Friday, March 31, 2006

Fifty State Canvass

Are you ready to make history?
Thanks to the overwhelming support from thousands of Democrats, who donated to get the literature for the canvass printed and shipped, we're on schedule and gearing up for the unprecedented Neighbor-to-Neighbor Organizing Day on April 29th.On that Saturday, thousands of volunteers will recruit hundreds of thousands more Americans committed to changing the status quo this year during door-knocking events in communities across America.Democrats have a clear vision for America, and we're going to get the word out by making personal contact with our neighbors. And along the way we will build new relationships among volunteers on the ground, a network that will have an impact beyond a single day.Whether you've never volunteered or you're a seasoned door-knocking veteran, it is crucial that you take part in this historic organizing push.Please RSVP for an event near you:
http://www.democrats.org/a/2006/03/fifty_state_can.php

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

AMENDMENT TO WEAKEN CLASS-SIZE LIMITS


SENATE PANEL PASSES AMENDMENT TO WEAKEN CLASS-SIZE LIMITS


Associated Press

by Bill Kaczor


A proposed state constitutional amendment that would weaken class-size limits and force public school districts to spend 65 percent of their operating budgets in the classroom narrowly won approval from a Senate committee Tuesday.Education Committee Chairwoman Evelyn Lynn of Ormond Beach joined other Republicans in the 5-3 party line vote but said she had qualms about the legislation, which would ease the classroom restrictions approved by voters in a 2002 amendment."I've had great concern about 65 percent as well as what the voters really want, but I think it's very important that we fully vet this issue," Lynn said.That vetting would have stopped if she had voted against the new amendment because it would have failed on a tie vote.The proposal (SJR 1150) also is important to Gov. Jeb Bush, who campaigned against the 2002 amendment and continues to argue that it will cost the state more than it's worth, and Republican leaders in both legislative chambers.That includes the proposal's sponsor, Sen. Ken Pruitt, R-Port St. Lucie. Republicans have designated him as the Senate's next president should they keep their majority after the Nov. 7 election.Pruitt said he didn't want to speculate on the chances of getting a three-fifths Senate majority - 24 votes - needed to put the measure on the ballot. He said he wanted to take it through the process one step at a time. The measure has two more committee stops before it can go to a floor vote.The Senate last year defeated a similar proposal that received only 19 votes - five less than required - although Republicans have a 26-14 edge in the chamber. The House also would have to pass the amendment by a three-fifths vote, but support is stronger there.Proponents, meanwhile, stepped up the pressure in the House Prekindgergarten-12 Committee by adding provisions to a pair of unrelated bills that would prevent them from going into effect unless the Legislature puts the class size-65 percent amendment on the ballot.Both bills have Republican sponsors and won the committee's approval. One (HB 1243) would increase funding for a teacher training center in Jacksonville and the other (HB 389) would allow school boards to hire retired educators as administrators.Rep. Trey Traviesa, R-Tampa, later said he proposed the linkage to send a message to the public and other lawmakers although he said it wasn't aimed at any particular legislators."First things first, and solving class size is a first thing," Traviesa said.Democrats on the committee objected and voted against the revised bills. Republican Frank Farkas of St. Petersburg voted for the bills but also complained about the tactic."I find this offensive," Farkas said. "I think it's the wrong policy."The proposed amendment would allow school districts to meet the limits on an average districtwide basis instead of in each classroom. The 2002 citizen initiative set them at 18 students per class in prekindergarten through third grade, 22 in fourth through eighth grade and 25 in high school.The new amendment would cap individual class sizes at five students above the average in each category."Even should this pass, we would still have the most stringent class size law in the land," Pruitt told the committee.Sen. Ron Klein, D-Delray Beach, said voters were clear in what they wanted four years ago."They were thinking their child's classroom, Johnny's classroom," Klein said. "They weren't thinking formulas we created districtwide and schoolwide."Opponents include unions representing teachers and other school workers and the Florida PTA. They also questioned linking class-size modification to what is being touted nationally by an organization called First Class Education as the "65 percent solution" for school funding.Many conservatives such as columnist George Will have embraced the idea as a way to sow dissension in teachers unions. It would increase teacher pay by cutting non-classroom spending, a method that would avoid raising taxes."Sixty-five percent of what?" Klein asked. "The public needs to know because otherwise it's an illusory argument, it's a sham."The national campaign does not count transportation, libraries, counselors, nurses, reading specialists and teacher training as classroom expenses.Pruitt said it would be up to the Legislature to put the details into law after the amendment is passed.Florida Schools Boards Association executive director Wayne Blanton said his organization is supporting the legislation and has assurance from legislative leaders that Florida would have its own formula that counts certain support functions as classroom expenses. As a result, the amendment may require few if any spending

