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 Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Another shady deal for "Jeb!

    "When an Orlando bank appointed former Gov. Jeb Bush to its board last month, it heralded his eight years in the governor's mansion."
    Bush would bring "tremendous talent, leadership and vision" to CNL Bancshares Inc., stated a news release quoting its board chairman, James Seneff.

    What the release didn't mention was that four years before the appointment, Bush's administration approved a lucrative tax break for a company that Seneff heads.

    Bush's office approved $3.1-million in state and local tax refunds to be paid over eight years to CNL Holdings, which has ties to CNL Bancshares. State records show the company has collected $181,875 so far.

    Bush's administration also had another tie to Seneff. It championed a massive toll road that would have boosted the land value of property owned by a second company in which Seneff has a leadership role.
    "In light of this tax refund and road project, "
    Bush should have refused the appointment to CNL Bancshares, said Ben Wilcox, executive director of Florida Common Cause, a nonpartisan political watchdog group.

    "It smacks of political payback," Wilcox said. "It's the appearance of a conflict that he should want to avoid."

    Bush and CNL Bancshares wouldn't comment on how or why he was chosen for the board.
    Oh yeah, remember this:
    This is the second corporate board appointment for Bush. In May, Tenet Healthcare Corp. created a special board seat for Bush. Last year, Tenet directors other than the chairman were paid fees of $97,700 to $129,222. Bush will also get restricted stock worth $260,000.
    "Bush post raises eyebrows". Unfortunately, today's story neglects to remind readers that the Tenet is a, how do we put this .... less than upstanding corporate citizen:
    The Dallas-based Tenet Healthcare Corp. announced today that Jeb Bush has been chosen for a seat on the company’s board of directors. ...

    The company recently was the subject of several investigations into Medicare overbilling. For many years, a high percentage of its revenue came from exploiting a loophole in Medicare regulations covering high-cost patients.

    The company reached a $900 million settlement with the government last year on those charges.

    Tenet also has been a major political donor in Florida. The company has given to candidates of both parties, but most heavily to the Republican Party. From 1996 through last year, Tenet contributed $162,500 to the state party.
    "Jeb Bush Lands Corporate Board Gig". See also "Tenet Settles Fraud Suits for $900 Million" and "That's Our 'Jeb!'". In the latter piece, we read that, according to TheStreet.com's Mutual Funds Columnist, Brett Arends, "Tenet's recent public filings read like a police blotter."

    In any event, all this helps us answer this old question posed by the St. Pete Times: "what exactly does Jeb Bush do for a living?".

    Hill "cruising" in Florida

    "Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y. is cruising in the polls in Florida and two other swing states, according to a poll released this morning by Quinnipiac University." "Latest Florida Presidential Poll". Nationally, "Polls: It's still anybody's race".

    Union bashing, take 22891

    In the course of praising yet another anti-union ruling by Florida's public employeesers Relations Commission, the jerks on the Tampa Trib editorial board give us this garbage:

    Now it's up to the Public Employees Relations Commission to exercise the same type of common sense and reject the union's excessive request for "gap insurance" to cover deputies and their families from the time they retire from the agency until they become eligible for federal coverage.

    This is an excessive perk that taxpayers should not be required to help subsidize. When a worker retires and leaves an agency, that should be the end of providing insurance.

    Union employees should have to do what many in the private sector do - secure their own outside health insurance until federal plans kick in.
    "Ruling On Deputies Union Is Right On The Money". That's our Tampa Trib, breathlessly getting the word out on uppity employees - after all, we wouldn't want too many employees unionizing and arrogantly asking* for commie stuff like, you know ... retiree health insurance.

    - - - - -
    *Surely the editors are aware that Florida's unionized public employees can only make contract proposals at the bargaining table. If the public employer does not agree to the proposals, the employees of course have no right to strike in support of their contract proposals; and, further, if the parties do not reach agreement (i.e., they reach impasse), the public employer has the unilateral right to resolve and impose whatever terms it likes. What, then, is the big deal about a bunch of deputies - you know, the folks who get killed in the line of duty while protecting the cocktail swilling swells who populate editorial boards - having the audacity to propose retiree insurance in collective bargaining?

    "One final attempt"

    "The state's top congressional Democrats will make one final attempt today to breathe life into the party's all-but-ignored Florida presidential primary by pressing a federal lawsuit against national party leaders." "State Dems take presidential-primary dispute to court". See also "State Democrats take rules to court".

    Kill 'em all

    "Crist, who once sponsored a law allowing the death penalty for major drug kingpins, said Tuesday the state might want to make it easier to execute dealers." "Executing drug dealers may get easier".

    Of course, we don't want to consider that Blacks are sent to prison at higher rates than whites after convictions in drug cases. And of course Florida would never engage in behavior like the folks in Tulia, Texas. Charlie may want to read this: "Tulia: Race, Cocaine, and Corruption in a Small Texas Town".

    "Potentially larger problems"

    "As Florida leaders took steps Tuesday to settle a troubled investment fund run by the state, they acknowledged potentially larger problems coming from the subprime mortgage crisis."

    After temporarily freezing the entire investment pool for local governments last week in response to a two-week run of withdrawals, Gov. Charlie Crist and other State Board of Administration trustees voted Tuesday to limit the freeze to about 14 percent of the $14 billion fund until the mortgage meltdown cools and to establish restrictions on governments' withdrawals from the rest.

    Then the director of the board, which manages the fund along with 29 others for the state, resigned in hopes of restoring investor confidence. The 30 state investment funds total $187.5 billion in assets. ...

