Since 2002, daily Florida political news and commentary


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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 Wednesday, April 05, 2006

The Best She Could Do

    This is it? The best she could do?
    Days after Harris locked out former staff members and posted a guard at her Tampa headquarters, she announced that an "experienced group of seasoned professionals with decades of campaign experience" is taking over her campaign.

    Some of the new staff members, including new general consultant James Lafferty, have links to culturally conservative political causes. Lafferty worked for the Traditional Values Coalition and embattled U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay, the former House majority leader who announced Tuesday he will not seek re-election.
    "Harris Lends Campaign $3 Million, Hires New Staff". More on Lafferty: he's "a former Tom DeLay spokesman who more recently fought gay marriage in Massachusetts." "Harris hires new team for campaign". The rest of the new crew:
    Among other new hires is fund-raising coordinator Erin DeLullo, who is based outside of Washington D.C.

    "I only work with conservative candidates," DeLullo said. "I believe there are a lot of donors out there that are still interested in her."

    DeLullo replaces Anne Dunsmore, who is considered one of the nation's top Republican fund-raisers. Dunsmore resigned last month, just before Harris pledged to spend $10 million of her own money to make her campaign competitive.

    Glenn Hodas was named campaign manager, replacing Jamie Miller, who resigned last weekend. Hodas' experience is based largely on state Senate races in Illinois and he is not well known in Florida. Hodas most recently worked with Wilson-Grand Communications, the firm hired as Harris' media consultants. The company has offices outside Washington, D.C. and in California. Chris Ingram was hired as communications director.

    He made headlines in 2003 when he accused his former boss, U.S. Rep. Max Burns, of illegally firing him.
    Id. More here: "Meet The New Harris Team" and "Harris names new advisors" ("Wilson and Grand also are key advisors to Ken Blackwell, a conservative Republican in the hard-fought Ohio governor's race. As Ohio's secretary of state in 2004, Blackwell played a role similar to Harris' as Florida's secretary of state in the disputed 2000 presidential election count."). See also "Harris infuses campaign with $3-million loan, restocks staff" ("Nelson's biggest fundraising quarter yet gives him $10.3-million cash on hand").

    Daniel Ruth: "Political Junky Hopes There's No Harris Fix".

    "Weapons-workplace bill wounded"

    "A drive led by the National Rifle Association to get the guns-in-parking- lots bill passed in the Legislature is proving an uphill battle." "NRA finds itself on losing side of gun-control bill". Nevertheless, "after half a dozen false starts, the National Rifle Association-led push to guarantee employees the right to bring guns to work cleared its first legislative hurdle Tuesday." "Gun bill wins initial approval". See also "Judiciary panel tweaks bill on bringing guns to work", "Parking-lot guns measure clears panel, pleasing NRA, businesses", "House panel passes NRA bill" and "Weapons-workplace bill wounded".

    Session News

    - "Here are some legislative events coming up today at the Capitol".

    - "Legislature 2006: Developments from day 29 , April 4".

    - "State to pay $3.2 million to save site of the Battle of Okeechobee".

    - "High school major-minor bill clears Senate panel".

    - "Lawmakers: Students, teachers need history lessons".

    - "Spring training bills in play".

    - "Term limit extension losing its support among legislators".

    - "Proposal aims to train police to aid homeless".

    "Floridians know precious little ..."

    "It's distressing to learn that Floridians know precious little about the form of government they were bequeathed by the Founding Fathers. Failure to understand and appreciate the virtues of representative democracy is a good way to lose that democracy." "Civics".

    Voucher Madness

    "A state Senate committee propped up an ailing proposal to restore the state voucher system, but the measure faces more trouble ahead." "Idea to revive vouchers running into resistance".

    "The House and Senate began taking diverging paths on Gov. Jeb Bush's proposed constitutional amendment to preserve school vouchers Tuesday, with the Senate narrowing its proposal and the House continuing with wide-open wording permitting vouchers for all children." "Voucher paths grow apart between House, Senate".

    See also "House, Senate panels approve differing voucher amendments", "Voucher amendment may change" and "Senate limits voucher expansion plan".

    Yet Another Tax "Surcharge Increase.

