Will Tampa citizens get the chance to vote on drinking treated wastewater?

Yesterday during the podcast we mentioned Florida Senator Bill Nelson a few times. He is on the Max Baucus led Finance Committee, which is taking it s veryy deliberate time reviewing the Baucus bill.

Nelson's biggest criticism of that legislation is that it will take too much mney from Medicare Advantage.  As decribed in today's NY Times ,

But Mr. Nelson, a Democrat, has a big problem. The bill taken up this week by the committee would cut Medicare payments to insurance companies that care for more than 10 million older Americans, including nearly one million in Florida. The program, known as Medicare Advantage, is popular because it offers extra benefits, including vision and dental care and even, in some cases, membership in health clubs or fitness centers.

“It would be intolerable to ask senior citizens to give up substantial health benefits they are enjoying under Medicare,” said Mr. Nelson, who has been deluged with calls and complaints from constituents. “I am offering an amendment to shield seniors from those benefit cuts.”

The article goes on to report that the Obama White House is working very closely to try to appease the Senator, who quotes the former longtime champion of seniors in Florida and the country, Claude Pepper, that one of his jobs as Senator of Florida is to protect seniors.

Yesterday we mentioned on the report how the National Republican Senatorial Campaign is targeting Nelson - for 2012. Seems like a bit of a stretch for whatever controversial amendments the former astronaut might be introducing in the Finance Committee.

If you're a member of MoveOn.org, you received an email, cleverly titled coming from The Public Option, targeting Floridians to put the pressure on him to get behind the idea of a government run health option as part fo the final mix in the legislation.  Nelson says he's for co-ops.

Also happening today of course in Pittsburgh is the beginning of the G-20 Summit. Protests have already taken place, with Greenpeace unfurling a banner that referred to  global warming.  14 people were arrested.

There are thousands of activists at the conference, even though the city of Pittsburgh has refused to grant permits for these protests to get anywhere near the action.

The Tampa City Council will revisit the issue of reclaimed water, specifically,  whether to put on the ballot a referendum asking citizens if they want to drink highly treated wastewater.

Actually, the Council agreed to do so back in June. But the controversial nature of it demands, apparently, more discussion.   Just a few weeks ago, the issue was discussed at Council and both Linda Saul-Sena and John Dingfelder again spoke strongly against it.  Saul-Sena had said that she had read an op-ed where Mayor Iorio spoke against it.

Miranda said that in fact wasn't the case. Nevertheless, recalcitrant Council members have put the issue back on the agenda for today's meeting.

Water is always a political issue in the Tampa Bay area, but it especially has been a potent one in 2009.

The Council voted 6-1 earlier this year to ban lawn water sprinkling, going far beyond what any other local government did this year, as the drought dominated news headlines back in the spring.

Miranda's proposal is hardly radical, as he is sure to assure the Council and those watching today's meeting. By that I mean other places in the country are using this method. And the fact that the city dumps 55 million gallons of reclaimed water every day into the Bay is hardly a reason to maintain the stas quo.

Last night the Council approved Mayor Pam Iorio's $754 million dollars budget, with the main topic of discussion being whether they should restore a million dollars into making Zack Street in downtown an "avenue of the arts."

Actually, the city wanted $2 million. The Council stripped that money out of the budget earlier in the month. Last night, neighborhood services administrator Santiago Corrada showed up, hat in hand, politely asking the council to restore a million.  They did, with Mary Mulhern and Linda Saul Sena saying "nyet."

Download the report here.

Today the St. Pete City Council meets. Councilman Karl Nurse is expected to ask a committee to use new revenue to come from energy franchise agreements to help pay for energy efficiency upgrades to homes and businesses that would reduce the use of electricity. This is good timing, as a new report says Florida hasn't been spending much money at all on such weatherization actions.

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