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 Sunday, March 18, 2007

RPOF: "Gullible" Voters will "Come to Their Senses"

    When in doubt, insult the voters. Try not to laugh too hard as you soak in the eloquence of Tom Feeney, who
    said Saturday that Republicans took a beating at the polls last November because they lost their "brand name" of low taxes and moral values, letting Democrats convince "gullible" American voters that they could do a better job in Washington.
    The parade of rocket scientists continued with Attorney General Bill McCollum, who
    predicted that President Bush will be proved right about the war in Iraq and that voters will "come to their senses" despite polls showing widespread opposition to his policies.
    State GOP Chairman Jim Greer added this gem:
    "If you ask a Democrat why they're a Democrat, they can't tell you - usually it's because their mother and father were - and that's because they have no core."
    "McCollum: Get voters to 'come to their senses'". For more on this see "200 gather for summit with party's new leader".

    Property Taxes

    "No matter the final outcome of the property tax debate, professional lobbyists with a stake in the results will wind up with money in their pockets." "Lobbyists in demand as tax debate heats up".

    "House Speaker Marco Rubio wants to ask voters to swap their home taxes for an extra 2.5 cents on almost everything they buy." "Rubio: Property tax relief is worth the risk".

    Meanwhile, the debate over whether to substitute property taxes with an increase to the sales tax is "not stopping lawmakers from trying to carve out more than a dozen new sales-tax breaks tailored for certain companies, industries and shoppers."

    Florida's tax code already is filled with nearly 250 sales-tax exemptions, which, if closed, would bring to the state another $12 billion each year.

    Some are broad and popular, such as breaks on groceries and prescription drugs. Others are narrowly tailored and often controversial, including exemptions for ostrich feed, Super Bowl tickets and charter-fishing boats.

    Some argue that the Legislature should consider repealing many of those exemptions as part of any plan to swap lower property taxes for a higher sales tax.

    "I just think that we ought to have a fair tax system, and we don't have a fair tax system today," said former Senate President John McKay. He once unsuccessfully pushed a plan in the Legislature that he predicted would eliminate roughly 100 exemptions and exclusions while lowering the overall sales tax by 1.5 cents.

    Rubio dismisses the approach. He argues that most expensive exemptions are also the most popular, and that focusing only on narrower breaks would not generate enough money.
    "Which tax breaks will make the cut?". A FAQ from the Miami Herald: "Property taxes: a guide for our readers".

    "Crist's Accuser"

    "Who is the woman who drew the governor into this 'he said, she said'? Interviews with acquaintances and a review of information available on her present a study in contrasts."

    Townsend was separated and getting divorced in 1988 when, she says, Crist, then an aspiring young politician, got her pregnant. Neither Crist nor Townsend is pushing for resolution of the matter today.
    Charlie is mum on the subject:
    Crist acknowledges meeting Townsend at a St. Petersburg nightspot in 1988 but insists it is "impossible" that he impregnated her. He signed a waiver of paternal rights in 1989 but refuses to discuss the claim further.
    "Townsend, 48, is intensely political."
    She is a former president of a Tampa women's Republican club, and from 2004 to 2006, she was president of a similar group in Pinellas County, the Suncoast Republican Women, Federated. The Pinellas group invited her in because it wanted energetic new leadership, said past president Margie Milford. Townsend reinvigorated the group, helping set up a Web site, Milford said.

    But Townsend also wanted to focus on issues that were divisive to the club members, particularly abortion.

    "She does take some pretty hard stands - she's extremely conservative," Milford said. "Not all the people in the clubs are that conservative. She is extremely strong on abortion issues."
    Townsend remains active in wingnut circles:
    In July, Townsend spoke to about 150 people at the National Federation of Republican Assemblies Northeast Conservative Conference and National Board of Directors Meeting in Warwick, R.I. The speech generated invitations to speak in Vermont and New Hampshire.

    "She doesn't draw a dime. She should," said Jerry Thibodeau, chairman of the Manchester, N.H., Republican Committee. His group hosted Townsend in October and December, paying only for her travel expenses.

