Rick Scott lawyers up...again.
Mar 4, 2014
As a former federal prosecutor, I can appreciate Rick Scott's strategy. Most good defense lawyers advise their clients to say nothing when words can only get them in trouble. But Rick Scott is not a putative criminal defendant trying to avoid indictment; he is a governor leading a state. He needs to act like one.More...
Before stand your ground you were allowed to stand your ground!
Feb 27, 2014
Nowhere in Florida would a person have been prosecuted for using deadly force if retreating was dangerous. If you found yourself in such a spot, you were allowed to stand your ground and shoot, stab, strike, bite, punch, and kick — whatever it took to protect yourself or another, with absolutely no obligation to retreat.More...
The Gelber-Gladstone Children's Courthouse is Named
Feb 9, 2014
It's fitting that Miami-Dade's children's courthouse bears his name. He administered justice based on the simple principles he learned in his life's journey: everybody is born equal; every child deserves a chance, and some a second chance; the best way to teach is by example; and try to do right every day and history will treat you kindly.More...
That's just mean!
Jan 30, 2014
As a society we are judged by how we treat our least vulnerable. Our poor, our aged, and our children. It's a sorry day when in a growing economy we can find enough money to give a tax break for major corporations, but not a few bucks to ensure our most vulnerable have access to something as basic as food. This is quite a commentary on what's really important to Rick Scott.
Scott Education Budget Claim Lack Truthiness
Jan 29, 2014
Floridians know better. They remember that the Rick Scott claiming to care about public schools is the same Rick Scott who sought the largest decrease in public school funding in Florida history. This is the same Rick Scott who signed a measure that gutted and demoralized the teaching profession. More...
UPDATE: Travis Makes the Grade(s)…Happy Holidays
Dec 30, 2013
So a few months ago, we moved Travis, his wife Wilsa and their 4 year-old child Travis Jr., to Boston to bear the cold and ice, and to follow their dream in this amazing adventure. Many friends pitched in to help the Thomas' through generous donations of winter clothing, appliances and money and, of course, heartfelt words of encouragement. More...
Dec 11, 2013
Sometimes it's difficult to separate someone's death from their life. For me, I choose to remember his life. Richard was kind, and funny, and easy - so Sharpie please rest in peace.More...
My Dad, Mandela and a lesson in leadership
Dec 7, 2013
Upon his election as Mayor, my Dad quickly decided to issue a Proclamation for Mandela. Given that the two major constituencies in his City were Cubans and Jews, he expected some blowback. Immediately, disapproving letters showed up in the newspaper followed by obscene shouts from passer-byers in public. The name-calling quickly progressed to threats.
I'm for Charlie
Nov 4, 2013
As a state legislator and House Democratic Leader I saw Charlie Crist up close for nearly a decade. Frankly, I wanted to find things to criticize. He was a Republican after all. But early on and throughout his term as Florida's Attorney General and Governor, it became clear that he was a real moderate and a true bipartisan.
This Day in Crist-ory
Oct 28, 2013
He told me he had seen the lines, heard of elderly Floridians fainting from the heat, and was horrified at the notion that any Floridian had to take a day off of work to vote. He wondered out loud how many Floridians just gave up and went home. Within minutes, and over the objection of his own staff, Charlie Crist signed Executive Order 08-217, extending the hours for early voting for all Floridians. More...
Rick Scott's Weedy Retreat from Common Core
Sep 23, 2013
Under a theory that anything supported by the Obama Administration is a high crime, the Tea Party began a campaign against Common Core. So given the choice to fight for what he believed was best for the success of Florida's school children, or commence a weedy retreat from high standards, Rick Scott chose the low road.More...
Scott's Revolving Door of Failure
Aug 8, 2013
If you ran a business and nearly every person you appointed to a critical position resigned under a cloud of incompetence or fraud at some point someone just might point out the failure is yours. Florida Governor Rick Scott is hoping no one notices that in just three short years he has compiled an unprecedented record of his top appointees being forced out or resigning due to a lack of ability, a lack of honesty, or both. More...
When bureaucracies kill.
Aug 2, 2013
I don't believe Wilkins was callous or indifferent, just unqualified and misguided. He had very little background in child welfare and it was simply terrible judgment by Governor Scott to put someone so ill-prepared in charge of an agency where missteps result in the lost lives of innocent children.More...
Stand Your Ground and the Zimmerman Verdict
Jul 14, 2013
The case was not an easy one and, frankly, made harder because the prosecution failed to present a cohesive narrative choosing instead to offer alternative and inconsistent theories. But their job was unquestionably made much more difficult by the decision of the Florida legislature to fundamentally change the behavior we will tolerate from citizens who recklessly decide to take the life of another.
" I think that's great for our state"
Jun 25, 2013
Scott's brazen assault on the rights of voters to have equal access to the polls is proof positive that the last thing Floridians should be celebrating is a gutting of our nation's Voting Rights Act.More...
Tale of Two Ricks
Jun 10, 2013
If Scott was willing to gut public education, suppress voting, and take all those other stances with an election around the corner, imagine what he would do if he were re-elected and freed from ever having to answer to voters again? If you think the old Rick Scott was tough to live with, imagine a Rick Scott unchained?
Testing is still not teaching
Jan 10, 2013
Regarding the Education Week report:
Getting straight A's for having lots of tests is not the same as getting A's on the tests. Weighing a malnourished dog every day doesn't make him any better. Until folks in Tallahassee understand that testing is not teaching, we will continue to celebrate mediocrity at the expense of true achievement.
Dec 26, 2012
I met Bill McBride about 30 years ago. I was a summer law clerk at Holland & Knight and he was one of the firm's leaders, ultimately becoming its managing partner. Bill was a Chesterfield Smith protégée which meant he had the two qualities Chesterfield demanded in his wards: great talent and a pronounced sense of civic responsibility. More...
A Holiday Story
Dec 21, 2012
Twenty-four years ago Big Brothers & Sisters matched me up with a 6-year-old little gap-toothed boy living in a poor Miami neighborhood I knew only as a place to avoid driving through.More...
Voting Blame Game
Dec 4, 2012
It is the theatre of the absurd to watch the Republicans in the legislature and the Governor try to affix blame for Florida's election fiasco on someone other than themselvesMore...
GOP's Election Wounds Were Partly Self-Inflicted
Nov 9, 2012
Mixing hubris with arrogance can make for a dangerous cocktail. As Gov. Rick Scott and the Republican Legislature wake up from a rough Tuesday night, they should accept that their election-day wounds are at least partly self-inflicted.More...
Governor Scott: Extend Early Voting on Sunday!
Nov 1, 2012
Governor Scott needs to act on behalf of all Floridians who seek simply to exercise their right to vote and issue an Executive Order expanding the Early Voting period to include Sunday, November 4.
Quit Playing Politics With Israel!
Oct 28, 2012
With the election a few days away, the Republicans have begun a totally fabricated drumbeat that Obama is bad for Israel. It is an argument based in part on distortion, in part on the fact the Internet has no truth key, and in part on fear — and yes, prejudice.More...
Charlie, Welcome to the Party
Aug 3, 2012
So, to Charlie or any other voter who feels the need to make a move, our tent is pretty big and can get somewhat raucous at times because we definitely don't walk in lockstep. But if you want a Florida whose best days are ahead, then come on in and make yourself at home.More...
Test Day for Travis
Jul 12, 2012
Today my little brother, Travis, spent 5 difficult hours taking his Dental School admission's test. For Travis, this was a mighty important day. A culmination of an incredible story of a young man who decided to find the will and work ethic to rise above so many challenges in his path. More...
Get to work Gov. Scott and implement health care reform!
Jun 28, 2012
Since early 2010, when Congress passed health care reform, Florida Republican leaders have been obsessed with its overthrow. Defeating it was the priority of Gov. Rick Scott. Our last two attorneys general have led the charge in the courts. And the state legislature did all it could to thwart its implementation. So now that the most conservative Supreme Court in the history of our nation has ruled that the Affordable Care Act is constitutional, perhaps it is time to redirect a little of that negative energy used to obstruct reform toward implementing the law and solving Florida's health care crisis.More...
Heads Scott wins, Tails Obama loses
Jun 18, 2012
Of course last time I checked Florida was part of the United States, so the notion that you can simultaneous blame the President and credit the Governor for the same job situation is ridiculous. More...
Lincoln would be ashamed
Jun 6, 2012
I never quite understood how the "party of Lincoln" could so effortlessly and, with no apparent remorse, adopt measures intended to make it harder for African-American and Hispanic citizens to vote. And I don't mean Republicans generally, because I don't believe for an instance that Republicans - or any Americans - agree with the strategy of suppressing any vote. More...
FCAT debacle proves change in order
May 15, 2012
Today's announcement that over 70% of Florida students failed the newly calibrated writing FCAT means either our school system has horrible problems teaching, or our Department of Education is filled with idiots. Either way, change is in order.More...
Thinking of Mom
May 13, 2012
What follows is my blog post from a few years ago on Mother's Day. I miss Mom and especially miss that my kids had only a few years of
Lugar's Defeat is America's
May 9, 2012
I regret that there were not more Richard Lugars in the Congress. I think if there had been, 9-11 may have been just another day in September.More...
SYG Task Force is Unnecessary - Just Repeal It
Apr 20, 2012
SYG was neither thoughtful nor needed when the legislature passed it. A task force to review it gives SYG a level of credibility it does not merit. Governor Scott should have demonstrated the backbone and leadership the legislature lacked and forcefully called for its repeal rather than convene a road show to feed 24-hour news cycles.More...