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Voters Uncertain


Voters Uncertain Who Should Replace Gov. Jeb Bush
Election To Take Place In September



In its first statewide political poll of this campaign year, NBC 6 found many Floridians unaware of who might replace Gov. Jeb Bush, and what to make of their choices.
Democrats and Republicans will pick their candidates for governor in September, which is less than six months away. Out of a dozen South Florida voters who spoke to NBC 6 on Monday, only one had made up her mind.
Poll Results Click Here


There they go again

First they never believed in States Rights See: Bush V Gore
Now they do not want County or City Rule

Republican legislators file numerous bills taking away authority from counties, cities

By Joni Jamesand Letitia Stein St. Petersburg Times

One proposal would fine cities for planting a tree within 350 feet of a billboard.Another plan would ask voters to mandate that county school boards spend 65 percent of funds in classrooms.Other proposals would undercut local governments' authority in growth management, property tax assessments and property condemnation.Welcome to the 2006 Florida Legislature, where the Republican mantra of "local control" espoused by Ronald Reagan looks a bit out of date.Dozens of bills have been filed by the Republican majority this session that, if approved, would usurp local government authority on such diverse matters as sewer systems and zoning. The trend has left local government officials, even Republicans, baffled.Most are at the behest of individuals or business interests trying to get around local obstacles. And some are politically popular, such as a property tax plan to allow homeowners to keep their tax savings under Save Our Homes when they move, if they buy a more expensive home. It would cost local governments billions in unrealized tax revenue.Legislators argue it's appropriate. While the late President Reagan preached "devolution" in government -- putting authority as close to the voters as possible -- he didn't mean the state should abdicate common sense, they contend."It's a system of checks and balances," said Sen. Nancy Argenziano, R-Dunnellon, who for a third year is pushing a plan to give farm owners surrounded by development the upper hand in asking for zoning changes with local government. "If there have been abuses, the state needs to step in."But local government advocates and their allies aren't so sure. They argue that it's often special interests that win out over communities' self-determination.One big worry: that local governments will lose their ability to enforce tougher standards for their communities, such as requiring developers to get new roads or schools built more quickly than state requirements."This is to me not a partisan thing at all. It's a matter of bad public policy," said Republican Tom Pelham, a Tallahassee land-use lawyer and secretary of the Department of Community Affairs under Gov. Bob Martinez." The state Legislature is just eating away at local authority and seriously undermining growth management."Take, for example, the bill that would define, for the first time, "view zones" for billboards along the state's roadways. Any local government that violated such zones -- 350 feet in a 35 mph zone, 500 feet in faster zones -- with road beautification efforts would have to compensate the billboard owner.Legislators say it's a matter of economic importance."Tourism depends on billboards, not on trees," said Rep. Randy Johnson, R-Celebration, reflecting the view of the state's powerful display advertising industry that feels vulnerable to the political whims of local governments. "These billboards are important. They feed lots of families."The measure has offended Bill Jonson, Clearwater's vice mayor and a Republican. Three times this year he has traveled to Tallahassee as president of Citizens for A Scenic Florida to testify against it, saying it hampers Florida's beautification efforts.He sees the billboard bill as part of a growing trend of the state infringing upon communities' ability to build the kind of cities and towns they want."In the last five years, really since Republicans took control, there seems to be more of this going on than previously, which is baffling," said Jonson. "It's special property rights, not property rights for everyone."Tampering with local government authority is nothing new in Tallahassee. And official lobbyists for counties and cities are careful not to offend legislators even as they work issue by issue to stem the tide."Is it better to leave it in the hands of those local officials who represent the local concerns or to move to a statewide policy?" said Palmer Mason, legislative director for the Florida Association of Counties. "Clearly, we would support the ability of local officials to debate that at the local level because they represent the local citizens."Democrats were just as guilty in the past of imposing new requirements on local governments without additional funding, said Rep. Jack Seiler, D-Wilton Manors.One such measure is prompted by big business and the evolving technology of telecommunications. Members of the telecom industry, including Verizon, want to avoid having to negotiate with a multitude of local governments, which now regulate cable television, by creating a statewide franchise for television service.Senate President Tom Lee of Valrico and House Speaker Allan Bense of Panama City argue no one should read much into the plethora of bills being filed, but should wait until the Legislature finishes its work to judge. The nine-week session ends May 5."The only thing I remind you is these bills haven't passed yet and sometimes they can be amended," Bense said, noting he objected to a plan that would require new gas stations to install generators for operation after hurricanes. Such requirements, he said, should be mandated only by local governments that grant building permits.Lee argues the Legislature has a responsibility to check local authority. "I think sometimes there is a lot of meddling that goes on," Lee said.
Copyright © 2006, South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Republicans are losing ground in Florida

Republicans are losing ground in Georgia and Florida over Bush's handling of the Iraq war according to a new poll previewed by a conservative columnist.

