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Archive for the ‘Florida High-Speed Rail’ Category

Derailed

I always thought that Rick Scott would manage to destroy Florida by the end of his term, but I was wrong. At the rate he’s going he’ll destroy it LONG before then.

In just under two months Scott has taken command of a state with Titanic potential, and actively sought out an iceberg to steer it into. Much like the Titanic, yesterday he hit the big one. Unlike Scott, at least the ship builders Harland and Wolff had a vision to try to build a bold new mode of transportation. But Rick Scott? His only vision at this point appears to be seeking revenge against the nation’s first black President (or as Scott refers to them, one of “those people.”) who dared to tackle another industry in dire need of reform: health care. We all know about Rick Scott’s experience with that, where he left behind the company he owned and ran to make the history books in the subject of Medicare fraud. Perhaps his eyes are on a bigger prize now as a one man death panel who steers patients to private clinics, like his current company, Solantic. But that’s an issue for another day.

Rick Scott managed to get elected somehow, in spite of his past business background. Perhaps people in Florida were so desperate or naive that they actually bought what he was selling. I would imagine that even his die-hard supporters have a touch of voters remorse. The GOP certainly has buyers remorse after groveling at Scott’s feet when he defeated their preferred candidate, Bill McCollum. He not only flipped off voters, maybe a couple corporate donors, and his own party, he even seems confused about his own policies with yesterday’s rejection of high-speed rail. That decision has left many scratching their heads, and may have just convinced even the former doubters that he has become the Master Of Disaster for Florida. The only groups he seems to have catered to is that small minority of ignorant Tea Partiers who probably have trouble balancing their own bank accounts and think that fairies, not taxes, fill the potholes that are big enough for them to drive their pickup trucks through. (They’ll figure it out soon enough when the next hurricane comes along and they’re forced to rely on the former disaster management crew from Wal-Mart. But again, another issue for another day.)

The other group that’s happy about Scott’s decision? Why that would be a libertarian “think tank,” the Reason Foundation, which wrote the so-called report Scott relied on to base his decision on rather than an upcoming study from the Florida Department of Transportation he claimed to be waiting for. Counted among the he Reason Foundation’s Board of Trustees is none other than David H. Koch, of Koch Industries, and yes, one more rather large can of worms.

For someone who claims to be an outsider, well, sort of. He’s an outsider to reality. He wants to run Florida like a business? Sure, a bad one, but then look at his track record. His campaign promises? Well, you’re a sucker if you believed them.

The high-speed rail project was a good business decision that was a sorely needed “gift” to Florida, where traffic and gridlock have been a growing problem for decades. I can vouch for at least the last 30 years, but ask those who have dealt with it even longer. Of course for someone who travels by private jet as Scott does, that’s hardly a problem for him. As for the rest of us, well we can just keep on sucking exhaust fumes while we sit in traffic and spend hours moving through parking lots like I4 where it takes a large chunk out of your day to travel to a place that should only take an hour or two. Mind you, this is Florida, not the New York area or even California. We’re talking say  Tampa to Orlando.

The “gift” Florida got from the high-speed rail project brought us $2.4 billion in federal funds. The project would have created more than 23,000 jobs, some of which have already begun, where we have a 20 percent unemployment rate. Private businesses were lining up for bids on the project, bids that will never materialize if Scott gets his way. However, since the gift came from President Obama, well, Florida will just have to go without all that, even though Scott promised to create 700,000 jobs (never mind the 8700 jobs that he cut last week) and he claimed Florida would become a major attraction to the private sector and therefore prosperity for every resident. Not only has Scott doomed high-speed rail, we’re probably doomed form any other companies and jobs that may have come to Florida. People who actually know how to run a business, unlike Gov. Dictator, would probably view Florida as a really bad risk for investment as long as the Governor is a fickle operator who could pull the plug at any given moment as he did with the rail project. Of course, that’s over and above the problem of trusting a man whose first company became a textbook case on Medicare fraud.

Two days ago Scott went on (what else?) FOX-GOP-TV to proclaim “I know what needs to happen in Florida,” and “I know what our citizens need.” He was talking about one of his other “projects,” Medicaid and the repeal of the Affordable Care Act. He also blasted the “evil demon” stimulus bill, which he claims will cause dependency. (Today Scoot meets with BP claims czar Ken Feinberg over the problems of oil spill claims. Perhaps he’ll tell Feinberg  to withhold claims altogether so those whose businesses were hurt by the oil gusher don’t become too dependent on any relief?)

