Sunday, September 17, 2006


We begin this morning in South Florida, where the Miami Herald says that Citizens Property Insurance's plan to stick surcharges of up to 20 percent on homes more than 20 years old is not acceptable. The editorial reminds us that while some insurers offer rate discounts for newer homes, older homes, built when building codes and enforcement were tougher, are often studerier.

Just up the road in Fort Lauderdale, the South Florida Sun Sentinel takes note that an administrative law judge recently ruled there is no legal basis for the Florida Elections Commission to fine former Broward County Supervisor of Elections Miriam Oliphant $10,000 relating to the botched 2002 primary election. While the newspaper states that Oliphant's incompetence is "undeniable", it's opinion is that the case should be dropped.

The editorial in today's Naples Daily News follows up on it's story last week about the success of female judicial candidates in the area's recent elections. It reminds us that as more women offer themselves for public service, it becomes clearer that men do not have an exclusive franchise on jurisprudence, knowledge of the law, and judicial temperament.

Today's Fort Myers News Press opinion is that Lee County residents no longer have a real choice or competition among area hospitals as the Lee Memorial Health System has agreed to purchase two hospitals previously owned by Hospital Corporation of America (HCA). It reminds readers that LMHS is a public entity that should have asked for public input before making it's move, and encourages residents to attend upcoming meetings and ask questions of administrators.

The practice of judges to make civil cases in Broward and Palm Beach counties "disappear" is the subject of the editorial in today's Palm Beach Post. It mentions that the Florida Supreme Court will consider rules which would effectively end such practices, and that Palm Beach County Chief Judge Kathleen Kroll praised the high court for doing so. The opinion is short and sweet: "This sort of judicial discretion must end".

Trying to forecast how strong a hurricane or tropical storm will become has always been guesswork. While technology has made great improvements in predicting the path of a storm, it still lags greatly when it comes to predicting intensity. The Sarasota Herald Tribune says today that researchers should be given the funds and tools they need to bring that area of forecasting up to speed.

On the Space Coast, Florida Today reminds us that in the heat of another election year, some religious candidates and groups are intimating that God is on their side and questioning the faith of those who differ with them. It notes a recent Gallup Poll study for Baylor University confirming that America's religious beliefs, practices, and behaviours are "startlingly complex and diverse", and the editorial reminds us to be wary when people seeking power use the Almighty as a campaign prop.

Taxpayers are revolting across much of Florida, and Governor Jeb Bush has complained that cities and counties have not cut property tax rates although revenues are increasing. However, the St. Petersburg Times editorial writers today say that the governor and Legislature also bears some responsibility thanks to state-mandated property taxes and the "Save Our Homes" tax exemption.

The property tax crisis is also the subject of the opinion in the Pensacola News Journal, which says that a new look at the state's tax structure demands attention by the Legislature.

The Daytona Beach News Journal notes that the Interior Department's aggressive plan for offshore oil and natrual gas drilling in the Gulf of Mexico means that "It is the business of energy as usual for the oilmen running the federal administration". While recent discoveries in the Gulf may be good news, the editorial states that it is not a panecea for the nation's energy problems, and that we cannot afford to lose the current momentum for alternative energy.

Today's editorial in the Tampa Tribune criticizes Governor Bush for botching an opportunity to land the planned $450 million Department of Homeland Security's National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility, which many expect to become the nation's premier facility for addressing diseases which affect animals, agriculture, and the food supply. It mentions that Florida never had a serious bid on the table for the facility, which has a projected windfall of up to $6 billion over two decades.

The Lakeland Ledger editorial space features it's occasional batch of "Gigs and Garlands", where it recognizes deeds both good and bad by a variety of groups and individuals here and elsewhere.

Congress is failing Americans when it comes to the issue of immigration reform, causing "an divisive impass which is crippling the effectiveness of the federal government". So says today's editorial in the Orlando Sentinel. As local towns consider ordinances which would fine employers and business owners for aiding illegal immigrants, and the Legislature contemplate the possibility of establishing immigration guidelines, the Sentinel reminds us that it is Congress alone that is responsible for finding a bipartisan compromise on the issue, and needs to do so soon.

Ocala and Marion County boast about it's healthy economy and enviable median home price, but the Ocala Star Banner says that staying at the top when it comes to economic development is the hard part. Today's editorial mentions that there is what it calls a "woeful lack of land designated for industrial and commercial development", and that much of the available land for such purpose is either lacking proper infrastructure or is for lease/not for sale. It is a situation which the Star Banner says cannot be ignored any longer.

In Jacksonville, the Florida Times Union looks at the situation in Nassau County, where once again officials came under scrutiny for conducting public business out of the public eye. The editorial reminds us that the "Government In the Sunshine" law was written and approved for a reason, and there is no reason for public officials to violate the people's trust by putting themselves in a position that could be considered comprimising.

And the Tallahassee Democrat editorial tells voters to "keep your eye on the main attraction", reminding us that while some lieutenant governors may have been assigned some duties by the governor, the state constitution gives them no real power except to take over in the event the governor dies or is otherwise unable to serve.

Thank you for visiting I4J. Please don't be a stranger, and be sure to tell your friends. Make it a great Sunday and week ahead!


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