Update: It's time to come clean
Feb 11, 2010
It has been reported in the news and, indeed, alleged by some Republicans, that in the wake of the gift ban, the Republican Party of Florida issued widespread credit cards to elected officials to allow them to charge travel, food and expenses to the party. This is troubling on many levels and I believe that the allegation is worthy of investigation and, at the very least, full disclosure to the public. If the distribution of credit cards was intended to avoid the gift ban, then the public has a right to know.More...
The specter of a regressive budget
Apr 21, 2009
It would be awful if the Florida Legislature decided to pass a budget that included huge increases in fees, tuition increases in our colleges and universities, and gambling expansions and tobacco taxes - but refused to include any significant revenue from closing tax loopholes and unwise sales tax exemptions. More... ~ 1 Comments
Short Update on the Legislative Session
Apr 8, 2009
The legislative session has reached its mid-point and the dominating issue continues to be the economy and its impact on Florida's budget. There seems to be general agreement - after an initial phase of chest thumping - that the federal stimulus money will be embraced and not rejected. (In fact, the chant quickly went from "we don't want your money" to we "want more of your money.")More... ~ 9 Comments
Follow Legislative Session Through My New Twitter Page
Feb 23, 2009
I have decided to embrace the new online communication tools and put them to use during the 60-day legislative session. I will be providing live coverage of the upcoming legislative session by micro-blogging about it using the social networking site Twitter. By utilizing one of the most recent tools in new media communication, more Floridians will be able to follow closely the state's legislative session and the major policy issues discussed in Tallahassee. More... ~ 2 Comments
Birth of an uber-bureau
Nov 20, 2008
Today when I opened up my Miami Herald the front page included an important story about Governor Crist's plan to increase college tuition to aid our ailing universities. The story itself was significant, as was the fact that the byline came from two St Petersburg Times reporters. Today, I guess, marks the beginning of the consolidation of the Tallahassee bureaus of these two newspapers. Undoubtedly, the move was an attempt to avoid further reporter layoffs that have already decimated the ranks of journalists in Tallahassee, in Florida and nationally. More... ~ 2 Comments
Don't play it safe: circa 1958
Nov 16, 2008
50 years ago the District I now represent was represented by State Senator Joe Eaton of Miami. Senator Eaton (who went on to a distinguished career as a federal judge until his recent passing) had a single staff member back then to help him navigate the concerns of his constituents and the perilous waters of Tallahassee. His aide was a wiry young man who had grown up in the depression and had managed to get in to law school on the GI bill after a 5 year Air Force stint in WW II. The young man - actually 38 at the time - was my father, Seymour Gelber, who went on to careers as a prosecutor, judge, college professor, mayor (of Miami Beach) and, finally, Senior Judge, where he still sits at the age of 89.More... ~ 2 Comments
No time for champagne or hubris.
Nov 4, 2008
People don't want one side's excesses replaced with the other's. They don't want revolution, they want reform. This isn't a mandate for one party's politics as much as it is a mandate for less party politics. People don't want hubris, they want change.More... ~ 5 Comments
Longer Lines...Shorter hours... Here's who to blame.
Oct 23, 2008
If you are upset about long lines in early voting, thank your Republican legislature who in 2005 purposefully made early voting more difficult. The bill - which passed on a party line vote - limited early voting during weekdays to no more than eight hours per day, and to a total of eight hours for the entire weekend. Their reason for making it harder to vote early: purely political as more Democrats tend to vote early.More... ~ 5 Comments
Tell me your school budget cut story!
Oct 10, 2008
Last week my web site opened up a portal to receive and post stories about how school budget cuts are impacting public education in Florida. The promise by Republican elected officials to "hold education harmless" has become a cruel joke (sort of like "I'm from the government and I'm here to help.").More... ~ 11 Comments
I got a "D"
Aug 27, 2008
Former Governor Bush's education foundation handed out grades today. As reported by AP, Republicans got mostly "A's" and Democrats mostly "D's" and "F's". Utterly silly. The grading system fully marginalizes whatever credible work his foundation is doing as it betrays the group as nothing more than a voucher group.More... ~ 11 Comments
Jefferson was right, "Information is the currency of Democracy."
Aug 7, 2008
Today, I forwarded my concerns to the FCC regarding the proposed purchase by WPLG Channel 10 of their rival WTVJ—NBC 6. While I appreciate that Florida's tanking economy can impact all businesses -including media - the public's interest in a vital and diverse press must be taken into account. As newspapers downsize, and television stations merge, the losers will be our citizens who will be shortchanged the critical information that informs and empowers them. Jefferson was right, "Information is the currency of Democracy."More... ~ 11 Comments
Celebrating mediocrity in Florida's public schools
Jul 9, 2008
By Dan Gelber
The folly of the school grading system is that it is indexed to only minimal competence and, therefore, declares success upon reaching an absurdly low water mark. The real problem is that because school grades have become so important, all the other things that matter are wholly ignored. Florida schools have made the steadfast pursuit of mediocrity their singular goal, sadly at the expense of true achievement.More... ~ 11 Comments
Good Luck Chief Justice Peggy Quince
Jun 27, 2008
It is my hope that the legislature will do better and treat the Chief Justice not as the head of another state agency, but as the leader of an independent and co—equal branch of government. Good luck Chief Justice Quince.More... ~ 11 Comments
Government only work's right when it works in the open
Jun 6, 2008
There is a karmic justice to me that Florida would have the nation's finest public records laws. We need them the most. There are far too many backroom deals, shadowy arrangements and dotted lines in our state. As a federal public corruption prosecutor in South Florida I learned - but only through the power of subpoena and compelled process — just how corrupt some officials can be when able to evade the watchful eye of the press and the public. But the sad truth is, most conduct that betrays the public interest is not illegal. It ranges from the troubling to the downright slimy. Through gaping loopholes in campaign financing laws and other ethical low—water marks, conduct that might otherwise be shocking has become commonplace and pedestrian.