    Can't ever accuse Jebbie of raising "taxes" (as he narrowly defines them); he just increases every other conceivable fee, payment or cost applicable to the average Floridian. Here's another example:

    The governor's call for using tax dollars to hold the line on home insurance costs emerged on the same day the governor and the Cabinet tacked on a 2.8 percent surcharge to every homeowner policy. It amounts to an additional $28 for every $1,000 of annual premium on a homeowner's policy.

    The increase comes on top of the 6.8 percent one-time surcharge imposed last year to bail out Citizens Property Insurance Corp., the state-run home insurer of last resort, and another Citizens' levy at least 11 percent slated to go in effect later this year to cover 2005 storm losses.

    The three additional insurance charges added together mean an annual premium increase of more than $300 for someone who had been paying $1,500 a year on home insurance. At the same time, home insurers statewide are seeking their own double-digit rate increases separate from these storm-related surcharges.
    "Bush supports using tax dollars to ease insurance costs to homeowners".

    "McKinney In Sarasota on Saturday"

    "The George Congresswoman who struck a Capitol police officer last week will be headlining a rally in Sarasota on Saturday. Rep. Cynthia McKinney, D-Georgia, is in town to promote a movie called 'American Blackout' in which she chronicles black voter disenfranchisement in the 2000 and 2004 elections." "McKinney In Sarasota on Saturday".

    GOoPers Hurting Jebbie's Feelings

    "Jeb!" "reserved some of his sharpest criticism for conservatives in his own Republican Party". "Florida Gov. Bush Calls Tone of Immigration Debate 'Hurtful'".

    Ethics Complaint Against Gallagher

    "A Lake City man has filed ethics complaints against Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher and three of his employees, alleging they misused their public positions in 2003 by their involvement in a business dispute the man had with a Gallagher friend. The four complaints stem from a failed business relationship between airplane mechanic William Schretzmann and Jay Vass, a Lake City pilot who has provided chartered air service for Florida Republican campaigns, including Gallagher's." "Gallagher, 3 employees face ethics complaints".

    Out of Control

    "Despite an angry warning that they were proclaiming themselves smarter than the voters, members of a major House committee voted Tuesday to strip six public-petition amendments out of the Florida Constitution." "House may pull plug on petitions".

    Credit Margolis

    "It takes a seasoned lawmaker to know when to retreat and tell her constituents that their desired solution was bigger than their problem. That's what state Sen. Gwen Margolis of North Miami Beach admirably did in withdrawing her proposed law that would have exempted from public records all the e-mail addresses collected by local governments. It was too sweeping an act by far, even if unwanted e-mails do annoy many members of the human race." "FL confidential".

    Charter Schools

    "Lawmakers are moving to make it easier for charter schools to form while eroding local school boards' control over the ones in their community." "Bills easing charter school rules on the move".

    Stem Cell "Sore Point for Republicans"

    As an effort to earmark state money for disease research moves forward in the Legislature, some members say the most promising type of research -- that involving stem cells -- is conspicuously absent from the debate. ...

    But a separate proposal, which would provide an additional $15 million a year for the next decade to pay for research using stem cells from normally discarded embryos from in vitro fertilization clinics, has languished, and appears unlikely to pass in either chamber.

    So backers of stem-cell research are trying to inject the controversial issue into the broader debate over how to pay for medical research. And they've hit on a potential sore point for Republicans, many of whom are morally against embryonic stem-cell research.
    "Stem cells blur medical-funding debate".

    Another "Jeb!" Flip Flop

    "On Tuesday, however, Bush switched gears, echoing a position suggested by Senate President Tom Lee, R-Valrico. The governor said he'd be willing to use state money to pay down the $1.7-billion deficit at Citizens Property Insurance Corp. as long as lawmakers pass significant changes to shore up the state's private market." "Citizens bailout has Bush support".

    State Pays GOoPer Gambling Addict To Run "Virtual Schools"

    "The state Department of Education has been paying private companies to run a pilot program that allows 800 students from kindergarten through eighth grade to receive instruction over the Internet while being home-schooled." "'Virtual school' pilot program clicks with Senate, House panels".

    And isn't this interesting: "The state's pilot program was operated by two for-profit virtual schools, including K12, which was run by former U.S. Education Secretary and drug czar William Bennett.". Id.

    Save Our Homes

    The Miami Herald editorial board argues that the "Save Our Homes law needs to be rescued": "Some state lawmakers think that the Save Our Homes constitutional amendment that was passed in 1992 is broken and needs to be fixed. They are only partially correct. Save Our Homes, which limits to 3 percent or lower per year the amount of increased value in a person's home, isn't broken -- but adjustments could shore up some of the law's weaknesses.".