The poll, which surveyed 4,000 in Southern states, finds that Bush has higher disapproval ratings than approval ratings. Bush won both states in 2004.Excerpts from the column by Matt Lowery, a onetime staffer of former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich:#The final, comprehensive results of the poll weren't yet complete when this column was filed. Over 4,000 interviews have been conducted, however -- enough to render persuasively alarming news for the GOP. For example, in the populous states of Florida and Georgia, more respondents want the Democrats to control Congress next year than they do the Republicans.President George W. Bush won both states in 2004, and yet he now has higher disapproval ratings than approval ratings. In Georgia, his disapproval rate approaches 50 percent. In Florida, it's 55 percent.It gets worse for Republicans. Initial polling results seem to show that the disapproval of Washington Republicans is starting to translate into possible votes against GOP candidates this fall in statewide races back home. Most of these are races in which Republicans would expect to hold obvious upper hands.Lowery blames Iraq:The deceptively simple truth about all of this is that while most Americans aren't wild about the Iraq venture, it's not something that dominates their lives and thoughts.More accurately, it wouldn't cause them dark dreams if the president would stop picking at this geopolitical scab on his face before it becomes a gaping wound.....The press is scoring at will, to quote the sports phrase. To cite another one, George W. Bush is getting an assist on each of their goals.Every day, with each new speech or press conference on Iraq, he voluntarily digs himself deeper and deeper into a hole. The media simply reports on his descent. Soon he may dig himself through to the other side of the globe and pull his party mates in Congress through with him.

READ THE FULL COLUMN

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Site aims to bankrupt Katherine Harris






Responding to Katherine Harris' (R-FL) claim that she is willing to sell all of her assets to win a Senate seat in 2006, Democrats have erected a web site aimed at bankrupting the Representative of 2000 recount fame. The site, www.makeherspenditall.com, repeats Harris' statement that she is valued at $10,000,000, and claims that it intends to match that through donations.

>> Link to full article <<
More, more, more...
Go to CrooksAndLiars.com to watch the video on Hannity & Colmes.
Go to Public Campaign Action Fund and sign the petition.
Visit LeftyBlogs Florida to read what Florida progressive blogs are saying.

Legislative news briefs

Senate panel OKs cattle ranch measure

The Senate Environmental Preservation committee unanimously approved a bill Monday that would allow the state to manage a cattle ranch in Southwest Florida after buying the giant swath of land where the operation sits.Legislators and representatives from at least one environmental group, as well as from Lee and Charlotte counties, expressed support for the bill (SB 2102). It would create a corporation to manage the Babcock Ranch after its purchase by the state.The 5,000-cattle ranch began operations in the 1930s and employs 75 people.The Legislature must first approve Gov. Jeb Bush's $310 million recommendation to buy the larger 74,000 acres of forest and wetlands in Lee and Charlotte counties from Kitson and Partners Inc.The purchase would provide a green corridor from Lake Okeechobee to the Gulf of Mexico.Union workers pressfor health coverage

Union workers rallied at the Capitol in support of a bill intended to force large employers to provide a certain amount of health coverage for their workers.The bill is being pushed in several states by labor unions, who have argued that workers at some of the country's biggest companies have to rely on state health care programs like Medicaid, either because their employer doesn't have a health plan or because the worker can't afford it.The business community adamantly opposes the proposal (HB 813, SB 1618), arguing that forcing companies to spend a certain amount on health care will compel some of them to cut, or move jobs to avoid the cost.The measure would require companies with more than 10,000 employees in the state to spend at least 9 percent of their earnings on health care for their workers, or pay the state the difference to cover the care.The bill has an uphill climb in the Republican-controlled Legislature, where it has yet to get a committee hearing

Friday, March 17, 2006

Legislature briefs


House panel
OK sinsurance fees
House legislators followed their Senate colleagues Thursday in approving a plan to charge owners of vacation and second homes more for hurricane coverage from the state's insurer of last resort.The House Insurance Committee plan would also charge all Florida homeowners 3 percent more on their policies to help pay off the debts of Citizens Property Insurance Corp., which is burdened with claims from two destructive hurricane seasons in a row.The committee voted to charge second and vacation homeowners who are insured by Citizens up to twice as much as year-round Floridians will pay, said Rep. Dennis Ross, R-Lakeland, the panel's chairman.Van safety lawpasses SenateThe Senate passed a bill Thursday on a 38-0 vote that requires large vans that carry many migrant farm workers to the fields to have seat belts for each worker.The leading cause of work-related death for Florida farm workers is transportation accidents, according to an Associated Press review.The measure, sponsored by Sen. J.D. Alexander, R-Winter Haven, applies to vans above a certain weight that have more than nine seats that are commonly used to carry work crews to the fields.Organizations that represent growers said they supported the legislation (SB 258).A similar bill (HB 255) is moving through the House committee process.Senate requiresschool holidayA bill requiring school districts to observe the Veterans' Day holiday passed on a 27-0 vote Thursday in the Senate. The holiday is observed each year on Nov. 11 if it falls on a weekday.It would prohibit public schools from holding classes on that day for any reason other than a declared state emergency.The bill (SB 354) would provide that a school holiday may be observed immediately before or after a weekend to correspond with the federal observance.The House has yet to hear the companion measure (HB 0397) in any committee.