Does Scott “know what Florida needs? No. In fact he has proven he has absolutely no clue. While he turned down that $2.4 billion for high-speed rail, he said that he “believes Florida is better served by investments in ports, highways and other infrastructure to create long-term jobs.” What the clueless Governor fails to grasp is the not so little detail of how that $2.4 billion can be spent. One might ask Scott what part of the words “high-speed rail funds” he doesn’t understand, because the concept seems to have him stumped.

If the money isn’t used for high-speed rail as intended, Florida loses that money. In fact if Scott had bothered to study up on it, he would know that we got some of those funds because another clueless Governor turned them down as well. No, Scott may think he can use those funds any way he wants, perhaps even on himself or maybe use it for his wife’s Governor’s mansion redecorating fund for all we know. That money will now go elsewhere if Scott doesn’t change his mind. There’s a reason why, barely minutes after the news of Scott’s stupidity broke, states like California and New York were already scrambling for the funds as if billions of dollars had just descended from the heavens at their feet. High-speed rail is popular and a good thing. What happened to the Governor who recently said “he would be spending a great deal of time in Washington making sure Florida gets its fair share?” So far he’s taken our fair share and thrown it back in President Obama’s face.

As I write, Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) and yes, even Republican U.S. Rep. John Mica, who Scott managed to flip off as well yesterday are scrambling to do damage control with an end run around the decision.

There’s even talk of recall. Yesterday Representative Rick Kriseman (D-St. Petersburg) filed legislation to permit the recall of state officials. You can read and track those bills: HJR785 here, and HB787 here. The bills may offer a glimmer of hope, considering the disastrous first couple of months of Scott’s “Dictator-like” rule where he operates away from the press but in front of Tea Baggers, the only choir he preaches to.

Scott is Mr. Fiscal when it comes to the serious needs of the homeless, the elderly, the mentally ill. State workers, the unemployed, teachers, students, veterans, and countless others I’ve not listed here will get no relief from Scott. When it comes to these things, he wants to cut, cut, cut. When it comes to lavish Inaugural festivities made possible with hefty donations from private businesses of course, well that’s another story. I’m sure there’s more than a donor or two who now wish they had that money back. But they’ll just have to get in line with the rest of us.

In just a few short weeks Scott has managed to turn the words “all aboard” into derailed plans for prosperity in the future, and he’s just getting warmed up. He’s moving on to several new icebergs, and if things don’t change pretty soon, we’ll all be going down with the ship.

Because uprooting and moving out-of-state is an unacceptable and pretty drastic alternative as a life-raft, for those who can still afford one.

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Yesterday’s New York Times published an editorial on last Tuesday’s election results. While most of the “Monday morning quarterback” analysis of the election has been to focus on the Republicans gaining a majority in the House, the editorial focused more on state elections, and for good reasons.

State elections got less attention in the media before the election and they may well slip under the radar now. But they shouldn’t.

For starters, statewide elections were extremely important for one simple reason: redistricting. This cycle showed a big push to elect Republican governors that would allow Republicans to redraw districts which will be more favorable to.. (Surprise!) Republicans, and the push was successful. They gained 10 Republican governors seats, and they are now in control of 20 states compared to the previous number of nine.

From the Times editorial:

The changes in state government will have another long-term effect as states begin the redistricting process to comply with the population changes documented in the 2010 census. This means that Republicans will be in a position to consolidate this year’s gains by redrawing Congressional and state legislative district lines to their advantage.

Sound familiar? It should. Last week Florida voters overwhelmingly passed Amendments 5 and 6, which will prevent districts from being redrawn unfairly to the advantage of Republicans. More importantly, when the state legislature tried to undercut them with Amendment 7 last July, it was thrown off the ballot because it was misleading to voters, which of course, was the entire point of Amendment 7 in the first place.

When Amendments 5 and 6 passed last week, the will of the people won out. Unfortunately, the day after the election, a suit was already being filed to undo Amendment 6, which would declare it invalid and prevent it from being enforced. Amendment 6 sets the rules for drawing Florida’s congressional districts.

Today Florida Senate President Mike Haridopolous (R-Merritt Island)) announced that Sen. Don Gaetz (R-Destin) will oversee the redrawing of Florida’s district lines based on the 2010 census.

