Tag Archives: Florida

Are there no safe places?

Summer in Florida and even the geckos want some of that A/C. This lad was perfectly happy on a cool wall – until the camera flashed – once (headed for cover) and then twice (nearly there!). He really didn’t have to  do that – it’s likely that his company would have been more pleasant than what I had to tolerate earlier today among members of my own species.

lizard

Absolutely not interested in being Governor of all of Florida

Gov. Scott has not publicly stated his reasons for the rejections.

Only Governor of half the people.

How much respect does the indicted-insurance-fraud (who invoked the Fifth Amendment 75 times) hold for half the people of this state? Zero. Zilch.

From today’s Tampa Bay Times:

TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Rick Scott, seeking to bring the court system more in line with his conservative outlook, has repeatedly rejected lists recommended to him by the Florida Bar of lawyers seeking to screen candidates for judgeships.

Scott has rejected dozens of attorneys the Bar has nominated to serve on judicial nominating commissions, created decades ago to professionalize the bench and make merit and qualifications at least as important as political connections.

“He wants people with humility,” says Scott’s chief counsel, Pete Antonacci, “and he wants judges who will follow the law and not make it up as they go along.”

The Bar said Scott’s two predecessors, Charlie Crist and Jeb Bush, never rejected any of its nominees. The governor has rejected the lists 16 times and has never publicly given a reason and is not required to do so.

Scott has sent back so many Bar-recommended names that the group keeps a five-page spreadsheet to track them.

Pure ideology.

Because they fired themselves

https://i2.wp.com/www.tedyoho.com/images/finalheader.png

Just like they hired themselves . . .

During a teletown hall Thursday evening hosted by Rep. Ted Yoho, a caller named Frank from Gainesville asked about furloughed workers.

“The people that had to work should be paid,” Frank said. “But the people that are home watching Netflix and whatever, I’m not sure that we should be sending them checks.”

Replied Yoho: “Well, when we voted on that they were supposed to come back to work as part of that deal. … I agree 100 percent with you. If they’re not working, they shouldn’t get paid.”

Ah Florida, my Florida . . . had enough? You bet.

Free country or obscenity? Vulgarity at the least.

tampa bay 1For Floridians, heartbreak is a constant. In my little town, just this month, demolition began on the historic winter home of the Barnum & Bailey circus, in the face of years of campaigns and fund-raising by citizens to preserve their heritage – located on municipal, not private, property.

tampa bay 2And then this happened a few miles north. An added insult: the fixtures, windows, precious woods and more were only a nuisance, so they were left in place for the bulldozers. After all, the whole thing – as the story points out – was already 12 years old.

SARASOTA – A 6,100-square-foot house built just 12 years ago on this tony barrier island was being torn down Monday to make way for what neighbors say will be a three-story home for Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik.

The half-acre bayfront property at 112 N. Washington Drive was bought five months ago for $4.25 million. . . .

The classically inspired house, designed by architect Clifford Scholz and built by the late Mike Collingwood, was yellow with white trim and had a double staircase leading to the front doors.

The arched Palladian windows were framed with white shutters. Iron gates over the gray paver driveway and an ivy-covered masonry wall provided privacy.

The property had two wings that made the pool area private, too.

It obviously was not sufficient for such a grandee who is, no doubt, a legend in his own mind. He came, saw a tear-down, did it.

Lightning or lilacs? I guess I’ve made my choice

Deep in the winter of 1994, I left my New England home and came to Florida. There were a number of reasons for the move. A yearning to live in a tropical climate didn’t even make the list.

butcher 2I’ve learned to embrace this place including the weather; most surprising to me has been how much I’ve come to relish the summer.

I love the sudden winds that bring our afternoon thunderstorms, and gully washers that sweep in from the Everglades and leave behind the sweetest air. I love those thunderstorms so much that just the sound of one approaching makes me hasten to leave wherever I might be and rush outside so I can watch it. (Photo is by renowned Everglades photographer Clyde Butcher.)

I love how every green and growing thing explodes – all at once – as though released from six-months of holding its breath.

I love how quiet and peaceful it is once the winter people leave – and how I can park right in front of the library. Lines disappear in a moment and the annual refrain is heard: “hooray, we can go out to dinner again“.

lilacsThere’s no ice. I’ve never had to scrape a windshield.

