Since 2002, daily Florida political news and commentary


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Welcome To Florida Politics

Thanks for visiting. On a semi-daily basis we scan Florida's major daily newspapers for significant Florida political news and punditry. We also review the editorial pages and political columnists/pundits for Florida political commentary. The papers we review include: the Miami Herald, Sun-Sentinel, Palm Beach Post, Naples News, Sarasota Herald Tribune, St Pete Times, Tampa Tribune, Orlando Sentinel, the Daytona Beach News-Journal, Tallahassee Democrat, and, occasionally, the Florida Times Union; we also review the political news blogs associated with these newspapers.

For each story, column, article or editorial we deem significant, we post at least the headline and link to the piece; the linked headline always appears in quotes. We quote the headline for two reasons: first, to allow researchers looking for the cited piece to find it (if the link has expired) by searching for the original title/headline via a commercial research service. Second, quotation of the original headline permits readers to appreciate the spin from the original piece, as opposed to our spin.

Not that we don't provide spin; we do, and plenty of it. Our perspective appears in post headlines, the subtitles within the post (in bold), and the excerpts from the linked stories we select to quote; we also occasionally provide other links and commentary about certain stories. While our bias should be immediately apparent to any reader, we nevertheless attempt to link to every article, column or editorial about Florida politics in every major online Florida newspaper.


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Previous Articles by Derek Newton: Ten Things Fox on Line 1 Stem Cells are Intelligent Design Katrina Spin No Can't Win Perhaps the Most Important Race Senate Outlook The Nelson Thing Deep, Dark Secret Smart Boy Bringing Guns to a Knife Fight Playing to our Strength  

The Blog for Wednesday, February 08, 2006

"[T]his administration's biggest failures"

    "One of this administration's biggest failures [and there have been many] has been inadequate oversight of outsourced private contracts." "Efficiency debate begins anew".

    Voucher Madness

    "Man gets 5 years for misusing school voucher money".

    Rewriting History

    "With his education legacy threatened by a state Supreme Court ruling against vouchers, Gov. Jeb Bush is revving up his recently resurrected private foundation to defend and tout his education achievements." "Bush revives educational foundation".

    Florida Lags Behind

    "Florida was ahead of the curve in dumping punch cards and embracing electronic voting, but it hasn't been part of the latest national trend toward requiring a ballot "paper trail" to accompany electronic machines, a new report says." "Florida voting still lacking paper trail".


    "According to a House staff analysis, the bill could cost between $725,000 and $2 million the first year because of the increased testing. Given what's at stake and the size of the state budget, the expense is minuscule. The same analysis warns of constitutional issues between the legislative and judicial branches over which sets rules for courts, but surely there are minds in Tallahassee that can work out how to reach a goal that everyone should agree on: If there are other Alan Crotzers [who 'was released after the state stole more than half his life'], they deserve every chance to get back what remains of their lives." "End the DNA deadline".

    League of Conservation Voters Hammers Harris

    From a League of Conservation Voters press release: "The League of Conservation Voters (LCV) today strongly criticized Rep. Harris' most recent comments as further evidence of her appalling lack of credibility on one of the most important concerns for Florida - offshore drilling." "Even Rep. Katherine Harris Admits She "Flip-Flops" on Offshore Drilling".

    Big Money

    "More than $1 million was raised for the Charlie Crist campaign as about 400 supporters from throughout Florida gathered at the seaside Mar-a-Lago Club of Donald J. Trump, who hosted the event." "Crist For Governor Campaign Raises $1 Million At Mar-a-Lago Event".

    Window Dressing

    Bush league:

    Bush's plan to diversify the types of fuel used to make electricity in Florida doesn't do enough to promote renewable sources like solar power, a group of environmentalists said Tuesday.

    They also criticized Bush's energy plan for relying too heavily on nuclear power and coal and for not doing enough to slow global warming, and said Florida doesn't spend as much as other states on clean energy initiatives.

    Bush administration officials acknowledge the plan may not have goals as lofty as those in some states but argue that promoting renewable energy sources is one of the Bush plan's central themes.
    "Bush's energy plan falls short, critics say".


