Thursday, November 30, 2006


President Bush's visit to Jordan this week and meetings with that nation's King Abdullah II and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Malaki topping the news will undoubtably be the primary topic of discussion on all the shows.

ABC / This Week with George Stephanopoulos: Secretary of State Dr. Condoleezza Rice will provide the latest on diplomatic efforts to improve the situation in Iraq. U.S. Senator Evan Bayh (D - IN) will also talk about Iraq and his own 2008 presidential ambitions, George Stephanopoulos goes on the campaign trail with Governor Tom Vilsack (D - IA), the first officially declared candidate for president in 2008. And the roundtable will feature ABC News Chief White House Correspondent Martha Raddatz, David Corn of The Nation, and conservative columnist George Will.

CBS / Face The Nation with Bob Schieffer: What to do about Iraq will be the question pondered by National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley along with U.S. Senators Joseph Liberman (I - CT) and Chuck Hagel (R - NE).

CNN / Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer: We'll learn the latest about the Iraqi government in crisis, as well as wheather the Saudis are willing and/or able to play a larger role in the region. Appearing will be U.S. ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad, Saudi ambassador to the U.S. Prince Turki al-Faisal, Iraqi Minister of Industry and Minerals Fawzi Hariri, and U.S. Senators John Kerry (D -MA), Jon Kyl (R - AZ), and Dianne Feinstein (D - CA).

FOX / Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace: U.S. Senators Lindsey Graham (R - SC) and Joseph Biden, Jr. (D - DE) will talk about Iraq, and a rare exclusive interview with United States Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer.

NBC / Meet the Press with Tim Russert: National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley will appear, as will U.S. Senators John Warner (R - VA) and Carl Levin (D - MI) --- Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Armed Services Committee --- to ponder Iraq and the Gates confirmation hearings. Also, former President Jimmy Carter will appear to talk about the Mideast.

Syndicated / The Chris Matthews Show: The panel for this weekend has not been announced as of Friday evening. Please check back tomorrow for likely updates.

Bay News 9 / Political Connections: This week's guest will be St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker.


Dollar General Stores announced this week that it would shutter 400 stores next year while opening 300 new stores to increase profitability. It'll be interesting to see which stores the neighbourhood variety store will close and where they will open new stores.

Regardless, the Tennessee-based chain should seriously consider doing more in the area of security. Since April 1, there have been 15 robberies of Dollar General stores in Polk County alone, and a sheriff's department spokesperson told the Lakeland Ledger:

"(Dollar stores) are potentially easy targets...The security is definitely lacking. They don't have the cameras in most of the stores and it's not because they don't have the money."

The spokesperson, PCSO Criminal Investigations Chief W.J. Martin, also noted that many of the stores usually have only one employee on duty. He mentioned that the sheriff's office has spoken with Dollar General about increasing security in their stores, and that is something that should be done posthaste, before a customer or employee is hurt or killed and the company faces a huge litigation for negligance.


Although he still has a couple of weeks remaining beforethe new guy takes over on January 2, Governor Jeb Bush isn't waiting to move out of the mansion in Tallahassee.

Jeb and his wife Columba are scheduled to move into a ninth-floor condo in Coral Gables tomorrow, the day their application comes before the Segovia Tower board for consideration.

It's definately a high-end place to live. There are million dollar apartments within the building, but the Bushes will only pay $5,500 a month for their 3,949 square foot, three bedroom unit with a view of Granada Golf one would hope that Jeb has a good payday already set up.

And, considering he is the president's brother, security has to be a major consideration. Private elevators are keyed to each floor in Segovia Tower, so you can't just walk in and punch a button for the ninth floor. There is definately limited access, and security cameras are everywhere.

And speaking of Jeb this morning, Brian Crowley of the Palm Beach Post writes in the newspaper's political blog Q that the perfect gift that Jeb can get Lieutenant Governor Toni Jennings for Christmas is...his resignation. If that were to happen, Jennings would become Florida's 44th governor.

The would be some precedence to this. When Bob Graham won his U.S. Senate seat, he had to resign three days early, making then-LG Wayne Mixon governor. And Crowley notes that it's not just an "acting governor" gig, but the real deal...Ms. Jennings would have her portrait hung up, her biography in the Florida Handbook, the whole nine yards. And it would make Jennings Florida's first female least for a few days.

Monday, November 27, 2006


There will be light posting, if any at all, during the next several days. There's not much in the realm of pressing political news, only preperations for what will be a likely January special session and newly elected folks getting the feel for their new positions before actually making decisions of consequence.

The rest of us are just trying to keep things moving and preparing for the holidays. Please check back occasionally, though, as the spirit may move me to put something in this space.

Thanks for your support.

Sunday, November 26, 2006


Normally, I4J does not discuss rumours, but this scenario is certainly interesting enough to consider...

One of the posters on the Daily Kos blog notes that he is hearing that after Governor-elect Charlie Crist takes office in January, U.S. Senator Mel Martinez will shortly afterward resign his seat to concentrate on his new duties as chairman of the Republican National Committee. The idea is that Crist would then be able to appoint his predecessor Jeb Bush to fill Martinez's vacant seat.

An interesting scenario, but I just don't see that happening. After eight years in office, my feeling is that Jeb will be ready to head south to Miami and a more lucrative life as a consultant/businessman/speaker. That's by no means meant to say that he'll be out of the picture entirely, but just not in DC.


This will be an abbreviated roundup this morning. This is my weekend at work, so I'm having to leave earlier than normal.

Beginning here at home, the Lakeland Ledger urges new County Commissioner Jean Reed (D) to ask some hard questions and convince her brethern to go on record when it comes to their support of forgiving a $600,000 loan provided to the Commerce Centre Community Redevelopment Agency --- plus half that amount in interest --- left unpaid for a decade, not to mention over half a million dollars in legal fees that the CRA couldn't pay for.

The Daytona Beach News Journal takes note of the new Leadership Florida Sunshine State Survey sponsored by Kaplan University, in which Floridians rank education their top priority, followed by insurance rates. The editorial encourages legislative and governmential leaders to pay attention to what the citizenery said in the poll, and that both major political parties should be challenged by the results.

Today's editorial in the Orlando Sentinel laments the the lost opportunity for the Christian Coalition of America to expand it's vision to include caring for the enviroment and poverty. The vision, championed by the organization's president-elect Rev. Joel Hunter of Longwood, was not shared by the group, and Hunter has since stepped aside.

The Sarasota Herald Tribune opinion encourages the Sarasota County School Board and Superintendent Dr. Gary Norris to identify the "roadblocks" he describes as a major reason for his announced resignation and to work together in identifying ways to change the approach to the top job. It also suggests several ideas it says are vital to making any changes effective and lasting.

The recent election mess in Sarasota County over the 13th Congressional District race has undoubtly cause some voters to question their confidence in the process. Today's Tampa Tribune calls for Congress to require a voter-verified paper trail to restore confidence that everyone's choice will be counted.

