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 Thursday, February 08, 2007

Florida Q Poll

    "Sen. John McCain or former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani would be about evenly matched in a 2008 presidential contest against Sen. Hillary Clinton in Florida if the election were held now, a poll released Wednesday shows."
    Giuliani, a Republican, was favored by 47 percent compared to 44 percent who liked Clinton, a New York Democrat, in a hypothetical matchup for president. Clinton was favored by 47 percent in a matchup with McCain, an Arizona Republican who was backed by 43 percent.

    Both results are close to the margin of sampling error of plus of minus 3.1 percentage points in the Quinnipiac University (Conn.) Polling Institute survey.
    "Poll: McCain, Giuliani, Clinton about even in Florida for 2008". See also "Poll: McCain, Giuliani, Clinton about even in Florida for 2008", "Poll Shows McCain, Giuliani And Clinton Lead In Florida", "Florida Voters Like Giuliani, Clinton for Prez" and "Poll: Giuliani, Clinton lead".

    From Quinnipiac:
    - In an early look at the 2008 presidential race in Florida, former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani has a razor-thin 47 - 44 percent lead over New York Sen. Hillary Clinton, while Sen. Clinton edges Arizona Sen. John McCain 47 - 43 percent, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today.

    - In other Florida results:

    * Clinton tops former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney 52 - 34 percent;
    * McCain gets 42 percent to 40 percent for Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, a tie;
    * McCain gets 43 percent to 42 percent for 2004 Democratic vice presidential candidate John Edwards, a tie.

    In a Democratic primary race, Clinton dominates with 49 percent, followed by 13 percent for Obama and 7 percent each for Edwards and former Vice President Al Gore.

    Giuliani gets 29 percent of Florida Republican primary voters, with 23 percent for McCain, 14 percent for former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and 6 percent for Romney.
    Much more here.

    Primed for Early Primary

    "State legislators appear ready to move Florida's presidential primary to an earlier date, starting with a hearing today, in spite of the possibility of sanctions by both national parties." "Primary May Move Up".


    "In nearly equal measure, Americans say they don't like Cuban President Fidel Castro but do want the United States to re-establish regular diplomatic relations with the communist island nation after 46 years of estrangement." "AP Poll: Americans dislike Castro, but want relations with Cuba".

    Market Forces

    "Higher fees at the door, more illegal immigrants".

    Anti-Murder Unnecessary

    The Tampa Trib editors: "Though cleverly named - who isn't anti-murder, anyway? - the law is unnecessary."

    The state Department of Corrections adopted a zero-tolerance approach to probation violators after Joseph Smith kidnapped and murdered 11-year-old Carlie Brucia in 2004. Today, if a probationer misses an appointment or is stopped for a driving infraction, for example, they are arrested, taken to jail and denied bail until a judge decides if they represent a threat to the community. ...

    While there's no pressing need for this anti-murder law, lawmakers should give the new governor his due and then get on with finding substantial solutions to the more pressing issues facing Florida: taxes, insurance, education, transportation and growth.
    "Anti-Murder Bill A Political Hit That Killers Will Not Notice".

    Senate to Look at CD 13

    "A top Senate Democrat said Wednesday that she will ask federal investigators to look into the voting machines at the heart of a disputed congressional race in Florida as the state's checkered voting record once again draws national scrutiny."

    The call for a ''top to bottom investigation'' of the Sarasota County voting machines by the Government Accountability Office and the National Institute of Standards and Technology came as Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., added her voice to a growing chorus of critics who say machines without a paper trail are eroding voters' confidence in elections.

    Fueling the push: More than 18,000 ballots in Sarasota County registered no vote for either congressional candidate to succeed one of the icons of Florida's first election debacle, former Rep. Katherine Harris.
    "Feinstein calls for voting probe in Sarasota race". See also "Senator wants District 13 answers" ("Unwilling to wait for the courts to rule on the disputed Sarasota elections, a key member of the U.S. Senate is launching an investigation into the 13th Congressional District race.")

