Wednesday, May 31, 2006

USF St. Petersburg CEO Bill Heller Jumps in HD 52 Race

After several weeks of rumors, Bill Heller (see photo) has thrown his hat in the ring as a Democratic candidate for House District 52 in St. Petersburg. The seat is being vacated by Rep. Frank Farkas, who is running to succeed Jim Sebesta in the state senate. The seat is considered highly competitive. George Bush won it with 52% of the vote, but Betty Castor won it with 55%.

Bill Heller, who, as CEO, led the University of South Florida St. Petersburg through a massive expansion, is known for his bipartisan politics - having supported and donated to candidates of both parties. Heller was named USF St. Petersburg's dean in 1992, and in 10 years oversaw an enrollment boom and massive expansion into the downtown while championing movements toward campus independence.

He will face 2004 nominee Liz McCallum in the primary. He has already earned the endorsement of popular state representative and candidate for the state senate, Charlie Justice. Rep. Justice is an academic adviser at USF St. Pete.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Jeb Wields a Heavy Pen Against Bay Area Projects

Gov. Jeb Bush carried through on his threat to veto large numbers of projects - including many in the Tampa Bay region. Senate President Tom Lee (R-Brandon) and other prominent, Tampa Republicans were unable to protect these investments.

Funding for Tampa'a Riverwalk downtown revitalization project (see picture) was cut, as was money to hurricane preparedness in Pinellas County, the Moffitt Cancer Center, and the University of South Florida.

Tampa Riverwalk: $3 million
Tampa Riverwalk parking garage: $2.5 million
Moffitt Cancer Center: $5 million
Tampa History Center Museum: $800,000
Children's Heart Center at St. Joseph's: $350,000
Community Health Advocacy Partnership: $500,000
World Trade Center Tampa Bay: $500,000
Internationalizing the Economy of Tampa Bay: $250,000
Business redevelopment of Lowry Park Zoo: $100,000

USF-St. Petersburg campus: $9 million
Community Based Health Education and Outreach Project, Pinellas: $400,000
Hurricane disaster plan: $167,070
Pinellas County Blueway Saltwater Paddling Trail: $150,000

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Conservative Group Targets Funding for Dali Museum, Tampa Riverwalk, USF St. Petersburg

Florida Tax Watch is urging Gov. Jeb Bush to veto funding for a number of Tampa Bay projects, calling them "turkeys." Among the projects are money to assist in relocating the Salvador Dali Museum to a larger location that is less vulnerable to hurricanes and funding to help build a science and technology building at the University of South Florida's St. Petersburg campus.

Many legislators and local officials derided the group's methodology.

"TaxWatch in my opinion looks at each project without realizing the importance ... in local areas and statewide," said Sen. Mike Fasano (R-New Port Richey).

Defending the Dali Museum, St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker said, "It's a good project for the state as well as the city. It's probably the strongest museum in the Southeast, and it brings in a quarter-million people a year. A lot of those are international tourists. It puts us on the map culturally as a state."

Rep. Trey Traviesa (R-Tampa) was one of the architects of the effort to get funding from Tallahassee for the Riverwalk project - the Tamp Mayor Pam Iorio's effort to revitalize downtown.

"As we position Tampa Bay to be more of a national and global city, those types of investments are important," Traviesa said.

Some of the targeted projects include:

Pinellas County
* $9-million for USF St. Petersburg campus expansion
* Dali Museum relocation
* $2-million for Oldsmar municipal water supply
Hillsborough County
* $1-million for Riverwalk project
* $900,000 for Tampa firefighters museum

Click here for the complete list, sorted by county.

Quinnipiac Poll Continues to Give Davis the Edge in the Governor's Race Over His Democrat and Republican Rivals

The latest Qunnipiac Poll continues to show Tampa Congressman Jim Davis leading both his Democratic rival, Sen. Rod Smith, and Republican candidates, CFO Tom Gallagher and Attorney General Charlie Crist.

Davis holds a substantial, 21 point lead over Smith, but with 41% still undecided.

His lead over Gallagher and and Crist are narrower, three point leads, with 20% and 19% undecided, respectively. The three point lead is within the margin of error.

Both GOP candidates still have significant advantages in fundraising and a wide, though narrowing, advantage in name recognition.

Some of the credit for Davis' lead ought to go to President Bush's dismal, 36% approval ratings among Florida voters, said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.

A Strategic Vision Poll completed in around the same gave both GOP candidates narrow leads over Davis - a eight point lead for Crist (just outside the margin of error) and a one point lead for Gallagher (within the margin of error). An earlier Strategic Vision poll, completed in late April, had similar results.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Gov. Bush Endorses Bay Area Legislator for CFO in Republican Primary; Winner Will Vie for the Position with Democrat Alex Sink
On Wednesday, May 17, Gov. Jeb Bush endorsed Senate President Tom Lee (R-Brandon, see photo) for Chief Financial Officer. Sen. Lee faces Rep. Randy Johnson in the primary. The winner of the September 5, 2006 GOP primary will face Tampa businesswoman and investment banker, Alex Sink, in the November 8 general election.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Los Angeles Times Analyzes Jeb Bush's Presidential Prospects

With the 2008 race for president now wide open, Bush has what every potential Republican candidate covets: national name recognition, access to his family's powerful fundraising machinery and...

click here to read the entire article.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Dangerous New Security Hole Found in Diebold Voting Machines

Election officials in several states have found a new security flaw in the Diebold's touch screen voting machines. This hole is considered more worrisome than other common problems found in voting machines, including weak encryption methods, physical locks that can be easily picked, and weak password protection.

The newly discovered flaw would allow a person with only basic knowledge of the machines and components available at any computer store to redistribute votes. The new security glitch is considered more fundamental to the machinery's operation than previously discovered holes.

"This is the barn door being wide open, while people were arguing over the lock on the front door," said Douglas W. Jones, a professor of computer science at the University of Iowa, a state where the primary is June 6.

Diebold is one of the three machines certified for use in Florida by the Florida Secretary of State.