If the name Gaetz sounds familiar to those who followed the debate over Amendments 5 and 6, the so-called “Fair Districts” amendments limiting the legislature’s ability to gerrymander districts that passed a statewide vote on Nov. 2, that’s because Gaetz’s son, state Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Shalimar, was a vocal opponent of 5 and 6.

In the week before the vote on Amendments 5 and 6, Matt penned an op-ed in theNorthwest Florida Daily News, urging readers to vote no on 5 and 6 because they would blunt “the conservative comeback” in Florida. The remarks were unusual, because anti-Fair Districts activists generally preferred to voice their opposition in less explicitly partisan terms. (Even if the Republican Party of Florida did largely fund the organized opposition to 5 and 6.) Matt’s argument was picked up by at least one tea party group, which included his op-ed in an email newsletter.

Voters in Florida may want fair districts, but the Republican controlled legislature is determined to change that as the above examples show.

Then there’s the fact that for some reason, a majority of voters in Florida elected Republican Rick Scott, who was not charged with Medicare fraud, to be their Governor. (But his company Columbia/HCA was fined more that $1.7 billion for Medicare fraud. His current company which runs private clinics,  Solantic, is also facing accusations. As Governor, Scott may now appoint the agency head who will be investigating Solantic as well.)

Among the things that Scott ran under during the campaign was his goal of privatizing Medicaid, which would direct recipients to private clinics, like the ones Scott owns. Scott also led the push to defeat President Obama’s health care reform legislation by forming his non-profit organization Conservatives For Patients Rights. Add to that, Florida is also leading the lawsuit against the new health care reform laws filed by Bill McCollum and joined by other states as well. A majority of Florida voters also elected Republican and FOX-GOP spokesmodel Pam Bondi (also brought to you via Sarah Palin’s endorsement) as Attorney General, who vows to continue the fight to strip health care reform away from Floridians who might benefit from it.

Rick Scott also plans to slash spending by cutting government jobs and education, stripping away regulations, eliminating income tax for businesses, reducing property taxes, and many other cuts in order to “run Florida like a business.” (Recall again, Scott oversaw the company with one of the largest fines ever charged in a Medicare fraud case, which he was forced to leave, and so was never himself charged with Medicare fraud.)

Now it remains to be seen which of these goals Scott will actually be able to reach. They are lofty goals indeed and some might even say unrealistic given the realities Florida is facing. Making all of those cuts while promising to add 700,000 jobs at the same time may involve some tricky maneuvers. Scott may well be adept at tricky maneuvers, but it will take some doing in that he faces a veto proof legislature who may have different goals of their own. Campaign promises and wishful thinking don’t count.

Going back to the Times editorial:

There is no way that these newly elected Republican lawmakers and governors can follow through on their promises to erase huge deficits without raising taxes — except by making irresponsibly draconian cuts in critical state services, particularly for the poor and for education.

The states, like the federal government, need to get control of spending. That may mean dealing with out-of-control pensions. It may mean careful cuts in services combined with, yes, higher taxes. But with millions of people out of work, this is the worst possible time for the states to try to solve all their problems by simply slashing health care spending, spending on higher and elementary education, and services for the elderly and the poor. It would lead to tens of thousands of layoffs and even lower state revenues.

Many other states have little left to cut in government services. Nonetheless, as Monica Davey and Michael Luo reported in The Times this week, many newly elected Republican governors say they will balance their budgets that way. In Texas, Gov. Rick Perry and several state lawmakers have even floated the idea of dropping out of the Medicaid program and creating a low-cost insurance program for the poor.

That is an irresponsible, and counterproductive, way to try to close the state’s $25 billion deficit. It would mean giving up the federal government’s 60 percent share of the Texas program’s $40 billion annual cost. And for nearly four million participants, it would reduce the level of health care far below a minimum standard.

No matter what the politicians have promised, there is no sound way to balance budgets, protect the most vulnerable people, and the states’ own economies, without some tax increases.

There’s also the matter of the stimulus money, which Florida is getting a big chunk of for high-speed rail projects. Scott has waffled on his support or the lack thereof for high-speed-rail. While other Republican Governors have talked big against the stimulus while accepting those very funds and taking credit for receiving them at the same time, yesterday Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood stated that any states which refuse to proceed with high-speed rail projects will lose those stimulus funds. If that condition holds true for Florida Scott will have to walk a fine line. If he stands in the way and blocks plans for high-speed rail in Florida, he’ll also be blocking an estimated 23,000 jobs, not to mention stimulating business development that will boost Florida’s economy which is sorely needed.

