1. How to win friends: Try becoming chair of a legislative redistricting committee. State Rep. Will Weatherford tells the St. Petersburg Times he’s been hearing from his new pals in Congress:

    Yeah, I’ve had them call, ‘Hey, how’s it going Mr. Chairman, what’s happening?’ All the sudden I’m a pretty popular guy to people who didn’t know who I was. I give them the same speech I give our members, which is, ‘Do me a favor, have your people come to hearings, we’d love to hear from you if you want to give us your opinion. But don’t talk to me about where you live, don’t talk to me about what your political agenda is. Talk about the communities of interest in your district, talk about how it can be more compact, talk about how it can follow geographic boundaries better. If your comments are tailored toward the district and not you, it’s okay. But anything you say to me can and will be used.’

  2. From the annals of DC wisdom: As Republican politicians campaign against the EPA, President Obama may soon start mounting a more vigorous defense of the agency, since issues involving the environment and public health “resonate with suburban women, who are going to be crucial” in the 2012 elections.
  3. The current Congress is shaping up to be among the most ineffective in modern times, in many ways “underperforming even the ‘do-nothing Congress’ of 1948, as Harry Truman dubbed it.” Some say our national government is starting to look more like California’s.
  4. Quote of the day:

    DEP officials “are running very scared,” Frederick said. Gov. Scott is pushing the DEP’s state lands division to bring in enough money to cover its expenses, he explained, “so they are looking at the choice of letting a lot of people go or selling off land or letting the land go to hell.”

    That’s University of Florida biology professor Peter Frederick, also a member of the state’s Acquisition and Restoration Council, telling the St. Petersburg Times about the quandary faced by the Department of Environmental Protection, which  received an earful from hundreds of residents, not to mention current and former elected officials of a wide range of political persuasions, who were universally opposed to a plan to let more RVs into state parks.

  5. Number of the day: 102,319 — Florida’s prison population in June, according to a report (.pdf) from the Office of Economic and Demographic Research intended to measure the accuracy of its forecasts. That’s nearly flat from its level a year ago (102,232). The total has fluctuated around 102,000 since early last year.
  6. Why SunRail (could) matter: A recent Brookings Institution report, described here, suggests America’s current transit systems, such as they are, tend to be out of whack with our growing need for smarter development patterns and more transportation options.

    These findings are particularly relevant as ridership across transit systems has increased as people look for more budget friendly travel options in light of rising gas prices … the findings also point to broader problems as transit systems have been unable to catch up to sprawl, and growth trends have lead to leap-frog development that increases commute time and distance while also damaging the urban continuity needed for broad based access to jobs across incomes.

    What this all amounts to is … the need for a serious conversation at the state level that examines how communities intend to support their citizens as they get to work and expand economic development into new areas. In the report, researchers point to new transit systems in the West which are designed to travel larger distances and have routes that more closely track with new growth trends

    Central Florida can now lead that conversation in our state.

Please send tips, additions, corrections and other feedback to travis(at)floridaindependent(dot)com.

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