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.


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The Blog for Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Wingnut Wars

    "Supporters of Tom Gallagher's bid for governor attacked Republican opponent Charlie Crist Tuesday as an opponent of restrictions on abortions and gambling, whose biggest fundraisers include 'liberal trial lawyers.' The blast closely follows a statewide mailing by a 2-week-old group called the Conservative Values Coalition that praises Crist as a 'prolife, profamily conservative.' That mailing, and its swift response, reflect a broader strategy by both campaigns to claim to be the rightful heir to Gov. Jeb Bush's legacy in a primary election in which social conservatives could be a powerful force." "Crist no conservative, says Gallagher camp". See also "Ad focuses on Crist's conservative values" and "Martinez endorsement gets prominent airtime".

    "Jeb!" Disses Orange

    Jebbie "shot down a bill that would have asked voters to add an extra $2 per day to the cost of renting a car, a plan that supporters said could have raised as much as $40 million a year in tourist-rich Central Florida to help pay for everything from new roads to better bus service."

    The proposed rental-car surcharge has long been a top priority of Orange County, seen by local officials as a the next best alternative to Mobility 20/20. That was the name of the campaign to raise the local sales tax by a half-cent to pay for transportation projects, which voters rejected almost three years ago.

    Orange County Mayor Rich Crotty and Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer had already even unveiled a plan showing how they would spend the rental-car surcharge money, which included giving 50 cents of every $2 to the Lynx bus system.

    But Bush vetoed the bill, saying the surcharge amounted to "taxation without representation on a large scale" because it would have been paid mostly by tourists.
    "Bush Sinks Surcharge".

    This was
    a crushing blow to Central Florida political leaders, Gov. Jeb Bush vetoed legislation Tuesday that would have allowed voters to approve a $2-a-day rental-car surcharge to pay for roads, buses and other transportation needs. ...

    Orange County Commissioner Bill Segal, a Democrat, blasted Bush, saying, "The governor has failed the citizens of Orange County."

    "The citizens -- not the governor and the rental-car industry -- should have been allowed to choose their taxation rates," Segal said. "Orange County citizens should be outraged."
    It seems Jebbie is more interested in currying favor with his right wing sycophants than the well-being of central Floridians:
    Most ruling [sic] Republican lawmakers supported the surcharge despite a steady drumbeat of opposition from Americans for Tax Reform, the national anti-tax organization headed by Grover Norquist.

    "I am very pleased he did what he did," Norquist said Tuesday. "I think it sends a message to other states when somebody like Gov. Jeb Bush, who could be president of the United States someday, takes this kind of action."

    Norquist touted the governor's presidential prospects earlier this year in the conservative journal American Spectator. But Bush, who has ruled out running for the White House at least in 2008, downplayed Norquist's lobbying.
    Bush veto dashes hopes of transportation relief. See also "Bush vetoes rental-car surcharge", "Bush vetoes car rental surcharge, signs drug pedigree bill", "Governor vetoes rental car surcharge" and "Bush says no to rental car tax increase".

    Drug Bill

    "Bush Tuesday signed a legislative measure designed to continue the direct shipment of prescription drugs from manufacturers to patients." "Bush signs drug pedigree bill".


    "U.S. Rep. Jim Davis went to Washington Tuesday to discuss flood insurance. The Democratic candidate for governor, who was supposed to make a campaign appearance in Tallahassee, said the matter was too important (and it didn't hurt he could deflect criticism of his many missed votes in Congress)." "Davis takes the Hill".

    GOoPers Jump Ship

    "Bracing for a confrontation over an energy bill in the House this week, the Florida congressional delegation struggled unsuccessfully on Tuesday to reach a consensus on the best way to shield the state from offshore oil and gas drilling." "Some GOP congressmen from Florida lean toward compromise on offshore drilling". See also "Lawmakers squabble over drilling stance", "Leaders ask for time on oil bill", "Better deal sought on offshore drilling", "Proposal on offshore drilling divides state's Congressional delegation" and "Drilling strategy proves elusive" ("A fractured Florida House delegation failed Tuesday to reach an agreement on how to counter efforts to open the coast to oil and gas drilling.")

