Aug 06

Righties Must Be Loving This Election

With Charlie Crist leading Tom Gallagher by big numbers, conservative Floridians must be hating this year’s election. They go from their poster boy — Jeb Bush — to a possibly gay, possibly moderate Crist. Their only alternative is Gallagher, the “convservative.” You’d think that they’d be lining up to support Tom, but he’s trailing badly in the polls and in fund raising, and righties are attacking him, too:

Shortly after hitting town, I began the ritual of visiting my favorite bars in Coconut Grove and Coral Gables. At one tavern, I was surprised when Gallagher came up to me, slapped me on my back and roared how great it was to see me. He had obviously been there for some time, doing what one does at bars.

Gallagher then proceeded to tell me, in great detail, of his recent escapades with women. He’d broken up with his first wife, and his Grove home was party central. Gallagher’s stories were disturbing — not that I’m a prude, God forbid.

After Gallagher made several references to adventures he implied I was knowledgeable about, but which I couldn’t possibly have been, I asked: “Tom, who do you think I am?” He replied: “Huh? You’re my accountant.”

“Uh, no, Tom,” I said, sharpening the mental knives for a column, “I’m John Sugg with the Miami Herald, and I’d sure as hell like to hear more about these exploits for the entertainment of our readers.” He fled.

A few years later, I was sitting on my sailboat at the Big Game Club in Bimini. I had a wonderful scenic view — at least until a huge powerboat pulled in next to me. Standing at the rail of the floating beast was none other than Gallagher, flanked by the guys who owned the boat. I knew them well, two powerful Tallahassee lobbyists. I was also intrigued by the rest of the boat’s guests — all female.

But, heck, we’ve all had our wilder younger days. Cut to the modern day governor’s candidate; Gallagher has been polishing his reputation for years, hoping a new wife and 7-year-old kid will dazzle voters and blind them to the past.

But even if Gallagher’s morality has kicked up a few notches, there are many other blemishes that should give Floridians real reasons to worry.

Crist may win the election, but whoever the next governor of Florida is, conservatives lose.

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Posted in 2006 Elections, Governor | Comments Off
Aug 06

Panhandle Politics

Hullo everyone.

I’m new here. I’m from Okaloosa County in the Panhandle, Niceville to be exact (that’s near Destin, halfway between Panama City and Pensacola for those who don’t know this end of the state very well).

Okaloosa County is one of the reddest counties in the state. We are so red and conservative we voted for Poirot for President over the first Bush. So being a progressive up here is a bit of a challenge.

For instance,

http://www.nwfdailynews.com/articleArchive/jul2006/072106e2006qual.php

All too many candidates here run entirely unopposed. Frequently, only Republicans have a say, as this article details. In the past only Republicans have elected our Sheriff too.

Latest county statistics, breakdown by party of registered voters is (as of July 2006):

Republican 71,540
Democrat 29,253
Other 21,946
Total 122,739

We are a heavily military community here, too, with two major Air Force bases within 20 miles of me, and several smaller sites too. Also, Pensacola and Panama City have major military installations. We have a very larger percentage of retired military living here, including me, a retired 20 year Air Force veteran.

Anyway, I just wanted to give you all a flavour of the the area up here.

I may be posting some stuff regarding the upcoming elections from a poll worker viewpoint, as well. Tomorrow we start training for the two week early voting in the primary election. We don’t expect much of a turnout, but we’ll be there twiddling our thumbs anyway. I’ll also, of course, be working the main election day, too.

If you all would be interested in information on what our training is like, and what we do as poll workers, so you have a better feel for the controversy behind electonic voting, I’ll be happy to share what I know.

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Posted in General Information, Overviews and Breakdowns | 2 Comments
Aug 06

Ten Points

Ten points.

Not such a bad thing. Depending on the circumstance.

Dudley Moore rated Bo Derek a perfect “10″.

Minus ten points earns a score of 90 on an exam. That’s an “A” on most grading scales.

Down ten points in football is just one touchdown, an extra point and one field goal behind. As a die-hard Miami fan in the 1970′s, I witnessed the Dolphins accomplish just that during the last two minutes of many a game.

The two minute warning has sounded for Senator Joe Lieberman-CT.

The Senator lags ten points behind opponent Ned Lamont a mere three days before the August 8th primary.

Most politicians profess not to watch the polls. But for those in the business of polls, minus ten points is tough to penetrate, no matter how good the quarterback.

John Zogby, pollster extraordinaire, pulled no punches when stating the obvious of the Lieberman campaign.

No Joe-mentum.

Once 46 points ahead of Lamont in the polls. Now ten points down.

Joe’s huddled the team. Senator Barbara Boxer-CA. Bill Clinton. The players have rallied for their colleague yet are quick to point out…whoever wins the Tuesday primary, will have the support of the Democratic party.

Minus one.

Should he lose the Democratic primary, Lieberman has indicated he will continue to seek his Senate seat by running as an Independent. A “Hail Mary” straight out of the playbook.

As reported by the latest USA Today/Gallup poll, 48% of Republicans polled favor Lieberman over 38% of Democrats polled.

Connecticut Republicans view their present Senator as a conservative voice, a chameleon Democrat supportive of the war in Iraq and the President who made the war possible. Republican crossover votes could win Lieberman back his Senate seat if he chose to run on the Independent ticket.

The old “drop ten yards and punt” play.