Legislature briefs





House panel OKs insurance fees House legislators followed their Senate colleagues Thursday in approving a plan to charge owners of vacation and second homes more for hurricane coverage from the state's insurer of last resort.The House Insurance Committee plan would also charge all Florida homeowners 3 percent more on their policies to help pay off the debts of Citizens Property Insurance Corp., which is burdened with claims from two destructive hurricane seasons in a row.The committee voted to charge second and vacation homeowners who are insured by Citizens up to twice as much as year-round Floridians will pay, said Rep. Dennis Ross, R-Lakeland, the panel's chairman.Van safety lawpasses SenateThe Senate passed a bill Thursday on a 38-0 vote that requires large vans that carry many migrant farm workers to the fields to have seat belts for each worker.The leading cause of work-related death for Florida farm workers is transportation accidents, according to an Associated Press review.The measure, sponsored by Sen. J.D. Alexander, R-Winter Haven, applies to vans above a certain weight that have more than nine seats that are commonly used to carry work crews to the fields.Organizations that represent growers said they supported the legislation (SB 258).A similar bill (HB 255) is moving through the House committee process.Senate requiresschool holidayA bill requiring school districts to observe the Veterans' Day holiday passed on a 27-0 vote Thursday in the Senate. The holiday is observed each year on Nov. 11 if it falls on a weekday.It would prohibit public schools from holding classes on that day for any reason other than a declared state emergency.The bill (SB 354) would provide that a school holiday may be observed immediately before or after a weekend to correspond with the federal observance.The House has yet to hear the companion measure (HB 0397) in any committee.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

HORSES ASS STILL NOT BACKING OUT 4

Harris pledges to stay in Senate raceKatherine Harris ends the suspense and says she's still running against Sen. Bill Nelson, bolstered by a $10 million infusion of cash from her own pocket.

By LESLEY CLARK AND BETH REINHARD
REINHARDbreinhard@MiamiHerald.com



A defiant Katherine Harris took to the cable airwaves Wednesday to declare she's staying in the U.S. Senate race, pledging to boost her beleaguered campaign with $10 million left to her by her late father.
It was a nationally televised gesture meant to quash nearly two weeks of rampant speculation over her campaign, which has struggled to gain traction and campaign dollars since it began last summer.
''Let me answer the burning questions,'' the Sarasota Republican congresswoman said in a largely sympathetic interview with Fox News Channel talk-show host Sean Hannity. ``I'm in this race and I'm going to win.''
Harris vowed to put ''everything on the line'' for the race in which she remains an underdog to unseat U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson -- the only Democrat to hold statewide office in Florida.
''Not just my future and my reputation, my father's name,'' Harris said. ``I'm going to take his legacy he gave to me, everything that I have and I'm going to put it into this race.
''When I lost him,'' she said of her father, George Harris, who died in January, ``I said I would win this for my father.''
The late-evening announcement was just the latest in a series of strange twists for the campaign of the famous former Florida elections chief, who gained nationwide fame during the contested 2000 presidential race.
A spokesman for Nelson called it a ``desperate attempt to deflect attention from a career of blunders and failures.''
''Senator Nelson is running on his long record of public service and on what he hopes to keep doing for Floridians in the next six years,'' said spokesman Dan McLaughlin.
In the past two weeks Harris's campaign has been pummeled with questions about her ties to a defense contractor who pleaded guilty to steering illegal campaign contributions her way. Prosecutors said Harris didn't know the contributions from Mitchell Wade's employees were illegal. But Harris was forced to defend her request for $10 million in federal funding for the company -- a request that came after she and Wade dined at a posh Washington restaurant.
In a statement, Harris said she ''never requested the money in exchange for any contributions,'' but rather to bring jobs to her Gulf Coast district. She would not explain why the request was filed four days after a member of her congressional staff left to work for Wade.
`BAD GUY'
She told Hannity on Wednesday that Wade was a ''bad guy'' and that she had donated the illegal contributions to Habitat for Humanity.
And she said she felt compelled to run against Nelson, describing the two-term senator, who positions himself as a moderate, as ``beholden to the far-left political side.''
Political observers suggest her impassioned declaration that she's in the race to win may do little to quell the doubts about her candidacy, given her anemic fundraising and volatile staffing. Just hours before Harris' appearance on Fox, Anne Dunsmore, who had come aboard as Harris' national fundraising director in December, left the campaign.
And polls suggest that Harris lags at least 20 points behind Nelson.
''To beat an incumbent who's not in obvious trouble you need three things,'' said Mac Stipanovich, a Republican strategist and unpaid advisor to Harris during the 2000 recount. ``You need to be financially competitive, a campaign staff that if not flawless is very good, and some luck. Till now she hasn't had any of the three.''
Stipanovich predicted Harris will still face ``an uphill slog.''
Harris may have confounded some pundits by sticking with the race, but those who know her describe her as determined. And strategists note that going back to her congressional seat may not have been an option: The Republicans already in the running had made it clear they didn't plan on stepping aside for her return.
SECRET DECISION
Harris, who kept wraps on her decision -- even keeping her staffers in the dark -- chose the friendly forum of the conservative talk show to make her announcement. But she's likely to face more pointed questions from Florida reporters at a press conference Friday in Tampa.
Harris agreed with Hannity when he suggested that she was giving her entire fortune to the race. But there's little question Harris could put millions into her own run even without the inheritance from her father, who died unexpectedly at the age of 71.
Katherine Harris was born into the closest thing Florida has to aristocracy: Her grandfather, Ben Hill Griffin Jr., made millions growing citrus and herding cattle. She reported a net worth of $7 million in 2002, the last year she served as Florida secretary of state.
Some self-funded candidates have struggled in Florida. Coral Gables businessman Doug Gallagher, the brother of the state's chief financial officer, came in third in the 2004 Senate primary despite a $6 million personal investment and a prominent last name.
But Harris has little choice. Nelson has $8 million in the bank, while she has raised just $1 million -- enough to purchase only one week of television commercials statewide.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Horses ASS not Backing Out Part 3