    "A committee calling for an independent redistricting commission in Florida passed a major hurdle last week -- winning state Election Division certification for 611,009 voter signatures required to get the proposed constitutional amendment on the fall ballot." "Closer to fairness".

    GOoPer "Powerhouse" Wants Oil Drilling in Florida Waters

    "Declaring it will ease soaring gas prices, the Republican chairman of the Senate Energy Committee filed legislation Tuesday that takes direct aim at Florida waters." "Bill would allow oil exploration closer to Fla. coast" ("A Senate powerhouse filed legislation to open Florida waters to oil and gas exploration, touching off a tug of war for Florida lawmakers opposed to drilling.") See also "Senators push for oil drilling in Gulf" ("Florida's long-standing and successful opposition to offshore drilling is in for a stiff new test") and "U.S. Senate bill seeks to open drilling off Florida".

    This shouldn't give Floridians a lot of comfort: "the legislation would have to pass the Energy Committee, where Martinez currently holds a seat.". Id. See also "Drilling plan irks Florida's senators".

    Now That The Election Is Over ...

    Dubya disses Florida yet again. In the meantime, "Jeb!" is AWOL:

    As Florida's congressional delegation and others go over President Bush's budget proposal, they are coming up with a mixed things to say about it, and even Republicans are voicing concerns that the budget will hurt the state.

    "It just seems like there's a compounding of issues that are facing Florida right now that a budget reduction has an inordinate burden on Floridians," said U.S. Rep. Mark Foley. ...

    In general, Democrats representing Florida in Washington were highly critical of the overall proposal.

    "The budget looks about what it would look like if my first grader had written it. It bares about that much resemblance to reality," said U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz. "I have never seen a more callous, more insensitive proposed budget than this one."

    Sen. Bill Nelson said it is fiscally irresponsible.
    "President's budget proposal offers mixed bag for Florida".

    "Jeb!" Jeopardizing Integrity of Tourism Industry

    Another result of "Jeb!"'s brilliant strategy of emptying state buildings: "Florida's hotels, motels and apartments are not being inspected as often as the law requires, jeopardizing the integrity of the state's tourism industry, according to a new audit." "Check under that hotel bed; audit says state isn't".

    Even "State's Top Business Leaders" Can See It

    The latest wisdom from Florida's self proclaimed "business leaders", the Council of 100: "Florida's long-term economic future hinges on needed improvements to an education system that ranks low nationally in several categories along with better-paying jobs, cheaper sources of energy and affordable housing, a group of business leaders said Tuesday." "Business group assesses outlook". See also "Thorny issues could mar state's future" ("the state's future will be marred by a host of thorny issues -- sub-par high schools, low-wage jobs, skyrocketing home prices and transportation gridlock -- unless state leaders take action, the state's top business leaders warned in a report released Tuesday.")

    Scathing Audits

    "Florida's largest state agency may end the outsourcing of pharmaceutical pill-splitting and repackaging as lawmakers fume after two scathing audits." "Audits prompt drug review State might stop paying outside firms to handle inmates' drugs".

    Eating Their Own

    "The best seat in the House -- or the Senate -- will be in the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday. The panel will take up a bill filed by Rep. Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala, to make it a felony for a business owner to prohibit people from keeping guns in their cars in the parking lot of a workplace. The bill (HB 129) is a priority of the National Rifle Association, but the NRA faces business community resistance. The Florida Chamber of Commerce is lobbying lawmakers to sink the bill, and NRA lobbyist Marion Hammer issued an e-mail alert Tuesday accusing the Chamber of "picking a Second Amendment fight with firearms owners."" "The NRA vs. Florida Chamber". See also "NRA bill would OK guns in cars at work" and "Gun bill divides GOP base".

    Crist in Pensacola

    "Florida Attorney General Charlie Crist chose a Pensacola elementary school trying to make a turnaround to kick off a gubernatorial campaign swing through the Panhandle on Tuesday." "Crist stresses education".

    Same As The Old Boss

    "Since Rep. Foley and Rep. Shaw endorsed Rep. Blunt, they might not have much direct influence — and they themselves might not yet understand how serious the need for reform is. If anybody in the Republican leadership does, he or she might want to bring it to Rep. Boehner's urgent attention. In the meantime, Democrats can thank Rep. Boehner for keeping the Abramoff issue alive." "Meet the new GOP boss; same as the old boss".

