Wednesday, May 31, 2006


Remember when former Florida Secretary of State and now Congresswoman Katherine Harris (R - Longboat Key) said she would put he entire wealth on the line in her quest to unseat Democratic U.S. Senator Bill Nelson? Q, the political blog of the Palm Beach Post, reminds us today that there is a site by the Portland, Oregon-based political consulting and internet strategy firm Mandate Media called Make Her Spend It All. The site does state that it is "not paid for or authorized by any candidate or candidate committee", but it does provide a link to make contributions to Nelson's reelection effort. To date the site has raised over $4,600 for the incumbant.

BTW: Mandate Media also manages the popular Lefty Blogs site, which tracks a number of progressive blogs from across the country (including I4J and others from Florida). And on the Make Her Spend It All site, there is a link where you can view her statement from the Fox News Channel show Hannity and Colmes.


Normally, something like this would be a snoozer, but it's an election year, and Governor Jeb Bush's signing of the new gubernatorial succession order unamiously passed during the recently ended legislative session affects the two major Republican gubernatorial candidates.

The new top three in order of succession should the governor die or otherwise be unable to fufill his duties are:

Lieutenant Governor (Toni Jennings)
Attorney General (Charlie Crist)
Chief Financial Officer (Tom Gallagher)

The Secretary of State (Sue M. Cobb), who had been second in line behind the lieutenant governor, is no longer in the mix. This new order reflects the SecState's changed status from an independently elected official to an appointed office since the 1998 constitutional amendment passed by voters cutting the size of the Florida Cabinet in half.

Of course, being an election year with two Cabinet members facing off in the GOP primary, the new succession order which moves Crist and Gallagher up a notch couldn't go unnoticed...and certainly with Crist on top, where he stands in the Republican polls.


The Florida Democratic Party held a news conference Tuesday to announce a new statewide platform which Chairperson Karen Thurman noted is supported by every major Democratic candidate running this November.

The five page document, entitled "Putting Floridians First", focuses on health care, education, the economy, and security. It is available in .pdf format by clicking onto this link. It was initally scheduled to be unveiled about a month ago but was delayed so as not to overshadow the party's dual legislative victories on class size and vouchers.

And helping to raise funds for the FDP will be former president Bill Clinton, who will be the featured speaker at what is being dubbed as a "Victory Reception" Monday, June 12 at 11:45 AM in the Orlando Marriott Downtown hotel, 500 West Livingston Street. Tickets are available for $200 each and can be ordered online through the Florida Democratic Party Website.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006


While many folks were attending Memorial Day activities, enjoying a backyard cookout, or spending the day at the beach, the St. Petersburg Times political blog The Buzz reports that at least 100 people turned out to meet and hear Democratic gubernatorial candidate and State Senator Rod Smith of Alachua at a house party hosted by a couple of supporters.

Smith said he considered writing off the Tampa Bay area to primary rival and area congressional representative Jim Davis, but was encouraged by former Tampa mayor Sandy Freedman and Hillsborough County Clerk of the Courts Pat Frank to make the effort. Both women ran and lost to Davis in his first race for the congressional seat.

In his remarks, Smith dismissed recent polls showing him well behind Davis, noting the high number of people still undecided and that he is the candidate who can beat a GOP candidate throughout Florida.


Orlando television station WKMG-6 reported over the weekend that sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are running rampant in, of all places, The Villages retirement community near Orlando.

The report quoted a gynecologist as saying she treats more cases of herpes and the human papilloma virus among the retirees there than she ever did when practicing in Miami, noting that one of her patients was in her 80s.

A doctor blamed Viagra, a lack of sex education and no risk for pregnancy for the spike in sexually transmitted diseases at The Villages.

"All I can repeat are the things I have heard which are things like, 'Should I bring the little blue pills over tonight?'" community singles group president Richard Matwyshen said.

This report actually got picked up by CNN, and is one of the local pieces being featured on it's Web site. Pretty soon, folks all over will be thinking Floridians are just a bunch of sexual freaks; teachers gettin' it on with students, now seniors gettin' frisky behind the community gates.

Can't you just picture Grandma gettin' it on, asking the neighbour "Voulez-vous coucher avec moi, ce soir?"


While women have made great strides in the field of law enforcement, in many ways it is still very much primarily a man's world.

But in the small Polk County town of Frostproof, DeAnna Higgins has not just cracked the "glass ceiling", she has shattered it. A second generation law enforcement officer, she was appointed police chief there since January of last year after serving on an interim basis for several months. That makes her the only female police chief in the area, and one of a handful across Florida.

Frostproof, a citrus community in southern Polk County, has a population of approximately 3,000 with a police force of ten sworn officers.

She is the subject of the weekly Monday Profile in the Lakeland Ledger. Not a bad picture of the chief on her Harley, either...

Monday, May 29, 2006


The Lakeland Ledger prints a feature article this morning which originally appeared in the St. Petersburg Times on Congresswoman Ginny Brown-Waite (R - Spring Hill). While reading it, I began to believe it was just a fluff piece, especially when it included a quote from collegue Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D - Pembroke Pines), one of the most liberal Democrats in the Florida delegation. But the article did touch on several points that voters in the 5th District need to remember:

She has aggressively supported the war in Iraq, even as the death toll climbs and its popularity plummets. She accepted $14,000 from former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay in her last election and $1,500 from a former DeLay aide who pleaded guilty in a corruption scandal.

She supported changing House ethics rules to allow DeLay to remain as leader if indicted, as well as expanding corporate tax cuts and allowing police to search library records. A Congressional Quarterly analysis shows she has voted with her party more than 90 percent of the time since she got to Washington...

She also has taken a hard line on immigration reform, opposing President Bush's plea to balance border security with allowing millions of illegal immigrants to work legally. Instead, she voted for the House bill that calls for sending all 12 million illegal immigrants back, and opposes the more lenient Senate version that passed last week.

As a state senator, BrownWaite developed a reputation as a moderate who often voted against her party on consumer and environmental issues. Observers say her Washington career has been more conservative.

Her rankings with the Christian Coalition, the American Conservative Union, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and most other conservative groups are typically more than 90 percent. She has consistently supported the president's tax cuts, banning gay marriage and drilling in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Brown-Waite's biggest gamble of the past year has been touting Part D, the new Medicare prescription drug benefit, despite reports of mass confusion and dislike. Rather than join those calling for enrollment extensions and other tweaks, Brown-Waite campaigned on the plan's virtue, if not its perfection.

While she bucked the GOP leadership on several issues, such as cutting veterans' benefits (her district has more military vets than any other in the nation), embryonic stem cell research, and when the Terri Schiavo end-of-life case came before the House, she has proved much of the time to be simply a follower, not a leader.

