Since 2002, daily Florida political news and commentary


UPDATE: Every morning we review and individually digest Florida political news articles, editorials and punditry. Our sister site, FLA Politics was selected by Campaigns & Elections as one of only ten state blogs in the nation
"every political insider should be reading right now."

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Welcome To Florida Politics

Thanks for visiting. On a semi-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.

For each story, column, article or editorial we deem significant, we post at least the headline and link to the piece; the linked headline always appears in quotes. We quote the headline for two reasons: first, to allow researchers looking for the cited piece to find it (if the link has expired) by searching for the original title/headline via a commercial research service. Second, quotation of the original headline permits readers to appreciate the spin from the original piece, as opposed to our spin.

Not that we don't provide spin; we do, and plenty of it. Our perspective appears in post headlines, the subtitles within the post (in bold), and the excerpts from the linked stories we select to quote; we also occasionally provide other links and commentary about certain stories. While our bias should be immediately apparent to any reader, we nevertheless attempt to link to every article, column or editorial about Florida politics in every major online Florida newspaper.


Older posts [back to 2002]

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The Blog for Sunday, December 25, 2005

Special Christmas Edition

    "They know how to schmooze"

    "Cost to jet four Republican lawmakers to a pro-gambling Canadian junket: $35,462.51. Price tag for 48 hours' worth of food and drinks to lobby them: $3,300. Getting the anti-gambling GOP to pay for it all: Priceless. Ya gotta hand it to Magna Entertainment Corp., the Toronto-based owner of Gulfstream Park; they know how to schmooze." "Gambling lobbyists hit jackpot".

    Privatization Follies

    "Despite assurances by Convergys that personal information on state employees is safely kept on computers in the United States, a once-secret lawsuit against a former subcontractor alleges that private data was sent to India, Barbados and possibly China." "Suit: State worker info outsourced".

    Out of Control Debt; Short Term Fixes

    Not good:

    Florida lawmakers are spending $1.6 billion this year just to cover the state's soaring debt. ...

    With Florida getting a recent windfall of $3.2 billion in tax receipts from hurricane rebuilding and a housing boom, the state is moving further away from a debt ratio that could trigger worries on Wall Street, officials concluded.

    Florida's outstanding debt this year totals a whopping $22.5 billion -- more than double what it was 10 years ago
    . But its debt ratio -- the relationship of red ink to black ink -- is down to 5.36 percent, lower than a couple of years ago when it topped 6 percent for the first time. ...

    The political side of Florida's rising red tide has led Democrats to attack Gov. Jeb Bush and the Republican-controlled Legislature for adding $6 billion in new debt since 1998 even as $14 billion in tax cuts have been handed out, mostly to wealthier Floridians and businesses.
    "$22.5 billion in the hole -- but state is still doing OK".

    Let's hope the Dems pound that message: "Jeb Bush and the Republican-controlled Legislature [added] $6 billion in new debt since 1998 even as $14 billion in tax cuts have been handed out, mostly to wealthier Floridians and businesses."


    Apparently "Real estate mogul and gaming magnate Donald Trump will play host for his second fundraiser for Republican gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist -- this time at Trump's Mar-A-Lago Club in Palm Beach."

    Top Florida Stories

    After the hurricanes, Florida's top stories included:

    (2) The long, bitter fight over the fate of Terri Schiavo finally ended. The brain-damaged woman died from dehydration in March after her feeding tube was disconnected despite efforts by President Bush, Congress, Gov. Jeb Bush and her parents to keep her alive. Her husband had argued that she never wanted to live in a bedridden state with no hope for recovery after she collapsed in 1990. For the last two weeks of her life, the once-shy woman was the center of worldwide media attention.

    (6) The ongoing battle over offshore drilling off Florida's shores. Congress is expected to take up the matter next year. Some in Congress have proposed that natural gas drilling be allowed as close as 20 miles from the shores of Florida and other coastal states. Other proposals have set distances of 125 miles or 150 miles for oil and gas exploration and production. Such legislation would lift existing congressional and presidential moratoriums on offshore drilling that extend to well beyond 200 miles from Florida's beaches.

    (9) Many Floridians spend the year fighting with insurers over claims from one of 2004's four hurricanes, or dealing with rate increases, or having trouble obtaining insurance at all.
    "Busiest hurricane season on record voted top Florida story".

    GOoPers Fear Smith?

    "'Rod Smith would be harder to handle than Jim Davis,' former Republican Gov. Bob Martinez says in a taped TV interview airing today on Bay News 9." "A who's who of who puts fear in politicos' hearts".

    "The contradiction and the embarrassment"

    This editorial exposes a curious twist in the corporate voucher scheme that will ubdoubtedly be addressed by an appellate court:

    If courts threw out the conviction of James Isenhour, it would serve Gov. Bush and John Kirtley right. It would not, however, do anything for Florida taxpayers.

    Isenhour, an Ocala man who operated a private school, diverted $268,125 from a corporate-tax school voucher program, and last month a jury convicted him of stealing from the state. But there's a hitch. His lawyer says that Isenhour didn't steal from the state because the state never had the $268,125 in its treasury. The trial judge, when he was considering whether to grant bail while Isenhour appeals, indicated that he gave at least some credence to the objection.

    In fact, the argument is baseless. Corporations donate to private scholarship organizations authorized by the voucher law and receive in return a dollar-for-dollar tax break. If the money didn't go to vouchers, it would go to the treasury. So when Isenhour stole the money, he stole from the state.

    The problem is that Gov. Bush's administration and the Legislature set up the tax-break policy — after the GOP received a $100,000 donation from Mr. Kirtley — so that, if necessary, they could make the same ridiculous claim that Isenhour is making. Florida's constitution forbids giving state money to religious schools. The state Supreme Court is expected to rule soon whether a program that takes money straight from the treasury for vouchers to religious schools violates the constitution. If the high court strikes down that program, the governor hopes that the tax-break scheme launders the money sufficiently to protect the so-called "corporate vouchers." ...

    Fortunately, prosecutors at Isenhour's trial had to argue that the money he stole did, in fact, belong to the state. That's how they got a conviction. The contradiction and the embarrassment belong to Gov. Bush. To prevent similar thefts, the Legislature should end voucher schemes, put the money in the Treasury and disburse it to the public schools, where it belongs.
    "Yes, it is state money".

    Looming Population Crisis

    "Florida has to get serious about its transportation and affordable housing woes." "Population".


    From the Orlando Sentinel: "Florida Democrats next week will do some fundraising of their own Jan. 3 at Miami's Orange Bowl when Penn State squares off against Florida State. The $1,000 per-person package includes a tailgate party, team cap and game ticket. The two teams are powerful. But spelling apparently is not a strength for the Democratic hosts. In their invitations, Democrats hyped the rivalry between veterans Joe Paterno and Bobby Bowden by calling them 'coaching ledgens.'"

    Feeney Foolishness

    "Corporate accounting scandals shocked Congress into passing a law three years ago that shields investors from predatory businesses. But before those protections have fully taken effect, Rep. Tom Feeney and others think some of them need to be rolled back." "Feeney seeks changes to investor protections".

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