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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, February 14, 2007

Charlie Burning Candle at Both Ends

    Yesterday we read that Crist's handpicked chairman of the RPOF "would like to see a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage on the 2008 ballot and would not rule out spending more state GOP money to support it." Yesterday,
    Crist said Tuesday that his political party should spend its time and money on issues that are ''more pressing'' than the anti-gay marriage initiative it has funded for the past two years. ...

    he told reporters he would ''probably not'' support sending more money to the amendment's backers.

    ''I just think [the Republican Party's] money can be better spent on other things that may be more pressing, like elections, for example,'' Crist said.
    The group seeking the ban on, not merely same-sex marriages but also ''substantially equivalent'' relationships,
    has raised about $430,000 for its campaign since it began collecting petitions two years ago. But more than two-thirds of that money came from the GOP, which wrote it a pair of $150,000 checks.

    The group remains about 28,000 short of the more than 611,000 required to get a proposed constitutional amendment on the ballot.

    "Crist signed one of the group's petitions during the GOP primary season. "
    But he sidestepped a question Tuesday about whether he still thinks the measure should go on the ballot.

    "We only have so much time. And we have to prioritize what we put our energy into," Crist said.
    The Dems' seem to have read a bit too much into Charlie's remarks:
    Amendment opponents went a step farther, calling the amendment ''nothing but a get-out-the-vote tool for Republicans, and we're glad the governor recognizes that it's time to drop the charade,'' said Mark Bubriski, state Democratic Party spokesman.
    "Crist: Taxes a bigger priority than gay-marriage ban".

    The Orlando Sentinel correctly summarizes the essence Crist's remarks: "Greer [like Crist] also did not rule out spending more money on the [petition] campaign, which some strategists think could help the Republican Party in 2008 by drawing social conservatives out to vote."

    Like Bubriski's statement quoted above, the Miami Herald has read far too much into Crist's comments. Crist's published remarks do not support this Herald headline: "Crist: Gay-wedding ban wastes GOP funds". Nor do do his words support this subheading, "Charlie Crist said state Republicans shouldn't spend any more money on promoting a gay-marriage ban."

    The facts are these: Crist has not said that it would be a "waste" of GOP funds to get the amendment on the ballot. Crist at most said that he would "probably" not support additional RPOF funding (though has, like Greer, kept the option open) and has "sidestepped" the issue of whether the issue should be on the ballot.

    And then there's this: Charlie actually signed one of the petitions and "is listed as an endorser of the amendment on the web site, www.florida4marriage.org. ", yet at the same time "claiming he supported some rights for gay couples because he was a 'live-and-let-live' Republican." And. while publicly mouthing that he was "live-and-let-live", Crist, in an under the radar campaign, "promoted his support for the gay marriage ban in a telephoned political ad paid for by the Republican Party of Florida."

    Other headlines that don't quite get it: "Crist wishes GOP would focus on other issues". The Palm Beach Post: "GOP shouldn't spend its money on gay marriage ban, Crist says". The Sarasota Herald-Tribune: "Crist says gay marriage ban not good use for GOP cash". Naked Politics: "Crist against using party money on gay marriage amendment". The St Pete Times: "Crist backs off ban on same-sex marriage". Political Pulse: "Crist: GOP Shouldn't Spend More on Same-Sex Marriage Ban".

    Charlie has the power to just say no to RPOF funding - after all, Greer, Charlie's handpicked "New RPOF chairman leaves no doubt who's the boss" - but Crist has refused to do so. As usual, Charlie is burning the candle at both ends and the MSM is, for some reason, painting it as if Charlie actually opposes further support for the anti-gay petition drive.

    Riding out the Storm

    "Two weeks after being sworn in on Jan. 2, [CFO Alex Sink] played a lead negotiating role in the special legislative session on the state's insurance crisis. A week and a half later, at her first Cabinet meeting, Sink clashed with Gov. Charlie Crist over his emergency order to freeze insurance rates. Three days later, she was touring tornado damage in Central Florida and working to coordinate state help to the region." "New CFO saw stormy early days".

    STAR Struck

    "A divided Broward School Board voted Tuesday night to move forward with a controversial merit pay plan, even after hundreds of teachers implored them at a public hearing to reject it." "Broward teachers thwarted in attempt to derail pay plan". See also "School board approves contested bonus plan".

    "Florida's tax burden"

    Naked Politics "notes that although "Florida ranks 39th in the amount of state and local taxes it charges", but that it isn't quite that simple. See "The best and worst states for taxes".

    Poor Mel

    Scott Maxwell:

    The latest from Quinnipiac University's polling institute shows both of Florida's U.S. senators with the highest approval ratings they have had in some time. Still, it's a bit better news for Democrat Bill Nelson, whose 54 percent approval rating outshines Republican Mel Martinez's 48 percent.
    Poor Mel.

    Paper Trail

    "Nelson filed a bill Tuesday that would require all states that use electronic voting systems, including touch-screen machines, to produce a verifiable paper record of the votes. And in a swipe at his Senate opponent from last year, Nelson’s bill would ban state election chiefs from working for the campaigns of other candidates." "Nelson Offers Paper Trail Bill".


    "Florida's no-fault system of insuring drivers is set to expire on Oct.1 by statute. If the Legislature doesn't act, the state will revert to the traditional fault-based system where drivers and their insurance companies seek compensation from the party responsible for a crash." "Legislature under the gun to tackle no-fault system".

