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 Saturday, December 09, 2006

Charlie's First Mistake

    "Governor-elect Charlie Crist released the first list of donors to his inauguration committee on Friday night. Crist's committee reported receiving $275,100 for the inauguration _ which is expected to cost anywhere from $2.5 million to $3 million." "Crist starts rolling in money for inauguration". See also "Crist's inaugural cash coming in" and "Crist's inauguration donors".

    Even the Tampa Trib is taking note: "It's disappointing that Charlie Crist, who spent a lot of time the last two years wringing money out of lobbyists and political supporters to pay for his campaign, is now asking many of those same folks to pony up as much as $500,000 to pay for inaugural festivities across the state." "Solicitations Aren't Worth It".

    "Charlie Crist ran a successful campaign for governor. No doubt about that. Whether he can successfully run the nation's fourth-largest state is another question." "Crist's party invites outrage". See also "The lobbyists' governor" and "Crist's first controversy".

    Rewarding A Political Stunt

    Recall Kevin, the disabled blind child, who lives with 14 other severely disabled children at a group home in South Florida. Kevin has severe cerebral palsy, daily seizures, and is feed via a tube. Unfortunately, Kevin's body cannot control his temperature, and he therefore requires thermal blankets, at a cost of $10 each, and a total cost of about $360 a year. See generally "Disabled boy seeks blankets from state".

    The Florida Agency for Persons with Disabilities [APD] refused Kevin's request to pay for the blankets, and waged an expensive legal battle against Kevin. The court fight was conducted by the Florida Attorney General's office.

    When media coverage exposed the travesty, the APD was embarassed into dropping the legal fight and coughing up the 400 bucks a year. See "Donors and state warm up to boy's need for blankets" and "Disabled child gets the blankets he needs".

    Ironically, one of the "donors" - in an obvious political stunt - was Attorney General Chain Gang Charlie Crist. Crist, whose office spent thousands of public dollars fighting Kevin, cut a check for $360 to pay for Kevin's blankets for a year.

    Today, the St. Pete Times editorial board rewards this stunt by the very man who fought Kevin's request. As the Palm Beach Post wrote yesterday, "as the state's attorney general, Charlie Crist fought a 12-year-old disabled boy's request that the Florida Agency for Persons with Disabilities pay $360 a year for the child's special thermal blankets."

    Here's Charlie's undeserved reward: "Crist's compassion". It seems no political stunt goes unrewarded.

    CD 13 Update

    - "State election officials declared Republican Vern Buchanan the winner of the 13th District seat being vacated by Rep. Katherine Harris, who made an unsuccessful run for the U.S. Senate." Nevertheless, the fight continues on several fronts:

    - Cogressional Contest - Jennings "is expected to file a notice of contest with the House by a Dec. 20 deadline. ... The House, which will pass from Republican to Democratic control in the new Congress, has the final say on its own membership but traditionally waits until state courts have acted before resolving contested elections, Coffey said. Options in the interim include keeping the seat vacant or conditionally seating one of the candidates. The House plans to swear in Buchanan along with other members on Jan. 4, according to House Administration committee spokeswoman Salley Collins. He could be unseated later.".

    - Florida Judicial Proceedings - "Circuit Judge William Gary split the difference in a dispute over how soon to hold a hearing on whether a touch-screen voting machine manufacturer must disclose software information to the losing candidate, Democrat Christine Jennings. Gary set it for Dec. 19. He has not yet decided on a trial date. ... Jennings wants Gary to order a new election on grounds that iVotronic voting machines used in Sarasota County malfunctioned, depriving her of a victory. ... [ES&S argued it] needed more time to analyze tests of the Sarasota machines to back up its arguments that disclosing the source codes is unnecessary because the iVotronics were not to blame for the huge undervote."
    "Vote challenge resolution unlikely before Congress meets". See also "ES&S To Get Its Day In Court".

    "Florida Republicans warned their Democratic counterparts Friday against bringing the battle over a contested congressional seat held by Rep. Katherine Harris to the nation's Capitol, saying it could poison relations between the parties. It already threatens to divide a generally united congressional delegation along sharply partisan lines, as Republicans issued veiled threats and Democrats -- who take control in January -- plan whether to refuse seating the Republican who was certified as the winner of the seat." "Congress might intervene in fight over Sarasota seat".