“He says he’s a Democrat, but he’s so quick to go independent,” says Al Blancato, 55, a teacher who attended a Lieberman rally in down-on-its-heels Waterbury last week just to catch Clinton. “A true Democrat would support the party.”(Dan Gilgoff, U.S. News and World Report, July 30, 2006).

Flags thrown on Lieberman…Lamont financed a viable campaign and become a real contender for the Senate seat. Lieberman’s coziness with an extremely unpopular President. Anti-war voters disgusted with a hawkish Joe. Anti-incumbent fever running rampant through the country.

Penalty?

No Senate seat for you.

Lieberman’s on the ten yard line with the clock running and no time-outs.

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Posted in General Information | 1 Comment
Aug 05

From the Department of Delusions

Katherine Harris:

“We’ll win, so don’t listen to the prognosticators, or the pollsters — you can make a poll say anything you want,” Harris said Thursday at a luncheon. “Don’t be discouraged. We’ve done it before. We’ll do it again.”

Yeah, don’t listen to the prognosticators, or the pollsters, or the voters, or reality. And she is right, she has done it before. The difference this time, is that she isn’t in a position to fix the election, since she is no longer secretary of state.

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Aug 05

Broward Hispanic Caucus

Broward is currently in the process of beginning a new Hispanic Democratic Caucus for the county. They are currently in the first stages and still need a few more interested people in order to become a caucus. If you are interested in joining a Broward Hispanic Democratic Caucus please leave a comment with an E-mail address so I can contact you. You need not be Hispanic, so all you really have to do is live in Broward!

It’ll be great if the caucus is able to form because it will mean that there will be an established caucus in Palm Beach, Broward, and Miami-Dade counties. Hispanic outreach is extremely important, especially in the state of Florida. So if you have the time and want please leave a note with some contact information.

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Posted in Activism | 1 Comment
Aug 04

Busansky Quoted About Hillsborough’s Model Health Care Program

Phyllis Busansky was quoted about Hillborough County’s local-government initiative to fill a wide hole in U.S. health care: the record 46 million Americans who lack medical insurance.

As County Commissioner from 1988 to 1996, Phyllis led a successful effort to establish a health care program that focused on preventive care and kept people out of the emergency room saving taxpayers $100 million in its first four years. The progam is now considered a model.

Local ventures such as the Hillsborough HealthCare Program are “substantially more efficient” than the jointly funded state and federal Medicaid program for the nation’s poor, says U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt.

The program is gaining attention because it is effective and efficient:

“The emergency room was crowded, and that’s the most expensive way to treat people,” recalls Busansky, 69, a Democrat who is running for Congress. “We were losing money and the taxpayers were losing money.”

The county used to subsidize Tampa General, which was a public hospital until 1997. Now, Hillsborough property owners save $44 million annually because more people avoid emergency care at Tampa General and other hospitals.

Hillsborough created four managed-care networks, consisting of doctors, clinics and hospitals that reduced their rates to gain patients whose bills would be paid. The arrangement has helped cut hospital admissions for chronic diseases, such as diabetes and asthma, while slashing costs per patient by 65 percent…

Phyllis Busansky (FL-09) $
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Posted in General Information, History | 1 Comment
Aug 04

The Impact of Schiavo

The Republicans just can’t win on the Schiavo issue.

Government intrusion and political grandstanding by the right mired the young woman’s last days in controversy that will haunt the party like Willie Horton haunted Dukakis.

Terri’s dad, Robert Schindler, Sr. practically charges Crist with murder, citing theAttorney General “refused to properly execute the duties of his office.” (Mr. Schindler, the AG tends to turn a blind eye to any controversial issue running rampant through the State of Florida). He can’t claim “tough on crime” in this case and nicey-nice himself out of this one. The man distanced himself on Schiavo in an attempt to remain squeaky-clean while planning his bid for Governor.

Husband Michael Schiavo, founder of TerriPAC, is campaigning for Democrats to help fight a government that overreaches into individual freedoms. Conservative husbands surprised Republicans with the support for Terri’s husband. The message sent stated plain and simple. Government. Stay out of our family decisions. Sray out of our business.

Rod Smith, Democratic candidate for Florida’s governor, joined a bipartisan coalition to block government intrusion into the Schiavo case. One can bet Schiavo will certainly be an issue in this race, especially if Smith-husband, father, and grandfather-wins the Democratic nomination and is pitted against bachelor Republican nominee Charlie Crist.

And old Jebbie Bush. Terri will haunt that man the rest of his political life.

For that, I wish to thank her.


Charlie Crist Let My Daughter Die

Robert Schindler, Sr.
Jul 31, 2006

As most Americans know, on March 31, 2005, my daughter, Terri Schindler Schiavo died of starvation and thirst after having her feeding tube removed by court order. The sad chain of events that concluded with Terri’s death ignited a media firestorm nationally and internationally. What few saw or heard was the callous inaction of aspiring governor Charlie Crist.

Florida Atty. Gen. Charlie Crist let my daughter die. He had it within his authority to save her life, but he turned a blind eye to her suffering. Even worse, he worked to ensure her death.

Terri lived in a neurologically compromised state for reasons that are still unknown, and my family wanted nothing more than permission to care for Terri for the span of her natural life. We were denied.

My daughter tenaciously fought for her life for more than 13 days after being deprived of the most basic, natural and constant need that we all share—the need for nourishment—food and water. Terri was not on a respirator, nor terminally ill. She was not dying, nor succumbing to a dreadful disease. She was disabled. She was dependent on others, but still very much a life, a woman, and a person.