She's proven to be too much for even some fellow Republicans, such as former Hernando County Sheriff Tom Mylander, who campaigned against her two years ago:

"Ginny Brown-Waite is Ginny Brown-Waite," Mylander said. "She has her way of doing things, and she just -- You can't take anything away from her. She's gotten where she is, but I don't particularly like the way she's treated people along the way."

Sunday, May 28, 2006


For the past several weeks the Lakeland Ledger has been publishing an occasional series of articles focusing on the immigration issue and it's affect on the local area. Today, the subject is the high number of immigrants --- legal and not --- who don't bother learning the primary language of their adopted country.

In Polk County alone, an estimated 68,500 people of people five years and older--- over 14 percent of the county's total population --- don't speak English at home as of 2004, according to the United States Census Bureau. That's up from the 2000 census, when the number was approximately 11 percent. The vast majority, about 54,000 of them, used Spanish as their first language. People interviewed by the Ledger for the report cited time restraints, long working hours, and the ability to speak their native language at home and work as reasons for not taking the inititaive to learn English.

Also, nearly seven percent of the Polk school district's students --- more than 6,000 --- are enrolled in it's English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) programme, with 73 different languages represented. Beginning this fall, five schools will pilot a dual language programme, where half the curriculum will be taught in English, the other half in Spanish.

I guess my conservative side is coming out here, but IMHO anyone wishing to live and/or work here should make the effort to learn English. A good knowledge of a country's primary language is vital in many cases to do business and to become a full member of the community. That is why many countries around the world make it a requirment.

For many people, it also helps that becoming fluent in two languages can mean advancement --- or, at least, the ability to enter more diverse fields of work --- with many companies, giving some immigrants an additional opportunity not otherwise available.

I agree with Senator Bill Nelson's decision to support a national language amendment in the immigration reform bill which passed last Thursday (Senator Mel Martinez was not present for the vote due to his son's wedding). It should not be considered racist, as some are calling it, but a means of bringing those immigrants more into the mainstream of America. And it does not mean that an individual cannot continue to use their native language at home or in social settings with friends, family, or co-workers. There just needs to be a common bond between all people within our nation, and a common language is necessary toward that goal.


We begin our weekly tour of the Sunshine State's editorial pages in Fort Lauderdale, where the South Florida Sun Sentinel touts new projects in Sunrise and other towns around the region as part of an emerging trend toward "smart growth", and urges Broward County voters to approve a one-cent sales tax increase to fund expanded mass transit and other transportation improvements.

Rivera Beach has planned a huge, multibillion dollar redevelopment of it's downtown waterfront and Ocean Mall on Singer Island. Plans are to construct an aquarium, several hotels, condos, and expanded affordable housing there as well as moving a stretch of U.S. Highway 1, and officials have hired former Rebuild L.A. chief Bernard Kinsey to cut the best deal possible for taxpayers. The Palm Beach Post suggests that the City Council protect citizens when it comes to Kinsey's contract --- yet to be finalized --- in travel and other expenses, and set up a "chain of command" where Kinsey will report only to the Council and other consultants on the project report only to him.

The more lanes the better, and the sooner the cheaper. That's the opinion of the Naples Daily News on adding new toll lanes to Interstate 75 through Collier and Lee counties after the new Southwest Florida Expressway Authority discovered that the estimated price for four toll lanes plus the "free" lane each way scheduled to be build by 2010 would be more than $1 billion...nearly 25 percent more than originally predicted. The NDN says do it all now, and save up to $200 million in the process.

The Fort Myers News-Press editorial page touches on immigration and the fact that it is a significant issue in today's America. It does remind us that today's newcomers are of the same raw material as the millions who preceeded them, and that they can make the same contributions and commitment to the nation.

Up in Melbourne, Florida Today decries a new law passed during the recent legislative session that discourages groups such as the League of Women Voters from running voter registration drives by slapping harsh penalties for missing state-imposed deadlines. The editorial says that the fines included in the law are "a wrongheaded solution to potential fraud".

Today's subject of the editorial in the Sarasota Herald Tribune is a little fishy: A charter boat captain recently caught a 14.5 foot long, 1,262 pound hammerhead shark off Boca Grande which had pulled his boat 12 miles before being captured. He donated the shark to Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota, but said he would like to catch a larger one and sell it at auction on e-Bay. The Herald Tribune suggests that the captain maintain the longtime ethic practiced by many sportfishermen of catch-and-release to help preserve the species as well as their careers.

Just another reminder that hurricane season begins Thursday: The St. Petersburg Times notes that counties throughout the Tampa Bay area have made substantial progress in upgrading preperations for the coming season, but that more is needed in the areas of shelter space, transportation for those who need it, and getting the private sector more involved in a coordinated recovery. The biggest challenge, according to the opinion, is in overcoming complacency.

Across the bay, the Tampa Tribune editorial focuses on the situation facing the detainees being held by the U.S. at it's base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. It's opinion is that the suspected terrorists cannot be held indefinately without a clear determination of guilt, and the Naval Station is not the appropriate place to hold those who are guilty. The Tribune calls on trials to be held and the detention facility Guantanamo Bay closed as soon as possible.

This morning's Orlando Sentinel opinion space rates members of the Central Florida area's delegation in the Florida House of Representatives on their effectiveness. One really notable fall to the "Bottom of the Barrel" catagory: 17. Randy Johnson, R-Celebration. Top-tier last year, but his meteoric fall came after he put his personal ambitions ahead of the public's business. His unseemly campaigning for the Chief Financial Officer during his floor speeches drew a rare public rebuke from House Speaker (Allan) Bense. Failed to pass a single bill.

Here at home, the Lakeland Ledger editorial page highlights another of it's occasional "Gigs and Garlands" series, in which it give paragraphs of praise or criticism to a number of different individuals or groups.

The Daytona Beach News Journal laments that in the past Florida's quest for tourists was seemingly more important than enviromential and other quality-of-life concerns, but is pleased that the path West Volusia County entities are taking in spotlighting the area's ecosystems and heritage. This not only is helping bring in needed tourist dollars but saving key parts of the area from being overwhelmed by it's fast-paced growth.

Heading northwest slightly, the Ocala Star Banner notes that while prospects of a special legislative session are dim, hopefully Floridians will be able to weather this hurricane season and that lawmakers will be able to reach a long-term solution next term for Citizens Property Insurance, the state's "provider of last resort". The opinion is that a good place to begin would be a plan presented by Democratic legislators last Wednesday where private insurers would underwrite traditional homeowner's policies with varying deductibles and deposit the premiums specifically for hurricane damage into a special fund. The fund would cover 90 percent of the first $100,000 in damages, with the other 10 percent paid by insurers, coupled with Attorney General Charlie Crist's proposal to stop insurers from cherry-picking customers by not writing property insurance policies.