Repeal Stand Your Ground
Mar 23, 2012
Governor Scott's announcement that he is creating a task force to look at the law is a callow attempt to placate the frustrations of thousands of Floridians who believe justice for Trayvon is already too late and elusive. Frankly a "task force" is an insult, and patronizes the clear fact that the law should never have been passed in the first place.
The Florida Legislature, which is completing a Special Session on redistricting next week, should stay in Tallahassee and repeal the Stand Your Ground provision outright.
Jan 14, 2012
Marco took off his jacket; steadied himself and prepared for what would unquestionably be the softest pass ever thrown by Tim Tebow...More...
Happy New Year
Dec 31, 2011
A home made new year's video from the Gelber children (and grandpa too).More...
Max likes Herman Cain...and Pizza
Sep 14, 2011
The convention hall morphed into a Roman Coliseum as audience members cheered and agreed to "let him die." It was way more offensive than any over-the-top episode of "Vampire Diaries." More...
What makes us exceptional
Sep 6, 2011
Rubio's argument is no better or different than every past attempt by the right wing to use lofty language to rationalize wrongheaded policies that help a few well connected or advance a partisan agenda. But "trickle-down" economics and "compassionate conservatism," aren't truly policies, they are public relations gimmicks intended to make people feel better about disregarding who we are.More...
Happy 92 Dad.
Sep 1, 2011
My Dad grew up in the Great Depression as a first generation American. Like many, he always had boarders in the small apartment he was raised in as my grandparents struggled to get by. He went into the Air Force (Army Air Corps) in 1941 (for $1 a day) and after the war returned to the state he trained in because he liked sunshine, and opportunity seemed to abound here. More...
I Miss Jeb Bush
May 31, 2011
Four words I never expected to say: I miss Jeb Bush.
Don't misunderstand, I fought Jeb (and, I suspect, will again). But no matter how much I opposed his policies, I always believed Jeb possessed the requisite respect for our state and its people.
Sadly, I can't say that about Rick Scott.
Florida's Mad Dash to Mediocrity
Apr 11, 2011
But Florida seems to have decided since we can't measure maximum performance, let's just measure minimal competence. Let's make our floor also our ceiling, and declare success when we reach this low water mark.More...
When did underpaid schoolteachers become public enemy #1?
Mar 24, 2011
Nope, instead the Governor today will sign a bill that is intended to index their pay to their students' performance mostly on the FCAT and eliminate their job security in the name of weeding out "bad" teachers. Later this month the Legislature will pass a budget that cuts perhaps as much as a billion dollars from an already bottom of the barrel education budget.
It is indeed a cruel hoax that SB 736 promises pay raises with everything but the pay or the raise.
Might is not right: A petty war on the Court
Mar 18, 2011
The legislature's frontal attack on the court is as wrongheaded as it is small minded. And like any schoolyard bully, they picked someone who cannot fight back. The court has to remain silent and comport itself in precisely the manner you would expect of justices - while the legislature is acting, unfortunately, like the middle-school bullies they have sadly become.
Our nation, and our state, was founded on the notion that we must honor the rule of law, and the principle that a healthy and independent judiciary is a welcomed check on the unconstrained ambitions of the legislative and executive branches. It would be a sad day for my friend Dean Cannon if his legacy turns out to be something so petty and injurious to the principles that I always believed he cherished.
A "crash cart" for Christmas.
Dec 21, 2010
Don't get me wrong, I get that the federal health care bill has its warts, and that it was created in a sausage-making factory, which is never fun to watch. But the preoccupation with repealing it or attacking it cannot eclipse the need to address the reason it came to be.More...
A shot of reality about high school performance
Dec 7, 2010
While I hate to rain on anyone's parade, as a parent with three kids headed in the direction of Florida's high schools, I think it's counterproductive to mask deficiencies with illusory successes.More...
Happy Turkey Day
Nov 25, 2010
Even in difficult times we have much to give thanks for. Our family and friends, and those protecting our Democracy in the armed services are among the blessings we all celebrate.More...
A threat to freedom?
Nov 17, 2010
I am personally fond of Dean, but believe his comments should not be dismissed as merely a childish tirade, but rather seen as a calculated effort to intimidate a coequal branch of government.More...
It's time for ice cream
Nov 2, 2010
Politics is often about timing. The headwind we faced in this election cycle was simply too formidable and too unforgiving.
On the Gainesville Quran burning...
Sep 8, 2010
It is particularly important for Americans to speak out to let the world community know that this small group does not represent in any manner the beliefs of the rest of our state or our nation.More...
Today my Dad turns 91
Sep 1, 2010
My Dad has always believed that the mark of a great public servant was accepting that anything truly good you do will come to fruition when you are long gone from public life. In the age of constant media cycles and focus groups, his views might be considered outdated or quaint. But today as Florida faces so many challenges borne out of short-term thinking and shallow policies, I think my Dad and his bowties are still pretty fashionable.More...
Pass the Ban
Jul 20, 2010
Florida Legislature is poised to stick it to the Governor even if it means sticking it to Floridians in the process. Some say the Governor is grandstanding, others say it is an example of rank opportunism. Perhaps. But just because you don't like the motives of the person that calls for the idea (or the person himself), doesn't mean you should demur to do what's right. That would be childish.More...
July 4th messages from the Gelber family
Jul 3, 2010
While these times may have their challenges, the truth is we are a truly fortunate people. We live in a nation where we can disagree with the government or each other civilly and without fear, where ideas and innovation are celebrated, and where during our darkest hours and toughest times we always show our best face. More...
Doing the right thing
Jun 29, 2010
Throughout my career, whether as a long-time federal prosecutor, a counter terrorism chief investigator in the United States Senate or as a state legislator, I have tried to stay true to the principle that standing on the side of what's right is always better than standing on the side of what's right for me. When the BP oil spill hit, I immediately went on the offensive, drafting proposals to protect the state and its taxpayers, calling on Governor Crist for a special session on oil drilling, and just last week, suggesting the state give the Attorney General criminal jurisdiction so that he might go after BP and other wrongdoers for potential criminal misdeeds.
And I did one other thing last week, I resigned from my law firm upon learning after the fact that they had signed up to represent BP in court. Although lawyers do not assume the virtues or defects of their clients, I have been the leading and harshest critic of BP and of off-shore oil drilling for many years, and believed if I am to run for Attorney General I should not have any association with the company.
Father's Day 2010
Jun 20, 2010
My own Dad grew up in the Great Depression where the family challenges were immense. His father was often gone trying to scrape together a living, while boarders occupied their home. He grew up fast, ultimately spending a good part of his youth in the Army Air Corp in WW II. It was those hard lessons that shaped his desire to be an attentive and devoted father. I thank him for making sure I had that role model for me.More...
FCAT chaos and why heads ought to roll!
Jun 8, 2010
Pearson's failure and the resulting mess are what happens when you substitute testing for teaching, and make testing companies the high priests of public education. Commissioner Smith should conduct a full investigation with a view toward firing the company. The Board of Education should also investigate the Department which obviously failed to hire a company with the core competencies necessary, or manage and oversee the contract adequately. More...
Getting the BP Response Right
Jun 7, 2010
It is not too early to begin preparing. I recognize that the BP spill has come at a time when so many state leaders are involved in the vortex of a political campaign. That's a challenge but not an excuse. The truth is that our response must transcend politics as this event may straddle more than a couple election cycles, if not, generations.More...
Florida's White-Knuckle Moment
May 20, 2010
Perhaps that is the challenge we are facing. Imagining the unimaginable. Floridians know hurricanes. We can plot coordinates, know how to prepare our homes and families, and have cleaned up the mess left in the wake of some real monsters. A hurricane is a body shot from nature and we know how to brace ourselves for the hit. But an oil spill does not have the forensics of a blunt trauma; it's more like a cancer. It is subterranean, quiet and unpredictable. More...
In favor of a Special Session to ban near-shore drilling
May 11, 2010
The Republican response has been interesting. First, the Republican leadership ripped the idea as "political." (Ironic coming from the same people who are using their power to populate the November ballot with a series of proposed amendments that read like the Republican Party's talking points)More...
Thinking of Mom
May 9, 2010
At a luncheon last month, a woman asked me a question I have heard countless times before. "Are you related to Edith Gelber?" I nodded and responded as I always have. "She was my Mom. Where did she teach you?"More...
May 2, 2010
When Big Brothers & Sisters matched me with Travis 21 years ago, he was 6 and I was not quite 30. Our backgrounds couldn't have been more different; our communities more opposite. But we found common interests. Watching Hurricane football, going to bad Steven Seagal movies (are there any good Steven Seagal movies), and washing my 66 Mustang Convertible. (OK, a slight fringe benefit of the Big Brothers program) More...
Veto HB 1143
Apr 30, 2010
Please veto HB 1143. In the final days of this recent legislative session, two amendments were placed on an otherwise innocuous insurance bill. Neither amendment had been heard in a single committee; and both were directed at involving the state in the most personal of decisions regarding a woman's right to choose. More...
Apr 15, 2010
Senate Bill 6 was not the product of thoughtful collaboration between teachers, administrators and experts. Rather it was borne directly from a right wing think tank. It was laden with conservative ideology, untested theories and political payback. I commend the Governor for his veto.More...
