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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 17, 2006

Odes To "Jeb!"

    In a series of short articles today, the Miami Herald begins the odes to Jebbie, now that his term is about over. The pieces are not particularly substantive, and are riddled with RPOF talking points, but nevertheless touch upon, if obliquely, a few of Jebbie's excesses over the past eight years

    The introductory article begins with this: "Whether viewed by Floridians with reverence or disdain, Jeb Bush transformed Florida politics during his eight-year tenure, to the benefit of the Republican Party." "'One Florida' still debated".

    -- "Bush has sent 9,787 jobs to private companies. Meanwhile, the budget grew from $49 billion when he came into office to $71 billion today. ... " "Downsizing, outsourcing cut state jobs as budget grew".

    -- Jebbie says "One Florida" has worked, but "as enrollment has surged overall at the state's 11 universities, the percentage of black students has dropped from 14.4 percent during the first year of One Florida to 13.8 percent this fall." "'One Florida' still debated".

    -- "But while he is proud of what he calls 'eight years of activist, conservative reform-minded government,' he leaves office with a list of unfinished business and problems left unsolved that could bedevil his successors." Goodness gracious, what problems have been solved? "Bush leaves unmet goals".

    -- "Florida's high-school graduation rates have remained among the lowest in the nation. And the percentage of high-school sophomores with proficient reading scores has slightly dropped during the Bush administration." "Exam has changed how teachers teach".

    -- "Jeb Bush has had a huge impact on the state's judiciary -- partly because, in 2001, the Legislature gave him more of a say over how he makes his choices for the bench." "Gov. Bush has appointed more than a third of Florida's judges".

    -- "The governor's attempts to limit lawsuits against doctors and businesses unleashed some of the most brutal fights of his term." "Quest for lawsuit limits saw mixed results".

    "The Numbskulls Prevailed"

    Carl Hiassen: "It's one of the last unsettled political races in the country, and naturally it would be in Florida, the same state that spectacularly botched the 2000 presidential election and spawned the national stampede to electronic voting. At the time, many people warned against switching to touch-screen devices -- and costly ones -- that offered no paper trail. But the numbskulls prevailed, the machine manufacturers got rich, and now here we are." "Comic echo of 2000 election -- it's not funny".

    More on CD 13:

    The Sarasota Herals editorial board: "Some partisans and media outlets have called on Christine Jennings, the Democratic nominee for the U.S. House, to end her contest of the Nov. 7 election -- which, according to the official count, she lost by 369 votes to Republican Vern Buchanan. Those calls are premature." They explain "why" here: "The case for Jennings".

    The Tallahassee Democrat editoral board:

    On Nov. 7, and in early voting, more than 18,000 votes were - as was said to occur to human beings in bloody El Salvador in the '80s - "disappeared."

    Votes simply didn't show up in that particular race, suggesting quite selective indifference if, as the elections supervisor there blithely suggests, Sarasota County voters just didn't give a flip about who would replace Katherine Harris in Congress.

    It's a dubious assumption, given that they voted enthusiastically in other races on the same ballot - those for Florida's governor, where the undervote was just 1,800, for example, and the U.S. Senate race, where the undervote was just 1,600. Nor did a similarly large percentage of "undervotes" show up in adjacent counties in that same congressional district.
    "This Tuesday, Christine Jennings and her attorneys will appear before Leon County Circuit Court Judge William L. Gary at 1 p.m., in Room 2F of the courthouse. They will seek to obtain what lawyer Kendall Coffey of Miami calls "the DNA" of the problem."
    At this point, on principle, they want a look at the software - specifically something called the "source code," which Election Systems & Software, the company that manufactures the paperless iVotronic machines, hasn't released, claiming proprietary information. ...

    Judge Gary, the ball's in your court.

    Jennings will appear on Political Connections at 11 a.m. today on Bay News 9, and "talked about her hopes that if her court challenge fails, the new Democratic House will insist on a new election, [and] how she's convinced officials of all parties should want to get to the bottom of an election where machines showed 18,000 people failed to vote". "Jennings hopes last word isn't final one".

    From the "Values" Crowd

    "Experts say botched execution was probably painful".


    "Gov.-elect Charlie Crist's centrist approach to leadership is suddenly catching on with fellow Republicans, perhaps another sign that Gov. Jeb Bush's my-way-or-the-highway style is waning."

    House Speaker Marco Rubio and Senate President Ken Pruitt last week gave Democrats unprecedented access -- at least on paper -- to power in both chambers, showing the GOP is ready to share after a decade in command of the Legislature.

    Pruitt went the furthest, handing five committee chairmanships to Democrats last week, giving them influence over health policy, government operations and Everglades oversight. ...

