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 Sunday, December 31, 2006

Editorial Boards Give "Jeb!" The Luv

    The St. Petersburg Times editorial board:
    It is hard to imagine Florida's political landscape without Jeb Bush. He has shaped elections and state government for more than a dozen years, through three campaigns for governor, two races for president by his brother and eight years in the Governor's Mansion. As he moves from Tallahassee and returns to private life in Miami, he remains popular among Floridians and leaves a lasting legacy.

    Bush was the rare politician who relished both the rush of campaigning and the minutiae of public policy. The son and brother of presidents came from privilege but felt comfortable in Miami's inner city schools, Tampa's suburbs and North Florida's town squares. He could discuss the intricacies of economic development or education theory, and he had little patience for legislators or reporters who did not approach such issues with the same intellectual vigor.
    "Strong leader, lasting legacy". The Tampa Tribune:
    Jeb Bush leaves office a highly successful and principled governor - a fearless change agent who challenged the status quo and demanded better from us all.
    "History Will Judge Jeb Bush A Great Florida Governor". The Orlando Sentinel:
    Gov. Jeb Bush exits the Florida political stage he dominated for eight years as a giant who reshaped state government largely through sheer force of will and unflagging adherence to his principles.
    "A driven governor". More drivel from the "news" pages: see "Florida's outgoing governor was determined to lead the state his way" and "Gov. Bush will leave enduring changes". See also "TIMELINE: The past eight years" and "Florida before and after Bush".

    "Adios, MoFo."

    Sadly, it takes writers outside the Florida MSM to cast a sufficiently critical eye on Jebbie's performance as Governor. This piece, a few days back from the Huffington Post, barely scratches the surface:

    It's easy to assume that the only thing that blocks Jeb's glorious path to the White House is the steaming heap of politipoo left on the sidewalk by his big brother, George The Dim. But, unlike most Americans, Jeb can't blame his bleak future on George W. Bush. At least, not entirely.
    "Jeb, a true religious wingnut, ably sabotaged his own career with the kind of wacky antics we usually associate with your Sam Brownbacks, your Rick Santorums, and your Pat Robertsons. Here are just a few highlights:"
    Jeb's story begins with a personal get-rich-quick history of questionable Florida real estate and banking deals with questionable people that made him millions of dollars in a few short years. Read the sordid and complicated tale here.

    As for his religious zealotry, we begin with the matter of the brain dead woman--no, not Katherine Harris--Terri Schiavo. Not only did he order feeding tubes to be reinserted, not only did he send state troopers to her hospital to take her into protective custody (they were turned away), but long after poor Terri was dead and buried, he ordered a state investigation of Michael Schiavo to determine whether he had behaved criminally on the day Terri collapsed. Michael was, of course, cleared promptly.

    Jeb is the MVP of abortion hardball, twice trying to force mentally retarded rape victims to carry their fetuses to term. He succeeded in one case.

    And then there was kooky Jerry Regier, the guy Jeb anointed, er, appointed to straighten out the Department of Children and Families after it was determined that the DCF had lost more than 500 children over a decade. Mr Regier, a former leader of the Family Research Council, had supported "Biblical spanking" that leaves bruises or welts on kids, and believed that women should not work outside the home unless forced to be financial circumstances. Just what you'd want in a guy running a department for children and families. Regier ended up quitting his job under an ethics cloud.

    Gosh, there's so much more, without even asking questions like, why his media-certified oh-so-dreamy son George P. Bush isn't in the military, but I think I'd like to end with the Profile in Courage Jebby demonstrated in Pittsburgh, back in October, while campaigning for Rick Santorum. Momentarily outside the Bush bubble, he was confronted by a group of protestors, and when sarcastically blowing them a kiss didn't appease them, Jeb hid out in a subway station supply closet.

    Hard to picture your next President as cowering in a subway supply closet, isn't it? Maybe it's time to borrow a Spanishy phrase used by his friend and fellow governor, Rick Perry of Texas, who's always had a way with words:

    "Adios, MoFo."
    "'Bitter...Table for One': Jeb's Cloudy Futuro".

    Instead we get gobs of cheerleading like this over the past week: "History Will Judge Jeb Bush A Great Florida Governor", "Storms meant most for Jeb", "Bush silent on his future", "Michael Peltier: Bush will miss power of governor's office most", "Jeb Bush 'hero' of hurricane season", "'Jeb is a hard act to follow'", "Bush gains a following", "Bush was bold with his education plan", "Jeb sets bar high for education", "Crist Lacks the Clout Jeb Bush Relished" and "Florida Gives Jeb Bush Positive Grades".