NY Times:

The Republicans’ big wins in Washington will make the states’ plight even worse. As part of their campaigns, Republican members of Congress have vowed to cut discretionary spending, much of which goes to state capitols. Meanwhile, federal stimulus money — decried by the Republicans — is drying up.

Rick Scott made a lot of big campaign promises to voters, and apparently they believed him, given his history with business and Medicare fraud. He portrayed himself to be an outsider, when in fact he lined up rather quickly with Republican cronies in a now veto proof legislature. He has to keep them and voters happy all at the same time, or risk the wrath of both. That in itself should be interesting to watch.

NY Times:

These highly partisan exercises in self-aggrandizement go on every 10 years, but the unusually large number of states with both Republican legislatures and governorships will sharply reduce the ability of Democrats to bring a little balance to the process.

States have long been in the paradoxical position of being closer to the lives of voters than the federal government, while receiving far less scrutiny and attention. But if Republicans begin abusing the privilege they have been handed, imposing unconscionable cuts and claiming an unfair partisan advantage, they may find the public’s outrage turning back on them in a hurry.

In Florida it’s in fact quite safe to say that Republicans will “begin abusing the privilege they have been handed.” They already have. They began abusing that privilege in less than 24 hours after the election last Tuesday by filing suit against Amendment 6, which will go against the will of the voters and stack the deck against them and in favor of Republican lawmakers.

All this before Governor elect Rick Scott, who was never charged with Medicare fraud, is even sworn in.

So I have to ask those voters who chose Rick Scott a question: I know it’s early, but has “voters remorse” started to kick in yet?

 

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Yesterday they were in line as early as 5 am hoping to get one of 1,000 tickets to be handed out. The tickets were gone within a half an hour. This morning, the first person to arrive was there at 1:30 am just to get a place in line. The lines grew three to four people wide, and after a long wait, the lucky ones got in, while others many others were turned away.

They were gathered at the University of Tampa Martinez Sports Center waiting to see President Barack Obama who would make the announcement that Florida would be receiving a portion of the $8 billion in federal stimulus funds for the Florida High-Speed Rail project. Obama spoke briefly about the funding during his State Of The Union address last night.

Florida will receive $1.25 billion for the first phase of the project which will come from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The state will receive only half of the amount originally requested. The line will run between Tampa and Orlando along the I-4 corridor and the project is expected to create 23,000 jobs and stimulate business development that will help boost Florida’s struggling economy.

Florida High-Speed Rail Proposed Routes

The President and Vice President flew to MacDill Air Force Base before heading to the town hall in Tampa. They were greeted by Republican Gov. Charlie Crist who decided at the last minute to meet Obama there. (He did not attend the town hall for the announcement, nor did his GOP opponent Marco Rubio. They both oppose the funding for the project.)

Also greeting them with Crist were state Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, and Col. Larry Martin, MacDill Wing Commander.

Traveling with Obama and Biden on Air Force One were U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, and U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek.

Upon arriving at The University Of Tampa, they were joined by the University President Dr. Ronald L. Vaughn. Vice President Biden spoke briefly about the rail project before introducing President Obama.

Before addressing the crowd of about 3,000, Obama made introductions for all those who traveled with him.

He also introduced former Coach of both the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Indianapolis Colts, Tony Dungy who got a standing ovation. He wasn’t the only one. Obama also introduced the crowd to Tampa Fire Rescue Lt.’s Roger Picard and Brian Smithey, members of the department’s canine search and rescue team. Both recently returned from Haiti, where they took part in the search and rescue and saved seven lives.

“Job Creation The Number One Priority”

President Obama spoke and answered questions for about an hour and 20 minutes. The crowd was enthusiastic and at times the cheering was so loud it was hard to hear him speak. Much of the speech echoed what he said the night before during his State of the Union address.

“We ran to get the tough stuff done,” he said. “I make no apology for trying to fix stuff that’s hard.

“Change,” he said, “never comes without a fight.”

“You’re doing a good job,” someone yelled from the crowd.

He said job creation has to be the No. 1 priority in 2010.

“The markets have stabilized,” he said. “The economy is growing again. The worst of the storm is past. But I think all of you understand the devastation remains.”

“I’m excited,” he said. “I’m going to come back down here and ride it. … Y’all have a date!”