But I do miss the smell of  lilacs and the rich velvet of tulips. I’ll always miss those.

Let us leap once again without looking: how something ordinary becomes a threat to the Republic, a threat I tell you!

Another crime perpetrated by schools!

Another crime at our schools!

Something old becomes new because a few days ago FOX & Friends found out about it, or  more accurately, found out about a little part of it, and that was all they needed to sputter into outrage, along with the entire right-wing noise machine – especially since the word Jesus was uttered without the genuflect.

We all know how this goes: it’s a tiresome formula – raise the noise level sufficiently to feed the audience and they’ll keep coming back.

Here’s the story from a column by Frank Cerabino at The Palm Beach Post (he’s a favorite read for me):

 An adjunct professor at FAU teaching an intercultural communications class was following a textbook exercise that called for students to write the word “Jesus” on a piece of paper and instructing them to step on the paper.

“Most will hesitate,” the handbook says. “Ask why they can’t step on the paper. Discuss the importance of symbols in culture.”

One student  objected to the voluntary classroom exercise, and made a complaint to the news media, saying his professor told him to “stomp on Jesus” and that he was suspended from class for his refusal to participate. . .

In fact, the student was suspended for threatening the Professor.

. . . [the instructor] was following an exercise written by a professor at a Catholic college in Wisconsin, an exercise that has been used for 10 years in colleges without incident . . . the exercise was designed to be an affirmation of faith and a recognition of the emotional power that disrespect of religion carries — a way for students to understand the strong reactions other cultures have to disrespect for their own religion.

Our 30% Governor said that “the professor’s lesson was offensive, and even intolerant, to Christians and those of all faiths who deserve to be respected as Americans entitled to religious freedom.”  Which was the very point of the classroom exercise. But no matter.

He even offered an apology to the student and called for an investigation.

Maybe before our indicted-for-Medicare-fraud-former-hospital-executvive governor cranks up the old investigation machine, he might look at saving the taxpayers a few bucks –  he could just read a full news account.  But that wouldn’t get him into the middle of the story.

Back at FOX Mike Huckabee came forth with my favorite comment: “People wonder what’s wrong with higher education, This is what’s wrong with higher education.” Right there is a good argument to stop the dangerous teaching of Engineering or the Classics. Of course had he paid more attention when he was pursing his own higher education, he might have been inspired to learn the whole story.

It beats a covered wagon, but still . . .

California to Florida? Five hours in the air – perfectly acceptable, in fact a marvel.

18 Hours of air and airport time over two days for that trip –  oh my aching back. (I did accept, indeed quietly and with grace, that on the first flight a 300 pound man chose the middle seat to my left. It happens.)

Grapefruit-Tree-CareAnd so today is about fresh air, newspapers, red grapefruit from my tree and a lot of coffee brewed my way. Plus a nap. And some strawberries I think.

Stand up and take it suckers. Florida doesn’t give a damn.

A nephew recently opened a branch of his insurance agency here in town, so when my policies came up for renewal I planned to transfer them to his office. But oh no . . . thanks to our consumer-hating Governor Scott and the now-infamous 2012 Florida legislature (the one that put 11 amendments to the state constitution on the ballot that contributed to voting going on until midnight, all of which were soundly defeated) that ain’t gonna happen (see below).

scottOur odd-looking Gov (nice teeth though) began his attack on all insurance that isn’t  private (as a crooked indicted former insurance exec himself, he continues allegiance to his former cohort) on Day One.  His special target has been the state-run, wildly popular and very well capitalized Citizens Insurance, which provides wind and flood coverage. In Florida, that is our hurricane policy.  (Citizens, by the way, was established after the big national companies fled Florida following Hurricane Andrew which devastated the State.)

Scott formed a committee tasked with developing strategies to literally get rid of Citizens. He wants to provide actual cash payments to private companies who take over their policies and is also offering to share Citizens’ disaster funds with them which they need since none of them have reserves as healthy as the gay-socialist-anti’merican Citizens.  Some of this is already in place; in 2013 for the first time, wind insurance will no longer covers ‘external’ structures of the sort most subject to wind damage  – that would be pool cages, screened-in porches, sheds and carports (stuff our leaders assume the common folk could easily cover out of their movie money). Adding to the pain, there’s not another reputable company offering alternatives – not at any price. Isn’t that nice? 

