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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, December 13, 2006

Jebbie's Poison Pill

    "Jeb!" has left Floridians a poison pill of the worst kind, to wit: his hand-picked sycophants on the State Board of Education. "Bush urged State Board of Education members, all hand-picked by him, to continue his policies during a final appearance before the panel that turned into a love fest Tuesday." "Bush urges education board to uphold policies".

    There could be some good news in all this; recall that Jebbie's midight re-appointment of a couple of his biggest lapdogs, caused some consternation in the "People's Governor"'s camp:
    T. Willard Fair, was appointed this fall by Gov. Jeb Bush to a new four-year term on the board to start on Jan. 1.

    Initially the campaign of Governor-elect Charlie Crist praised the appointments but recently Crist conceded that his team would review all appointments made by Bush and possibly recall them. (Florida governors have the power to recall any appointments that are subject to Senate confirmation prior to action by the Senate.) Any decision to recall both Handy and Fair could have implications for current Education Commissioner John Winn, who reports to the board and who did not turn in a letter of resignation like other agency heads that report to the governor.

    At this morning's meeting of the State Board of Education, Handy gave a short speech talking about his legacy. He prefaced it by saying "This will be my last meeting, certainly as chairman."
    "Is Phil Handy out the door?"

    "Jeb!" Watch

    Governing.com has this puff piece on Jebbie, which has a particular emphasis on Orlando: "Jebocracy".

    "Adult Supervision" Needed

    Please note the revealing comments of Donna Arduin, the wingnut who was Jebbie's key economic adviser, as relayed in this St. Pete Times editorial today:

    Just the words "tax revolt" are enough to send most Florida lawmakers into a panic attack, so the appointed Property Tax Reform Committee is supposed to provide a steady hand. But as the group prepares Friday to complete its preliminary report, it is actually considering a recommendation that all property taxes simply be abolished.

    This is adult supervision?

    Eliminating the property tax would require the state to raise its sales tax from the current 6 cents on the dollar to 13.5 cents, making an already regressive system intolerable. Yet Donna Arduin, a committee member who was the former budget director for Gov. Jeb Bush, acts as though fairness is a quaint concept. "The property tax system we have now isn't exactly the opiate," she told members, according to published reports. "Let's not just use the old adage 'regressive' and dismiss it."

    With such flippant discourse, the committee last month agreed to keep the issue alive and undermined their credibility as a competent, realistic panel.

    The committee was appointed by Bush to review concerns about rising property tax bills, and its members have diligently listened to taxpayers in a series of meetings throughout the state.
    "Political stunts aren't tax reform".

    CD 13 Update

    Ralph Neas: "With a new Congress set to convene in less than a month, it's critical to solve the festering problem in Florida's 13th Congressional District by allowing the citizens of Sarasota County to make their voices heard in a revote. It's the only fair solution to what was arguably the biggest foul-up among many in this year's midterm elections -- a congressional race where some 18,000 votes were not recorded." "Sarasota debacle requires a revote".

    The "paper trail" critics make their point: "Paper trail the next 'dangling chad'".

    Spanking Mario

    The Orlando Sentinel editorial board: "It looks like free-spending Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio's book 100 Innovative Ideas for Florida's Future fell one idea short: How about not pouring taxpayer money down a rat hole?"

    Mr. Rubio, a Miami Republican, embarked on a spending and hiring spree that's shocking even by Tallahassee's low standards. He has added more than 20 positions to the House staff, and his top aides are making top dollar -- led by his chief of staff, who will be paid an eye-popping $175,000. Mr. Rubio is also spending $559,000 on renovations, including a private dining room for House members.

    Isn't that cozy.

    Memo to Mr. Rubio: You were chosen by your colleagues to be speaker of the House, not governor. In fact, Mr. Rubio is paying his chief of staff $40,000 more than Gov.-elect Charlie Crist will make when he's sworn in. Three members of Mr. Rubio's staff also will make more than the $132,932 salary of the governor, who leads the nation's fourth-largest state.
    "The regal Rubio". See also "The Rest of Rubio's Appointments".

    "The People's Governor"

    "Kudos to Crist for listening to the regular folks."

    Some might interpret such backtracking as a sign of indecision, but it's more important to make the right call. Crist did.

    The decision again confirms one of Crist's most appealing character traits, a willingness to listen, acknowledge a potential mistake and change course. More leaders ought to perform that way.

    After all, a "people's governor" should be a governor that listens to the people.
    "New Governor". See also "Inauguration fun planned with public-friendly events".

    "Shock Leaders Into Action"

    "The map that projects Florida's growth over the next 50 years should terrify every resident. It shows the Interstate 4 corridor smothered by development from coast to coast, nearly devoid of agriculture and wilderness. Save for the Big Bend area and the Panhandle, the state is little more than an expanse of subdivisions."

    The map dramatically depicts Florida's urbanization if growth trends continue and if, as expected, the state's population doubles to 36 million in 50 years. What the map doesn't show is the crowded schools, gridlocked roads, water shortages and sky-high taxes sure to follow such overwhelming growth.
    "Frightening Vision Of Florida Should Shock Leaders Into Action".

