Observations and musings on Jacksonville Politics

Kill Destructive Water Bill

The Orlando Sentinel weighs in on the legislation (SB 2080) that would cut out the water management district’s Governing Board members in permitting decisions and turn those decisions over to the district’s executive directors. If the legislation becomes law, the only way Board members would hear permitting decisions were if the district staff recommended denial of the permit. As it turns out Kirby Green, Executive Director of the St. Johns River Water Management District, supports the legislation. Surprise! I guess he doesn’t need 19,000 pesky Floridians trying to weigh in with his Governing Board members anymore on the St. Johns River water withdrawal permit for Seminole County, among other things.  The Orlando Sentinel editorial requests Crist to veto the bill.

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“Friendly Lawns” Bill Not So Friendly to Citizens

After a glowing article about how great Senate Bill 2080 would be for Florida’s water resources and Florida friendly lawns, the St. Pete Times has done a 180 on the bill.  It seems that Senator J.D. Alexander added an amendment to the bill at the last minute that would require the water management districts’ boards to delegate permitting responsibilities for wetlands and water resources to the executive director and staff.  The only time the board would be involved in a permit would be if the director and staff recommended denial of the permit.  So much for public input into the process as the St. Pete Times article points out. 

It concerns Jaxpolitics that  Jacksonville’s citizenry may not have the ability to provide public input to the board on permits like the one recently issued to withdraw water from the St. Johns River, if the Governor were to allow this bill to become law.   Read the St. Pete Times article here.

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Ben Hill Griffin’s Grandkids at it again

Poor Ben Hill Griffin Jr.  He may have been one of the most powerful Floridians in modern time before he passed on, but his grandkids seem incapable of getting along.

Rumors of run-ins between his granddaughter, former US Representative Katherine Harris and his grandson, State Sen. J. D. Alexander, are legendary.  According to one account, Rep. Harris chased Sen. Alexander down the driveway of her home while wielding her high heels as a potential weapon.

Katherine Harris may have departed Florida’s political scene, but Ben Hill Griffin’s grandsons are still very much in the mix.  And, they can’t seem to manage to get along.  Today, Rep. Baxter Troutman (R-Winter Haven) was banned from the floor of the Senate after a dispute with Sen. Haridopolos.  The dispute with Haridopolos was only the icing on the cake; however.  The ban may very well be more of a result of frequent disputes between Troutman and his cousin, Sen. Alexander.  Of course, it doesn’t help that Troutman sued Alexander last year over the management of their grandfather’s company.

Interestingly enough, another major Senate battle being waged this session involves another relative, State Senator Paula Dockery (R-Lakeland), who has led the opposition to the $1.2 billion purchase of the CSX rail track for conversion to a commuter rail.  One of the Senators leading the charge against Dockery—Sen.  J. D. Alexander, who stood to financially benefit from the purchase because of land he owned along the proposed route.

Can’t Ben Hill’s grandkids just learn to get along—at least when they are in Tallahassee?

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

Could State Workers See A 5% Pay Cut?

This is one of the latest proposals being tossed about as lawmakers scramble to close a $6 billion deficit.

Florida taxpayers could save upward of $304 million if the Legislature cut every state worker’s salary by about 5 percent, according to an analysis produced by the state Senate.

Senate budget chief J.D. Alexander confirmed Monday that staffers have analyzed a variety of pay-cut scenarios in order to help legislators figure ways to fill a budget deficit that could reach $3 billion next fiscal year.

“It’s a challenging, difficult time,” Alexander said. “There are not easy times and for those of us who prefer to do things that are popular it’s really hard.”

You’ve got to consider that many of these employees are not six-figured individuals.  They are middle class individuals making an average wage.  A 5% pay cut could be potentially devastating to many of these individuals, particularly if they are sole wage earners or have a spouse also in state government, or even worse, have a spouse who has lost their job.

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

Will Florida’s Expenses Go Online?

Senate Budget Chief J. D. Alexander is leading the charge to take Florida’s budget online.  From the St. Pete Times:

“We could effectively turn 18 million Floridians into auditors to make sure we’re spending every dollar as frugally as possible,” said Senate budget chief J.D. Alexander.

“This is bringing Florida’s budget truly in the sunshine,” said Senate Republican leader Alex Diaz de la Portilla of Miami. He said the first stage of the Web site should be functional by July, but it could take up to two years to post all spending information — including the actual checks cut for individual contracts and cell phone bills.

Diaz de la Portilla said taxpayers would be able to see if individual agencies are hoarding money or spending it unwisely or at the last minute in order to keep their budgets fat.

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

Florida Deficit Hits $6 Billion

I wonder what trust funds they will raid this year.

Sen. J.D. Alexander just opened the Senate Ways and Means Committee and announced that the state shortfall is likely to be in the $5 to $6 billion range next year, including $1.9 billion in recurring revenue. “No single solution will solve that,” he said. “There is little doubt that further budget reductions will be necessary.”

Alexander told the Herald/Times that the initial analysis and discussion with Washington is that the stimulus package “would not allow us to use it for the core missions of the state. I don’t know that we’ll be able to fill the holes with the stimulus money even if you ignore the one-time nonrecurring holes.”

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

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