    "She starts off with 'we the people' should be in control, and we're not," said Gene Roberts, past president of the Republican Club of Lakeland, where Townsend spoke Wednesday to about 15 people.

    "It wasn't political in any way," Roberts said. "She is knowledgeable, and she is articulate. She should be teaching in every high school, or at least they should have her come in and speak."

    In her law practice, she has filed numerous friend-of-the-court briefs, including one in 2002 before the U.S. Supreme Court for the Orlando-based Liberty Counsel. The nonprofit group describes itself as "dedicated to advancing religious freedom, the sanctity of human life and the traditional family."
    Read the whole story - and there is much, much more (including questions about her credibility) here: "Gov. Crist's Accuser Is A Study In Contrasts".

    There is also plenty of additional information in these earlier pieces: See "Crist confronts paternity claim", "Girl wonders: is Crist my dad?", "She's a freshman at a small Southern college, a psychology major/international..." and "For GOP mantle, dirt flew furiously".

    For an interesting twist on the story see our post: "Failed Homecoming King's 'Secret Plot'" ("'The secret plot among a handful of Republicans to blow up their own party's primary for governor just before election day was born out of frustration.' And it was hatched by, believe it or not, a fellow Republican who Charlie Crist narrowly defeated for FSU 'homecoming king'").

    Jim Davis

    "Four months after losing the Florida governor's race to Republican Charlie Crist, Democratic former U.S. Rep. Jim Davis is practicing law at Holland & Knight in Tampa, serving on the board of the Judeo Christian Health Clinic and about to join the board of the Tampa Bay Partnership. St. Petersburg Times Political Editor Adam Smith caught up with Davis recently". "Away from politics, a normal life".


    "While much of the focus in red-leaning Florida has been on the GOP field, Crist's centrist politics -- and a presidential primary in January or early February -- may help the Democratic field equally or even more, say some party activists.""Florida may be inviting stage for Dems chasing Oval Office".


    "Pending approval of the Legislature, Gov. Charlie Crist's decision to pay a $5 million settlement to the parents of Martin Lee Anderson would take badly needed money out of the state's coffers." "Anderson settlement would be smart". See also "Getting past a tragedy".

    "Amid all the glowing media coverage"

    The Tampa Trib's Kevin Begos concedes that "amid all the glowing media coverage some unpleasant details got overlooked."

    One was that in the five months before the new law took effect insurance companies could still impose previously approved rate increases - big ones.

    Another: thousands of Florida homeowners would still lose coverage, even if they'd never filed a claim.

    Bottom line? High rates are here to stay for many customers.
    And camera shy Charlie's response?
    Crist's office did not respond to requests for comment about citizen complaints.
    "Policyholders Say Reforms Aren't Living Up To Promises".

    "Stop Subsidizing the Lies"

    The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "Public money should not pay for fear-mongering 'crisis pregnancy centers' that peddle lies about fetal development, contraception and abortion."

    Florida, like the federal government, spends millions each year supporting such centers, many of which are run by religious zealots who see abstinence-only as the only alternative to abortion and for whom scientific facts do not matter. ...

    [C]ounselors at many crisis pregnancy centers condemn single women, use misleading and false descriptions of abortion, and attempt to link abortion to breast cancer and infertility when respected scientific researchers unequivocally deny such a risk.
    It gets worse:
    With two proposals before the Legislature, Sen. Ronda Storms, R-Brandon, is furthering this effort to use intimidation to stop abortion. With Senate Bill 1602, Sen. Storms wants to make it harder for a judge to exempt a minor from telling her parents that she is getting an abortion. With Senate Bill 2546, she wants to require health-care workers and counselors to report to police any pregnant girl under 16, and make it mandatory for abortion providers to collect DNA from the girl and the fetus.

    Sen. Storms claims that SB 2546 would target men who have abused children, but Florida's Make Adult Males Accountable (MAMA) law already makes it a crime for grown men to impregnate minors. Few police charge men with that crime, and few state attorneys prosecute. But those men are not the targets of Sen. Storms' legislation. Instead, SB 2546 takes aim at girls who get pregnant and would make criminals out of health-care professionals in whom the girls confide.
    "To have fewer abortions, stop subsidizing the lies".

