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 Sunday, April 13, 2008

If we just close our eyes and wish ...

    ... Florida will turn into mega-hub of high-tech jobs.

    The Palm Beach Post editorial Board: "The opening of Cytonics Inc., the first for-profit tenant in a Jupiter biotechnology laboratory building, is a tiny step toward a giant future. Cytonics never may become a billion-dollar corporation. But its presence is the first private-sector acknowledgement here of the world-class research and development drawn by subsidy to Florida." "Shift state biotech push to for-profit companies".

    Do the editors really believe that world-class research and development drawn to a state that ... well let's pretend last week didn't happen:

    -- "Under a bill heading toward the Senate floor, a woman not only would have to watch live images of the ultrasound, or sign a form declining to, she would have to pay for the procedure even if she doesn't watch it." "Abortion bills target women's wallets".

    -- "Honk if you love Jesus. It might become more than just a bumper sticker in Florida. The Florida Legislature may create a new license plate that features the words ''I Believe'' and the image of a cross in front of a church stained glass window. The measure is moving in both the House and Senate." "Lawmaker wants 'I believe' license plates".

    -- The NRA (not the Chamber of Commerce (egads!)) is in the "drivers' seat in Tally): "Legislature OKs workplace gun bill" "Soon, 500,000 Floridians can take guns to work".After all, "with most NRA members likely McCain voters, the bill whizzed through. Gov. Crist, who for weeks has paid more attention to Sen. McCain than to Florida, will sign it because 'people being protected is most important to me.'" "NRA in driver's seat".

    -- And the monster: the Florida legislature is still debating ... um ... evolution. "It would be ludicrous for Legislature to undercut evolution decision" ("Lawmakers are determined to embarrass Florida by injecting themselves into an already settled debate over teaching evolution in public schools.")

    "Martinez is in the cellar"

    "The latest Quinnipiac poll notes that ... 49 percent approve of Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson's performance and 25 percent disapprove, while Republican Sen. Mel Martinez is in the cellar. Thirty-six percent approve of Martinez's performance and 37 percent disapprove." "Martinez loses ratings game".

    And the candidate is? Betty Castor?

    Might it all just be ... 'ya know ... BS?

    "Despite promises to avoid raising property taxes that pay for schools, a plan from state House Republicans would hit property owners in Palm Beach, Miami-Dade, Hillsborough and 17 other counties with tax increases, according to a Palm Beach Post analysis."

    The House education budget calls for a total of $8 billion in property taxes to be collected from Florida's 67 counties. That's the same amount as this year, which is how Republican leaders explain their pledge to hold property taxes steady.

    But the analysis shows that because lawmakers give little consideration to individual counties when setting the budget and do not have to take into account the same factors as cities and counties when setting their tax rates, property owners in 20 counties would pay more taxes next year under the House plan.
    "Property tax plan may lead to hikes"..

    "Cone of death"

    Randy Schultz: "The federal government determined that Bear Stearns, a company once worth $15 billion, was too big to fail."

    So, wouldn't the federal government also determine that a state worth about $700 billion is too big to fail?

    A state like, say, Florida?
    Schultz calls it "Florida's potential subprime crisis"
    In Florida, a catastrophic hurricane season is our potential subprime problem. It wouldn't sink us, but it would be a damaging torpedo, coming after 2004 and 2005. What would the feds do?

    Florida's economy in 2006 was $713''billion, or about 50 Bear Stearnses. Even in 2006, when the real-estate bubble burst in late summer, this state's gross domestic product increased at a faster rate than the nation's. If Washington didn't abandon the Gulf Coast after Katrina, Washington wouldn't abandon Florida. The problem in Florida is that homeowners pay for hurricane insurance based on the idea that Washington wouldn't help. We are overpaying for what won't happen.

    Reps. Klein and Mahoney want to change that. Their bill would create a system under which the federal government would help pay catastrophic insurance claims not with direct payments but through government-backed bonds. States would qualify for the program by having their own first levels of repayment, as Florida does with the Hurricane Catastrophe Fund. ...

    In the Midwest, it's been a bad year for floods. The federal flood insurance program, which Midwestern politicians support, is $18 billion in debt because policies are subsidized to make them cheap. The Midwest allowed a lot of building near rivers. Hmm. Sounds like Bear Stearns-type gambling. Florida is storm-proofing homes. So, why is there disaster insurance for the flood zone but not the hurricane zone?
    Schultz writes that it really is a
    simple concept, except to McCain.
    Read it all here: "Cone of death as worthy as loans of death".

