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217 posts from September 2009

September 28, 2009

Crist gets cash assistance from the 'rents

Gov. Charlie Crist is well past the weekly allowance stage, but he's still getting cash help from Mom and Dad. The latest e-mail from the Crist for U.S. Senate campaign comes from Crist's parents, Dr. Charles and Nancy Crist.

"We are confident that our son Charlie is the leader Floridians need in Washington," the e-mail states. "There are only two days left in this fundraising period, and we ask you to join us in supporting the Crist for Senate campaign by visiting www.CharlieCrist.com and making a contribution of $10, $25, $50 or even $100."

Dr. Crist touts his son's Cover Florida health care plan, saying that "as a family physician, I am confident that this type of reform will increase the number of Florida families covered by medical insurance, while reducing the taxpayer burden of costly emergency care the uninsured must often seek when a medical emergency arises."

The letter does not mention the fact that only 4,129 people have enrolled since Cover Florida began in March. An estimated 3,560 Floridians lose health insurance each week.

Read the e-mail here: Download Dear Friends092809

Crist faces PSC deadline this week; will he re-shape or keep panel?

Gov. Charlie Crist has until Oct. 3 to appoint two people to a four-year term on the Public Service Commission and decide the fate of incumbent commissioners Matthew Carter and Katrina McMurrian. The position pays $133,000 a year. If the governor fails to make an appointment, the PSC nominating council will choose. Commission Chairman Matthew Carter, who is hoping to be reappointed to the post, complicated the governor's decision last week when he extended the FPL rate case into January.

Read full story on the nominees here. The candidates are:

Continue reading "Crist faces PSC deadline this week; will he re-shape or keep panel?" »

September 27, 2009

A tale of two cities, one health crisis

More than half of Hialeah adults aged 18-64 -- 53.1 percent -- lack health insurance, according to Census data. That's almost three times the national average and the highest rate in South Florida. The lowest -- 13.8 percent -- is in Weston.

That disparity "could certainly be a poster child about the need for reform,'' says Robert Berenson, a physician who is a health policy expert at the Urban Institute.

The congressmen for the two cities -- Republican Lincoln Diaz-Balart for Hialeah and Democrat Debbie Wasserman Schultz for Weston -- agree reform is needed, but have completely different ideas on what should be done. Read more here.

September 26, 2009

George Will: "A ripe time for Florida's Marco Rubio"

George Will is the latest national conservative to weigh in on behalf of Marco Rubio, predicting he'll take the Republican nomination from Charlie Crist -- a "governor at odds with his party's nominating electorate" and win the general against Rep. Kendrick Meek -- "a hyper-liberal congressman."

Read more here.

On the hot seat, PSC chairman extends FPL rate case into January

A week before the governor must decide whether to reappoint him to the Public Service Commission, the chairman of the panel ruled Friday that the largest rate case of his term should extend into January, and into the new terms of either him or his successor. 

PSC Chairman Matthew Carter made the decision to extend the Florida Power & Light rate case until Jan. 11, after the proceedings went into overtime this month. Carter is up for reappointment to a new four-year term which would begin Jan. 4. If Crist fails to reappoint him and Carter's schedule holds, the governor risks bringing new blood onto the panel in the midst of the rate case, making it difficult for Carter's successor to be an active participant in the final ruling.

Carter has scheduled the hearings to resume Oct. 21 but FPL executives this week asked for Carter to reschedule that for Oct. 1, a request Carter rejected.

In a letter to Carter on Friday, FPL Vice President Wade Litchfield suggested that if FPL doesn't get a rate increase by Jan. 1, its return on equity "is projected to decline to a grossly inadequate 4.69%.''  To avoid that, he suggested that the $1 billion rate increase FPL is seeking should automatically take effect on Jan. 4, as the commission has agreed to earlier this year if the case was not complete. 

"This would be an inequitable, arbitrary and capricious outcome,'' he wrote.  Download Litchfield letter 92509 Customers would be refunded the difference, if the PSC orders a lower rate increase, he said.

Continue reading "On the hot seat, PSC chairman extends FPL rate case into January" »

Ethics investigation against Edgar failed to check story with record

Public Service Commissioner Lisa Edgar was cleared of ethics charges that she improperly communicated with a utility lobbyist about a pending case, but the Ethics Commission never verified if the story checked out with the audio or video tape record.

Now, Steve Stewart, the owner of a Tallahasee copy center and former Office of Public Counsel analyst, says the inconsistencies that emerge with the story from Edgar and her aide, Roberta Bass, and the audio time stamps raise new questions. He says the investigation is incomplete and, unless someone can explain the inconsistencies, he may file a new complaint. Story here. 

