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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, January 20, 2008

Florida primary update

    McCain: "One state now stands between an elbow-to-elbow Republican field and the Feb. 5 voting sweepstakes that could clinch the party's presidential nomination: Florida." "McCain rides wave into Florida".

    Meanwhile, Bushco's pool boy "tower of Jell-O" says no to McCain:
    Under pressure from fundraisers and friends, Sen. Mel Martinez has decided not to endorse presidential candidate John McCain, who was planning to campaign Monday in Miami with the popular Florida Republican to help win crucial votes in South Florida's Hispanic community.

    A big factor in Martinez's decision: He feels badly for McCain's opponent, Rudy Giuliani. After all, the former New York mayor was a Martinez supporter, and thought he had a shot at Martinez's support.

    Now, none of the four leading GOP candidates -- running neck-and-neck in Florida -- will have Martinez's backing as they sprint to the Jan. 29 election and scrounge for every vote in the biggest primary state thus far.

    McCain supporters had been told by the campaign Thursday and Friday that Martinez was coming to stump with the Arizona senator. But, they said, Giuliani fundraisers and supporters -- who played a key role in Martinez's narrow 2004 Senate win -- swayed Martinez to stay out. A Martinez spokesman couldn't be reached for comment Saturday.

    Some viewed Martinez's decision to sit out as a betrayal of McCain, who helped Martinez push a radioactive White House-backed immigration bill. The measure was roundly condemned by conservatives as ''amnesty'' for illegal immigrants and cost McCain serious political points that helped almost kill his campaign.

    ''Mel's a tower of Jell-O,'' said Republican operative Roger Stone, a McCain backer. ``He was committed to McCain, and given McCain's role in the fight over immigration and given the fact he's going to win South Carolina tonight, Mel Martinez should have done what he said and gone with the guy who will be president.''
    "Martinez won't endorse McCain".

    Mitt: "Just hours after winning the Nevada Republican caucuses on Saturday, GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney said the upcoming Florida primary was a must-win." "'Gotta get Florida,' Romney says on heels of Nevada victory". See also "Romney learns of Nevada win on Florida-bound plane" ("Romney learned he won Saturday's barely contested Nevada caucuses on his Florida-bound campaign plane.")

    Rudy G: Adam Smith asks "What would it take to deter Giuliani?": "While the other Republican candidates have been battling in places like Iowa, Michigan and South Carolina, Rudy Giuliani has been all Florida, all the time. So if he fails to win on Jan. 29, should we assume it's all over for hizzoner?"

    "Northeasterners vying for White House can benefit from strong ties to Florida". See also "Giuliani goes on attack, trying to gain Florida momentum".

    There goes the knuckle-dragger vote: "In Tampa, antiabortion activist Randall Terry calls the former New York mayor a fraud." "State hears from Giuliani foe".

    More Rudy: "Giuliani toured the Everglades Saturday and said he's committed to preserving the legendary River of Grass." "Giuliani tours Everglades, supports preservation efforts". Isn't that what Dubya said?

    Carl Hiaasen on the early primary and Rudy: "It wasn't so long ago that Florida's primary seemed doomed to irrelevancy, thanks to the meat-heads in the Legislature who moved up the vote to Jan. 29."
    Thus, the stage was set for a pretend primary, a largely pointless beauty contest in which even the media showed only a half-hearted interest.

    Floridians from the Panhandle to the Keys breathed a secret sigh of relief. Having had a bellyful of the political limelight -- and ridicule -- in 2000, we were thrilled at the prospect of being ignored this time, at least until November.
    "Yet now, with the primary only nine days away, the threat of actual significance has raised its head, minus the comb-over, in the person of Rudy Giuliani."
    For reasons difficult to fathom, the former mayor (and self-proclaimed savior) of New York has chosen to bank his presidential ambitions on a victory in Florida, which is full of people who bailed out of New York as soon as they could afford to. ...

    Once leading by double digits in state polls, he is now neck-and-neck with John McCain, Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee. Even Giuliani's staunchest supporters back in New York are saying he must win Florida -- or finish a close second -- to regain any shot at capturing the nomination.

    Talk about pressure. Talk about a wild roll of the dice. ...

    One reason for the steep slippage is that he's been shoved off the front page while Romney, McCain and Huckabee are winning elsewhere. And when Rudy does make news, it's not always a happy headline.

