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 Saturday, October 20, 2007

RPOF "leaders" at work

    Florida House leaders released a revised property tax cut package Friday, replacing an earlier version termed unacceptable by the Senate leadership.
    The [most recent] House plan, the Senate complained, contained provisions outside the framework of a deal worked out by Gov. Charlie Crist and Legislative leaders.

    On Friday, the House declared its "refined" plan as fairer than the Senate's, providing larger breaks to newer homeowners while addressing long-standing complaints from businesses and owners of second homes. And the House ditched one provision the Senate didn't like: a sales tax increase to offset the impact of the tax cuts on education.

    But it retains another: a 5 percent assessment cap on nonhomestead property. (The House moved away from a 3 percent cap due to its cost.)

    Top Senate negotiators weren't around or weren't commenting on the latest House plan, released at 4:30 p.m. Friday and without specific legislation to examine. But other senators had this to say about the new proposal:

    "House revises tax proposal". See also "Tax compromise in the works", "$11B tax-cut plan for naught?", "Tax cut talks stall with deal not yet sealed", "House Republicans revise property tax plan" and "House members offer new property tax plan".

    The RPOF just can't help itself: "A new House proposal for property-tax relief contains provisions that would benefit businesses -- but at homeowners' expense." "New tax plan, old pitfalls". Here's a shocker: "TaxWatch on board with House plan".

    Why is Saint Marco seeing the benefits of compromise? S. V. Date writes that Rubio's realization of
    political mortality, many believe, is driving the dramatic about-face Rubio, R-West Miami, exhibited over the past two weeks - from publicly supporting a relatively simple proposal by Gov. Charlie Crist costing about $7 billion over four years to abandoning a signed deal and insisting on a massive proposal totaling upwards of $30 billion in cuts, before it was modified late Friday to one that would reduce taxes by about $11 billion.

    In diverging from Crist's script, he has angered Senate leaders who months ago grew weary of what they consider a recklessness on major policy questions - to the point where Senate Majority Leader Daniel Webster, R-Winter Garden, explaining that his colleagues would return no earlier than Tuesday, added in a moment of pique: "But there's no guarantee we're coming back at all.
    "Prospect of losing clout may explain Rubio's tax switch".

    Steve Bousquet: The collapse of this week's special session on property taxes provides insights about why things happen in Tallahassee." "Inside the sausage factory".

    And then there's this: "Will Florida's Legislature ever learn? After failing, again, to come up with a plan to cut property taxes, House leaders have, again, stolen away to their back rooms to work out a deal in secret. Outrageous." "Strike 3 on legislative secrecy".

    The Tallahassee Democrat editors: "Florida's Byzantine tax system didn't occur overnight and it can't be fixed that quickly either." "Taxing work".

    The Sun-Sentinel editorial board gives us this today: "We have been skeptical that the highly political, if not partisan, process in Tallahassee could yield a wide-ranging measure overhaul to correct inequities in the property tax system without unnecessarily gutting local services. We've seen nothing in the past six months to prove us wrong. Still, there is a justifiable sense of urgency for action, given the meltdown in the housing market and its negative impact on the state economy. And the flurry of ideas and proposals this past week contain lots of worthy possibilities." "Lawmakers have chance to sort out tax issues".

    Green initiatives "halted by outcries from utility companies"

    "The Florida Energy Commission on Friday delayed key votes on greenhouse gas reduction, renewable energy and car pollution standards - halted by outcries from utility companies and disagreement among its own members." "Board postpones vote on energy solutions".


    While Mel has lived off of being "appointed" to things, he doesn't like appointments to jobs that, you know, require him to do even a little work: "Just 10 months into the job and before a Republican presidential nominee has emerged, Sen. Mel Martinez, national party chairman, said he's calling it quits and will focus on his job as a Florida senator. The abrupt announcement came after reports suggested Martinez would leave the post at the Republican National Committee as soon as next spring, when a GOP nominee was chosen." "Martinez resigns as Republican Party chief". See also "Martinez steps down as Republican Party general chairman", "Martinez cuts short tenure as RNC chair" and "Martinez resigns GOP post".

    What is Florida coming to ...

    "Evolution's role in class set to grow".

    Water war

    The St. Pete Times editors: "It would be easier for Floridians to sympathize with Atlanta over its water shortage if Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue would stop blaming us for it. Perdue is threatening to sue the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to stop it from releasing water from Lake Lanier near Atlanta downstream to Florida's Apalachicola River and productive estuary. Perdue and other Georgia officials have tried to turn this into a fight between human beings in Atlanta and shellfish in Florida. ... Here's the truth, Gov. Perdue: A record drought, unrestrained population growth and poor water-conservation habits are to blame for northern Georgia's water shortage." "Georgia, don't pin your water shortage on us".


    "While federal agents pursued him, Tony Masilotti last year cooked up another scheme to trade county land for a kickback, according to a new court filing by corruption prosecutors." "Kickback case adds allegations about Masilotti".

    Florida's booming economy

    "Depressed sales of construction materials, home improvements and furnishings triggered by Florida's burst housing bubble have started spreading to a drop in other types of consumer spending. In fact, unless the state's economy perks up in the next few months, Florida will report its first decrease in annual sales tax collections since the 1992 recession." "Spending plunge broadens statewide".

    Class size

    The Palm Beach Post editors suggest that

    the Republican-controlled Legislature could propose a simple constitutional change that actually would help schools. Superintendents in St. Lucie, Martin and Palm Beach counties want more flexibility to comply with the spirit of the class-size amendment voters approved in 2002. It stipulates that, by 2010, every public school classroom can have no more than 18 students in grades K-3, 22 in grades 4-8 and 25 in high schools.

    Then-Gov. Bush and the Legislature got even with voters by refusing to adequately pay for the required smaller classes. Partly for that reason, districts warn that they will have trouble providing the necessary classrooms and teachers to comply with class-size limits.

    Voters should not gut the amendment. But they should be willing to change the requirement that every individual class be the mandated size.
    "Tweak class-size rules".

    "Straw-man strategy"

    "More than 93,000 registered voters in Lake County had no say in last year's fiercely contested race for District 2 commissioner because of a write-in candidate who never stumped for the job."

    An elections-law loophole allows this so-called straw-man strategy. And Republicans and Democrats alike have exploited it repeatedly in their respective strongholds, keeping thousands of Florida voters from casting ballots in state and local races.

    A local judge has been asked to end the practice and close the loophole.
    "Lawsuit: Write-in 'candidates' shut out voters".

    "Political star power"?

    "For political star power, there's no comparison. Rudy Giuliani, Fred Thompson, Mitt Romney, John McCain and other Republican presidential candidates will be in Orlando this weekend for the state GOP convention. They'll spend two days schmoozing Florida activists before participating in a nationally televised debate Sunday night. Florida Democrats hold their convention in Orlando a week later. Instead of seeing Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, John Edwards and other leading White House contenders, party faithful will have to settle for appearances by long-shot candidates Dennis Kucinich and Mike Gravel." "GOP gets early edge with more candidates in state".


    "U.S. Rep. Tim Mahoney visited doctors and children Friday to say that he and other Democrats will introduce another children's health care bill and work even harder to override President Bush's probable veto." "Mahoney visits hospital, reads with kids".

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