NBC-TV's Meet the Press video -Host David Gregory speaks to Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida about the 2012 federal budget, the federal debt ceiling, saving Medicare, the (Paul) 'Ryan Plan,' and U.S. foreign policy, to wit, Libya.
If you are someone who considers themselves pretty well-informed and are watching the video of this morning's Meet the Press program from outside of the U.S., and get the distinct impression that Sen. Rubio, who has been in office less than four months, is being asked to explain -and or defend- public policies in more detail than many longstanding members of the U.S. Congress you can name, who get nothing but softball questions... take a bow.
You are correct.
Sen. Rubio's YouTube Channel is at:
U.S. House Budget Comm. YouTube Channel:
American Roadmap YouTube Channel:
The other U.S. Senator from Florida is Democratic two-termer Bill Nelson, who is up for re-election in 2012. He's a nice enough guy, but NOT nearly as dynamic, savvy or articulate as what this complex and crazy-quilt of a state demands, Florida being the country's fourth-largest.
Sen. Nelson's YouTube Channel is at http://www.youtube.com/user/SenBillNelson
I won't be voting for Nelson next year and currently have no GOP preference, but I am AGAINST a few GOP candidates for the office, the most prominent being the myopic, ethically-troubled Florida State Senate President, Mike Haridopolos; he's bad news personified!
I'd much prefer Florida State Senator Paula Dockery or Orange County (Orlando) mayor Teresa Jacobs, both of whom are very smart and articulate people full of ideas who are NOT at all afraid to speak (and vote) against the state political orthodoxy and the establishment of Tallahassee in particular, and Florida in general.
Nor are they afraid to speak against their own party and supporters when they think they're wrong.
For an excellent example of that attitude, read these two Mike Thomas columns from the Orlando Sentinel, since they're positive pieces of a sort that very, very few Florida pols could earn.
Teresa Jacobs has to challenge performing-arts center bailout
By Mike Thomas COMMENTARY
8:50 p.m. EST, December 22, 2010
Orlando is $61 million short in getting the performing-arts center off the ground. So the city and arts supporters are hitting up Teresa Jacobs, Orange County's mayor-elect, for an advance on almost half of it.-----
She might as well get used to people groveling for money.
I have long supported an arts center. But this is like old Uncle Al, flat broke with holes in his shoes, hitting you up for $500 because he's got a sure thing at the track.
Give it to him and you know he's coming back for more.
None of this is a surprise for those of us who have followed the saga of the three downtown venues — the arts center, the arena and the Citrus Bowl.
The county budget-crunchers knew this day was coming back in 2007 when they negotiated the $1.1 billion venues deal with Orlando. They thought Mayor Buddy Dyer and Co. were out of their fiscal minds for taking on this much risk.
So the county built a firewall.
It would give the city enough resort-tax money to build a new Magic arena for billionaire Rich DeVos.
But the performing-arts center and Citrus Bowl would have to get in line behind a long list of priorities already funded by the resort tax.
If Buddy's gamble failed, the county was protected.
On paper, at least. That doesn't take into account the intangible of political pressure that would accompany the request for a bailout. If you don't give us the money, the project will not get built, and it will be your fault.
Now that we are there, what will Jacobs do?
She is, by nature, a cautious fiscal conservative. In fact, it was Jacobs who put a caveat in the venues deal, requiring that the arts center be fully funded before any debt was issued to waste money on a Citrus Bowl renovation.
During the mayoral campaign, Jacobs was criticized for being too focused on details when the job required a big-picture consensus builder. Being branded as the person who killed the arts center wouldn't help that perception.
But there are so many pitfalls here, she could hardly be blamed for doing so. Here are a few of them:
•The city is broke, which raises the question of where it plans to come up with its half of the shortfall. The county also doesn't have a spare $30 million stuffed in a mattress, meaning it could be forced to raid a reserve fund set aside for the convention center. That would be ill-advised.
•This deal would allow construction of phase one of the arts center — an amplified arena for events such as Broadway shows and a small 300-seat theater. Will the city come back for another cash advance when it comes time to build phase two — a 1,700 seat acoustical hall?
•The county could be the money pile of last resort to cover operating deficits. Some of this tab was going to be paid by leasing property next to the center for a hotel and office building. But the economy put the kibosh on that.
There also are disturbing rumors about donors backing out of their pledges, which could create an even deeper fiscal hole for the county to fill down the road.
