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 Thursday, March 06, 2008

The delegate thing

    Adam C. Smith and Wes Allison: "Clinton's wins in Texas, Ohio and Rhode Island on Tuesday launched her back into contention for her party's nomination, but also heightened the prospects of do-over elections in Florida and Michigan." "Will Florida tip the nomination?". See also "Florida fights for delegates".

    "The former head of the Democratic National Committee said Thursday it was doubtful DNC Chairman Howard Dean would be able to get approval for a plan for do-over presidential nomination contests in Florida and Michigan."
    "It'll be a hellacious battle," said Don Fowler, a former DNC chairman who sits on the party's rule-making committee.

    Before the primaries started, "Howard Dean had enough votes to get most everything he wanted. Now that this thing has gone as far as it has and the lines have formed according to candidates. I'm not sure how that vote would shake out now," said Fowler, who has endorsed Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton.

    Now, everything is being viewed in terms of how it benefits a particular candidate, not the party or the process, Fowler said.

    Nonetheless, Fowler said, something has to be done, "the rules be damned" to seat delegates from states Democrats have to and can win in the general election. "We're going to forfeit those two big states? What kind of fools would we be."
    "Dean: Hold New Primaries".

    "Saying it is 'reprehensible' to ignore the presidential preferences of 5.1 million voters, Gov. Charlie Crist urged both political parties Wednesday to recognize the Florida and Michigan delegations to national nominating conventions next summer." "Crist speaks out on delegate issue".

    See also "Governors of Michigan, Fla. call for seating stripped delegates", "Nelson supports do-over Florida primary", "'Seat our delegates,' Gov. Crist tells political parties" and "'Seat our delegates,' Florida's Crist, Michigan's Granholm tell Democrats, GOP".

    Cut frenzy

    "Spurred by a dismal economy, Republican House leaders raced Wednesday to slash $542 million from the current year's state budget over the blistering objections of Democrats." "Tempers flare over proposed budget cuts".

    "Lawmakers in Florida's Senate will debate about half a billion dollars in cuts to the state's current budget as they try to deal with shortfalls in tax collections. Lawmakers in the House took up similar reductions Wednesday." "Florida Senate will take up cuts to budget".

    "The state House voted to make more than $500 million in budget cuts, despite appeals from Democrats to spare schools and healthcare." "School, court funds slashed".

    "House lawmakers voted Wednesday to slash the current state budget by $517 million, despite the protests of Democrats who tried in vain to blunt the cuts to education." "House Votes To Cut Current Budget By $517 Million". See also "Senate cuts $500 million from current budget", "House bill slashes $518M in spending" and "Florida Republicans push ahead with budget cuts".

    Imagine that ... politicizing the education system

    "A constitutional proposal that would ensure the Legislature, not an appointed board, can set tuition sailed through its first Senate committee Wednesday after lawmakers cast aside arguments it would politicize Florida's university system. ... The measure, which passed unanimously, will be heard by the Higher Education Committee before it can go to the Senate floor. It's a top priority of Senate President Ken Pruitt, R-Port St. Lucie." "Amendment would ensure lawmakers can set university tuition". See also "Fight brews over university control" and "Senate panel votes to weaken BOG".

    More: "Tuition for Florida's college students would remain low -- but competition for seats would be high -- under a plan lawmakers put on the fast track Wednesday." "Legislators seek to control tuition".

    The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "The Legislature, which is ruining higher education in Florida, now wants permission from voters to do even more damage." "A political power grab wouldn't help education".

    The St. Petersburg Times editorial board: 'Florida Senate President Ken Pruitt tried Tuesday to portray his attack on the university Board of Governors as a principled stand against the excesses of "an unelected board.' But we've seen this script before, and the plot is driven by political ego and personal spite." "Pruitt's destructive fit of pique". See also "Fight over higher education governance gets nasty".

    The Daytona Beach News Journal editorial board: "In a sweeping bill he is attempting to fast-track through the Legislature, Pruitt proposes a constitutional amendment to:"

    · Abolish the state Board of Education, which oversees public schools and assign duties to the Cabinet.

    · Abolish the independent Board of Governors, which oversees the 11 public universities.

    · Elect the commissioner of education as a Cabinet member.

    · Give the Legislature the final say over public schools and universities.
    "The proposed amendment is an arrogant attempt to undo what voters have approved."
    In 1998, voters changed the state constitution to create a separate Board of Education (which had been a part of the Cabinet's job) and make the commissioner of education an appointed rather than elected position. In 2002, voters overwhelmingly approved creation of the Board of Governors precisely because the legislators [and Jebbie] were mucking up the higher education system.
    "Meanwhile, Bush loaded the newly created Board of Education with political appointees whose goals matched his political philosophy of promoting privately operated schools. Clearly the governor and Legislature were in position to politicize public schools and universities -- moves that undermined what voters had in mind in supporting the constitutional initiatives."
    In 2001, former Gov. and U.S. Sen. Bob Graham said the legislators have injected an "anthrax-like infection" of politics into the university system. Graham, who led the charge to create the new Board of Governors, has been a strong advocate for the new board to step up its role of governing independently. Over the past two years, the board has taken giant steps toward assuming its assigned powers and is leading Florida's universities through a 20-year plan to make them more competitive with world-class university systems, such as those in North Carolina and California. Pruitt's plan would undo all of that.