    End The "FCAT Worship"

    To be sure, some Florida newspaper editorial boards are willing to criticize "Jeb!" on limited, select issues; for example, the Palm Beach Post today reminds us today that for all his bluster about improving education, Jebbie's

    results have been extremely limited. Statistics continue to show that better reading and other improvements don't follow third- and fourth-graders up into - and out of - high school. In addition to low FCAT scores, Florida high schools have declining SAT scores and, last year, they had declining graduation rates.
    In short, "FCAT worship" and voucher madness has been a failure.
    But Gov. Bush clearly wants Mr. Crist to stay the course on education. Ignoring both term limits rules for appointees and the protocol that traditionally compels departing governors to let their successors fill important posts, Gov. Bush has tried to extend the terms of soulmates Phil Handy and T. Willard Fair on the state Board of Education. Their votes would ensure that John Winn, who unquestioningly adores all of Gov. Bush's policies, would remain education commissioner.

    This month, Gov. Bush made a goodbye appearance before his hand-picked board. As The St. Petersburg Times reported, Mr. Fair told him: "In my judgment, there is no greater person on this Earth than you. I love you." Gov. Bush, to his detriment and the state's, always has rewarded sycophancy. The board promptly named Mr. Fair chairman and Mr. Handy vice chairman, issuing a direct challenge to the new governor.

    Florida has reached the limits of what punitive testing and ideological allegiance to gimmicks such as vouchers can do. Gov. Crist should withdraw the reappointments of Mr. Handy and Mr. Fair.
    "To improve state's schools, end era of FCAT worship". And the criticism is more than fair:
    Jim Warford started off as a fan of Bush's efforts to hold schools accountable. But the former Marion County superintendent changed his views after serving as chancellor of K-12 education in Bush's administration.

    "What I saw was that 90 percent of the energy went to undermining our public schools with vouchers and charters," said Warford, now executive director of the Florida Association of School Administrators.
    "Imprint carved on system: F-C-A-T".

    The People's Governor

    Everyone is entitled to a honeymoon (if not the eight year pass the Florida media gae Jebbie), and the Charlie sure is enjoying his:

    As Florida prepares to swear in its 44th governor this week, Charlie Crist wants his first days in office to be remembered for a populist tone and bipartisan harmony.
    "Crist setting early bipartisan tone". See also "Charlie Crist: 'People's Governor'", "In and out of politics, friendship counts for Crist", "In and out of politics, friendship counts for Crist", "Crist is composed", "Crist brings new style, faces new problems as the next governor", "Ex-governors offer some tips", A Celebration For All Floridians", "The Charlie Crist you don't know" and "Crist's open-door inauguration signals shift in governing style".

    More generally, see "New Issues Confront Crist" and "Inauguration marks new era for Crist and us".

    Rewarding The "Wealthiest 2 Percent"

    "Getting rid of Florida's tax on stocks and other investment property was a high priority for Gov. Jeb Bush, who called it 'insidious.' As Bush leaves the office of governor behind, the intangibles tax will be going away as well, the result of one of a handful of new laws that go into effect Monday. ... people with large investment holdings will benefit from that change". "Investment tax ends, nursing home staff hours go up Jan. 1".

    More: "New law gives rich cause to ring in '07" ("The tax repeal, which affects the wealthiest 2 percent of residents, is one of 11 new state laws that take effect Jan. 1.")

    Spare Us

    Why not point out that this argument by "Jeb!" sycophants is beyond stupid:

    It's true that the number of black students enrolled in Florida universities is up by 22 percent, from 33,000 in fall 1999 to more than 40,400 this fall.
    Why even dignify this argument with an "It's true that" introduction. After all, since Jebbie took office, Florida's population has increased from 15 million to 17.8 million; are we really going to let Jebbie beat his chest over a raw increase of merely 7300 black college students in 7 years? Especially when,and this is the figure that matters,
    as a percentage of overall enrollment, black students now constitute less of the student body - 13.8 percent compared with 14.4 percent in fall 1999.
    "One Florida drew protests early in Bush's tenure".


    "In winning her campaign to become Florida's chief financial officer, Democrat Alex Sink very publicly refused contributions from insurance companies. But when she is feted in a private reception at Florida State University, hours after being sworn in Tuesday, Sink can thank some of the insurance industry's biggest movers and shakers for helping throw the party." "New leader, old friends".


    "A judge who threatened to drop a mentally ill inmate at the office of the secretary of the Department of Children & Families if the agency didn't move him from jail to a hospital didn't have the authority to make such orders, the 1st District Court of Appeal in Tallahassee ruled." "Ruling favors DCF".

    Lobbyist Suit Tossed

    "A federal judge has thrown out a lawsuit over a state law banning lobbyists' gift-giving to legislators and requiring that lobbyists disclose who pays them and how much."