The problem in dealing with Orlando is that the city is tapped out. So the minute a bulldozer rolls onto the site, the county could find itself sucked into a black hole, from which there is no politically feasible escape.
At a minimum, Jacobs should insist that the city raise its $31 million share of the shortfall first. She then should demand to see an updated list of all donor pledges and the contracts they signed with the arts center.
The county needs some guarantee it won't bankroll operating expenses.
The city must agree not to spend any more money renovating the Citrus Bowl until the arts center is finished and its operating costs are known and accounted for.
Every dime the city spends on that empty stadium is another dime the county probably will have to make up for at the arts center.
Finally, Jacobs should insist the city contact Magic owner Rich DeVos about providing a loan, which would be repaid as resort-tax funds become available. He could take his interest out of the $10 million he has pledged to the arts center.
Jacobs has a lot of options. The worst one is writing out a check for $30 million with no questions and no demands.
Orange Mayor Jacobs gives Orlando a dose of reality on arts center
5:59 p.m. EST, February 12, 2011
Business as usual in this town officially ended at noon on Feb. 10.
That's when Orange Mayor Teresa Jacobs hit the send button and delivered a scathing review of the planned performing-arts center to inboxes across Orange County.
Her staff uncovered millions in waste, slipshod construction contracts, double-billings and overall gross mismanagement. Given that Orlando is ultimately in charge of building the center, she left City Hall in pretty much the same shape that the Air Force left Baghdad in 2003.
Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer emerged from the rubble hours later to answer questions like: "Are you embarrassed?"
You better believe it. He also was livid. This was a major breach of protocol. Proper etiquette requires that mayoral combat be conducted by backstabbing in private.
This all began in December when the city made the big mistake of asking the county for $30 million to help cover a funding shortfall for the arts center.
Normally, the county would have put up token resistance before succumbing to political pressure and writing a check.
The days of normalcy are over.
Jacobs said no. And then she unleashed her advisers and staff on an arts-center cost-cutting mission. Needless to say, mission accomplished.
Normally this would have been handled behind the scenes.
But Jacobs and her people grew suspicious of the city's good intentions as the process dragged on.
She also believes that full public disclosure is in the best interest of the public. Judging by her landslide election victory last November, the public agrees.
And so Jacobs gave the public what it voted for. She publicly nuked Buddy.
Somewhere, former Orange Mayor Rich Crotty is either smiling or wincing. Jacobs used to nuke him all the time when she served on the commission.
But just to be clear, Jacobs does not launch unless the target presents itself.
There are bigger problems with this arts center than mismanagement of planning and construction.
The city's reserve fund to cover its bond debt is underfunded. The endowment fund that will be used to help cover center operations expenses is grossly underfunded.
The city's downtown taxing district is tapped out.
Construction of the acoustical hall — the venue most cherished by local arts groups — has been put off indefinitely. And each year of delay will add an estimated $16 million to the price tag.
And then there are the things not in the report.
Last year, Fitch Ratings downgraded the city's Magic arena bonds to junk status.
Orlando has borrowed $90 million, with the loan based on the value of Centroplex property that's not worth half that much. Dyer has thrown $10 million at sprucing up the FloridaCitrus Bowl and now is aiming money at the "Creative Village.
The city's tab for pension benefits exceeds $50 million a year.
And this was on our front page last April: "For the second year in a row, the city of Orlando faces a staggering deficit of tens of millions of dollars and will look to erase the red ink by paring city staff and cutting services."
Yet in December, Dyer said he could cough up an additional $31 million for the arts center.
Jacobs is rightly concerned that she is doing business with Greece.
And when Dyer can't pull any more money out of his magic hat, the county will be the deep pocket of last resort once construction of the arts center begins. Even more disturbing is that the city and arts supporters are in a mad dash to get construction going. Their theory is that everything will work itself out once the bulldozers arrive.
It's a faith-based initiative, whereas the county administration building is filled with fiscal atheists who don't believe in miracles.
So what happens next?
The prevailing theory is that Dyer and the board running the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts will tell Jacobs to butt out and try to get the project started without any more help from the county. That certainly should scare the bejabbers out of big-money donors and city taxpayers.
A better idea is for Dyer to go to Jacobs, get her terms of surrender for more financial backing, let her more-experienced staff help salvage this mess and worry about revenge some other day.