So, back to my nephew and his shining new local business. Here’s the text of an email I just got from his office. Both the agent and I have now agreed that I’d put  myself at risk of being denied insurance altogether were I to attempt to support Mike’s new business by transferring my policies to him. She said:

I am running into a problem with Citizens. As you know, they are increasingly difficult to work with for us. In order for us to change the agent on the policy, they now require the policyholder to re-qualify and will not transfer documents from one file to the other. Because of the age of your home, they are going to require a new 4 point inspection which would verify the condition of the roof, electrical, plumbing and AC systems. All items must show that they are free of defects and have at least 5 years remaining useful life. This is different from the Wind Mitigation inspection that we discussed when you were in the office, which is only required in the event that you wish to have credits applied to the policy and only verifies structural elements and not condition. Unfortunately for us, if you simply renew your existing policies, you are not subject to this condition . . . .

And now, the same situation has popped up with my homeowners policy. I guess they’ve figured if Citizens can get away with this, so can they. Both policies will now remain with my current agent. Sorry Mike.

Way to support new businesses Gov! But hey, F-R-E-E-D-O-M.

When Florida votes this clown out of office in 2014 we may be able to repair some of what he’s done; till then, it’s going to hurt – a lot.

And so it went

The terror is ended.

Lucky iz us, but God still has it in for New Orleans

Thanks to everyone for the well-wishes. We were spared here, but Mother Nature appears not to be done with New Orleans. That sucks and  it’s not fair.

If there’s an upside to being a target, it’s this: whenever anything even vaguely Tropical  threatens, the process of ‘battening down’ the house leads to some productive weeding. Everything under 30 pounds has to be moved inside away from the wind,  which means it is actually noticed and handled, and consequently a lot of what’s noticed (out of sight, out of mind ya’ know) doesn’t make it back, but goes instead into the Goodwill boxes. And that is ‘a good thing’.

Just sayin’

They want to rig it, not fix it

Isn’t it a comfort to know that Gov. Voldemort and his paranoid cynical minions in the Florida Republican Patty are moving aggressively, along with other Republican legislatures, to fix a non-problem that they invented out of thin air ? Just like with that earlier threat to the nation, ‘Welfare Queens’, attention must be paid!

Voter registration fraud must be stopped! And dammit, here in Florida, we’re making that happen. Just in my own tri-county area, where we’ve finished running the State lists against our own rolls, of our 100K+ registered voters, two have been proved to be cases of actual voting fraud. Two whole people.

Hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars plus thousands of man hours from public employees have been expended. Two cases.

Today, The NY Times (sorry, no linkee) reports that in 2005, the election reform bipartisan ‘commision of  that day, led by former Sect’y of State James Baker and former Prez Jimmy Carter, found  that 140,000 Florida voters were registered for absentee ballots in four other states – 46,000 in New York City alone. Another 60,000 were also registered  simultaneously in North or South Carolina. When a few thousand of those registered for absentee ballots in Florida, their second state, there was no investigation. Repeat, there was no investigation.

In a comment thread over at MashedPotatoBulletin about the voter ID push, I said:

I don’t think many people would object if the process were announced and then implemented over a period of years allowing sufficient time for everyone to get the ID. Once we’ve all got one, it’ll be easy to put a process in place to plug in new voters as they qualify. In fact, I think every citizen should be issued a voter ID card whether they register or not. Just get it done and cut out that silly middle step.. It could be Federal and make it acceptable for all States.

If it were done that way, I’d be fine with it. But of course that’s not how it’s being done because ID itself is not the point. Suppression is the point.

Onward Christian soldiers. March as to war; it’s the Republican way.

He knows how to manage your money too . . .

Look, I know lots of people took a terrible beating in the recent financial inconvenience. But lots of people aren’t President Pro Tem of my State Senate. Nor do they sit on the Florida Select Committee on Florida’s Economy, or the Banking Committee, or the Finance Committee..

