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For their own good
Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
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Catastrophic fund faces headwind, Dodd warns
By ADAM C. SMITH
Published July 8, 2007
In Iowa, presidential candidates better love ethanol subsidies unless they want to write off the state. If they're campaigning in Florida, they better want a national catastrophic fund.
And no presidential candidate is better positioned to push that proposal for spreading property insurance risk than Sen. Chris Dodd of Connecticut, chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, which has jurisdiction over insurance matters. Dodd is scheduling hearings on creating such a program, but he suggested Floridians should be skeptical of any candidate who promises to make it happen.
"We clearly need a plan here to get this in shape, " Dodd said in a taped Political Connections interview airing today on Bay News 9. "But if it's going to be a plan that asks the rest of the country to pay for our insurance, you're going to have a very difficult time getting it through Congress. It's going to take a plan nationally that we can all accept."
The interview airs at 11 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. on Bay News 9, and an extended version can be seen on Channel 342 (Bay News 9 on demand).
Fred Thompson's troops
Brace yourselves, Mitt, Rudy and John. The Buzz is that likely Republican presidential candidate Fred Thompson has landed one of best political minds in the Florida GOP. Veteran strategist Randy Enwright has stepped down as the Republican National Committee's Florida guru to help actor and former Tennessee Sen. Thompson test the waters for his likely presidential bid.
Enwright, a key adviser to Jeb Bush in '94 and '98, a former Iowa GOP executive director and Florida GOP executive director 1995-'99, had been under contract with the RNC since 2001. This means Todd Thomson and former state GOP executive director Andy Palmer, both also of Enwright Consulting, are aboard Florida team Thompson as well, along with U.S. Rep. Adam Putnam, R-Bartow, and a growing list of current and former legislators.
For all the talk that Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani had swallowed up most the GOP talent in Florida, this is a big get for Thompson.
Meanwhile, John McCain's financial woes led to the campaign cutting from its payroll a Miami consultant, Carlos Curbelo, and its only field staffer, Russell Peck.
Builders group retreats
It was not a good week for the Florida Home Builders Association. The lobby group's political action committee created a firestorm by threatening to make future campaign contributions to legislators contingent on their support of a bill to limit impact fees on new homes, which builders foresee as local governments' way of making up for lost property taxes.
That threat, posted on the group's Web site (www.fhba.com), was gone after criticism from Senate President Ken Pruitt, among others.
By Thursday, the builders' site carried "a sincere apology" from president John Wiseman, saying: "It was incorrect of me to indicate that support of any one bill is the only criteria to be used in PAC evaluation." But the political fallout may not be over: Some lawmakers are expected to return their building industry campaign checks in a thanks-but-no-thanks gesture.
Fasano just says no to raise
On July 1, lawmakers got their 3 percent annual cost-of-living raise, one year after it took effect for state employees who got a 3 percent raise on July 1, 2006.
Legislators now make $31, 932 a year for what are considered part-time jobs. And presiding officers make $44, 280 a year.
State Sen. Mike Fasano declined his raise, as he has in the past since he joined the Senate. He is currently paid $29, 508 a year.
"I'm just a believer that we didn't run for this job for the salary, " Fasano said.
Next year legislators will not get a raise, because state employees didn't get one this year. (Legislators won't get a $1, 000 bonus.)
Obama's campaign omits a state
There's some Buzz about whether Barack Obama will more or less blow off Florida on Jan. 29, cede it to Hillary Clinton and focus on the Feb. 5 primaries. A memo last week from campaign manager David Plouffe may fuel that speculation.
"First we are on a financial course that will allow us to both fully fund efforts in the early primary and caucus states, and also participate vigorously in all the Feb. 5 contests, including large states like California, New Jersey, New York, Georgia and Missouri."
Hmmm. Did he leave out Florida intentionally, or is Florida among those "early primary and caucus states"?
Obama communications director Robert Gibbs said the campaign is waiting for the Democratic National Committee to iron out the primary schedule and whether Florida will be punished for scheduling a primary earlier than the national party allows. He downplayed the possibility of Obama writing off Florida.
"With the size of the operation we're building, I don't think we're going to cede anything, " Gibbs said.
Adam C. Smith, Jennifer Liberto and Steve Bousquet contributed to this week's Buzz.