    Gay Vote

    "In the Florida elections this fall, gay and lesbian activists plan to wield their political clout - estimated by some at 1 million of the 10.5 million registered voters in the state. Toward that end, a dormant political group - the Hillsborough County Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender and Allies Democratic Caucus - has reorganized." "Democratic Gay Group Resurfaces In Hillsborough".

    Gallagher Complaint

    "A Republican, the former certified public accountant said she and her husband have no ties to any gubernatorial campaign." "Librarian files ethics complaint over Gallagher's stock trading".

    A Little Late

    "State utility regulators voted Tuesday to require power and phone companies to significantly step up their inspections of poles, a reaction to widespread outages in Hurricane Wilma, which broke thousands of them." "Regulators order utilities to inspect power poles every 8 years".

    Gallagher Bashing

    Mike Thomas: "If I wanted a Democrat for governor, the first thing I'd do is register as a Republican and vote for Tom Gallagher in the primary." "Democrats' prayer: GOP picks Gallagher". See also "Enough Experience To Know Better" and "Watching the 'watchdog'".

The Blog for Tuesday, February 07, 2006

"Gubernatorial Politics?"

    Crist supporter "Sen. Mike Fasano, apparently disgusted by recent news reports about Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher's past ownership of insurance company stocks while he was insurance commissioner, has a solution: Make all Cabinet officers put their personal fortunes into mutual funds or blind trusts when they take office." "Good legislation or gubernatorial politics?"

    Throwing Money in the Marketplace

    Gotta love the Jebbie's love of corporate welfare. In any event, any

    enthusiasm should be tempered with caution: $630 million is a lot of taxpayer money to bank on one industry, especially with $369 million already pledged toward a Scripps Florida venture still looking for a permanent site to call home.
    "Bush wants to spend $630 million on bio-tech incentives".

    Data Breach

    "Two ex-employees of a former Convergys subcontractor filed suit against the subcontractor last year, alleging that state documents were sent to India and Barbados, and possibly to China, for processing into the People First system. People First is Gov. Jeb Bush's largest 'outsourcing' project, a nine-year, $350 million contract for online personnel services." "Union calls DMS data breach e-mail 'vague'".

    99 Percent Ethical

    "According to numerous interpretations of Florida ethics law, a potential conflict doesn't arise until a public official has a 1 percent stake in the company doing business with the state." "State ethics line at 1 percent".

    "Snazzy slogan"

    "Armed with bilingual commercials and a snazzy slogan -- ''Informed. Prepared. Protected'' -- Gov. Jeb Bush announced a new disaster-readiness campaign Monday after completing an exercise to test the state's response to a terrorist-made flu pandemic." "Bush focuses on disaster preparedness".


    "All Too Often, 'Squalid' Defines Farmworkers' American Dream". See also "Migrant labor panel focuses on housing, safety" and "Farmworker safety proposals face tough sell" ("Members of the commission openly worried about the line legislators will have to walk between protecting farmworkers who are vulnerable to abuse and appeasing a large segment of Floridians who believe illegals should either be sent back home or shouldn't receive any government help at all.")

    The Nerve off these People

    "Before a crowd of business leaders Monday, Gov. Jeb Bush teed off on petition-gathering groups that have managed to get constitutional amendments before Florida voters." "Bush denounces petition-gathering groups".


    "State among top 10 in suicides".

    More GOoPer Business Values

    "The state has spent more than $4 million on a professional-liability insurance policy for teachers that has paid out just $50,000 in claims since the program was initiated four years ago." And try not to lagh at this:

    Jeb Bush, who has clashed with unions since he took office in 1999, defended the program, saying that teachers need the protection it provides.
    "Teachers' union critical of state insurance program".

    Karl and "Jeb!" talk 'Glades

    Jebbie's has been in talks with getting outa more Everglades cleanup supervision, and the folks he met with included, ahem, "the office of presidential adviser Karl Rove, the newspaper said." "In Glades cleanup, 'close enough' is far from finished".