Just up the road, the Gainesville Sun focuses on the Hogtown Creek watershed, and features a photo essay from pictures submitted by the local Rails-to-Trails Convervancy showing that recreational greenways and urban waterways can be compatable, and calls on local government to revisit a 1998 City Charter amendment which prevents the city to build a paved greenway along the watershed.

In Jacksonville, the Florida Times Union reminds readers that the rainy season is nearly here, but that of Jacksonville's nearly 3,800 mass transit stops, only 280 shelter riders from the elements, and notes that more can be done without putting pressure on bus fares. As is the case in many other cities, private companies would build and maintain the shelters, which would be funded through selling advertising.

The Tallahassee Democrat has been remembering the city's bus boycott which ended segregated bus seating 50 years ago, and in today's editorial page touts the thriving black middle class as well as the fact that several key leaders in the area's political life are people of colour. It also praises the young people who are taking the baton of leadership from their elders, especially noting the students who protested following the tragic death of Martin Lee Anderson at the hands of guards at the Bay County Juvenile Boot Camp.

And the Pensacola News Journal reminds readers of the upcoming hurricane season, and that with the predictions of how many storms will form, their strength, and where they will strike, the only thing to remember is that the only hurricane to be ready for is the one with Pensacola Bay's name on it.
It's time to make the family some pancakes this morning...Make it a great day!

Saturday, May 27, 2006


As many of you are aware, this is the Memorial Day weekend. The official national holiday will be celebrated Monday, with most governmental offices and services closed.

While many of us will be enjoying the Indy 500 or a baseball game, visiting with friends and/or family, or just lounging around the residence, there are a lot of people who don't know what Memorial Day is all about.


In 1865, Henry C. Welles, a druggist in the village of Waterloo, NY, mentioned at a social gathering that honor should be shown to the patriotic dead of the Civil War by decorating their graves.

In the Spring of 1866, he again mentioned this subject to General John B. Murray, Seneca County Clerk. General Murray embraced the idea and a committee was formulated to plan a day devoted to honoring the dead.

Townspeople adopted the idea wholeheartedly. Wreaths, crosses and bouquets were made for each veteran's grave. The village was decorated with flags at half mast and draped with evergreen boughs and mourning black streamers.

On May 5, 1866, civic societies joined the procession to the three existing cemeteries and were led by veterans marching to martial music. At each cemetery there were impressive and lengthy services including speeches by General Murray and a local clergyman. The ceremonies were repeated on May 5, 1867.

The first official recognition of Memorial Day as such was issued by General John A. Logan, first commander of the Grand Army of the Republic. This was General Order No. 11 establishing "Decoration Day" as it was then known.

The Web site adds:

Memorial Day was officially proclaimed on 5 May 1868 by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, in his General Order No. 11, and was first observed on 30 May 1868, when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery. The first state to officially recognize the holiday was New York in 1873. By 1890 it was recognized by all of the northern states. The South refused to acknowledge the day, honoring their dead on separate days until after World War I (when the holiday changed from honoring just those who died fighting in the Civil War to honoring Americans who died fighting in any war). It is now celebrated in almost every State on the last Monday in May (passed by Congress with the National Holiday Act of 1971 (P.L. 90 - 363) to ensure a three day weekend for Federal holidays)...

To help re-educate and remind Americans of the true meaning of Memorial Day, the "National Moment of Remembrance" resolution was passed on Dec 2000 which asks that at 3 p.m. local time, for all Americans "To voluntarily and informally observe in their own way a moment of remembrance and respect, pausing from whatever they are doing for a moment of silence or listening to 'Taps."

Take a few moments this weekend to give thanks to those brave men and women who sacrificed their lives in the service of our nation. While we may have differing opinions of the political decisions, we should be united in offering our thanks and appreciation for all our military personnel, past, present, and future.


Usually, when I receive something like this sent to only God-knows how many people, I get a little crumudgeonly and delete it without giving it a second thought. But I took the time to actually read this, and it gave me a bit of a laugh to start my weekend. I thought of sharing it with you.

Dear Friends and Relatives:

I have the distinguished honor of being on the committee to raise $5,000,000 for a monument of George W. Bush.

We originally wanted to put him on Mt. Rushmore until we discovered there was not enough room for two more faces. We then decided to erect a statue of George in the Washington, D. C. Hall Of Fame. We were in a quandary as to where the statue should be placed. It was not proper to place it beside the statue of George Washington, who never told a lie, or beside Richard Nixon, who never told the truth, since George could never tell the difference.

We finally decided to place it beside Christopher Columbus, the greatest Republican of them all. He left not knowing where he was going, and when he got there he did not know where he was. He returned not knowing where he had been, and did it all on someone else's money.

Thank you,
George W. Bush Monument Committee

P. S. The Committee has raised $1.35 so far.


I'm doing something I normally do not do in this weekly posting. If you are in the Tampa/St. Petersburg/Lakeland viewing area, make a note to watch (or TiVO) WFTS-TV 28 at 11:00 AM Sunday for the local public affairs programme Flashpoint. The subject will be the security --- or lack thereof --- in the voting machines you and I use. Host/lead news anchor Brendan McLaughlin will discuss the issue with Leon County Supervisor of Elections Ion Sancho, who allowed testing of his office's Diebold machines and exposed several security issues. Sancho has been outspoken about spending public money on flawed equipment. Also appearing will be Pam Haengel, president of the nonpartisan group Voting Integrity Alliance of Tampa Bay. With questions lingering about this important issue, this is a programme worth watching.

Now, let's see what the networks are doing...

ABC / This Week with George Stephanopoulos: U.S. Senator John Warner (R - VA) and Congressman John Murtha (D - PA) will discuss Iraq and reports of a massacre in Haditha, a town in northern Iraq clearly in the control of Islamist guerrillas according to this British news report. And the roundtable will consist of former Congressman John Kasich (R - OH), E.J. Dionne of the Washington Post, and conservative columnist George Will.

CBS / Face The Nation with Bob Schieffer: U.S. Senators Mitch McConnell (R - KY / Assistant Majority Leader) and Charles Schumer (D - NY / Chairman, Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee) will join Elizabeth Bumiller of the New York Times in discussing politics and the upcoming midterm elections.

CNN / Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer: Can the new Iraqi government assert enough control so that coalition troops can begin coming home? That and immigration issues will be discussed with Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Barham Salih, NBC News Senior Vice President/Washington Bureau Chief and "Meet The Press" host Tim Russert, HRH Prince Hassan bin Talal of Jordan, and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

FOX / Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace: U.S. Senators Dr. William H. "Bill" Frist (R - TN / Senate Majority Leader) and Richard Durbin (D - IL / Assistant Senate Minority Leader) will discuss a variety of subjects, including immigration, gas prices, and the war on terror.