    It would appear that Pruitt's plan is based on his anger at the university board for acting independently, and the public-schools proposal was thrown in as a side dish. That's not how education policy should be developed in Florida -- not when economic prosperity depends on fair and dependable public-school and higher-education systems.
    "Pruitt's amendment".

    On tap

    "The Florida Legislature is in session through May 2. The key issues yesterday and what's coming up:" "2008 Legislature roundup".

    False light laff riot

    "The Florida Supreme Court hears arguments today in two First Amendment cases involving thorny issues of libel, defamation and invasion of privacy." "Fla. Supreme Court weighs 'false light' defamation cases".

    Florida's corporate media - self-proclaimed protectors of our "vibrant democracy" - thinks false light lawsuits are really bad things, unless of course it is the corporate media that wants to file such lawsuits. See what we mean here: "Oh ... The Hypocrisy".

    "So far away"

    "The last time Oscar Braynon stepped foot on the floor of the Florida House of Representatives he wore a blue jacket with a circular patch -- his uniform as a page for political up-and-comer Rep. Kendrick Meek." "Dade lawmaker's debut 'seemed so far away'".

    Reefer madness

    "Operators of 'grow houses' used to cultivate marijuana plants in a protected indoor setting face increased penalties under a bill that passed a major House panel Wednesday." "Bill targets 'grow house' operators".


    The Miami Herald editorial board: "The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' latest proposal to unclog the Tamiami Trail's water blockage in the lower Everglades has only a faint resemblance to the logical solution for this long-festering problem. The Corps plan is to construct a mile-long bridge to restore some movement to historic southward sheet flow. That's a trickle compared to the gusher that is needed." "Corps' Glades fix too little, too late".


    "Two Tampa Bay lawmakers want to ensure the right to fly Old Glory at home." "Tampa Bay lawmakers push to ensure flag-flying rights".


    "For months, Gov. Charlie Crist has insisted that New York socialite Carol Rome is just "a friend," but Tuesday night at a soiree in the Governor's Mansion, he introduced her as 'my girlfriend,' ... ." "She's Florida's first girlfriend".


    Bill Maxwell: "too many Floridians, led by the likes of Storms, Rubio and state Board of Education member Donna Callaway, are channeling the ghosts of the Scopes Monkey Trial of 1925 in Tennessee. ... Again reasonable people should ask lawmakers in Tallahassee to keep Florida moving toward enlightenment by tossing out Storms' backward-looking bill. If passed, it will permit the teaching of creationism and intelligent design in our science classes." "Storms champions ignorance".


    With his nose firmly in the derrières of his corporate masters, Mike Thomas argues yet again that teachers unions are the root of all evil:

    Florida has made more progress than at any time in its history in improving school performance.

    This is because reforms were pushed by Gov. Jeb Bush, who was not beholden to the education bureaucracy and the teachers unions. In fact, because of those reforms, the unions poured millions of dollars into a campaign to unseat Bush in the 2002 election.
    "Deja vu politics will only dumb down learning".

    OK Mike, we know you hate people with the temerity to collectively ask for wage increases as opposed to blithely relying upon the selfless generosity of their corporate masters - stated differently, Mike, we accept that you would willingly scab if your Tribune bosses wanted you to (cf "Send in the scabs" and "Picking scabs, part two"). But we at least expect you read the work of other Jeb-sycophants like, say, one Tony Villamil whose recent "analysis cites Florida's bottom or near-bottom ranking among the states in high school graduation rate, production of four-year college graduates and education spending, and bottom half rankings in teacher pay and advanced degrees."

    Blah, blah, blah ...

    The Tallahassee Democrat editorial board: "The state of the state is strong. That's a pretty optimistic view, and that's the only view you're going to get from Gov. Charlie Crist."

    But unless "optimism" translates to "magic," at some point Mr. Crist will have to engage in a debate, even with some members of his own Republican Party, over where this money will come from.

    The choices, if all tax increases remain taboo, are cutting and slicing existing programs and agencies, spending rainy day reserves or borrowing from trust funds. All are subjective, political, ideological, confusing and tough to settle on.
    "Feeling optimistic?". The Tampa Tribune editorial board: "Charlie Crist's Stroll On The Sunny Side" ("No one doubts the governor envisions sunnier days. But to lead Florida through these dark days, Crist is going to have to exhibit more General Patton and less Pollyanna.")

    The St. Petersburg Times editorial board: "The opening day speeches suggest the governor and the legislative leaders are still in denial about the economic challenges facing Florida and what it would take to responsibly address them. But a reality check is coming. If it doesn't arrive during this two-month budget-slashing session, the voters will deliver one to state lawmakers in November." "A state of denial".

    "Crist largely brushed past the challenges facing Florida in his State of the State address Tuesday, instead highlighting successes and his optimism for the future." "Crist emphasizes silver lining in State of the State".

    New rules

    The Miami Herald editorial board: "Federal Medicaid administrators have finalized seven new rules that in many cases will stop payments for services that Medicaid long has covered. One rule would end federal support for care provided to poor and disabled children by public schools, among them schools in Miami-Dade and Broward counties. These services include health screenings, medical care and transportation for special-needs children who get health services at school." "New Medicaid rules punish kids, states".


    "State elections officials are wary of a hasty overhaul as they switch to optical scanners." "Better audits are sought for voting".

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