Over the course of several years, our family, our lawyers, and our friends pleaded for help from local, county, and state police and regulatory agencies with constitutional and statutory authority to investigate the many sworn statements of extreme abuse and neglect suffered by our daughter.

Hoping to save my daughter’s life, our family sought the help of Attorney General Charlie Crist. Not only did Charlie Crist refuse our family lawful access to the assets of his office, but he violated his oath of office by actively cooperated with those in positions of political and judicial authority whom denied us legal access to the police and regulatory systems meant to protect the weak. Multiple sworn agents from responsible police and regulatory agencies who found probable cause to investigate allegations of abuse in Terri’s judicial and physical care, were ordered to shut down those probes. This heavy-handedness made us powerless.

Information of direct interest to Attorney General Charlie Crist’s office was directly delivered to his personal hands, and he refused to properly execute the duties of his office. And it was with deliberate decision that he failed to attend a scheduled Tallahassee meeting with our family. On another occasion, we approached each other by chance. Upon recognizing me, Charlie Crist abruptly stopped and walked away.

That callous action encapsulates Charlie Crist. He walked away from a man whose daughter’s fate he controlled. At that moment, he turned his back on Terri. And he turned his back on the most fundamental duties of his office.

It is quite clear that Charlie Crist, to this day, has demonstrated no public affection for the cause of life, or Christianity, or any set of core values. He has been posturing to become governor for decades. With each voting audience he has crafted a message based on the expediency of the moment.

To add insult to injury, at a recent banquet, our alleged pro-life candidate for the Governor of Florida said the following about Judge George Greer and other judges involved in the death of my daughter, “You are heroes to all of us, and your defense of the judiciary and what is right is beyond admirable.”

Through his actions, Charlie Crist has demonstrated that he has no regard for our most vulnerable citizens, the high duties of public office, or life itself. Charlie Crist’s celebration of the merciless judges who condemned Terri to death speaks to his true character.

Mr. Schindler is the father of Terri Schiavo, who suffered from a neurological injury for 15 years before dying March 31, 2005, from dehydration. Her family valiantly fought to keep her alive after a judge ordered her caretakers to stop providing nutrition or hydration.


Rod Smith uses charm in state race

Tallahassee Democrat
July 30, 2006

Last year, in one of the most emotional debates of recent Senate history, he joined another bipartisan coalition that blocked state intervention in the Terri Schiavo case.

Michael Schiavo Hits the Campaign Trail

RAW STORY
Friday July 14, 2006

Michael Schiavo, the husband of the late Terri Schiavo who became the center of a fractious national debate over medical ethics and the right to life last year, is assisting the political campaigns of Democratic candidates for Congress and Governor, RAW STORY has learned.

Schiavo, who made the decision to remove the feeding tube of his wife Terri who was in a persistent vegitative state for 15 years after experiencing major heart failure at the age of 26, went on to found TerriPAC, an organization which according to its website works to “raise and spend funds to educate voters on where their elected officials stood when they had a choice between individual freedom and personal privacy and overreaching government action.”

The political action committee is supporting a number of candidates for office, including: Jim Davis for Florida Governor; Kathy Castor for Congress (FL-11); Phyllis Busansky (FL-9); and, Peggy Lamm (CO-7).

A recent visit to Colorado exemplified Schiavo’s approach. In a press conference with candidate Angie Paccione, who is contesting Colorado’s 4th District, he described delivering a letter to incumbent Republican Marilyn Musgrave that chastised her for rendering “a medical opinion on Terri’s condition, even though you had never met her, and despite your admitted ignorance of medical science and of the law.”

Musgrave had said during the Schiavo debate, “When we talk about a permanent vegetative state, I am offended by that….How heartless are we to call somebody like Terri Schiavo a vegetable?”

Republicans on the receiving end of Schiavo’s advocacy have reacted strongly. A report in the Rocky Mountain News quoted Colorado GOP Chairman as calling the work of Schiavo and TerriPAC “shameful” and “disgusting.

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Posted in General Information, Governor | 5 Comments
Aug 03

Cuba Libre!

Truthfully I’m suprised no ones posted anything about it yet considering the effect it seems to be having on the Cuban population in South Florida. The ceding of power (Even if temporary) has caused an enormous uproar in South Florida. There were parties the entire night and in the morning there were signs calling for the immediate liberation of Cuba. Big city made signs. The city of sweetwater in fact had a large blue banner outside of Florida International University calling for such action.

In light of this it would seem obvious that this would weigh in somehow on the Governors race…and in fact it already has in a way. The ceding of power has given gubernatorial candidate state senator Rod Smith the perfect ground to attack his opponent Jim Davis for a trip to the island in the year 2003. An article in the Herald today explained Smiths rationale for the attack while at the same time making a large case against him in favor of Davis’ cuban record.

The article can be read here

Smiths criticism probably won’t play a large part in the Democratic primary, but cuban policy will play a huge role during the general election and from the way the article is presented it seems that Davis has the best record on Cuba.

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Posted in Governor | 2 Comments
Aug 03

FPC ActBlue Page

I’ve put up a new FPC ActBlue page here. Check it out to see the candidates we think are the best and most deserving of your dollars. If you are thinking of donating to any campaigns this year, we think these are the ones you should check out (and make sure to donate through our page, in order to help the progressive voice be heard in Florida). If you post anything about these candidates, make sure to add in a link so they can get some much-needed funding.