I resent this misadventure
Apr 15, 2010
Parents and teachers (and ultimately kids) are not suppose to have to prod and pressure, and even pray, hoping the Governor will ultimately protect them from their own legislature. That energy is suppose to be spent on Smart Walks, and on tutoring, and in parent-teacher conferences, and bake sales and in the multitude of activities that make our public school mosaic special and uniquely American.More...
Veto SB 6 - Kids Version
Apr 12, 2010
My kids and some friends and cousins decided to make their own case for veto of SB 6. My children are the type that absolutely love their teachers (I wish they behaved as well for us) and they have been hearing about SB 6 at school and, of course, at home. Here is their work-product…More...
Veto SB 6
Apr 8, 2010
Veto SB 6. I make this request as a legislator and as a parent of three children enrolled in Florida's public schools whose education I believe will be imperiled should this bill become law.More...
5 Questions for AG Bill McCollum's 83rd press conference on Health Care Reform
Mar 23, 2010
Florida has nearly 4 million residents who are uninsured including 800,000 children (the second highest percentage in the nation). As you are running for Governor, what do you propose to do to address this crisis since you believe the reform passed by the Congress is unconstitutional?More...
St Patricks Day Service Weekend
Mar 14, 2010
The next day I met up with my old buddy, Ft Lauderdale Mayor Jack Seiler, as he revived his city's St Patricks Day parade. My crew showed up in large numbers, and Max (and his cousin Ben) got to ride in the Red Corvette with me waving to the thousands that lined Las Olas Boulevard. From there we went to Hollywood Blvd to cheer on my brother in law, Steve Kurtzer, who every year raises money for childhood cancer research by shaving his head as part of "St Baldricks Day." This is Steve's 7th year going bare for the kids. More...
FCAT Week. Ugh.
Mar 9, 2010
Yes, once the results are announced there will be winners and losers in Florida's race to the middle, and tears of joy and sorrow aplenty. But such is the way of a state that has wrongly decided it can test its way out of underfunding public education. More...
Service Project: Best Buddies and the "R" Word
Mar 7, 2010
Spent the morning with Best Buddies of Broward for their annual festival at Brian Piccolo park. My project was to staff the booth (with Joan and the kids) where we were soliciting passer-byers to pledge to "End Using the 'R' Word". Since nearly everyone there was a supporter, family member or participant of Best Buddies, we quickly filled up our bed sheet with the signatures of folks who promised to not use the "R" word. It was a beautiful day and sunshine and friendship were in abundance.More...
Legislative Session 2010
Mar 2, 2010
Most of the commentators are already declaring this legislative session as one of the worst ever. Most assume - perhaps correctly - that the legislature will lack the courage or vision or competence to adequately deal with raging unemployment, a mortgage foreclosure crisis, and a full-blown multi-billion dollar budget crisis. While I probably am inclined to agree with that assessment, I still hold out hope if we are able to resist the lesser impulses that too often dominate this place.
Helping Women Veterans
Feb 13, 2010
Spent some time at Athena House in Tampa with my good buddy Sara Romeo. Sara is the Executive Director of Crossroads which is a Tampa based organization that provides residential housing and related services to homeless women military veterans. More...
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...
Fighting public corruption
Feb 8, 2010
There has been much talk lately about the prominence of corruption in government. The truth is most public officials are not corrupt. They came to office with a real desire to serve. Whether to improve schools, provide better services, or make government more efficient - the great majority of public officials are in it for the right reasons...More...
Spinning Scott Brown
Jan 21, 2010
But the great truth is that Florida has had only one party in control over the last decade so it will be difficult, indeed self-destructive, for my Republican colleagues to make the case in 2010 that we need to throw the bums out.More...
Haiti, MLK and self-winding flashlights
Jan 18, 2010
Yesterday, I took our family to K-mart where we went shopping for supplies. Joan and I wanted to give our young children (aged 11, 9 and 5) some real sense of what the families in Haiti were going through. Each of our children picked what they thought would be important. Sophie (the pragmatist) concentrated on water; and Hannah (who tends to fixate on doctor appointments) picked medical supplies. Max, age 5 (who fixates on being 5), first thought buying some toys might be good, but quickly changed his mind and decided on flashlights so no "other kids" would be afraid in the dark.More...
Helping out our friends in Haiti
Jan 13, 2010
The pictures and stories coming out of Haiti are heartbreaking. I am blessed to have friends from our Caribbean neighbor, many of whom still have family there. Right now, they need our prayers—and they need our support.
It is very cold— Help your fellow Floridians
Jan 9, 2010
Below you will find an email that I sent to our list this morning encouraging folks to pitch in and help local homeless shelters. There have been press reports around the state, particularly in the north and central parts of Florida, of shelters receiving very high numbers of people looking for help. Thanks for helping outMore...
We need solutions to health care crisis, not obstructions!
Dec 29, 2009
I wish McCollum was as concerned about solving Florida's health care crisis as he was about stopping the solving of the health care crisis. More...
Road Trip goes to Orlando
Dec 27, 2009
Today we made our way across I-4 to Orlando, where we spent the afternoon with some fine residents of Westminster Towers on the Southside of downtown Orlando. Westminster Communities are throughout Florida. We spent our time with some great friends in the "memory center" where my kids and I played games, told stories, and even sang some songs around the piano. My favorite:" I want a Gal just like the Gal that Married Dear Old Dad." Hannah's turn to cut the video, so check her out.
Road Trip goes to St Pete
Dec 26, 2009
Spent the morning in St Pete at the Bay Pines VA Medical Center hanging out with some residents of the community living center. It was a great morning as the kids played cards, games, and even learned a little piano with the veterans. Most were WWII era, but some had careers that spanned numerous conflicts and more recent ones. They were happy to see the kids, and enjoyed telling some old stories. More...
Road Trip goes to Tampa
Dec 25, 2009
The holiday spirit was overwhelming: the kids played great together, never arguing and always acting politely (wow, imagine that!). I am thankful my children had the chance to see that just because someone is down on their luck, doesn't mean they are better or worse than you. Everyone deserves respect and dignity. Tomorrow we're in St Pete to visit with some veterans.More...
Dec 24, 2009
The minivan is packed up, the kids are jockeying for seats (the "are we there yet" chorus has begun), and we are about to take off on our family holiday vacation. This year, rather than make the rounds to amusement parks we are trying something different. We're going on a "service vacation" - where we will make our way around the state participating in charity and community service projects.More...
Happy Holidays (from the kids)
Dec 23, 2009
...have a terrific holiday and I hope next year is the very best for you and our state. My kids are off from school so they had a little time to prepare this short video holiday message.More...
Shame on Bill McCollum
Dec 18, 2009
Today in a Miami federal courtroom, Florida's Attorney General is waging a battle to assure poor and disabled children in our state are denied basic health care. Yes, our Attorney General is spending millions of tax dollars to guarantee that Florida's most impoverished kids do not get timely check-ups or proper dental care. More...
Sorry to rain on the graduation rate parade
Dec 4, 2009
The sad truth is that the answer to abysmal graduation and drop out rates is not to find new ways to calculate rates, but rather to find out why our poorly funded schools have trouble keeping kids engaged through graduation.More...
A righteous suit over education funding
Nov 18, 2009
The fact is you pay for a cheap education forever, and until that truth is accepted by lawmkers we will continue to shortchange our kids. I do think it is unfortunate that Attorney General Bill McCollum refused to file a school funding lawsuit as I urged him to do last month. Frankly, it is unfair to hope that public interest groups, or parents take on such a monumental task. It is the job — no the duty — of the Attorney General to make sure our Constitution is enforced, even if it means taking on the Legislature to do so. As Attorney General I will not hesitate for a moment to bring or join such a lawsuit.
Al Gore's call to arms
Nov 14, 2009
Al Gore beat down and proved wrong the most powerful special interests in the world. He had started almost a quixotic battle - taking on an adversary with infinite money, a colossal megaphone - and one who felt unconstrained by facts, or science or fair play. But through the careful assembly of a single argument premised on facts and science, and imbedded with principles and morality - Al Gore convinced a nation and a world of a truth it had sought to conveniently ignore.
Veterans Day 2009
Nov 11, 2009
The truth is I am a weepy dad and smitten husband, but my journey can in no way compare to the men and women of our military who leave their families for months at a time or longer, forsaking creature comforts and embracing grave risks.More...
Fighting Public Corruption
Nov 4, 2009
I spent the better part of a decade fighting corruption in Florida as a federal prosecutor, so I have seen this malignancy up close. There will always be those that find a way to skirt the law or engage in sleezy behavior, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't adopt measures intended to bring greater accountability and oversight to the operations of government. More...
A Call Out to Palm Beach Parents and Teachers - Testing is not Teaching!
Oct 21, 2009
A call out to my Palm Beach friends from "testing is not teaching," and the CTA good luck today. Your issues over testing and education policy are not unique to your county and many parents of public school kids, like me, all over Florida will be rooting for you. More...
My promise to public education
Oct 19, 2009
Over the weekend I was in Orlando to receive the FEA "Champion of Education" Award. It was especially gratifying because my middle child Hannah went on a "field trip" with me and I know she was proud of her Daddy. I don't believe there is a more important battle in Florida than the fight to create a school system that is high quality. More...
Travis meets Michelle Obama
Oct 15, 2009
As she descended I could see Travis getting very nervous, but when she walked right over to us Travis rallied. "It's a real honor to meet you Madam First Lady." He told her about his new wife and baby which got her genuinely excited, and I let her know he was getting terrific grades at Miami Dade College.
