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, March 11, 2008

Delegate deadline

    "Facing a decision deadline this week - maybe today - Florida Democrats frantically sought to figure out Monday whether and how they can conduct a mail-in revote of the The Palm Beach Post editorial board: state's Democratic presidential primary."
    Democratic leaders appeared to agree that a mail-in vote is the state's only option for a voice in the Obama-Clinton race.

    The Barack Obama campaign continued to express opposition to a revote, as questions arose over whether the mail-in primary would be technically feasible, legal and reliable.

    Opponents say it's not.
    "Revote Deadline Is Urgent". See also "Southwest Florida elections supervisor skeptical of mail-in redo" and "Florida's Dems may take on primary redo themselves".

    "Interviews with state and national Democratic leaders, as well as officials with the campaigns of Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama, make clear that the idea of re-doing Florida's Jan. 29 election using a ballot-by-mail system is not universally popular." "Vote-by-mail plan gains few fans". See also "Democrats still at odds over Florida delegates" and "Do it over? Party wary of state vote" ("If Florida hadn't moved up its primary, voters would be going to the polls Tuesday. Instead, Democratic officials are grappling with a way to make Florida's vote count.")

    "As state and national officials searched for a face-saving way to seat Florida delegates to their party's presidential nominating convention Monday, Democratic National Committeeman Allan Katz said there's no good way out of the political quagmire." "Florida faces delegate decisions". The Sun-Sentinel editorial board: "Florida Democrats should focus on November and forget do-over votes".

    Let's pretend

    The Tampa Tribune editorial board: "Florida has been boasting of robust population growth and an economy strong enough to be adding thousands of jobs each week. Actually it has been losing jobs since September, latest estimates show. The implications are troubling for everyone, especially those investing in Florida's growth or lured to Florida in search of a job." "Florida Needs Sharper Estimate Of Economic Future And Growth".

    Medicaid fraud

    "Legislative leaders agreed Monday afternoon to postpone a decision — at least temporarily — on saving $340 million next year by freezing annual increases to Medicaid providers, according to the Florida Health Care Association." "House stalls Senate Medicaid bill".

    The Miami Herald editorial board: "The Legislature is in budget-cutting mode and, unfortunately, Florida's most vulnerable are at risk. Medicaid serves poor children, the disabled and elderly. The federally supported program is targeted because it is one of the state's biggest expenses. So, not looking at Medicaid spending would be ill-advised. The trick is to find cost savings without cutting critical services." "Budget cuts put elderly, poor at risk".

    "As if he had given himself a wedgie"

    Daniel Ruth hits another homer (read the whole thing here): Ruth writes that "it was a royally annoyed Jeb Bush who showed up in Lakeland the other day, which was sort of odd."

    After all, the former governor was about make a very nice chunk of change off a bunch of unsuspecting marks, who had coughed up $300-a-pop to listen to a bunch of twaddle about how wonderful the Bush Junta years were for the state.
    Many of the same marks who work as alleged "journalists" who spent eight years telling us how brilliant Jebbie was, all in the hopes of an eventual insider spot on Jebbie's campaign for preznit plane. Ruth continues, writing that Saint "Jeb!"
    was in a sour mood, as if he had given himself a wedgie, after a bunch of nosy reporters started asking the Diocletian of the Apalachee Parkway why he treated his eight years in office as if his reign was one giant Skull & Bones meeting.

    The Infamous Scribblers [a/k/a stenographers], as George Washington once referred to journalists, peppered Bush with questions about his hatched-in-secret plan to buy up 61 miles of CSX Transportation track in the Orlando area for $491 million, which would then enable the company to enhance its freight line traffic through a new Polk County hub.
    "At first, according to The Ledger newspaper in Lakeland, the Little Lord Fauntleroy of Tallahassee refused to take questions from reporters, as if they had any right to inquire into Bush's $491 million air kiss to CSX."
    Simply because the governor sold Lakeland down the river in backroom negotiation leading to a $491 million door prize to CSX, what business was it for anyone in Lakeland to ask him about it, merely because he happened to be in Lakeland to stuff a speaking fee into his smoking jacket?