ActBlue doesn’t currently process state and local races, so here are the congressional races we are targeting:

Andy Michaud (FL-24) $
Ron Klein (FL-22) $
Samm Simpson (FL-10) $
Phyllis Busansky (FL-09) $
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Drop these candidates what you can.

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Aug 03

Thanks

We like to take a quick moment to thank those sites that have linked to us or helped promote our launch. If I fail to mention anyone, it’s only because I don’t know about it. If there is anyone else, leave a link in comments and I’ll add it.

FLA Politics — These guys have given us a whole lot of promotion. Thanks.

Deep Something

Bytehead’s Blog

Poor Richard’s Anorak

Shakespeare’s Sister

Daily Kos — My diary made it to the front page in the diary rescue post.

Discourse.net

Flablog

Konagood

Infomaniac

Rook’s Rant

BlogSheroes

blogAmY

The Fat Lady Sings

It’s morning somewhere

(These are, of course, in addition to the links provided by our members).

Keep coming back, we’ll keep adding more and we’ll keep up the hard work and, with your help, we’ll make Florida a blue state.

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Aug 01

Selective Amnesia

Former White House aide Lewis “Scooter” Libby wants a memory expert to explain how he-and prosecution witnesses-may have different recollections regarding their conversations about the identity of Valerie Plame.

In a court filing Monday, defense lawyers said Libby has a right to present testimony from Robert A. Bjork, chairman of the psychology department at the University of California at Los Angeles, to correct misperceptions that jurors may have about the reliability of memory. (AP, August 1, 2006).

Memory just does not function like a tape recorder.

This viewpoint has support from Harvard psychology professor and memory expert, Daniel Schacter.

Schacter suggests in his book “Seven Sins of Memory” (Houghton Mifflin, 2002) that the old brain can short-circuit its memory banks. Forgetfulness and absentmindedness are two common examples.

According to the professor, the memory sin that could get Libby off the hook is
“misattribution”-remembering aspects of an experience correctly but attributing those aspects to the wrong source.(The New Republic Online, April 2006).

Libby was just sort of “mixed up”.

Let me get this straight. Misattribution is why Libby told a grand jury and FBI agents that he first learned of Valerie Plame’s employment with the CIA from reporters.

Unfortunately, it appears that Libby conveyed that information to reporters after learning of Plame’s CIA status from other government officials. (Fellow lobotomees Rove,Bush,Cheney).

But Libby believed he was telling the truth. Really.

Just a simple memory slip.

On the stand under oath, “misattribution” is called “perjury”.

The legal ploy could be successful. According to Schacter, inaccurate memory could be the culprit behind the Richard Clarke and Condoleezza Rice differing recollections of the Bush administration’s response to terrorism issues. Clarence Thomas and Anita Hill split “hairs’ (ahem) over a can of Coke; and then, there was John Dean, Nixon’s White House Counsel, who blabbed conversations that led to the downfall of a President.

Dean remembered his account one way. He was certain his testimony was accurate and truthful.

The rest is history. The audio tapes which later surfaced recorded a different version of events.

For all to hear.

Misattribution or intentional misrepresentation of the truth?

Sounds more like Libby is not so much a misattributor but a possible “selective amnesiac” where he can remember certain general occurences of the Plame situation, but not the specifics. In fact, perhaps Libby can convince the judge that he and fellow prosecution witnesses share some sort of common hysteric amnesia, thus explaining the varying interpretations of the Plamegate accounts, i.e. Post Grand Jury Stress Disorder.

Hey, that’s a good one. Let me write that one down.

If I could just remember where I put my pen.

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Aug 01

Welcome

Thanks for dropping in. Today is our grand opening. If you want to know more about what we’re trying to do, check out the following:

Our Mission Statement

The Plan, Part 1

The Plan, Part 2

The Plan, Part 3

Our basic goal is to move politics and policy in the Sunshine State in a more progressive direction. We are looking for help, so if you are a Floridian and you think you have something to add to the conversation, leave a comment or contact me at quinnelk@hotmail.com. If you aren’t a Floridian, we can put you to work, too — the more progressive Florida is, the better off the whole country is.

Let us know if you have any comments or suggestions. And check back often, we’re constantly adding more to the site, particularly in the Wiki section and much of what we have could be useful for grassroots movements in other states, too.

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Aug 01

“W” Visits Miami and Gets a Miami Welcome

George Bush arrived in Miami on Sunday, July 30th, but there was a large group of people from Democracy for America Miami and Veterans for Peace already protesting in downtown Miami to make sure his arrival was plenty warm.
Though we spent hours in the hot sun, our presence was validated not only by the hundreds of passing motorists, but by the media spotlight our protest garnered. Reporters and photographers were there from the Miami Herald, as well as NBC 4 and Telemundo, so the message got out in both Spanish and English.

I saw both the Herald’s and Telemundo’s coverage and couldn’t be happier to see that King George’s grand entrance on Airforce One was forced to go head to head with coverage of a lot of unhappy people (apparently not everyone in this country is on the same page as the “Decider”). Indeed, Telemundo’s report started with Bush’s arrival, but then segued into our protest by saying that not everyone was happy to see Bush here in Miami. The Herald article followed a similar approach. On the front page the story starts with humdrum news about the President’s visit and his sagging popularity, but we followed on page two with a large photo of us holding up our signs. Again, the Herald article mentions that not everyone had kind words for the President.

