Archive for November 17, 2008

A Great Video on the Dangers of Global Warming!

Thanks, Robert D! He also has the latest update on the fires. What kind of carbon taxes is the Governator going to levy on that?


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Florida’s Pension Fund Plummets

The State Board of Administration, which manages many of Florida’s public investments, has seen its assets plummet by $62-billion, a third of their value, in the last 13 months.

The decline — the steepest in the agency’s 65-year history — reflects both big investment losses in the global financial crisis and the decision by hundreds of local and state agencies to withdraw money from shaky SBA accounts.

In both cases, the SBA plowed money into higher-risk investments with the potential for bigger profits. But in the ongoing financial meltdown, they generated big losses instead.

Combined, the investment losses and withdrawals slashed SBA assets from a high of $187.5-billion on Sept. 30, 2007, to $125.4-billion as of Oct. 31.

The SBA manages 34 public funds. The largest is the state’s retirement system pension plan for almost 1-million public employees, retirees and their family members.

The SBA also handles investment accounts for the Florida Lottery, the state’s hurricane catastrophe fund and a local government investment pool where nearly a thousand counties, cities, school districts and other state and local entities keep surplus cash.

In the last 13 months, the state pension plan lost more than a quarter of its value, or $37.9-billion. It peaked at $138.4-billion on Sept. 30, 2007, and was worth $100.5-billion on Oct. 31.

The local government pool, which was once the largest in the country, shrank by $21.2-billion, from $27.3-billion to $6.1-billion, largely because of withdrawals.

Spokesman Dennis MacKee said all SBA funds are built to survive losses in the market, even severe ones, adding that they will recoup those losses over time.

“We remain confident with the long-term soundness of the funds we manage,” he said.

MacKee also said the benefits of pension plan participants and retirees are guaranteed by the state. Florida is better off than many states, he said, because its pension plan has more than enough money to cover future retirement benefits.

But that surplus has been declining for the last eight years — not because of poor performance, the state says, but because government employers were allowed to make smaller contributions to the plan.
Read the rest at

Yikes. I’m glad I’m not planning to retire in the near future.

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Mayport NAS To Get Nuclear Carrier Within Five Years!


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — After a year-long study of whether a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier could be stationed at Mayport Naval Station, the secretary of the Navy told members of Florida’s congressional delegation Monday that a carrier will be moved to the base within five years.

“We are full steam ahead: Jacksonville is going to have a nuclear carrier,” U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Florida, said.

The decision to house a new carrier at Mayport was one of 13 options being considered by the Navy to strategically disperse its carrier fleet and came after an environmental impact study completed last month reportedly said there is no barrier to upgrading Mayport to house a nuclear-powered carrier. Read the rest here.

First Coast News has more:

MAYPORT, FL — Naval Station Mayport will once again be host to an aircraft carrier, and the estimated 10,000 jobs that come with it.

“Full steam ahead…Jacksonville is going to have a nuclear carrier.”

Those words from Senator Bill Nelson, D-Florida, this afternoon signify the big changes coming to the First Coast.

Nelson adds that the Secretary of Defense still has to officially approve the Navy’s recommendation, but points out that it’s a formality at this point. “For all intents and purposes, it’s a done deal,” he said emphatically.

Secretary of the Navy Donald Winter made the decision to move one of the carriers currently homeported in Norfolk, Virginia, to Mayport.

Representatives from Norfolk have lobbied Secretary Winter to keep Norfolk the way it is, home to all of the carriers on the East Coast.

Nelson, along with Senator Mel Martinez and Representatives Corrine Brown and Ander Crenshaw, whose district includes Mayport, have been lobbying hard for the move, arguing that after the 1941 invasion of Pearl Harbor, it is not wise to have all of our carriers in one port.

Dan McCarthy, director of military affairs for Jacksonville, says utilizing Mayport makes sense because “it’s strategically located (with) great access to the ocean.”

“This is tremendous news for Florida and testament to the strategic importance of Mayport,” says Senator Martinez, who is the ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Seapower subcommittee.

Rep. Crenshaw adds that this is “a huge victory for Mayport, Northeast Florida, and for U. S. national security.”

Senator Nelson agrees, saying, “Getting all of the nuclear carriers out of one port in Virginia is in our national security interest.”

He says there were 2 major factors standing in the way. The first was an environmental impact study, which will be officially released Friday, but has concluded that there are no significant barriers preventing a carrier from being in Mayport.

The other was the Navy’s recommendation, which happened Monday.

It has seemed strange for Mayport to be without a carrier since the JFK was decommissioned. It will be nice to have the carrier folks and their families back again.

Jacksonville Business Journal

Update: Hmmmm. Most people seem to think that the exotic dancers (okay, strippers), bars, and Hooters waitresses will be the chief beneficiaries. Look, there really ARE other people that will benefit. People that work in support jobs, for example. You mean plastic surgeons? NO!

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Saudi Oil Tanker Hijacked

Oh, those high-spirited Somalian Al Qaeda pirates. I wonder how many millions in ransom they’ll get for this one? The other African nations are going to have to clean up that country soon.

Yeah, I know. Expecting actual competency in African countries should probably be ranked pretty high on the delusional index.

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School Employees Behaving Badly

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — An assistant principal at First Coast High School is in jail rather than at her office Monday, accused of stealing cash while working in a concession stand at the Jaguars game.

According to the arrest report, Janelle Porter, 32, was arrested Sunday evening on charges of misdemeanor theft after a surveillance camera recorded her taking money from the cash register and placing it in her pocket.

Police said the camera was installed after cash was missing from that register after the last Jaguars’ home game.

Ms. Porter is accused of stealing $500 during the two games.

TAMPA, Fla. — A second-grade teacher in west Florida has been arrested for possessing heroin and crack cocaine and delivering them to undercover deputies.

Authorities said 27-year-old Valerie Elaine Sabarese of Ruskin was arrested Friday afternoon as she left Summerfield Crossings Elementary School in Riverview.

Hillsborough County Sheriff’s detectives began investigating Sabarese earlier this month when they said she sold .3 grams of heroin and .3 grams of crack cocaine to detectives for cash at a convenience store.

These are people that have jobs, although the administrator’s job pays far more than the second grade teacher’s job. Most people that I know that are teaching rely on a second paycheck in the household to make ends meet. Those on the lower end of the payscale and/or single parents have been working two or three jobs to keep the utilities on and groceries on the table.

Unfortunately, those second or third part-time jobs are harder to come by now. Everybody is on edge because we know more cutbacks are coming, and our job may be the one eliminated in the next round of budget cuts.

Teaching (and administration) are high stress jobs. Teachers have been known to abuse alcohol, prescription drugs, and self-medicate with various illegal drugs. I suspect that this may be the underlying problem here.

Of couse, I said that about the whole banking crisis, too. “What the HELL is the matter with those people? Are they ALL on drugs?” was what I asked when the entire banking industry started falling apart. The answer, apparently, was yes, they were.

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