    U.S. District Judge Stephan Mickle denied those claims Thursday, writing that the state has "a compelling interest in imposing regulations on paid lobbyists" and that the plaintiffs "cannot reasonably argue (they) are similarly situated with other citizens who petition the government."

    Lobbying firms also have no protected right to privacy under either the federal or state constitution because they give that right to people, not corporations, Mickle said.
    "A federal judge has thrown out a lawsuit over a state law banning lobbyists' gift-giving to legislators and requiring that lobbyists disclose who pays them and how much.".

    CD 13

    From yesterday: "Hours after Democrats announced they would seat Buchanan next week when Congress will swear in its new members, a Florida court threw out Democrat Christine Jennings' legal challenge to the Nov. 7 election results." "Jennings suffers a double setback". See also "Judge: Case built on 'speculation and conjecture'" and "Dems to Buchanan: Take seat for now".

    Affordable Housing

    "State lawmakers are expected to pick up in 2007 where they left off this year as they continue to grapple with affordable housing issues during what may be a tight budget year." "Lawmakers to address affordable housing".


    Scott Maxwell tells us who runs central Florida: "And now . . . the Top 5".

    Jeff Who?

    "Kottkamp known for lobbying ability". See also "New lieutenant governor holds strong reputation".

    "Running Off At The Mouth"

    "Politicians usually speak in assertive present and future tenses without the benefit of hindsight. At the end of a year that saw some powerful incumbents, presumed front-runners and proud candidates knocked for a loop, some of their quotes merit another look." "Running for office often meant running off at the mouth in '06".

    Feeney In Action

    "'This sort of spending is exactly the opposite of what Americans expect the government's response to a disaster should be,' said U.S. Rep. Tom Feeney, R-Oviedo. 'This is a national, systemic problem.'" "Florida not the only state spending grant money on puppet shows, similar activities".

    Dream On

    "Florida growers have no reason to wait for more research, since cheaper and less toxic products are available. Enough is already known about chlorpyrifos to discontinue its use. State regulators have an obligation to listen to scientists' warnings and ban a dangerous chemical that puts farmworkers at risk." "Ban pesticide from fields".

    Palm Beach Politics

    "It wasn't just mind tricks if it sometimes seemed this year that you fell asleep in Palm Beach County and woke up in Scandal City. Three longtime elected leaders resigned in 2006, a cumulative 51 years of public service among them. One is in federal prison, another could be there soon, and a third, the cause of one of the biggest congressional outrages in years, remains the focus of a state criminal probe." "2006 The year of scandal". See also "Palm Beach elections chief gets control of office funds" (" Under criticism from Republicans and a nonpartisan voters group for his use of taxpayer funds, Palm Beach County elections chief Arthur Anderson is poised to seize control of his office's finances.")

    The People's Governor

    "Governor-elect Charlie Crist may have capped donations for his inauguration at $10,000, but his fundraising machine really cranked up in the final days before Crist assumes office. A week ago the inaugural committee had raised just over $610,000. Now the amount is nearly twice that. New totals posted Friday night show that the committee has now raised just under $1.2 million." "Crist revs up fundraising machine".

    HD 3

    A dKos diary points out that Charlie's appointment of "State Rep. Holly Benson, a fellow Republican, as the next secretary of the Department of Business and Professional Regulation [means] the District 3 seat will need to be filled by a special election." And the writer has just the candidate for the vacancy: "Run, Dee Dee, Run!".

    Not Good

    "'Governor-elect Charlie Crist cordially invites you to a pre-inaugural reception,' state the invitations, which include the political disclaimer of 'the Jim Greer for chairman of the Republican Party of Florida Committee.' That's news to Crist. He says he is not going and never authorized his name to be on those invitations, though he did not single anyone out for criticism." "Crist's name is on the invitation, but it's not his party".

    Good Riddance

    "Department of Juvenile Justice Secretary Anthony Schembri will leave his position Tuesday, a spokeswoman confirmed Friday." "Juvenile justice chief to step down Tuesday".

    Proposed Legislation

    Busy bees:

    There would be annual cost-of-living raises for teachers. And no more school grades.

    Drivers could be pulled over for not wearing a seat belt, but they'd enjoy a tax refund for buying an energy-efficient car.

    Voting machines would produce paper trails, and citizens could put their phone number on a no-call list for the campaign season.

    These are just a few of the sugarplums included in a wish list hundreds of items long that Florida lawmakers compiled before the holiday season and months ahead of the legislative session.

    While the list is expected to keep growing, chances are slim that many will become part of the Florida Statutes.
    "State legislators get head start, submit 290 bills for '07 session".

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