NBC / Meet the Press with Tim Russert: A debate on immigration will be featured with U.S. Senator Chuck Hagel (R - NE) and Congressman James Sensenbrenner (R - WI / House Judiciary Committee Chairman). Then a roundtable discussing with David Broder and Eugene Robinson of the Washington Post, International Herald Tribune Executive Editor David Ignatius, and National Review Washington Editor Kate O'Beirne.

Syndicated / The Chris Matthews Show: The marriage of former President Bill Clinton and Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton (D - NY) and it's return to the front pages will be discussed, as well as the question of if President Bush's admission of mistakes in his Iraq policy salvage his legacy. The roundtable will consist of NPR's Michelle Norris, Michael Duffy of Time magazine, Jonathan Alter of Newsweek, and Gloria Borger of CBS News and U.S. News and World Report.

Friday, May 26, 2006


The Orlando Sentinel is reporting today that a former Orlando police captain who served as an aide to two mayors is one of three Americans --- including another from Orlando --- being held captive in the Democratic Republic of the Congo while there providing services for a presidential candidate.

Joe Robinson served as an assistant to former Republican mayor Glenda Hood and helped plan security following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. He also was deputy chief of staff to Democrat Buddy Dyer, who followed Hood into office. (NOTE: Bios for all parties may be out of date, but are the most recent available).

Robinson was working for the Orlando based AQMI Strategy Corporation, a consultancy firm, and had been in the Congo since May 13 as part of a group assisting presidential candidate Dr. Oscar Kashala. Kashala, a Boston-based physician, holds dual Congolese and American citizenship, and is one of 32 people seeking the office in the election to be held July 30.

Reports say that the Americans were part of a group of 30 people detained after being accused of being involved in a conspiracy to overthrow the government. The Associated Press quotes Interior Minister Theophile Mbemba Fundu as saying they men were arrested with "military effects". A spokesman for AQMI says they carried satellite phones to the African country but were not armed.

UPDATE: The Associated Press now says that AQMI Strategy has confirmed Robinson's capture, and the identity of the other two Americans also being held.

Kevin Billings, 48, of Orlando was a Secret Service agent during the administrations of Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. Seth Taylor of San Diego, California is a subcontractor hired by AQMI Strategy to provide security.

The United Nations representative in the Congolese capital of Kinshasa says the international organization believes the detentions are an attempt at political manipulation.


Thursday was the day of decision for Governor Jeb Bush, who was active in his use of the line item veto in rejecting nearly $449 million in spending. While the amount is nearly 25% more then his previous record set last year, it's still a drop in the bucket compared to what will be a state budget of $73.9 billion.

Among the vetoed projects affecting Polk County:

--- A $2 million grant for nursing education at the United Methodist Church-affiliated Florida Southern College in Lakeland.

--- $600,000 was Polk's share of a $2.5 million reading programme that would have served several counties.

--- $500,000 for the Florida Future Farmers of America leadership, education, and training centre in Haines City.

--- $75,000 for the Polk County business incubator programme, which would have been based in the eastern portion of the county to provide information and mentoring for fledging or start up businesses.

--- $50,000 for the Lakeland Volunteers in Medicine programme which provides health care to the working uninsured of the Lakeland area. The money would have been used to update it's record system so that it can better keep up with their patients.

Overall, Polk County came out rather well compared to other areas.


One of the biggest stories of a busy news day Thursday was the conviction of Enron founder/chairman Kenneth Lay and CEO Jeffrey Skilling on conspiracy and fraud charges in one of the biggest business scandals in American history.

But will we have to go through the whole process again? It is very possible.

I was listening to the public radio business news show Marketplace after work last evening when the host was interviewing Houston Chronicle reporter Mary Flood, who had been covering the trial, and she notes that there are several areas where an appeal could quite possibly be successful. Quoting from the broadcast transcript:

Of course, there is going to be an appeal. And there are a lot of places where they could appeal. Some of them would include the change of venue, that we've stayed in Houston. Another would include all the evidence about Mr. Skilling's former girlfriend's business, that he and Mr. Lay invested in. The government didn't say that they were going to bring that up. And there are several more, including the deliberate ignorance or willful blindness jury instruction, though it didn't sound like that was particularly potent for the jury.

Of course, the most glaring case for an appeal is the fact that no change of venue was granted. The trial should never have been held in the Bayou City, where Enron was based and many people either were directly affected by Enron's downfall or at least knew someone affected. That alone screams for a retrial, and the prosecutors should have known better than to try and get the easy conviction.

BTW: A little mentioned fact: Jeffery Skilling's oldest brother may be familiar to some of you who have cable television. He is Tom Skilling, longtime chief meterologist for Chicago television station WGN.

Thursday, May 25, 2006


I'm going to be busy early this morning, so there will be no posts here at least for the first part of the day. If I do decide to post here, it will be later in the evening. Thank you for visiting, and while you're here take a few moments to check out some of the posts from earlier in the week in case you missed 'em.

I'll be back tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006


There was a great piece in today's USA Today by columnist Craig Wilson, who was thinking back to a time when many of us knew our telephone conversations were likely being listened to, just not by the government.

Many families who lived in rural areas where private lines were either unavailable or prohibitively expensive had to settle for party lines where from two to eight households would be connected to one telephone line. One could tell when a call was for them by the ringing pattern (one long/one short, two long, one short, etc...). The more customers on the line, the cheaper your monthly rate would be, because you wouldn't have the access to make and receive calls as customers on smaller party or private lines.

Where I lived in south Mississippi, my family was on a eight-party line...and we had the "luck" to have the local gossip on ours. She was an elderly woman who also wrote the community news column for several area newspapers, noting who was visiting relatives in the area or was in the hospital, or what the church women's group was doing. And believe me, she didn't think twice about keeping on a call for over an hour or more! After all, as Craig notes, "It was CNN before there was CNN."

And Craig's busybody neighbour reminds me so much of our gossip:

"She could have monitored these terrorists with no problem. She'd have known when they rode into town, where they bought gas, whom they got pregnant while there, and what they bought at MacDonald's Hardware in the process."

It's a wonderful read that will take many of you back in time.


The Orlando Sentinel is reporting this morning that Florida Governor Jeb Bush has been approached to gauge his interest in becoming the next National Football League commissioner, and that he is receptive to the idea.

The Sentinel story says that Jeb acknowledged discussing the idea with Palm Beach Kennel Club owner Patrick Rooney, Sr., brother of Pittsburgh Steelers owner Dan Rooney...who also chairs the search committee to find the replacement for current commissioner Paul Tagliabue.

"I met with Mr. Rooney, and I said I'm doing my job until I'm finished, and then I'm going to consider other things. But I'm not going to do anything until I finish," said Bush, who leaves office in January.