    Take the fraud and tax-evasion indictment of his pal Bernie Kerik, whom Giuliani promoted from the job of driver to New York police commissioner, and then later hired for his consulting firm. Kerik also distinguished himself by using a Manhattan apartment reserved for 9/11 workers as a secret love nest.

    More recently came the revelation that, while he was mayor, some of Rudy's security expenses for visiting his mistress (now wife) in the Hamptons were purposely billed to unlikely city agencies such as the Office for People with Disabilities. Not even a hound like Bill Clinton pulled such a stunt.

    Such unseemly controversies could blunt the momentum of any presidential hopeful, but particularly one reaching out to religious groups and voters who rate moral issues as a priority.
    "Our primary has become a real drama". "Instead of the merciful disinterest we anticipated, we now have real drama on Jan. 29."

    Endorsements: The big ones are starting to come in:
    - The Palm Beach Post endorses McCain and Obama.

    - The Orlando Sentinel endorses McCain and Clinton.

    - The St Pete Times editors like Obama for Democrats.
    Mark Lane has a summary of some of the earlier newspaper endorsements here: here.

    More Florida primary news: "Analysis: Momentum Shifts to Clinton", "And it's Rudy, but by just 1 point", "Clinton, McCain Move Ahead - for Now", "Blacks in South Florida reflect on race and the presidential election" and "Analysis: Republican Race Changing Daily".

    More from "Jeb Bush And His Amen Chorus Of Goose-Stepping Legislators"

    Legislators luv to praise Florida's brave law enforcement officers. Yet these same Legislators perpetuate more fine Jebacies like this:

    Base pay for new troopers is $33,977, according to FHP -- lower than many other police agencies in Florida.

    Among the 45 states that provided data to Policepay.net for a 2003 survey, FHP paid its troopers the least.
    "Low pay drives FHP troopers to other agencies". All this while "Jeb Bush And His Amen Chorus Of Goose-Stepping Legislators" cut Florida's revenue stream by, among other brilliant moves, cutting the intangibles tax on the wealthy.

    Recall how Jebbie lapdogs went orgasmic over "Jeb!"'s so-called "vision" for Florida, describing it as "universal and timeless", and "clear and electrifying as [the inauguration] day's cobalt blue sky." ("What is it With Marquez?") This vision included the following doggerel:
    "There would be no greater tribute to our maturity as a society than if we can make these buildings around us empty of workers—silent monuments to the time when government played a larger role than it deserved or could adequately fill."
    The Jeb-sycophants probably didn't understand that this "vision" included "make these buildingspatrol cars around us empty of workers , to include state troopers".


    "In recent years, while the ranks of the region's poor and middle class have seen small or modest gains, the number of rich residents, especially the super-rich, has jumped." "The Rich, the Super Rich and the rest of us". Things are so bad that Mike Thomas bemoans: "'Little people' knocked out of big-boat market".

    "Cut the carbon, contain the methane or cook ourselves out of house and home"

    The News-Journal editors: "We have it tough enough in Florida trying to deal with the troubles of the day, the problems we can see, the ones we know how to fix, given a little more money and time -- from class size to congestion to commerce. But now the planet goes and throws this colossal climate thing at us -- cut the carbon, contain the methane or cook ourselves out of house and home." "Bear of a Problem".

    A "free market" for me, but not for thee

    Dan Moffett: complains that if (our words) employers are prevented from exploiting illegal aliens, "Labor shortages mean that employers will have to pay more to hire workers, which means that prices will rise for goods and services." "The states take on immigration".

    With all due respect, isn't using illegal aliens (who create an artificially low wage rates because they will work for anything to avoid being deported) skewing exalted market forces? Isn't this something that the supply and demand, Adam Smith free market crowd should be screaming about? Shouldn't the Ayn Rand worshippers be outraged at this? Or is it a "free market" system only for some of us?

    The rules are different here

    "Florida remains one of 28 states that don't guarantee compensation for those who spent precious years behind bars for something they didn't do. Nine men have been freed by DNA in Florida in recent years, but only one has received money." "Lawmakers consider how to repay wrongly imprisoned".

