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 Friday, March 14, 2008

Down to the line

    "With a visible lack of enthusiasm, the head of the state Democratic Party proposed a combination "vote-by-mail and in-person" plan Thursday for salvaging a Florida delegation to the party's national nominating convention with a new presidential primary."
    Even as it was unveiled, skepticism was rampant.

    Republican Gov. Charlie Crist said he would designate state personnel to verify voter signatures [so non-Democrats won't cast any ballots] for a "mulligan" re-vote in early June, if necessary. But the speaker of the Florida House said no taxpayer money can be used, in any way, for a privately run election that Democrats said would cost the party $10 million to $12 million. ...

    No way to run a party

    Thurman said she was not planning to lobby for support, just waiting for responses over the weekend. When asked if she thought there will be a re-vote primary, she sighed heavily and paused.

    "I don't know," she said. "I have a feeling that it's probably getting closer to 'not' than 'yes.' "

    All nine Democratic members of Florida's U.S. House delegation opposed it. ...

    Leon County Elections Supervisor Ion Sancho said "there is no way" county supervisors can be involved. Sancho said he spoke with Florida Democratic Party officials, who were considering not verifying voter signatures on ballot envelopes, since those signatures are in county elections offices.
    "Dems propose do-over combo". See also "Mail-In Vote Lacks Support", "Democrats say mail-in re-vote in Florida looks unlikely", "Mail-in revote improbable, but DNC appeal in works" and "Mail-in vote idea: Dead on arrival?" ("A proposal for a mail-in revote appears to be going nowhere fast, with virtually no support from state Democratic leaders or the candidates.")

    "Florida Democratic Party Chairwoman Karen Thurman outlined plans Thursday for a do-over presidential primary by mail, but she acknowledged it's likely to be rejected by party leaders as well as the Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama campaigns." "Mail-in Dem vote not likely".

    "With a plan for a mail-in revote of Florida's Democratic presidential primary apparently dead on arrival, state Democrats on Thursday said they had few other options, while warning that the party is likely to lose the state in the November election." "Prospects for mail-in vote dim; so what's a Democrat to do? Some fear the lingering issue may cost the party Florida in November". More: "Eyes on Dean over delegates".

    And then there's this: "Allan Katz, the only Florida Democrat on the Democratic National Committee’s rules committee, said for all the energy spent on creating an re-vote, such an election would really do nothing to break the near deadlocked delegate battle between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton." "Re-vote would not change delegate math much".

    The Orlando Sentinel editorial board:
    A poll of Florida Democrats who voted Jan. 29 showed 59 percent supported a mail-in revote. Under the state party plan, a company that conducts elections would run the revote. Ballots would be mailed to Florida's 4.1 million Democrats. The party also would open 50 offices statewide to distribute replacement ballots, collect them and take in-person votes. The cost, $10 million to $12 million, would be paid by private donors.

    It's not hard to foresee challenges with this plan, especially with its untested format and tight time frame. It wouldn't work without the cooperation of Gov. Charlie Crist and his secretary of state.

    Critics have warned of disenfranchising people in a mail-in revote, such as those who have moved. Yet the alternative some support, a deal to split the state's delegates between Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Obama, would disenfranchise everyone who voted Jan. 29.

    If party bigwigs veto the mail-in plan, it's incumbent on them to come up with another approach soon that doesn't cheat Florida.
    "Obama, Clinton and Democratic bosses should put voters first".

    RPOFers "Pit the poor against the desperate"?

    The Daytona Beach News Journal editorial board: "It started out bad, and it's getting worse: This week, the projected hole in Florida's budget grew to more than $3 billion. The Legislature's response started out bad. It shouldn't get worse."