It's probably a long shot, as Tagliabue announced in March his intentions to retire. The commissioner had set a July 31 date to step aside after 17 years, but did say he would be willing to stay on past then if necessary. I consider it doubtful if the NFL owners would wait until the end of Bush's gubernatorial term in January, or that Tagliabue would wait that long. There are other individuals as or more qualified than the president's brother. I mean...hey, Secretary of State Dr. Condoleezza Rice has flirted with the idea.

But if Jeb were to become serious about seeking the commissionership, he should know that dealings with the 32 NFL owners can be as wicked and cutthroat as any Republican legislative caucus battle, especially when it gets into the areas of money and revenue sharing. And New York is a long way from Miami and the R&R I'm sure the governor wants after eight years in Tallahassee.


How would you feel sitting at a political candidate forum seated between two rivals going after each other?

Democratic candidate for Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink said she wanted to crawl under the table during the Orlando Tiger Bay Club forum as the GOP candidates, Senate President Tom Lee (R - Brandon) and State Representative Randy Johnson (R - Celebration), lobbed attacks at each other. Meanwhile, she was mainly left alone to discuss her experience as a banker --- most recently in charge of Bank of America's Florida operations --- and positions on issues.

The CFO position is generally felt by many Democrats to be their best shot to gain a Cabinet-level position this election season.

Much of the fireworks dealt with insurance issues, and the Legislature's delay until the very end of the 60-day session to pass a bill which attepmts to bring insurance companies to Florida. The state's "rainy day" fund also came under debate, as did the affordable housing trust fund.

AP Florida political writer Brendan Farrington reviews the event here.


The political advertising game began early this year, with Congresswoman Katherine Harris (R - Longboat Key) firing the first shot in an effort to jump start her lethargic campaign for the U.S. Senate. Now the St. Petersburg Times political blog The Buzz reports that Charlie Crist's gubernatorial campaign has purchased time in most major media markets for 30-second spots highlighting his political life as Attorney General, Education Commissioner, and state senator.

It seems rather odd, though, for Crist to do this so early. He is quite a bit ahead of state Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher in the polls I remember seeing, and much of the talk seems to be as though Crist is the de facto GOP nominee for the state's highest office. One could argue the ad purchase is a means of spreading name recognition, which Crist should not have any worry about. After all, he gets plenty of face time on the news because of his high profile office.

My guess is that this is a pre-emptive strike to show Crist is in the driver's seat in the GOP primary, so let's see what Gallagher does in response.


Watching the "American Idol" final last evening, it was clear to everyone --- even tart British judge Simon Cowell --- that grey-haired soul brother Taylor Hicks won this season's competition hands-down. I notice that the "AI" watchers at CNN and MSNBC agree as well, and that the Web site, which has picked winners 86% of the time through 22 eliminations, is on the same boat.

Don't get me wrong: Both Hicks and Katherine McPhee are excellent singers, and I am certain that both will see plenty of future success. But song selection was certainly important last night.

Katherine started on a strong note with "Black Horse and the Cherry Tree", but singing the Judy Garland classic "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" was not likely a great choice, especially since she did it just last week. You know, familiarity and all... Then, she performed the song written to be her debut single, "My Destiny". Even judge Randy Jackson thought the song was bad, although McPhee did as much as possible with what she had to work with.

Hicks began with his rendition of Stevie Wonder's "Livin' For The City" wearing a purple jacket which MSNBC commentator Craig Berman said "even Liberace wouldn't have been caught dead in." Kinda odd watching Taylor doing that tune, but he has a way of making almost any song his. The only time he seemed weak was doing Elton John's classic "Levon", when he started weak but came back strong near the song's climax. His strongest performance was when he sung the tune selected as his debut single, "Do I Make You Proud". Not a great song, but Taylor can sell a song like few people can.

That performance should have wrapped the title up for Taylor Hicks, a fellow who in previous years would not have been eligible because of age limitations raised just this season. And it was reminded to us that when Taylor auditioned for the show in Las Vegas, Simon Cowell actually voted against giving the invite to Hollywood...only to be outvoted by his two judging collegues.

Friends, destiny works in strange ways sometimes...

Tuesday, May 23, 2006


There's no other way to present this except how it was written by the Associated Press' Brendan Farrington:

MIAMI -- A reverend who introduced Republican gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist during a breakfast with other pastors Monday said the Lord came to him in a dream two years ago and told him Crist would be the state's next governor.

The Rev. O'Neal Dozier said that before the dream he did not know Crist, nor had Crist made known his plans to run for governor. "The Lord Jesus spoke to me and he said `There's something I want you to know,' " said Dozier, pastor of the Worldwide Christian Center in Pompano Beach. "'Charlie Crist will be the next governor of the state of Florida.

"'Since then, Dozier has spent time with Crist and talked with him at length about policy. He told the group that Crist would be uncompromising in his Christian faith.

"I introduce to you, as the Lord Jesus has said, the next governor of the state of Florida, Charlie Crist," Dozier said.

Crist's first words were, "Well, as they say, the praise doesn't get any higher."

Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher, who is opposing Crist in the primary, wouldn't comment on the remarks after the event.

Afterward, Dozier said he met Crist two months after the dream at a conference of Republican leaders from around the South. He told Crist about the dream, and Crist replied that he would run...

Gov. Jeb Bush, who appointed Dozier to a group that nominates judges in South Florida, didn't directly respond to the remark, but praised Dozier.

Dozier has come under fire for some of the questions he asked potential judges in Broward County as a member of the area's Judicial Nomination Commission, such as if they go to church, what their religious beliefs are, and if they are "God-fearing". The story from the Miami Daily Business Review is not available from it's Web site, but the blog included it in a post:

"Will you be able to balance your duties as a single mother of twins with your duties as a Broward judge?"

That was the question Broward County Assistant Public Defender Jayme Cassidy says she was asked by a member of the 15th Judicial Circuit Judicial Nomination Commission during her two judicial screening interviews in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Cassidy says the first time she was asked the question by JNC member O'Neal Dozier, pastor of the fundamentalist Worldwide Christian Center in Pompano Beach, she was so surprised that she could barely answer. The second time, she says, she was livid and told the panel that the question was inappropriate.


An interesting day for gubernatorial candidate State Senator Rod Smith (D - Alachua), as he won two endorsements from the left and right of the political spectrum, and from north and south ends of the state.

Two congressmen (obviously, not primary opponent Jim Davis of Tampa), conservative Allen Boyd of Monticello and Kendrick Meek of Miami, came together Monday to offer their support for Smith. Davis has a total of four congressional representatives on his bandwagon, but Smith's campaign seems to be gaining momentum.

"It wasn't about who could be the best Democratic governor," said Meek, describing why he endorsed Smith. "It was about who could be the best governor in the state of Florida. People look for bipartisanship. We will not win the governor's mansion if we don't have a candidate that can pull Republican voters."

Boyd said with GOP dominance of the Legislature likely to continue, Democrats need a governor who can work with the Republicans and that Smith had the leadership traits voters want.

