April 29, 2008

Florida's 'leaders' wade deeper into the swamp

The fact that Florida's legislators, with the prodding of one governor and the acquiescence of another, have for a decade shown no shame in wrecking the state is in itself a shame greater than the combination of all their leadership failures.

The 2008 session completes the gestalt of shameless, self-serving, backroom deals and the avoidance of responsibility.

But so long as voters show more interest in hot-button social warfare than with substantive issues and legislative accomplishments, the elected legislative and executive leaders will continue to wade in their swamp of shame and shamelessness.

Come fall, it's time to drain the swamp.

Session of shame

    What's wrong with Tallahassee? Is there no adult supervision in the political romper room called the Florida Legislature? Are our elected lawmakers really prepared to end the session this week by passing out an almost criminally negligent state budget that will do incalculable harm to Florida's education, health care, social service and criminal justice institutions?

    This is far and away the worst session we've ever witnessed. We cannot recall ever seeing lawmakers conduct themselves in such an irresponsible manner and with so little apparent regard for the future of Florida and the well-being of its residents. The consequences of lawmakers' failure to take their responsibilities seriously will be dire and far-reaching.

    This Legislature is a disgrace. In this final week of the session lawmakers are willfully putting at risk the health, safety and welfare of their constituents. Meanwhile, Gov. Charlie Crist remains largely silent and passive, as though he has little or no leadership role in the debacle that is unfolding in the House and Senate. - Gainesville Sun editorial, April 29, 2008Session of shame

On vital issues, legislators fail
    Barring a Tallahassee miracle, when the Legislature adjourns Friday it will have failed in every respect to responsibly address the state's most pressing issues. It is hard to imagine re-election campaigns based on a record of imposing painful spending cuts, protecting special interest tax breaks, forcing universities to cap enrollments and raising local property taxes to keep public education limping along. But incumbents will try to paper over the sins of the spring with misleading campaign ads in the fall, and voters should not let them get away with it.

    The Legislature's failures mean public frustration will continue to grow over unaffordable and often unavailable property insurance, inadequate health coverage, underfinanced higher education, inferior public transportation, unfair tax systems and poor growth management. - St. Pete Times editorial, April 29, 2008

One more reason to pull CSX deal
    If Tallahassee were filled with reasonable people, the state would renegotiate the CSX deal to get Orlando the tracks it needs - without giving away the store and sending up to 56 trains a day through communities that never saw them coming.

    But the capital is filled with people who acquiesce. To do otherwise risks losing a committee assignment or a hearing on a pet project.

    Yet when lawmakers vote on the CSX deal this week, the last week of the legislative session, they will define themselves for voters in the fall.

    Do they stand for good government or back-room deals? Do they believe in sound business practices, or anything goes with taxpayer dollars? Do they believe in the conservative value of self determination, or should a powerful part of the state be able to hurt communities that have little say?

    No matter what Orlando lawmakers say, this contract is not the last shot at making commuter rail happen there. Indeed, while some say Florida would lose credibility with federal officials if it pulls the deal back, it's the feds who are asking the tough questions.

    In making their decisions this week, lawmakers should cast a vote for good government.

    It's so rare that someone does. - Tampa Tribune editorial, April 29, 2008

Update from The Orlando Sentinel, 1:54 p.m. . . . .

House opts to go with Senate commuter rail deal

No surprise there.

What hurts my heart is that House negotiator Dean Cannon is my friend. His roots are in Lakeland. Since his high school years I have expected great achievements from him.

Little did I know that one of his most significant accomplishments would be to railroad his own hometown for political expedience.

If I'm wrong, someone please correct me.

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