It is so important that people get out and protest so that the curtain is pulled away from the aura of invincibility that this renegade president feels he has around him. It’s also important because through our presence, others who have felt cowed by this seemingly unstoppable juggernaut of reckless arrogance, begin to feel more emboldened themselves and follow suit.

Let’s get our country back!

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Jul 31

The Plan, Part 3

This is the third in a series of posts to explain what we are attempting to do with the Florida Progressive Coalition. Previously, I talked about building a progressive infrastructure in the state and providing tools for progressive activists, this time, I’ll talk about the remainder of the tools and content our group is going to be providing to Floridians.

One of the problems we think is that the voters don’t have enough information in their hands. Part of this is a problem with traditional media, which has to focus on the more sexy stories or those that will draw the most readers — such as the incessant coverage of one of the least competitive races in the state — Bill Nelson and Katherine Harris. Harris is such a freakshow that readers want to hear the latest craziness from her campaign and the media dutifully responds. And let’s be honest, many of those stories are fun and entertaining. But do they really help the voters of Florida? No, they don’t. It seems the only person who doesn’t know Harris is going to lose is Harris.

Another part of the problem is that traditional media don’t have the air time or column space to provide in-depth information on candidates that is accessible at any time. Sure, many papers regularly talk about local politics and most print a election insert once it gets close to voting time. But are those things really enough? We don’t think so.

First off, we’re starting up the largest group blog on Florida politics anywhere in the state and one of the largest group blogs on politics anywhere in the world. We currently have more than 35 members and are constantly adding more. We’re also going to be inviting any progressive activists — party members, interest group advocates, student activists and anyone else who believes in progress for Florida, our country and the world — to join us and post to the Florida Progressive Coalition blog.

Our other key activity is providing the largest database of information on Florida politics and issues available anywhere. To do this, we’ll be using the ever-popular wiki software made famous by Wikipedia. Our site is open to the public and anyone can add information to it, but most of the info comes from our members (and we do, of course, keep an eye out for spammers or people who try to put false or bad information on the site). It’s incomplete at this point, but we’re constantly adding new information. It’s broken down into several portions:

1. The Florida Elections Project (http://quinnell.us/sspb/wiki/index.php?n=Main.FloridaElectionsProject): Information on all viable candidates for all offices in Florida at the legislature level or higher. The information in this section is multi-faceted and not limited simply to progressive points of view.

2. Issues (http://quinnell.us/sspb/wiki/index.php?n=Main.Issues): Information on all issues that are relevant to Florida voters and residents. We are trying to provide a balanced look at each issue. We think that if voters have accurate information on the issues, they’ll logically agree with the more progressive position.

3. Florida Progressive Organizations (http://quinnell.us/sspb/wiki/index.php?n=Main.FloridaProgressiveOrganizations): A comprehensive list of all progressive groups in Florida and contact information for each group.

4. How-To (http://quinnell.us/sspb/wiki/index.php?n=Main.HowTo): Information for progressive activists on how to do everything from contacting legislators to running for office.

5. We’ll also be providing various other links, endorsements and information (such as an interactive calender and a section on Florida political history) as time permits and eventually, we plan on expanding our county and city politics information.

You can help. If you are a progressive and you have something to say, join us and become one of our bloggers. Once you join, you are welcome to post on anything related to politics in the Sunshine State. If you aren’t the blogging type, you can also help provide us with information on candidates, elections, groups and the other things we are adding to the wiki. Anything that you think is relevant to the politics and issues of Florida has a place on our site. Adding to the wiki is easy and open to anyone. Just go to the page you think needs updating and click on edit and you are free to add info. If you spam the site and add things that are untrue, we’ll delete them, which is quite easy and takes one click. If you mess up the formatting or anything like that, don’t worry, we’ll fix it. What we want from you is new, valid information we don’t already have on the site. Thanks, and with your help, we’ll guarantee that Florida is a blue state.

The Plan, Part 2
The Plan, Part 1

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Jul 27

Darn Those Political Scientists

James Walker is running for the Florida House against Dennis Baxley in the 24th District. I’m his campaign manager. The following is from James’ Campaign Journal.

This has been such an exciting few months of campaigning. Every day is one day closer to Election Day and one step closer to winning this thing. It has been such an honor to meet so many people, all over the county, who have come forward to support this campaign. Thank you.

A couple weeks ago at the Silver Springs Shores candidate forum I had my first chance to face Mr. Baxley on stage. Well, Mr. Baxley didn’t show up, but his people were there. I was really amazed that, not only did they acknowledge our campaign, they actually went on the attack.

I had been waiting for that all along. It drove me nuts wondering just how they would characterize me. After spending $50,000 on “consulting,” the best they could come up with was…….. “The last thing we need in Tallahassee is another political scientist.”

Seriously.

“Are these guys for real?” was my first thought. I wanted to laugh out loud, but that wouldn’t have been appropriate. If I hear it again though, I don’t know that I’ll be able to contain myself.

I will proudly admit that I majored in political science at the University of Florida. The vast majority of political science majors never do anything remotely related to politics. It took me nine years after graduation before I ever used my degree. Before I’d joined the Army I had been a truck stop manager. Other than talking politics with the drivers, my degree didn’t mean much.

