Observations and musings on Jacksonville Politics

Jax Foreclosures Mentioned in NY Times

Jacksonville’s foreclosure problems get another mention in today’s New York Times:

City officials and housing advocates here and in cities as varied as Buffalo, Kansas City, Mo., and Jacksonville, Fla., say they are seeing an unsettling development: Banks are quietly declining to take possession of properties at the end of the foreclosure process, most often because the cost of the ordeal — from legal fees to maintenance — exceeds the diminishing value of the real estate.

The so-called bank walkaways rarely mean relief for the property owners, caught unaware months after the fact, and often mean additional financial burdens and bureaucratic headaches. Technically, they still owe on the mortgage, but as a practicality, rarely would a mortgage holder receive any more payments on the loan. The way mortgages are bundled and resold, it can be enormously time-consuming just trying to determine what company holds the loan on a property thought to be in foreclosure.

Filed under: Jacksonville, ,

Coming Soon…A Trail Ridge Analysis

Funny that a Waste Management-related ad would pop up…  It reminds me to mention…  A week or so ago, I was privileged to receive a call from the Mayor’s Office requesting a meeting.  I’ve been wanting to share the details of that meeting and my analysis of his approach to the Trail Ridge Landfill contract.  I still intend to share it, but life, research and more life has gotten in the way of me getting it out in a timely fashion.  However, keep your eyes peeled…I’m getting close to all of the information I have been researching in order to be able to offer a well-informed analysis.  It should be a go by the end of the week.  So, if you don’t visit the site every day, please make sure to check back this weekend and read my analysis of the Trail Ridge contract.

Filed under: Jacksonville, Mayor of Jacksonville, , ,

Young Democrats Out With Another Ad

Jacksonville Young Democrats are out with another ad on the Landfill contract.

Filed under: Jacksonville, Mayor of Jacksonville, , ,

Pew Charitable Trusts Launches Federal Subsidy Tracking Website

Wondering which companies have been receiving federal subsidies – or as we more accurately term them, bail outs?  Wondering where AIG funneled all the federal bailout money they received? 

Well, wonder no more. 

Pew Charitable Trusts has launched a new website, subsidyscope.com,  dedicated to raising public awareness of federal subsidies.  Pew plans to build the searchable database industry sector by industry sector over the next few years.  For instance, you can find a listing of all the banks that have received bailouts, searchable by several different categories, including by state.  Several Florida banks are included on the list, including Coastal Banking Company in Fernandina Beach which received nearly $10 million in bailout funds back in December.  When completed, subsidyscope databases will contain information on direct payments made by government to businesses and individuals, tax breaks for corporations and individuals, and loan guarantees and other types of financial support.

In addition, Pew staff will also analyzing the data collected, looking for patterns and discerning trends. Based on their analysis, Pew will publish a regular series of major reports on sector subsidies.  These reports should make for some interesting reading in the near future.

Filed under: Florida, , ,

Jim King to apply for University Chancellor post

From The Miami Herald:

State Sen. Jim King, R-Jacksonville, is going to apply to be chief executive of Florida’s university system. If he gets the job, he would step down after 23 years in the Legislature and a special election would be held.

King says several people approached him a couple of weekends ago and asked if he would be interested in the chancellor job that has been open since Mark Rosenberg stepped down in February.

“I said, well, normally I’d say no because I had my retirement all taken care of, but the economy is saying that I’ll probably have to do something and that was something that I think I could do,” said King, 69, and the former Senate president. “Now, whether or not I’m even on the short list, I don’t know. But the answer to the question is, ‘Would you be interested to pursue it?’ Yes, I would.”

Filed under: Florida Legislature, Florida Politics,

Gas Prices Rise 9 Cents in One Week

I noticed the higher gasoline prices while driving around this past weekend.  Average prices spiked from $2.00 to $2.09 per gallon for regular gasoline last week.  I figure it’s just the oil and gas industry’s way of getting more money from us as we hop into our cars more often for weekend trips and summer vacation.  But, the oil refineries are also making the annual switch from their winter blend to their summer blend fuel which also tightens up gas supplies.  Makes it a little tougher on Floridians to run errands and travel during a recession, though.

I guess we should all be thankful anyway.  As this Orlando Sentinel article points out, last year at this time we were paying an average of $3.34 per gallon for regular gasoline.  It’s all a matter of perspective, isn’t it?

Filed under: Florida, ,

Lawmakers: Charlie Crist MIA

The day Florida students and parents travelled to Tallahassee to rally against proposed cuts to education, Charlie Crist fled town to attend a town hall meeting in Mayport where questions had to be submitted online and pre-approved by the Governor’s staff.  The day Florida’s unemployment rate approached double digits, the Governor went on vacation.  His eternal optimism was one of his selling points when he ran for office, but his refusal to deal with reality is quickly becoming his Achilles heel.  His disengagement is starting to wear on lawmakers, something even the Governor has started to notice.  Perhaps realizing that his future political ambitions are dependent on an occasional display of leadership, the Governor has promised to pay more attention.

Gov. Charlie Crist’s policy of disengagement is testing the limits of lawmakers’ patience and raising questions about his leadership.

As the legislative session nears the midway point, Crist keeps at a safe distance from the politically turbulent talk of painful budget cuts and higher taxes swirling about him.

For instance, on Friday, as the state announced that Florida’s unemployment rate spiked to 9.4 percent, the highest since Gerald Ford was president, Crist took the day off. The week before, he took two days off. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Florida, Florida Legislature, Florida Politics, , , ,

Sunday Night Detour: “Saturday Night”

A little Elton John to the mix.

Filed under: Sunday Night Detour,

Lawmakers Considering Changes to Bright Futures Scholarships

With Florida suffering through tough economic times, one of the casualties may be the State’s Bright Futures Scholarships.  Some of the proposals being considered by the Legislature:

Letting more state universities levy a tuition increase that is not covered by Bright Futures. Lawmakers began this move in 2007 for five state universities, with a proposal this year to expand it to all 11.

Cracking down on scholarship students who drop classes funded by Bright Futures. Lawmakers are moving a measure that would force university and community college students to pay back their costs if they drop courses late in the semester. It could save the state $30 million a year.

Creating higher qualification standards for the program. Students now need only a 3.0 grade point average and a 970 SAT score to qualify for a Bright Futures scholarship that pays 75 percent of their tuition costs.

Awarding Bright Futures based on the income levels of students and their families. Currently, income is not a factor.

Setting a cap on the scholarship amount. The scholarships now pay 75 percent or more of tuition and fees, excluding the “differential” tuition allowed for five universities. [HeraldTribune.com]

Read more about it here.

Filed under: Florida, Florida Legislature, Florida Politics, ,

Charlie Crist is Movin’ On Up

The speculation continues to grow about the political future of Florida Gov. Charlie Crist.  I have long maintained that, based on his short-term governing strategy, he appeared to be preparing for a run for the seat of retiring US Senator Mel Martinez.  (In other words, Charlie is Movin’ On Up.)  It seems that others around the state are beginning to share those thoughts, including the St. Pete Times.

[T]he Crist-O-Meter got a nudge toward the senate thanks to the state Republican Party.

The Florida GOP suddenly last week launched a series of e-mails attacking Democratic Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, over her questioning of a no-bid contract awarded by Attorney General Bill McCollum and over Sink talking about investing public money in toxic assets. State GOP Chairman Jim Greer may or may not know Crist’s plans, but he certainly seems to have decided it’s wise to start softening up the Democrats’ strongest contender for an open gubernatorial seat.

Filed under: Florida, Florida Politics, , , , ,

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