    The Palm Beach Post editorial board has more, in "Retain federal oversight of Everglades cleanup":

    Let's see. Florida weakens Everglades cleanup rules and postpones the deadline for meeting them, at the urging of Gov. Bush and the sugar industry. The sugar industry complains and gets a tough federal judge removed from overseeing the cleanup. But as it turns out, U.S. District Judge Federico Moreno is every bit as tough. He demands that the state and the sugar growers keep their promises.

    What to do?

    If you're Gov. Bush, you lobby your brother's administration to end federal court oversight of the $1.1 billion cleanup altogether. You pressure the Justice Department and the Interior Department and regulators. In short, you try to cut the judge out of it. This tactic, which The Post reported last week, gets seamier.
    Read how it gets "seamier" here.

    Imagine That

    "For a state that claims to embrace law and order, it sure is tough on its prosecutors and public defenders. Pay is the issue. It's simply too low to attract and retain quality lawyers to Florida's state attorney and public defender offices, which face ever increasing challenges of employment turnover." "Turnover is plaguing state prosecutors and public defenders".

    Lobbyists Lawyer Up

    "Lobbyists are close to filing a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of a new state law requiring them to disclose their fees. The Buzz has received an e-mail circulated by the board of the Florida Association of Professional Lobbyists (FAPL), laying out some details of the legal strategy." "Taking Aim at Lobbyist Fee Disclosure".

    Photo Ops Galore

    "Republican U.S. Reps. Katherine Harris of Sarasota and Ginny Brown-Waite of Brooksville have headed to Iraq as part of a Congressional delegation." "Harris, Brown-Waite Head To Iraq".

The Blog for Monday, February 06, 2006

The Panache Thing

    Adam Smith argues that
    If elections were decided at rubber chicken luncheons and Democratic club meetings, state Sen. Rod Smith, 56, could be well on his way to trouncing U.S. Rep. Jim Davis, 48, for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination.

    Whether it's Smith's courtroom-tested persuasiveness or Davis' affected speaking style, the underdog state senator is winning over gathering after gathering as the candidates campaign side by side.
    He notes, however that
    Elections in America's fourth-biggest state aren't decided by the tiny sliver of the electorate that sees candidates in person, however, and most modern Florida governors have been dry public speakers.
    "Davis has the cash but lacks panache".


    "The lobbying scandal sparked by Jack Abramoff has focused national attention on private groups that shell out millions to underwrite trips for members of Congress. The fallout has sparked a drive for a ban or new limits. But that didn't stop Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite, R-Crystal River, from heading to the Middle East with a pro-Israeli group or deter Rep. Tom Feeney, R-Oviedo, from traveling to China on the tab of a private group." "Lawmakers say trips are work".


    "Lawmakers aim to grow revenue by reforming a tax law for farmers that is widely abused by developers." "Farm tax reform is sought".

    The Workers Remain ... They're Just Privatized

    "Fewer state workers after two Bush terms".

    Death Penalty

    "The way Florida administers the death penalty is fast becoming a national question after the U.S. Supreme Court halted two executions in recent weeks because of concerns over the state's use of lethal injection." "Florida's execution process faces death knell".

    Same Sex Adoption

    "Davis says he supports adoption by same-sex couples, not marriage".

    In his shirt sleeves, with a quietly passionate speaking voice, Davis promised the gay community his support.

    "You elect me governor," he said, "and I'll protect you, your partner, your lifetime companion and your family every day. And I'll treat you with respect and allow you to enjoy the freedom and dignity every Floridian should enjoy."

    (State Sen. Rod Smith, Davis' opponent in the Democratic primary, had planned to attend the conference but canceled because he had to attend a funeral, event planners said.)

    Davis said he would propose an end to the state's ban on gays and lesbians adopting children.
    "How close is close enough?"


    "The man who worked so hard to defeat Theresa LePore told the county's legislative delegation that he wants to eliminate voting on the Sunday before an election. He claims that working on Sunday puts 'a tremendous strain' on his staff and diminishes its ability to prepare for the Tuesday voting. What would any Florida elections supervisor be without complaints about the workload? Never mind that closing the polls on Sunday would disenfranchise some voters, which all the legislative reforms after the 2000 debacle were supposed to prevent. Mr. Anderson should be looking for more ways to give voters opportunities, not take them away." "A trail less followed".