First, let me say that I've not chosen a favourite in this race. Both men have a great deal to offer, and either would do Florida better than who is in the governor's mansion now.

I do agree that the GOP juggernaut will continue to be a sizable influence in Tallahassee for some time to come (notice I didn't say control). That said, we do have to remember that on some issues we will need support from the other side, just as they will need ours on others. We need someone who can work with the other side; comprimise when necessary, but be firm as well when the time is right.

Friends, with the current situation in the Legislature, we're not going to get everything we want. We cannot get foolish and "go to war" simply for the sake of accentuating the differences between our parties (that war has to be won in the hearts and minds of the people of Florida). Occasionally, comprimise is the key. It's a lot better to earn a few baby steps toward our eventual goal than to be pushed back, so we have to pick our fights carefully.

NOTE: Correction made in this piece. Thanks for the correction.

Monday, May 22, 2006


Add this to the litany of screw-ups the Federal Emergency Management Agency has made since Katrina...

The Hattiesburg (Miss.) American is reporting today that FEMA apparantly circumvented local 911 requirments in allowing small groups of it's travel trailers to be set up for housing victims of Hurricane Katrina on three areas of private property in rural Forrest County, one of which is located within a flood plain.

County Emergency Management District Executive Director Terry Steed expressed concern about the federal agency's practice, which was discovered when local officials were checking new addresses for inclusion in new 911 maps.

"My concern is we get these little trailer parks set up throughout the county and we don't know where they are...If we have a problem there, a 911 call, we have to go looking for them."

"It's just like everything else I've talked to FEMA about. They have their own way of doing things."

A county ordinance requires an address assigned by the 911 system before electricity or telephone service can be connected, he said. The addresses are used by computerized dispatch systems for police, fire and ambulance services.

The three sites in question are not FEMA-built, but are located on privately owned land.

One of those, located near Petal, is within the Leaf River flood plain, and permits should have been issued by the county. And with the new hurricane season coming up in days, they'd better pray they don't get a second helping of Mother Nature's fury during what is predicted to be another busy period.

Now just think...if they're doing it in Forrest County, Mississippi, you've gotta presume it's been done elsewhere, including in Florida.


While I was hoping he wouldn't do it, Mike has said his farewell to the blogosphere at Florida News, which he made into one of the best damn political blogs around the Sunshine State.

It will be a big loss, and I can only hope that those of us who care about the political life of our area and state can bring our own work to the same level that Mike did with his blog.

I am humbled to be mentioned as one of the blogs Mike watched early on, and thank him for the kind words. Florida News was certainly one that I read and enjoyed, and often relied on for information not found anywhere else. I can only wish that he would reconsider, but life looms ahead.

Of course, those of us who write and read blogs throughout the state and beyond congratulate Mike on his graduation from Florida State University. It is certainly a great accomplishment, and this University of Southern Mississippi Golden Eagle is sure I speak for many here in wishing him all the best in his future endeavours...and please...don't be a stranger.


The Florida AFL-CIO decided not to endorse Congressman Jim Davis (D - Tampa) or State Senator Rod Smith (D - Alachua) for governor by not giving either candidate the necessary two-thirds vote during it's Committee on Political Education (COPE) convention held over the weekend in Tampa, according to the St. Petersburg Times' political blog The Buzz. The body later released a statement touting both candidates' as "friends of Florida's working families" and that "Both candidates have gained the support of important sectors of our movement."

Of course, both Davis and Smith are trying to spin the decision to their advantage. They will now work to gain the support of individual AFL-CIO affiliates across Florida.

Pierre DuCharme / Lakeland Ledger

Here's an interesting story from today's Lakeland Ledger: Bartow High School has 12 sets of twins who will be receiving their diplomas tomorrow evening among it's 257 graduates. Three sets are identical twins, there are five sets of boys with the other being a boy and a girl.

Two sets plan to go into college together at the same school, while the others will be heading on their own.
I4J congratulates these, and all the other young men and women who will be receiving their diplomas. It is a wonderful accomplishment that you should take great pride in as you enter the next chapter in what hopefully will be a successful life.


In most cases, now would be the time for candidates seeking election or reelection to begin beating the bushes for votes, or at least signatures on cards to qualify for a place on the ballot. But the Republican Party of Florida decided to begin in one case really early.

Lakeland Ledger political writer Bill Rufty reports that the RPF paid for some slick, high profile mailings which were sent to voters in the district of State Senator J.D. Alexander of Lake Wales touting his achievements in the Legislature, especially in the area of education.

Some would believe that it's a bit early, since Alexander is not up for reelection until 2008. But the senator told Rufty that he had been under attack recently from telephone calls made to constitutents in his district and requested some help, thus the early mailing.

The calls criticized his vote last year over telephone rates, which critics say allowed telecommunications companies to sharply increase customer rates. But Alexander believes there may be more than that involved.

Alexander has been at or near the centre of the controveresy this legislative session regarding who will become Senate President in 2008. He was reportedly one of the main parties in the move to switch support from State Senator J. Alex Villalobos of Miami to Senator Jeffery H. Atwater of North Palm Beach.

And speaking of Rufty's piece this morning, check out his other bit on the same page about Congressman Adam Putnam (R - Bartow) and the recent fight he had fishing in the Gulf of Mexico off Boca Grande.


The Memphis Commercial Appeal reported in it's Saturday edition that Lakeland-based Watkins Motor Lines, one of the nation's largest less-than-truckload (LTL) carriers, has reached a deal to be purchased by the Memphis-based FedEx Corporation that could be worth one billion dollars.

Noone is speaking on the record at present, but the Memphis newspaper's story says that the sale could be announced as early as next week.

Watkins is part of Watkins Associated Industries, which also includes Sun-Co Carriers, an LTL with refrigerated trailers, Watkins Canada Express, the truckload line Land Span, and tanker truck line Highway Transport.

The Commercial Appeal story takes note that one of the most attractive points about Watkins is that it is one of a handful of LTLs that has remained nonunion and survived. Of course, that means drivers aren't paid nearly as much as their union counterparts.

We'll watch this story continue to develop. The Lakeland Ledger ran the Memphis newspaper's story in Sunday's edition, but did not include a local angle as apparantly noone's talking at this point.

Sunday, May 21, 2006


First, I apologize that this is delayed. I suffer from epilepsy, which is controlled, but this morning I had a seizure while preparing this. My son apparantly shut down the computer shortly afterward, eliminating what had been prepared (roughly about half).

That said, we begin in the Panhandle, where the Pensacola News Journal notes that the Santa Rosa County Commission has scheduled a vote regarding a local option sales tax for the September 5 primary. They pledge to use the money for road improvements across the fast growing county. The editorial points out that voters there have been mixed on previous votes based on what they perceive as real needs, and will do so again this time.