In Iraq I had the opportunity to help set up voting districts in local elections and I sat in on some pretty interesting town council meetings. You cannot imagine how moving it is to see people able to freely express themselves and their political opinion for the first time without fear. I was so happy to have been a poli sci major.

I started off in college as a starry-eyed kid with big aspirations. I would graduate at 20, finish law school at 23, and come home to Ocala and beat Cliff Stearns at 25. Needless to say, that didn’t happen.

Marriage and family changed my priorities. That trip to law school turned into a job in the marketing department at Silver Springs. Rent, daycare, car payments, health insurance, changing diapers, commuting, late night feedings, 60-80 hour work weeks, moving state to state to earn a few more bucks – this was my life and there wasn’t much room for even thinking about politics.

Of course, learning about American politics in college had made me a cynic. I often refer to my political science education as “learning how not to run an organization.” I left college as the early Clinton scandals were breaking. I saw the promise of the Contract with America (in particular, the parts about term limits and balanced budgets) swallowed up by special interest politics. I voted Libertarian in ’96 and I didn’t vote at all in 2000.

Now, I suppose that I’ve come full circle. I have spoken about Iraq and how it made me realize we cannot take our democracy for granted. Of course, there are an awful lot of people just trying to get by, and it’s hard to blame them for not getting involved.

I walk neighborhoods and come across lots of people who tell me they’re just not interested in voting. So many people out there don’t think their vote means much of anything, regardless of party. Luckily, a few folks have taken a moment to listen to what I’ve got to say. Then I listen to them. More often than not, at the end of the conversation they are willing to take a chance on me.

That is why I’m doing this. This “political scientist” will not let you down.

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Jul 27

Polls

Here are some of the latest polls on statwide races in Florida.

Quinnipiac (MoE +/-2.5%)

US Senate
Nelson(D) 61 (59)
Cruella(R) 24 (26)

Governor: Democratic Primary
Davis 47 (32)
Smith 19 (16)

Governor: Republican Primary
Crist 55 (49)
Gallagher 32 (21)

Governor
Crist(R) 44 (41)
Davis(D) 38 (39)

Mason Dixon (MoE +/-5%)

Chief Financial Officer
Lee(R) 32
Sink(D) 31
Undecided 37

Johnson(R) 29
Sink(D) 35

Attorney General
Campbell(D) 33
McCollum(R) 38

We’re within the margin of error in most races, but folks, we’ve got a lot of work to be done.

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Jul 26

Questions for Samm Simpson Interview

We are going to have an upcoming interview with congressional candidate (FL-10) Samm Simpson. We need as many of you as possible to submit questions for the interview. E-mail them to me (at quinnelk@hotmail.com) or place them in the comments below.

Simpson is challenging the venerable CW Bill Young. You can check out the race and the candidates here or check out Simpson’s site here.

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Posted in Congressional Delegation | 1 Comment
Jul 25

The Aging Political Sphere?

At the Democratic Parties JJ Dinner I heard a rather interesting statement from Senator Nelson. He explained that young people are becoming increasingly rare in modern day politics since the days of John F. Kennedy, but has it just been the youth that have dissapeared from the modern political spectrum…or is it the modern day american?

It has been my experience from doing various campaign activities such as canvassing or phonebanking that people aren’t that interested in politics anymore. They may complain about the President or whine about increasing insurance rates, but truly…for the amount of dismay the polls show there really aren’t that many activists. The majority of members at DEC meetings are mostly well over the age of 50 as well. I’m only 18 so you tell me…has it always been like this? Or did politics used to have young activists in their late or early 20′s?

The people reading this Blog may be interested and the people who work on the various campaigns may be interested, but it seems that most Americans are simply…lazy. They complain…but that’s about it. The amount of people that worked on the Kerry campaign compared to the people that are working on the gubernatorial campaigns has shrunk dramatically. While I understand the Presidential election always interests more people the numbers are still…pathetic.

People must care about their rising insurance rates, the public schools, and the rising housing prices. Do they not realize that the state legislature deals with all of these issues and that the gubernatorial candidates will have to face these issues alongside the legislatures? Apparently they don’t care…

Nelson said that Kennedy made politics appealing…he made it young and made people want to think about it. What we need now is the modern day Kennedy to inspire activists of all ages to get up and fight. Politics might not be as glamorous as things like American Idol, but it’s thousands of times more important.

Maybe we should just have the Presidential Nominees sing a song for the peoples support…that would be interesting.

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Posted in Activism | 2 Comments
Jul 24

The Governor’s Race

Daily Kos has a post up today about the competitive governor races around the country for 2006. He doesn’t include Florida on the list because he says it isn’t competitive. Yet all the other races he lists are based on polling numbers. And almost every poll I’ve seen concerning Florida says this is a competitive race. Does Kos know something I don’t know?

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Posted in Governor | 8 Comments
Jul 21

Transcript of Alex Sink Interview

Below is a edited transcript of the interview/chat with Florida CFO candidate I conducted earlier today. You can view the original thread at Gather.com. The interview went well, with more than 18 people posing questions or commenting and numerous others viewing the chat live. Feedback was positive both from readers and from the Sink campaign. Below are the exact questions and answers from the chat (unless otherwise noted, all questions were asked by me):

Q: Why should progressive voters support your campaign?

