State, nation and world news Jan. 5, 2011

Spinnaker

Compiled by Spinnaker and Wire Services
Around the State

Gov. Rick Scott faces issues in early days in office

Rick Scott took office as Florida Governor Jan. 4, and he’s already pressed to figure out a number of his campaign issues in order to create a successful Florida government.

Scott has until February to draw up a proposed framework for government spending for the new fiscal year, which begins July 1. Scott is estimated to be about $3 billion short and has hinted at cutting state workforce, reforming pensions and prisons and getting a handle on the growth of Medicaid to make up for the shortage.

Scott will also be faced with the issue of whether to sign a successor to Senate Bill 6. The bill closely ties teacher pay to student performance, and Scott has suggested he would have signed it, whereas former Gov. Charlie Crist vetoed the bill last year. Scott will have to draft a new bill dealing with how teachers of special needs students will be affected if he wants to enact the proposal.

Finding personal and political allies is another problem plaguing Scott in his early days in office. Most of Florida’s GOP establishment backed Attorney General Bill McCollum in last year’s primary, though Scott will find an ally in Rep. Mike Weinstein, a Republican out of Jacksonville.

During his campaign for governor, Scott said he planned to create over 660,000 jobs. It is unclear how many of those jobs Scott will be able to create during his first year with the proposed plan of cutting property and corporate income taxes hanging over his head.

Holdovers from the Crist administration are imminent as Scott has not yet filled several key positions, though Scott appointed Herschel Vinyard of BAE Systems Southeast Shipyards in Jacksonville to take over the department of environmental protection. At the time of the appointment, Scott said he was pleased to have recruited Herschel from the private sector.

Around the Nation

Navy officer to be relieved of his command

Navy Capt. Owen Honors, who produced profanity- and slur-laden videos while second in command of the USS Enterprise, was relieved of his command, a senior defense official told CNN Jan. 4.

The videos feature a man two Navy officials and The Virginian-Pilot newspaper identified as Honors, who at the time was the executive officer, or second in command, of the aircraft carrier. Honors recently took command of the carrier, which is one of the most coveted assignments in the U.S. Navy.

In the videos, Honors is seen cursing along with other members of his staff in an attempt to demonstrate humor. In addition, the videos contain anti-gay slurs, simulated sex acts, and what appear to be two female sailors in a shower together.

The Virginian-Pilot says the videos were shown over the ship’s internal broadcast system to its nearly 6,000 crew.

Adm. John Harvey, the four-star head of the Navy’s Fleet Forces Command, ordered the investigation Dec. 31 after the videos were detailed in The Virginian-Pilot.

The Navy issued a statement Jan. 1, saying, in part, “production of videos, like the ones produced four to five years ago on USS Enterprise and now being written about in the Virginian-Pilot, were not acceptable then and are still not acceptable in today’s Navy. The Navy does not endorse or condone these kinds of actions.”

Around the World

Six killed in Guatemalan bus bombing

Six people were killed and 17 were injured in a bomb blast on board a bus Jan. 3 in northwestern Guatemala City, officials said.

A mother and her two children were among those killed, local media reported.

Jan. 4 police were still unsure as to who set off the bomb or why, but one transportation union leader suspects that gang members are involved.

Gamaliel Chan of the bus drivers’ union said his organization had warned authorities of the possibility of an attack because of threats gang members made to them. The gang members allegedly told the drivers there would be an attack if they did not pay a Christmas “bonus.”

According to Noti 7, a CNN affiliate, the gang members were asking for 60,000 quetzals from the bus drivers, or about $7,300.

Some witnesses told police that a woman came aboard the bus, placed the bag that presumably held the explosive on the luggage rack and then got off the bus, Noti 7 reported. Authorities are investigating all possibilities, they said.