More signs of disarray in Harris campaign
Katherine Harris' Senate campaign faces more turmoil, with reports she'll have to finance her own run and that a top adviser has quit.

ADAM C. SMITH and ANITA KUMAR


Even as word spread that Katherine Harris was about to pump millions of her own money into her U.S. Senate campaign, evidence of disarray mounted.
Plans for a "major campaign announcement" today were suddenly scrapped as Harris reportedly decided to announce her plans on national TV rather than face questions from Florida reporters.
And late Tuesday came reports that one of Harris' top advisers, pollster Ed Goeas, was the latest to quit her campaign.
Former Pinellas Republican chairman Paul Bedinghaus said he understood from the Harris campaign that she planned to announce she would put as much as $5-million of her own money into the campaign.
"It's a great strategy to show your supporters and others that you believe in your own campaign, and (that) will help her get the resources she needs in the short run to run an effective campaign," said Bedinghaus, a Republican state committee member.
But her campaign's silence fueled talk of instability within the Harris campaign.
"As soon as we have everything finalized as to when and where the announcement will take place, we'll let everybody know," said campaign spokesman Morgan Dobbs.
Asked about Goeas' reported departure, Dobbs would only say "I have not been told that."
Goeas runs the Tarrance Group, one of the most high-powered Republican polling firms in the nation, and has worked with President Bush and several members of the Florida delegation. He was one of Harris' closest advisers, along with New York based consultant Ed Rollins. Goeas did not return phone calls.
Mike Miller, until recently Harris' finance director, said even her top advisers may not know what is happening from one day to the next.
"I don't think this is staff-driven," Miller said. "I think this is Katherine-driven."
For months, Harris' campaign suffered from weak fundraising, heavy staff turnover and a lack of party support. Her poll numbers have remained well behind Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson's. Just as her campaign was starting to turn around, federal prosecutors linked her to a defense contractor at the center of a bribery case.
Still, Harris, 48, at least appeared to have muted talk about ending her campaign. That she had planned to make her announcement in Bartow rather than her hometown of Sarasota led to speculation she would not seek re-election to her House seat.
The Pinellas Republican Executive Committee even voted Monday night to formally endorse Harris. Pinellas Republican chairman Tony Dimatteo said he recommended the endorsement "after talking to Katherine and the state party. ... If there was any indication that she was dropping out, endorsing her would be a moot point. ... Until she says any different, she is the Republican candidate for United States Senate and we're 100 percent behind her."
Tommy Hopper, campaign manager for car dealer Vern Buchanan, who is running for Harris' seat, said he has heard she will put a significant amount of money into her campaign - perhaps as much as $10-million.
"I think she's in it and in it to stay," he said. "But I don't think anyone else knows for sure what Harris is going to do."
A fourth-generation Floridian, Harris is the granddaughter of Ben Hill Griffin Jr., the late citrus and cattle magnate whose name graces the University of Florida football stadium.
Harris was worth about $7-million in 2001, according to state financial records. Three years later, Harris was worth $10-million to $39-million, according to her federal financial disclosure reports, which allow her to report ranges rather than specific figures.
The increase came after her grandfather died in 1990. Harris sold her family stock, worth between $5-million and $25-million, after a five-year battle among Griffin's heirs, including Harris' mother, Harriet, after his death. The five children divided the multimillion dollar estate.
These figures do not include money she inherited when her father, George Harris, died in January. His assets were reported to be more than $750-million.
At the end of last year, Harris had raised about $1-million, compared to $8-million for Nelson. Under federal campaign finance laws, kicking in millions of her own money could trigger a so-called "millionaire's amendment" which allows rivals to receive bigger campaign contributions.
But that might do little to help Nelson, unless Harris spent millions of her own money on the general election after September.
Two obscure candidates, Belinda Noah and Howard W. Knepper, have announced their candidacies for the Republican nomination, but have shown little signs of viability. Tom Rooney, a political newcomer who is grandson of the late Pittsburgh Steelers patriarch Art Rooney, said he is looking at running for the Republican nomination. He said, though, that he could "absolutely not" put millions of personal money into the race.
If he got in, Rooney said, he might spend about $200,000 off the bat to get a strong campaign team in place.
The deadline for qualifying for the ballot is May 12.
Times staff writers Wes Allison and Shannon Breen and researchers Carolyn Edds and Angie Drobnic Holan contributed to this report. Adam C. Smith can be reached at 727 893-8241 or adam@sptimes.com