    But as the questions persisted, The Brother Who Should Have Been President Instead Of The Bush Family's Answer To Tommy Smothers grew agitated, insisting his Love Potion No. 491 Million to CSX was not cooked up in secret at all.

    After all - he knew about it. How much more transparent could things possibly be?
    "Why needlessly bother anyone, especially because Jeb Bush knew what was best for all, because Jeb Bush is - special."
    Now Bush's footsie-wootsie with CSX is coming under increased scrutiny from the press, as well as the Legislature, which has questioned the enormity of $491 million in corporate welfare to a company with the wherewithal to pick up its own tab.

    It was no small irony that Bush was in Lakeland to appear at the faith-based Southeastern University to speak on leadership, although this would have been like inviting Hugo Chavez to deliver remarks on the Bill of Rights.

    Bush spent eight years posing for holy pictures as governor, treating the state's open government laws like they were broccoli on his father's dinner plate.

    When he was asked what he thought would be the fate of the CSX lap dance during this legislative session, the Eddie Haskell of political dynasties sniffed: "I don't care."

    Some things never change.
    "Our Fauntleroy Still Thinks He's Special".

    "We deserve an A-plus in self-delusion"

    Despite the frequent old style media man-crushes on Jebbie (read Mike Thomas) some media outlets persist in getting it right.

    The Tallahassee Democrat editorial board: "If there were a direct correlation between the Sunshine State's extraordinary emphasis on the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test and where we stood in national rankings of educational quality, then surely we'd be among the leading states in terms of learning."

    That's not the case. In FCAT's 10th year, the tough truth is that Florida, the fourth-most-populous state in the nation, consistently remains among the lowest states in most frequently cited measures of educational performance and quality.

    Not this year or last, but year after year after year.
    "If a company that tied its performance as closely to one product as Florida ties school and student achievement to the FCAT, there could be only one conclusion: It's time to try something different." Clearly,
    no state that ranks near the bottom in high-school graduation rates and per-student funding for public education can sincerely lay claim to a world-class system of schools. So let's stop fooling ourselves.

    If the FCAT is Florida's best measure of support for public education and student achievement, we deserve an A-plus in self-delusion.
    "Florida's test". The Sun-Sentinel editorial board: "Needed FCAT changes haven't been made".

    Super Buddy

    "Dyer rescues terrier from jaws of pit bull"


    The Orlando Sentinel editorial board: "Legislators should do more to lure Space Coast investments" "Our position: Legislators should do more to lure Space Coast investments".

    The "values" crowd in action

    The Tampa Tribune editorial board reminds us that "in January, Florida cut $75 million from the Medicaid fund that supports nursing-home care for the poor. Now lawmakers are considering a $139-million cut."

    "During tight economic times, Florida should stand strong for the most frail and vulnerable among us - those in nursing homes, children in need of protection and the severely developmentally disabled. If we can't do that, Florida doesn't just have a fiscal crisis. It has a moral crisis as well." "Keep Promise To Nursing Home Patients".

    Water managers

    "After decades of appointed water management district boards, some lawmakers say it is time to make them elected positions." "Lawmaker: Water managers should be elected".

    Trust us

    The Daytona Beach News Journal editorial board lets us in on a coupla legislative secrets today: "The Florida Constitution only requires two duties of the state Legislature: Produce an annual, balanced budget. And conduct business openly."

    Unfortunately, those two charges sometimes come into direct conflict, especially when budget negotiations get down to the wire. As the state House and Senate prepare to "conference" on more than $500 million in cuts to the current year's spending plan, even legislators are complaining that they're not sure what the plan, rushed through legislative committees on its way to the floor, contains. And if lawmakers can't keep up, what hope do members of the general public have?