    "The People's Company"

    "Citizens Property Insurance on Tuesday declared itself 'the People's Company,' echoing the words of Gov. Charlie Crist as executives outlined a new plan of operations." "Governor approves Citizens' new plan".

    "The People's Company" ... Karl Marx would be impressed.

    HD 92

    "In Broward's state House District 92,"

    two gay candidates -- Wilton Manors City Commissioner and lawyer Gary Resnick and first-time candidate and accountant Mark LaFontaine -- have already filed paperwork to open campaign accounts for the 2008 election.

    And Wilton Manors Mayor Scott Newton, who is straight, said he'll run too.

    All three are Democrats.

    They'll run to replace term-limited Democratic Rep. Jack Seiler. He says he won't be endorsing anyone.
    "Political briefs".

    Cat Fund

    "Frustrated by inaction in Washington, Florida officials this week are asking other states to join them in setting up an insurance catastrophe fund." "State requests help with disaster fund".

    Budget Blues

    "Florida House members were put on notice Tuesday that next year's budget appears so tight that the state can't afford to fund requests they make for local projects." "Local projects cut from budget".

    Freeze Challenge

    "Florida's insurers are fighting back, going to court to block an emergency state rule that halts policy cancellations and freezes rates." "Florida insurers' group goes to court to fight rate freeze". See also "State emergency order on hurricane insurance faces challenge", "Insurers file suit against new rule" and "Insurers seek to block rule preventing cancellations".

    Charlie responds: "'They can't win in the Legislature any more, they can't win in the Cabinet anymore, so they're going to try the court system,' Crist said. 'They are relentless....in their pursuit of higher rates.'" "Crist Gets Cross".

    Property Tax Burden

    "Taxpayers asked their state lawmakers to come up with a plan to lessen the property tax burden on homeowners and businesses." "Ease our tax burden, lawmakers are urged". See also "Sen. Lynn plans hearing on property-tax reform".

    The Palm Beach Post editors warn that "legislators don't have to act in haste on a subject with as many wrong answers as right ones." "Balance tax-anger heat with a cool Legislature". The Sun-Sentinel editors chime in: "Public Hearings".

    Bury It

    "Once again, President George W. Bush has proposed selling land in national forests, including 973 acres in the Ocala National Forest, to help pay the federal government's bills. Once again, Congress needs to bury this bad idea." "Still a bad idea".

    Apparently Charlie Won't Be There

    "Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp and Department of Children and Families Secretary Bob Butterworth take advantage of Valentine’s Day today to tout the benefits of marriage." "Marriage conference set for today".

    Not to Mention Hurricanes and Tornadoes

    "Florida remains world’s shark attack capital in 2006".

    "Jeb!" Watch

    NPR: "There was a time when we thought the next field would include Jeb Bush, until recently the Republican governor of Florida."

    Jeb is the son of George and Barbara Bush whom many have called the best political talent in the family. He took himself out of the 2008 picture early, even before the disastrous election of November 2006. Some will take this as proof that his political instincts are indeed sharp.

    After all, Jeb just turned 54, and he can come back to run in 2012, or later. So it makes little sense to plunge in now, when national trends are bleak and the Bush name has at least temporarily lost its magic.
    "What Now for George Bush's White House?"

    Paper Trail

    "The Need for Voter-Verified Paper Trails is the topic Saturday of a program sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Volusia County." "League sponsors program on voter paper trails".

    "It's the story of the Third World - in our backyard"

    The Tallahassee Democrat editors lament "the high infant mortality rate in the Big Bend": "A solution also means acknowledging on a much broader level - not just here in the Big Bend, but in Florida and the nation - that the continuing lack of universal health care has the effect of condemning many poor people to significantly less healthy lives. While U.S. infant mortality rates have dropped in the past century, minorities remain disproportionately affected, and disparities in access to health-care services are largely to blame." "Red alert".

    Elder Affairs

    "Crist on Tuesday appointed Douglas Beach, a specialist on aging, as the Department of Elder Affairs secretary." "Crist names specialist on aging as Elder Affairs secretary".

    "Anti-diversity Shift

    Regarding diversity in higher education, the Daytona Beach News-Journal editors argue that

    Florida needs to do more. Gov. Charlie Crist should follow up on the diversity panel's other recommendations, including intervention programs in which state universities work with public elementary and high schools to ensure that pupils in low-achieving schools get added help; tutoring partnerships with public schools; and programs to help low-income and minority parents find their way through university admission mazes. And as a recent consultant reported to the State University System's Board of Governors, Florida should increase need-based aid.

    Florida should also look at what other states are doing. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, for example, was able to increase the number of blacks on campus through its Carolina Covenant, which guarantees that low-income students can graduate debt free.
    "Florida should prevent anti-diversity shift".

    "Blue-and-Orange Light Special"

    he St Pete Times editors think the "biggest obstacle to the University of Florida's ambition of becoming a nationally elite academic institution is as clear as it has ever been."

    It's the cheap politicians in Tallahassee.

    The politicians, mind you, are all too eager to get VIP seats to see the national champion Gator teams play. But raise the subject of lagging state revenues for higher education or paltry tuitions and watch the Capitol hallways clear out. ...

    Maybe [Senator Jim] King and Crist and other lawmakers think UF should be satisfied with offering what amounts to the Blue-and-Orange Light Special. It charges the lowest tuition of 75 flagship universities. Its student-faculty ratio is half-again as big as that of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and it ranks 123rd on measures of "faculty resource."
    "University can't be great on the cheap".

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