Service Day 23: Game Night at a Nursing Center
Oct 15, 2009
The Center provides comprehensive rehabiliation services to folks who could use some real help and a smile. I played checkers (losing to Dezi who totally toyed with me) while my 5-year old Max helped some sweet elderly residents put together a Disney crossword puzzle. No video available but here are some pics of the evening festivitiesMore...
Lending a hand at the State Convention
Oct 8, 2009
I believe that when times are toughest, Americans show their best side. That is why I was so proud of President Obama when he made the promotion of community service a recurring theme of his presidency.More...
Public Schools Need a Champion!
Oct 6, 2009
Today I asked Attorney General McCullom, formally, to commence a lawsuit against the Legislature and the Governor challenging the adequacy of Florida's public education budget. I believe the current budget violates the Florida Constitution and its requirement that the legislature fund a school system capable of providing a high quality public school system. With three kids in public school, I know too well how much this lawsuit is needed. More...
On the road
Oct 3, 2009
That's not to say campaigning is all fun. Today I take off and will spend most of the next week on the road away from my family. That's the hardest part because I am, proudly, a smitten husband and weepy Dad.More...
Service Day 21 in Gainesville and on to St. Pauls A.M.E.
Sep 23, 2009
I couldn't help but think that these two days really presented the state of Florida we see today. In Gainesville I saw what is so wrong with a state that has failed invest in its human capital and build a workforce that can attract high wage industries. On Sunday I visited with people that notwithstanding the tough times believe tomorrow can be better with a little faith and hard work. I share their faith that tomorrow can bring better times - but it won't come with merely optimism but only if people take responsibility for themselves and their futures.
Good Morning Mr. President
Sep 7, 2009
Tomorrow, my three kids - who all attend the same K-8 public school — will have the opportunity to hear from the elected President of the greatest democracy in the history of the world. He will talk to them about being good citizens, working hard and playing by the rules. I wish him luck in getting my 5-year old to sit still and listen (a more difficult feat than passing health care reform).More...
Today my Dad turns 90.
Sep 1, 2009
My Dad has always believed that the mark of a great public servant was accepting that anything truly good you do will come to fruition when you are long gone from public life. In the age of constant media cycles and focus groups, his views might be considered outdated or quaint. But today as Florida faces so many challenges borne out of short-term thinking and shallow policies, I think my Dad and his bowties are still pretty fashionable.More...
Ted Kennedy Will Be Missed
Aug 26, 2009
He truly was a once in a generation kind of public servant and American. The lion may now rest, but his legacy leaves an America that is better and stronger because of his service.More...
Service Day 20: Helping out at Community Haven in Sarasota
Aug 25, 2009
On Saturday after I attended the Women's Equity Celebration in Sarasota with my oldest daughter and my niece, I volunteered at Community Haven for Adults and Children with Disabilities.More...
First day of school
Aug 24, 2009
Today is the first day of public school for my three kids who all attend the same K-8. For my youngest, Max, it's his first, first day in kindergarten. My kids are always nervous the first day of school. New classrooms, and new teachers and classmates should make any kid anxious. But it's a nervousness filled with optimism - everyone starts with A's, clean clothes and perfect conduct. Get back with me in 9 months and I'll tell you how it ends.
An abomination of our democracy
Aug 12, 2009
The idea that someone would direct the sovereign's force to deprive someone of their liberty or property based on party affiliation is patently amoral and illegal. The greatest distinction between a democracy and a lesser form of government is that democracies don't jail political opponents and they don't base prosecutions on political affiliations. A US Attorney like any prosecutor is obliged to make their decisions based solely on the facts and the law. To make a decision based on political pretext is nothing less than an abomination of our democracy.More...
Camp Fiesta Children's Cancer Camp
Aug 2, 2009
In 1985, some terrific ladies asked me to help create a summer camp experience for some patients at a clinic for kids with cancer. So nearly every summer since I have returned to my bunk (the bottom) at a cabin in Birch State Park in Broward County with about 70 children afflicted with cancer. The kids share a beautiful fellowship and spirit in the face of a deadly disease. Many of the counselors returning to the camp were my campers decades ago - and to see them healthy and smiling and living productive lives is nothing short of inspirational. The memories of those that passed away is similarly inspirational as they were beautiful children who taught by their example of courage and grace. More...
Today we lost our North Star
Jul 26, 2009
Today, the Florida legislature lost its North Star. The legislature is sometimes defined more by its excesses than its restraint, and more by its loud voices than its thoughtful ones. But in this often insane process, Senator King stood out alone: a rare - no unique - blend of character, personality and integrity.More...
Travis is getting married.
Jul 17, 2009
So now, 20 years later Travis is getting married. He has a family, and is at Miami-Dade College so he can better make his way in a tough economy, and I couldn't be more proud. Wilsa - like any good spouse - has brought out a part of him that I knew existed but needed to be inspired. He is embracing responsibility, serious about his future, and wants to be a Big Brother himself. Boy, do I feel old and happy.
Service Day 14 & 15 - Building a Library in Liberty City; Reading to kids at the Salvation Army
Jul 11, 2009
This morning a few friends and supporters worked to help create a library in the Liberty Square Community Center in Liberty City. Liberty City is Miami's oldest housing complex and the area is surrounded by some of the county's most struggling schools and economically challenged neighborhoods.More...
Jul 4, 2009
Just as we began the parade, the skies opened up with a torrential downpour. My golf shirt's advertised promise "not to show moisture" was quickly tested; within seconds I was soaked from head to toe as were many of the hundreds (or perhaps thousands) on the parade route. The fire trucks, flatbeds, and convertibles improvised as did the spectators who used umbrellas, or newspapers for cover. I don't think anyone retreated or went home. It was a distinctly American moment.More...
Only 473 years left until Floridians get health insurance
Jun 26, 2009
Here is the analysis. After 146 days, 3,226 Floridians have enrolled in the Cover Florida plan (about 22 per day). Although math was never my specialty, one of my FCAT trained friends quickly calculated that at the current rate of enrollment it will take only 172,727.27 days or 473 years for Cover Florida to enroll the remainder of Florida's uninsured.
Jun 21, 2009
My Rabbi claims that, according to the phone company, Mother's Day has the highest volume of long distance calls of the year, while Father's Day has the highest volume of collect calls. So, yes, I know that Father's Day will never hold a candle to its feminine counterweight, but I love it anyway because there is no job more important or rewarding to me than being a Dad... More...
Senator Jim King is Cancer Free!
Jun 18, 2009
Senator Jim King is cancer free. Those are wonderful words to hear. Receiving that diagnosis after treatment for pancreatic cancer is a rarity. I thought Jim's comments after leaving the hospital were typical for him - modest, earnest and insightful - but not too serious (even about a subject that can never be too serious). I will continue to pray that he remains cancer free - he is a state treasure and I want him around for a long while. Here is what Senator King had to say:More...
Changing our nation one child at a time
Jun 16, 2009
This morning I addressed the National Big Brothers & Sisters organization who are holding their annual meeting in Miami. My little brother of 20 years, Travis, spoke first. He was eloquent though he did make fun of my hair loss over the term of our relationship. What follows are my remarks:More...
Statement by Dan Gelber on the Attorney General's Race
Jun 4, 2009
Florida is facing its most important election cycle and our best opportunity for change in 140 years, the last time every statewide office was open without an incumbent running for re-election.
Last Saturday at our party's annual Jefferson-Jackson dinner, I spoke about the need to unify our party and avoid the circular firing squad that have defined our history. I believed it was important for all of us to...More...
May 31, 2009
As you may know I have decided to step back from my U.S. Senate bid. I wanted to let you know the reasons.
When Governor Crist announced he would be a candidate for US Senate, he created a domino effect that opened up every seat on the cabinet. At a time when our state is facing its greatest challenges, ironically, we have our greatest uncertainty and dislocation. But I believe this is also an opportunity - the chance to set a new course that...More...
Service Day 13: Feeding the Homeless at Camillus House
May 30, 2009
Took some time from the Jefferson Jackson Democratic meeting to head over to Camillus house to prepare meals for the homeless. About a dozen friends met me there and we peeled onions, cut oranges and prepared place settings for the 1500 folks expected to show up for dinner Saturday night.
Camillus House has been serving the South Florida community since 1960 and provides humanitarian services to men, women and children who are poor and homeless. Camillus offers a full continuum of services that includes food, shelter, housing, rehabilitative...More...
Service Day Twelve: Volunteering at Moffitt Cancer Center Tampa
May 28, 2009
Last week I spent a few hours in Tampa volunteering at the Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute. It is one of the world's premier cancer centers for both treatment and research.More...
State budget not worthy of celebrating
May 27, 2009
I don't think Governor Crist should have a bill signing "ceremony" today when he signs the state's budget. Bill signing ceremonies are usually reserved for events where we celebrate an accomplishment. I don't believe there is anything in the budget to celebrate, unless we are celebrating the triumph of short-sightedness. More...
Memorial Day 2009
May 25, 2009
On Memorial Day we reflect on the great sacrifices made by our fellow citizens to preserve and protect our nation and our Democracy. My kids often ask about war, and why people fight and even die. More...
Florida's Giant - Senator Jim King - deserves our prayers
May 18, 2009
In my judgment, there is no greater giant in all of Florida government than Jim King. He is that rare blend of charisma and integrity. He takes issues seriously, but never himself. He is authentic at every turn, and unvarnished in a way that is unusual in a profession that too often rewards duplicity.More...
