Observations and musings on Jacksonville Politics

Ray Sansom’s problem

We think we’ve finally figured out Ray Sansom’s problem.  As part of the special legislative session to address Florida’s $2.3 billion budget chasm, he has scheduled a key budget debate for the full House to begin at 3 p.m. on Jan. 8.  The University of Florida plays Oklahoma for college football’s national championship in Miami that night. 

With posting names like gatorblue and g8rluvr, and Sansom being a Florida State grad, I guess it’s not surprising we would find that to be his problem, is it?


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

Speaking of open government

House Democratic leader Franklin Sands sent a memo to House members Monday calling for hearings on the budget at the start of next week’s two-week special session, according to the St. Pete Times.  Normally, the State budget is crafted in private sessions between the legislature’s power brokers with lots of horse-trading going on between them, then introduced for “debate”, after its pretty much a done deal and foregone conclusion.  Sands is calling for  public participation in the process this year,  especially due to the fact that some serious budget decisions and cuts will have to be made.

Open government with public participation.  Imagine that!

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

AP learns Sansom frequently deletes E-mails

The Associated Press (AP) recently made a request for public records from embattled House Speaker Ray Sansom and his new employer Northwest Florida State College for E-mails between Sansom and Bob Richburg, the college’s president. 

“We just didn’t find anything responsive,” Jill Chamberlin, spokeswoman for the speaker’s office said Monday.  And the AP still hasn’t received any response to their December 1st request to the college.

 According to the AP article,

the Legislature has few rules about what records must be kept and for how long. So while important e-mails sent to and from the governor are permanently archived and while even logs of 911 calls have to be kept for a year, there are no such rules for the Legislature. The Department of State even requires logs listing who entered certain government buildings to be kept for 30 days. 

And so, as it turns out, Sansom deletes his business E-mails every 30 days, with the exception of fiscal, travel and personnel records and official bills that are preserved pursuant to House policy.

Governor Charlie “Mr. Open Government” Crist still has steered clear of criticizing Sansom, as have the Duval Delegation House members. 

So much for open and honest government.

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

Double Dipping Legislators

The St. Pete times explores the quiet quid pro that has gone on for decades in Florida.  The recent uproar over House Speaker Ray Sansom’s dual role has shed a light on a practice that is troublesome.

Even in a time of bleak finances, with curbs on enrollment and spikes in tuition, at least 18 other current or recently retired legislators are employed or draw income throughout the system — six at the University of South Florida alone, as well as the wife of a state senator.

All schools rely heavily on legislative clout for their yearly appropriations, as Sansom, R-Destin, proved by securing $35-million for Northwest Florida State College in the past two years. Yet lawmakers and colleges stoutly deny there’s an inherent conflict of interest in having college employees sitting on committees that oversee higher education funding and policy.

A review by the Times/Herald identified the 18 other current or recently retired lawmakers who work full time, part time or draw income from contracts with state universities and community colleges. A few were educators before joining the Legislature, but others scored sweet promotions after being elected.

The practice is by no means new and involves both political parties. Current lawmakers facing criticism point to former Democratic House Speakers Jon Mills, who ran the University of Florida’s law school after leaving office, and T.K. Wetherell, who became president of Florida State University after his legislative career ended.

For lawmakers, the jobs provide steady income that can last beyond term limits. Some even “double dip,” accepting both government salaries simultaneously, even in session, when it would be difficult to do both jobs. [St Pete Times]

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

Senate President open to fees discussion during special session

With the budget crunch looming larger than life for Florida, we’re hearing more and more Republicans saying the T-word and the F-word – taxes and fees.  The latest announcement to that effect came from Senate President Jeff Atwater late Thursday.  According to the  St. Pete Times, Atwater is willing to discuss fee increases in the upcoming special session of the Legislature that will be held in January.  He is willing to discuss increasing cigarette taxes and revamping the sales tax exemptions in the regular session that starts in March.

Atwater and Ray Sansom, Speaker of the House, will be releasing the agenda for the special session in the next few days.

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

Sansom has interesting fix for Florida’s $6 billion economic woes

Staring down a potential $6 billion budget hole next year, Ray Sansom, speaker of the House, has come up with the perfect idea – gut Florida’s regulatory programs – although he calls it streamlining permitting.  The Sansom family has no love lost for the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and water management districts – beginning with Ray’s cousin, former legislator Dixie  Sansom, who served in Florida’s House of Representatives from 1984-1992.   All one need do is look at the legislation they’ve sponsored over the years – such as the speaker’s 2007 legislative sunset review bill which put environmental protection and water management programs up for sunsetting the very first year of review.  According to the Orlando Sentinel, Ray Sansom’s latest ideas sound amazingly like the agenda of Florida Homebuilders-type lobbying.  I guess he’s already stepped on too many toes with university funding and his new sweetheart job.

So, rest easy –  Sansom has it all under control.  We can all forget about the fact that Florida’s underlying tax structure is a two-legged stool.

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

Jacksonville Republicans Remain Quiet on their Corrupt Speaker

More on Florida House Speaker Ray Sansom:

As House Speaker Ray Sansom funneled millions in tax dollars to the college that now employs him, the list of school projects included an airport building first requested by a developer who has contributed heavily to Sansom’s campaigns.

In 2007, Sansom quietly secured $6-million to build an emergency training center at the Destin Airport on land controlled by the developer: Jay Odom, a friend of Sansom and owner of a jet business.

This is an interesting article that shows the similarities between Sansom and one of his predecessors.

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

Jacksonville’s Senators snag some good posts

Senate President Jeff Atwater restructured the Senate to look more like the House structure – creating broad policy and steering committees to house the various legislative standing committees.  The 5 new policy and steering committees are:  1) Commerce and Industry, 2) Energy, Environment and Land Use, 3) Governmental Operations, 4) Social Responsibility, and 5) Ways and Means.  Our senators received some good assignments that could very well help Jacksonville during the upcoming legislative session – one that promises to be tough for finding money for pet projects.

Senator Tony Hill was appointed to the following:

Senator Jim King was appointed to the following:

and Senator Steve Wise was appointed to the following:

 The House committee assignments have not been released on the Legislature’s website as of this posting.

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

Politics Pays

When recently term-limited State Representative Aaron Bean hasn’t been dialing for dollars in his bid to replace Jim King in the Florida Senate, he’s been job hunting. Banking may have run its course for Mr. Bean, but he appears to have come out okay. He’s landed a job as the Relationship Development Officer for Shands. Mr. Bean’s embrace of healthcare as a profession is somewhat surprising. After all, while in the House, Mr. Bean served as chair of the House Health Care Council and presided over some of the deepest healthcare cuts the state has ever seen. Over $1 billion was sliced from programs that provided healthcare to some of Florida’s neediest residents. And yet, he lands a job in healthcare.

Politics certainly does pay.

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

Is Mia Jones a closet Republican?

Among the names of donors that contributed over $196,881 Mia Jones raised in her race against Republican Sarah Lovett (who raised $9,745) are the names of such prominent Republican donors as John Baker III, Atlantic Marine, Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Florida, Florida CPA’s, Publix Supermarkets, Marty Fiorentino, Jim Gilmore, Sam Mousa and Tom Petway.

Filed under: Florida Legislature, Jacksonville, , ,

Blog Stats

  • 180,621 Visitors This Year