Senator Mike Bennett, along with a business partner, was a player in commercial real estate. From my paper yesterday:

All told, Bennett and Kaplan spent nearly $18 million on these acquisitions. Court records and ethics filings show all but the Ellenton rink are in foreclosure or deeply underwater. . .

Unable to meet interest payments from the rents generated from these businesses, Bennett and Kaplan’s company defaulted on their $3.14 million in loans from Cadence Bank in late April.

Like I said, just like people who borrow $100K to buy a family home, people who borrowed $18 million to speculate a bit, got into trouble.

But . . . I don’t recall those homeowners passing moral judgement on others who lost their shirts. You know, like Bennett’s party does.

Friday oldie

I’ve just come back from my treasured beach, which lost 20 feet of dune thanks to Tropical Storm Debbie. The walkway over the dunes leads to stairs to the beach itself. Or it did. Yesterday those stairs were hanging in the air.

And today, it’s fixed because this is a wonderful  community full of wonderful people who jump in whenever needed. So I went down to get some pictures of them and of the repairs.

Which is my roundabout way of introducing today’s oldie. It has to to be a beach song of course – here’s some really early Beach Boys.

 

 

We follow the law here in Florida

This photo is from my local TV station –  yes, that’s an alligator, using the crosswalk, as is legally required for any alligators crossing a street. It is the law.

Governor Voldemort has a better idea because he knows all about health care.

My Gov don’t like him none of that Muslim-Keynan Obamacare stuff. He’s no fan of Medicare/Medicaid either (even though his criminal abuse of both made him and his co-conspirators millions). Nevertheless, we the people chose him to run things here in Florida, trusting, I assume, that he’d gotten ethically born-again.

He knows – made it clear on Day One – that Obamacare is not for Florida and so has refused to institute any of the legally mandated reforms. He has a better idea. States, he says:

. . . can do a better job . . . we should have 50 laboratories to see which is the best approach.

Yeah, that’ll work.

Here’s a little summary of his earlier career as head of Columbia/HCA (that’s Health Corporation of America):

On March 19, 1997, investigators from the FBI, the Internal Revenue Service and the Department of Health and Human Services served search warrants at Columbia/HCA facilities in El Paso and on dozens of doctors with suspected ties to the company.[21] The Columbia/HCA board of directors pressured Scott to resign as Chairman and CEO following the inquiry.[22]He was paid $9.88 million in a settlement. He also left owning 10 million shares of stock worth over $350 million.[23][24][25] In 1999, Columbia/HCA changed its name back to HCA, Inc.

I always like that getting rewarded with $10million dollars for screwing up your company part. It’s the new American way you know. Also, job creators.

In the settlements,  Columbia/HCA pled guilty and agreed to a $600+ million fine in the largest fraud settlement in US history. They admitted systematically overcharging the government . . . They also admitted fraudulently billing Medicare and other health programs by inflating the seriousness of diagnoses and to giving doctors partnerships in company hospitals as a kickback for the doctors referring patients to HCA. They filed false cost reports, fraudulently billing Medicare . . .  In addition, they gave doctors “loans” never intending to be repaid, free rent, free office furniture, and free drugs from hospital pharmacies.

That ‘overcharging the government’ part? That’s us, that’s taxpayer money he stole.

In late 2002, HCA agreed to pay the U.S. government $631 million, plus interest, and pay $17.5 million to state Medicaid agencies, in addition to $250 million paid up to that point to resolve outstanding Medicare expense claims.[26]In all, civil law suits cost HCA more than $2 billion to settle, by far the largest fraud settlement in US history.[27]

 

And yet another laugh out loud moment

My morning paper has been amusing me lately. Frank Cerabino, a Cox media columnist thinks Florida needs a ‘state gun’. (Is he onto something here?.)

He closes the column with this:

And once we have an official State firearm, we can move onto other similar designations, such as an official State cancer.

Everyone in Florida loves guns except the cops

News from Tallahassee this morning – the NRA wants those cops to get out of the way dammit.

The National Rifle Association . . .  is surveying state sheriff candidates on whether they’re willing to take a stand against the very association that will represent them in the Capitol if they win.

Their survey sent to candidates takes aim at the Florida Sheriff’s Association and other law enforcement groups, sheriffs and deputies that have opposed bills the two groups support.