    What remains to be seen is how much the Republican outreach will mean. The GOP holds an almost 2-to-1 advantage in House seats and a 26-14 edge in the more volatile Senate. That means Democrats are certain to be run over plenty.
    "Florida pols find center field".

    "Suburban Wasteland"?

    "Without careful planning, Florida could become a suburban wasteland. There has to be a better way." "What will it be?".


    "Vote near on plan to build two new power plants in Everglades Agricultural Area".

    Eight Year Honeymoon

    Who writes headlines like this? "Rising property insurance rates mar Bush's legacy" As if, but for the insurance issue, Jebbie has a "legacy" that is unmarred? This man has enjoyed an eight year media honeymoon.


    To be sure, there is an occasional hopeful sign on the religious right, like Longwood's Rev. Joel Hunter, who split with the Christian Coalition last month., or "Steve Hill, megachurch pastor of Heartland Fellowship Church in Dallas, [who] said Christians have 'slammed the door on the Gospel' by focusing so narrowly on what they oppose, and on strident moral grounds." Unfortunately,

    That message will not appeal to all conservative evangelicals. Four state branches have split from the Christian Coalition in the past few months — three of them saying the group abandoned its core mission by weighing in on issues like Internet law and tax reform instead of focusing on traditional morality.

    California megachurch pastor Rick Warren, author of "The Purpose Driven Life" and one of the country's more influential religious figures, was criticized by the National Clergy Council for inviting Illinois Sen. Barack Obama to an AIDS summit because the Democrat supports abortion rights.

    Hunter says that mentality — the idea that collaborating on an issue with secular or Democratic groups sacrifices one's conservative credentials — impedes real progress.

    "We have become so label-conscious and so polarized in our views that if you are outspoken about these issues, you're afraid of getting put in the wrong camp or being misunderstood," Hunter said. "I think it's an image thing, which is also a huge problem.

    "Being called a liberal, to a conservative — or at least to a traditional conservative, a narrow conservative — that's the kiss of death," he said.
    "'Compassionate' Christian leaders fight for the religious right".

    "Merit" Pay

    "On Tuesday, when members of the Martin County School Board approved a teacher merit-pay program, they did it despite objections from the very people expected to benefit from the plan." "Process for merit pay plan debated".

    Gambling Man

    "A once-powerful Palm Beach County lobbyist who allegedly conspired with former County Commission Chairman Tony Masilotti risks far tougher corruption charges - and much more prison time - after walking away from a plea deal." "Pulling plea raises ante for lobbyist".


    The Palm beach Post editorial board remids us that "Florida remains one of three states that don't automatically restore the rights of felons after they serve time. It is a hangover from racism after the Civil War. All the good ideas from the Governor's Ex-Offender Task Force to turn ex-convicts into productive members of society will amount to nothing if the Legislature refuses to end the unproductive stripping of their rights." "To keep ex-felons clean, restore their legal rights".

    "Solving The Insutance Problem"

    "The condition of the Florida property/casualty insurance (residential and commercial) industry is critical. If not corrected without more massive premium increases, this one problem will escalate to the point that overall economic growth will be severely impacted, businesses (especially hotels/condos in coastal areas) will be forced into receivership, and some residents may leave the state permanently. Worst of all, many citizens may lose their home due to inability to pay triple-digit premium increases." "Competition 1st step to solving insurance problem".

    "Low Hanging Fruit"

    Under Jebbie's education "reforms",

    Florida's high-school graduation rates have remained among the lowest in the nation. And the percentage of high-school sophomores with proficient reading scores has slightly dropped during the Bush administration. One of Bush's former education officials, Jim Warford, said Bush focused on the lower grades for his reforms because it was easier and would yield more results, to the detriment of "ignoring" the harder-to-fix higher grades until his latter-term reforms.

    "We were picking the low-hanging fruit," he said, "and we were fighting the wrong problem."
    "Exam has changed how teachers teach".

    Cuba Meeting

    "Led by U.S. Representatives Jeff Flake, an Arizona Republican, and William Delahunt, a Massachusetts Democrat, the group arrived in Cuba for a weekend visit on Friday afternoon and met that evening with National Assembly President Ricardo Alarcon." "U.S. lawmakers meet with leaders in Cuba".


    "Tancredo may yet speak in 'Third World' Miami".


    "Jeb!"" is

    "the most divisive governor we've had since these polls started being taken" in the 1970s, said Robert Crew, an American politics professor at Florida State University. "He's carved out certain conservative theories and stuck to them, and that appeals to a more narrow segment of the population."
    "Bush's legacy as governor: a Republican revolution".

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