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, July 26, 2007

"Those people are nuts"

    "The Palm Beach County Republican Party has filed 60 voter fraud complaints against people it says may have voted both in New York and Florida last November."
    County Republican Chairman Sid Dinerstein said the 60 names could be "the tip of the iceberg" for double voting because the GOP didn't try to link voters with slightly different spellings or variants of names in each state.

    The Republican research discovered voters such as Dominic Scaduto, who said Wednesday he voted in both Delray Beach and Rockville Centre, N.Y., "because I can. ... I'm not aware that there's anything wrong with it, and as far as I'm concerned they're both local politics."

    But in some other cases, the GOP appears to have unearthed only some odd coincidences.

    Sylvia Herman of Boynton Beach was targeted after the GOP found a Sylvia Herman in Rock Hill, N.Y., with the exact same 1932 birthday.

    "That's not me" the Boynton Beach Herman said Wednesday. "I never voted in New York. I'm not from New York and never lived in New York."

    The New York Herman was equally adamant.

    "I've never lived in Florida," she said. "I'm not going to either. Those people are nuts."
    "GOP seeks probe of 60 possible double voters".

    "The Republican Party announced Wednesday that it filed complaints of voter fraud July 20 with the State Attorney, Florida Division of Elections, Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the State Attorney General and the U.S. Attorney's office" "Republicans: 60 voted in Palm Beach County and New York". Did those complaints include Ann Coulter?

    Note to Readers

    Our review of Florida's political news and punditry will resume on Monday, July 30.

    Deep Thinker at Work

    "It's unlikely taxes will be increased, as Democratic leaders have suggested, to help Florida overcome a potential $1 billion revenue shortfall if Gov. Charlie Crist gets his way."

    "I'm not a fan of raising taxes," Crist said Wednesday.

    So how about increasing user fees?

    "I'm not a fee fan," Crist added. "It's not something I'm really excited about."
    The adults have a different view:
    Democratic House and Senate leaders, Rep. Dan Gelber, of Miami Beach, and Sen. Steve Geller, of Cooper City, say they want all options considered including reversing recent tax cuts they said mainly benefited the wealthy and out-of-state corporations.

    "Before we take an ax to an education system already meagerly funded, or to children's social services struggling to stay viable, or to our prisons forcing dangerous early releases, we need to examine all options," Geller said in a statement.

    Those options should include tapping $2 billion in a reserve fund and increasing taxes on cigarettes or reinstating the recently repealed tax on stocks and other intangible property, Geller said.

    Democrats may not necessarily support any of those alternatives, Geller said, "but everything needs to be on the table, not just government cuts."
    "Crist says tax increases unlikely solution for budget dilemma". See also "As cash runs low, legislators will meet" and "State lawmakers agree to meet in special session – again.". More: "Dems to push GOP in budget corner, and vice versa".

    The Palm Beach Post editors: "Unpleasant as it is that the Legislature must cut at least $1 billion from the just-passed state budget, the September special session gives legislators one last chance to take care of some unfinished business" "Expand the budget session".

    Private Roads

    "More than 450 people from both U.S. and foreign investment groups, contractors and concessionaires showed up for a forum Wednesday on plans to build toll lanes on I-595 between State Road 7 and Interstate 75." "Private investment groups hear pitch to use toll lanes to overhaul I-595".

    Water Woes

    "For years, experts warned that Florida would face worsening water shortages if the state didn't control growth." "No growth without water - and way to pay for it".

    The Daily Naugle

    The Sun-Sentinel editors: "Oh, that clever Jim Naugle must feel like he really pulled a fast one."

    The Fort Lauderdale mayor had his assistant send out an e-mail that he was going to issue an apology Tuesday for his incredibly stupid and tasteless remarks about the gay community on the steps of City Hall. Figuring Naugle would issue some kind of apology, the media and activists gathered for the press conference.

    Ah, but all it really did was feed the mayor's ever-expanding ego. Anyone who's followed Naugle's publicity-craved antics never expected a heartfelt apology, because that would have required class and humility from someone who has become a serial insulter.

    Instead, the press conference gave Naugle another chance to go on one of his homophobic rants.
    "Fort Lauderdale Mayor is at it again".

    Tax Cut Tomfoolery

    "Despite all the talk of rolling back property taxes in Florida, don't look for a break on school taxes this year. In Seminole County, the average homeowner will save enough on school taxes -- about $23 -- to treat the family at McDonald's." "Stretching Florida's tax dollars".