    Domestic partner benefits

    "Unmarried workers at UF may not have signed up for health benefits for their partners because of tax penalties." "Domestic partner benefits plan nets few".


    "Fla. legislators consider requiring generators for gas stations, nursing homes".

    Privatization Follies

    "State employees could try that while reading a letter that the Department of Management Services sent out last week, responding to news reports that some Convergys employees and a former subcontractor handled sensitive personnel files with a dignity one might find at a toga party. But, if you quaff a beer every time DMS Secretary Tom Lewis tells employees there's nothing to worry about, you might first want to stock up on hangover remedies." "DMS, don't worry Ð no, really, don't".

    To Replace Harris

    "Detert says she's Seabiscuit candidate".

    Mahoney Strong

    "The eagerly anticipated first campaign finance report for Democratic congressional hopeful Tim Mahoney shows the rookie candidate garnered a not-to-be-sneezed-at $271,764 by adhering to one of the bedrock principles of political money-raising: Start with the people you know." "Foley opponent raises $271,764, much from self, outside district".

    Crist's "Steady Crusade"

    "With Tom Gallagher staking much of his campaign for governor on a faith and family appeal to religious conservatives, his rival is countering with his own mantle: consistency." "Steady Crusade An Asset For Crist".

    Machek Challenger?

    George Bennett reports that "Attorney Maria Sachs sounds as if she's laying a predicate to challenge state Rep. Richard Machek, D-Delray Beach, in a Democratic primary.".

    No Fault

    "Florida lawmakers can learn a painful lesson from Colorado's no-fault car-insurance debacle. Colorado lawmakers dumped no-fault car insurance three years ago. There have been so many consequences since then that they're now trying to resurrect it." "Painful lesson".

    "Sensible Voting Districts"

    "Detractors have dismissed [redistricting] effort as a political stunt, and it is true supporters are primarily aligned with Democrats - the party out of power. But it's also true that redistricting and reapportionment have become more about politicians choosing their voters than about voters choosing their representatives. Here are some facts. Only one of the 25 congressional races in 2004 had a margin of victory within 10 points. Forty percent of Florida's U.S. representatives - five Democrats and five Republicans - were elected without opposition from a major-party candidate. " "A Chance For Sensible Voting Districts".

    "Presidential line-of-succession expert" ...

    in state next week"".

    No Gloating Zone

    "Republican Charlie Crist and Democrats Jim Davis and Rod Smith - three of the four major candidates for governor - may be rejoicing over reports suggesting possible ethical conflicts of interest by the fourth, Republican Tom Gallagher, but they don't want to appear to gloat." "Rivals Tread Carefully On Gallagher".

The Blog for Sunday, February 05, 2006

The Sunday Papers

    An excellent piece arguing that a "savvy candidate for governor would take a close look at a new survey of school principals about the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test." "Candidates, look at FCAT".

    The rest of today's Florida political news and punditry includes: "Davis says he supports adoption by same-sex couples, not marriage", "Don't let them gut your right of amendment" ("amendments are all that voters have to overrule self-serving politicians. That you dare butt into their private club is of great concern to them"), "Gray areas in lobbyist law lead to lawsuit", "Jeb Bush enjoys sweet ride of booming real estate taxes" ("Once a millionaire real estate developer, Gov. Jeb Bush is now profiting politically from Florida's housing boom with his whopping $70.8 billion budget proposal that's moored to a bounty of new tax receipts")"Everglades crusaders have history on their side", "Pumpkin pie and free parking" ("Lo and behold, that's when Keller realized he'd made a mistake."), "Powering Florida" (Bush's "heavy focus on deregulation and nuclear power is worrisome"), "Under Bush, work force sees moderate decline" as well as this bit from the values crowd: "State fails kids in turmoil".

    And here's a good question:
    Should a state with so much debt, such unpredictable income and such meager investment in its major lines of business be so eager to give away half its projected $3.2-billion tax windfall for next year
    "Sense and surplus" See also "Don't play politics with windfall".

The Blog for Saturday, February 04, 2006

Note To Readers

    Today's political news will be posted later today. Mke that tomorrow.