Sunday, March 12, 2006

HORSES ASS NOT BACKING OUT 2


In the latest sign of uncertainty surrounding her beleaguered Senate campaign, Katherine Harris canceled plans to attend a Republican conference in Tennessee Saturday to take stock of her political future."Unfortunately, I am unable to join you this weekend, as I prayerfully prepare with my family, friends and advisers to finalize the strategy for a major announcement next week concerning my candidacy for the U.S. Senate," Harris said in a statement addressed to delegates to the Southern Republican Leadership Conference in Memphis. "I will continue to look to our Founding Fathers, who pursued their vision with integrity and perseverance, to discern the best course of action for the state of Florida and our nation."[...]Still, her note to Republican activists in Memphis sounded optimistic: "While there has been much speculation in recent days concerning my campaign, and our party faces challenges in this midterm election, I am confident with your dedication and commitment, we shall be victorious in November."

Read More.....

Thursday, March 09, 2006

HORSES ASS NOT BACKING OUT



U.S. Rep. Katherine Harris said she doesn't plan to drop out of the Senate race, a statement she made as rumors swirled Wednesday that she would end the campaign because of ties to a company involved in bribery scandal.
"I am out there. We are running hard. We think we have great momentum," Harris said in a telephone interview. She is the only major Republican in the race to unseat Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson.

What is this, the 100th time Harris has had to waste a news cycle denying that she's dropping out? Good thing she's so wrongheaded. If she were to go, Republicans might put up a real threat of a candidate.

The Story….::

Maddox Off the Hook


Posted on The Buzz

Remember those Police Benevolent Association attacks that helped make Scott Maddox an ex-gubernatorial candidate for governor? The Florida Elections Commission has found no probable cause to pursue charges against Maddox for the first of two complaints filed against the former state Democratic chairman by the PBA. That complaint accused Maddox, as chairman of the Leon DEC, of certifying a party campaign finance report showing no financial activity when in fact the party had paid a $10,500 fine for filing a report late.Debbie Griffin-Bruton, former state Democratic party comptroller and treasurer of the Leon DEC, told on investigator she had taken the money from the state party and, "I never told (Maddox) of the late filing of the report, the fine incurred or the payment I made with party funds.'' The commission concluded there was no evidence showing Maddox knew he had certified a false report.A second PBA complaint against Maddox with the Elections Commission is pending.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

What Happens to an 'Open-Minded' Legislator

we Can Have 2,500 calls by Monday mid-day

 

What Happens to an 'Open-Minded' Legislator

 
The Miami-based Christian Family Coalition is trying to put pressure on Rep. Bill Galvano, a Bradenton Republican, for saying he would consider holding a hearing on a bill that would allow gays to adopt children in some circumstances.

Florida is one of three states with a sweeping ban on gay adoptions, and the coalition has been lobbying legislators in support of the status quo. The group's e-mail says in part: "The American Civil Liberties union and 'Equality' Florida (a homosexual group) are trying to repeal Florida's ban on homosexual adoptions!" As of mid-afternoon Friday, Galvano's district office reported receiving about 25 calls, mostly from Miami-Dade and Broward counties.