Service Day Eleven: Writing letters to veterans with elementary schoolchildren
May 17, 2009
Service Day Eleven brought me to Macfarlane Park Elementary School in Tampa. What a great school. It's a magnet IB school (International Baccalaureate). The kids are incredibly engaged in learning and Principal Rivero and her team really get kudos for their efforts. Over the last three months the kids have participated in their own 100 days of service. More...
Service Day Ten: Letter Carriers Food Drive
May 9, 2009
Hard work! Spent the afternoon with some Letter Carriers in Broward County unloading and sorting seven large bins of food collected in South Florida as part of the 17th Annual Letter Carriers Food Drive. More...
Budget fails to meet the needs of our citizens
May 8, 2009
I don't blame my colleagues in the Senate. President Atwater earnestly made sure we looked at most of the reforms I have advanced for years. But ultimately the House Republicans refused to even consider them based, I believe, on an unthinking allegiance to tired old right-wing orthodoxies.More...
My Opening Prayer
May 1, 2009
I was asked to deliver the opening prayer today for the Senate. I went old school. Here it is.More...
Service Day Nine: Celebrating Obama's 100 Days and cleaning up the Wekiva River in Seminole Co.
Apr 27, 2009
The event was on the banks of the beautiful Wekiva River so we took some canoes and kayaks and travelled down the scenic Wekiva picking up trash with Steve Barnes who is as knowledgeable about the River as anyone. While we found some loose garbage, I'm happy to say it was pristine and clean.More...
Service Day Eight: Landscaping at UCF
Apr 26, 2009
Spent Saturday morning in Orlando at the Arboretum at University of Central Florida with students and friends. The weather was perfect as we dug trenches and moved compost so we could energize the soil and plant flowers and shrubs that will improve the look of one of Florida's terrific higher education institutions. More...
Short term gain, long term regret
Apr 22, 2009
While many of these measures may provide some short term ability to navigate our budget crisis, we need to be mindful not to create longer term problems from which we can't recede. You can't tear down oil rigs and you pay for a cheap education forever. 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...
Service Day Seven: AIDS Walk Miami
Apr 19, 2009
I am happy to say we completed the walk (about 4 miles) but cannot claim we set a record pace. We started at the front of the thousands of participants, and ended somewhere near the end thanks, in part, to my son Max and the other small children in our contingent. What we lacked in speed we made up for in spirit.More...
At least one bright spot
Apr 17, 2009
In my prior legislative experience it had seemed that the idea, too often, was less important than where it came from. But by putting our heads together in a bipartisan effort, we crafted a single measure that will be closing a tax loophole to promote tax fairness, and in the same stroke restore Florida Forever and an affordable housing program. More...
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...
Service Day Six: Delivering Meals to Seniors
Apr 5, 2009
It is the ultimate family volunteer event as everyone can participate. The recipients are happy to see you - especially happy to see children - and it allows your family to make a very personal contribution by lightening up the life of someone who could use a kind word and a smile.More...
Service Day 5: Feeding Folks at Sarasota's Salvation Army
Mar 30, 2009
I spent Sunday afternoon at the Salvation Army in Sarasota (1400 10th Street, Sarasota) which may be the best way to see up close how this recession is really impacting our neighbors. This facility provides 21,000 meals each month. Over a year ago it may have been half as many but bad times is increasing the demand. Some of the recipients are homeless, but most are just everyday Floridians who need a little help to make ends meet. More...
Holding education harmless: getting past semantics to a real definition
Mar 24, 2009
But the promises to hold education harmless have become about as reliable as Octo-mom's assurance she isn't just looking for a book or movie deal. More...
Shout-out to DWS
Mar 23, 2009
After my own election to the state House, I soon learned that her public passion for issues of principle was not a venire but who she was to her core, even outside the purview of the media. In public and private she was always a model of tenacity, compassion and grace. More...
Service Day 4: Ronald McDonald House
Mar 15, 2009
Talking with the residents you get a real sense of how important it is to stay with a loved one as they endure a medical procedure like an organ transplant or chemotherapy for cancer. As the economy continues to freefall, however, too many of our neighbors find themselves without insurance or underinsured which means paying for family members to stay with their children during lifesaving procedures can be cost prohibitive. The Ronald McDonald House fills that void and allows families to stay together when they need each other the most.More...
Service Day 3: P.E.T. Tampa - The Gift of Mobility
Mar 8, 2009
I was very fortunate to get a work station that involved plenty of power tools and a terrific volunteer manager, Ralph, who is a retired postal worker, and pretty good tennis player. He volunteers regularly at the PET workshop and was extremely helpful and gracious.
P.E.T. stands for personal energy transportation. PET, located in Tampa...More...
Mar 3, 2009
I've always been a big fan of optimism! I'm optimistic every time I shoot a basketball. But optimism is not a policy and it is not a cure. Optimism cannot help parents pay the mortgage, it doesn't keep your boss from letting you know you've been downsized, and it cannot fill a soon to be announced $2 billion budget hole that is not even accounted for in the Governor's budget. So while I want us to always be hopeful, optimism must be tethered to reality. More...
Service Day Two - Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida
Mar 1, 2009
I spent a good deal of yesterday morning with other volunteers who go to the agency and spend a few hours sifting through food and related items, making sure they are not past their expiration dates, not tampered with and otherwise fit for consumption and use. More...
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...
Let's take the long view
Feb 18, 2009
I spent the last few weeks in depressing budget hearings, listening to state economists and experts tell us the grim news. Florida's losing jobs faster than anywhere; our mortgage crisis is equally distressing; nearly 2 million of our fellow residents are on food stamps; and all indexes suggest more bad news is on the way. The stimulus money will help some, but Florida's issues are more acute than anywhere.
It is in that backdrop that our instinct could be to simply worry about the short term.More...
Service Day One - Oleta River State Park
Feb 8, 2009
Today was my first community service day. Like many churches and synagogues, my temple organizes an annual "mitzvah day" where hundreds of our congregants participate in dozens of service projects. They range from the expected (clothing and book drives) to the more unusual (entertaining senior citizens in nursing homes with joke-telling). It is a family event that the entire congregation looks forward to, and it often creates long term commitments to the projects we support.More...
100 Service Days
Feb 3, 2009
By Dan Gelber
A centerpiece of my campaign will be to participate in 100 community service projects across our state. I did not choose this idea because the "walk" of Lawton Chiles and the "work days" of Bob Graham had been taken. I chose it because it fits me. I have always made volunteerism an everyday part of my life and the life of my family. I have been in the Big Brothers program since I was in college (including 20 years with my current little brother) and been a summer counselor at a cancer camp I helped create in 1985. I've built houses for Habitat, and cleaned beaches.
In each moment of service, I have found that volunteering brings you closer to your community and ultimately enriches you more than you ever expect, and in this time of economic struggle, it is quite clear that our our nation and state will not meet today's challenges as a collection of individuals.
Send me a snow globe
Feb 1, 2009
By Dan Gelber
My family has been great. Joan and the kids always bring out the best in me and melt away the stress. In the middle of my announcement speech, my 4 year old son Max ran away from our make-shift podium only to return a moment later with a "snow globe" which seemed utterly random until we noticed it had the U.S. Capitol in it. I really like that kid.
My "little" brother and the President-Elect
Jan 19, 2009
I don't know whether Obama's success is the reason for my little brother's positive attitude - but I sense it has a lot to do with it. For a mid—twenties young black man whose demographic is mostly ignored and too often maligned, the mere "idea" of a Barack Obama seems to have improved his self—image and self—worth. He has newfound pride and hope and, apparently, that counts for something.
My statement on Sink decision
Jan 16, 2009
"I spoke this morning with Alex about her decision to seek reelection rather than to run for the seat being vacated by Senator Martinez. I have been delaying my own decision to give her time to reach her judgment, both out of my deep respect for her as a public servant and my personal friendship with both her and her husband. More...
Fighting a fiscal crisis with one hand tied behind our back
Dec 31, 2008
But how much is there left to cut, and what does that say about past leadership? Are we to believe that the self—professed anti—government Governor Jeb Bush, or the Republican dominated legislatures of the last decade have left that much fat and inefficiencies such that we can get through this crisis by simply cutting services? If so, someone has a lot of explaining to do. And how smart is it to put thousands of people out of work in the middle of a recession when Florida's unemployment rate is already closing in on 8%.
United States Senate 2010
Dec 7, 2008
The truth is for anyone, like me, who is passionate about public service the job of a U.S. Senator is so important and the trust is so great, that it can only be looked at seriously. Even for someone like Jeb Bush who probably is not as awed by the position as others might be, such a decision to run requires a good deal of due diligence...More...
Happy Turkey Day
Nov 27, 2008
Times are tough and for the most vulnerable among us they are toughest. Unemployment, a fraying health care safety net, and a growing financial crisis that continues to worsen a bad situation, have given too many too little for which to be thankful. But the answer to dark times will always be the promise of tomorrow. The hope that the resiliency of the American people and the faith we have in our common purpose will lead us to brighter skies and better days. More...
Call a Special Session.
Nov 21, 2008
This new bad news makes the case for why the Florida Legislature needs to meet in Special Session. In rough waters, we can't expect government to run on auto—pilot.More...
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...
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...
Florida's freefall isn't going away.