    On a related note, "SR7 through wetlands should be a dead idea".


    "The Florida Legislature's presiding officers ended the popularity contest Tuesday by assigning lawmakers to the committees where they'll shape policy and spend taxpayer money." "Lawmakers take their places on committees". See also "No Reps from Broward, Dems to chair House committees", "Pruitt hands out committee assignments", "Bay area gains clout in Capitol", "House Committees announced", "Gibson gets leadership post in House", "Senate Majority Whips", "Carlton, Bennett get appointments" ("Carlton will lead the Fiscal Policy and Calender Committee, the top budget writing committee [and] State Sen. Mike Bennett, R-Bradenton, was picked to head the Communications and Public Utilities Committee") and "S. Florida legislators gain clout in Senate" ("The political clout of Broward and Palm Beach counties strengthens in the Florida Senate but wanes in the state House of Representatives under new legislative committee assignments announced Tuesday.")

    In the meantime, "House Democrats fleshed out their leadership team today, naming a handful of deputies to serve under Minority Leader Dan Gelber of Miami Beach and Democratic Leader Pro Tempore Joyce Cusack of DeLand." "House Dems Name Team".

    Drinkin' the Kool-Aid

    "Unlike some pols, Crist sees the papers". See also "Score one for shame" ("Here's an encouraging sign: Charlie Crist, unlike many politicians, appears capable of feeling shame.")


    "McCollum will meet with Richard Doran, Bob Butterworth and Jim Smith -- holders of the office from 1979 to 2003 -- to brainstorm on the office's structure, learn from their practical experiences and ask about what background people should have for some of the key positions he must fill." "AG Huddle".

    Foley Fallout

    Sun-Sentinel editorial board:

    The report smacks of a whitewash by a committee that doesn't like to find fault with fellow House members. Either that or there's a serious need to revise the rules. Or both.
    "Foley Affair".

    It Is Easy To Suck Up To The Media

    "Crist announced Tuesday that he is creating the Office of Open Government to ensure compliance with public records and open government laws and to train all government agencies on those laws." "Crist creates Office of Open Government". See also "Crist: Sunshine Law is a priority" and "Gov.-elect Crist indicates he wants to work in the sunshine".

    No Contempt

    "A circuit judge in Broward County on Tuesday refused to hold the Department of Children and Families in contempt of court for failing to pull mentally ill inmates out of county jails within the 15 days required by law." "Judge shows mercy in DCF issue". See also "Judge declines to find DCF in contempt" and "Broward judge: DCF not in contempt".

    And isn't this a little late, Jebbie? "Bush Seeks Solution To DCF Bed Shortage" "Bush said Tuesday that he is searching for money needed to meet the shortage of treatment beds that keeps hundreds of mentally ill inmates languishing in jails statewide."

    From Our Education Governor

    "Most school districts lack merit pay plans as deadline looms". See also "State program providing teacher bonuses under fire" ("Education Commissioner John Winn said Tuesday that he expects the rest to get their plans in by a deadline that's less than three weeks away.")

    Another APD Casualty; Charlie Skates

    "A day after Gov.-elect Charlie Crist criticized the Agency for Persons with Disabilities' refusal to spend $360 for blankets for a profoundly disabled boy, director Shelly Brantley told members of the incoming governor's transition team that she is not interested in retaining the job." "Chief resigns amid blanket battle".

    Thank goodness that our newly elected and very special "People's Governor, on the very "morning the report was published ... called the case 'unconscionable' and mailed a $360 check for the boy." Of course, there is nary a mention in the piece that, according to the Palm Beach Post,

    [a]s 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.
    "The coldest state agency".

    Nuclear Surprise

    "Progress Energy Florida may build a nuclear power plant in Levy County a few miles north of its existing Crystal River plant, the company said Tuesday." "Progress Energy may build nuke plant in Levy County".

    Lower Rates

    "Under pressure from state regulators, Allstate's two Florida homeowners insurance companies are drastically shrinking the size of the rate increase they're seeking." "Allstate asks for smaller rate increase".

    Remember the "Miami 7"

    "If dopes is too harsh, dupes certainly fits ... ." "What about 'Miami 7'?".


    "More than a year after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers denied a developer permits to build on Martin County land earmarked for Everglades restoration, the corps changed its mind, signing off on the 4,500-acre Harmony Ranch development west of Hobe Sound. It's a disappointing decision that is one more black mark against federal participation in the so-called 50-50 federal-state partnership to restore the Everglades." "Congress, corps hurt Everglades restoration".

    Vilsack Moves South

    "The 2006 election season is barely over and the 2008 election is already heating up, with Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack bringing his presidential campaign to South Florida while the state's political leaders position to make the state a bigger player in the race." "Iowa governor pursues presidential hopes".

    Florida "Slipping"

    "Florida -- home to the first post-9/11 anthrax outbreak -- once ranked near the top of the 50 states when it came to preparedness for public health disasters, but the state's chronic nursing shortage has contributed to it slipping, according to the survey." "Report finds few states prepared for disaster".

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