The e-mail blast follows a Tuesday article in the Tallahassee Democrat in which Galvano, chairman of the House Future of Florida's Families Committee, said he would consider holding a hearing on the bill. "I remain open-minded," Galvano told the newspaper, but he added that a recent decision by a Senate committee to postpone a vote lessens its chances of passage.

The bill would allow gays to adopt foster children already in their care. You can find the bill (HB 123) here. Its sponsor is the same lawmaker who recently switched from the Democrat to Republican party, Rep. Sheri McInvale of Orlando.

******************************************************************************
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Contact Info:
Capitol Office:
214 House Office Building
402 South Monroe Street
Tallahassee, FL 32399-1300
Phone: (850) 488-4086

District Office:
Suite 715
1023 Manatee Avenue West
Bradenton, FL 34205-7829
Phone: (941) 708-4968

 
 


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Political Talk For And By Political Junkies

Katherine Harris Caught Up in Bribery Scandal




Katherine Harris Caught Up in Bribery Scandal
Campaign Donations From Defense Contractor Under Scrutiny


By MITCH STACY, AP



- U.S. Rep. Katherine Harris said Thursday she did not knowingly do anything wrong in her associations with a defense contractor who prosecutors say illegally funneled thousands of dollars to her campaign in 2004.
Questions about the donations have arisen as Harris, the former Florida secretary of state who oversaw the 2000 presidential election recount, tries to unseat U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla.
The donations were described in a plea agreement last Friday, when Mitchell Wade, the former president of MZM Inc., pleaded guilty to bribing U.S. Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham in exchange for assistance in getting $150 million in Defense Department contracts for his company.
He also admitted making illegal campaign contributions in the names of MZM employees and their spouses to Harris and Rep. Virgil Goode, R-Va. Prosecutors said Harris got $32,000 from employees who were reimbursed by Wade. Harris said she recently donated the money to charity, and didn't know the donations would be reimbursed.
In the plea agreement, Wade acknowledged dining with Harris at a Washington restaurant in 2005 to discuss a possible fundraiser for her and obtaining funding for a Navy counterintelligence program involving his company. She requested the funding, but Wade didn't get it.


"I requested a $10 million appropriation for the U.S Naval Criminal Investigative Services project because I thought it would bring new jobs to Sarasota," said Harris, R-Fla. "I never requested funding for this project in exchange for any contributions, but rather to bring more high-skill, high-wage jobs to the region."
Wade has been cooperating with federal prosecutors in Washington and San Diego since last summer and is required to continue to do so as part of his plea agreement with the government. He faces up to 20 years in prison. Prosecutors said they are continuing to investigate and won't say if Harris is a subject.
Harris said her office has not been contacted about the investigation.
"I think these revelations should matter to voters because I think ethics should count for something in a public servant," said Dan McLaughlin, spokesman for Nelson.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Restore Fair Elections in Florida

A critical effort to reform the redistricting process in Florida. Common Cause Florida is leading a coalition, The Committee for Fair Elections, which is working to place an initiative on the ballot in 2006 that will put an end to the legislature's practice of drawing self-serving districts. With your support we can establish an independent, non-partisan commission to ensure fair districts, so that every Floridian's voice is heard.
After many months and much hard work, including the collection of more than 900,000 signatures, the Florida Secretary of State has certified 638,220 petitions and designated the independent redistricting measure as Amendment 5 on November's ballot. Pending approval by the State Supreme Court, Floridians will be able to "Vote Yes" on the amendment and restore fair districts in Florida. Common Cause Florida is devoting significant resources to pass this important initiative. We will not succeed in this campaign to create fair districts without your help. Support our Florida efforts today with a donation of $50 or more. For years the state legislature has drawn legislative districts to eliminate accountability in Florida's elections. In 2004, not one legislator of either party in the Congressional Delegation, State Senate, or State House lost. In fact, many of them did not even face a general election opponent at all.
Governor Jeb Bush has aggressively attacked Common Cause for pushing this reform, in spite of his support for a similar reform in California. He even raised money to support Governor Schwarzenegger's bid to create fair districts in California. We need your help to fight this hypocrisy, to promote democratic reforms in Florida and to create fair districts in Florida. Please support Common Cause Florida today.
Amendment 5, backed by Common Cause and the League of Women Voters, removes the conflict of interest from today's broken and unfair system. Now, incumbent politicians draw their own district lines and choose their own voters, instead of allowing voters to choose those who best represent them. Under Amendment 5, Congressional and Legislative district lines will be drawn by an independent redistricting commission that will work to keep communities together.
Our amendment has strong bi-partisan backing from some of Florida's most respected political leaders including: former Governor and U.S. Senator Bob Graham, former Congresswoman Carrie Meek, former State Comptroller Bob Milligan, former Commissioner of Education Betty Castor and former judge Thom Rumberger.
Now is the time to stop unfair redistricting, create a fair elections system in Florida and put the power back in the hands of the people. This is a critical time for our reform effort. Between now and November we will have to educate people about the need for this important reform. The entrenched incumbents will pull out all stops to defeat Amendment 5. We have a great opportunity, to change Florida's redistricting process.