“I Won’t Stop Fighting”

Obama talked about how good high-speed rail is for the economy, and lifestyles because “people won’t be stuck in traffic for two hours” which drew loud cheers and applause. The Tampa area, as well as the I-4 Corridor has a long history of traffic and construction problems and has long been a headache for commuters. The area near downtown Tampa, where I-275 and I-4 merge, for decades has been referred to by the local commuters as “Malfunction Junction.”

Repeating to a cheering crowd what he said during his presidential campaign:

“Change never comes without a fight. That was true then, it’s true now. …. I won’t stop fighting.”

Wrapping up his speech, Obama said everyone should be ready to roll up their sleeves and play their part in rebuilding America.

As he was ending his speech, a man in the crowd spontaneously shouted: “Yes we can!” Obama stopped, smiled at him, and said “Yes we can!”

Yes we can, indeed.

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Reactions to President Obama’s award of $1.25 billion in stimulus money from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act for the Florida high-speed rail project:

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL):

“It’s a pretty good start.”

“This will be one of the largest boosts to the state’s economy since Disney, since the interstate highway system,”

U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor (D-Tampa), who is scheduled to fly with Obama from Andrews Air Force Base, Md., to MacDill Air Force Base on Air Force One this morning:

“It’s going to be the foundation of a more modern Florida”

U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek (D-Miami), who will also accompany President Obama to Tampa on Air Force One so far hasn’t issued a statement.

Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL):

“This is perfect to develop further development tourism, which is the number one industry in Central Florida.”

Republican Marco Rubio, who blasted the use of stimulus money for rail, even though he said he supports the concept, is trying to have it both ways:

“I think we should all be concerned about increased spending on anything at a time when the federal government is borrowing money to function.”

“I think rail is good for Florida. I think the federal government  spending money you don’t have is bad for America,” Rubio told reporters before the event at Film Lounge. “There’s two separate issues there.  There are a lot of good ideas in the world. But you shouldn’t spend money that you don’t have. That’s our concern, the concern quite frankly is how much of this money is borrowed money, is it money that we’re printing or money we’re borrowing from the Chinese?”

Gov. Charlie Crist, who first said he would not be meeting with President Obama at the own hall because he would be “elsewhere,” then said he would meet him if the logistics worked out (Crist would also be in Tampa at The University of South Florida, a few miles away), waited until the last minute before announcing he would meet the President when he arrived on Air Force One. He gave this reason for the meeting:

“To express to him my disappointment that there hasn’t been more bipartisanship on his behalf, which is what he talked about a lot last year.”

Crist’s statement on the high-speed rail funds:

“It means tens of thousands of jobs at a time when we need it most,” Crist said. “It’s a great win for Florida. It’s why we held a special session (on SunRail) — to create jobs for Florida.”

Alex Sink, Florida CFO and Democratic candidate for Governor, who will appear with the President (from Sink’s press advisory):

Sink “has been a tireless advocate for the comprehensive development of high-speed and commuter rail in Florida,” including meeting last year with Federal Railroad Administrator Joseph C. Szabo to seek federal funding, and sponsoring the Florida Cabinet resolution urging the administration to fund Florida’s rail applications.

Florida Attorney General, and Republican candidate for Governor Bill McCollum will not be appearing or meeting with the President:

McCollum will not be on the scene tomorrow, despite his strong support for high-speed rail and backing last year for SunRail, he said today.
Why? Schedule conflict, he said—he didn’t know Obama was coming.

“I’m frankly going to be here for Enterprise Florida, so I’m not planning to be there in Tampa; I didn’t know the President was going to be there. And since I’m going on the board tomorrow—I’ve been invited to be a board member … I plan to be here. I think growing jobs is important, and I’ve planned on that for some weeks now.”

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Today President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden will be coming to Tampa for a town-hall meeting where the President will announce, as he stated last night in his State of the Union address, that he will be awarding federal stimulus money for Florida’s high-speed rail project. Yesterday the White House officially announced that it would be making “a major economic announcement,” presumably for the project, which officials had anticipated for some time. The state had asked for $2.5 billion in stimulus funds for the project.

Last night shortly before the State Of The Union address, I learned that the state will only be receiving about half the requested amount for the project, $1.25 billion, which is still expected to  create 23,ooo construction jobs and will help stimulate business development. The proposed route will connect Tampa with Orlando along the I-4 Corridor, from downtown Tampa, through the Walt Disney World resort area, and ending at the Orlando International Airport, a trip estimated to take about 55 minutes. By car the same trip takes about 98 minutes.

The town-hall meeting will be held at The University of Tampa’s Plant Hall, a symbolic site named for Henry B. Plant, the entrepreneur who built an empire of railroads, steamships and hotels.