    When country clubbers say "jump!"

    The Sentinel editorial board says "how high?" "Seven of Florida's nine U.S. House Democrats, including Orlando Rep. Corrine Brown, put partisan politics above the interests of their country and constituents in voting to shelve the U.S. free trade agreement with Colombia." Get this?

    But because President George W. Bush badly wants the deal approved, and union leaders want it buried, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi resorted to a parliamentary maneuver to block a vote.

    So who are those Florida Democrats really representing?
    "Our position: It's disappointing the most state Democrats voted against trade pact".

    At least the dopes don't call them union "bosses". By the way,

    Poor Devos family

    "Florida House members voted Wednesday night for a Democratic amendment that bans the state from giving tax subsidies next year for professional sports franchises, including the Magic and the Houston Astros' spring-training ballpark in Osceola County. Last month, Orlando closed on the first in a series of bond sales to pay for the $480 million arena. The $31.8 million in bonds are to be repaid with state sales taxes, thanks to a 14-year-old tax break meant to keep professional sports teams in Florida. The city already has the bond money. But the investors who bought the bonds could be out of luck if the House measure survives, city officials said." "House vote could jeopardize bonds for Orlando Magic arena".

    Daniel Ruth

    Ruth notes, among many things this morning, that "presumptive Republican presidential nominee John McCain announcing he was going to seek the counsel of former Gov. Jeb Bush on education issues, ... would be like seeking out Uday and Qusay [Hussein] for advice on how to pick up women". "A Femme Fatale, McCain And The Trigger-Happy Steal The Spotlight".

    Revenue Cap

    "The third time may be the charm, or it could be a strikeout, for a proposed state constitutional amendment that would cap state and local taxes, fees and other revenues. The Taxation and Budget Reform Commission will take it up again Monday after twice delaying a vote. The panel ran out of time at each of it's last two meetings after spending hours hearing what officials, lobbyists and taxpayers - mostly taxpayers - had to say about the proposal that could chop billions of dollars from government budgets." "Tax Panel Tries To Put Revenue Cap On Ballot, Again".

    Imagine that: "election-year distinctions about political ideology"

    The Tallahassee Democrat editorial board: "Bitter divisions among Florida lawmakers over the state budget this session no doubt mirror the distress of many Florida families that are concerned about their own domestic well-being during this economic downturn. So it is important, as down-to-the-wire negotiations get under way this week, that a real effort be made to resolve differences in the interest of all Floridians, rather than to continue making election-year distinctions about political ideology." "Fiscal heartburn".

    "Tough new citizenship exam"

    "A tough new citizenship exam asks applicants what year the Constitution was written and what Benjamin Franklin did. But according to some of the men and women who passed, examiners could stump aspiring Americans by asking them how hundreds of superdelegates could end up choosing the Democratic Party's presidential nominee." "South Florida's new citizens put their faith in superdelegates".

    FCAT follies

    The South Florida Sun-Sentinel editorial board insists on giving the FCAT credit where there is no evidence that the FCAT qua FCAT has done anything to improve education. See "FCAT has some merits".

    Two can play that game

    "Under fire for inviting an anti-embargo congressman to a campaign fundraiser, Democrat Joe Garcia sought to turn the tables Friday, assailing his Republican rival for accepting campaign contributions from companies with ties to the Cuban government." "Garcia blasts Diaz-Balart ties".

    "A little leverage"

    "What's another buck, more or less, when you're talking about 65 billion of them? For the House and Senate budget negotiators who start next week to seek compromises on Florida's state spending, the difference of only $1 means a little leverage. It puts five issues of children's health and social services on the bargaining table, in case lightning strikes in the final three weeks of the 2008 legislative session." "Ausley: $1 allows budget debate".


    Lucy Morgan: "Many government employees do their jobs, retire with benefits and return to government service in another capacity. No harm there. But when a highly paid employee 'retires,' only to return to the same job soon after to collect both pay and pension, that has a bad odor wafting all around it." "Double dip, a tip and me".

    Perhaps if our "delusional Governor" showed a little leadership ...

    "Crist is campaigning hard around the state for his health insurance plan, aimed at offering coverage to 3.8 million uninsured Floridians."

    But fellow Republicans in the Legislature are intent on budget cuts that health-care officials say will add tens of thousands of people to the uninsured.

