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, September 13, 2007

New Polls

    "A new poll shows Republican Rudy Giuliani and Democrat Hillary Clinton remain at the top of their presidential tickets in Florida and share this common fate: Their pasts could haunt them."
    The new Quinnipiac University poll shows that Clinton, a New York senator, holds a wide lead over her Democratic rivals. But Clinton, attacked for decades by the right, is viewed negatively by 43 percent of voters, compared to only 50 percent who view her favorably.

    Giuliani's lead isn't so big, nor are his negative ratings. They're at 28 percent.

    But Giuliani's multiple divorces could be a turnoff: About 29 percent of voters said they would be less likely to vote for a candidate who has been divorced more than once. The number is even higher -- 38 percent -- among the Republican base of white evangelicals, who comprise 45 percent of the poll's GOP sample.
    "Poll: Clinton, Giuliani still favored in Florida".

    Here's a twist:
    The Florida Chamber of Commerce has released a survey showing Fred Thompson leading Rudy Giuliani by a 27-21 spread ...

    "Up until now, Guiliani has been leading in nearly every statewide poll of Republican candidates," said Marian Johnson, political veteran and vice-president of political strategy for the Florida Chamber. "Recent media hype combined with a stronger statewide campaign effort has given Fred Thompson a considerable bump in Florida, a state coveted by all GOP candidates."
    "Thompson on top in Florida?" (poll of "1000 likely voters and was balanced to all known demographics with a margin of error of +/- 3 percent. The poll was conducted by InsiderAdvantage/Majority Opinion Research for Florida Chamber of Commerce, September 6-10, 2007.")

    Meanwhile, is the "Boycott a risk for Clinton"? ("Hillary Clinton generally enjoys a larger lead in Florida than in Iowa or New Hampshire, according to recent polls, but she could face suffer a backlash from voters in the general election for signing a no-campaign pledge for Florida.") Back at the ranch: "Democrats ponder options" ("The state party clings to a Jan. 29 primary while seeking ways to keep its delegates.").

    GOPers Dis Hispanic Vote

    Time: "To many casual political observers, it may have seemed remarkable that seven of the eight Democratic presidential candidates showed up in Miami on Sunday for the nation's first Spanish-language debate. But the more extraordinary thing is that only one G.O.P. candidate is apparently willing to take part in a Republican follow-up."

    The Univision debate showed the growing power of Latino voters; it also showed how that group - which has the potential to swing electorally crucial states like Florida, Nevada and New Mexico - is trending increasingly Democratic. Univision invited all of the G.O.P. candidates to the same forum next week. But only one, Senator John McCain of Arizona, accepted the invitation and the debate has been indefinitely postponed.

    That kind of snub wouldn't have seemed possible only three years ago. President George W. Bush won reelection in 2004, in part, due to historic Latino support for a Republican candidate. Fulfilling the dream of Karl Rove, his former top political adviser, Bush drew nearly 40% of the Latino vote, double that of any previous G.O.P. presidential nominee.

    So why are 10 G.O.P. candidates so unwilling to face Hispanic voters this year? In one word: immigration. Most Republican platforms on the divisive issue - which are variations of beefing up border controls - serve to shore up their base, but anger most immigrant communities, not just Hispanics. "For the Republicans, if they had a debate in Spanish, on Univision, they would get as many questions on immigration and so they would have to speak about immigration in the same way they speak about immigration on CNN on MSNBC and all the other networks," said Sergio Bendixon, a leading pollster of Latino voting trends. "And that, I'm sure they have figured, would be offensive, almost insulting to most Hispanic voters and definitely to Latin American immigrant voters."

    The flip side of that political calculation was apparent on Sunday night. In Miami, all the Democratic candidates rushed to show their support in answering the first question, one clearly aimed at the G.O.P.: "Do you consider that participating in a forum run in Spanish and addressed specifically to Hispanic voters is a political risk for you?" ...