    Here's a shocker: "Indiana Sen. and likely '08 presidential candidate Evan Bayh is the latest Democrat to jump to Christine Jennings' defense in CD 13. He's asking his e-mail list to donate money to 'help Christine protect our fundamental right to a free and fair election.'" "Bayh jumps into CD 13 fight".

    In the meantime, Buchanan made an appearance on FOX News Channel's Hannity & Colmes, where he uttered the following:
    "This election is being hijacked by special interest groups from around the country and high priced lawyers," Buchanan said.
    "Buchanan's interview on Hannity & Colmes". If you care to see and hear it, the YouTube interview is here.

    Steel Yourselves

    Jebbie "sat down with news organizations on Friday and gave extended interviews on his two terms as governor. But while he spoke at length about the past, Bush said he's still not sure about what's next for him after Governor-elect Charlie Crist takes over." "Bush still unsure about his next step". And check out this gem: "'Well when I was bred, my Dad wasn't a politician. When I came out of my momma's womb, my dad was a business person and a community leader.'" "As tenure winds down, Bush spells out wishes".

    Get ready, the sycophantic retrospectives about how wonderful "Jeb!" has been over the last eight years will be appearing in your local newspapers soon. (We musn't upset Jebbie by being too critical, because he certainly will run for prez one day, and we wouldn't want to lose our access to him.)

    Let DC Fix It

    "Crist urged the Florida congressional delegation Friday to press for a national commission, similar to the Iraq study commission, to consider hurricane and disaster insurance remedies." "Crist Brings Insurance Proposal To Capitol Hill" See also "Crist meets Congress, Jack Frost".

    Charlie also ran into Jim Davis at the meeting: "Crist and Davis meet again".

    Spanking Judges

    "A recent report by the Florida Senate promoted a host of possible fixes to the crisis of mental health treatment beds, but avoided the one thing advocates say is most needed: money."

    When Florida judges recently threatened state officials who ignored court orders to treat mentally ill jail inmates as required by law, the Florida Senate leaped into action.

    They spanked the judges.

    In a recently released report, the Senate suggested Florida judges may actually be worsening the plight of inmates with mental illness by ordering the Department of Children & Families to transfer the inmates immediately into state psychiatric hospitals for treatment.
    "The rebuke in the November report -- along with other knuckle-rapping by state officials -- has not stopped judges from acting: A Broward judge issued yet another order Friday, giving the state three days to move a Fort Lauderdale inmate into a state hospital bed for treatment." Indeed, the arrogance seems to know no bounds:
    DCF chief Hadi ordered her staff to ignore the judges' orders.

    That landed the secretary in very hot water.
    "Senate offers DCF fixes, omits funding".

    Paper Ballots

    It seems the debate is not limited to whether touch screen machines should have a "paper trail", but also includes whether we should return to actual paper ballots. "Paper ballots may be coming".

    Meek Lands Nice Gig

    "Rep. Kendrick Meek has landed a spot on the influential Democratic Steering Committee, which appoints Democratic House members to committees." "Meek lands key committee post".

    Poor Things

    "In the streets of Tallahassee, there has been great weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth. Lobbyists of all persuasions are vocally unhappy about new reporting requirements and gift bans. Behind the scenes, many lawmakers are quietly upset as well." "Lobbyists free to speak".

    Raw Political Courage

    This is comforting: "Crist told The Associated Press he will be as deliberative as his predecessor." "Crist expected to continue Bush pace in executions". See also "Crist to uphold death penalty".

    "The Undoing of the Florida Coastline"?

    "'Today will prove to be the undoing of the Florida coastline as we know it,' said Richard Charter, a drilling expert who tracks the issue for a coalition of environmental groups."

    "All but four Florida House members -- Reps. Jim Davis, D-Tampa, Robert Wexler, D-Boca Raton, Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, D-Weston, and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Miami -- voted for the package."

    -Good little lapdog, does his job - "'It offers historic protections for Florida's Gulf coast," said Rep. Adam Putnam, a Bartow Republican in the House leadership."

    - And Then There's Feeney - "'We got taken to the cleaners,' said Rep. Tom Feeney, R-Oviedo, who said he voted for the package because of the sales tax deduction."

    - A Bit Of Theater - "'I wasn't crazy about it,' said Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite, R-Brooksville, who held her nose to vote".
    "Florida's senators are expected to support the package." "House approves offshore drilling bill".