    From the Sun-Sentinel: "The latest proposal in Tallahassee to deal with a property tax crunch is a constitutional amendment to double the homestead exemption. However, the amendment would limit benefits from the Save Our Homes amendment, and that could create another round of unintended consequences." "Lawmakers propose property tax overhaul".

    Diaz de la Portilla Comes Into Some Cash

    The Buzz nails Sen. Alex Diaz de la Portilla, R-Miami: "'No lobbyist is paying the bill,' Campbell said Tuesday after the trip was first reported in The Palm Beach Post. (That would be illegal, of course). The chartered Cessna cost about $10,000, which means each of the eight lawmakers who went will have to pay about $1,400 each. One of the travelers was Sen. Alex Diaz de la Portilla, R-Miami, a University of Miami graduate, and the senator who last year told an administrative law judge he could not afford to pay a fine for election law violations." " The Plane Truth About the Senate".

    Death Politics

    "The Florida Supreme Court sent the legislature a clear message last year: Fix the state's death penalty structure or risk the courts doing it for you. Now the state House is sending a message back: No thanks, our death penalty structure is just fine." "House fires back at court on death penalty rules".

    " Sen. Alex Villalobos, R-Miami, and Rep. Jack Seiler, D-Wilton Manors, filed bills this year that would have changed that, joining Florida with other states that have changed their death penalty structure following a U.S. Supreme Court decision that found such death penalty structures to be constitutionally flawed. But those bills now appear to be dead, replaced instead with a Hous' resolution passed by the Criminal Justice Committee on Tuesday that states: "The House of Representatives believes that the public policy of this state should be that unanimous jury recommendations not be required in death penalty cases.'"

    The imbroligio is apparently yet another outgrowth of the " the struggle between Villalobos and Sen. Jeff Atwater, R-North Palm Beach, over who will become the Senate president for the 2009-10 sessions. The favoritism usually afforded incoming chamber leaders has not been evident for Villalobos, the onetime owner of enough pledge cards to become the next Senate president." More here.

    Castor Fundraising

    According to a Castor Campaign press release: "With the help of 3500 individual contributions, Hillsborough County
    Commissioner Kathy Castor has raised a total of $670,000 for her campaign
    to succeed Jim Davis in Florida’s 11th Congressional District. More than
    $200,000 alone will be reported for the first quarter of this year, the
    Castor campaign announced on Tuesday."

    You Knew There Was Something Fishy ...

    when any sort of "victory" by enviromentalists is claimed in Tallahassee ("environmentalists got a big win"), as was the case yesterday. It turns out, "[a]ctivists won only a limited reprieve for the Florida Keys by persuading a Senate committee to attach two amendments to a bill that would lift the Area of Critical State Concern from Monroe County. Instead of removing the decades-long designation next year, as state Sen. Ken Sorensen seeks, the amendments would keep it in place until 2009 and give opponents of Keys over-development a more-favorable climate for legal challenges. Lifting the designation in 2009 would be premature." "Premature to lift Keys' designation".


    "Republican candidate for governor Tom Gallagher will attend tonight’s Palm Beach County Republican Party meeting at Palm Beach Atlantic University." "Gallagher Campaigns In PBC".

    Oil Drilling

    "In effect, the Bush administration wants to take waters that have been under Florida's jurisdiction and let Louisiana set rules for drilling. Former Interior Secretary Gale Norton favored that dodge, which would open 2 million more acres. In addition, Congress is debating a proposal that would allow gas and oil rigs 100 miles from the coastline and open 4.5 million additional acres of the eastern gulf to drilling. The legislation comes from Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., and Interior seems fine with whatever leaves Florida most vulnerable." "Make Washington hear Florida on oil drilling".


    "Florida lawmakers will consider budget plans this week that would send tens of millions of dollars to Volusia and Flagler counties for projects ranging from adding a new medical-school campus to fixing flooding problems." "Budget plans benefit counties".


    "After years of watching cities and counties approve sprawling developments, a group called Florida Hometown Democracy wants to throw up a roadblock. The group is pushing a proposed constitutional amendment that would give voters the final say about whether local governments change comprehensive plans that serve as blueprints for growth." "Proposals set limits on ballot initiatives".

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