    Fernando Romero, president of the non-partisan Hispanics in Politics, an activist group in Nevada - which now holds an important caucus slot between Iowa and New Hampshire early in 2008 - has also seen little or no G.O.P. outreach this cycle. Romero's group last year endorsed Jim Gibbons, the successful G.O.P. candidate for governor, but this year didn't like the Republican presidential field in part because of the immigration debate and in part because Republicans have neglected the community. "They have certainly really brushed off the Hispanic vote," Romero said. "Not even one of the 10 that are running has made an effort to contact any of the Latino groups in the area."
    "Why did GOP snub debate? Immigration".

    Wingnut GOTV Tool

    "Floridians have had enough of divisive politics over recent years ---- yet that never seems to stop people who have an ax to grind and plenty of money to force discussion. As of last week, it seems likely that supporters of a proposed constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage will get their issue on next year's ballot. Florida4Marriage.org, the group behind the proposal, has raised more than $500,000 (and spent most of that on direct-mail campaigns) and should have the required signatures by Feb. 1. But the group has yet to make its case for altering Florida's Constitution to defend against something that's already banned by state law." "Proposed gay marriage amendment lacks rationale".

    Lexus Lanes

    It is going to so nice to no longer have to drive with the hoi polloi: "Exclusive: Toll lanes on I-4 appear likely".

    Bushco in Business

    "The watchdog group, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, is asking the federal investigators to look at why No Child Left Behind Act money is being spent on educational products sold by Ignite! Learning, a company founded and headed by Neil Bush, President Bush’s younger brother. CREW - which the GOP accuses of targeting Republicans - said its research shows that the company's products do not meet Congressional standards. It said a 3-month investigation has found that school districts - including some in Florida - are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on the company's curriculum." "Crew: Investigate Neil Bush".

    Wingnuts ask: "Say it's not so Charlie"

    "The Florida Family Association is asking its members to e-mail and contact Gov. Charlie Crist and ask whether he devoted time on the sixth anniversary of Sept. 11 to talk to activists about offering "special legal status to transvestites in public schools." In a release that says "Say it's not so Charlie," David Caton of the group quotes a e-mail from Equality Florida members that Crist has promised to back the "anti-bullying" bill that has come up the last several years in the Legislature. They quote Crist as saying 'I'm with you, I'm with you.'" "Did Crist promise to help transvestites?"

    What Next Editors, Lump Sum Bonuses?

    This is no surprise: the Sun-Sentinel editors don't like "step pay" systems which reward seniority:

    The big raises come for the teachers who reach Step 20 — a $9,327 raise over the previous year. If they stay another year, they get another $7,387 raise, to $70,000. Plus, the public is left to wonder if the large increases for teachers nearing retirement sets up higher pension liabilities in the future.

    Teachers in the middle years get much less. At a time when teachers are gaining experience and becoming effective, everyone — particularly the union — should be working for a contract that will make it more attractive for teachers to stay, rather than backloading the raises mainly on those who have been here 20 years.

    The step system also has the unfortunate result of pitting one group of teachers against another. This time around, it unfairly forced long-serving, experienced educators to defend why they were entitled to raises much higher than those for newer teachers.

    School officials should drop the step system, and just negotiate fair percentage raises across the board. That's something that should be part of any future contract discussions. The school district's pay system should be more equitable for all teachers. Otherwise, you can bet more good teachers will start looking north.
    "Teacher pay should be fairer across the board".

    "Pouring too much pollution into Everglades"

    "Everglades-choking pollution that flows off sugar cane and other agricultural fields decreased this year, but not by as much as required. ... This was the first time in 11 years that the region failed to meet the 25 percent standard, according to the district." "Farms pouring too much pollution into Everglades, report says".


    "State regulators plan to deny eight property insurance rate filings submitted by subsidiaries of The Hartford Financial Services Group, Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty said Wednesday." "State to deny Hartford rate increases". See also "State denies insurer's rate increases".

    Early Show

    "Curious to know what secret projects Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen is angling to get in the federal budget? The Miami Republican posted them on her website. The same goes for Weston Democrat Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz. The two lawmakers are among just a handful in Congress who have pulled back the secrecy surrounding their attempts to secure federal funds for local projects ahead of a new ethics bill requiring that requests be revealed. The bill is now awaiting President Bush's expected signature."

