Since 2002, daily Florida political news and commentary


UPDATE: Every morning we review and individually digest Florida political news articles, editorials and punditry. Our sister site, FLA Politics was selected by Campaigns & Elections as one of only ten state blogs in the nation
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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, October 29, 2007


    "Lawmakers return to work today facing a midnight deadline to either send a property-tax-cutting package to voters or give up the fight for now." "Lawmakers face off on property taxes today".

    "Released Sunday afternoon, the Senate plan calls for a 10 percent cap on annual assessments for businesses and second homes, not the 5 percent the House demanded. And the cap would not apply to property taxes that fund public schools." "Senate reveals final tax proposal" More details:
    The plan, which will likely pass the Senate by big margins, is a stripped-down version of an original Senate proposal and borrows just one new thing from the House plan: a first-ever cap limiting increases in taxable value for businesses and owners of second homes and rental properties.

    But the tax cap is a shadow of an earlier concept because the Senate doubled it to 10 percent. That's well above the 7 percent average annual increase levied on nonhomestead properties in the past five years statewide.

    The Senate's plan offers the biggest benefits to homeowners who waited out the real estate boom to move to a new homestead and take advantage of ''portability'' -- the ability to take up to $500,000 of tax-exemption savings with them.

    The only benefit for new homebuyers and those who don't plan to move: an additional homestead exemption of about $15,000.
    Here's where it gets interesting:
    House members are chafing at the Senate's tax policy, as well as its timing because the Senate is likely to pass the plan, send it to the House and essentially head home Monday evening, the last day of the special lawmaking session.

    If the Senate adjourns, the House can't change anything in the proposed constitutional amendment or it won't make the Jan. 29 ballot. Lawmakers have until midnight Tuesday to put something on the ballot. If they fail, and if the Supreme Court decides to respect a lower court's decision to strike another legislative tax plan from the ballot, citizens would get no tax relief.
    "Senate tax plan: Take it or leave it". See also "Florida Senate issues take-it-or-leave-it offer on property tax reform". More from the media "blogs": "Rubio: Senate plan may be okay -- with amendments?", "Webster explains property tax moves", "Senate deal: Our plan + 10-percent cap", "State Senate to toss tax-relief ball back to House on session's last day" and "Is Rubio ready to accept Senate plan?".

    The St Pete Times editorial board:
    The reality is that the Legislature cannot solve the property tax crisis on Monday, and it has the potential to do more harm. The real estate market's problems run far deeper than property taxes, and it will take more time for Floridians to recover from the home mortgage mess and adjust to home prices that are falling back to Earth. The deadlock in Tallahassee has only added to the uncertainty, and it is time for lawmakers to go home.
    "Legislators, go home". See also Pamela Hasterok's "Is tax cut really needed?" and the Miami Herald's editorial from yesterday "Reform on the fly bound to crash".

    One can hope

    "Florida Democrats ended their three-day convention Sunday amid predictions that the state's embattled presidential primary will still emerge as a coveted prize among those seeking the White House." "Democrats are optimistic as gathering ends".

    "Florida may not have any Democratic delegates at the party's national convention next year, but it will have a huge influence in choosing the eventual nominee, political strategists said Sunday at the state party convention." "Winning Florida is still big prize". See also "State Dems wrap up convention" and "Economy key to '08, delegates are told".

    "Florida may not have any Democratic delegates at the party's national convention next year, but it will have a huge influence in choosing the eventual nominee, political strategists said Sunday at the state party convention." "Panel: Fla. will help decide Democratic nominee without delegates".

    If it's a "union attack" in a "union mailer" ...

    ... how can it possibly be true: "A union attack ad that hit Hispanic mailboxes last week accused Miami Beach City Commission candidate Luis Salom of having business ties to 'Fidel Castro's Communist regime.' He calls it 'a complete lie.' Opponent Jonah Wolfson calls it 'factual and documented information.'" "Candidate denies Cuban ties cited in union mailer".