Nov 11, 2008
To put it in more basic terms, our state's cash flow resembles a family teetering on the edge of financial chaos. A family that can no longer meet its core needs of shelter, food and basic necessities. So in order to pay for expenses, the parents are paying for their utility bills on their credit cards, spending down the kids' college funds, and not going to the dentist and doctor to take care of nagging health care issues that will only worsen. And the possibility that mom or dad may lose their job is also a reality.
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...
I can't take it anymore.
Nov 3, 2008
Thank goodness the election is tomorrow. I don't think I could handle another week of wondering, and worrying, and arguing and hoping. I simply don't have enough hair to pull anymore out.More...
The say anything session
Oct 31, 2008
With Tuesday barreling toward us, the contrast between the campaigns couldn't be starker. Senator Obama put on a 30 minute commercial laying out his vision to address the challenges of our nation without once attacking McCain. Meanwhile, the McCain camp doesn't even bother with the pretense of presenting a vision for reform - rather they are only about saying anything to scare and frighten Americans. More...
Guest Blogger Ausley on special needs families
Oct 24, 2008
I wrote this guest blog for Rep. Dan Gelber's website in September shortly after Governor Palin assured the American people that she would be an advocate for the disability community in the White House. At that time, I looked on the McCain Palin website and found no policy statements relating to disabilities, and I wrote that I hoped that would change. Today, twelve days before the election, Governor Palin delivered a speech in Pennsylvania falsely criticizing Senator Obama's tax policies and laying out a plan for specials needs families - TWELVE DAYS BEFORE THE ELECTION.More...
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...
On the bus with Thurston and Lovey.
Oct 21, 2008
On Thursday the Republican Party of Florida is sponsoring "John McCain's Keep Your Wealth Bus Tour" across our great state. Really, it's not a joke, though it could be a late night infomercial. Perhaps the bus will be driven by Gilligan Island's Thurston Howell III (his wife, Lovey, riding shotgun), and the tour guide will be the CEO of Lehman Brothers who will explain how the policies McCain supported helped you keep your wealth (so long as by "keeping your wealth" you mean you have not lost literally every red cent you had). How will Saturday Night Live even be able to make fun of this unprecedented level of unwitting self—parody?More...
John Lewis, McCain 2.0, and my endorsement
Oct 19, 2008
I spoke to the Sarasota Democratic Club tonight. Although I was the featured speaker, civil rights pioneer and actual icon Congressman John Lewis followed my remarks with some of his own. It was the second time in my political life where my remarks preceded his. Knowing what would happen, I asked the audience to please write my name down on a napkin so that they might have some vague memory that I was also in attendance: John Lewis is that powerful a speaker.More...
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...
Kol Nidre, America the Beautiful and Lee Greenwood
Oct 8, 2008
Sundown began Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement. It is the most solemn of Jewish holidays the purpose of which is to take time to make yourself right with the world. It is a time to confess your sins, seek forgiveness and amend your conduct. I'm not sure that blogging was originally contemplated as part of the observance, but I believe that its cathartic value might bring it within the constructive spirit of the Holiday.More...
Representative Stan Mayfield 1955 - 2008
Oct 3, 2008
I always smiled when I saw Stan Mayfield. Even in moments when he appeared serious, his face betrayed a sense of humor, a mischievous streak or warmth that he unsuccessfully struggled to hide. Stan was a legislator who took his trust seriously, and who thrived in a process that rewards collegiality and authenticity. He was direct and never ducked a hard question or a harder answer; and even when we disagreed, he was so honest that it was impossible to not find him endearing. He fought his illness as all who knew him would have expected: gracefully and valiantly. Stan Mayfield was a class act, and he will be missed.More...
Jeepers, McCain Channels Dennis the Menace
Oct 1, 2008
WARNING: To readers under the age of 40 please consult with Wikipedia to understand any apparently obscure Dennis the Menace references.
Listening to John McCain tell Americans that we should not engage in "finger pointing" is sort of like listening to Dennis the Menace tell Mr. Wilson that "it's really not useful to dwell on who broke the window with the baseball. Jeepers, couldn't we just fix the window without talking about how it got broke?" More...
The Bailout and Florida's Economy
Sep 29, 2008
The "bailout" or "rescue" bill defeated by the Congress may ultimately be needed to stave off a disastrous financial collapse in our nation, but it will do very little for Florida's immediate economic challenges. While Florida may have been the origin of many of the sub—prime mortgages that became so corrosive and ruinous to Wall Street, the best we can hope for from the bailout - should it ultimately pass — is that it will not let things in Florida get much worse. Maybe.More...
An apology would be nice.
Sep 18, 2008
In the mid 1990's I was traveling in Japan for the U.S. Senate when I came across a little article in a newspaper about a Japanese bank (or some financial institution) going out of business due to mismanagement. Most of the investors were left with a fraction of their investments. The President of the Bank apologized publicly, resigned, and liquidated all his personal holdings and assets, and gave them out, pro rata, to his former customers. The article was only a few paragraphs and barely noticeable among other news. As if it were a common thing for leaders to take responsibility for what happens on their watch, and do all that they could to right their wrong.
Thank Heavens for South Carolina!
Sep 13, 2008
When it comes to man—made statistics Florida didn't do as well.
Our Estimated Public High School Graduation Rate in 2007 was ... 50th. Again. This statistic hurts the most but Florida's 53% trailed everybody (South Carolina was second to last with a 56.3%). If it's any consolation the District of Columbia was actually worse than Florida but, then again, they aren't a state.More...
National CAT Fund: Lower Rates Baby Lower Rates
Sep 9, 2008
Does anyone find it painfully ironic that McCain/Palin have their Florida Republican chorus blindly chanting their mantra to drill off of our coast knowing it won't reduce gas prices a penny; yet the same McCain/Palin ticket flatly refuses to embrace the concept of a national CAT fund which would unquestionably lower Floridian's property insurance rates dramatically. Seriously, at some point Floridians are going to wonder why McCain is hawking a non—solution to the energy crisis, while opposing an actual solution to Florida's property insurance crisis.
Good riddance to TBRC Amendments
Sep 4, 2008
Today the Supreme Court tossed off the November ballot measures 5, 7 and 9 as proposed by the Taxation and Budget Reform Commission (I was a nonvoting member of the TBRC). I have argued against these measures and believe that they would have had a devastating impact on an education system that is already being ripped apart by budget cuts. I think Floridians want our public schools fixed not privatized.
Republicans take off their "American" Hats
Sep 3, 2008
Well, I guess the Republicans just couldn't wait to take off their "American" hats and put back on their "Republican" hats. Tonight's faire: red meat with a zesty sauce of unrestrained relativism. I mean isn't it rich, listening to Washington lobbyist, Hollywood actor and former Senator Fred Thompson criticize Washington "big—shots" and "smooth talkers". And hearing the Republicans cheer for the "hope of change" (Sen. Norm Coleman) is pretty ironic. Someone needs to let the Republicans in the Hall know that they are the group Americans want change from. Seriously, is it a different Republican Party that has had near total control of government for the last 8 years?More...
Labor Day 2008: We're eating our seed corn
Sep 2, 2008
The Center for Labor Research and Studies at FIU just published their annual Labor Day report, "The State of Working Florida." It is a statistical review of the state of Florida's workforce and economy. For most Floridians, they do not need a data—laden report to tell them just how bad things are. They know first hand that our state is rapidly morphing from a mid—wage low—cost state, into a low—wage high—cost state. Still the data put together by the FIU team is instructive. It reflects that in virtually every category - wages, income, health care, pensions, work force investment - Florida is last or nearly dead last of the fifty states. And it also shows how Florida has failed to diversify its economy in ways that would make economic downturns less painful for our residents.More...
Pray and offer assistance
Sep 1, 2008
The Republicans are right to scale back their convention festivities in light of Gustav; Governor Crist is right to consider staying home as Hannah potentially impacts our state later this week; and Senator Obama and the Democrats are right to alter the tone of their campaign events as so much of our nation's attention focuses on the challenges brought by these unwelcomed winds. For Floridians, now is the time to pray for our neighbors and offer a helping hand. More...
A Terrrible Choice
Aug 30, 2008
I don't get it. The singular qualification for Vice—President is preparedness to be President. So are you telling me that the most qualified Republican in America to nominate for that post was the former part—time mayor of an Alaskan town (pop: 6715) who has been Governor of a state (pop: less than the City of Jacksonville) for 18 months. Are we to believe that Senator McCain honestly believes that Governor Palin is ready - on day one - to be President should something incapacitate him?More...
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...
Not just balloon drops and big hats
Aug 24, 2008
Today, the Tampa Tribune published an op—ed commentary I wrote in anticipation of the Denver Democratic Convention that begins in earnest tomorrow. It follows as it appeared:
....There was a time when political conventions were judged by their balloon drops and big hats. This Democratic convention will definitely not be one of those years...
Be My Friend
Aug 22, 2008
The notion of public officials using Facebook and similar internet platforms to reveal a more authentic side might seem a little silly. It probably is. I'm not sure that confessing I like the movie "Happy Gilmore" or that my 4 year old son can beat me in Wii tennis (easily) will give anyone a window into my soul. But in just the day since I joined it has, admittedly, been interesting to have access to the ruminations of people I know (or at least sort of know)More...
Board of Education seeks more money for K-12
Aug 19, 2008
Today, the Florida Board of Education asked for a $1 billion increase for Florida's K—12 public education funding. You might think that such a request would be obvious given that Florida spends less per capita on education than any other state. Or that with Florida's worst in the nation high school graduation rate a call for more resources might be plain as day. But the painful truth is that despite the compelling need for more funds for education, rarely has a Republican administration said they need more. More...