    "Amendment 1: What it would do"

    "Amendment 1, which will be put to Florida voters on the Jan. 29 ballot, requires 60 percent approval to become part of the state constitution. It would cut property taxes in four ways:"

    Increase the homestead exemption

    # Owners of homesteads with an assessed value of more than $50,000 would be eligible for an additional $25,000 exemption on their property tax bills. That exemption would be applied to the value of their home worth $50,000 to $75,000 and would affect only county, city and special taxing district assessments, which account for about 60 percent of most tax bills.

    # The homestead exemption for school district assessments would remain at $25,000.

    # Average savings for homeowners: About $240 a year.

    # Estimated cost to counties, towns and special districts statewide: $4.7 billion over five years. ...

    Make the Save Our Homes benefit portable

    # The current Save Our Homes benefit, which caps increases in assessed value of homesteads at 3 percent a year, would remain in place under the amendment.

    # In addition, homestead owners who sell their homes and buy a new homestead in Florida would be able to transfer up to $500,000 of their accrued Save Our Homes benefit to the new home. ...

    Cap the annual assessment of non-homesteaded properties

    # The assessed values of non-homesteaded properties - such as businesses, rental properties and second homes - couldn't be increased by more than 10 percent a year on the non-school portion of a tax bill. ...

    Create a tangible personal property exemption for businesses

    # Businesses now pay property taxes not only on the land and buildings they own but also on their business equipment, such as computers, appliances and farm machinery. Business owners must file a separate property tax return form with the property appraiser's office in their county and are taxed for this type of property at the same rate that residential and commercial properties are taxed. Household goods aren't taxed.

    Under the proposed amendment, business owners would be exempt from paying taxes on $25,000 worth of such equipment, which is called tangible personal property.
    Much more here: "Proposed property tax amendment on the Jan. 29 ballot".

    Scott Maxwell's "A little primer on the big tax vote": "With the Jan. 29 vote on property taxes rapidly approaching, many people are still fuzzy on the details. So here are some thoughts, vignettes, interviews -- and even a prediction -- that may help".

    This tells us much: "Amendment 1 entices business owners". See also "Q&A: Understanding Amendment 1", "Amendment 1 questions and answers", "Vote may aggravate inequity in taxes", "Amendment 1: How it would work" and "Understanding Amendment 1".

    The Miami Herald editorial board: "It doesn't seem like a difficult choice. Florida voters are being asked whether they want to cut property taxes, and the temptation is to vote Yes on Amendment One without giving it a second thought. Voter beware. Anyone who examines this dubious proposition on the Jan. 29 ballot will find plenty of reasons to vote No, both in one's own interest and for the good of Florida's future." "The Miami Herald Recommends". The Tallahassee Democrat editors argue that "amendment 1 makes things worse". "Unfair, unclear, unknown".

    The Sun-Sentinel editors have a different perspective: "It's not perfect, but tax amendment worthwhile".

    Back at the ranch: "Statewide poll: Outlook grim for Florida property tax amendment". See also "Support eroding for property tax amendment" and "War over property tax has diverse combatants".

    Allen update

    "Four local Republicans hoping to replace state Rep. Bob Allen will face off in a Jan. 29 special primary, hoping to represent District 32 in the Florida House at least through November." "First-timers want to fill House seat".

    "A former Cocoa Beach commissioner and a political newcomer vie for Democratic nod in the race for the House District 32 seat." "Two Democratic candidates emerge".

    Here's an idea

    The Tampa Trib editors: "An idea gaining support in a tax-reform panel would cut all property taxes".

    It's exactly the sort of reform Florida leaders should be talking about. Instead, voters on Jan. 29 are being offered an amendment that would make the tax system even more unfair.

    Gov. Charlie Crist has been leaning on business to contribute to the campaign to get the amendment passed. Arm-twisting is required because the measure isn't drawing enough support on its merits.

    In contrast, the proposal to eliminate the state's school taxes represents true reform. It would eliminate the state-required school tax from local property tax bills and replace the revenue by closing loopholes in the sales tax and adding some taxes on services.
    "The concept is sound because, properly done, it would broaden the tax base, ease the burden on all property owners and reduce inequities.""Proposal To Cut School Taxes Would Help All Property Owners".

    More: "The year of property tax drama in Tallahassee comes to a climax with Gov. Charlie Crist's Amendment 1 plan at the polls Jan. 29. But just as in Hollywood, the sequel is already in production. Waiting in the wings will be the Florida Taxation and Budget Reform Commission -- the most powerful governmental body most people still know nothing about." "Tax-drama sequel is in the works".

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