The meeting will start between 12:30 and 12:45 this afternoon and could run until 3:00 p.m. 1,000 tickets were handed out yesterday on a first come first serve basis and were gone in just 30 minutes. The meeting will be broadcast live on all three local NBC, ABC and CBS networks.

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When President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden visit The University of Tampa for a town hall meeting tomorrow, the White House says the President will make a “major economic announcement” of $8 billion in Recovery Act grants which will go to 13 potential rail corridors to build high-speed rail across the country.

According to the Tampa Tribune, this makes it “virtually certain” that Florida will be one of several recipients for the high-speed rail project here to build the proposed route between Tampa and Orlando. Florida has tried to get $2.5 billion in federal stimulus funds to build the rail line.

This is fantastic news for Florida. If Florida gets the grant, it will create about 15,000 construction jobs and more permanent jobs when rail service begins by 2014.

Like I said, great news for Florida, but there’s at least one person who is saying, well, meh. That would be  Gov. Elsewhere, as that’s probably where Charlie Crist will be tomorrow as Obama is making the announcement. He’s trying to live down his famous “man hug” moment with Obama from last year when he was sucking up to get the stimulus money. Of course, that was before he decided to run for the U.S. Senate, and before he found himself on the wrong side of the GOP who has made a habit of “just saying no” to anything that might stimulate the economy during an Obama Administration. Charlie has tried to run from that hug ever since. He also desperately wants the Tea Baggers to love him, but they don’t. They prefer the “real” Tea Bagger candidate Marco Rubio. Yesterday new polls showed Charlie training Marco by three points, and those three points will probably translate into a no-show for Charlie.

When he was asked if he would be at the town hall for the big announcement, he said he “didn’t know” and indicated he was going to be at a Board of Governors meeting “elsewhere” in Tampa. A reporter also asked him if he was worried if his party would “savage him” for showing up. Apparently the irony escaped him when he responded, saying

“That’s not my concern. My concern is fighting for jobs for the people of Florida. And that’s my first and foremost duty, and I realize that.”

Seriously? Elsewhere Charlie  is so concerned with “fighting for jobs for the people of Florida” that he feels the best way to do that is by not showing up when the President comes to town to award his state with a grant that has the potential to create more than 15,000 jobs.

Yes, Charlie will be elsewhere alright. Pretty soon he’ll be looking for a job there.

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President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden are coming to Tampa this Thursday, the day after President Obama’s State of the Union address, and while the White House is not divulging the reason for the visit, there is a lot of speculation and hope that the reason for the visit will be to announce funding for Florida’s high-speed rail project from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The funding could bring $2.5 billion towards the project’s rail line between Orlando and Tampa, which would also create 23,000 construction jobs to boost Florida’s struggling economy, and elected officials are optimistic:

“It is likely our efforts to create thousands of new jobs for Floridians have paid off,” said U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Tampa. “Our state is hurting and in great need of a significant boost from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.”

Several states are in competition with Florida for portions of the $8 billion that the President has committed towards rail projects.

With such fierce competition for billions to help Florida’s economy and create all those jobs, you would think that Gov. Charlie Crist would be scrambling to do everything possible to meet with Obama in the hopes that he makes such a commitment to Florida, wouldn’t you?

Well, you would be wrong. For the second consecutive Presidential visit to the Sunshine State, Charlie Crist will be a no show:

The Republican governor does not plan to attend Thursday’s event, which is even more high-profile because Vice President Joe Biden also is attending. Crist’s office said he will be “elsewhere” in the state unrolling the proposed state budget.

Florida’s frequently “elsewhere” governor is probably more likely avoiding President Obama for his own political interests. He’s running for a U.S. Senate seat and how would that look to his GOP and Tea Bagger supporters if he were to “dare” to seem interested in pursuing stimulus money for Florida?

No, he wants supporters to forget that he was for President Obama’s stimulus before he was against President Obama’s stimulus. He would also just love it if his supporters were to forget about his famous “man hug” photo-op with President Obama back in February when he thought it was good for his reputation at the time.

So with potentially billions of dollars coming to Florida, while Florida’s economy continues to tank, and it’s 11.8 percent unemployment rate is one of the highest in the country, Florida’s habitually “Elsewhere Governor” will be absent, like the jobs that have disappeared under the watches of both Crist, and former Gov. Jeb “Recession Magnet” Bush.

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