Across Tampa Bay, the St. Petersburg Times editorial page advises that in 34 years Florida's population has doubled, but only one new university, Florida Gulf Coast University in Fort Myers, has opened, and Chancellor Mark Rosenberg has warned that serious consequences will result from such neglect. Governor-elect Charlie Crist has also said that Florida needs more four year institutions, and the Times asks the question, "Who in the Legislature is willing to back him up?"

The Martin County Commission and Port St. Lucie City Council disagree about the need for and construction of a 5.6 mile road which would connect western Palm City to Port St. Lucie Boulevard and has a price tag of approximately $30 million. The two bodies or their representatives have not met in some time, and the Fort Pierce Tribune and sister Scripps Treasure Coast newspapers urge them to come together and resolve their differences regarding the project.

Up in Jacksonville, the Florida Times Union uses it's editorial space to gush over the new 43 acre passive Cradle Creek Park along the Intercoastal Waterway in Jacksonville Beach. Words such as "pristine" and "spectacular" are used to describe the park.

The Melbourne-based Florida Today opinion agrees with that of Melbourne City Council member Richard Contreas, who says that the Space Coast city should suspend new annexation until it can fill vacancies in the police department. Since 2003, the city area has grown more than 14 percent, but there are 11 openings for police officers which has resulted in detectives, sergeants, and others to fill in the gaps.

Saturday, November 25, 2006


Friday evening, the Vern Buchanan - Christine Jennings fight over the 13th Congressional District results earned a just over two and a half minute report
on NBC Nightly News.

Congressional Correspondent Chip Reed did the piece, which is simply an overview of the controversy with video bits from, among others, Jennings' attorney.

When you click on the NBC Nightly News link above, it will be in the "Nightly News Video" section if you want to view the bit.

Friday, November 24, 2006


ABC / This Week with George Stephanopoulos: King Abdullah II of Jordan will appear to discuss what can be done to stem the growing violence in Iraq. Also, U.S. Senators Richard "Dick" Durbin (D - IL) and Sam Brownback (R - KS) will talk about Iraq and their efforts to help end the genocidial crisis in Dafur. And the roundtable will feature Democratic strategist Donna Brazile, former Pentagon spokesperson Tori Clarke, E.J. Dionne, Jr. of the Washington Post, and conservative columnist George Will.

CBS / Face The Nation with Bob Schieffer: Three soon-to be freshman U.S. Senators will talk about some of the questions to be raised and issues to be discussed when they take office in January. Senators-elect Bob Corker (R - TN), Claire McCaskill (D - MO), and Sherrod Brown (D - OH) will be Mr. Schieffer's guests.

CNN / Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer: The question to be pondered is: Should the U.S. "Go Big", "Go Long", or "Go Home"? Appearing to give their take on the current situation in Iraq will be that country's national security adviser, Mowaffak al-Rubaie, and former Secretary of State Dr. Henry Kissinger. Also appearing: Senate Armed Services Committee members Jack Reed (D - RI) and John Cornyn (R - TX), former national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski, retired generals David Grange (USA) and Michael Delong (USMC), Lieutenant Governor Michael Steele of Maryland, and Democratic strategist Donna Brazile

FOX / Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace: What will be the Democrats' agenda, now that they control the House? To try and answer that question will be Representatives Charlie Rangel (D - NY), Barney Frank (D - MA), and John Dingell (D - MI). Also appearing will be U.S. Senator Trent Lott (R - MS) and Fight for Children founder/chairman Joseph E. Robert, Jr.

NBC / Meet the Press with Tim Russert: California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) will talk about his landslide reelection victory and the state of the Republican Party. Then Congressmen Ike Skelton (D - MO) and Duncan Hunter (R - CA) --- both members of the House Armed Services Committee --- will join retired generals Wayne Downing (Former Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Special Operations Command) and Barry McCaffrey (Former Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Southern Command) to discuss Iraqi occupation.

Syndicated / The Chris Matthews Show: The topics and panel have not been announced as of Saturday morning. Please check back tomorrow for updates.

Bay News 9 / Political Connections: Florida Lieutenant Governor Toni Jennings (R) will be the guest of co-hosts Adam C. Smith and Al Ruechel.


It was a busy day around my humble apartment Thursday. I woke up, as usual, shortly after 5:00 AM and spend much of the morning cleaning up and washing dishes from the day before. My son had begun his potato salad Wednesday night, and the turkey was in the oven shortly after 8:00.

My daughter was coming over, and we believed her live-in companion would be with her. But she was knocked down with a helluva cold, and he decided to celebrate seperately with his folks. However, she made a great dressing and Watergate salad, and brought those over along with some eggs to 1) add to the potato salad, and 2) make some great deviled eggs. Along with the other goodies, it made for a nice couple of hours together...something we don't get to do very often. She left kinda early to get some much needed rest, so it was really great that she was able to add to the day.

After clearing off everything and getting a lot of the food put up that Allison didn't take up, I was in bed for the evening by 7:00 PM. The only football I saw (since I don't have cable or satellite) was part of the debacle between Tampa Bay and Dallas...I won't even go there! Needless to say, we'll have plenty of leftovers for a few days.

It was a very blessed day, indeed!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006


written by John Bucchino
performed by Art Garfunkel

I've got a roof over my head
I've got a warm place to sleep
Some nights I lie awake counting gifts
Instead of counting sheep

I've got a heart that can hold love
I've got a mind that can think
There may be times when I lose the light
And let my spirits sink
But I can't stay depressed
When I remember how I'm blessed

Grateful, grateful
Truly grateful I am
Grateful, grateful
Truly blessed
And duly grateful

In a city of strangers
I got a family of friends
No matter what rocks and brambles fill the way
I know that they will stay until the end

I feel a hand holding my hand
It's not a hand you can see
But on the road to the Promised Land
This hand will shepherd me
Through delight and despair
Holding tight and always there

Grateful, grateful
Truly grateful I am
Grateful, grateful
Truly blessed
And duly grateful

It's not that I don't want a lot
Or hope for more, or dream of more
But giving thanks for what I've got
Makes me happier than keeping score

In a world that can bring pain
I will still take each chance
For I believe that whatever the terrain
Our feet can learn to dance
Whatever stone life may sling
We can moan or we can sing

Grateful, grateful
Truly grateful I am
Grateful, grateful
Truly blessed
And duly grateful

Truly blessed
And duly grateful.

I hope and pray that your holiday is filled with friends, family, and good feelings.


In the year-plus since the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina changed the lives of thousands of families throughout the Gulf Coast region, churches, civic groups, and other organizations have worked hard to help those affected. Many families relocated to cities such as Houston and Memphis.

Of course, there are always those who will take advantage of the generosity shown for their own personal gain, and this story is especially shameful.

The Temple of Deliverance Church of God in Christ, one of the largest predominately African-American congretations in the Memphis area, decided it wanted to do something more for at least one family displaced by Katrina's wraft. The church purchased a $75,000 three bedroom, two bath home, and a committee was formed which interviewed dozens of families to decide who would be the best to help. When the decision was made in February, the family of Joshua Thompson was given, free and clear, the title and keys to the home.