    Sink said she talked with Stipanovich about resigning before his announcement. She said Stipanovich and his staff had "stonewalled" investors who raised questions about the downgraded securities, which contributed to the unprecedented two-week run of withdrawals once he reported Nov. 14 that some funds in the pool had links to companies tainted by the subprime mortgage crisis.
    "Investor pool's troubles run deep". See also "State revises fund's rules", "Local governments come up short", "Troubled state investment fund will resume business" and "Agency head quits as state fund reels".

    Mike Thomas takes a shot at Charlie:
    "We have a higher duty not to just help local governments make a mound of dough . . . ," Crist said.

    The governor says really stupid things sometimes. The last thing this is about is anyone making a mound of dough.

    It's about not losing a mountain of it because of bad decisions by a fund that Crist helps oversee.
    "Florida's state fund freeze leaves local governments out in the cold".

    "Obviously, just the opposite is true"

    "Add another name to the list of those whom Florida owes compensation for wrongful incarceration."

    Results from DNA tests consistently excluded Mr. Heins. A bloody fingerprint at a faucet where the killer tried to clean up did not match that of anyone living in the apartment. On Tuesday, Duval County State Attorney Harry Shorstein dismissed all charges.

    Jeb Bush once said of such an exoneration that the system worked. Obviously, just the opposite is true. The system failed, and the system had to be persuaded to look again at what the system had ignored. There is no way to adequately compensate Chad Heins, but he deserves more than the satisfaction of knowing that he was right.
    "How much for 13 years?".


    "The Army Corps of Engineers has revised its plan for Everglades restoration to show quick results and help persuade Congress to pay for the project over several decades." "Army Corps alters strategy on Everglades restoration".

    That's our Gus

    "GOP Rep. Gus Bilirakis of Palm Harbor is introducing legislation to beef up security measures for the U.S. student visa program." "Bilirakis Proposes Closer Watch On Foreign Students".

    Believe it or not

    "The government's legal adventurism against Guatemalan dishwasher Pedro Zapeta and his life savings will end up costing taxpayers far more than the $59,000 authorities have confiscated from him."

    In September 2005, Mr. Zapeta tried boarding a flight to Guatemala at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport with $59,000 he had saved over 10 years of washing dishes in Stuart. He intended to start a business back home. Federal agents saw the cash in his duffel bag, confiscated it and charged him with carrying drug money. Once Mr. Zapeta brought a lawyer to court, the government dropped the drug charges. Despite working overtime since then, authorities have not produced evidence that links him to any criminal activity.

    Yet there is plenty of evidence about Mr. Zapeta's years of hard work. ...

    Yes, Mr. Zapeta entered illegally, which is a misdemeanor. Aside from that, his most egregious offense is naivete. It was his first flight. He knew nothing about the law that requires passengers to declare cash amounts greater than $10,000. He has no passport and yet tried to board the plane, hardly the behavior of the drug mule the government claimed to have caught. In January, U.S. District Judge James Cohn ruled that Mr. Zapeta could keep $10,000 - the amount the law allows without declaration - but would have to forfeit the rest. ...

    His appeal to the 11th Circuit for a fair punishment that fits the violation prompted [an] order for oral arguments. But Mr. Zapeta may not be around to hear them. He faces a deportation hearing in February, another waste of taxpayers' money. Mr. Zapeta was deporting himself two years ago, and bought his own ticket to do it.
    "Settle dishwasher's case".

    On a related note: "MIA deportation flights accelerate U.S. policy", "Florida immigration agents increase arrests of illegal immigrants" and "Crackdown boosts arrests of fugitive immigrants in Florida".

    Sex ed in St Lucie County

    "So, what, the evil AIDS fairy strikes you with her wand?" "Sex education and misinformation".

    Sea cows

    "By any objective account, the outlook for Florida's manatees is shaky. Scientists divide the state manatee populations into four regions and in two of those regions - including the one that covers Tampa Bay - the marine mammal's survival rates are not sufficient to sustain its numbers." "State Should Not Let Wordplay Jeopardize Outlook For Manatee". See also "Protect the manatee", "Whatever the label, manatees in danger", "Protect the manatee", "State shouldn't even think about changing sea cows' status without better count" and "Gov. Crist sticks up for the sea cow".

    Florida to embarrass itself yet again

    "Coalition submits petitions to put marriage amendment on ballot".


    The Sun-Sentinel editors: "Good governance benefits everyone. Bad governance costs everyone. The principle sticks no matter whether it is a municipality, a county, the state or federal government — or even the Seminole Tribe of Florida. U.S. taxpayers and Florida residents have a stake in the way money is appropriated by the tribe, much as the tribe has a stake in decisions made by its neighboring communities." "Questionable funding decisions by Seminoles deserves scrutiny".


    "U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings announced Tuesday he plans to resign from the House Intelligence Committee, but left the door open to serving on the select panel again in the future." "Hastings to quit intelligence panel".

    Sequoia Voting Systems

    "After months of balking, Palm Beach County commissioners Tuesday agreed not to consider other vendors and to purchase $5.5 million worth of optical-scan voting machines from the company that sold the county its paperless electronic touch-screen machines in 2002. The commission voted 6-1 to approve a contract with Sequoia Voting Systems to supply 1,001 optical scanners in time for the August 2008 primaries and November presidential election. The switch from electronic voting became necessary when the Florida Legislature and Gov. Charlie Crist this year approved a law requiring paper ballots after July 1, 2008." "Post: Voting-machine contract approved without competition".

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