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A Supreme Injustice:Fix Court's Pay and Benefits
May 23, 2008
It use to be the legislature disrespected Florida's High Court by challenging its status as a co—equal branch of government. Many of my colleagues would try to subject them to recall, or strip them of their authority to issue extraordinary writs. Although the attacks on the Court came from the far Republican right, the defense of the Court was always bipartisan. Happily, the legislature's fixation with emasculating the Court's authority has somewhat dissipated - but now Florida's Supreme Court confronts another set of challenges the legislature must address.More... ~ 11 Comments
More Pain than Gain
May 5, 2008
Well, you can let the kids out of the cellar, the 2008 legislative session is over. Though my colleagues did somehow find the time to debate whether truck ornaments should be regulated or evolution was reliable enough for Florida's science classes. Florida's budget crisis dominated the 60 days as we tried to navigate what to do with a nearly $6 billion cut from last year. While the air was rich with metaphors ("we have to tighten our belts"), they ultimately did find the courage you might have expected: they forced bedridden seniors, the developmentally disabled and public schoolchildren to bear the brunt of the cuts.More... ~ 11 Comments
A matter of principle.
Apr 20, 2008
For my caucus, the choice was clear. When you are in the minority the only thing you have is your voice. When the Majority party decides that they do not want your voice to be heard, and when they resort to procedural machinations to stop you from speaking, they are taking away the only tool you have to fight for the people you represent and the principles you cherish. If we had permitted the Republicans on this occasion (and on this issue) to just decide that they did not want us heard, than we would have acquiesced to silencing our voices.More... ~ 6 Comments
Lock the women and children in steerage; don't scuff the wingtips!
Apr 11, 2008
By Dan Gelber
Yesterday the House sent its budget over to the Senate. The debate went as predicted (see "Budget Debate" post from 4/9), the vote was party line, and the cuts reflected what any good captain of a sinking ship might do (lock the women, children and seniors in steerage; put the corporate bigwigs on the lifeboats without scuffing their wing tipped shoes). The Republicans directed billions in cuts mostly from services provided children, sick children, infants, sick infants, school children, abused children, seniors, sick seniors, and dying seniors.More... ~ 1 Comments
Medicaid Reform in Florida
Apr 10, 2008
The Medicaid budget cuts being contemplated by both Chambers will likely hurt our County much more than others given our high concentration of poverty and large Medicaid population. More... ~ 3 Comments
Today's Budget Debate
Apr 9, 2008
By Dan Gelber
For the most part, the debate went as expected, with the Republicans defending their suggested cuts to education, health care, and road construction as advantageous to forcing companies who are getting a free ride to pay their fair share——and as predicted, they used a lot of procedural maneuvers to avoid debate on our budget alternatives to their corporate pork. That being said, I want to share a few bright points.More... ~ 3 Comments
O for 2, but all the wiser
Mar 20, 2008
By Dan Gelber
Tallahassee is a two party town and increasingly so the Republicans - especially my colleagues in the House - are becoming more and more partisan. Ideas are no longer as important as who proposes them, and principles are malleable depending upon who they are being used to bash. I think many of us have a skill set that makes it easy to respond in kind to rank partisanship. Sometimes it even feels good. But it is better, no it is necessary, that right—thinking public officials resist the impulses of their lesser demons. I will do my best, but I am not perfect and sometimes I find myself rolling around with pigs. When you see it happening, please remind me to get up, wash myself off, and do what my better angels might command.
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Opening Day of the Legislature
Mar 4, 2008
By Dan Gelber
Lock the cupboards, hide the kids in the cellar...the Florida Legislature is in session.More... ~ 1 Comments
Let the Sunshine In
Feb 14, 2008
Today I traveled to Sarasota to appear before the Governor's Commission on Open Government. They invited me to testify because I have taken issue with the increasingly secretive way in which the Florida Legislature has conducted itself. Most people don't realize that the Florida Legislature, essentially, exempted itself from most of the exacting constraints of the Sunshine Law. So while you will never hear about secret negotiations or backroom deals among local elected officials (because it is a crime for them), such is the norm in the Florida Legislature. Today I also sent a letter to Speaker Rubio raising some of my concerns and suggesting 5 things the Legislature could do to open up the process. If we don't govern ourselves more thoughtfully, we ought to be treated exactly the same as local officials.
What follows is my letter to the Speaker...More... ~ 1 Comments