The family never moved in. Instead, Thompson sold the home for a $13,000 profit and moved his family back to New Orleans.

"Take it up with God," an unrepentant Joshua Thompson told a TV reporter after it was learned that he and the woman he identified as his wife had flipped the home for $88,000.

Church members said they feel their generosity was abused by scam artists. They are no longer even sure that the couple were left homeless by Katrina or that they were a couple at all.

"They came in humble like they really needed a new start, and our hearts went out to them," said Jean Phillips, a real estate agent and member of the Temple of Deliverance Church of God in Christ. "They actually begged for the home."

The church was also shocked by an ungrateful interview the couple gave with WHBQ-TV in Memphis.

"I really don't like this area," said Delores Thompson. "I really didn't, and I didn't know anybody, so that's why I didn't move in and I sold it."

Thompson, reached at a New Orleans phone number by The Associated Press on Tuesday, thanked the church for its generosity but said she saw nothing wrong in selling the three-bedroom, two-bath house.

"Do I have any legal problems? What do you mean? The house was given to me," she said. "I have the paperwork and everything."

She refused further comment and hung up.

What sorry human beings.


“I urge you to learn the harsh facts that lurk behind the mask of official illusion with which we have concealed our true circumstances, even from ourselves. Our country is in danger: Not just from foreign enemies; but above all, from our own misguided policies, and what they can do to this country. There is a contest, not for the rule of America, but for the heart of America.”

Robert F. Kennedy
(1925 - 1968)


Double duty, you might say. I've still got a full day's work ahead at my call centre job, and then coming home to clean and help prepare tomorrow's Thanksgiving meal. We're having my daughter and her live-in companion over for dinner, but I'm not sure how long they'll actually be here as they are also heading to his folks' house for much of the day.

Traditional turkey dinner is on the agenda. Daughter is making the dressing (her late mother taught her well), and the son is ready to make potato salad. A couple of pies to slap into the oven, and it'll be a filling meal. Not huge, but certainly enough for a small group of five.

A great way to get your mind of politics and the problems of the world, at least for awhile. But take time to give thanks for the many blessings and advantages our Creator has provided through and for us.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006


As expected, the 13th Congressional District race is heading to the Second District Circuit Court in Tallahassee.

Almost immediately after the Florida Elections Canvassing Commission officially certified Republican Vern Buchanan the winner by 369 votes early Monday, Democratic challenger Christine Jennings filed a lawsuit asking a judge to toss out the results, allow an independent computer expert to examine the touch screen voting machines used in Sarasota County along with their software and source code, and ultimately to order a special election.

Jennings carried Sarasota County, one of five counties that are included in the 13th District, in last Tuesday's general election. At issue is the highly unusual 15 percent undervote in the Jennings - Buchanan contest, as many voters complained that either they were unable to view the candidate's names at all to cast their vote, or that the machines noted unintended votes in favour of Buchanan.

Republican Party of Florida Chairwoman Carole Jean Jordan charged in a Monday statement that Jennings "is once again allowing her own personal ambitions and the radical political agendas of liberal third-party groups to hijack the democratic process." Friends, we all know that if the tables were turned, Buchanan and the RPOF would be doing the exact same thing.

Personally, I don't believe that any judge will go so far as to order a revote. This case will eventually be decided by the House of Representatives, which constitutionally has the final say in such matters. Don't ask me how that will turn out...

Monday, November 20, 2006


Two broadcasting companies which own a combined nine Fox television affiliates have announced they will refuse to air a two-part special in which former NFL star O.J. Simpson discusses his role in the 1994 murder of his former wife and her friend.

The programme, "If I Did It, Here's How It Happened" is scheduled to air next Monday and Wednesday evenings, and preceeds a book in which Simpaon describes how he would have committed the crimes "if he were the one responsible". The book's publisher, Judith Regan, conducts the two hour interview. Regan says that she considers the book to be Simpson's confession.

LIN Broadcasting and Pappas Broadcasting announced last week that their Fox stations would refuse to air the programme. Pappas officials stated that they did not wish to help Simpson profit from the broadcast.

The stations which will not air "If I Did It..." are:
WALA-TV 10, Mobile, AL/Pensacola, FL
KMPH-TV 26, Fresno, CA
WUPW-TV 36, Toledo, OH
KASA-TV 2, Alberquerque, NM
WNAC-TV 64, Providence, RI
KPTM-TV 42, Omaha, NE
KTVG-TV 17, Lincoln/Grand Isle, NE
KEVN-TV 7, Rapid City/Dakota Dunes, SD
WLUK-TV 11, Green Bay, WI

For those who may not remember, Simpson was acquitted in 1995 in the double murder of Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman. However, he was later found liable for the deaths in a wrongful death lawsuit filed by Goldman's family.

UPDATE: After the huge backlash, News Corporation Chairman/CEO K. Rupurt Murdoch cancelled both airing of the Simpson special and release of the book.

The press release was short, only two paragraphs, reprinted here in it's entirity:

New York, NY- November 20, 2006 - News Corporation Chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch today announced that the company has canceled publication of the book If I Did It as well as the corresponding FOX broadcast network special.

Mr. Murdoch said: “I and senior management agree with the American public that this was an ill-considered project. We are sorry for any pain this has caused the families of Ron Goldman and Nicole Brown-Simpson.”

My response: DUH!

Even some of Fox's top news stars, Bill O'Reilly and Geraldo Rivera, came out against the project.

O'Reilly: "I'm not going to watch the Simpson show or even look at the book. I'm not even going to look at it. If any company sponsors the TV program, I will not buy anything that company sells — ever."

Rivera, from his blog last week, was even blunter:

"Of all the low down, sleazy and sadistic tricks, O.J. Simpson — a disgusting, murdering liar — is cashing in big-time on his notorious crimes.

The smug pig...has reportedly already spent much of the money he’s been advanced for the project. And he’s done it in a diabolically clever way that shields the money from the victim’s families, who have a $33.5 million wrongful death judgment pending against Simpson. He’s reportedly used it to pay off a Miami home, which is protected by law from creditors, and a luxury condo offshore in the Bahamas."


As Florida's population continues to change, with the number of Hispanic voters increasing rapidly, that group becomes more important for both major political parties.

In Miami-Dade County, Republicans for a long time have had an advantage among the Hispanic population, especially within the Cuban exile community. But Jose Cardenas and Adam C. Smith of the St. Petersburg Times report that the trend seems to be changing, as Democrat Luis Garcia was elected to the state House in a district which includes Miami's Little Havana neighbourhood and had previously been a GOP stronghold. Also, exit polls last week show that Democratic candidates did significantly better than normal among Hispanic voters.

According to one exit poll conducted by the William C. Velasquez Institute, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jim Davis received 53 percent of the Hispanic vote, while governor-elect Charlie Crist received 42 percent. The poll also noted that more than two-thirds of Hispanic voters supported Democratic candidates in their Congressional races.

Former Florida Republican Party chairman Al Cardenas says the reversal was a direct result of the debate over immigration.

But will this reversal hold up? There's a lot of work to do in two years.

