WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU RUB TWO BILLIONAIRE FRAUDS TOGETHER IN A BOCA HOT TUB? WE MAY NEVER KNOW: “Gov. Rick Scott abruptly called off a South Florida fundraiser planned for Saturday at the Boca Raton home of real estate developer James Batmasian, a convicted felon who did time for federal tax evasion. Batmasian pleaded guilty in 2008 to a felony charge of failing to pay the government $253,513 in federal taxes for employees at his company, Investments Limited. He was sentenced to eight months in prison followed by two years of supervised release, which is similar to probation. The Florida Supreme Court then suspended his license to practice law. His law license was still suspended as of Thursday, making him ineligible to practice in Florida. The Florida Bar said Thursday that Batmasian hasn't applied for reinstatement. Though he's a convicted felon, Batmasian, 67, is still a registered voter. After an inquiry about his status, Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher said she'd report it to the state to begin the process of removing him from the voter rolls. Florida prohibits convicted felons from voting unless their rights are restored. Batmasian hasn't voted since the March 2008 Boca Raton city election — five weeks before his guilty plea. The Florida Democratic Party jumped at the chance to embarrass the Republican governor by using Batmasian as an excuse to bring up Scott's background at HCA/Columbia, the hospital company he founded. Scott was ousted in 1997 amid a Medicare fraud investigation that resulted in $1.7 billion in fines. Scott left the company with $10 million in severance and $300 million in stock.” (via Sun-Sentinel)
HEY, MAYBE IT’S TIME FOR SOME OF THAT COMPASSIONATE CONSERVATISM NOW? IT’S CHEAP!: “Even if you don’t think society has a moral obligation to care for the least among us, a new study underscores that we have a financial obligation to do so. Late last week, the Central Florida Commission on Homelessness released a new study showing that, when accounting for a variety of public expenses, Florida residents pay $31,065 per chronically homeless person every year they live on the streets. The study, conducted by Creative Housing Solutions, an Oklahoma-based consultant group, tracked public expenses accrued by 107 chronically homeless individuals in central Florida. These ranged from criminalization and incarceration costs to medical treatment and emergency room intakes that the patient was unable to afford. Andrae Bailey, CEO of the commission that released the study, noted to the Orlando Sentinel that most chronically homeless people have a physical or mental disability, such as post-traumatic stress disorder. “These are not people who are just going to pull themselves up by their bootstraps and get a job,” he said. “They’re never going to get off the streets on their own.” The most recent count found 1,577 chronically homeless individuals living in three central Florida counties — Osceola, Seminole, and Orange, which includes Orlando. As a result, the region is paying nearly $50 million annually to let homeless people languish on the streets. There is a far cheaper option though: giving homeless people housing and supportive services. The study found that it would cost taxpayers just $10,051 per homeless person to give them a permanent place to live and services like job training and health care. That figure is 68 percent less than the public currently spends by allowing homeless people to remain on the streets. If central Florida took the permanent supportive housing approach, it could save $350 million over the next decade.” (via ThinkProgress)
SPEAKING OF, HAVE A SAFE WEEKEND? WHAT COULD POSSIBLY GO WRONG?: “Florida leads the nation in inmates who are released from prison with no supervision or support, a new study concludes. The Pew Charitable Trusts conducted a state-by-state analysis of so-called "max-outs," or the number of inmates who serve their full sentences and are released to the community with no monitoring programs in place. A large number of those inmates commit new crimes, resulting in more victims, and are sent back to prison at enormous costs to taxpayers. "Get ready for a whole lot more of this," said Allison DeFoor, chairman of The Project on Accountable Justice at Florida State University and an advocate for greater scrutiny of how states run their prison systems. DeFoor said that for too long, the criminal justice system has evaded the same kind of results-oriented accountability that education and health care must now provide. "It's too big to rock along without accountability," DeFoor said. He noted that one of every seven state employees works in the Department of Corrections. The agency said its recidivism rate is declining, but it was 27.6 percent for 2008, the latest year available. That means more than one of every four inmates freed from prison is back behind bars within three years.” (via Tampa Bay Times)
WELL, THIS IS BOUND TO CAUSE A RUCKUS. YOU’RE DOING IT ALL WRONG, AMERICAN BALLHEADS!: “Growing up as a soccer fan in England, I've witnessed my fair share of horrors. I've seen shocking acts of violence, overheard hundreds of abusive chants and watched Pelé retire to sell erectile dysfunction pills. Over the years, I've been angered, saddened and ashamed by these things. But through it all, my love for soccer remained undimmed. But lately, I've discovered there's a new scourge on my beloved game that I simply cannot tolerate: Americans. Understand that I'm not talking about the vast majority of you, who still regard soccer as a distinctly European product of dubious worth, like espadrilles or universal health care. I don't begrudge fans here who have only recently awakened to the charms of what the rest of the world has long known as the beautiful game. Welcome to the party! The problem is your soccer obsessives. By my reckoning, they may be the most derivative, excessive and utterly ridiculous collection of sports fans on the planet. If you've ever stumbled across this tribe as they spill out of a bar on Saturday mornings after 90 minutes spent watching a game contested by two teams based thousands of miles away, you'll know the sort of fans I'm talking about. They refer to the sport as "fútbol," hold long conversations about the finer points of the 4-4-2 formation and proudly drape team scarves around their necks even when the temperature outside is touching 90 degrees. It is this band of soccer junkies who have turned the simple pleasure I used to derive from heading to a bar to watch a game into something more akin to undergoing root canal surgery.” (via Wall Street Journal)
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