    "Prince of Darkness"

    "Just after Thanksgiving 2002, Randy Hilliard was so afraid of being killed because of his secret role in an unraveling Florida Keys kickback scheme that he mailed a package of incriminating documents to a friend in Canada. ... But the veteran Miami Beach political consultant -- dubbed the 'Prince of Darkness' by a rival politico -- didn't vanish. He's back in business representing three candidates for Miami Beach mayor and City Commission in the Nov. 6 election. Now his past misdeeds are shadowing him and have become an issue in the mayoral race, in which the underdog candidate issued a press release condemning Hilliard and his client." "Scandal shadows election strategist".


    "When Gov. Charlie Crist leads a Florida business mission to Brazil this week, he'll find South America's largest nation enjoying its best moment in years." "Crist aims to boost trade with Brazil". Check out this cast of characters: "South florida business leaders who are embarking on 6-day mission".


    "Florida Democratic Chairwoman Karen Thurman fended off a short-lived attempt to oust her as party boss Sunday, putting a chaotic cap on the state's three-day Democratic convention." "Attempt to oust party chairwoman falls short".

    Water war

    The Tallahassee Democrat editorial board: "For years, the Greater Atlanta area has experienced extraordinary growth, and some in the Peach State have been warning that the failure to manage it effectively would have eventual bad consequences. Now, with extended, extreme drought conditions afflicting that region, those warnings appear to have been prescient."

    The current crisis is illustrative of a broader growth-related issue that knows no state boundaries: that there are real limits to rapid growth, and that it's foolhardy to operate as if the economic expansion it fuels automatically justifies other financial and social costs it spawns as well.

    In this regard, Florida can't smugly insist it's done a wonderful job to the exclusion of everyone else.

    Florida's population is twice that of Georgia, and it's expected to double by 2060. Despite a variety of growth-management efforts over the past several decades - including a comprehensive water supply and reuse measure that lawmakers passed in 2005 - Florida continues to face what one statewide panel described as a "confluence of crises."
    "Up a creek?".

    Emmett Till

    Bill Maxwell takes on a difficult issue: "Martin Lee Anderson died horribly. But contemporary blacks should not compare his death to that of Emmett Till, who was dragged from his bed by grown men and murdered because he violated a white social norm. Few people take us and our causes seriously when we turn tragic historical events into convenient protest themes." "Protest confuses history's lessons".

    "Blame former Gov. Bush and the Legislature"

    The Palm Beach Post editors:

    Blame former Gov. Bush and the Legislature for the divisiveness that results every year when the state gives money to schools that move up a letter grade or maintain an A. The state continues to brand schools, with grades based largely on students' performance on the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test.
    "End divisive school bonuses".

    Cat fund

    Robert Trigaux: "Florida's long been perceived as the state most desperate to convince the feds that a national cat fund - a federal backstop to help pay for what can amount to extraordinary costs of rebuilding after hurricanes and other natural disasters - is critical to stabilize its property insurance market and moderate the now-typical 20-, 30- and 40-percent rate hike requests sought by many of the state's dwindling private insurers."

    While the potential for trouble in Florida is huge, we have not been the ground-zero state for actual big disasters by any means. Adjusted to 2006 dollars, the five most expensive disasters for the insurance industry are: Hurricane Katrina (Gulf Coast, $42.4-billion), Hurricane Andrew (South Florida, $22.3-billion); the Sept. 11 attacks (New York, Virginia, Pennsylvania, $21.4-billion); the Northridge earthquake (California, $17-billion), and Hurricane Wilma (South Florida, $10.6-billion).

    For the Sunshine State, the issue is more than just calming the insurance market. Florida's economic future is deeply tied to growth, especially now when the first wave of the immense baby boom generation is starting to retire and looking with fresh eyes at where to spend their senior years. Right now, Florida remains popular but may yet suffer a backlash from the perception of rougher hurricanes, troubled housing (though declining home prices here may prove attractive) and, of course, a state Legislature struggling to fix both property insurance and property taxes.

    So far, several versions of a federal catastrophe backup have been resisted. This month, a Senate committee considered adding windstorm coverage to the National Flood Insurance Program. Sen. Mel Martinez, R-Fla., pitched the windstorm provision as "tremendously important" to coastal states vulnerable to hurricanes, but was forced to withdraw the measure for lack of support.
    "Is it time for a catastrophic fund yet?".

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