Sunday, November 19, 2006


We begin our weekly tour in the Panhandle, as the Pensacola News Journal says that with talk of a special legislative session to deal with the state's insurance crisis on the table, the state-run Citizens Property Insurance should be at the top of the list. Some Pensacola Bay businesses are looking at possible rate hikes of 1,200 percent, with homeowners also fearing huge increases which could result in businesses closing and residents selling their homes.

Easing eastbound along I-10 to the state capitol, the Tallahassee Democrat calls for governor-elect Charlie Crist to address concerns about the reliability of electronic voting equipment and work to increase citizens' confidence that their ballots will be counted accurately. The newspaper calls for Crist to appoint a secretary of state with election oversight experience who is committed to easy voter verification, and suggest a review of the equipment certification process.

In Jacksonville, the Florida Times Union takes note of a "new day dawning" in St. John's County, where the election of two new county commissioners will likely mean efforts to manage growth in the suburban area. Development there has increased sharply, and other challenges for the new members include new infastructure for the developments already approved, and attracting new jobs to keep taxes low.

Now heading down I-95, today's Daytona Beach News-Journal editorial looks at the divisions between the United States and the European Union --- a huge economic partner for Florida --- which have widened in a number of areas. Even so, Europe is important to us, and the opinion notes that as the EU struggles through constant changes and increased threats, America should continue to support our partners across the Atlantic unequivocally.

Foreign relations is also on the mind of the editorial writers at the Orlando Sentinel, who expresses pleasure that the Bush administration is approaching the recent election of Daniel Ortega as president of Nicaragua with an idea of engagement rather than the ideological divide which marked relations between the two countries when Ortega first came to power in the 1980s. It notes that the intent of U.S. Ambassador Paul Trivelli to meet with Ortega is a step in the right direction.

Along the Space Coast, the Melbourne-based Florida Today calls on the Brevard County Commission to approve a programme suggested by the county's Affordable Housing Task Force to provide affordable and workforce housing for homeowners and renters or to present a better idea. Brevard's median home price has jumped from $92,900 six years ago to $206,100 in September. The idea is to make it easier for workers such as health care professionals, teachers, and first responders to live where they work.

Continuing down the coast, the Fort Pierce Tribune and it's sister Scripps Treasure Coast Newspapers are concerned about the state's lingering insurance crisis and lists several ideas presented by Governor-elect Crist, Congress, and the insurance industry itself.

Today's Palm Beach Post editorial takes note of West Palm Beach Mayor Lois Frankel's late welcome of a grand jury investigation into what it calls a "pay for play" culture at City Hall, and says that it wouldn't be necessary "if the city had valued ethical standards and fair play more than political and financial opportunities". One city commissioner has already pleaded guilty to federal fraud and obstruction charges, and reports are that there is so much evidence that the grand jury will continue it's work through January, two months beyond originally scheduled.

Keeping on I-95 to Fort Lauderdale, we see that the South Florida Sun Sentinel opinion page states that Florida's tax system should be overhauled after approval at the general election of two constitutional amendments providing tax breaks for disabled war veterans over 65 and doubles the homestead exemption for low income seniors. That would mean that the state would have to make up an estimated shortfall of up to $56 million, meaning that working-age, middle class residents will have to pick up the additional burden.

Back to foreign affairs issues, the Miami Herald editorial today calls for the U.S. to revamp programmes for Cuba and lift restrictions on travel and remittance which have been in effect for nearly a half century. It says the restictions have been a failure, and that promoting democracy on the island can be best done by removing them.

Heading into Southwest Florida, today's Naples Daily News opinion reminds readers of the flooding problems experienced in the area's Golden Gate Estates development. The drainage system is rudimentary, and continued development there means less open space for water to diffuse. The editorial reminds readers that while solutions are required, they won't be simple or inexpensive.

The Fort Myers News-Press asked the area's "snowbirds" --- winter residents from the northern tier states and Canada --- to submit suggestions on how their lives could be better while they are here, and the newspaper got plenty of replies. It's editorial space this morning notes some of the responses and asks readers who are permanant residents to respond.

The generosity of people makes note on the Sarasota Herald Tribune editorial page, noting the efforts of 72-years-young Jean Berlin who put up $200,000 of her own money and got three civic clubs to pitch in. The result was an enviromentally friendly skate park in the Englewood area to help provide young people, who have complained of nothing to do in their neighbourhood, with a recreational outlet.

Professor Boris Worm of Canada's Dalhouise University and collegues have a study in the journal Science which predicts that the world's oceans would be fished out by 2048. It is noted in today's St. Petersburg Times that Floridians should be particularly aware of this pending enviromential nightmare and it's solutions --- tougher fishery management laws --- because of the economic, enviromental, and health-related consequences.

The editorial in today's Tampa Tribune criticizes former Florida House Speaker Johnnie Byrd, Jr. (R - Plant City) for what it calls rancorour politicking to make changes and cut administrative positions at the Alzhermer's Center named after his father. The opinion notes that the changes could threaten the center's ability to grow and be as effective as it could be. It calls on the center's new board of directors to examine Byrd's reasons for seeking these changes.

The Gainesville Sun opines about the increase in buyers' wanting hybrid cars --- an electric/gasoline-driven vehicle, and their belief that the miles-per-gallon advantage would be much higher than actual fact. It notes that the Enviromential Protection Agency's estimating system is out of date and does not reflect current drivers or vehicles.

Finally, here at home, the Lakeland Ledger uses it's editorial space for the occasional "Gigs and Garlands" series, in which the paper mentions for deeds memorable and forgettable.

Make it a great Sunday. Keep warm, and cuddle up with someone close. And as the song says, "If you can't be with the one you love...."

Saturday, November 18, 2006


“Heck, even the white rednecks who go to church on Sunday didn't come out to vote for us.”

Rep. Adam H. Putnam (R - Bartow)
Examining the 2006 GOP loss in the midterm elections during a Thursday meeting of the House Republican Conference, in which he was elected chairman.

Putnam also managed to piss off former conference chairman Congressman J.C. Watts (R - OK) by saying that “JC Watts ruined the Conference by removing the member services functions that it offered until 1998” by turning it into only a communications and press vehicle. According to two Republicans, Putnam took the same swat at Watts during a Republican Study Conference session [Wednesday].

A Watts associate confirmed that he had learned of Putnam’s comments and that he was angered by them. Watts was not immediately available to comment.

Friday, November 17, 2006


ABC / This Week with George Stephanopoulos: U.S. Senator John McCain (R - AZ) will appear to discuss Iraq, the new Congress, and his likely ambitions for 2008. Also, Congressman and House Majority Leader-elect Steny Hoyer (D - MD) will talk about working with Speaker-elect Nancy Pelosi (D - CA) to unify the Democratic caucus. And the roundtable will feature Newsweek International editor Fareed Zakaria, former labor secretary and author Robert Reich, and conservative columnist George Will.

CBS / Face The Nation with Bob Schieffer: Iraq and taxes will be discussed with incoming House Ways & Means Committee Chairman Congressman Charles Rangel (D - NY) and U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R - SC).