The Blog for Friday, February 03, 2006

FunnyFresh Face

    The Florida GOP's fresh new face ... Adam Putnam:
    Central Florida Rep. Adam Putnam was elected Thursday to the No. 5 slot in the U.S. House Republican leadership, boosting his career at a young age and giving Florida a key voice in the top circles of Congress.
    "Florida representative joins GOP leadership". See also "Adam Putnam's Got Juice".

    It is not like he didn't have a solid, substantive record of achievement to run on; Putnam is well
    known for his youthful appearance and red hair ...

    Putnam has been seen as a rising star in the party since he was first elected in 2000. He was best known for his first four years in office, however, as the youngest member of Congress.
    "Chairman is a 'fresh face' for House GOP leadership".

    The Wrong Horse

    "South Florida Republican lawmakers were fast out of the gate last month in backing Rep. Roy Blunt -- a show of support that could complicate several members' attempts to secure committee chairmanships, as Blunt Thursday lost the race for the U.S. House's second most powerful post."

    Those signing up to boost Blunt included Miami Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a front-runner for the House International Relations Committee; Rep. Lincoln Díaz-Balart, a Miamian who hopes to lead the House Rules Committee, and Rep. Clay Shaw of Fort Lauderdale, who is in a competitive race to chair the House Ways and Means Committee.
    "Area lawmakers on losing side".

    Hill in Tampa

    "Sen. Hillary Clinton will hold a fundraiser for the Florida Democratic Party on Feb. 23 in Tampa." "Clinton Will Stump For State Party".

    "Unintended Side Effect"

    "Gov. Jeb Bush said Thursday he would look into an apparently unintended side effect of the new Medicare law that has some severely ill people without coverage for their life-threatening diseases." "Medicare shift leaves some patients in lurch".

    "Jeb!" MIA on Oil Drilling

    This is too polite:

    Sens. Nelson and Martinez suggest allowing limited exploration, but farther from Florida's coasts than anything currently proposed. Their plan is boosted by their single, bipartisan voice, but it is anything but a sure bet. Today's political climate is increasingly receptive to environmental compromise for the sake of expanding domestic energy supplies.

    If the governor adds his voice to their plan, as he should, its chances of success would climb significantly. His response so far is measured, but hopeful.
    "Mutual consent".

    In the meantime, "Senators Forge Compromise Gulf Drilling Bill".

    Dem Debate

    "The Palm Beach Democratic Party organized Thursday's debate between U.S. Rep. Jim Davis of Tampa and state Sen. Rod Smith of Alachua." "Debating Democrats direct all their criticism at GOP". See also "Democratic governor competitors rip into GOP".

    To Put It Bluntly

    Mike Thomas: "A tax cut Jeb announced with much fanfare this week is a shell game being played with your money for political gain." "What's about $250 million to Jeb Bush?" The Sun Sentinel editorial board puts it this way:

    The hurricanes that battered Florida last year will pay off handsomely for politicians, but not for homeowners.

    Here's why:

    Floridians spent lots of money for all sorts of items to safeguard their properties against the storms. That spending spree boosted Tallahassee's tax take by an extra $3.2 billion.

    Lawmakers eager to look good before next fall's elections now plan to generously give Floridians $1.5 billion dollars worth of tax cuts. The biggest chunk will come from a property tax rebate that will put an extra $155, on average, back into homeowners' pockets.

    What the politicians ballyhooing this tax cut won't talk about is the $1.36 billion deficit at Citizens Property Insurance Corp.
    "What Rebate?" And there are better things to do with the cash, according to the Daytona Beach News Journal:
    State government is swimming in money. You can almost hear the self-congratulatory whoops from Tallahassee as lawmakers look for ways to turn a $5.8 billion windfall to their political advantage.

    To legislators, it seems like a feel-good story. But there's a lot in Florida to feel bad about. This state is replete with low-paying part-time jobs. Nearly 20 percent of residents under age 65 lack health insurance. An additional 10 percent rely on Medicaid and other government programs. The number of children living in poverty continues to grow. The state ranks 47th in educational spending, 48th in graduation rates and 29th in teacher salaries.
    "All that cash and pressing needs to spend it on".

