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 Sunday, November 18, 2007

"Lost voters"

    "When she was granted U.S. citizenship, the Naples woman promptly filled out a voter-registration card."
    Then, nothing.

    Like thousands of other would-be Florida voters, Figueroa's application went astray in a state registration process that since 2006 has become more computerized, circuitous and complex.

    County election officials say the number of voters lost through Florida's central registration system is small — 90 percent of applications get voter cards.

    The result is that applications from more than 43,000 Floridians hoping to become eligible voters over the past 21 months were rejected by state computer programs and kicked out for special review.

    More than 14,000 initially rejected — three-fourths of them minorities — didn't make it through that last set of hoops.

    African-Americans were 6.5 times more likely than whites to be rejected at that step.

    Hispanics were 7.2 times more likely to be failed.
    You might call these - ironically largely Democratic - folks "lost voters":
    The issues begin with the 2005 Florida Legislature, when lawmakers pushed through election law changes meant to bring the state into compliance with new federal laws that were a result — in part — of Florida's own notorious electoral past.

    Along with federal mandates to create a single statewide voter database and to check those names against driver's license and Social Security numbers, Florida added a requirement: Applicants who didn't pass the database test would not be registered to vote.

    The provision was approved by the U.S. Justice Department in 2005, but further tinkering gives "lost" voters just two days after an election to prove the computers were wrong. That has raised new civil-rights concerns, and the Justice Department has asked Florida to prove its system is not discriminatory against minority voters.
    Perhaps the best way to describe the situation are these words from a newly transplanted Northerner:
    "I know I'm in the South down here, you people aren't the sharpest pencil [sic] in the box," he said. "It's no wonder Bush won the election."
    "Registration leaves some voters in flux".

    And your point is?

    Here's Mike Thomas' regular insertion of his nose into Bushco's derrière: "Look at what Jeb Bush accomplished by setting tough standards for the education bureaucracy." Tell us, Mike, exactly what did Jebbie "accomplish"?

    Isn't it possible that, in the Bushco tradition, there was a "dereliction of duty" on Jebbie's part? See "Dereliction of Duty - Florida's Failed Education Policy". See also "Another Jebacy" (The Tampa Trib describes Florida's "dismal high school graduation rate") "Raise quality" ("Florida's schools stand as monuments to mediocrity")

    "I will return!" says Saint Marco

    "House Speaker Marco Rubio's power is about to begin its natural decline as his term comes to an end. But the Miami Republican is taking steps to remain in the spotlight."

    Rubio, 36, recently asked House counsel Jeremiah Hawkes if he would be violating the gift ban by raising money from lobbyists and others for Floridians for Property Tax Reform and 100ideas.org, a "charity" that shares a purpose with Rubio's cause of the same name.

    In both cases, Hawkes said Rubio can solicit funds. Rubio would not have to disclose fundraising for 100ideas.org because, he said, he did not create the group that has been so closely associated with the Miami Republican. It was formed in August by Miami property magnate William Holly and Winter Park lawyer Ometrias Deon Long, among others.
    "Rubio will cede power but not the spotlight".

    On a side note, the 100 fabulous ideas for Saint Marco's future are apparently on hiatus.

    Mel's money woes

    "Florida Republican Mel Martinez is among the top early fundraisers of the class of U.S. senators who face re-election in 2010, already taking in nearly $2.9 million for his own cause."

    But in bracing for the future, the first-term senator's campaign fundraising has been complicated by the past.

    Rather than stockpiling a lot of this money, huge chunks have instead gone to paying off more than $500,000 in debt from his 2004 race, refunding contributions to 2004 donors that exceeded federal limits, and paying accountant and lawyer fees to help untangle finance-reporting irregularities.

    Those costs have helped to lower Martinez's campaign committee balance to just $915,557 through Sept. 30 in his latest filings with the Federal Election Commission.

    That ranks only 21st among the 30 senators whose seats will be up for grabs in 2010, not including four other senators who have been more focused on raising and spending money nationally as presidential candidates. ...

    Along with the more than $500,000 in debt from the race, a Federal Election Commission audit released in April resulted in the Martinez being forced to refund nearly $97,000 in 2004 donations that appeared to exceed legal limits.

    Martinez's committee also has had to pay at least $300,000 so far in legal and accounting fees to help address bookkeeping irregularities.

    And that may not be the end of it.

    The audit's findings of numerous election-law violations can still lead to a hefty fine by the commission, though an agency spokesman said officials there will not discuss whether it is being considered.
    Of course Mel, the innocent dupe that he is, blames others for these election law "mistakes". In any event, "the names of possible Democratic opponents are being floated, including"
    Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink; state House Minority Leader Dan Gelber; former U.S. Rep. and gubernatorial candidate Jim Davis; and Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio.
    "Debts From 2004 Win Sap Martinez's Coffers".

    All in the family

    "Crist has named Miami attorney Jorge L. Cruz-Bustillo, 44, to head the Florida Elections Commission. The Cuban American has been a member of the commission since 2005. ... Cruz-Bustillo's father, Harry Cruz-Bustillo, was a Bay of Pigs veteran who was imprisoned in Cuba for 18 months before returning to the United States near the end of 1962. ... Cruz-Bustillo was appointed to the commision two years ago by then-Gov. Jeb Bush. On Tuesday, Crist tapped Cruz-Bustillo to serve as chairman." "Miami attorney named chairman of state elections commission".