CNN / Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer: A look ahead at the situation in Iraq and when Iraqi troops will be ready to take over their own security. Guests will be U.S. Senators Carl Levin (D - MI) and Kay Bailey Hutchinson (R - TX), Representatives James Clyburn (D - SC) and Roy Blunt (R - MO), Iraqi Ambassador to the U.S. Samir Sumaidaie, former assistant secretary of defense Ken Adelman, former presidential speechwriter and author David Frum, and American Enterprise Institute resident scholar Michael Rubin.

FOX / Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace: U.S. Senator John Kerry (D - MA) will appear, as will former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R - GA) to discuss if the 2004 Democratic nominee can bounce back from the flack over a recent remark, and if the GOP can bounce back and reiginite the Republican Revolution.

NBC / Meet the Press with Tim Russert: Two new Senators-elect, Jim Webb (D - VA) and John Tester (R - MT), will discuss Iran and the new Democratic Senate majority. Also, a special roundtable featuring Ted Koppel and Los Angeles Times chief diplomatic correspondent Robin Wright.

Syndicated / The Chris Matthews Show: Among the questions to be pondered: Can John McCain rally the Republican troops in 2008? And, is it time for a big city president (read: Rudy Guliani)? Answering these questions --- or at least making a spirited guess --- will be Kathleen Parker of the Washington Post Writers Group, CBS News National Political Correspondent Gloria Borger, John Heilemann of New York magazine, and David Brooks of The New York Times.

Bay News 9 / Political Connections: Incoming Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio (R - Coral Gables) will appear to talk about issues which will face the Legislature.


Having worked in the radio industry for 16 years (I've been out of it for over a decade), it was like a breath of fresh air to read about Clear Channel Communications has agreed to be acquired by an investment group for an estimated $18.7 billion. The broadcast equivilent of Wal-Mart owns 1,150 radio stations in markets large and small throughout the nation, but announced Thursday that it would keep it's stations in the top 100 markets and sell 448 stations in smaller markets.

Ever since the Federal Communications Commission relaxed it's rules regarding ownership of stations, companies such as Clear Channel (also known throughout the industry as "Cheap Channel") have sent the industry into a tailspin through it's practice of eliminating much of the local feel and content from it's stations. It has been the primary player in turning talk radio into a hot air baloon of nationally syndicated conservative blow-hards, eliminating diverse voices and in many cases virtually all local content. Many of it's music stations are nothing more than jukeboxes where playlists are determined by national consultants instead of local music directors who know their communities and have a better feel for their listeners' tastes. Remember, what works in L.A. or Detroit doesn't play the same in Melbourne or in Alberquerque, New Mexico.

It's truly sad to see what has happened to the radio industry, and it's certainly no surprise that ipods and downloading music from the Internet have caused radio listenership --- and related revenues --- to take a nosedive. Radio needs to be run by individuals who love and care about the industry, while at the same time working to make it a viable local resource for advertisers and the community at large. The Mays family, who own the largest percentage of CC stock, apparantly didn't.

Thursday, November 16, 2006


If you want a case against touch screen voting machines, one should only look a short distance to Sarasota and Charlotte counties.

As election officials in Sarasota go through the motions of a recount, the primary concern of many is not being addressed. Hundreds of voters there complained on Election Day that they were unable to view the congressional candidates' names on their screens and/or had problems insuring that their choices were locked in. The result was an exceptionally unusual 13 percent undervote in the Vern Buchanan - Christine Jennings race. In a highly visible race such as this, the normal undervote is less than two percent.

It seems as though the main problem was the flawed design of the electronic ballot. In Sarasota County, the congressional race was on the same screen page as the six person gubernatorial contest. Were voters required to scroll down the page in order to view the House candidates' names? If so, were they properly instructed by precient officials on how to do so?

The same thing occured in Charlotte County, where an unusually high undervote was noted in the race for Attorney General. Charlotte County uses the same touch screen system, and there the congressional race was on it's own screen page while the AG's race was on the screen page with the gubernatorial candidates. The undervote in the congressional contests was within normal parameters.

That makes the excuses being made by Sarasota elections chief Kathy Dent sound weak.

This election makes clear that the touch screen method of voting is insufficient to insure that everyone's choices are duly noted. The method used in Polk and a number of other counties across Florida, an optical scan system which uses a paper ballot, is far superior in that it scans and counts the votes electronically
while providing a paper trail to resolve disputes and eliminates the types of debacles we are seeing now. It is a method that more counties should seriously consider.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006


Reporter Bob Mahlburg of the Sarasota Herald Tribune writes that an unofficial survey of Sarasota County precient officials confirms that problems were widespread that may have had a major effect on the highly unusual 13 percent undervote in the 13th Congressional District race between Democrat Christine Jennings and Republican Vern Buchanan.

Of the county's 156 precient officials, about half responded, but more than one-third of those who did say there were complaints from voters who experienced difficulty getting their votes to register or who were unable to find the congressional race.

The normal undervote for such a high profile race is less than two percent, which makes last Tuesday's 13 percent undervote a serious anomoly.

One problem seems to be the design of the ballot used.

Sarasota and Charlotte counties use the same touch screen voting machines. In some precients, they voted in the same major races: U.S. Senate, Congressional District 13, Governor, and Attorney General.

The Herald Tribune reported that Charlotte County noted a similarly large undervote in the Attorney General's race. While Sarasota County ballots paired the two candidate congressional race and the six candidate governor's race on the same screen, Charlotte County ballots had the congressional race on it's own screen and paired the AG's and governor's races on the same screen. The thought is that many voters skipped over the race on the bottom of the screen, which would have been the congressional in Sarasota County and the AG in Charlotte County.

The Jennings campaign fired the first legal savvy Tuesday, filing an emergency petition with the Circuit Court to request that all voting machinery and data be secured for possible further investigation. The state ordered recount began Tuesday, and ballots from military and overseas will possibly continue to arrive through the end of the week.

Both Jennings and Buchanan are in Washington this week for freshman orientation, the only opponents in a contested election present for a series of meetings, classes, and get-togethers to familiarize new Members of Congress with the workings of the legislative body.

Jennings' campaign Web site is encouraging contributions "to help us ensure that our next representative is chosen by the will of the people, not a glitch at the ballot box". And Buchanan is also soliciting help. One thing to note:

Contributions to the recount effort do not count toward the annual contribution maximum under Federal Law. Individuals who have already contributed to either candidate during the primary and/or general election may still contribute up to $2,100 for the recount efforts.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006


I'm sure that many of you have read the news that U.S. intelligence services believe that Cuban dictator Fidel Castro is suffering from terminal cancer, and that their guess is that the head revolutionary will not live past the end of next year.

So, let's say that Castro is on his last legs. What can we expect when the announcement finally comes that el comandante en Jefe has died?

In my humble opinion, not much.

I hate to be the naysayer, but the belief by many that somehow the Cuban people will somehow rise up and demand freedom and democracy is only wishful thinking. While many people on the island indeed wish for something better, there are a few things to remember:

1) Fidel's brother, Raul, has been in charge since July 31, when the dictator underwent intestinal surgery. It has been no secret for years that Raul is his brother's designated successor, and that the transition has, in effect, already taken place.