Optimism is not an economic policy.
Aug 15, 2008
Florida's economy is in freefall. This last year the legislature cut $6 billion due to declining economic activity, fuel costs, home sales and a variety of other factors. Today the Revenue Estimating Conference of the State reported that an additional $1.8 billion will have to be cut from the current budget. Nearly $8 billion in two years!More...
Forecast: Darker skies ahead.
Aug 13, 2008
This Friday, Florida's Revenue Estimating Conference will convene to present their official budget forecast for the upcoming year and beyond. Prior to Friday they believed Florida's declining revenue might show a slight uptick. Prepare yourselves for more bad news as conditions have only worsened and their forecast is likely to reflect darker skies. More...
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...
Steven Chaykin will be missed
Aug 1, 2008
I met Steven Chaykin over twenty years ago when he took me under his wing at the U.S. Attorneys Office in Miami where we worked in the public corruption unit. He was a talented attorney, a generous friend, and an all—around stand—up guy.More...
Cancer Camp - The view from the bottom bunk
Jul 28, 2008
Spent the weekend in the bottom bunk.
23 years ago a few exceptional women led by Lee Klein of Miami asked me to help organize a summer camp they wanted to create for the patients of the Children's Cancer Caring Center. I took them up on it and for nearly every summer since, I've found myself in the cabins of Birch State Park in Ft Lauderdale with 70 children and staff, enjoying the extraordinary natural gifts of our state - and the great camaraderie of Camp Fiesta.More...
2-5-7-9 these are the measures to decline.
Jul 22, 2008
In November you will have nine (9) amendments on the ballot. One was placed on the ballot by the Legislature, another measure through the citizen initiative process, and the remaining seven (7) by the Taxation and Budget Reform Commission (on which I was a nonvoting member). Here is my primer to all the amendments, along with recommendations and a little attitude.More...
No one should be surprised by Florida's economic woes.
Jul 17, 2008
No one should be surprised. While much of our woes result from larger trends in the economy, too many of them are self—inflicted.
Our failure to invest in public education - and develop a workforce that attracts more stable and better paying industries - is the reason why the national pain is felt most acutely in Florida.
And the Florida legislature has only acted to worsen these problems.
Imagine, when Floridians are desperately looking for new job opportunities, the legislature actually cut education and higher education by more than a billion dollars.More...
Senator Obama talks about loose nukes — hopefully people will listen
Jul 15, 2008
In the mid 1990's, as then Senator Sam Nunn's chief counsel and staff director of the U.S. Senate's Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, I directed a series of hearings and congressional reports on this same threat for Senator Nunn. I traveled around the world with our staff - especially throughout the former Soviet Union — exploring the many facets to the threat and ways to manage the risk. Back then, Senator Nunn partnered with Senator Dick Lugar, an Indiana Republican, to advance a program known as the Nunn—Lugar initiative. Senator Nunn had opined that the breakup of the Soviet Union, while eliminating the gravest threat facing our nation, created a entire series of new threats that were, in some respects, equally challenging. More...
Offshore drilling is a rank political stunt. Really.
Jul 14, 2008
Leave it to the Bush Administration to find craven opportunity in every national crisis. Americans are being crushed by oppressive gasoline prices and the Administration's answer is to tell us that the best way to reduce gas prices is to give oil companies more acreage for drilling. Really? In fact, they tell us, the drilling should be offshore. Really?More...
Time Magazine Florida essay ... the truth can hurt.
Jul 11, 2008
Today's Time Magazine essay by Michael Grunwald (below) paints a very painful (but pretty accurate) picture of the challenges facing our state. He touches most of the major trendlines that are contributing to our decline — and takes some pretty fair shots at the groups responsible for the dysfunction.
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...
Don't expect Florida's health care crisis to be solved any time soon
Jul 7, 2008
The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a Washington based think tank that looks at fiscal policy and programs published a report today poor mouthing Florida's newest health care plan - "Cover Florida". I supported this Governor Crist priority because I think some insurance is probably better than no insurance in a state with nearly 4 million people lacking coverage. I do not believe, however, that the answer to Florida's insurance crisis will ever be to simply provide less insurance to its residents. At best the Governor's plan, though responsible, is only a stop—gap measure that will help some but not meaningfully solve this crisis. To see the entire report (excerpt below) you can visit the Center at www.cbpp.org.More...
Happy New (Fiscal) Year
Jul 1, 2008
Unfortunately, the indexes we rely on to predict our future revenue suggests there is still more rock to dig through before we hit rock bottom. Gas prices are not coming down (and the wrongheaded offer of our coast for oil drilling won't change that one iota); the housing crisis is not going away; our workforce wages are not improving (especially considering the unwise budget cuts to education); and our hurricane insurance policy only works if we never have a hurricane.
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...
Energy Bill post mortem
Jun 25, 2008
Stopped by the Governor's "Serve to Preserve" summit today. It was a pretty impressive gathering of folks concerned about climate change. Years ago an event like this would have been attended by only the environmental community. The participants included nearly every sector of commerce. It's pretty evident that while government will clearly have a significant role in climate change policy, it will be the private sector that delivers the critical ingenuity to make any policy meaningful. The Governor began the day by signing the Energy Bill passed by the legislature this last session.More...
Everglades deal potentially historic
Jun 24, 2008
Today, Gov. Crist and U.S. Sugar announced a tenative deal that will have Florida taxpayers buying 187,000 of acres currently part of US Sugar's operations. Here is my comment:
Florida's public education
Jun 23, 2008
The greatest irony, perhaps, is that last week the nonpartisan Milken Institute, an independent economic think tank released their report comparing how well states are performing in the knowledge—based economy — Florida ranked 37th (an 8 slot drop from 2002) which strongly suggests that all the "reforms" have made things worse, and the very dumbest thing Florida should do right now is curtail investment in our public education system.More...
Memo to Governor Bush re: Education Summit
Jun 19, 2008
TO: Governor Bush
FROM: Dan Gelber
RE: Your Education Summit
Good luck today as you begin your National Summit on Education Reform. I see you have invited some serious people to Orlando to discuss education policy - lots of very right—leaning conservatives, but some moderates as well. While I often disagree with aspects of your education policy, I always commend your appetite for debate and agree with your statement "reform is never finished, success is never final." My hope is that your conferees spend more time engaging a critical evaluation of our public education system, and less time declaring successes that are illusory.
More Election Year Gimmickry
Jun 18, 2008
John McCain's energy policy is bad news for Florida and the country. John McCain and the Republican Party are exploiting a real crisis to advance a priority of the oil industry. Rather than take consumer friendly approaches that examine the excess profits by the oil corporations they are presenting a faux solution that has perilous underbelly.
Steve Schale gets the call
Jun 16, 2008
Today, the Obama for America Campaign announced that House Victory Political Director Steve Schale will assume the post of State Director for Florida. It is real tribute to the Obama campaign that rather than bring in an outsider who knows little about our state, they chose someone who truly understands the political mosaic of Florida, is familiar with Florida's challenges, and most importantly loves our state. More...
Florida Democrats Unite, Energize for November Victories
Jun 16, 2008
...if we leave our differences in the rearview mirror, we can leave John McCain and the Republican agenda there too
A callout to my Netroots friends (thanks).
Jun 14, 2008
To my Netroots friends, I'm honored to have been nominated for some of the awards but am returning from a family vacation in Vermont and will not make it in time to attend the ceremony. Please know that I appreciate your recognition and your kind words. I also wanted to thank you for your efforts of past and, more importantly, in the future. More...
Lawsuit filed against TBRC voucher amendments
Jun 13, 2008
By Dan Gelber
This morning, the Florida Education Association, the Anti—Defamation League among others filed a lawsuit for temporary injunction in Leon County Circuit Court, challenging the placement of proposals 7 and 9 on the November ballot by the Taxation and Budget Reform Commission. These amendments diminish the barrier between church and state (proposal 7) and deceptively enshrine vouchers in Florida's Constitution (proposal 9).More...
Florida's budget is nothing to celebrate
Jun 11, 2008
Today, Governor Crist signs Florida's $66 billion budget without any of the fanfare or pomp that often accompanies the event. It's a good thing, as this is not a budget that warrants celebration.More...
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.
"I do not support a national catastrophic insurance policy."
Jun 5, 2008
Those words, uttered by Senator John McCain earlier this year, should be of great concern to any Floridian facing steep and seemingly uncontrolled windstorm insurance bills. Whether you are paying the bills, or are worried that you will owe assessments when a hurricane does hit, you know that this is one of the great economic challenges facing Florida's families. More...
If it wasn't so serious it could be funny.
Jun 5, 2008
On a less serious note, check out this video by the Florida Democratic Party on McCain's hurricane insurance position.
Taxation Commission violated fundamental fairness of voting franchise
Jun 3, 2008
The TBRC leadership will argue that they had the power to combine measures. While I disagree, it's a sorry defense that doesn't make it right. While I recognize that Governor Bush (the invisible hand responsible for the measure) and others may be honestly passionate about school—vouchers, it is less than honest and unbecoming for those given power and a public trust to intentionally try to trick voters. If former Governor Bush believes he is right on the merits and on principle, than he should support putting the measure up for a fair debate and an up or down vote, rather than resorting to chicanery to prevail. More...