    The Tallahassee Dem editorial board: "If opening Florida's coasts to drilling for oil and natural gas significantly reduced America's energy needs and U.S. dependence on foreign sources of fuel, the environmental trade-off would be worth at least a serious debate.But the trouble with the proposal in Congress this week is that the only clear, big winner would be the oil and gas industry. Not U.S. consumers. Not Floridians. And certainly not the environment." "Not deep enough".

    Harris Gets ...


    Harris told a crowd gathered at the Putnam County Shrine Club....I had one of the most liberal house members from Florida say to me, 'I've got a great slogan for you for Nelson.' I said ‘What is it?’ He said, 'All about nothing for far too long.'

    Harris said she replied she did not think she could use the slogan.

    "I said ‘Well, it’s kind of mean. I don’t think I could really use it, but can I quote you?’ And he's like 'No, no, no.'"
    " House Democrats Root for Harris?".

    No Rush on Rush

    "Rush Limbaugh will likely have to wait several days to find out if he violated his deal with prosecutors in a prescription fraud case when authorities found him in possession of a bottle of Viagra that was apparently prescribed to someone else, a spokesman for the state attorney's office said Tuesday." "Limbaugh's Viagra may be drug deal violation".

    And there may be a serious problem for Mr. Limbaugh: "Experts say Viagra prescription should have been in Rush Limbaugh's name" ("Florida civil rules governing doctors and pharmacists require that the true patient's name and address are on the label, according to two attorneys and a Florida Medical Association spokeswoman.")

    Limbaugh laughs it off: "Rush jokingly claims: It was Dole's Viagra".

    Jebbie's Poison Pill

    Bush has left a serious poison pill for the next Governor. "Voters got rid of the elected education commissioner in Florida to strengthen the governor's hand with public schools. To hear appointed commissioner John Winn tell it, though, the next governor will have one hand tied behind his back. Winn and the headstrong state Board of Education, whose members were all appointed by Gov. Jeb Bush, have built a little fortress around their institutional status quo. The board was created in 2001, allowing Bush not only to appoint its seven members but to decide how to stagger their four-year terms. As a result, the next governor, Republican or Democrat, may not be able to appoint a majority until his fourth year in office. Winn, who was previously Bush's education policy analyst, now tells people his job is safe even after Bush leaves. Says Winn: 'The governor can't fire me.'" "Next governor should get say on education".


    See "Governor's veto to slow Tri-Rail expansion" and "Bush vetoes increase in associations regulations".

    Florida Fails Kids

    "A national report that shows little improvement in the well-being of Florida's 4 million children is evidence the state should have spent more of its surplus revenue on kids, a statewide advocacy group said Tuesday. Florida failed to show significant improvement in any of the 10 indicators cited in the Annie E. Casey Foundation's 2006 Kids Count Data Book, although the state's ranking increased slightly from 35th to 33rd among the 50 states and District of Columbia. In the two previous years, Florida had been 34th." "State failed children, critics say". See also "Kids' advocates blast state on spending choices".

    Broward Tax Vote

    "Broward voters to decide on penny sales tax hike for mass transit".

    FCAT Follies

    Even the "Jebbie Has Been Great For Education" media crowd is seeing through the silly FCAT school grading publicity stunt.

    The Sun-Sentinel notes that "It's hard to hit a moving target. [FCAT] Skeptics say that's precisely the point of the state's confusing grading system for the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Tests. The state is inviting such skepticism."

    The current system provides no way to accurately compare schools based on a uniform standard. How can parents determine which schools they want their children to attend if there is no comprehensible standard on which to base their determination? And how can educators truly measure how they're doing when a school can earn an "A" simply by not being as abysmal as the year before?

    Book Banning

    "The Miami-Dade school district must keep a series of children's books banned by the county's school board until arguments stemming from a legal challenge to the ban can be heard next month, a federal judge ruled Tuesday."

    The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit last week to stop the district from removing copies of "Vamos a Cuba" and its English-language version "A Visit to Cuba." The school board's June 14 ban also covers 24 other books in the same series about visiting other countries.
    "Judge: Banned children's book must stay in district, for now".

    Housing Crisis

    "Soaring real estate prices, competition for land, shrinking grants for faith-based housing projects and the rising costs of construction have nearly crippled efforts by South Florida churches to boost home ownership among low-income residents." "Rising costs cripple faith-based housing efforts".