    The shortfall includes $1 billion from the current year's revenues -- lawmakers were already negotiating over a proposal that would trim more than $500 million from that budget -- and $2 billion from the 2008-09 budget. Lawmakers won't try to find more cuts for the fiscal year ending June 30, so they'll have to make up a gap of about $3.1 billion from next year's budget.
    "Severe budget cuts would deal a crushing blow to Floridians already struggling in an increasingly harsh economy. There's an alternative: Own up to the mistakes of the past. Much of the current budget mess is of the Legislature's making."
    Early in the decade, lawmakers approved billions of dollars' worth of special-interest tax cuts that diverted money into the pockets of the wealthy. Plugging some of the myriad exemptions in the sales-tax code could produce hundreds of millions of dollars. Rolling back a tax break that benefited investors would be even better, putting billions back into state coffers. Finally, lawmakers could close corporate income-tax loopholes that allow companies to short-change the state.
    "Those choices don't seem to be on the table with the Republican majority controlling the state House and Senate."
    Instead, they're pitting the most vulnerable sectors of Florida's population against each other: Should they enact cuts that reduce the number of nurses in Florida's hospitals and put elderly nursing-home residents at greater risk of abuse? Or should they take away money that would be used to provide schoolchildren with up-to-date textbooks and functional computers?

    And instead of talking about reclaiming revenue from the wealthiest, lawmakers are exploring the idea of extracting more revenue from low-income Floridians in the form of expanded gambling -- ignoring the vast body of research showing that such a course brings misery (and increased social cost) in its wake.
    "In the next few weeks, lawmakers can make the state's fiscal picture worse -- or reverse the irresponsible decisions of the past. The best course:"
    Put the needs of Florida's working families, seniors and children first, and stop pandering to the powerful elite.
    "Budget crunch". The Orlando Sentinel editorial board: "In tough economic times, Florida lawmakers ought to dip into reserves" ("welcome to the worst of times. Florida's economy is in a historic downturn").

    Update: "The state's budget is $512 million smaller. Gov. Charlie Crist signed legislation Friday slashing the money from the $70 billion spending plan lawmakers wrote last year because the money the budget was based on didn't come in. ... Crist signed it without comment." "Crist signs bill to cut state's budget".

    Didn't I vote on that already?

    "Voters would get a chance to second-guess themselves about the state's education governance under a Senate proposal to reorganize the State University System." "Resolution would give Legislature power to set tuition". See also "" and "".

    Double or nuthin'

    "Over the heated objections of religious conservatives, the Senate voted Thursday to allow slot machines at every race track and jai-alai fronton in Florida, although the bill's fate is far from certain." "Senate OKs slot machines at race tracks, jai-alai frontons". See also "Gambling Bill Wins Approval". See also "Slot machine bill passes Florida Senate".

    "Sweetheart deal"

    The Tampa Tribune editorial board: "The reason Gov. Charlie Crist should kill the state's sweetheart deal with CSX Transportation is not because the Tampa Bay region wants Orlando to forget about building a commuter rail system, as some would suggest. The reason Crist should end this deal is because he believes in good government and considers himself the governor of all Floridians." "Crist Should Kill Secretive CSX Deal To Send Signal About Transparency".

    Charlie's angel

    Last week, Charlie announced the following appointment as one of three commissioners of the Public Employees Relations Commission for a term beginning April 7, 2008, and ending January 1, 2012:

    Sara H. Gonzalez, 34, of Tallahassee
    All that is well and good, but precisely who is Ms. Gonzalez, and what is the Public Employees Relations Commission?

    1. Article 1, Section 6 of the Florida Constitution provides that "The right of employees, by and through a labor organization, to bargain collectively shall not be denied or abridged." To effect this fundamental constitutional right of public employees to unionize, the 1974 Florida Legislature passed the Public Employees Relations Act ("PERA"). The difficult and controversial task of protecting and enforcing the right of public employees to bargain was delegated by the Legislature to the Public Employees Relations Commission, subject to review by the District Courts of Appeal and, ultimately, the Florida Supreme Court.