    Enough already

    The media apparently thinks there's something special about this story: "GOP rides Crist's back to woo black voters". For a review of yesterday's inflated coverage of the latest failed RPOF publicity stunt, see "The best they could do".

    Bad bet?

    The St Pete Times editors:

    Given the open hostility in the Legislature toward Indian gaming, Gov. Charlie Crist had reason to want to avoid a showdown that could leave Florida empty handed. But the compact he has now signed with the Seminole Tribe allows for games that are otherwise illegal, and the governor cannot make law. While there are differing legal opinions, it seems this agreement could require the approval of the Legislature.
    "Governor may have outplayed his hand".

    The Miami Herald's editors: "The only thing Gov. Charlie Crist got right about the gambling deal he signed with the Seminole Tribe last week was calling the agreement 'historic.' But the deal is 'historic' for all the wrong reasons. The compact is a terrible deal, and a major expansion of gambling in Florida. With this deal, Gov. Crist has reversed the decisions that Florida voters have made at the ballot on at least four occasions since the 1980s. Voters have consistently said No to serious, statewide gambling. Gov. Crist said Yes. He authorized Las Vegas-style gambling, including card games such as baccarat and blackjack, at seven Seminole facilities across Florida." "Seminole Tribes' gain is Florida's loss".

    And then there's this: "Pari-mutuels criticize gambling compact".


    "Plant City's only black commissioner says the marker doesn't belong on city property." "Confederate memorial creates a stir".

    The coal thing

    Mike Thomas: "Charlie Crist's campaign against global warming is turning the power companies topsy-turvy. ... Here is some historical scoop:"

    Jeb Bush began pushing coal. It is plentiful, cheap and made in America.

    It also contains plenty of carbon, a global-warming pollutant. And while you can do a lot to clean coal, you can't scrub out the carbon.

    Enter Charlie Crist, whose crusade against carbon has turned into a crusade against coal.

    And so all those coal plants planned under Jeb are being canceled under Charlie, including one by the Orlando Utilities Commission. This has power company officials chewing on their tongues.
    "Crist also has signed an executive order requiring the state to sharply reduce greenhouse-gas emissions."
    Meanwhile, Crist also has signed an executive order requiring the state to sharply reduce greenhouse-gas emissions.

    The first target comes in 2017, when we are supposed to have cut emissions to what we were putting out in the year 2000.

    And to reach that goal we won't be able to use nuclear power because any new plants are more than 10 years off.

    So how do you produce a lot more energy with a lot fewer emissions without nukes? You don't.
    "The only way to even make a stab at it is a massive investment in solar water heaters, solar energy cells, energy-saving appliances, insulation, energy efficiency and so on. All this is long overdue but would require billions of dollars"
    .The logical place to raise it would be a tax on power bills.

    With Florida already facing a cost-of-living crisis, would Crist sign off on that? This is the same guy whose favorite sound bite is he never voted for a tax increase.

    And yet if Crist doesn't put some serious green into Florida becoming a greener state, this effort will fail and all his new greenie buds will turn on him.
    "Crusade against coal will not be simple or cheap".

    Let's not "run government like a 'business'"

    "Human skeleton found under floor of Madeira Beach business".

    1000 Friends?

    The Palm Beach Post editors: "Florida Hometown Democracy, led by Palm Beach lawyer Lesley Blackner ... distrust extends to 1000 Friends [of Florida] because of the developers on its board: 'They've had 20 years. Has there been any growth management in Florida?' Actually, the answer is yes, just not enough of it. As noted, the Florida Chamber is acting less on behalf of good government and more on behalf of its members. But 1000 Friends of Florida has been in the fight against bad growth long enough, and has enough victories, to know good ideas from bad ideas. Its refusal to embrace Hometown Democracy is telling." "Still Florida's good friend".

    "A boy with a drill"

    "White clouds of poison washed over eastern Hillsborough County last week, closing roads and closing schools, hurting firefighters and killing fish, chasing hundreds of people from their homes. All this terror from a boy with a drill." "A pipeline spewing homeland insecurity".

    Key Deer

    "When the National Key Deer Refuge was established in 1957, its first manager, Jack C. Watson, sometimes employed unorthodox tactics to discourage repeat poachers targeting the diminutive deer under his protection." "Refuge helps the Key deer bounce back".

    Warm up

    "With Realtors and business groups preparing to square off against labor unions over passage of Florida's property-tax reform proposal, the Jan. 29 vote looms as an early warm-up for powerful interests certain to play big roles in next year's presidential and state elections. Florida Realtors have given $820,000 to the state Republican Party during the past three years, while labor unions have steered $929,873 to state Democrats during that span, making them among the biggest contributors to either side, state records show."

    But defeating the measure also could sharpen the focus of voters on Florida's sluggish economy and turn their wrath against Republicans, who control the White House and Florida Governor's Mansion as well as the Legislature, Kitchens said.

    He told Florida Democrats at their convention at Walt Disney World last month that the party's candidates need to "hang this [economy] problem" around the necks of Republicans.

    By contrast, if the plan is approved, it will allow the GOP to claim a measure of economic victory heading into the election year.

    "Sure, the Democrats are going to try to make this fail and turn it into one more example of voter fatigue with Republicans," said state GOP chairman Jim Greer.
    "Property-tax vote could be warm-up for election forces".

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