    GOoPer Money Man

    "Dr. Zach Zachariah is a Fort Lauderdale cardiologist who keeps a steady flow of cash running through the political arteries of Republican politicians. He is currently finance co-chairman for Tom Gallagher's campaign for governor. He also raised at least $100,000 and $200,000 for President Bush's first election and re-election efforts. In 1996, he collected $4 million for Bob Dole. And he was the first President Bush's Florida fundraising co-chairman. A native of India who moved to Fort Lauderdale 30 years ago, Zachariah also serves on the State University System's Board of Governors. He spoke recently with Tallahassee Bureau Chief John Kennedy." "Doctor gets political cash flowing".

    FOP Dumps Lee

    "One of the state's two largest police unions has decided to revoke its endorsement of Senate President Tom Lee and instead support Randy Johnson in the Republican primary for chief financial officer." "FOP Switches from Lee to Johnson".

    Medicaid Fix Needed Now

    "Florida's 800,000 Medicaid beneficiaries need to brace themselves. The new requirement that they must show proof of citizenship kicks in on Saturday. Yet new federal rules for what documents will be accepted needlessly add to the burden, for beneficiaries as well as for state Medicaid officials. This is why Congress needs to act to approve technical fixes in the law before it leaves for 4th of July recess." "Fixes needed in law".


    "Vice President Cheney to attend Pepsi 400".

    Party Time

    "Award-winning R&B artist Mya will headline a Young Professionals for Rod Smith fundraiser on June 29th at the Hotel Victor in Miami Beach." "Mya Sings For Rod".

    Webster Hearts McCollum

    "Webster is the longest-serving member of the Florida Legislature and he is enormously popular among conservative voters. That makes an endorsement from him a coveted prize in Republican primaries (and it's also why both Crist and Gallagher, the leading GOP candidates for governor, would love to get one)." "Webster Endorses McCollum".


    "The state-run Citizens Property Insurance completed a $3.05 billion bond sale Tuesday, increasing company reserves for damage claim payment if a storm strikes, a company official said." "Citizens completes $3 billion bond sale".

    Give It Up

    "It's bad enough that Osceola County stubbornly embraces a voting system that dilutes Hispanics' chances of getting elected. Now the system also threatens the rights of all the county's voters."

    Responding to a U.S. Justice Department voting-rights lawsuit filed against the county last year, a federal judge has ordered the postponement of Osceola's fall elections until a system is in place to guarantee Hispanics' voting rights.

    But that postponement doesn't need to happen. Osceola has time now to settle and draw up new district lines. It is disappointing that commissioners decided Tuesday to keep fighting the suit. We urge them to reconsider.

    After all, none of Osceola's five commissioners is Hispanic even though 36 percent of the residents are. That's not representative government.
    "The wrong fight".

    Bypassing Local School Boards

    "New law makes starting charter schools easier".

    "Out of control"

    "Anyone who doubted Florida's need for a tough ethics policy for lawmakers ought to take a look at the money flowing into lobbyists paid to influence the Legislature. In the first three months of 2006 alone, more than $50 million has been paid to the Tallahassee lobby corps to get bills passed or killed." "Out of control".

    "Jeb!" Hearts Gelber

    "Jim Davis? Rod Smith? Who are those guys? If Gov. Jeb Bush could pick a Democrat, it seems he'd give the nod to state Rep. Dan Gelber of Miami Beach." "Gov. Gelber".

    Full Disclosure?

    "West Palm Beach Mayor Lois Frankel promised full cooperation with investigators after Ray Liberti pleaded guilty to federal charges and resigned his city commission seat. But, seven weeks after the scandal broke, the state attorney's office still hasn't received the documents prosecutors requested from the city about Liberti's relationship with Republic Properties Corp., the former developer of the $120 million City Center project." "Republic: Full disclosure".

    Save Our Homes

    "The Legislature punted proposals to make Save Our Homes property-tax protections transferable from sheltered homesteads to newly purchased residences. Instead, they ordered a pair of studies. Now, Gov. Jeb Bush has created a committee to ''bridge'' information from the studies to the Legislature, the next governor and the constitutionally mandated Taxation and Budget Reform Commission that is formed next year." "Property taxes reviewed".

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