    "The measure must still clear the Senate -- which had not yet acted late Friday -- but it could mark a victory for industry groups who waged a yearslong battle, and a major setback for environmental groups and some Florida lawmakers who had long fought efforts to explore Florida waters." "Drilling off Fla. coast moves ahead".

    And here's the tradeoff that Feeney could not resist: "Floridians could still be able to deduct sales taxes on their 2006 returns as part of a massive package the Republican-led House of Representatives passed Friday before conceding power." "GOP might leave Floridians break on sales taxes". See also "House restores sales-tax deduction: Tax break that applies to all Florida residents enjoys support in Senate".

    Republicans, Running Government Like A Business

    "A stinging new audit has rebuked a state agency head appointed by Gov. Jeb Bush for using state-owned airplanes instead of flying cheaper on commercial airlines." "Audit questions Bush appointee's air travel". See also "Audit criticizes state official's travel spending".

    Foley Fallout

    "Foley report: GOP leaders' inaction endangered pages". See also "Foley panel chides House", "Foley panel: Leaders lax, within rules" and "Foley Report Critical of House Leaders".

    The full whitewash "report" is here.

    Republicans Fail To Deliver

    Central Florida Republicans in DC fail to deliver yet again: "A bill that would bring a veteran's hospital to Orlando now is very much in danger of failing. Senate sources said a lawmaker in the upper chamber has put a last-minute hold on the bill." "UPDATE -- Vet hospital bill". See also "Veterans hospital stalls in Senate" and the earlier piece, "U.S. House: Orlando should get vet hospital".

    Central Florida kisses GOP hind end every two years; can you say, among others: Feeney, Keller, Stearns, Mica, and the big fish himself, Senator and incoming RNC Chair Mel Martinez. In return central Florida gets, well ... have you been to Orlando lately?

    So now the Dems are in charge.

    Did She Really Say It?

    "A video of Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Miami is causing a stir on the Internet with comments about Castro, but she says it was doctored."

    Facing the camera with a statue of a giant gold eagle on her desk, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen talks casually about how proud she is to represent Cuban "freedom fighters" living in exile in Miami and on the island.

    Then the Miami Republican -- recently tapped to become the top Republican on the House International Relations Committee -- says, "I welcome the opportunity of having anyone assassinate Fidel Castro and any leader who is oppressing the people."

    The 28-second snippet appears on the website for a new British documentary, 638 Ways to Kill Castro, and is making a stir in the blogosphere, where some viewers have questioned Ros-Lehtinen's suitability for the House committee post.

    There's one problem: Ros-Lehtinen, who has never hid her loathing for Castro, says the clip was spliced together.

    Watch the video closely, she says. She says her lips aren't saying what the audio says she is. At one point in the clip, a sharp-eyed viewer can see what appears to be a skip in the filming.
    "Ros-Lehtinen: Kill-Castro video a trick".

    Time For A Change

    The Orlando Sentineleditorial Board:

    The venom spewed by many exiles against Mr. Castro is understandable, given the tragic backdrop of suffering and repression. Economic isolation might have served a purpose many years ago, when no one knew how long Mr. Castro would be able to hold power in Cuba.

    The effectiveness of that approach has long expired. The political will of hard-liners is weakening since the Democrats took control of the U.S. House and Senate. A re-examination of U.S.-Cuba policy is likely, which means that the status-quo bloc will lean heavily on President Bush to use his veto power to protect the U.S. embargo.

    But the status quo had its chance and failed.

    It's time to change strategy, and embrace the prospects of a relationship not framed in contentious rhetoric and economic isolation. The venom spewed by many exiles against Mr. Castro is understandable, given the tragic backdrop of suffering and repression. Economic isolation might have served a purpose many years ago, when no one knew how long Mr. Castro would be able to hold power in Cuba.

    The effectiveness of that approach has long expired. The political will of hard-liners is weakening since the Democrats took control of the U.S. House and Senate. A re-examination of U.S.-Cuba policy is likely, which means that the status-quo bloc will lean heavily on President Bush to use his veto power to protect the U.S. embargo.

    But the status quo had its chance and failed.

    It's time to change strategy, and embrace the prospects of a relationship not framed in contentious rhetoric and economic isolation.
    "A failed strategy".

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