2) Raul is Cuba's Defense Minister, which means he has the guns and prisons available to quash any possible populist movement for serious change.

3) As I mentioned earlier, there are many Cubans who are ready to abandon the Communist myth. However, for many Castro is the only leader they have ever known, and they have been taught since infancy that Communism is the true way. But like most human beings, many fear change more than the status quo, however bad it may be.

I also have to agree with Mustang Bobby who writes in his Miami-based blog Bark Bark Woof Woof:

And there are those who are waiting with luggage packed and yellowed documents in hand to return to Cuba and reclaim their homes and property and pick up right where they left off in January 1959.

In a way, I have a feeling that when Castro does finally hop the twig, there will be a sense of loss here among the exiles that the hard-liners hadn't planned on. Certainly they will celebrate and they will try to get the US government to lift the embargo and normalize relations with the new regime, even if it is a vestige of Castro's government, but they will also have a bit of post-Castro depression because the enemy they've fought for so long will be gone -- now what? Going back would be tough; like it or not, they don't really belong there anymore, and I doubt that they'll be welcomed back, especially by those who held out and resisted Castro in Cuba rather than up and left for Miami; "We stuck it out and endured fifty years of persecution and foodlines. You left and now you want to come back and take back your land? Creo que no."

And while there may be an increase in the number of Cubans who attempt the 90 mile trip to freedom in America, I would not expect another repeat of the 1980 Mariel boatlift.

In short, don't look for a lot.

Monday, November 13, 2006


Florida, like much of the South, tends to be more conservative. But while President Bush's approval rating dips to new lows nationally, his support in the Sunshine State dips significantly as well, according to the most recent Florida Poll conducted by the New York Times Regional Newspaper Group in Florida October 28 - November 2.

The poll showed that only 40 percent of the respondants said they approved of the way the president was doing his job, compared to 62 percent two years ago. Another 55 percent said they disapproved of Bush's job performance compared to 31 percent in 2002, and five percent did not have an opinion (the 2002 figure was seven percent).

Support for the occupation in Iraq has dropped, as these numbers show:

2002 POLL:
USA did the right thing in invading Iraq: 49.4%
USA should have stayed out of Iraq: 43.6
Undecided: 7.0%

2006 POLL:
USA did the right thing in invading Iraq: 37.4%
USA should have stayed out of Iraq: 56.5
Undecided: 6.1%

Needless to say that Republicans continue to support our efforts in Iraq, with 64 percent saying that the US did the right thing, and 34 percent saying that we should have stayed out. Sixty percent of registered Republicans say that we should remain in Iraq as long as it takes, with 25 percent saying we should leave the Middle Eastern nation as soon as possible.

Comparatively, registered Democrats strongly responded --- 71 percent --- that we should not have gone in to depose Saddam Hussein. That compares to 20 percent who said the US did the right thing.

The survey was of 500 registered voters considered "likely" to vote in last week's general election through a series of questions regarding their voting habits. The telephone numbers used in the survey were formed at random by computer to insure that each area of the state was represented by it's population. Results were weighted to insure that party registration and gender were represented in proportion to their true populations across Florida. The margin of error is plus or minus four percentage points.


U.S. Senator John McCain (R - AZ) announced on Meet the Press Sunday that he would be establishing a presidential campaign exploritory committee, allowing him to raise funds for a possible 2008 run for the White House. However, he said that he would not make a final decision on seeking the Republican nomination until he discussed it with his family over the holidays.

I have no doubt that McCain will run. While generally considered a more moderate Republican, he has made noticable moves to charm the party's right wing base. And he mentioned yesterday that he was both an economic and social conservative. Right now, he would have to be considered the probable front runner among possible GOP candidates, especially since Senate collegue Rick Santorum (R - PA) became damaged goods with his loss last week.

Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack (D) announced last Wednesday that he would make the run, and has already formed his presidential campaign committee.

Sunday, November 12, 2006


We begin this post-election tour of the Sunshine State's opinion pages here at home, where the Lakeland Ledger notes that Election Day was especially good for the young people of Florida. This was following voters' approval of a constitutional amendment mandating restoral of funding for what had been one of the nation's most effective campaigns against teen smoking.

The Daytona Beach News Journal asks "What Now For America" following the midterm elections, stating that the political climate is the most favourable in this decade for Americans to have a forthright and inclusive discussion about our main issues and how to work toward resolving them.

Keeping along the I-4 corridor for now, the Orlando Sentinel laments the decision by retail giant Wal-Mart to discontinue layaways, which the newspaper says was a good budgeting tool for many consumers.

The St. Petersburg Times editorial board was hoping that the voters' decision on Tuesday to approve three and reject four amendments to Pinellas County's charter would end the squabbling and legal wrangling between feuding city and county officials, but notes that the "playground behaviour" will likely continue. It says that voters were possibly looking for a middle ground, and ask officials to follow that example.

Across the bay, today's Tampa Tribune opinion page has some ideas about what the new Democratic majority in Congress should do, such as resisting the temptation to raise taxes and curtail trade.

Also looking ahead to January's new look in Washington is the Miami Herald, who provides a reminder that President Bush and the upcoming Democratic majority need to find a way to work together.

The Fort Pierce Tribune and other Scripps Treasure Coast newspapers look at the results from Tuesday's election and try to put the results in perspective. For instance, it notes that moderates are the winners with the election of U.S. Senate incumbant Bill Nelson (D) and Congressman-elect Tim Mahoney (D).

Today's Ocala Star Banner makes note of the fact that the Marion County Commission will have a new twist with the election of Barbara Fitos, providing the panel with a woman and a Democrat...something the commission has not seen in six years

The Tallahassee Democrat reminds us that when all is said and done after months of campaigning, the voter never gives up hope for the need to change when it is needed.

In Jacksonville, the Florida Times Union is relieved that after problems expreienced during the September primary election, improvements were apparantly made and the general election in Duval County was much smoother

A Polk County issue is the subject of today's editorial more than 200 miles away in South Florida. The Fort Lauderdale-based South Florida Sun Sentinel addresses the issue of former Winter Haven police chief Paul Goward, who was recently forced out after sending what has become known as the "jelly belly" memo to officers and staff encouraging those with bulging beltlines to shape up. The opinion is that not only WHPD officers, but the rest of us, could take heed from Goward's advice.

The editorial in today's Palm Beach Post calls on the Legislature to begin dealing with the state's insurance crisis during a special session scheduled for December, suggesting they take action on the cost of reinsurance by putting more money into the state's Hurricane Catastrophe Fund and lowering the level at which companies can use it.

In the Panhandle, the Pensacola News Journal opinion is concerned about some residents on Pensacola Beach showing widespread disregard for the rules on the type and amount of building taking place, and suggests that the Santa Rosa Island Authority become more aggressive in enforcement of the regulations.