    The Florida Dubya (Dubya Dee)

    "The appellate ruling pushes the ex-Florida Senate president [The appellate ruling pushes the ex-Florida Senate president closer to a 31/2-year prison sentence handed down in 2003.] closer to a 31/2-year prison sentence handed down in 2003." "Court affirms Childers' bribery conviction".

    Not Fade Away

    "Marriage Amendment Falls Short - For Now".


    U.S. Education Secretary Margaret "Spellings and Gov. Jeb Bush attended the National Education Data Summit where they urged educators to adopt a data system to better measure where students are doing well and where they're falling behind." "U.S. education chief: Improve tracking of students' progress".

    I Believe It ...

    "Bush plan would diversify state's sources of energy".

    FCAT Follies

    "The Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test is a valuable measuring stick, but the state should stop using it to hand out financial bonuses to schools that get good grades or improve, said a private group headed by a former Democratic legislative leader." "Group calls for end of FCAT financial incentives".

    Joint and Several Liability

    The Tampa Trib editorial board notes that, "as the state's trial lawyers point out, why should an innocent person bear the cost of his injuries? The lawyers make a persuasive argument for retaining what's left of joint and several liability in Florida." "Speaker Bense's Tort Reform Push Lacks Insight From Prior Changes".

    More From The "Values" Crowd

    "Bush sent lawmakers a proposed budget that again doesn't include money to boost the staffing levels." "Rise in nursing home aides not in Bush's plan".


    Only a couple made it:

    Just two of four dozen filed citizens' initiatives will appear before Florida voters in November, having been approved by the Florida Supreme Court and obtaining the required 611,000 signatures to get on the ballot.

    One of the measures, which would create an independent commission to draw legislative and congressional districts, faces stiff opposition from lawmakers and the governor. ...

    Bush supports the other citizens' initiative, one that would require lawmakers to fund anti-smoking ad campaigns aimed at youngsters.
    "Two citizens' initiatives cleared for November ballot".

    Continuing Saga

    "A yearlong battle may not keep touch-screen voting machines without paper ballots out of Volusia County after all. A plan to put a disabled-accessible, all-paper ballot voting system in place for this year's elections appeared to be in deep trouble Thursday following a state announcement that it cannot yet certify some of the necessary equipment." "Volusia County touch-screen voting in limbo".

The Blog for Thursday, February 02, 2006

"Jeb!"'s Tax Cut and Spend Budget

    Lucky "Jeb!". He does nothing, except preside over several hurricanes and a housing boom (that he had absolutely nothing at all to do with) and the money flows in; the extra cash is a mere "windfall generated by the state's housing boom and two years of record sales tax collections, boosted by hurricane reconstruction." "Budget Surplus A Gift To Taxpayers".

    Against that background, "Gov. Jeb Bush sent legislators a $71 billion spending plan for the state that calls for large tax cuts, more money for schools and millions to help the state recover from hurricanes." "Gov. Bush: Tax less, spend more". See also: "Governor proposes $2 billion to build schools", "Governor's budget packed with tax cuts, breaks", "Governor's budget has tax breaks, $2 billion for school construction", "Last Bush budget boosts education, hurricane spending", "Bush's Final Budget Includes A Record $1.5 Billion Tax Cut", "Last Bush budget will help schools" and "Governor proposes something for everyone".

    The political dimension: "Bush proposes $70.8B budget It's 7 percent bigger, but governor says his plan remains based on 'conservative principles.'"

    Details: "The Bush Budget". See also "Other budget highlights".

    "Stifling citizens"

    "The Legislature seldom likes dealing with citizen initiatives to amend the Florida Constitution. Many lawmakers display irritation with voter efforts to "meddle" in state business. They don't directly blame voters, of course -- that would be political suicide. So they gripe about "special interest groups" who promote citizen-backed amendments and "activist courts" that hold lawmakers' feet to the fire in honoring voters' wishes." "Stifling citizens".

    Nelson Wipes the Floor With Harris

    "Sen. Bill Nelson raised twice as much money during the final three months of 2005 as Rep. Katherine Harris did, but her finance chairman said Wednesday that recent high-profile GOP endorsements should bolster her fund-raising efforts. Nelson, D-Fla., raised $2 million during the final quarter for a total of $10.2 million for the year, according to campaign finance reports filed with the Federal Elections Commission. Harris, a Republican from Sarasota who plans to challenge Nelson's reelection in November, raised just over $1 million in the quarter and more than $2.3 million for the year." "Nelson raises twice as much as challenger Harris in quarter". See also "Nelson Leads Harris 8 To 1 in Money", "Harris' Senate bid struggles to raise money" and "Harris lags well behind Nelson, in money raised for Senate race".