Rights group questions ethics of religious outreach to gay teens

A national gay and lesbian group is accusing several religious organizations of causing homosexual teens long-term harm by offering parents what they call bogus therapies to keep children from becoming gay.In a report released Thursday in Miami Beach, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Policy Institute questioned whether the therapies are ethical or effective and said state and federal authorities should provide greater oversight when these programs are aimed at youth.The report said some Christian-based gay prevention and treatment groups have used the First Amendment protection of religion to avoid sanctions by state health officials regarding counselors who offer therapy without a license.Task Force Executive Director Matt Foreman said officials need to ensure that those offering such therapies are licensed - as opposed to simply being clergy - and that clients and their parents should be informed about the programs' long-term success rates.The report maintains that increasingly those attending seminars on homosexuality prevention and treatment are parents who have gay or lesbian children.Foreman called the programs frightening, adding that they play into stereotypes, cautioning parents to worry if their sons are "too feminine" and often blame parents for their children's sexual orientation."Many of these programs are crossing the line as to what is approved under freedom of expression," Foreman said during an interview with reporters. "This deserves attention. It deserves to be regulated."Foreman said he'd like to see more long-term studies on the success of the treatment.


TO READ MORE

READ THE TASK FORCE REPORT ON THE EX-GAY MOVEMENT

VIST EX-GAY WATCH

WAYNE BENSON ON EX-GAY MOVEMENT

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Congratulations to the Buzz Blog



Congratulations to the Buzz Blog the SPT's Buzz Blog has been named as one of the best blogs by a newspaper.


1. Houston Chronicle (128 points)
2. Washington Post (69 points)
3. USA Today (38 points, 1 honorable mention)
4. St. Petersburg Times (29 points, 2 honorable mention)
5. Atlanta Journal-Constitution (23 points)
6. San Antonio Express-News (22 points, 1 honorable mention)

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Cheney To Take Shaw Hunting

Hunting For dollars
Cheney to stump for old pal Shaw

Vice President Dick Cheney will attend a luncheon honoring U.S. Rep. Clay Shaw's 25 years on Capitol Hill.


BY BETH REINHARD breinhard@MiamiHerald.com


Vice President Dick Cheney will headline a Boca Raton fundraiser on Monday for Republican U.S. Rep. Clay Shaw of Fort Lauderdale, underlining the competitiveness of his reelection campaign.
Cheney's visit ups the ante in what already is one of the most expensive congressional races in the country. Shaw has $1.5 million, while his Democratic rival, state Sen. Ron Klein of Boca Raton, has $1.1 million.
A 2002 Shaw fundraiser that featured Cheney collected more than a half-million dollars, making it the most lucrative event by a Republican House member seeking reelection that year.
''The vice president is a big draw,'' said Palm Beach County Republican Party Chairman Sid Dinerstein. ``If you're on our side, you love him. He always gives you an honest take, and isn't worried about the polls and being politically correct.''
Cheney took a lot of flak last month after keeping a hunting accident quiet for nearly a day. He didn't speak publicly about mistakenly shooting his friend until four days later.
Now he is hitting the campaign trail for friends in Congress. He campaigned Monday in southeast Virginia for Republican U.S. Rep. Thelma Drake, who is seeking a second term. He is scheduled to speak at a March 13 fundraiser for Republican Peter Roskham, who is vying to replace retiring U.S. Rep. Henry Hyde of Illinois.
''The vice president is committed to maintaining the Republican majorities in the House and the Senate,'' said Cheney spokeswoman Jenny Mayfield.
Cheney and Shaw have been friends since the early 1980s, when they served in Congress together. Six days before Election Day in 2000, Cheney flew to West Palm Beach for a last-minute fundraiser for his old friend. Both won squeaker elections that year by fewer than 600 votes.
Monday's luncheon will be at the Boca Raton Resort & Club. About 200 people are expected at a cost of $500 per person.
Not wanting to be outshone by the White House, Klein is inviting reporters to an event the same day, to talk about prescription drugs.
Running in a district with an unusually high proportion of senior citizens, Klein has repeatedly criticized the new Medicare prescription drug benefits.
The 22nd Congressional District runs north along the coast from Fort Lauderdale to Jupiter and extends west to parts of Coral Springs, Parkland and Plantation.