Muslim-commie League of Women Voters back in business

 

I am not done yet!

Gov. Voldemort loses one to Florida’s citizenry and the Leauge of Women Voters! From my paper’s Tallahassee bureau this morning:

Faced with the prospect of harsh penalties under Florida’s new elections law, the League of Women Voters of Florida has been unable to register voters for the last year — an unprecedented hiatus in the civic group’s 72-year history.

“It’s been a very difficult year for us,” said Deirdre Macnab, president of the League in Florida. “It’s had a big, big impact for our organizations.”

Since the Republican-led Legislature passed a broad election law last spring, registration drives by third-party groups, inclulding the League, have ground to a halt in the state. But those registration drives are expected to begin anew with U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle’s temporary injunction against the 48-hour limit, which the judge described as a “virtually impossible burden” on the third-party groups

 

 

I’m ready! Got the cake; got the candles. Anyone know what time the fireworks start?

Betcha didn’t know that tomorrow is Jefferson Davis’ Birthday! (Here in Florida, that’s a paid holiday for State workers. Betcha didn’t know that either!)

Fortunately the celebration of ole Jeff’s birthday only calls for that other flag, cuz I just put away the stars and stripey one after Memorial Day.

Damn you Google! Stop fiddling. And make it rain.

Google has disappeared the bestest little – and most convenient – weather widget ever, the one I’ve depended on for a few years. Now there’s only a link to a less informative source.  That’s a very Microsofty thing to do – and not very customer friendly.

See, I’m very interested in the weather today and the teevee won’t do it (I continually miss the eight-minute mark on The Weather Channel).  Down here, we’re in our 28th month of drought (barefoot caution: the grass will cut your feet), and today holds the possibility of up to an inch of rain.  (The year-to-date normal should be 10.9 inches. We’ve had 3.4. Pretty much in keeping with the last few years.)

I just grabbed this from somewhere – it’s the current Doppler. See that little segment between the two big fronts? That’s me.

Rain rain don’t go away. (and damn teh google!)

The people’s candidate: not that it matters anymore

Keith Fitzgerald, good guy

Vern Buchanan, my ethically-challenged Congressman, currently (actually I think this is the third time) under investigation by his tribe in the Congressional Ethics Committee, and previously investigated by Fed Election Commission and the FL AG, doesn’t need support from the little people.

A story in my paper this morning looks at funding so far for Vern and his challenger Keith Fitzgerald (go Keith go!).

First quarter funds:

  • PACs: Vern 26.3%; Keith 17.9%
  • “Other”: Vern 19.7%; Keith 0.3%
  • Self: Vern 14.8%; Keith 0%
  • Individuals: Vern 39.2%; Keith 81.7%

And Vern will win the prize. Count on it. USA! USA! USA!

 

Truly barbaric

Florida just lifted a law requiring that women in prison be shackled during childbirth.

We shackled women during childbirth? Until 2012?

I weep.

Dear newsmedia: George Zimmerman is not charged with killing a black teenager; he is charged with killing a teenager

Just heard it again on a radio news broadcast: “George Zimmerman has been taken into custody and been charged with the murder of a black teenager.” That’s what the news reader said – pet peeve of mine.

There may well be racial overtones to this crime, and there are valid reasons to suspect that there are, but Zimmerman is not being charged on those grounds. Zimmerman is being charged with murder, quite serious enough on its own. But  the real defendant in this trial will be the State of Florida and its insane  “Stand Your Ground” law.

So is the racial aspect a matter of concern? You bet it is. But I think the larger threat is to all of us; it is another wound to our tradition of common law.

The Supreme Court just upheld strip searches for unpaid parking fines, so I shudder to think what will happen if a challenge to this Florida law makes its way to that gorgeous white temple to justice. I figure the NRA will get there first.

Rep. Allen West has it exactly right. And that is not something I’ve ever said before.

