Mitch Perry Report 3.26.13: Housing money for needy Floridians goes elsewhere

Plus: JP Morgan Chase, Daniel Ruth and more …

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Although it's sometimes hard to believe, the state of Florida used to pass some relatively progressive laws. One of them was over 20 years ago when they created what is known as the Sadowski housing trust fund. It was created mainly to be a dedicated funding source to create more affordable housing for vulnerable and needy Floridians. It also was a boon to the housing industry.

But as the Times' Mike Van Sickler reports today, the Legislature is taking $200 million out of the fund this year to pay for "other priorities," such as teacher raises and health care.

The Legislature feels okay in doing that because the trust fund just received $200 million from a national mortgage settlement, but overlooks the fact that same body of lawmakers has failed to appropriate any money into what is known as the State Housing Initiative Partnership (SHIP) program, created by the Sadowski Act, since fiscal year 2008-09.

Why have they been allowed to do this? The argument that the economy was struggling and the Legislature needed to divert that money obviates the fact that goes directly against what the law says where the money should go. Is that right? One could easily argue it's not. But it's happened for for five straight years now...

Over the weekend a group of national figures gathered in Tampa to talk about the potential for rapprochement between the U.S. and Cuba. Some of these people, who have been working on the end of the U.S. economic sanctions against the Communist island for decades, were positively gushing about Congresswoman Kathy Castor's speech on Friday night about the U.S. restrictions on travel and trade.

JPMorgan Chase's Jamie Dimon made a big mistake last year, and his penalty resulted in a cut of pay - Dimon made only $18.7 million next year. The country's largest bank announced yesterday they will again hold their annual shareholder meeting next month in Tampa.

And we've always been a fan of Dan Ruth's work since we moved to Tampa (almost exactly) 13 years ago. Best known for his witty columns, Ruth also used to be fairly fun and intelligent presence on AM radio. Now he's coming back to the airwaves beginning this Saturday.

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