to 25 from 42."Police layoffs expected after Miami-Dade commissioners refuse to impose healthcare concession".
Mayor Gimenez reiterated that his reorganization plan is ongoing and will take time. “I’m not going to rush into something and do it the wrong way,’’ he told the restive commission.
Three other unions — representing solid waste employees, water and sewer workers, and general county employees, have reached tentative contracts but also are at impasse on the healthcare contribution. If employees ratify those agreements in coming days the commission will again have to decide whether to impose the extra 5 percent on those groups.
Solid waste employees — represented by the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees Local 3292 — are set to vote Friday on a tentative agreement. Water and sewer workers, who belong to AFSCME Local 121, are set to vote Monday and general county employees, represented by AFSCME Local 199, will weigh in on their tentative pact on Jan. 20.
The county’s labor strife is far from over. On Wednesday, members of the Transport Workers Union Local 291 rejected a tentative agreement by a vote of 820 to 660. That means further delays as the parties return to the table to haggle over a new agreement.
Perhaps the "disgusted" mayor will do his job instead of taking the easy way out: threatening layoffs.
Fla-baggers accuse President of "appeasement"
"President Obama's new defense strategy amounts to an 'appeasement' and a sign of weakness to America's foes, local Republicans in Congress said Thursday." "Defense strategy signals weakness, Florida Republicans say".
Legislature's Opening Day
"Tea Party, Occupy Tallahassee Organize for Legislature's Opening Day".
School grading "rules are changing from year to year"
The Tampa Bay Times editorial board: "Florida's grades for public high schools are finally out this week and generating plenty of attention. But there is a lot more to school quality than the letter grade issued by the state. In this season of shopping for schools for the 2012-13 school year, parents and students would do well to look beyond the blunt instrument of a school's grade to more specific and meaningful indicators of achievement."
In fact, the school grade, particularly for high schools, may give a false sense of a school's actual success. Rather than relying on a school grade as a benchmark, it's far better to drill down into the actual numbers on graduation rates, FCAT and Advanced Placement test results and the like that make up the letter grade. Those are all available at the Florida Department of Education's website. In addition, because the rules are changing from year to year, the same performance by a school may well yield different grades last year, this year and next year."Look deeper than schools' grades".
The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "Scores no help to parents".
Anti-Fair Districts appeal
"Oral arguments in anti-Fair Districts appeal coming next Tuesday".
Rubio goes crazy
"It was announced today that former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin will be giving the closing speech at CPAC this year. Sen. Marco Rubio and Rep. Allen West will also be in attendance at the ultra-conservative convention." "Palin to join Rubio, West at CPAC".
"Bill to allow Floridians the right to a citizens’ veto filed today in Tallahassee".
"When federal officials extended Florida's controversial Medicaid pilot program last month, they required the state to funnel an additional $50 million to improving care for low-income patients. That much was clear. But a state panel grappled for hours Thursday with how to carry out the requirements -- an issue that, ultimately, will land in the laps of Florida lawmakers." "Panel Wrestles with Federal Rules for Health Funding".
Entrepreneurs in action
"Florida AG lawsuit: West Palm Beach firms preyed on distressed homeowners".
Scott goes a little green, Teabaggers in a dither
"Environmentalists were cautiously encouraged by the governor's pledge of support for cleaning up Everglades pollution, but some remain skeptical that a state plan will get the job done." "Scott ‘optimistic’ on resolving Glades disputes". See also "Environmental advocates praise Gov. Rick Scott's commitment to restore central Everglades".
The Miami Herald editorial board: "The Everglades: It’s all business".
Drill baby, drill!
"HB 695 by Rep. Clay Ford, chairman of the House Federal Affairs Subcommittee, states that exploration and drilling on state lands may produce "significant" monetary reward. The bill is raising concerns among environmentalists because it makes no reference to environmental safeguards or distinction over which state lands could be used for exploration and drilling." "Bill seeks to generate state revenue from new oil and gas drilling on state lands".
"A new call to raise premiums"
The Orlando Sentinel editorial board: "We've backed a number of reforms in past years to improve the private insurance market in Florida, but we're not yet sold on a new call to raise premiums at Citizens Property Insurance Corp. by more than 10 percent a year." "Insurance rate hike needs more study".
Gingrich's Florida crew
"McCollum, Crotty to run Gingrich's Florida campaign".
"While most eyes are on the battle for the Republican presidential nomination and the upcoming session of the Florida Legislature which opens next week, the team behind U.S. Rep. Connie Mack, who is running for the Republican nomination to challenge Democrat incumbent U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson in 2012, continues to plan ahead for their campaign. Jeff Cohen, Mack’s campaign manager, sent out a memo on Thursday to key supporters arguing that his candidate had 'great momentum' in the race. " "In Presidential Race's Shadow, GOP Senate Hopefuls Plug Away".
Judge blocks Scott's plan to "slice millions of dollars" from disabled
"A Miami-Dade Circuit Court judge has issued a preliminary injunction against a plan by the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) to slice millions of dollars in payments to facilities that serve people with developmental disabilities." "Miami-Dade judge blocks cuts to disability treatment centers".
Casino permits may be subject to local vote outside SoFla
"In an effort to win support and silence critics, the Senate sponsor of the bill to bring resort casinos to Florida wants to let voters approve any new gambling and allow counties outside of Miami-Dade and Broward to compete for three megacasino permits."
The changes to be unveiled today by state Sen. Ellyn Bogdanoff, R-Fort Lauderdale, will open the door to the possibility of a resort casino in Tampa Bay or Palm Beach County, provided voters approve and investors spend at least $2 billion. The revised proposal would also allow voters in counties outside Miami-Dade and Broward to give slot machines to their horse and dog tracks, and jai alai frontons."Revised gambling bill asks voters to decide fate of casinos, would allow for expansion in Tampa Bay". See also "Stakes Growing as Gambling Bill Approaches First Vote". Meanwhile, "Construction workers plug destination resort" and "Touting jobs, construction groups build up support for casino bill".
But the measure also attempts to shut the door on loopholes that have allowed the proliferation of gambling at Internet cafes, the expansion of parimutuels at the Gretna barrel racing track and summer jai alai permits. The measure bans any new parimutuel permits, revokes all dormant permits, regulates all Internet cafes and prevents the opening of any new facilities.
Bogdanoff will ask the Senate Regulated Industries Committee to approve the amendment when the bill comes up for its first vote on Monday, the day before the legislative session begins.