Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Blogging Florida

So, what's up on the "internets" lately:


I just had to include this quote from an article written by Ernie Padgett for the Ocala Star-Banner titled Tax Amendment diverts attention from real issues:

So what do our state leaders do? They draw attention away from their failures to address numerous important state issues. Homeowners insurance is just one example.

Tens of thousands of our citizens have either had their property insurance canceled or they had to drop their coverage because of sky-high premiums. The governor and Legislature should have stayed focused on the insurance crises instead of manufacturing another crises as a diversion.

We are now told that the state knows best when it comes to running city and county governments and local school districts.

Actually, the governor and Legislature are not qualified to run local governments. They are out of their league when it comes to being responsible for the day-to-day delivery of vital local services and for educating our children. Local officials elected by and working with local citizens are the best qualified for these challenges.

Here is the crux of these state-created crises: They say local governments spend too much money resulting in high property taxes. Hello? Almost without exception, each year the Florida Legislature imposes unfunded mandates on local governments and school districts. Now, they have the nerve to say these same local governments must be fiscally controlled by the state.

He captures the frustration with the current situation quite well. I mentioned the issue of unfunded mandates in an earlier posting, but sometimes its best to hear it from someone who's been there. Ernie Padgett served as a Jackson County commissioner from 1980 to 1984 and as county administrator in Jackson, Santa Rosa and Manatee counties from 1987 to 2007.

kansasr at Daily Kos writes about Florida's OTHER election on Jan 29

Florida is in a financial mess at the moment. The state is facing severe cuts because of sales tax revenues are not meeting projections because of what is truly a recession down here. Property sales are almost non-existant.

But in true Republican fashion, rather than try and come up with a bi-partisan, comprehensive long term solution, they seem to be throwing fuel on the fire, while cutting funding the the fire departments that will be needed to deal with the inferno. It's been estimated that the average savings from this initiative will be around $300 (sounds like the Bush tax rebate of a few years ago!). But the long term ramifications are far more severe. And even at $300 per household, local governments are bracing for an additional round of belt tightening, even more severe than what was required from last years mandated rate reductions.

The figure I heard was $240 per household or basically $20 a month in savings which could potentially be offset by other rate hikes. The gist of it is, you won't really save much if any money and passing the Amendment will make the existing inequities even worse.

The Florida Progressive Coalition has a couple good round-ups of articles about the Property Tax Amendment as well as the Gay-bashing Amendment: Update on the Crazy Conservative Amendments and Update on the Horrible Conservative Amendment Movement in Florida.

I wonder if their next update is going to be called "Update on the Batshit Crazy Amendments" because that's really what they are.

In other news ...

Blast Off - Bill McCollum hates the Constitution

Florida Kossacks - Nine Florida candidates among DFA's Grassroots All-Stars

Alison Morano - Statement on January 29th - Democrats Vote

Talk To Me - Time Capsuled ... a must read in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King.