The Tallahassee Democrat editorial deals with the current affordable housing crisis affecting many areas, and the Big Bend area is no different. It mentions the Hillsborough County Commission's decision last week to establish a new agency to help reverse the trend as entities in the capitol region are holding workshops and conferences to shine light on the situation. The opinion is that bold steps by policymakers, lenders, and others are needed to make a real impact to stem the trend.

In Jacksonville, the Florida Times-Union is disturbed about the lack of oversight regarding bond funds distributed to each of the city's district City Council members. It reminds readers of the scandal regarding misuse of city funds and eventual criminal charges during Jacksonville's previous commission form of government, and makes three suggestions as to providing checks to use of the public's money.

The Gainesville Sun is running an editorial which appeared two weeks ago in it's sister publication Lakeland Ledger, spotlighting the continued growth of the national debt and some disturbing comments by David M. Walker, Comptroller General and head of the Government Accountability Office, regarding the consequences of keeping on the current course. Personally, I don't mind if a newspaper expresses it's opinion by using an editorial not written in-house, but shouldn't it at least note the fact and who wrote it?

Just down the road, the opinion in today's Ocala News Banner is supportive of the Marion County Commission's apparant consensus during a workshop last week to become more aggressive in expanding it's water and sewer system wherever possible, with the goal of stemming the use of septic tanks and the groundwater pollution they tend to cause. While noting it would be expensive, but would protect the area's enviroment and aquifer.

Sinkholes. Insurance rates going through the roof, if it's available at all. Continued growth with no sign of slowing, with a lack of enforcement when it comes to growth management. Today's Daytona Beach News Journal editorial says that while Florida has and is attempting to deal with these issues, there is still much to be done and offers some ideas toward that end.

The Orlando Sentinel editorial says that the Orange County Commission has a huge opportunity with the proposed Innovation Way, a roadway that would extend 17 miles from the University of Central Florida to Orlando International Airport and would host, in addition to residential and business development, provide home to up to 58,000 high-tech jobs. However, it suggests that the commission not approve including an area of enviromentally sensitive land to be included so it could be turned into a new mega-subdivision.

The Melbourne-based Florida Today in it's editorial space promotes a public forum in Viera tomorrow evening focusing on the Constitution and the issues facing the three branches of government today. Participants will include former gubernatorial assistant general counsel and current Secretary of the Department of Business and Professional Regulation Simone Marstiller, State Senator Mike Haridopolos (R - Indialantic), Florida Supreme Court Justice R. Fred Lewis, and Florida Today Executive Editor Terry Eberle.

Anyone who lives in Florida should realize that the start of hurricane season is upon us. The local media outlets are constantly reminding us of the need to prepare now, and this morning's Lakeland Ledger raises it's editorial voice to the chorus. The state's break from sales taxes on hurricane supplies begins today and lasts until the beginning of hurricane season June 1.

The Tampa Tribune opinion reminds readers in West Central Florida that water restrictions such as those imposed by Hillsborough County and the City of Tampa this month are the result of the area's continued growth. While efforts are being made to meet the increasing demand, the editorial makes the point that new sources alone will not be enough and that conservation must play a key role. It also points out several suggestions on water-wise lawn care.

Today's Sarasota Herald Tribune editorial raises questions of a series of decisions made by the Sarasota City Commission to conceding several concessions to developers for the Pineapple Square downtown retail/condo project. The latest decision would hand over control of two city-owned parking lots to the developer, who would provide a valet service. Problem is, the city did not place limits on the fees that could be charged for such a service.

Smart growth and conservation principles will be put to a trial by fire, according to the Fort Myers News-Press, with the planned extension of County Road 951 through southern Lee County. The paper's opinion is that commissioners should stick to their plans to make the roadway a limited-access toll road and avoid the mistakes made in 1970 when Summerlin Road --- also originally proposed as a limited access highway --- caved in to developers, eventually making it another congested thoroughway.

Enviromentally sensitive areas and development are also the subject of today's opinion in the Naples Daily News, and it urges caution by the City of Bonita Springs' Local Planning Agency in making it's decision on two development plans. It states that officials cannot allow a current hot-button issue such as affordable housing to overtake long term plans, especially when it comes to the enviroment.

On the Atlantic coast, the Palm Beach Post focuses on a court's decision last week refusing to block a new state law requiring legislative lobbyists to file quarterly reports listing their clients and fees. It notes that finding out who is paying lobbyists and how much is simply another means of disclosure, and while the judge's decision that the lawsuit's chance of success had "no substantial likelihood of success" is hard on lobbyists, it's what they needed to hear.

Heading down I-95, the editorial in today's South Florida Sun Sentinel notes that while the region's long-forecast slowdown in home sales seems to have begun, prices continue their upward spiral. It reminds readers that affordable housing and tax inequities continue to be challenges that need to be addressed, and that government leaders on both the local and state level need to redouble their efforts to do so.

And the Miami Herald opinion page laments the North Terminal project at Miami International Airport has gone from a dream project to a nightmare in it's 11 year history. It's nearly five years behind schedule, and approaching $1 billion over budget, and the newspaper calls on officials to put the hammer down on the delays and overruns.

I'm sorry once again for the delay. In the meantime, make it a great week ahead!

Saturday, May 20, 2006


Governor Jeb Bush plans to spend Monday in his hometown of Miami, and part of that time will include a meeting with Frank J. Bolanos, whom he appointed to the Dade County School Board nearly five years ago. Sounds like a simple half-hour sitdown to discuss education, eh? At least, that's what the governor's communications director says it is.

The speculation is already flying, according to The Buzz, the political blog of the St. Petersburg Times. You see, Bolanos announced less than a week ago that he would challenge State Senator Alex Villalobos in a GOP primary for his Miami-based seat.

Now, remember that Villalobos has been one of the main players in the 2008 race for Senate President which became quite bitter this past legislative session when several senators who had previously supported him switched their pledges to the more conservative Senator Jeffery H. Atwater (R - North Palm Beach). Bush blames that controversy for the loss of two key votes on proposed constitutional amendments in the Senate during the last days of the recently completed session: one which would have asked voters to relax the requirments of the previously passed class size amendment, and another to ask voters to put private school vouchers in the constitution . Those votes caused Senate President Tom Lee (R - Brandon) to remove Villalobos as majority leader.

It is the first time in 14 years that Villalobos has drawn opposition. Bolanos will have to resign his seat on the Miami-Dade school board once he qualifies by the Mid-July deadline, according to state law. The resignation would take effect following the September 5 primary.

According to the Miami Herald:

As a School Board member, Bolaños championed school safety and anti-bullying programs and has been the board's most passionate voice for removing a controversial children's book on Cuba from school library shelves.

Bolaños suffered a political setback last fall when he lost the board chairmanship after only one year, instead of the two or three traditionally served by board chairs.

