Archive for July, 2009

 A military project backed by Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz was one of more than 550 earmarks targeted this week by a longtime critic who took aim at lawmakers' funding requests for private companies.

The Broward Democrat secured $4.5 million for General Dynamics for a high-tech military radio system that has drawn criticism from government investigators for cost overruns. Wasserman Schultz, who has received $9,000 in campaign contributions from the company's employees' political action committee, defended the request, with a spokesman noting that the Virginia-based company has created jobs in South Florida.

And theWashington Post reports that "members of the House ethics committee, who are investigating a pattern of lawmakers steering federal funds to generous defense contractors, have just had their own pet military projects approved by the same committee whose activities they are probing."

Among them: Rep. Kathy Castor, whose $3.25 million in earmarks appeared near the bottom of a chart of committee members.

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Sen. Dave Aronberg hit pay dirt today when his public records request of the Department of Transportation yielded a change in policy that DOT calculations show it could save at least $10 million. Download Senator aronberg 07 28 09

Aronberg, a Greenacres Democrat who is running for attorney general, asked DOT on July 13 for a list of all contracts with private companies that allowed for automatic salary increases for workers that are handling DOT proejcts. Aronberg argued that because of the state's deep budget woes awarding automatic pay hikes to private contractors "was unfair to state workers and unfair to taxpayers."

Secretary Stephanie Kopelousos supplied the list on Thursday and said that she has since changed state policy and is "eliminating any salary modification terms from new contracts and new amendments to existing contracts."

The agency is reviewing 1,967 consultant contracts and has made changes to dozens of them, amounting to at least $810,000 in savings, according to her agency review. More is expected.Download 1967 Contracts for Aronberg 7-30-2009 request

Aronberg has also asked the Department of Environmental Protection to do a similar review since it has many contracts that also allow for automatic salary hikes and believes other agencies could be forced to make changes to its private contracts as well.

"We're cutting police and cutting teachers. We're demanding more from state employes during these critical budget times and at the same time giving automatic raises to private contractors,'' Aronberg said. "There seems to be a double standards for private workers and state workers.''

Aronberg said the issue was brought to his attention by former DOT auditor Deette Preacher but expressed concern that it took a public records request to force the agency to act.

"It took a private citizens to bring it to our attention," he said. "At the very least, there needs to be more sunshine allowed in this process."

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Jim Greer, the chairman of the Republican Party of Florida, beat two more conservative candidates to be elected chairman of the powerful Rules Committee of the national party today.

The vote was Greer – 27, Jim Ash of Arizona – 20 and Curly Hoaglund of North Dakota – 4. Greer was backed by RNC Chairman Michael Steele and has been the target of sharp criticism from one of the chairman's former rivals.

"Parties are judged by wins and losses, and under Jim Greer's leadership, Florida turned blue," South Carolina Chairman Katon Dawson told The Hill in an e-mail before the party vote. "[Former] Gov. Jeb Bush governed as a conservative and the Republican Party flourished under his leadership. But Jim Greer has chosen to abandon our party's core conservative principles and the results speak for themselves."

Greer is facing some troubles back home, with scattered local activists continuing to question his spending practices — wining and dining, traveling with an entourage on donors' dimes, et al — and heavy handed approach to the 2010 contests. Some critics are predicting fireworks at the party's Aug. 21-22 meeting in Orlando, but an outright coup is highly unlikely.

Greer's leadership of the Rules Committee strengthens his hand in several ways. It raises his national stature, making it harder for critics at home to take him down. And more importantly, Greer's new post puts Florida Republicans in a better position to defend their early presidential primary that defied the national party's rules in 2008 and cost the state half of its delegates to the convention.

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Meet at Holiday Park at 7pm for an 8pm departure. First stop Boomers for fun & games, followed by a visit to the Entrada Motel Cocktail Lounge (voted “Best Near Death Experience” by the New Times).

Expect a night of bikes, friends, games, drinking, and late night shenanigans. 20 miles round trip.

Here’s a tentative route to give you an idea of the distance covered.

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Thanks, Harry!
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"Shit in/ Shit Out", SISO, is the new method of accounting of property values to establish taxable property values in Florida. I’m still trying to understand why foreclosures and other distressed sales of homes are not considered "arm’s length transactions" at a time when such sales dominate _real_ estate markets in South Florida. The point of this post is to talk a little about what is real and
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Celebrating the Victory for the Hold the Line Campaign — Namely, stopping the Lowe’s Application — Madeline Mateo dances around at Big Cypress Preserve. That belly might look familiar, in an earlier stage, from my June 29th post on the Hold The Line Beach Party. Getting close Madeline!
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​Actor/Hip Hop artist extraordinaire Mos Def has announced an August 15 stop at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts. Mos Def, a.k.a. Dante Terrell Smith, is taking off from his busy acti…
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​This week I would like to talk about how the punk rock and hardcore scene here really has no support anymore. Today, kids see “punk rock” on MTV and channels like that, but the truth is that shit’s n…
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​Just this morning we were wondering when Lamar Odom would make up his mind about joining the Heat or not. Well today he reportedly did, and it wasn’t the outcome we were hoping for, but at …
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