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 Friday, November 30, 2007

The dead hand of Marco Rubio

    Give a listen to the Florida Progressive Coalition's radio show, "The Daily 15 for 11/29". Our review of today's Florida political news and punditry follows.

    The dead hand of Marco Rubio

    "The tax swap is back."

    A plan to replace some property taxes with a temporary increase in the sales tax is under review by the panel that has the power to put such an amendment directly on the November 2008 ballot -- the Taxation and Budget Reform Commission.

    The idea by panel member Carlos Lacasa, a Miami attorney and former state legislator, is to give every homeowner a tax exemption worth half of their property's market value. To cover the $12 billion that public schools would lose from the exemption, the state's six-cent sales tax would increase by a penny.

    If placed on the ballot and approved by voters, the tax exemption would be phased in over two years and the one-cent tax would sunset after three years, forcing the state Legislature to find a way to come up with the money.
    "Panel revives the tax swap". See also "Voters may get more choices on property tax reform".

    Freezing assets

    In a decision that could disrupt the finances of dozens of cities and counties across the state, Gov. Charlie Crist and other top officials on Thursday froze the assets of a $15 billion investment fund used by local governments."Florida freezes $15B state investment fund". "Crist and other state leaders Thursday temporarily halted all further withdrawals from a state-run investment pool in hopes of keeping the fund from becoming the latest casualty of the ever-expanding maw of the subprime mortgage meltdown."

    At the emergency meeting Thursday, state board Director Coleman Stipanovich tried to offer a five-point plan that he said could reverse the run on withdrawals.

    His first point was to use the Florida Retirement System to guarantee the riskiest debt in the local government pool. In return, the pool would pay an insurance premium to guarantee against any losses by the retirement system, which administers the pension fund used by state employees, including teachers, and many county officers and employees.

    "If we don't do something quickly, we're not going to have a local government investment pool," Stipanovich said.

    But Sink immediately rejected the proposal, saying it would leave the pension fund with the bad notes.

    "We would be bailing out one fund, to which we have no legal obligation, with the star fund of Florida, which is our pension fund," Sink said. "I'm highly skeptical of it." ...

    In an increasingly tense meeting, Stipanovich was never able to detail his other four points.

    McCollum initially praised Stipanovich's proposal, calling it a "good investment deal for the pension fund." But he ultimately voted with Sink and Crist to halt withdrawals until an expert could study the risks and legal questions of such a move.
    "State stops leaders from ditching fund". See also "Florida freezes fund to halt withdrawals by local agencies", "Money pool leaks plugged", "State plugs drain on fund", "Run on investment fund forces state to temporarily shut it down" and "Q & A on the run on Florida state fund".

    And it is getting nastier: "School boards and local governments demand access to $14 billion of their money, frozen Thursday by state officials attempting to stop a financial panic." "State cuts access to billions".

    Missing the boat

    The merits of immigration reform aside, it is disappointing to read George Diaz repeat this misleading claim: "Thank illegal immigrants for doing jobs no one wants".

    Bushco's 'Glades legacy

    The Palm Beach Post editors: "President Bush was there for the grip-and-grin photos when brother Jeb was running for governor, promising full federal cooperation. But from the start, the federal government has failed to do its part in what was supposed to be a 50-50 restoration partnership. The president's staff and then-Gov. Bush dealt harshly with both champions and critics of the restoration." "Everglades stagnation".

    Sorry 'bout that

    "More than 30,000 property owners with out-of-state addresses may find it more difficult to continue getting a tax break intended for Floridians." "Non-residents of Florida may be out of luck on homestead exemption".

    "'The more the merrier'"

    The Tampa Trib editorial board:

    Far more Cubans are making the risky crossing to the Florida Keys this year than the Coast Guard can hope to stop. They're also landing on other beaches and finding new routes here.

    According to one estimate, 3,437 more Cubans made it here than during the previous 12 months - another record.

    Interdictions at sea are at a 10-year high, but the lure of a certain welcome makes a mockery of attempts to safeguard our shores. Under the bizarre "wet-foot, dry-foot" policy, those caught at sea are sent home while those who reach shore are invited to stay.

    During an interview with the Tribune editorial board on Tuesday, Mitt Romney found himself unable to clearly explain how his open-border attitude toward Cuban migrants squares with his call for tighter border security for everyone else.

    As for the Cubans, he said "the more the merrier."
    "Wet-Foot Immigrant Policy Doesn't Float".


    The Tampa Trib editors: "They Came, They Sparred And Now Florida Republicans Get To Choose". More: "A scuffle, a star and the spin". Bill Cotterell yeaterday: "Online debates promote the trivial".

    On a related note, the Miami Herald editorial board gives us this today: "Immigration and the politics of hysteria".


    "For five years, government regulators have been aware of misspending of gambling profits by Seminole tribal leaders in violation of federal law but have taken no enforcement action." "Tribal leaders spend, but federal oversight is lacking".

    How Green is our Charlie?

    "Crist heads back to his old school today to burnishes his environmental credentials." "Crist takes solar movement back to school".

    "This is just a lull"

    Luck-eee: "The state won a bet today."

    Back in January, the Florida Legislature wagered against the 2007 hurricane season, taking on more risk than ever before in hopes of a big payoff - drastic property insurance rate cuts.

    With the close of the hurricane season today, that sound you hear is state leaders sighing in relief that hurricanes steered clear of the state, meaning Florida didn't lose any money on its gamble. In fact, reserves in the state catastrophe fund and state-backed Citizens Property Insurance had time to reach record levels.

    But this is just a lull.
    "State's risky gamble pays off for now".

    "Struggle between state, local school boards at flash point"

    "Who has the right to approve the creation of charter schools, make sure their students learn and their bills get paid? And how much taxpayer money should go to the privately run schools? Until recently, the answers were clear: Local school boards authorized and then monitored charter schools, which receive state dollars based on the number of students in attendance. That has changed, prompting two potentially significant legal challenges. Today, school boards are forced to share control of charter schools with the Florida Schools of Excellence Commission, a new state agency. The new arrangement has prompted the Florida School Boards Association to file suit, challenging the authority of the commission." "Lawsuits may decide future of Florida charter schools".

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