Rep. Allen West, he of my enlightened state of Florida, is a frequent target of my brethren on the left. He can get all ‘rancid right’ with the worst of them. But here’s what he wrote on his Facebook page today about the killing of Treyvon Martin:

I have sat back and allowed myself time to assess the current episode revealing itself in Sanford, Florida involving the shooting of 17-year-old Treyvon Martin. First of all, if all that has been reported is accurate, the Sanford Police Chief should be relieved of his duties due to what appears to be a mishandling of this shooting in its early stages. The US Navy SEALS identified Osama Bin Laden within hours, while this young man laid on a morgue slab for three days. The shooter, Mr Zimmerman, should have been held in custody and certainly should not be walking free, still having a concealed weapons carry permit. From my reading, it seems this young man was pursued and there was no probable cause to engage him, certainly not pursue and shoot him….against the direction of the 911 responder. Let’s all be appalled at this instance not because of race, but because a young American man has lost his life, seemingly, for no reason.  I have signed a letter supporting a DOJ investigation. I am not heading to Sanford to shout and scream, because we need the responsible entities and agencies to handle this situation from this point without media bias or undue political influences. This is an outrage.

Even a clock is right twice a day . . . .

Why I’m so proud to be a Floridian

They don’t even bother to hide what they’re doing anymore. They’re for sale to whoever comes up with the check. Gimme the money, I’ll pass you a nice new law. More here.

I’m genuinely surprised

My Congressman, Vern Buchanan, occupies a permanent place on CREW’s list of the top ten most corrupt Congress critters. We are of course quite proud.

Vern sends out regular insta-polls to his flock down here (more during election season of course), in which he humbly and sincerely seeks our ‘guidance’. I respond every time, even knowing that these polls are designed to elicit reaction from a target audience and therefore provide the desired answer.

I think ole Vern may be as surprised as I was by today’s vote.

How about a delightful story from my paper?

A very handsome fellow is Mr. Monk

Mystery monkey settles down

ST. PETERSBURG — The monkey is somewhere up in the vine-laced trees, or perhaps on the roof looking out for predators. Either way, the woman in the house knows how to reach him.

She whistles a few short notes. “Monk,” she calls.

Within seconds, the monkey comes crab-crawling down a post, climbs over a stack of firewood and walks over to the middle of the porch. He blinks, looks around and sits calmly as four people, including a Tampa Bay Times reporter, watch through a glass wall.

He’s a famous fellow who has 82,000 fans on his Facebook page where he has – until now – been known as the Mystery Monkey of Tampa Bay as he’s bounced around on his own throughout SW Florida for four years. He even had a National Geographic television special.

But those days are over. Six months ago, he found a spot he liked, settled down and joined a family. While they hadn’t invited him, they welcomed him. Apparently some wildlife officials (who appear to have nothing else to do) are distressed about this. But the reporter won’t give out any names or addresses and the retired couple on whose property Mr. Monk has settled, aren’t telling either.

 The monkey is gentle with the sickly, old cat, sometimes picking her up and moving her to a sunnier spot on the patio. He loves Oreo cookies, twisting the tops off and licking the frosting.

He tolerates squirrels and raccoons who come after his fruit and nut dinners, softly backhanding them if they get too close.

“If he hears any rustle in the woods he will stare and grunt at it,” the husband said. “Then run over and up a tree to get a good look and make sure we aren’t being attacked by a lizard or turtle or butterfly.”

Mr. Monk, the husband said, has a home with the family for as long as he wishes.

Now isn’t that a nice news story?

Looks like my Congresscritter has had a little ‘work’ done

Vern used to look like this.

 

 

Then the chin went away and he looked like this.

 

Now his eyebrows seem to have been repositioned. Some people just don’t know when to stop.

From my paper this morning

Republican candidates proclaim Obama’ an economic failure, mistaking  slow growth for no growth or contraction. Or they’re just lying. Here are seven headlines from the front page of the Business section of my paper this morning:

  • Spending more, laying off fewer
  • Hiring and investment show companies plan to grow (National story). [boxed quote accompanying that story: “With big ticket spending rising and the labor market firming,  the economy is a lot better than some central bankers think.”]
  • Delayed a year, recovery is inevitable says Florida economist (Local story)
  • Lakewood Ranch makes sales list: ranked number 9 on national list with 301 new home sales in 2011 (Local story)
  • Survey of architects shows growth likely (Local story)
  • Another call center is moving to Bay area (Local story)
  • Caterpillar profit climbs 60 percent (National story)

Aren’t the candidates here in Florida? Maybe they should read the papers.