A: Thanks for that question. For the last eight years, Republicans have been completely in charge of Florida government — the Governor’s office, Cabinet, and the Legislature. In 2006, Democrats have a unique opportunity to recapture part of state government, show Floridians that we are the party which knows how to govern best, and then makes strides on progressive goals like improving public education, protecting Florida’s environmental treasures, and improving access to health care.

Q: Your campaign web site discusses ensuring access to affordable health care for all citizens, how will you approach this issue?

A: Kenneth, I am going to use the Chief Financial Officer position to be a strong insurance consumer advocate who aggressively represents the interests of anyone who wants insurance in this state — individuals, families, and businesses. One of the problems we face is that small businesses — which are the backbone of our economy and employ the majority of our workforce — find it very hard to afford health coverage. As Chief Financial Officer, I’m going to look around the country for innovative health care products that would make it easier and more affordable for small businesses to provide health care to their employees.

Q: Laurie Tozier asked: How do you plan to help floridians with the current homeowners insurance crisis? Related to Laurie’s question, what are your plans for dealing with the property insurance crisis in Florida and how is the CFO limited in this area?

A: Hi Laurie, thanks for joining in. (Laurie is one of my neighbors in Thonotosassa)

Kenneth, As you probably remember, the Chief Financial Officer position is a combination of the old Insurance Commissioner and Comptroller jobs. But where the elected Insurance Commissioner directly regulated insurance, that regulatory function is now carried out by an independent commissioner who reports to the Florida Cabinet. So the CFO’s role is more limited.

As Chief Financial Officer, a member of the Cabinet, and a statewide elected official, I’m going to work very hard on this problem. My principles on this issue are:

First, we need to stop creating commissions and start finding solutions. My entire career as a business leader has been about finding solutions to challenges, and I’ll bring that approach to Tallahassee.

Second, it simply isn’t tenable for a state-run agency to be the largest property insurer in Florida. We need a new approach.

Third, as Chief Financial Officer, I’m going to work to bring more private insurers back to the market so that competition can increase availability and stabilize rates.

Fourth, the 2006 Legislature entirely ignored the commercial property insurance crisis. The homeowners’ crisis is bad enough, but many businesses can’t obtain commercial property insurance of any kind. This has the potential to be an economic disaster in Florida. If a business has to go out of business because it has been destroyed by a hurricane, its workers lose their jobs.

Q: What is the CFO’s role in protecting Florida’s environment and what do you see as the most important environmental concerns in the Sunshine State?

A: I am a strong defender of Florida’s environment. For many years, I have been an active member of the Nature Conservancy, including service as Chair of the Nature Conservancy. I will have oversight over some environmental issues as a member of the Cabinet. For example, the Cabinet oversees the acquisition and subsequent management of all state lands, and will have a big role to play in the extension of the Florida Forever program. I also want to make sure we are doing all we can to protect our shores from oil and natural gas drilling, and all we can to protect other natural treasures around the state, such as the Everglades and our precious rivers, lakes, and wetlands.

Q: Part of the CFO’s job is improving school quality. What exactly is the CFO’s role in education and what areas of our school system can you have the most impact on improving?

A: Actually, the Chief Financial Officer does not have a direct role in education. Education policy is generally shaped by the Legislature and the Governor. However, as the state’s highest-tanking official on financial matters, I will have a very loud bully pulpit to address how the Legislature is spending our hard-earned taxpayer dollars. We need to make sure that Florida is investing enough in students, teachers, and public schools so that we offer the best possible education. If the Legislature and Governor are not doing right by our children, I’m going to loudly ask some very tough questions about it.

Q: What is the CFO’s role in helping out Florida’s veterans, particularly in light of frequent cuts in veterans benefits at the federal level?

A: This is another area where the Chief Financial Officer has some say because of her role on the Florida Cabinet. The Governor and Cabinet appoint the head of the Florida Department of Veterans Affairs, and I will work hard to ensure that our state government is adequately funding the needs of the department and providing appropriate services to our veterans.

Q: What efforts are you making to reach out to grassroots activists and bloggers?

A: The Internet is having a huge influence on politics, and I have worked hard to make sure that my campaign is reaching out to the many people who use the Internet as their source of political news and their site for political activism.

I look forward to participating in more web chats like this one with bloggers from many different points-of-view.

Back in early June, my campaign unveiled a new website which provides information on my qualifications to be Florida’s next Chief Financial Officer.

I really like the site because it goes beyond traditional web tools and embraces unprecedented ways for me to energize supporters at the grassroots level. For example, at http://www.alexforcfo.com/join/gather.html, it allows supporters to create their own social networks to communicate with other supporters across the state. So we have groups like Lawyers for Alex, Business Women for Alex, and even Republicans for Alex.

My campaign is operating on a budget and the use of the internet is the most cost-effective way to reach a large number of people.

Q: Now we’ll open up the questions to anyone. Please ask them one at a time, though, to give Alex a chance to respond. We also have some reader-submitted questions that I will pass along. Let’s start with Monica’s question from above: Please speak to the qualifications of the CFO for the state of Florida.

A: Kenneth and Monica, Floridians deserve a Chief Financial Officer who has actual financial leadership experience. I have been a business and financial leader in Florida for more than twenty years. For the last seven of those years, I was president of Florida’s largest bank, where I supervised 9,000 employees in 800 branches, representing more than $41 billion in customer assets.

I also have a record of promoting fiscal responsibility and accountability in government. Lawton Chiles appointed me to the Commission on Government Accountability to the People, where I helped lead efforts to make state government more responsive to citizen needs.

