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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 Monday, September 03, 2007

The Annual "Labor Day" Insult

    Yes, it is Labor Day again, when editorial boards around the state take the opportunity to either ignore or bash unions. Their corporate owners (yes, that is a double entendre) are no doubt pleased.

    We start with the Orlando Sentinel, which pays homage to American workers by of course ignoring Labor Day. Well, they do not ignore it entirely: they acknowledge that "now that it's Labor Day, [presidential] candidates need to begin addressing more substance." That the Orlando Sentinel would marginalize Labor Day is no surprise; after all, these are the same swells who ... well ... just read about it: "Send in the scabs" and "Picking scabs, part two".

    The Tampa Trib editors may have penned the most embarrassing editorial this year:
    The celebration of Labor Day is muted this year for most workers. Union membership is down, pay is flat and pensions are rare.

    The one place unions are strong, pay is up and pensions are fat is public service. Local, state and federal employees now receive raises and benefits that are the envy of most taxpayers who pay for it all.

    Most private employers have replaced costly pensions with investment accounts, such as the 401(k), because pension plans paid from future profits have proved disastrous.

    Indeed, generous union-won pensions helped drive steel companies and airlines into bankruptcy. Now the auto industry is fighting for its life with a pension yoke around its neck. Consider that General Motors now pays four pensions for every worker on its payroll. Ford carries a similar burden, which adds about $1,700 to the cost of a new car.

    What seemed smart corporate strategy in the 1950s and '60s became a crushing burden as payrolls were cut, ranks of retirees grew and foreign competition increased.

    Pensions, and the unions that advocate them, are fading away everywhere except in government. ...

    Government perks need to be brought in line with what is offered in the private sector. The new theme for Labor Day should be the protection of the most vulnerable worker, the privately employed taxpayer.
    "Secure Government Workers Now Lead Labor Day Parade". Do these dopes even read what they write? On one hand the editors write that "Government perks need to be brought in line with what is offered in the private sector", yet at the outset of the piece they observe that, in the private sector "pensions are rare".

    While not on the editorial pages, we do get the opportunity to learn today about how our fireighters, cops and corrections officers are greedy pigs. This astounding piece of doggrel appears in the Palm Beach Post "news" section today, although it appears to be little more than rewording of familiar League of Cities propaganda or, at best, wingnut editorial rantings from the pages of the Wall Street Journal. Take a gander:
    Sitting at home on the couch, finishing off a six-pack of beer and a pack of cigarettes and having a heart attack? It's considered an on-the-job injury for firefighters, paramedics, and law enforcement and corrections officers.

    And taxpayers are paying the medical bills.
    We can thank our lucky stars that "not everyone is convinced" that this is a good thing:
    Dr. David Perloff, a Broward County cardiologist who handles many of the sheriff's office's heart-related claims, said there is no definitive study that proves a link between law enforcement and heart-related illnesses, he said.

    "Unfortunately, the legislature and the politicians and the lawyers and the union have basically legislated and created that this exists without any true data to that effect," Perloff said. "It puts us in a very bad position."

    The law makes it harder for doctors to argue that a heart-related condition existed before the employee took the job. Perloff said the legislation has driven up costs because in many cases the department is also paying health insurance premiums to cover employees for heart-related illnesses. But when those illnesses arise, the insurance company argues that they are covered by workers compensation, he said.

    "The municipalities say we are losing money here, we are going to have to cut services," Perloff said. "Everybody is more and more overworked. You have more and more people underpaid. And more stress. So who is winning? Nobody is winning from the heart-lung bill."

    Steve Delai, deputy chief of Palm Beach County Fire-Rescue, said that during the past three years the department has paid an average of $750,000 a year in medical expenses and lost time related to the heart bill.

    The sheriff's office says the heart bill has caused its long-term liability costs to soar. Its liability is estimated at $12.8 million - an amount that may not actually be spent each year, but must be included in the budget.
    "Cancer may join workers comp list".

    To their everlasting credit, The Miami Herald editors at least can concede that, in Florida
    we still have too many poor working families -- few of whom have healthcare insurance -- and our middle class is losing ground as well. It is too expensive for teachers, store clerks, mechanics, etc., to live here, period.
    "Labor Day, 2007: Slightly better off".

    The "liberal" St Pete Times editors almost, but not quite, bring themselves to use the word "union" in an an other than disparaging way: "Labor Day evolved into more than a nod to organized labor. The speeches, parades and picnics became fuller expressions of civic pride, as our great public works and manufacturing capacity came to symbolize the psyche of a can-do people." "A can-do nation marks Labor Day". It ain't much, but the existence of organized labor is kinda, sorta acknowledged.

    This editorial from the Sun-Sentinel is a bit better (although unions are of course not mentioned), and at least acknowledges that workers "are concerned that taxes and insurance are eating away at their disposable income. As a result, it's hard to make ends meet no matter how hard they work. All this is even before we get to the bigger picture: 'outsourcing' of jobs and 'restructuring' of workplaces and all the other euphemisms that all mean one dreaded thing — you've lost your job. Or that your colleagues have lost their jobs and now you have to do those tasks as well as your own." "Positive economic news doesn't quell Labor Day fears".