September 25, 2009

Aronberg's gameday offense: Cash Play in Delray

Tomorrow's a big day in college football, Florida football in particular -- with Miami taking on Virginia Tech, FSU hosting USF and UF trying to maintain its No. 1 ranking against Kentucky.

But winning an Attorney General race doesn't come cheap, so Sen. Dave Aronberg will seek donations at a Delray Beach fundraiser while the rest of Florida guzzles beer and noshes wings. The fundraiser is hosted by assistant attorneys general Melanie Surber and Dan Hyndman and their spouses.

Aronberg, D-Greenacres, has boasted of his support and endorsements from the law enforcement community. (Opponent Sen. Dan Gelber, D-Miami Beach, got former US Attorney General Janet Reno's support.)

The two-hour cocktail reception starts at 4 p.m, by which time the FSU-USF score will be final and the 'Canes will be well into the first half. Sen. Aronberg will, however, have plenty of time to see the UF game that kicks off at 6.

See the invite here: Download AronbergInvite9-26-09

Broward GOP chair blames one party control for corruption

Why three corruption arrests for three Democrats in Broward this week in separate federal corruption probes?

Broward Republican Chair Chip LaMarca has the answer: "Easy answer: lack of accountability, transparency and a 'skirt the boundaries' mentality that all too often occurs when there is total one party control of our county and municipal governments,'' he wrote in a press release issued today.

Though LaMarca wrote that it wouldn't be fair to paint all Democratic politicians with the same brush, he said that there are no checks and balances with the Dems having a monopoly in Broward. He calls for local government agencies to ban their own elected officials from working as lobbyists.

Gov. Charlie Crist suspended County Commissioner Josephus Eggelletion and School Board Member Bev Gallagher this week. Fitzroy Salesman was no longer on the Miramar City Commission at the time of his arrest.

But Democrats aren't the only ones who have gotten in trouble in Broward. Former Deerfield Beach Mayor Al Capellini and former Deerfield Beach City Commissioner Steve Gonot were both charged by the Broward state attorney in separate corruption probes in 2008.

Hasner: McCollum was right to oppose felons' rights push

Big shocker here: Republicans in the Bill McCollum camp are saying "I told you so" in the wake of this week's news that some felons' rights were wrongfully restored -- saying it shows AG McCollum was right to oppose the expansion that has been a hallmark of Crist's administration, and one supported by Dems.

House Majority Leader Adam Hasner morning seized on the apparent wrongful restoration of some Florida felons' rights -- including a man who raped a minor -- as an opportunity to attack Democratic gubernatorial candidate Alex Sink. And he said the program should be suspended altogether "until proper safeguards can be put in place and the public can be assured that mistakes like this will not happen again."

“No one should be surprised that a child rapist and 12 other felons had their rights restored under the newly expanded felons’ rights restoration program.  Not having proper safeguards in place makes mistakes like these inevitable,” said Hasner (R-Delray Beach), in a released statement.
Sink was the only Cabinet member Thursday to propose that the 13 questionable restorations be rescinded immediately, rather than wait a few months while the matter is further investigated. But that didn't win her any points with Hasner, who we're guessing will check the "McCollum for Goverbor" box come November 2010.

“Alex Sink’s statements of concern from yesterday ignore the fact that she strongly supported the very changes that resulted in these errors which restored the rights of 13 felons, including a child rapist," Hasner said. "Sink’s aggressive backtracking from her unequivocal support of this ACORN-backed policy makes it clear that Bill McCollum was right to oppose the expansion of this program in the first place."

Hurricane satellite to topple from the sky? Ron Klein seeks to come up with a new one

Rep. Ron Klein says an internal memo from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association suggests "imminent failure" of a hurricane tracking satellite -- and he's introduced legislation to support a "cutting-edge next generation satellite system."

The memo, titled "Impacts of Likely Upcoming Failure of NASA’s QuikSCAT satellite," states that the QuikSCAT hurricane tracking satellite, which is now eight years past its original useful life, is exhibiting signs of mechanical difficulty and is likely to fail in a matter of "weeks or months."

Klein said he's long anticipated the satellite's failure and has pushed for development of a next-generation satellite, working with colleagues on legislative solutions in both 2007 and 2008. The bill introduced today authorizes the construction of next-generation hurricane tracking satellites, as recommended by the
NASA Jet Propulsion Lab. Klein said they'd provide better information to narrow the cone of uncertainty.

"This is a serious wake-up call which reminds us we have no time to waste," Klein said. "When a storm is bearing down on South Florida, we need the most up-to-the-minute technology available to protect our families."