There is a warning for readers in today's Naples Daily News editorial to avoid a scam involving e-mails and even classified ads for puppies, usually Yorkshire Terriers, available at bargain prices. Part of this sounds so familiar, with the pups and their "owners" being in Africa or other faraway location.

Florida Gulf Coast University is planning to build a satellite campus in Charlotte County, but the Sarasota Herald-Tribune urges the Fort Myers-based school to consider all options before agreeing to the suggested site noting several problems with it.

And today's opinion in Florida Today along the Space Coast says that the second phase of expansion at the Brevard County Jail to house inmates with medical and mental health problems is a positive step, but issues remaining about overcrowding need to be addressed by the county commission.

The Gainesville Sun, and Fort Myers News-Press had not posted today's editorials (if they had one today) as of mid-morning Sunday.

Make it a great Sunday!

Saturday, November 11, 2006


"He made a lot of bad decisions, that in my opinion a lot of kids have died because of his bad decisions...I called for his resignation a couple of years ago and...don't let the screen door hit you."

Congressman Gene Taylor (D - MS), commenting on the resignation this week of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. He was also quoted as saying that the former SecDef "didn't give a flip" about the troops in Iraq.

Taylor, a conservative Democrat, represents Southern Mississippi where I was born and raised. He won reelection with an 80 percent majority, with only token opposition from a far-right Republican challenger.

He knows just how many of his constitutents along the Mississippi Gulf Coast felt in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. His own home was destroyed in the storm, and like many of those he represents, he battled his insurance company over benefits.

Taylor had a nice piece done by USA Today Monday. Now that the Democrats are in control of the House, he looks to earn chairmanship of an Armed Services subcommittee.


After weeks of watching the election campaigns closely, many bloggers, myself included, believe that it's time to take some time off and enjoy the real life. My five year old granddaughter and I have some plans, and of course there's the real job I have as we approach the Open Enrollment Period for the Medicare Part D Prescription Drug programme.

Of course, I'll have the roundup of Florida's editorial pages here tomorrow.

Thanks to everyone who drops by and checks out the latest postings. The past week and a half have noted the largest number of daily hits on this page than at any time in the two-plus year history of I4J. Of course, that is settling down as the election is now in the books (except for the 13th Congressional District race).

Please don't stop visiting. I'll still have postings here on a regular basis.

Friday, November 10, 2006


A lot of news to talk about this week: The midterm elections, and how differently Congress will run under Democratic rule. What can we expect from the new leadership, especially when it comes to Iraq? And Donald Rumsfeld's resignation as SecDef. All of that will be discussed on the shows this week.

ABC / This Week with George Stephanopoulos: A bit of a celebration this week as the programme will take note of it's 25th anniversary on the air. Otherwise, U.S. Senators Joseph Biden, Jr. (D - DE) and Carl Levin (D - MI) will talk about the new majority in Congress and what they are planning as incoming chairmen of powerful committees. And the roundtable will feature ABC News correspondents Cokie Roberts and Sam Donaldson, along with conservative columnist George Will.

CBS / Face The Nation with Bob Schieffer: White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolton and soon-to-be U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D - NV) will be looking ahead to the new Congress.

CNN / Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer: Guests will be White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolton, U.S. Senators Charles Schumer (D - NY) and Arlen Specter (R - PA), Pakastani Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz, Former NATO Supreme Allied Commander General George Joulwan (US Army, Ret.), former Defense Secretary William Cohen, and New York Times Chief Military Correspondent Michael Gordon.

FOX / Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace: What will the Democratic sweep mean for the president's policy, especially in Iraq? Democratic National Committee Chairman Dr. Howard Dean and Counselor to the President Dan Bartlett will try to answer those questions.

NBC / Meet the Press with Tim Russert: U.S. Senators John McCain (R - AZ) and Joe Lieberman (I/D - CT) will discuss the election, Iraq, the SecDef situation, and looking ahead.

Bay News 9 / Political Connections: Co-hosts Al Ruechel and Adam C. Smith of the St. Petersburg Times look back on the midterm elections here in Florida, finales not yet reached, and look ahead to what changes may be yet to come.


The 13th Congressional District race between Republican Vern Buchanan and Democrat Christine Jennings was very close...only 368 votes seperate the two. And with an extraordinairly unusual undervote and complaints that the touch-screen voting machines concealed the candidates' names, this is undoubtably headed to court...or possibly to the new House of Representatives, which is constitutionally the final arbiter in such disputes.

According to the Sarasota Herald-Tribune:

Sarasota County Supervisor of Elections Kathy Dent (R) called on state officials for help. Democrats and voters' rights activists have questioned the results of the race...

The state Division of Elections pledged to audit the county's voting system after any recounts to see why more than 18,000 voters -- 13 percent -- who showed up at the polls voted in other races but not the Buchanan-Jennings contest.

Gov. Jeb Bush called the 13th district results "an unusual anomaly" on Thursday...

In one part of Newtown, a predominantly black and heavily Democratic neighborhood in Sarasota, more than 22 percent of voters did not register a vote in the Jennings-Buchanan race. Undervoting also was common in predominantly white areas.

One recount expert notes that recounts involving touch screen machines are often inconclusive because it lacks a paper trail, something that many activists have called for. Chris Sautter told New York Times Regional Newspaper Group reporters that It would be "extraordinarily rare" for a court to order a new election even if the Jennings camp makes a convincing case that enough votes weren't counted to make a difference in the outcome.

A strong enough case in court could be enough to throw the decision into the hands of the House of Representatives, which will have a Democratic majority when it convenes in January.


You can look for a host of candidates for president in 2008 from both parties as the office will be open due to the current occupant of the White House being term limited. Some have already been stumping for months in the early primary states of Iowa and New Hampshire, others have been touring the country on behalf of their party's candidates for state and federal offices during the midterm election campaign.

Wednesday, the day after this week's elections, Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack (D) became the first from either major party to take the next formal step, filing papers to establish his presidential campaign committee.

Vilsack is the Chairman of the centrist Democratic Leadership Council, and did not run for reelection as governor in order to keep a promise of serving only two terms. His press release announced that the campaign will officially kick off November 30 in his hometown of Mount Pleasant, Iowa, and will be followed by events in New Hampshire, Pittsburgh, Nevada, and South Carolina. The first major fundraiser for the new campaign has been scheduled for December 2 in Des Moines.

The Vilsack '08 campaign will be managed by Craig Varoga, CEO of the Houston-based firm Varoga & Rice. He has worked with a number of major campaigns, including as national director of state research for the 1996 Clinton-Gore campaign, national field director for retired general Wesley Clark's presidential effort in 2003-2004, and was communications director for U.S. Senator Harry Reid (D - NV) who will become majority leader in January.

Now that the first official candidate is in the picture, how long will it take for the Barack Obamas and Hillary Rodham Clintons and the John McCains to step forward? One of the roundtable pundits on last Sunday's edition of This Week With George Stephanopoulos predicted that Obama, the junior U.S. Senator from Illinois, will make a decision on running before the end of November.

Thursday, November 09, 2006


Governor-elect Charlie Crist spoke to the media Wednesday for the first time after his election victory, announcing two key players to his transition team.