    The Tallahassee Democrat offers this pap: "Today many of us will enjoy a day off from our labors, spend some time with friends, family or, quite likely, football. It's a time to renew and refresh ourselves and return to the workplace tomorrow with a new appreciation of all we have accomplished and all we have yet to achieve." "No laboring today". The Palm Beach Post writes about immigration "New day labor debate".

    It woulda been nice to have read something in Florida's traditional media along the following lines:
    "Labor Day differs in every essential way from the other holidays of the year in any country," said Samuel Gompers, founder and longtime president of the American Federation of Labor. "All other holidays are in a more or less degree connected with conflicts and battles of man's prowess over man, of strife and discord for greed and power, of glories achieved by one nation over another. Labor Day...is devoted to no man, living or dead, to no sect, race, or nation."

    Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country. ...

    The vital force of labor added materially to the highest standard of living and the greatest production the world has ever known and has brought us closer to the realization of our traditional ideals of economic and political democracy. It is appropriate, therefore, that the nation pay tribute on Labor Day to the creator of so much of the nation's strength, freedom, and leadership — the American worker.
    Oh, and by the way, the above words - which Florida's editors cannot bring themselves to even mimic - appear on the left wing U.S. Department of Labor website; you know, the agency run by former Heritage Foundation Distinguished Fellow Elaine L. Chao, who is married to the United States Senate’s Republican Leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.


    "Dissension and bitterness surfaced among Florida Democrats on Sunday in the wake of pledges to boycott the state's primary campaign by the leading presidential candidates."

    Several leading Florida Democrats said the boycott, stemming from Florida moving up the date of its presidential primary, is likely to hurt Democrats' chances in Florida during the 2008 election.

    At least two - both South Florida state senators - announced they are withdrawing their support for presidential candidates because of the boycott.

    "I do not intend to support any candidate in Florida that won't campaign here in Florida," said Senate Democratic Leader Steve Geller of Hallandale Beach, who said he's canceling plans to endorse John Edwards next week.

    The candidates "slapped the voters of the state in Florida in the face," Geller said.

    Sen. Jeremy Ring, D-Parkland, said he's withdrawing his support for Barack Obama.

    "When you're coming for our money, not our votes, I resent that, and I think the voters resent that," he said.
    "Primary Boycott Spurs Backlash". See also "Florida Democrats demand DNC recognition of primary".

    No Free Ride

    "Some predict 2 million without car insurance after PIP's death" "State may get more uninsured".

    AARP Speaks

    "AARP, which represents nearly 3 million seniors in Florida, became the first non-partisan group to weigh on [and express disappointment with] the decision by Democratic presidential candidates to boycott the state." "AARP chides Democratic candidates".

    Jebbie's education Legacy

    "Universities find it's tough to hire and keep administrators amid questions and battles. The state university system faces cuts of between $100-million and $232-million when lawmakers meet for a special session this month, and control over tuition and other university governance powers is in legal limbo." "This deans' list shrinks to budget woes".

    Yawn ...

    "South Florida employees of all ages try to strike balance on the job".


    "The state left Palm Beach County to deal alone with rock mining last year, when Jeb Bush's administration reneged on a promise to plan the future of the Everglades Agriculture Area after sugar cane. The eagerness with which growers are embracing mining shows that the post-sugar cane era is here. The planning needs to catch up." "Mines in the Everglades? Let's take another look".

    Just Cut 'Em

    "What happened in California, Colorado and other states suggests that dramatic plans to cut taxes end up with less-than-dramatic results as governments find alternative ways to raise money and citizens settle on what level of reduced services they're willing to live with." "History shows way on taxes".

    From the "Values" Crowd

    "The state agency set to remove manatees from the endangered list plans to slash 90 positions from the division that enforces the boating speed zones designed to protect manatees. Manatee patrols would be just one casualty of severe cuts to the law-enforcement staff of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Wildlife officers also search for missing boaters, arrest poachers, stop speeders driving through panther habitat and ticket anglers who violate fishing rules." "Job cuts could slash manatee patrols".

    Laff Riot

    Charlie's big promises:

    Gov. Charlie Crist had promised that tax bills would "drop like a rock," but as Martin County Property Appraiser Laurel Kelly has put it, "it's more like a pebble."
    "Even elected officials, many of whom had to grapple with tough decisions about what to cut from their budgets to reduce the tax bills, weren't overjoyed at the numbers."
    "I saved $21. I'm so happy with the legislature because I can now afford to buy one more Mountain Dew a month," Martin County Commissioner Lee Weberman said. "We were promised substantial tax relief, and once again it's a promise they didn't deliver."
    "Homeowners laughing at tiny tax cuts".

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