    CD 8

    Scott Maxwell on the 8th CD race:

    Republican incumbent Ric Keller leads the pack, as expected. He raised more than $230,000 last quarter, with most of it coming from political-action committees linked to companies such as General Electric and R.J. Reynolds. But there were plenty of local donors as well, including former Congressman Lou Frey and retired Darden CEO Joe Lee.

    Republican challenger Todd Long raised about $82,000 this past quarter, though more than half of that came from the lawyer himself. Donors include a lot of local lawyers and chiropractors -- oh, and former Magic center Andrew deClercq.

    Democrat Mike Smith raised more than $150,000 -- with nearly all of it coming from local individuals. Much of Smith's money comes from the circles of his fundraising-savvy boss, John "For the People" Morgan.
    "Money Pours Into Congressional Race". More: "Congressional cash - where it comes from, goes".

    Lake O

    "Summer rain brings much-needed water to depleted Lake Okeechobee".

    "Florida's rankings in child welfare are dismal"

    The Daytona Beach - News Journal editorial board: "At what point can Florida say it's done right by its most vulnerable children?"

    How many teenage pregnancies are too many? How many children going to bed hungry? How many babies who don't survive infancy?

    The obvious best answer is that the state should never rest in its efforts to protect children -- that even one child caught in a dysfunctional home or born unhealthy is too many. Reality dictates something different. State leaders have always assumed that some level of childhood misery must be accepted. They make that assumption anew every year as they write the state budget -- and short-change the services most likely to help children in trouble. ...

    Florida politicians like to blame the state's failures on factors outside their control -- such as a high immigrant population. The Kids Count statistics tell another story.

    Poverty is Florida's biggest problem, as shown by the significantly higher percentage of children living in low-income households and the galaxy of problems that often accompany poverty, such as hunger and homelessness. But the state could do more to help struggling low-income families: Sixteen percent of Florida children (compared with 11 percent nationally) lack health insurance, despite a heavy federal subsidy that helps pay for coverage for children under the Healthy Kids program. ...

    The state's juvenile incarceration rate -- 452 children in detention per 100,000 population -- is drastically higher than the national rate of 307. Florida's rate of teen parenthood is also significantly higher.
    Here's the kicker:
    This year's ranking is based on data from 2003 through 2005, years when the state was relatively flush with money for child-related programs. This year, several crucial programs saw cuts, and public education -- the state's single most crucial anti-poverty program -- is going through yet another round of budget cuts.
    "Do kids count?".


    "The location of a proposed garbage dump in an environmentally sensitive area of east Pasco County is preposterous, as out of whack as the developer's suggestion that the landfill offers an environmentally friendly solution to the growing problem of garbage disposal." "Don't Build Dumping Ground Near Fragile Green Swamp".

    Brain Dead

    "House Speaker Marco Rubio slammed Gov. Charlie Crist's climate change initiative this week, saying the governor's effort to lower greenhouse gases and crack down on vehicle emissions could hurt consumers by driving up utility bills." "Rubio criticizes Crist's strategy". See also "Rubio Turns Up the Heat on Ever-Sunny Crist" and "GOP, conservatives balk at Crist's call to cut emissions". More: "Battle lines get clearer: Gelber and Thurman defend Crist on energy".

    And it ain't just those liberal environmental issues: "In an op-ed published in [yesterday's] edition of the Florida Baptist Witness, House Speaker Marco Rubio blames Gov. Charlie Crist and the legislature for 'convincing Floridians to accept expanded gambling.'" "More proof of Rubio distancing himself from Crist". See also "Rubio vs. Crist - the sequel".

    For more on Saint Rubio see "Miami: Screwed Again" which is worth it just for the photoshopped picture of wonder boy. See also The Buzz: "Making a mockery of Rubio".


    "After 252 long, dry days, water is flowing south from the Kissimmee River into Lake Okeechobee. The amount isn't much, but it's still a milestone after an 18-month drought that has put much of South Florida on severe water restrictions." "Lake O getting a boost from Kissimmee River".


    "Former Manatee County Republican Party chairman Paul Sharff is the latest political player added to the growing Rudy Giuliani network that is developing in the region. Sharff, also a member of the Sarasota-Bradenton Airport Authority, was picked to be the regional chairman of the campaign for the west coast. Sharff said that means helping build networks in 12 different counties in the region, including in Hillsborough and Pinellas." Try not to laugh too hard at this:

    “Rudy Giuliani showed his abilities and true self on 9/11,” Sharff said
    "Guiliani adds to Florida campaign". Mr. Sharff might want to take a look at this new HarperCollins book: "Grand Illusion The Untold Story of Rudy Giuliani and 9/11": "The mayor's performance, though marked by personal courage and grace under fire, followed two terms in office pursuing an utterly wrongheaded approach to the city's security against terrorism. Turning the mythology on its head, Grand Illusion reveals how Giuliani has revised his own history, casting himself as prescient terror hawk when in fact he ran his administration as if terrorist threats simply did not exist, too distracted by pet projects and turf wars to attend to vital precautions."