Bolaños had antagonized some colleagues by trying to expand the profile and powers of the chairmanship and for advocating on behalf of the governor's class-size amendment, even though the board had decided not to take a position on the issue.

As the governor has already taken the unusual step of endorsing a candidate in a GOP primary (he did so this past week by endorsing Lee in his primary race for state Chief Financial Officer), people will be undoubtably watching his meeting with Bolanos Monday to see if it may be a precursor for a similar move in this race.


Some of our parents, certainly our grandparents, who lived in rural areas talked about the one-room schoolhouse. Of course, many of us have no way of comprenending being educated like that, with students from all grades being taught different things at the same time.

While very rare and far between, there are still a few one-room schoolhouses operating around the country. The last such relic in Florida, serving grades K-7, is located at Duette, in rural Manatee County. While it has often been a target for closure for nearly three decades, and the current superintendent would like to see it shut down for good, those who are there every day --- the teacher, assistant, cafeteria manager/custodian, and nine students --- seem to like it.

Lakeland Ledger reporter Diane Lacey Allen visited Duette recently, and her piece appears in today's edition and online here.

You've gotta give it to Superintendent Dr. Roger Dearing, who comes across as a real POS when he talks about not having visited the school when class was in session, saying that "it would take a good half day of mine to visit nine students." When it comes to kids, especially when you are eventually responsible for their education, one should always have --- or make --- time to see for yourself.


ABC / This Week with George Stephanopoulos: Attorney General Alberto Gonzales will appear to discuss the hearings for CIA Director nominee General Michael Hayden and immigration. Also, 2002 Democratic vice presidential candidate and former North Carolina U.S. Senator John Edwards will talk about education and the 2008 election. And the roundtable will consist of Newsweek International editor Fareed Zakaria, Cokie Roberts of ABC and NPR, and conservative columnist George Will.

CBS / Face The Nation with Bob Schieffer: CBS News has not been posting scheduled guest or issue information for the past several weeks.

CNN / Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer: It's a day for heads of state to appear: Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert will appear to discuss the possible threat to his nation from a nuclear Iran. Later in the show, Australian Prime Minister John Howard will appear. But, back to discussing the Middle East, also answering questions will be U.S. Senators Chuck Hagel (R - NE) and Ron Wyden (D - OR), U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Dr. Zalmay Khalilzad, and Iraqi Deputy Permanant Representative to the United Nations Feisal al-Istrabadi.

FOX / Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace: Scheduled to appear will be U.S. Senator John McCain (R - AZ) and Secretary of State Dr. Condoleezza Rice.

NBC / Meet the Press with Tim Russert: Condi also appears here to discuss the Middle East and domestic survellience. And a debate on immigration with U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R - SC) and Representative Charlie Norwood (R - GA)

Syndicated / The Chris Matthews Show: The lineup for this weekend's show was not posted on it's Web site (as of 7:15 AM Sunday).

Friday, May 19, 2006


My friends, I've always believed in being up front and honest when things go wrong, and in a couple of recent posts here I reported incorrect information. It was by no means on purpose, as I was going by information provided me by the individual who was at the scene, and felt things had gone well.

Mr. James B. Davis did not qualify to run for the 12th Congressional District seat currently held by Republican incumbant Adam H. Putnam (R - Bartow) due to a technicality.

Apparantly, the loyalty oath was not sent along with the other paperwork that is required to file. That oversight was not noticed until it's arrival in Tallahassee. Unfortunately, Mr. Davis had patients to see at his physical therapy office and was unable to make the trip to the state capitol. The oath was e-mailed to our candidate, at which time he signed and faxed the document back to the Division of Elections, where the clerk stamped it as "Accepted". There was no guidance at the time that a fascimile was not acceptable, and it was rejected after another worker in the office discovered the situation.

Friends, you know that hindsight is 20/20. But looking ahead, I can say that Mr. Davis is committed to run for office this year to help bring some needed change. I will have more on that ASAP.

Thursday, May 18, 2006


It was not featured on the national news, but a true patriot and political giant was laid to rest in Meridian, Mississippi on Tuesday.

Former Congressman Gillespie V. "Sonny" Montgomery died last Friday in his hometown of complications from a prior abdominal surgery. He was 85.

Montgomery served East Central Mississippi for three decades, but his legacy will be mainly his work on behalf of our armed forces and those who serve in them, and as author of what is known as the Montgomery G.I. Bill.

A Democrat, he received numerous honours for his distinguished public service. He received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honour, last year. In 1995, the year before his retiring from the House, Montgomery received the Department of Defense Medal for Distinguished Service, which is the highest civilian award given by the Pentagon.

This piece from the Clarion-Ledger of Jackson spotlights his life and career, and how much he cared for our men and women in uniform. One particular item caught my eye:

Kyle Steward, a longtime Montgomery aide who now works in (Congressman Roger) Wicker's Tupelo office, said Montgomery always spent the Christmas break with the troops.

"During the Vietnam War, he'd carry these note cards around with him. He'd have every Mississippian fill out a card. He would take those cards and call their wife or parents," Steward recalled in a 2004 interview.

When he got back to Washington, he'd ring a few every night, Steward said.

And Steward's other comments about this political legend are shared by many Mississippians and Americans:

"Sonny gave politics a good name. He was a wonderful Christian gentleman who had a remarkable ability to get along with people and make things happen.

"He was the guy everyone looked to for leadership throughout his life. At Mississippi State University, in the military, in business, and in public service, Sonny was always out front."

God knows we need more Sonny Montgomerys today.


It's unusual for the figurative head of a state political party to choose between candidates in the party's primary; one would usually stay silent on such matters so as not to split the party. But I have to guess that Governor Jeb Bush figures things are divided enough in the Florida GOP, that what the heck, let's roll the dice...

Wednesday the governor endorsed Senate President Tom Lee (R - Brandon) in his effort to become the state's next Chief Financial Officer. Lee will face State Representative Randy Johnson (R - Celebration) in the September 5 Republican primary. The winner will face Democratic nomineee and former banker Alex Sink in the general election.

Needless to say, Johnson was not happy, and released a statement shortly afterward:

"I'm disappointed that Jeb Bush decided not to make this a fair fight. The governor's endorsement of Tom Lee does not suddenly make Tom Lee a conservative. I fought to lower taxes in this year's legislative session while Tom Lee fought to raise taxes. I fought for Florida's families and businesses while Tom Lee fought for insurance companies."

Jeb's announcement basically amounts to a funeral dirge for Johnson's campaign. He has only raised nearly $600,000 so far, less than half than Lee's $1.3 million. With the endorsement, that gulf should widen even further. Sink, considered by many to be the Democrat's best shot at winning a Cabinet-level post this November, has raised just over $730,000 as of the end of March.