    Ros-Lehtinen and Wasserman Schultz each pushed earmarks for companies that contributed to their campaigns; they said the requests were unrelated to the contributions ...

    Ros-Lehtinen asked for $4.5 million in the defense-department budget for STIDD Systems, a New York company that supplies the military with dive-related equipment. Campaign-finance reports show the company's chief executive officer, Walter Gezari, gave Ros-Lehtinen's campaign $2,500 in March.

    Ros-Lehtinen said she would have supported the program ''regardless of any campaign contribution.'' She said the company's training facility is in Marathon and produces local jobs.

    Wasserman Schultz's requests included $3 million for DME Corp., an aviation and defense product company based in Florida. Campaign-finance reports show DME president, Luis Mola, contributed $4,000 to Wasserman Schultz's campaign this year, but a spokesman for Wasserman Schultz said it was unrelated to the request, which wasn't funded.
    "Pet projects coming out of hiding".

    A Hillsborough Thing

    The GOPers claim to have the NASCAR vote, and are now going after the lowbrow professional wrestling crowd (not to be confused with the real sport of amateur wrestling). Hillsborough County Commissioner, wingnut "conservative" and former professional wrestler, Brian Blair, was elected with "support from key Republican party stalwarts." "Commissioner Takes His Job To The Mat". Rhonda Storms, we never thought we'd miss 'ya.

    Pell Grants

    "As Florida's public universities face budget cuts and tightened freshmen enrollment, administrators at the state's private colleges and universities are relishing the first federal large-scale infusion of financial aid approved by Congress." "Pell financial aid boosts private schools".

    Hillbilly Heroin Junkie Calls Floridians "Delusional"

    Hillbilly heroin addict, Drug-Rush

    Limbaugh said [Congressman] Wexler “is talking to the relatively few number of people in his district down here and making it sound like he’s representing the United States of America. If you want to know how kooky they are, you ought to pick up any South Florida paper …. Just go to the letters to the editor, and you will swear you’re at Daily Kos! You will swear you’re at the Democrat Underground. You will swear you’re at MoveOn.org. They are deranged — and, yes, they are listening to me right now. You people down here, you are deranged. You Democrats down here are absolutely delusional, devoid of any rationality or reason.”
    "Wexler to Limbaugh: apologize for insulting South Floridians". See also "Wexler to Limbaugh: An apology to South Florida's deranged lunatics is in order".

    All Things to All People

    "Crist is playing it safe, touching every base—he’ll pay tribune to a leading evangelical Protestant in Coral Ridge, and celebrate Rosh Hashanah with a liberal legislator, both Wednesday." "Crist Hedges Religious Bets".

    I Believe That's Called Lying

    "John Thrasher, a former state House speaker and now a lobbyist who represents real estate development interests, has sent out a mass mailing suggesting the growth-limiting Hometown Democracy amendment is actually intended to benefit 'big developers' and calling voters 'special interests.'" "".


    "Manatee advocates and Gov. Charlie Crist applauded a decision Wednesday by state wildlife commissioners to delay downgrading the status of the animal from endangered to threatened." "State wildlife commission delays manatee downlisting vote". See also "Manatee protection status kept at highest".

    The Miami Herald editors: "Florida's endangered manatees got a little help from high places this week when Gov. Charlie Crist took up their cause. Citing the record number of manatee deaths -- 417 -- in 2006, the governor asked the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWCC) to postpone a scheduled vote Wednesday on downlisting manatees' status to threatened from endangered. Gov. Crist, who recently appointed three new FWCC members, said the vote would be premature until those members become familiar with the issues, including the manatees' status." "Manatee reprieve should be permanent". See also "Happy manatees".

    Wouldn't Want to Blame the "Outside Contractor"

    "A major Everglades restoration project is stalled because of shoddy work managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on a reservoir that could threaten an interstate and nearby communities if levee walls were to fail, state officials said Wednesday. While the corps hired an outside contractor to do the work, the agency 'was ultimately responsible,' said George Horne, deputy executive director of the South Florida Water Management District." "Army Corps' shoddy work cited in major Everglades project".


