FLORIDA POLITICS
Since 2002, daily Florida political news and commentary

 

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Welcome To Florida Politics

Thanks for visiting. On a daily basis we scan Florida's major daily newspapers for significant Florida political news and punditry. We also review the editorial pages and political columnists/pundits for Florida political commentary. The papers we review include: the Miami Herald, Sun-Sentinel, Palm Beach Post, Naples News, Sarasota Herald Tribune, St Pete Times, Tampa Tribune, Orlando Sentinel, the Daytona Beach News-Journal, Tallahassee Democrat, and, occasionally, the Florida Times Union; we also review the political news blogs associated with these newspapers.

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The Blog for Friday, March 04, 2005

"Mainly, It's Boring"

    Tallahassee Democrat Associate Editor Bill Berlow on privatization:
    If the labor union AFSCME, the Florida Democratic Party or any of the governor's regular critics knock him, it's what one would expect. Predictability has nothing to do with whether their criticism has substance. Mainly, it's boring.
    Let's stop here for a moment and consider the underscored sentence, because it really says a lot.

    For years, AFSCME has criticized the rabid GOP outsourcing schemes coming out of Tallahassee. For years, these criticisms by AFSCME and others have largely been ignored by the media, and now we know why - criticism from AFSCME, a yucky union, is "boring" (by contrast, if Associated Industries, the James Madison Institute or TaxWatch deigns to speak to the media, Berlow and his fellow flacks come out in droves and dutifully cover whatever it is these mainstays of Florida society have to say). Now, with the corruption in subcontracting/outsourcing starting to get a little light - and believe me the scrutiny, such as it is, has not been due to intense media analysis or independent research (after all the AFSCME whining about privatization over the years has been so "boring"), Florida's media gave up any serious effort to investigate privatization years ago - perhaps the media ought to do a little soul searching. Why has Florida's media been AWOL for 6 years as "Jeb!" has sold off Florida to the highest bidder (and political contributors), with negligible or negative results? It's not like the issue hasn't been there all along - in addition to those "boring" warnings from AFSCME (what serious journalist would believe a union has to say anyway) - NYT columnist Paul Krugman warned us three years ago:

    Jeb Bush has already blazed the trail. Florida's governor has been an aggressive privatizer, and as The Miami Herald put it after a careful study of state records, "his bold experiment has been a success — at least for him and the Republican Party, records show. The policy has spawned a network of contractors who have given him, other Republican politicians and the Florida G.O.P. millions of dollars in campaign donations."

    What's interesting about this network of contractors isn't just the way that big contributions are linked to big contracts; it's the end of the traditional practice in which businesses hedge their bets by giving to both parties. The big winners in Mr. Bush's Florida are companies that give little or nothing to Democrats. Strange, isn't it? It's as if firms seeking business with the state of Florida are subject to a loyalty test.

    So am I saying that we are going back to the days of Boss Tweed and Mark Hanna? Gosh, no — those guys were pikers. One-party control of today's government offers opportunities to reward friends and punish enemies that the old machine politicians never dreamed of.
    "Victors and Spoils".

    Enough about that: it remains to be seen if Florida's media will ever focus on the privatization - political contribution (spoils) angle. [Don't get me wrong, there have been a few rays of light, including the Miami Herald piece that Krugman refers to, isolated stories here and there, and the occasional piece of punditry, like this (via South of the Suwanee) - but there has been nothing like the full court press (pun intended) this multifaceted privatization scandal deserves].

    In any event, let's return to what Berlow is really interested in writing about:
    Cantero, however, is a conservative jurist whom Bush appointed to the state's highest court amid much attention in 2002.

    Despite Cantero's widely acknowledged keen legal mind, his appointment was unusually controversial - because of his lineage (he's the grandson of former Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista); his unabashed opposition to abortion; and his help defending an anti-Castro activist who, as attorney Dexter Douglass said, was either a freedom fighter or a terrorist depending on your point of view. Bush called Cantero "perfectly qualified" for the job, and one got the sense that the two were ideological soul mates.

    But Cantero's tough criticism of a privatized appeals process for inmates on Death Row, a change the governor put into motion two years ago, is anything but predictable. It's another chink in the armor of privatization just when other aspects of outsourcing are under legislative scrutiny.
    "Cantero puts another chink in privatization's armor".

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