Welcome to The Dean's List -- an Ed Dean-style look at who Florida's political achievers were (and weren't) in the last seven days. What you see here is strictly my opinion, not necessarily the editor's or the rest of the staff at Sunshine State News.
THOSE WHO MADE THE LIST
Florida Sen. Tom Lee, R-Brandon. After a long meeting with incoming Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Trinity, over Medicaid expansion, Lee, the Senates point man on appropriations, says the House has raised some legitimate and reasonable concerns on the matter. Lee seems to be getting the bigger picture. Lets see if the rest of his colleagues in the Senate get it as well as they get ready for a special session.
St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman. Many cities in Florida are enjoying economic comebacks but there are still several mayors who want to increase taxes. Thankfully, Kriseman, a Democrat who is considered a potential candidate for higher office, sees it differently. While his budget does call for a 2.3 percent spending increase, Krisemans plan avoids hiking up property taxes.
With pension reform, an expanding tax base and a 7 percent forecast increase in the city's property tax revenue, things are looking good for St. Pete even as it tries to overcome a projected $4.4 million deficit which should be erased by the local economic activity. Democrats have high hopes in the future for Kriseman and, so far, on taxes, he is living up to them.
Pasco Countys Charter Advisory Committee. Local liberal groups in Pasco County are beside themselves because the county is looking at the idea of implementing charter government. The idea has some merit. The proposed charter language would allow more voters more choices including term limits, single member districts and voter recall. So far, the teachers' unions are against it and the local NAACP played the race card to show its disapproval of the proposed charter government. The charter government proposal would totally revamp the way Pasco County has been doing business and voters, if not liberal groups, will benefit.
The South Florida Water Management District. With too many burdensome regulations placed on businesses and property owners and overregulated water restrictions put on local cities, this organization has not been a friend to the taxpayers over the years. But, for once, the district is on the right side of things, claiming if it purchased 46,800 acres of land from U.S. Sugar it could waste taxpayers money. The district says before it spends any more money to buy land for environmental projects which have not been approved or funded yet, it needs to finish the projects that are already under way.
THOSE WHO DIDNT MAKE THE LIST
Former Gov. Jeb Bush. This week hasnt been good for Bush. His poll ratings in Iowa have crumbled and hes decided not to enter the Iowa straw poll. Some donors and activists in Iowa are deserting Bush for U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. Even worse, Bush was all over the place on Iraq, telling Fox News he would have authorized the invasion of Iraq based on todays knowledge. Then he retreated, saying he misunderstood the question. Then, in a radio interview, Bush said he wasnt sure what decision he would have made if he had been in his brothers shoes in 2003. Speaking in Arizona later in the week, Bush said he wouldnt support the invasion. Not exactly a good week as Bush does his best John Kerry imitation on Iraq -- being for it before he was against it.
U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Fla. What a mess. The Tampa Bay Times reported Grayson incorporated a couple of hedge funds in the Cayman Islands so investors could avoid taxes.This is the same Grayson who has made a political career of railing against big business and Wall Street for sending their money offshore to avoid paying more in taxes and not doing enough for the American worker and paying them a livable wage. Financial disclosure statements point out that Grayson has up to $25 million invested in an offshore hedge fund account.
The Pinellas County Homeless Board. Wanting to end homelessness in the county, the Pinellas County's Homeless Leadership Board believes the best way to deal with that problem is to pursue a new strategy called "housing first." The idea of this program would place clients (homeless people) into permanent housing and provide services like job training. The Homeless Board did a study that showed around $36 million, most of it coming from taxpayers, was poured into Pinellas County over the years to deal with the homelessness problem.
Palm Beach County libraries. If youre a nonresident living in Palm Beach County and you enjoy going to the local library, be ready to pay more, a lot more. Palm Beach County Library Director Douglas Crane says annual library fees for nonresidents of Palm Beach County will triple. Currently its $35 but thats going up to $95.
Ed Dean, a senior editor with SSN whose talk-show can be heard on radio stations across Florida, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @eddeanradio.