Leading the group will be Coral Gables attorney Roberto Martinez, who helped set up the Attorney General's office for Crist four years ago. The Vice Chairwoman is Kathleen Shanahan, Governor Bush's former Chief of Staff who is considered a critical member of his team during his elections.

One interesting note from the report from New York Times Regional Newspaper Group Tallahassee reporter Joe Follick: Among those present to hear the man who will become Florida's 44th governor in January...a crowd of supporters that included a number of A-list lobbyists from Tallahassee.

You know they're licking their lips, knowing that payday is real soon for those huge contributions to the campaign war chest. And if they can get some of their own people hooked up with good jobs within the Crist much the better, right???


Yesterday, I4J noted a television interview on Election Night when Congressman Adam H. Putnam (R - Bartow) stated that he wanted to seek the chairmanship of the Republican House Caucus Committee. He expanded on his intentions while talking with Lakeland Ledger political reporter Bill Rufty Wednesday.

In January, Putnam was elected chairman of the House Republican Policy Committee, which according to it's Web site is considered "the principal forum for the consideration of forward-looking legislative initiatives, the enunciation of official party policies, and the resolution of inter-jurisdictional policy disputes". The committee chairmanship is considered to be the fifth highest position among the GOP leadership.

The Republican House Caucus Committee is currently lead by Congresswoman Deborah Pryce of Ohio, who announced that she would not seek reelection to the post after news of Putnam's intentions had begun spreading among GOP members. The chairperson presides over weekly meetings of Republican congressional representatives, and is responsible for communication among them. It would be a significant promotion for Putnam if he is elected, as the Caucus Chairperson is considered number three among the leadership hierachy. The caucus will be even more important to Republican members now that they will be the minority party, having lost 29 seats in Tuesday's midterm election.

Putnam has already begun contacting House collegues seeking their support for the election, scheduled for next Wednesday. He told Rufty that he plans to stay and run his leadership campaign from his Bartow home through the weekend, noting that there are fewer distractions here than in Washington.

Congress reconvenes for what will be a lame duck session Monday.

As for Tuesday's apparant vote for change, Putnam was quoted as saying that it was not the fact that Republicans lost control of the House that was surprising, it was the scale on which they did so.

"It was the magnitude of the loss that caught me off guard."

It shouldn't have caught anyone off guard. After six years of incompetence, crookedness, and nearly three thousand American lives lost (and many thousands more injured and maimed) in an occupation which we entered based on lies and misrepresentations...and after six years of an ever increasing gap between the working and upper class among us, people are angry and want change now. Once again, this shows how off the mark Putnam and his GOP collegues in Washington are from the real world.

The campaign for 2008 has begun.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006


Last night, while Congressman Adam Putnam (R - Bartow) was celebrating his easy victory over two opponents for reelection to his 12th District seat, he told a Tampa television reporter that he may seek the Chairmanship of the House Republican Conference, currently held by Congresswoman Deborah Price (R - OH).

The HRC provides support services to Republican Members of Congress in the conduct of their work, such as fact sheets, issue briefs, talking points, and legislative digests.

Putnam was elected Chairman of the Republican House Policy Committee, making him fifth among the GOP House leadership. He was elected Tuesday to a fourth two-year term in Congress representing most of Polk County, along with portions of Hillsborough and Osceola counties.


Some reflections on Tuesday's general election:

1) Giving credit where credit is due, one has to admire the Republican Party's Get Out the Vote campaign. While many believed that the significantly higher than projected turnout numbers should have helped the Democratic candidates, it didn't.

2) If there is anything that Democrats can celebrate, it is the limited gains made. We will have one voice in the Florida Cabinet with the election of Alex Sink as Chief Financial Officer, and here in Polk County we will have a voice on the County Commission for the first time in nearly a decade with Jean Reed. Small steps, indeed, but any gains are good.

One note about Ms. Reed's campaign: She won with a very lean campaign budget. While Parker raised $103,700, Reed only raised $32,096

3) Looking at the national scene for a moment, Democrats should not rejoice too much at regaining control of the House of Representatives. While that means gaining chairmanships of committees and supoena powers to look at a variety of Republican mess-ups, a number of those soon-to-be freshman Democratic representatives are conservative. On a number of issues that could prove to be a thorn in the side of the more liberal members of the new House leadership.

I'll probably have more later in the day.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006


From what Supervisor of Elections Lori Edwards is saying even this afternoon, the voter turnout could meet her earlier prediction of 50 percent. According to the Lakeland Ledger update, voting was brisk throughout much of the day. Not even showers and thunderstorms that passed through during the afternoon could apparantly stop voters.

The only reported problem was during the thunderstorm, when a partial power outage briefly affected one predominately Black precient in central Lakeland. The voting machines were not affected; it only caused dimming of the lights in the building.


President Bush brought his day-before-the-election tour to the Pensacola Civic Center Monday to support Florida GOP candidates, especially the campaign of gubernatorial nominee Charlie Crist. However, the Attorney General was several hundred miles southeast of the Panhandle city as part of his own last minute campaign sweep across the state.

Needless to say, presidential political advisor Karl Rove and other White House aides were less than happy with the snub, reportedly not finding out until Sunday evening that Crist would not be in attendance to introduce the president as had been originally planned.

As the Orlando Sentinel reported this morning:

White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove was miffed that Crist skipped the rally.

"All I know is that yesterday morning, they apparently made a decision that rather than being with the governor and the president and 10,000 people in Pensacola, they made a last-minute decision to go to Palm Beach," Rove said.

"Let's see how many people show up in Palm Beach on 24 hours' notice versus 8- or 9,000 people in Pensacola."

Crist's chief of staff said that it made no sense for the gubernatorial front runner be present, as they felt that the traditionally conservative Panhandle was soundly in their hands and it was better for the Attorney General to campaign in other areas of the state.

Meanwhile, U.S. Senate candidate Katherine Harris was present for the Pensacola event, but was not allowed on stage during the main event; she did get to address the crowd briefly more than an hour before the president arrived. During the main event, she and her husband were relegated to a seat in the stands with the "common folk".

Crist was not the only statewide candidate who snubbed the Commander in Chief. Attorney General candidate Bill McCollum, Chief Financial Officer nominee Tom Lee, and incumbant Agricultrure and Consumer Services Commissioner Charles Bronson also missed the rally in favour of doing their own campaigning.

From the St. Petersburg Times:

Without Crist and the other statewide candidates, Bush was joined on stage by first lady Laura Bush, his brother Gov. Jeb Bush, former Bush housing secretary and now U.S. Sen. Mel Martinez, and U.S. Rep. Jeff Miller, who represents the Panhandle. Also on stage were state legislators and Carole Jean Jordan, chairwoman of the Republican Party of Florida. McCollum, who finds himself in a tight race with state Sen. Walter "Skip" Campbell, spent the day campaigning along the I-4 corridor.

"I wasn't going up to Pensacola," said McCollum, who spent an hour with St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker on Monday, waving to motorists. "It's not where I needed to be."