    "Gay Marriage" Ban Flops

    "Backers of a proposal to change the constitution to ban gay marriage fell short Wednesday as the deadline passed for garnering enough support to get the amendment on this year's ballot." "Gay marriage ban not on ballot".

    "Drilling Deal" Proposed

    "Florida Sens. Mel Martinez and Bill Nelson announced Wednesday they would support oil and gas exploration in a small portion of the eastern Gulf of Mexico in exchange for a permanent drilling ban in most of the region." "Bill would permanently ban drilling in most of east gulf". See also "2 senators propose drilling deal", "Fla. senators' proposal limits offshore drilling" and "Senators seek broader protection from offshore drilling". The SPT's argues that the "Legislation introduced by Sens. Bill Nelson and Mel Martinez would keep drilling farther from our beaches than any proposal so far." See also "Great if it works".

    GOoPer Cat Fight

    "Gallagher's stock trades fuel intra-party fight".

    Scripps Threats

    "Apparently, state legislators can't stand by during The Scripps Research Institute site debate. So they resort to empty threats, the latest from House Speaker Allan Bense, R-Panama City." "More static on Scripps".

    Imagine That

    "Charter schools don't cure all ills".

    Bankrolling the Family Man

    "[A] 527 group called the Conservative Education Network began running pro-Tom Gallagher radio ads three months ago". The Buzz tells us who they are:

    The Conservative Education Network raised $80,250, nearly all of it in big soft-money denominations of $5,000, $10,000 and $25,000. The leading donors were South Florida insurers that are part of Richard Parrillo's United Auto personal-injury insurance empire. (United Auto's lobbyists before the Legislature and the Cabinet, Mike Colodny and Fred Karlinsky, are supporters of Gallagher's campaign). Other leading CEN contributors are part of Joe Anderson's road-building firms, including Anderson Columbia of Lake City and Suwannee American Cement of Branford. Those firms are also supporters of Gallagher's bid for governor.
    "Tracking Gallagher's 527 Money".

    Death Penalty

    "Bush acknowledged Wednesday that Florida's death penalty is likely on hold until the U.S. Supreme Court can rule on issues raised by two death row inmates whose executions were blocked in the last week." "Death warrants on hold".

    Privatization Follies

    Troxler: "If this jail is run like a business, customers should worry".

    "Selective Aim"

    "Getting more folks involved in democracy is always a noble idea. But if that's really the goal, you'd assume that the state would also be passing out voter-registration forms in more of the offices it actually runs." Good point. "What kind of registration efforts are in place, for example, at the state's Health Department offices, which serve tens of thousands of people? 'Nothing at all,' said Health Department spokesman Fernando Senra. So what's the difference here? Well, the Health Department serves many poor people. And minorities. In other words: a lot of Democrats.". "Taking selective aim at new voters".

    "Jeb!" Snookered by TK

    "Did Gov. Bush help FSU recruit a top high school player?" ("What Wetherell didn't tell Bush is that Rolle [the recruit] also was being heavily recruited by Miami and Florida.")

    Good Luck

    "Make shareholders pay some FPL upgrade cost".

    Crist Supporter Predicts Crist Will Win

    "Veteran Strategist Stipanovich Handicaps Republican Primary For Governor" (via The Buzz).

    Broward GOoPers Heart Chain Gang Charlie

    "Following the lead of local parties in Pasco and Pinellas counties, the Broward Republican executive committee is throwing its support to Charlie Crist. We assume George LeMieux, the Crist campaign's chief of staff and former Broward GOP chairman, may have been helpful with this." "Broward REC Backs Crist".

    Silly Ric

    "To U.S. Rep. Ric Keller, getting $2,000 in freebie parking at Orlando International Airport last year is no big deal: 'It's silly to think you're going to buy a congressman or a senator with free parking.'" "Freebie math".