    2. The Public Employees Relations Commission is comprised of three Commissioners appointed for four year terms, subject to Senate confirmation. The PERA states that
    The public policy of this state, and the purpose of this part, is to provide statutory implementation of s. 6, Art. I of the State Constitution, with respect to public employees; to promote harmonious and cooperative relationships between government and its employees, both collectively and individually; and to protect the public by assuring, at all times, the orderly and uninterrupted operations and functions of government. Nothing herein shall be construed either to encourage or discourage organization of public employees. This state's public policy is best effectuated by:

    (1) Granting to public employees the right of organization and representation;

    (2) Requiring the state, local governments, and other political subdivisions to negotiate with bargaining agents duly certified to represent public employees;

    (3) Creating a Public Employees Relations Commission to assist in resolving disputes between public employees and public employers; and

    (4) Recognizing the constitutional prohibition against strikes by public employees and providing remedies for violations of such prohibition.
    The PERA, in recognition of the controversial nature of a Commissioner's job specifically provides that, of the three Commissioners appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Senate,
    In no event shall more than one appointee be a person who, on account of previous vocation, employment, or affiliation, is, or has been, classified as a representative of employers; and in no event shall more than one such appointee be a person who, on account of previous vocation, employment, or affiliation, is, or has been, classified as a representative of employees or employee organizations.
    One must ask how Ms. Gonzalez has been "classified". Perhaps Charlie can tell us.

    3. Which brings us to the qualifications of the 34 year old Ms. Gonzalez for the august position of PERC Commissioner. Gonzalez is no doubt a delightful person with a fine complexion, but is she up for the difficult task of divining the constitutional rights of Florida's employees and their unions, and otherwise regulating union-public employer battles in Florida? Goodness, it seems our Sara has taken a time out in her vocation as a labor law expert and constitutional scholar and now ... imagine this ...
    works as a physician's assistant with something called "Dermatology Advanced Care".
    Say what? Charlie how appointed someone who is essentially a tanning bed attendant to a high paid position in state government?

    4. But there may be more: could the soon-to-be honorable Ms. Gonzalez possibly be related to one Jason Gonzalez, who in turn happens to be Charlie's General Counsel? This legal giant is described in Charlie's press release as follows:
    "During Jason’s 10 years in private practice, he has gained insight and expertise that will serve our state well," said Governor Crist. "He has developed outstanding legal skills as he has represented both private businesses and state and local governments."

    Gonzalez has been an attorney with Ausley and McMullen P.A. since 1998 and is currently general counsel to the Republican Party of Florida. He has served on various judicial nominating commissions and is a member of Leadership Tallahassee Class XXI. He received a bachelor’s degree in finance and a law degree from the University of Florida.
    Surely Gonzalez (Sara, that is) wasn't appointed to the very well paying job of implementing the constitutional rights of Florida's law enforcement officers, fire fighters and other public employees as some sort of patronage appointment?

    This would never happen at Gulliver Academy

    "Four eighth-grade boys were rushed to the hospital Wednesday after they drank too many Redline Energy Drinks to help them be more alert for the FCAT. The boys suffered racing heart beats, light-headedness and were sweating profusely." "Let Kids Be Kids, Even During FCAT".

    "Slight delay"

    "Crist's sweeping proposals to cut greenhouse gases, limit carbon emissions and vastly increase recycling hit a road bump Thursday. But the committee's chairman said it was just a slight delay even as proposed changes offered by interest groups came and went." "Environmental reforms see slight delay".

    "Tiptoeing out on that limb"

    The Tallahassee Democrat editorial board:

    Trusting it's safe to step out on a limb a few inches, we'd like to credit the majority of Florida legislators who stayed away from the private prescreening of a movie Wednesday night — an event that wasn't open to the public and press.

    It was a documentary by pop-culture, self-described intellectual Ben Stein called "Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed," with a plot that challenges mainstream science with regard to evolution.

    But the evening at downtown's IMAX Theater, which was rented out to Mr. Stein's group for $940, was a bust, with only about 100 people attending the movie. And most of those weren't lawmakers who were (tiptoeing out on that limb now) ...
    "Eyes wide open". See also "Legislation may keep evolution debate alive".

    Off topic

    The Daytona Beach News Journal editorial board: "Firing prudence".

    While Florida burns ...

    ... our hardworking geniuses in Tallahassee focus on Florida's most pressing needs, like this: "Sensing an opportunity to send a message to teens walking around with their underwear showing -- and with nobody else willing to act -- state lawmakers leaped into the breach. They were so eager they didn't even bother to wait until the tail end of the session." See also "Bill raises punishment for excessive speed" and "'Swanee's' Swan Song?" ("After winning unanimous approval from a House committee Thursday morning, legislation establishing a new state song received a much colder reception on the Senate side.")

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