He had me at "Tonight."
Jun 3, 2008
There will always be a debate among historians as to whether great leaders make great moments, or great moments make great leaders. I do not profess to know the answer, but am fairly certain that we are in the midst of one of those moments. I have listened to many public officials who thrive on fear and division, and others who succeed by studiously avoiding conflict or controversy. Senator Obama does neither, but simply inspires by appealing to our better angels and daring us to hope.
What follows are his remarks this evening. He had me at "Tonight."More...
Florida's Day in DNC Court
May 30, 2008
Tomorrow Florida Democrats will have their day in Court. Well sort of. It is my hope that after the finger pointing subsides, Democrats will recognize that who gets seated in Denver in August is not nearly as important as who receives the oath in Washington in January.
Remember the crisis in children's health care? It didn't go away.
May 28, 2008
Yesterday a respected and nonpartisan foundation issued a report ranking Florida's child health care delivery 50th in the nation (only Oklahoma was worse, Louisiana and Mississippi were slightly better). The independent Commonwealth Fund (see www.commonwealthfund.org ) analyzed a litany of categories including health care access, costs, infant mortality, and health equity. In nearly every category Florida's children were near the bottom of the 50 states (and the District of Columbia). The statistics were startling: nearly one in five of our children do not have health insurance; more than one in five do not get key vaccines; only two in five have a regular doctor; and nearly eight out of every one thousand Florida infants die.More...
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...
Observations from the O-Train
May 23, 2008
I met up with the O—Train in Tampa on Wednesday where with little advance planning Senator Obama filled up the Forum in Tampa - easily 15,000 strong. The crowd seemed to be a cross section of everyday people. Young and old, every nationality and occupation. If anyone is wondering whether Obama has broad based appeal, just look to see who is showing up at his rallies. Having worked on previous statewide campaigns (including Presidential and Gubernatorial) when it is sometimes a struggle to get hundreds of people to show up - it is obvious that his message of change is both wide and deep.
A Nigerian businessman wants to make you $$, Obama's Israel "problem," and other Viruses
May 19, 2008
My first impulse was to simply dismiss without dignifying with response the viral emails circulating about Senator Obama. I couldn't believe that people might actually embrace whatever trash comes in their inbox as if it were the truth. Then again, I guess there is a reason that Nigerian businessman keeps sending me email requests to send him my personal bank account information so that he can send me millions of dollars.More...
Blame the Republican Legislature (especially in November) - Part I (Education)
May 15, 2008
My favorite is "we are just making the tough choices that any family would make in hard times." Yeah, right. I can just imagine my wife's reaction if I told her that I wanted to cut the kids' education to make sure I didn't have to turn in my Miami Heat tickets. That would go over well.More...
Vote for Change
May 10, 2008
In Florida, only about 10 of the 18 million people who make up our great state are registered to vote. In Miami-Dade County, roughly half of the 2.5 million people are not registered. And on Election Day even those registered more often than not don't even bother to show up. Too many of our neighbors have simply lost confidence in their elected officials. Today the Obama campaign took an important step to address this disconnect by reminding our neighbors that their voice matters.More...
Florida is in Play on Game Day
May 9, 2008
As the primary journey comes closer to its finish (and I do think the end is near), it's time to start thinking about game day — November 4 — and the positive trends that, I believe, are working in favor of Florida swinging Democratic this year.
I Choose Obama.
May 7, 2008
Since the beginning of this primary slog I have been conflicted. I like both Obama and Clinton and believe either would be markedly better than the alternative. But only one can be the Democratic nominee and we have to end this sooner than later. As a superdelegate from the rogue state of Florida (currently under penalty from the DNC) my vote doesn't count. But if it did, I would say it's time to move on and choose Senator Barack Obama. Here is why.More...
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...
The TBRC: The Bad and the Ugly
Apr 25, 2008
Today the Taxation and Budget Reform Commission went further off the tracks and voted out various proposals it had no business addressing. It both was bad and ugly.More...
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...
The Distraction Agenda
Apr 17, 2008
Florida is facing soaring gas prices, horrible windstorm rates and property taxesMore...
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...
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...
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...
What you will hear tomorrow——and what you won't.
Apr 8, 2008
At 11:00 AM tomorrow, the full House begins debate on the state budget. Since most Floridians have far more to do than to watch seven hours of floor debate during working hours, I wanted to take a moment to share with you exactly what the Republicans will say.More...
Who are they looking out for?
Apr 3, 2008
By Dan Gelber
By leaving the issue of taxpayer—funded corporate pork off the table, we are failing to give Floridians real choice. For example, why are we choosing between children's health care or Hospice care when there is another choice: closing the loophole that allows multi—state corporations to avoid paying their fair share?More...
Another Day of Ignoring Property Taxes and Property Insurance
Apr 2, 2008
By Dan Gelber
...the decision of my Republican colleagues to once again turn the floor of the Florida House into their own personal ideological soapbox is a disservice to the people that we serve...More...
The divide between church and state takes a hit
Mar 26, 2008
By Dan Gelber
Today, Florida's Taxation and Budget Reform Commission on a divided vote agreed to put on the November 2008 ballot a measure that would significantly diminish the separation between church and state that Floridians have enjoyed for over a century, and pave the way for expansion of school voucher programs.More...
A toll by any other name...is a tax
Mar 21, 2008
By Dan Gelber
Imagine a $7 toll over Alligator Alley or to cross the Skyway Bridge in Tampa Bay. Well, that is exactly what the Florida Department of Transportation is moving toward thanks to a Republican measure passed last year. The (bad) idea is to lease many of Florida's toll roads to private companies and investment banks. The companies would take over the roads and raise tolls dramatically enough to allow them to make lease payments to the state and a profit to their investors.More...
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.
Searching for solutions to a fiscal crisis
Mar 18, 2008
By Dan Gelber
Florida is in the midst of a fiscal crisis. Due to plummeting state revenues we have been forced to cut billions from the current budget year, and have been told by state economic forecasters that we will be cutting billions from next year's budget. Although we can hope the bad times end soon, because Florida's economy is so premised on housing and construction, it is unlikely we will see the light at the end of the tunnel for at least another budget cycle. More...
Providence or good graces will have to determine Florida Delegates
Mar 17, 2008
Today, Florida Democratic Party Chairwoman Karen Thurman declared officially dead the revote by mail idea. While it was the only option available that would have given Florida Democrats an avenue to host a selection process that was in compliance with DNC rules, it lacked the consensus required to allow it to happen. Since an actualMore...
Question: Is the only viable option the right option?
Mar 13, 2008
By Dan Gelber
The primary revote idea is reaching heightened levels of clarity with last night's release of the Florida Democratic Party revote plan. I commend FDP Chair Karen Thurman for quickly putting together on paper what a revote plan would look like. I believe it was her obligation to present to Florida Democrats the available options and she has done exactly that. Whether a mail revote makes sense or will happen is another story entirely. Absent consensus it is going to be very difficult for Floridians to chart a path out of this primary mess. And presently there is no consensus in part because of so many unknowns and because so many stakeholders (including voters) tend to see options through the filter of what is good or bad for their favored candidate. A few random comments for and against the idea.More...
Florida Democratic Primary Needs to be Run by Democrats
Mar 7, 2008
By Dan Gelber
The need for integrity in the process is critical, but we really don't need the State. Many accounting firms are very experienced in providing appropriate oversight and the State of Florida, frankly, doesn't have a great track record in this area. Let's face it, if the State of Florida tabulated the Academy Awards, Chuck Norris would likely have won best actor on a hanging chad dispute.
State of the State Response
Mar 6, 2008
Tuesday night I delivered the Response to the Governor's State of the State. The Governor is an optimistic person who tends to shy away from partisanship — but Florida's challenges are great — and I'm not sure I trust the Republican Legislature as much as he does.
Here is my response to the Governor:
Good Evening, I'mMore...
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...
Tony Makes Nine!
Feb 26, 2008
By Dan Gelber
During this election cycle, they circumnavigated the state with Newt Gingrich in tow offering power points celebrating right wing Republican orthodoxy, instead of sensible candidates who speak to the aspirations of their constituents and the real challenges of our state.More...
Feb 20, 2008
Lots of opinions sent to me on the Florida revote idea. Some via posts, others by phone and mail and even a few yolks hurled at my doorstep. Some were actually polite. Let me try to answer your concerns by category.
New Science Standards: A Missed Chance to Evolve
Feb 19, 2008
By Dan Gelber
I don't want a science teacher explaining and refereeing the tension between science and religion. As a parent of public school children, I prefer to have my children learn about faith and religion in our home and synagogue, not in our public schools — and definitely not from the government.
Video of my commentscan be found at: www.associationstudios.com/gelberMore...
One Way Out for Florida Democrats
Feb 15, 2008
By Dan Gelber
As the primary slog continues, however, Florida Democrats find themselves wondering whether that all too familiar combination of self—destructiveness and bad luck will once again snatch defeat out of the jaws of victory. Since the DNC will only count our delegates if we select them through a DNC approved process, perhaps we should consider a primary election by mail that includes Independent voters.
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...
My First Post
Feb 12, 2008
For a while I thought this internet thing was just a fad. But now I'm beginning to think it's got legs. So today I am launching my blog, the purpose of which will be to provide a forum for discourse about the great challenges facing our State. As the Leader of the opposition party, it has been my job to challenge the majority, to reveal their excesses and overreaching, but also to show our citizens that there is a better way. More...