    Guns Yes, Franchise No

    First we read that felons are running around Florida with concealed weapons (though we do make sure they can't vote); today we read that Florida "does not suspend concealed weapon licenses even when people are sought by police for major offenses. Program officials said the law does not give them the power to act on warrants." "State officials seek plan to compare weapons permits with arrest warrants".

    Bushco "Values"

    "South Florida hospitals could lose millions under new Bush federal budget". See "Yet More From the Values Crowd".

    Cost Concerns

    "While some are hailing a proposal that would create a paper record for everyone in Florida who votes, local election supervisors are fretting over how they will make the proposal a reality if the Florida Legislature approves it." "Good on paper. But will vote-tracking system cost taxpayers more in Lee, Collier?".

    Version 2.0

    "Lawmakers began getting details of Gov. Charlie Crist's plan to slash property taxes Wednesday and raised concerns that it could worsen the tax disparity between homesteaders and other property owners."

    Crist aides told lawmakers the governor wants to hold a statewide election in November to double the homestead exemption and spread the current Save Our Homes property tax cap to all seasonal, business and rental properties.

    All 400-plus cities and 67 counties would be required to hold their own local elections no later than March 2008 to raise the homestead exemption to $50,000, under Crist's plan.

    But water-management districts, schools and other taxing districts would be excluded, meaning a new owner of a $250,000 home would still be assessed on $225,000 of value by local school boards and other taxing entities.

    But businesses, rental properties and seasonal homes would also be left out of a central piece of the governor's proposal - allowing longtime residents who've amassed big tax discounts through Save Our Homes to take the break with them if they move to a new home. ...

    But several lawmakers said they feared the plan addresses the present problem - non-homesteaded property owners shouldering a disproportionate level of property taxes - but creates a new one by making resident homeowners' tax savings portable and ''locking in'' all other property owners the way Save Our Homes now does for homesteaders.
    "Crist releases more homestead details".

    "Crist will shield Florida school districts from the full impact of his proposed property tax cuts, but he denied Wednesday that he was backpedaling on tax relief." When Charlie figured out that his "deep tax cuts appeared to have put him at odds with his proclaimed support for public education", he flip-flopped:
    Under his original proposal, the bigger exemption would have applied equally to the taxes collected for all local governments, including school districts. The exemption has been at $25,000 for the past 25 years. ...

    In pushing for property tax cuts as a candidate, Crist often cited two anecdotal examples of what he called government waste. Both involved schools.

    They were Hillsborough County's high costs for land acquisition for new schools, and Broward County's high-rise school administration headquarters dubbed the "Crystal Palace" by critics.
    "Crist finesses property tax cut".

    Non Partisan?

    "By law, Tampa's city elections must be nonpartisan affairs."

    Candidates can't campaign as Republicans or Democrats. They can't display signs or distribute literature mentioning their affiliation with a political party.

    That's why the Republican Party's invitation to a GOP-only candidate forum is angering some Democrats, who question whether candidates who attend the event are stepping over the line.

    "I swore to uphold the charter, and the charter says this is a nonpartisan seat," said City Councilman John Dingfelder, a Democrat running for re-election.
    "No Dems Allowed?". The Dems have their own variant in Sarasota. See "Democrat lunch excludes candidate" ("Party officials say they're not giving the mike to Kowal because she switched from "No Party Affiliation" to Democrat after she joined the race.").


    "Rep. Loranne Ausley was the first motorist in Leon County to buy the 'A State of Vision' specialty license plate today." "Representative unveils 'State of Vision' plate".

    Out in the fields

    "The wife of a convicted farm labor boss already given 30 years behind bars landed a long prison sentence herself Wednesday in a case that generated the most significant punishment for abuse of farmworkers in recent Florida history." "Second lengthy sentence given for farmworker abuse".

