Since 2002, daily Florida political news and commentary


UPDATE: Every morning we review and individually digest Florida political news articles, editorials and punditry. Our sister site, FLA Politics was selected by Campaigns & Elections as one of only ten state blogs in the nation
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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, January 31, 2007

Crist Calls for a Property Tax Special Election

    "Calling soaring property taxes one of the most crippling challenges facing Floridians, Gov. Charlie Crist proposed a constitutional amendment Tuesday that would cut property taxes by as much as $4.7 billion a year and urged legislators to put it on the ballot in a special election."
    The key aspects of the governor's proposal: allowing homeowners to take their property tax savings with them when they move to another home anywhere in the state; doubling the homestead exemption for homeowners, and capping taxes on businesses and non-homestead residential property such as rentals.
    "Property tax rollbacks are proposed". See also "Gov. Crist proposes overhaul of property taxes", "Crist offers salve for tax pain", "Crist unveils plan to overhaul property taxes" and "Crist's next battle: Property tax reform".

    Back to Optical-Scan?

    "Gov. Charlie Crist wants to spend nearly $33 million to replace Florida's maligned ATM-style voting machines with systems that provide a clear paper trail."

    The decision, if approved by state lawmakers, would end one of the most bitter election debates in Florida: whether the electronic touch-screen machines have bugs in their secret software that could make votes disappear.

    Crist plans to make his announcement Thursday in Palm Beach County, home of the 2000 butterfly-ballot meltdown that led to the rise of the touch-screen machines in South Florida and other urban areas.

    The governor wants to replace them with the optical-scan voting machines used in most areas of the state -- including Tallahassee's Leon County, where Elections Supervisor Ion Sancho has been a harsh critic of the touch-screen systems, used in 15 counties.
    "Crist wants voting paper trail". See also "Wexler: Crist will push for paper trail", "Crist seeks to create paper trail for elections", "Voting machines on way out?", "Congressman says Crist to seek money for optical voting machines", "Crist expected to back voting switch" and "Crist is said to back paper trail for electronic voting".

    Running Government Like a Business

    "In the latest lurid revelation about the state prison system, a jury has awarded nearly $1-million in damages to nurses who said a sexually hostile workplace violated their civil rights." "Prison nurses who sued get $1-million".

    Speaking of "business principles", Howard Troxler weighs in on the DOC privatization scandal:

    Last week, we learned that the state has negotiated a repayment from one of the companies involved, the GEO Group. (We're still negotiating with the other company.)

    Here is the amount of the repayment: $402,501.

    Let's review.

    Overpayments, $13-million.

    Settlement, $402,501.

    That isn't a repayment. It's a tip.

    To his limited credit, one of our state senators, Victor Crist, R-Tampa, asked for an investigation.

    I give "limited" credit to Crist, because this was the fault of the Legislature in the first place.
    And here's an idea the RPOF has had a hard time grasping:
    we don't need to "run the government like a business." That is far too low a standard. We need to run the government like, you know, the government.
    "At least they ran it like a business".


    "The new problem for Florida is the cost of staying in a home, meaning property taxes and insurance. But counties and cities still haven't solved the old problem - the cost of getting into a home." "Match housing demand to the housing market".


    "Florida will forfeit $20 million of federal money this fall that could have expanded a health insurance program for children, and if it does not increase spending at the state level, it could lose millions more." "Fla. To Forfeit KidCare Funds".

    "Now Bush is gone"

    "Though Republicans remain firmly in charge of education committees, it appears from early meetings that Democratic lawmakers will shape and shepherd major legislation, including a teacher-incentive package in the Senate."

    For eight years, Bush, a policy wonk with attitude, set the state's education agenda. He pushed through a school grading system, private school vouchers and performance pay for teachers. He showed little tolerance for opposition, as evidenced by his successful drive to abolish the state Board of Regents, which for decades had operated as an independent voice on higher education.

    Now Bush is gone. And so are key allies.

    Phil Handy, a Bush confidante made chairman of the Board of Education, had his appointment for a second term recalled by Crist. And Education Commissioner John Winn, who Bush picked to run the Department of Education, is retiring Feb. 28, six days before the start of the legislative session.

    In education circles, the collective changes have some people giddy.
    "Educators get foot in door at state Capitol". See also "School board to present to-do list to lawmakers".


    "Florida on Tuesday ordered home insurance companies to temporarily freeze rates and halt policy cancellations, catching the state's largest private insurer in the act of shedding some 40,000 customers." "Order surprises insurers, Cabinet alike". See also "Cabinet Freezes Home Insurance Policies", "State calls for 90-day insurance rate freeze" and "Crist, Cabinet to stop insurers from leaving state".

    Fraud Allegations

    "State officials have accused a water quality lab manager of fraud in his tests of years of samples and are investigating whether to invalidate all his work, a move that could set back pollution cleanup efforts." "Water quality lab manager accused of fraud". Se also "State investigates water quality data, scientist accused of fraud".


    "Despite published reports over the weekend that he’s preparing to run again for Congress again in 2008, former state Rep. Joe Negron, R-Stuart, just told [Jeremy Wallace] he hasn’t decided if he will." "Not ready to run yet".


    Brad DeLong in the Miami Herald today: "How much should we worry about inequality?"

    Answering that question requires that we first answer another question: ''Compared to what?'' What is the alternative against which to judge the degree of inequality that we see?

    Florida is a much more materially unequal society than Cuba. But the right way to look at the situation -- if Florida and Cuba are our alternatives -- is not to say that Florida has too much inequality, but that Cuba has much too much poverty.
    "Rich get richer -- that's not good".


    "Madam Ranking Member".


    "U.S. Sen. John McCain has tapped Gov. Charlie Crist's campaign coordinators in South Florida to lay the groundwork for his presidential campaign in the state. Carlos Curbelo and Danny Lopez are the managing partners of a Coral Gables-based political consulting firm shrewdly named Capitol Gains. They helped Crist gain Florida's capitol; now they are going to help McCain take the nation's. The two also have also worked for U.S. Reps. Lincoln and Mario Diaz-Balart." "Crist's Miami peeps sign with McCain".

    Bad Timing

    "On the same day that state Sen. Steve Oelrich voted in favor of overhauling the insurance industry, he wrote a letter announcing that he had a new job as an insurance agent."

    Oelrich, 61, a Gainesville Republican, sent the letter to several hundred people, saying he is "eager to discuss your members' or clients' insurance needs." Some of those letters went to state lobbyists, whose job it is to persuade him to vote a certain way.

    Oelrich, the former sheriff of Alachua County, just started working for Hunt Insurance Group, a Tallahassee company that, among other things, administers the Florida Sheriffs Association's self-insurance fund, which defends state sheriffs in liability cases. The insurance group didn't return calls for comment. ...

    Oelrich said the letter was not intended to pressure anybody.
    "Letter by senator raises concern".

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