    "You figured out how to cut this pie in secret," growled House Minority Leader Dan Gelber, a Democrat, last Wednesday, at the start of floor debate over the House's version of cuts. State Rep. Shelley Vana, D-West Palm Beach, said she requested explanations of some of the proposed cuts, and only received bare line-item listings.
    "Budget secrets".

    "With the Florida Legislature, however, there's always a "but" involved. Increasingly, legislative leaders are shuffling wide-ranging and complex legislation onto their agendas without going through those preliminaries. These so-called "proposed committee bills" or PCBs (the acronym does double duty in the House, where most PCBs are actually produced by councils) can spring into being seemingly overnight, giving members of the public little time to react, and almost no time to put their objections on the record." "Bills on dark path to lighted floor".

    Water war

    "Finally, Congress will hear from representatives of Florida's Panhandle seafood industry about a decision that affects the industry. They and U.S. Rep. Allen Boyd, D-Panama City, will testify before the House Subcommittee on Water Resources and the Environment on the impact of a Georgia-influenced decision to cut water flows to Apalachicola River and Apalachicola Bay. Two weeks ago, U.S. Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne ended negotiations among Florida, Georgia and Alabama and announced that his agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers would settle the three-state water war." "Florida won't get cut out".


    "Public servants with gas guzzlers? It doesn't add up".


    Joel Engelhardt: "Doug Bingham, chief operating officer of The Scripps Research Institute, says that everything is going according to plan. Scripps Florida has met all of its benchmarks. Researchers are making scientific progress. Officials at Scripps headquarters in California are pleased with scores generated on federal grant applications, scores that forecast a rush of hard-to-get federal money. Mr. Bingham, however, won't specify what benchmarks, what progress or what scores. Announcements will be forthcoming. Trust us. I hope that trust is justified, because there's a lot at stake. ... Mr. Bingham says the model is working. All the milestones are being met. Since the public has so much at stake, however, it would be nice if he could spell out exactly why he is so optimistic." "Is Scripps money paying off?".

    South Florida elections

    "Voters go to the polls today to cast ballots in 19 municipal elections in Palm Beach County, including key races in Boca Raton and Wellington, and opposite ends of Broward County today for races in Pompano Beach and Miramar." "Elections taking place throughout South Florida".

    The end of an "era": "Palm Beach County touch-screen voting machines get final use today in 19 municipal elections" and "Touch screens on way out after votes today".

    Pumping sand

    "Alligator Point property owners have rejected a proposed sand-pumping project that Franklin County officials said was needed to protect homes and a county road." "Residents reject sand pumping in Alligator Point".

    Can you spell H.I.P.P.A.?

    "The medical records of some Central Florida Regional Hospital patients were sold last month at a Salt Lake City surplus store for about $20, a newspaper reported." "Florida medical records sold at surplus store".

    "Polluting incinerators in disguise"?

    "Environmental groups said Monday that proposed "plasma arc" plants that can convert garbage into gas that is burned to produce electricity really are polluting incinerators in disguise." "Environmental groups cast doubts on 'clean' plasma-arc power plants".


    Bill Cotterell: "What is undoubtedly the most exhaustive search of personnel records in Florida history is turning out pretty much as you might have expected."

    DCF Secretary Bob Butterworth ordered the inspection last month following the arrest of Al Zimmerman on charges of offering two teenage boys money to pose for pornographic pictures. It was discovered that Zimmerman, who had been the agency's main public spokesman in Tallahassee, didn't have an original job application on file and, although his job references were vouched for, his background had not been properly vetted.

    But Zimmerman had been hired before DCF began fingerprinting and running complete background checks on all employees. And although one of the boys had been in DCF care, Zimmerman was a front-office worker and not a direct-care employee.
    "DCF file review finds about what you'd expect".


    "Heralded by lawmakers and Gov. Charlie Crist as potential saviors in the property tax crisis, some members of the Taxation and Budget Review Commission are facing a far simpler challenge of showing up for meetings." "Tax commission members missing work".

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