I advocated productivity and efficiency in state government as Vice Chair of Tax Watch, a non-partisan, non-profit organization that reviews how Florida collects and spends its tax dollars and has identified more than $6 billion in taxpayer savings since it was founded in 1979.

By the way, I am the only candidate in this race for Chief Financial Officer who has an extensive financial background.

Q: Jim Cassady asked: Many of our Florida state government services have been outsourced/privitized. What is your position on that from an accountability perspective?

A: Jim, Over the past eight years the state has privatized or outsourced a number of services. As CFO, I will hold these companies accountable for achieving the savings they actually promised for the people of Florida. For example, it was recently reported by the state’s auditor that the privatization of foster care has resulted in a $70MM INCREASE in costs to the program, with worse results (more children subject to abuse). We need to be sure that if we privatize, the citizens are actually going to get a better result…

Q: Robert M. asked: Florida’s Republican leadership has been a symbol of the ‘culture of corruption’ and cronyism for far too many years now. What are your plans to change the good-ole-boy atmosphere that is so prevalent throughout Florida’s government?

A: Robert M., I believe in integrity and accountability. as Chief Financial Officer i can oversee the appropriate use of our $70 billion state budget, and ensure that we are getting our money’s worth. We need a Chief Financial Officer in Tallahassee who is “minding the store” and NOT subject to cronyism and political influence when it comes to managing the state’s purse.

Q: Ted W. asked: Alex, the largest state union endorsed Lee this morning. I know your campaign says you have the support of the majority of the people in the AFL-CIO but then why do you think the most dominant union in Florida did not endorse you? It can’t simply be (as they say) because they “just don’t know you well enough” – what’s your take on this?

A: Ted W., I’m very proud to have the support of the overwhelming majority of the labor community in this state; including the AFL-CIO and the Florida Education Association. While I did not get the support of AFSCME, I look forward to continuing to have a strong relationship with members of the labor community. And I look forward to working with them on issues of common concern when I am elected Chief Financial Officer.

Q: From Robert McNally: Insurance being virtually required of all with a mortgage; raising the cost of a home to discouraging proportions; encourage people to live elsewhere … is it not possible that the Florida Government underwrite policies and make a profit, for surely the insurance companies make a profit…Could the State, in such an undertaking accept less of a profit than the Insurance Companies. Would the State not gain funds from investing premiums in a manner as do the Insurance Companies?

A: Robert, Certainly the system we have now is not working. Private insurers continue to leave the state or reduce their policies. However, some smaller companies are in fact beginning to do business. We need to rethink our approach to this crisis, and your suggestion has been mentioned by several people. In general , I would prefer we have a better market to encourage more private enterprise come to compete for our business rather than have a state run insurance company. However, at this stage, all alternatives ought to be on the table for consideration.

Q: Jackie D asked: Are there some government services that should not be privatized? (Does it make any sense to privatize human resources services? It seems to me — as a former state employee — that human resources worked better when people worked for a particular government agency and understood its needs.)

A: Jackie, Some services should not be privatized. When I was in banking, we were very careful when making outsourcing decisions that would directly impact our customers. We need to take it on a case by case basis, carefully evaluating all the potential negative impacts on people. and most importantly , is it REALLY less expensive to outsource???

Q: Bill B. asked: It’s now 2:00 pm so I assume the chat will be closing soon. When’s the next opportunity to gather?

A: Thanks to everyone for participating. This was my first time in a web chat! I spent yesterday traveling in north Florida, to Live Oak, Lake City, and Jasper, where I found many enthusiastic supporters! The momentum is building, so I hope you will share my story with your friends.

As for the next one, keep in touch with us in this group and sign up for updates on our web site (http://alexforcfo.com) so we can email you with all upcoming activites… Thanks again to everyone. Alex

Other questions were posed and the Sink campaign has said that Alex will get to those in the near future, so hopefully, we will have another post then with more responses.

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Jul 21

Alex Sink Interview To Begin Shortly

You can tune in to my interview/chat with Florida CFO candidate Alex Sink starting at 1 pm Eastern by going to: http://www.gather.com/viewArticle.jsp?articleId=281474976768745. For the first half hour, the candidate will answer questions from me, then she will answer questions from site visitors.

Drop on over at 1 (the link will not be live until shortly before then). You may also check back here later for a transcript of the interview.

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Jul 21

Can a firefighter afford housing
in your community?

The Florida Housing Coalition has prepared a quite remarkable report which lets you compare the price of homes in 18 metro areas to actual wage information for more than 60 occupations.

The report shows how the workforce is “priced out” of the housing market causing communities to suffer from a lack of people relied upon to make every community viable. Teachers, nursing assistants, retail workers, emergency services providers and law enforcement are the backbone of any community, but without affordable housing, they have extreme difficulty living in the very communities they serve.

The report will tell you how much mortgage that occupation can afford, how much government assistance is needed to get them into a particular home and what income would actually be needed to purchase that home.

For example, in Orlando, a firefighter can afford a mortgage of $107,887 and would need $123,513 in government assistance to afford a median-priced home, which cost $231,400 in 2005. A firefighter would have to work 48 hours a weekly to afford a two-bedroom apartment at the market rent of $1,076.

Check out the “Florida Priced Out Report” here.

Cross-posted at the 13th juror.

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Posted in General Information | 2 Comments