    "Florida Democrats were among the recipients of money from businessman Norman Hsu, whose sketchy background has triggered one of the largest givebacks of political money ever."

    U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson received $2,500 from Hsu in December 2005 -- a year before his successful re-election campaign -- and also got $5,000 from associates of Hsu. The Florida Democratic Party received $5,000 in 2004. ...

    Florida Democratic Party spokesman Mark Bubriski said the $5,000 from Hsu already has been spent and will not be returned.
    "Florida's Democrats received money from tainted fundraiser".

    No "bribery, extortion or self-dealing"

    WPB "Mayor Lois Frankel said Wednesday that she has fought for seven months to keep parts of a grand jury report secret to protect a former employee from 'disparagement.' The mayor, who did not identify the former employee, would not answer directly whether that section of the report cast Frankel in an unfavorable light. But she said in a hastily called news conference that after her legal battle was revealed to The Palm Beach Post through a court clerk's error, she wanted to dismiss speculation that she was hiding any grand jury allegations of bribery, extortion or self-dealing." "Frankel says secrecy request was to shield former employee, not hide any allegations".

    I Knew Lawton Chiles, And You ...

    Jac Wilder VerSteeg" "Lawton Chiles, who never lost an election, limited the clout of special interests by limiting donations. The best to be hoped for now, it seems, is that candidates get so much money from so many sources that they couldn't possibly pay them all back with political favors." "Hillary, you're no Lawton Chiles".

    "Dangerously optimistic"?

    The Tampa Trib editorial board: "Crist wants to 're-fire' the state's cooling economy by spending down state reserves and trust funds. It's a dangerously optimistic plan, given the small amount of money at his command and the weakness of the national economy. If Crist is right and home sales and sales tax collections rebound in the spring, his gamble would pay off. If he's wrong, he would put the state in a deeper financial hole just as a new round of property-tax cuts threaten to take a bigger bite out of state and local revenue. " "Blowing Savings Risky Way For Florida To Balance Budget".

    DCF Case Crumbling

    The state's effort to curry favor with the Cuban community seems to be crumbling: "A judge on Wednesday dealt another blow to the state's case against a Cuban father seeking to regain custody of his young daughter - dismissing several charges against the man."

    But Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Jeri B. Cohen stopped short of the father's request to throw out the entire case. The Florida Department of Children & Families wants the judge to declare Izquierdo an unfit father and allow the 5-year-old girl to remain with her foster parents.

    Cohen dismissed charges that Cuban farmer Rafael Izquierdo should have sent money from Cuba to the girl's mother in the U.S. She also dismissed allegations that he should have known the mother beat the girl and her half brother and that the mother would have a breakdown months after coming to Florida. ...

    Earlier in the case Cohen dismissed charges that claimed taking the girl from her foster family could potential endanger her because of the bond she formed with them.
    "Judge deals blow to state's custody case against Cuban father".


    "He has a highly public job, wears a tie to work. He is an elected politician, so he wields some power and enjoys some measure of respect. He does this for years and years. Maybe people hear rumors about him, a whisper of hidden secrets. But nothing seems to stick, not until his world finally comes crashing down around him."

    Now we have something even more sinister -- allegations that John Bryan, a St. Petersburg City Council member, advocate for the foster care system and family man, sexually abused at least one of his adopted daughters.

    Bryan resigned Friday after the allegations came to light. Then he took his own life.

    If the allegations turn out to be true, a question will resonate in the aftermath.

    How? How does a person who leads such a public life keep something like this hidden?
    "Only the secrets are new".

    "It ain't over till it's over"

    "When it comes to the demise of the state's no-fault automobile insurance system,apparently it ain't over till it's over. With the looming Oct. 1 sunset of "PIP" laws mandating drivers carry $10,000 auto injury coverage (which covers medical expenses no matter who caused a crash), a flurry of last-minute, behind-the-scenes salvage efforts are under way." "Legislators scramble to save PIP".

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