    ACLU Lawsuit

    "The fight over displays of the Ten Commandments in public places came to a small North Florida town Wednesday when the American Civil Liberties Union filed suit in U.S. District Court against Dixie County over a new monument." "Law Of Bible Vs. Law Of Land". See also "ACLU sues for removal of Ten Commandments from courthouse steps".

    Negron Says No

    "[F]ormer state representative [Joe Negron] who was recruited by Republican leaders to run for Congress in place of disgraced former U.S. Rep. Mark Foley said he will not run again in 2008." "Negron says he won’t run again for seat left by Foley". See also "Negron rules out run for Congress in '08".

    Nevertheless, "it didn’t take long for others to jump into the race to replace Democratic Congressman Tim Mahoney. State Rep. Gayle Harrell quickly confirmed that she is a candidate for the GOP nomination while Palm Beach Gardens Councilman Hal Valeche said he is 'highly likely' to get into the race. And Tom Rooney, a Jupiter attorney and part of the Pittsburg Steelers Rooney clan, said he will take another look." "Candidates Are Already Lining Up".

    Now That Jebbie Is Gone

    "A bipartisan coalition backed by organized labor and retirees began a lobbying effort Wednesday to boost the state subsidy of health insurance premiums for state pensioners. Lawmakers said many retired state employees fear they face a choice between food and medical care." "Coalition lobbies for retirees' benefits".

    Lake O

    "The price tag for fixing the aging, earthen dike around Lake Okeechobee has nearly tripled since last year because of rising construction costs and a lack of skilled labor, the Army Corps of Engineers said." "Lake Okeechobee dike repair costs have tripled". See also "Cost of repairing dike around Lake Okeechobee could soar to $856 million".


    "Sex predators face harsher penalties and more registration requirements for Internet-related sex crimes against children under a bill under consideration by the Florida Legislature." "Lawmakers try to shield kids from online predators". See also "Bill targets Internet predators".

    "Decision to vaccinate belongs with Florida parents"

    The Daytona Beach News-Journal editorial board:

    Any state-mandated health decision should involve a careful balancing act. Florida, like most states, requires vaccinations for many childhood diseases as a condition of enrollment in public school. Almost all of the required vaccinations go after diseases that are dangerous and easily spread through casual contact, such as measles, whooping cough and polio. All have been time-tested, and proven to be safe and effective. Even the most recently added requirement, a vaccine for chicken pox, has been around for more than 20 years.

    The same cannot be said of Gardasil, which was approved by the FDA only seven months ago.
    "Gardasil for girls".

    No Cancellations

    "The state's top insurance regulator said Wednesday that cancellations and nonrenewals of Florida homeowners' policies - even those issued prior to a Jan. 30 emergency order but not yet affecting policyholders - are prohibited." "State Firm On Policy Cancellation Ban". See also "Freeze to include prior notifications" and "Insurers can't jettison policies".

    Ever Wonder ...

    Ever wonder why union construction companies are being underbid by "rat" contractors? "Three people were charged Wednesday with fraud and conspiracy for allegedly providing hundreds of workers with falsified worker’s compensation insurance certificates to more than 300 Florida construction contractors." "3 charged in worker’s comp fraud scheme".

    Dead Bill

    "A bill that would have allowed Florida school boards to start their academic years earlier than mid-August, getting around a prohibition passed last year, died Wednesday in a Senate committee." "Bill to weaken school starting date limit dies in committee".

    Citizens' Laws

    The Palm Beach Post editors note that

    as long as there are causes - some of them inspired by the Legislature's inaction - there will be petition drives. Rather than keep fighting, Tallahassee could protect the constitution and continue this form of direct democracy by allowing citizens to propose laws, not just amendments. Two weeks ago, the Senate Judiciary Committee heard testimony about the idea.