    On the "Cheap"

    Contrast this from the "liberal" St. Pete Times:

    The historic Southern city continues to mourn for its Fire Department after a devastating June 18 furniture warehouse fire. Still, the department rummaged through the memorials from around the country for its nine deceased firefighters because it believed it had to help save the job of a 10th: Pasco Capt. David Garofalo.

    Garofalo's impulsive gesture of leaving his department polo shirt as a memorial at the site of the deadly fire was understandable. Firefighters from as many as 800 departments in the United States and Canada came to pay respects and left behind flowers, shirts, pictures and other items to honor the deceased. Ten thousand people attended the memorial service that included a procession of 300 firefighting vehicles

    No matter. Pasco County was more concerned with the $23.95 shirt purchased with public money. Hardly a federal offense, it still resulted in an internal investigation. ...

    Garofalo, incidentally, traveled at his own expense to support the Charleston department. The county's honor guard also attended the memorial service, but billed the public $246.71 in gasoline, or more than 10 times the cost of the shirt left as a keepsake.

    So what would others think of the image of Pasco County?

    Try cheap and insensitive.
    ... with this, this and this from the St. Pete Times:
    - "Wondering where all those skyrocketing property taxes have gone? One major drain: the tony retirement pensions of the state's police and firefighters."

    - "The most generous pensions are going to first-responders, mostly paramedics, police and firefighters. Almost every year, their unions convince Tallahassee politicians to make it easier to qualify for disability pensions. If they get high blood pressure, for example, it's now assumed they were disabled in the line of duty. Unbelievable.

    - "Whether local governments can afford these lucrative retirement plans for deputies and police and firefighters at a time when private companies are shedding pension plans is a reasonable public policy question."
    Yes, they just love firefighters at the St Pete Times, its just that the editors want firefighters to work ... as the cocktail circuit editors might put it ... on the "cheap".

    Promises, Promises

    "Months after the Legislature's promise to solve the state's property-insurance crisis, homeowners still are disappointed by the eye-popping costs of premiums -- if they can get insurance at all." "Insurance discounts: Worth it?".

    Running Government Like A Business

    "The state attorney general's office removed the toll-free number for a sexual assault counseling center from its Web site after an 8-year-old girl was connected instead to a sex chat line. ... Again our sincerest apologies to the family that was affected," said Sandi Copes, a spokeswoman for Attorney General Bill McCollum." "Girl seeking counseling calls wrong number for sex hot line".

    Florida's Booming Economy

    "Broward slump proves stubborn as home sales drop 22%". See also "Existing home sales down 19 percent in Palm Beach County".


    "Florida's appetite for gasoline has grown at twice the national average in the past five years,"

    and the state now ranks third in annual gas consumption rates even though it is the nation's fourth most populated state, according to a report released Wednesday.

    But the average Florida household could save up to $3,480 in fuel costs over the lifetime of a vehicle if new cars were required to get at least 35 miles per gallon, according to the analysis released jointly by the Consumer Federation of America and the Florida Consumer Action Network. The groups are pushing a federal bill that would raise fuel efficiency standards for cars and light-duty trucks by 2018.
    "Florida has turned into a state of gas guzzlers, U.S. figures show".


    "State begins reviewing Boynton 'pay-to-play' allegations".

    That's Our Charlie

    "Don Webster, chief executive officer for the American Cancer Society, asked Crist to consider hiking Florida's 34 cents-a-pack cigarette tax. The levy has not been raised since 1990 and now ranks 46th nationwide, Webster said."

    Crist labeled the proposal "an innovative idea." But the health-conscious governor, who has embraced the anti-smoking effort along with measures to combat childhood obesity, didn't endorse it.

    "I'm not for raising taxes, as you know," Crist said.
    "Tobacco-tax increase idea doesn't ignite Crist's support". See also "Governor touts $57 million anti-tobacco campaign, won't endorse tax increase".

    For a slightly deeper discussion of the issue see this Tallahassee Democrat editorial: "Win-win option", which concludes that "the governor has called an increase in the cigarette tax "innovative," but in fact it is more than that. It's a win-win approach to discouraging smoking, while raising money to deal with the substantial public health and social consequences of those who chose to continue.".

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