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 Tuesday, February 05, 2008

"A Tallahassee display of brute force"

    So much for "The People's" involvement in citizens initiatives: "The fight over controlling Florida growth began as a war of ideas, pitting a wealthy environmental lawyer against businesses that want less control over development, not more."
    It ended with a Tallahassee display of brute force.

    Florida Hometown Democracy, the ballot initiative that sought to slow growth, fell 65,182 signatures short of the 611,009 needed to make the ballot, thanks in part to a double-barreled business lobby effort that changed state law and raised nearly $4 million to crush it.

    The tactics show how powerful interest groups with money at stake could wage war against future citizen petitions.
    The apple pie, all American themes were a nice touch by pleasant organizations like "Associated Industries of Florida" and the "Florida Chamber of Commerce":
    Associated Industries of Florida used a new law to persuade more than 18,000 voters to revoke their signatures, sending them mailers signed by former House Speaker John Thrasher warning that Hometown would destroy Florida's "scenic beauty."

    The Florida Chamber of Commerce raised $3 million through a political arm called Floridians for Smarter Growth to run a similar-sounding initiative petition and hire away Hometown's paid petition-gatherers.
    And this was a particularly delightful tactic by our big business brethren:
    And in the weeks before Friday's deadline for counties to verify signatures — a time when elections offices were also processing early voting and absentee ballots for Florida's Jan. 29 presidential primary — the chamber's group flooded key counties in South Florida, Sarasota and parts of the Panhandle, where Hometown was gathering signatures. ...

    The main objective: Slow the processing of Hometown signatures and ensure the chamber's own amendment would make the 2008 ballot only if Hometown's did too.
    "Business lobby's cash, political tactics crushed Hometown Democracy slow-growth initiative".

    Steve Bousquet: For "social and religious conservatives in Florida, these are tough times."

    After a decade of playing a prominent role in state politics that helped engineer a Republican takeover and Jeb Bush's two terms as governor, such voters now appear out of step with their party's leaders.

    They are ambivalent about McCain and disapprove of Gov. Charlie Crist's endorsement of McCain. They also are alarmed at Crist's willingness to expand gambling - a social vice, in their view - to balance the state budget.

    Lately, about all ... social conservatives have to cheer about is having collected enough signatures last Friday to get the so-called marriage protection amendment on the November ballot. If the proposal wins support from more than 60 percent of voters, it would define marriage in the state Constitution as solely between a man and a woman and could yet galvanize a strong turnout by religious or so-called values voters.
    And this borders on the pathetic:
    Asked to name a Republican she wishes were running for president, [the knuckle-dragger] answers without hesitation: "Jeb Bush.""Times tough for socially conservative Republicans".

    Charlie a short timer?

    "If only Floridians could believe that Gov. Crist's commitment to good ideas is longer than a year."

    Crist would raid trust funds devoted to affordable housing, children's health care (from tobacco settlement money) and the administration of workers' compensation insurance. He would add lottery drawings to generate more gambling money. He projects better economic times sooner than state forecasters.

    Why? It's an election year, and the governor wants voters to think kindly of all those Republicans on the ballot. Also, the governor is not denying rumors that he'd like to be John McCain's running mate as a Florida version of Arnold Schwarzenegger. But using one-time money for recurring needs ignores and could exacerbate the state's long-term financial problems. Despite what Gov. Crist said Thursday when releasing it, his budget does not "live within our means."

    "A real commitment to ideas includes a way to pay for them. Gov. Crist does not offer it. His budget reads as though he won't be around to feel the effects." "Charlie Crist's budget is all about Charlie Crist".

    It ain't over

    "Backers of a 1.35 percent property tax cap failed to get enough signatures for the November ballot, but the idea may not be dead.

    State Sen. Mike Bennett, R-Bradenton, said Monday he will introduce the idea as a bill for the upcoming session." "Failure isn't the end for tax cap idea".

    "Before the party harms itself"

    "The woman who oversaw a federal report documenting voter disenfranchisement during Florida's disputed 2000 presidential election is asking the Democratic Party to settle a fight with Florida and Michigan before the party harms itself." "Ex-Civil Rights Commission head asks DNC to settle delegate fight".

    "The financial disease in Florida higher education"

    The St. Petersburg Times editorial board: "Those in Tallahassee who deplore an 8 percent tuition increase are being spiteful to public universities or willfully missing the point. The meager tuition is but a symptom of the financial disease in Florida higher education - and young, eager, prepared students are about to suffer in historic numbers." "Lawmakers let universities slide into mediocrity".

    "Gouging consumers"?

    "Insurance executives got a polite but chilly reception Monday when they testified under oath to a bipartisan Senate committee." "Senate panel grills insurance execs". More: "Allstate insists rate hikes appropriate", "State Senate grills insurers on rate policy" and "Insurance answers dissatisfy senators".

    "Warming oceans, and the possibility that they may bring more hurricanes, have to be considered when setting property insurance rates, Allstate officials told lawmakers Monday, defending themselves against allegations that they're gouging consumers." "Allstate defends property insurance rate proposal to lawmakers".

    We're number 1!!!

    "Online Sex Registry is No. 1".

    Top down organizing

    "With Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama in the tightest imaginable contest going into today's Super Tuesday voting, South Florida's two most prominent black elected officials are strongly supporting Clinton. Their constituents are not." "Local leaders, voters take different presidential paths".

    "Drained away"

    The Tampa Tribune editorial board: "Your paycheck and your new TV made in China have one thing in common. Both are taxed for a specific, essential purpose, yet a big part of the money is being drained away for other things." "Budget Deficit Soaks Up Taxes Collected To Maintain Harbors".

    With all due respect ...

    ... I seem to recall that most vets voted for Dubya (over a décorated combat veteran): "President Bush put $120 million in his proposed budget Monday for the long-awaited Orlando VA hospital, but area veterans said they were disappointed that more of the nearly $600 million needed will not come right away." "$120 million not enough for VA hospital, Orlando-area veterans say".

    Panhandle justice

    The Daytona Beach News Journal editorial board:"At Ponce de Leon High School in Florida's Panhandle last fall, five or six students were suspended for five days for displaying various gay-pride symbols --"

    the words "Gay Pride," "G.P.," "Equal, Not Special, Rights," "I Support My Gay Friends," triangular and rectangular rainbows, pink armbands and the like. Students wore shirts displaying the messages and symbols or put stickers displaying them on their notebooks.

    According to the ACLU, the school district -- through its attorney, Brandon Young -- defended the suspensions on several grounds: The pro-gay insignia, the district argued, was similar to the Confederate flag (which many find offensive), and therefore could be banned, and pro-gay speech is considered inherently disruptive. In a letter to the ACLU, Young said that while the district does not have a policy regarding pro-gay or anti-gay speech, "any behavior that alters the teaching process of the classroom or hinders any educational activity will be deemed inappropriate and unacceptable."

    Last week, justly so, the ACLU filed a lawsuit against the school for hindering the suspended students' First Amendment rights, and for continuing to ban gay-pride insignia.
    "The school district shouldn't have let the situation get that far. It should have recognized its mistake, apologized to the suspended students (and cleaned up their record), and perhaps issued a policy clarifying what may and may not be worn in school." "Panhandle homophobia".

    The answer?

    "The only way we can broaden the tax base and seriously slash property taxes is to eliminate the special-interest sales-tax exemptions." "Passing the buck won't fill up our wallets".

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