    Not surprisingly, former Florida Supreme Court Justice Wade Hopping told the committee that citizen-initiative laws would harm the state. Mr. Hopping is a lobbyist whose for-profit clients, notably developers, oppose petition drives that might permit residents to place restrictions on growth. Former state Sen. Curt Kiser also addressed the committee. He is a lobbyist, but he spoke on behalf of a not-for-profit client - the American Cancer Society - that last year backed a successful initiative - restoring money to the state's anti-smoking program.
    "Protect the constitution".

    FCAT Reform Needed

    The Sun-Sentinel editorial board urges Charlie to

    boldly mak[e] changes in the way the FCAT exam is used in public education. So far, his response to potential changes, eagerly anticipated two weeks ago, has been fairly meek.

    Crist has said he supports giving principals more say in how teacher merit pay is allocated. C'mon, Governor, let's take a deeper, bolder look.

    The FCAT is a valuable tool for assessing progress, or lack of it, in the state's K-12 system. The South Florida Sun-Sentinel Editorial Board supports the test as an "accountability" tool.

    However, its broad use, including determining teacher bonus pay and as the sole determinant in assessing school grades, is flawed. A number of changes are needed to make the FCAT's application more efficient, more accurate and fairer.
    "Gov. Crist".

    "Naugle naysays global warming"

    "Maybe if we ignore the problem, it will go away. He tried that approach with affordable housing, suggesting that only lazy people can't afford housing. Now he's hoping it will work for global warming. Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jim Naugle hasn't caught on to the newfangled idea, supported by scientific consensus, that human activity causes climate change. Alas, no matter how hard he looks the other way, downtown housing won't become affordable and greenhouse gasses won't stop causing global warming." "Climate".

    Storm Panel

    "When the newly created Windstorm Mitigation Study Committee gathers today for its first meeting, it will bring together several politically connected business and government leaders. Seven of the eight seats on the panel have been filled" "Storm panel needs to fill 1 seat".


    "Alcee Hastings has been appointed chairman of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi." "Hastings Named Helsinki Commission Chair".

    Putting rhe Brakes on "Jeb!"'s Undermining of KidCare

    "With more than 600,000 uninsured children in the state and at least 150,000 unfilled slots in its subsidized health insurance program for children, Florida cannot justify having to forfeit $20 million to the federal government. But, again, the state is returning millions it could have used to enroll needy children in the KidCare program."

    So, the interest newly elected Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink has shown in KidCare is needed. Florida repeatedly has made it harder for parents who work but cannot afford insurance to get coverage for their children.

    Ms. Sink is showing her commitment by serving as board chairwoman of the Healthy Kids Corp., which runs KidCare and other similar programs, instead of appointing an unelected designee. She also is pushing for more money to be spent telling parents about KidCare and helping to enroll more children.

    It's a statement of priority that Floridians don't have to fear. Under Gov. Bush, Republican-led Legislatures year after year pledged to fix KidCare, then instead undermined it. Legislators reduced enrollment time, increased the required paperwork, canceled outreach programs and cut money to the program.
    "Put Care in KidCare".

    Apparently the "logic [of health care for poor kids] was lost on Gov. Jeb Bush and the Legislature in 2004, when they were so embarrassed by long waiting lists for Healthy Kids that they eliminated the list and started limiting enrollment periods. The predictable result was that enrollment dropped by more than 100,000 children over the next year. That mistake has been corrected and children can be enrolled year round again, but that foolishness, limited outreach efforts and bureaucracy have prevented Healthy Kids from reaching its potential." "All children need coverage".

    Public Participation

    "The idea that Miami-Dade County residents have a right to participate in School Board meetings should be a given. But if there is a better way to provide that access while improving the board's efficiency, that would be something worth trying." "Schools' pilot project will test public access".

    Chubby Kids to be Banned

    "Gov. Charlie Crist wants every elementary school student to have 30 minutes of physical activity a day next year and says it can be done for free - by using classroom teachers where physical education teachers aren't available. Crist is seeking a sponsor to introduce legislation meant to stop a generation of chubby kids from growing up to be fat adults." "Crist sets next target to shape up: Elementary phys ed".