    "Florida Shame"

    "These crimes [against the homeless] are part of a wave of violence against the homeless that is worse in Florida than in any other state, according to one national survey." "Florida shame: a wave of hate". Speaking of hate crimes: "Authorities say man was killed because he was gay".

    McCain's Central Florida Folks

    Scott Maxwell reports that, in central Florida, "John McCain is getting more organized. His campaign sent out a list of local folks who have joined his campaign, including John Quinones, David Simmons, Bertica Cabrera-Morris and Orange County GOP chair Lew Oliver. (I reported the Oliver part more than a month ago. And I still think that part's kind of strange: to have a party chairman sign on with a candidate so long before a primary even takes place.)".


    "Former governor Claude Kirk accused of not paying his taxes".

    "Don't Give Up"

    "Some people -- and some industries -- simply don't give up. Florida's senators, Democrat Bill Nelson and Republican Mel Martinez, shouldn't give up either. They, along with the state's delegation to the U.S. House, need to make it clear that the moratorium on additional Gulf drilling isn't open to further debate. Nelson, in particular, needs to take a greater leadership role here. He caved in too easily to the December compromise rather than insist that the lame-duck Congress wait until its successors --chosen by voters just a month before -- took office." "Drilling redux". See also "Energy" ("The entire Florida congressional delegation should mount the ramparts on this one, and its two U.S. senators, Democrat Bill Nelson and Republican Mel Martinez, should be prepared to filibuster to block this insulting and dishonorable bill.")

    Lease Agreements

    "If Florida's 4.5 million residential tenants think they're getting shortchanged in the Legislature's efforts to reform property taxes, wait until they see what lawmakers think about lease agreements." "Legislature 2007".

    "Proficient with Firearms"

    "No question that Republicans are outgunning Democrats in Florida this election cycle. You may or may not find this reassuring, but a growing number of Republican operatives in Florida are getting proficient with firearms." "GOP presidential candidates gunning for important ally".

    With Dems Like These ...

    "County Commissioner Calvin Harris, a Democrat mentioned as a potential contender, says he's not interested and hopes the 76-year-old Young sticks around in Washington: 'I'm looking forward to Congressman Young representing me for many more years. If you were to rate the members of Congress he would have to be in the top two or three.'"

    In the meantime, "former Reform Party gubernatorial candidate Max Linn" is exploring a run at Young's seat. "Max Linn vs. Bill Young?"


    "He's Gov. Lean, and here's how he gets that way".


    "Collectively, they're some of the first women to benefit from the workplace strides made by social movements on behalf of women and minorities. Six women who have risen to the top in Florida agree on two key factors when it comes to diversifying the work force: First, top management has to make it a priority. And second, in the 21st century, it's just good business." "Females see diversity's value". See also "Charlie Crist on diversity"

    Here's a shocker: "Former Gov. Jeb Bush looks back on his controversial One Florida policy and sees success." "Jeb Bush on One Florida".

    Early Primary

    "In his first public comments on a bill that would move up Florida's presidential primary to Jan. 29, Mel Martinez said he would not be able to save the state from losing delegates to the national convention." "Martinez warns of party sanctions for early primary".

    Pesky Petitions

    "Just months after Floridians opted to make it more difficult to alter the state constitution, lawmakers are pushing new restrictions they say will clean up the process. But voter-rights groups warn the measures will make it even harder for citizens to have a direct say on the state's biggest issues." "Lawmakers push bills restricting petitions".


    "The right of public access to public records is one of the most indispensable elements of a democratic society. In Florida, this right is enshrined in the state Constitution, but it's a different story at the national level, where an executive obsession with secrecy has undermined open government at every turn. Now, Congress is poised to adopt a series of bills that strengthen the public's right to know what their government is up to. These measures are badly needed. They merit our strongest endorsement." "For open government".

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