    Not Cool

    "Hollywood · Suspended City Commissioner Keith Wasserstrom and his companies received more than $400,000 from developers and others seeking city support during his last three years in office, but he did not disclose the dealings as required during key votes on the projects." "Hollywood commissioner hid $400,000 in payments from developers, others".

    Port Security

    "Nearly a year after a congressional rebellion erupted over Bush administration plans to let a Dubai company manage port operations at U.S. terminals, Ron Klein says he’s not sure the government has a handle on the situation." "Klein Unhappy With Port Security".

    Rep. Keith Fitzgerald

    "Rep. Keith Fitzgerald of Sarasota has been named deputy policy chairman for the House Democratic Caucus, making him the only freshman member of the Democratic leadership team." "Freshman joins House Democratic leadership".

    "In his first major political announcement since winning the strong mayor campaign, Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Alvarez said he is backing Republican presidential contender John McCain." "Miami-Dade mayor backs McCain".

    FCAT Follies

    "Parents can obsess over state-assigned school grades. The grades seem so definitive. In fact, they aren't."

    An A student won't start making D's if she goes to a D school.

    The grades are derived primarily from FCAT scores, and many crucial subjects, such as foreign language and history, aren't on the FCAT. As a further limitation, high school FCAT grades until now have reflected the work only of ninth- and 10th-graders. The addition of an 11th-grade science FCAT this year changes that, but only a little.

    Palm Beach County provides an example of school-grade angst.
    "School grades fail credibility test".

    Romney's Florida Folks

    Romney has collected these Florida folks: "Former Lieutenant Gov. Toni Jennings – Honorary Chairwoman; Former House Speaker Allan Bense – Chair; Former State GOP Chairman Al Cardenas – Chair; U.S. Rep. Tom Feeney – Chair; Former House Speaker John Thrasher – Chair; St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker – Co-Chair; State Rep. Dennis Baxley - Co-Chair; Rep. Jennifer Carroll – Co-Chair; Former state Rep. Dudley Goodlette – Co-Chair; Former Bush Lottery chief David Griffin - Co-Chair; State Rep. Anitere Flores – Co-Chair; former state GOP chairman Van Poole – Co-Chair." "Additions to Romney's FL team".

    Will Who?

    Meet Will Weatherford

    As one of 36 rookie lawmakers in the state House, Will Weatherford could still be finding the water fountain or trying to figure out which elevator goes to his office on the 11th floor of the Capitol.

    But the 27-year-old Republican from Wesley Chapel shows none of that wide-eyed amazement. Instead, the former legislative aide is positioning himself to take over the top job in the House - in 2012.

    Yes, 2012.
    "Contest for 2012 speaker is now".

    GOPer Whiners

    First we have the delightful Adam Putnam:

    Republican leaders complained this week it would be unfair for Democrats to prohibit amendments to a resolution condemning President Bush's plan to add troops to Iraq, as they expect. They called the whole exercise a political game. They accused Democrats of stifling a real debate about the war.

    And one member of the GOP leadership told reporters that just because Republicans were guilty of doing all of that during their own reign -- despite similar outrage among Democrats -- that doesn't make it right.

    "They were right," admitted Rep. Adam Putnam of Florida, the third-ranking Republican in the House, when asked the difference between what Democrats are doing and the tactics used by the previous Republican majority to undercut criticism of the war.
    And this from our favorite pragmatic conservative who pledged to work with Democrats:
    "The Republicans have had the burden of government while holding true to our principles," said Sen. Mel Martinez of Florida, general chairman of the Republican National Committee. "The Democrats now have the obligation to govern rather than just criticize, so that places the burden on them. Now we're even."
    "GOP admits some sins, now accuses Democrats".

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