    With legislators headed into final budget negotiations, the second-year governor's characteristic sunny optimism is clanging against a sour economic picture that threatens to undermine his election-year agenda.
    "Although Crist's health insurance plan carries little public cost, it has become ensnared in the budget battle." Charlie is of course AWOL on how Florida will raise the funds it needs to fund his "his election-year agenda"

    Indeed, and in apparent recognition of Charlie's irrelevance (and abject inability to make a tough decision), the adults are treating Charlie like the addled uncle in the attic that he apparently is:
    From his climate-change proposals to opposition to tuition increases and support of pay raises for state employees, Crist is getting battered by a Legislature focused chiefly on Florida's bottom line. ...

    "We like the guy, but we don't have a printing press for money," said Senate Minority Leader Steve Geller, D-Cooper City. "Anybody's initiatives that cost money just aren't getting passed."
    Oh wait, Charlie does have a plan:
    to ease the $3 billion in budget cuts — and breathe life into his stalled agenda.

    Crist plans to renew his pitch for a central element of his budget proposal — diverting $400 million from the multibillion-dollar Lawton Chiles Endowment Fund into endangered health programs.

    The fund draws money from the state's 1998 settlement with tobacco companies reached under the Democratic governor. In January, Crist said he spoke with Chiles' widow, Rhea, who gave her approval to using the money for health and human services this year.
    "Gov. Crist tries to insure more Floridians as legislators cut health programs".

    Check out Charlie in action: "Crist makes pitch for new Rays' stadium". Is Charlie "as savvy a political analyst as they come", as Adam Smith proclaims, or is he about to crash and burn. Time will tell.

    "A very different reality"

    "In January, Gov. Charlie Crist broke with tradition and gave the press a sneak peek at his eye-popping proposal to increase public school spending by $1 billion. The move was timed to help Crist sell a $9.3 billion property-tax cut to voters and answer critics who warned about the cost to education."

    A very different reality comes crashing down this week when the House and Senate begin negotiating a $65 billion-plus budget that could slash education next year by as much as $298 million.
    "Florida public schools face major budget cuts".

    'Ya reckon?

    The St. Petersburg Times editorial board: "No myth: Cuts will hurt".

    Bloody Bill

    The Palm Beach Post editorial Board: "Abolishing the Electoral College, however, would mean amending the Constitution. Even if the idea got through Congress, it could mean redebating issues of the 18th century as the states decide whether to ratify it. Maybe Sen. Nelson can work on this after he persuades his own party to work out a compromise on convention delegates." "Is it 2000? Or 1787?". The The Miami Herald editorial board: "Primary system needs an overhaul".

    Count 'em

    "Nearly eight years after the chaotic 2000 presidential election, the state's top elections official wants to make sure all ballots are counted by hand the next time there's a close contest." "Official says Florida should manually recount all close votes".


    "In January 2007, about a dozen prominent Tampa Democrats gathered for lunch at the ritzy Palm Restaurant at the invitation of Miami lobbyist and businessman Chris Korge, the top Florida fundraiser for Bill and Hillary Rodham Clinton. The goal was to make sure they were all onboard for the coming Hillary Clinton presidential campaign. One invitee, not surprisingly, was Frank Sanchez, a former Clinton administration official. 'Before I could even get my introduction out,' Sanchez said, "one of the people there reminded me that I'd had two presidential appointments," implying he owed a debt of loyalty to the Clintons. But Sanchez, long active in Democratic politics, was about to take the biggest gamble of his political life." "Gamble On Obama May Pay Off".

    Leftover cause

    "Jack Davis has accomplished a feat few can match: He's poised to get a Florida law named after him. The six-grader's cause: Making it easier for restaurants to donate their leftover food to homeless shelters and charities. Jack, of Coconut Grove, started writing letters to lawmakers after a family vacation last summer in Tennessee, where a hotel manager told him the leftovers at a breakfast buffet would be thrown away." "Bill to help feed hungry named after 11-year-old advocate from Coconut Grove".

    Paul supporters collide with the RPOF

    "The push to put Paul supporters into GOP leadership roles is a byproduct of the energy generated by the candidacy of Paul, a Texas congressman whose policies are sometimes at odds with more traditional Republican leaders."

    Orange County Republican Chairman Lew Oliver led a move to block a group of Paul supporters from becoming precinct captains at this month's party meeting.Oliver said that some of Paul's supporters want to turn the local party into a "debate society" that spends too much time on "ludicrous resolutions" instead of focusing on electing candidates in the upcoming election.

    "It's an extraordinarily disruptive influence," Oliver said of Paul's local backers.

    A similar fight played out recently in Pasco County. The county Republican chief there called on Paul supporters to pledge loyalty to the party in front of the group's members.

    State Party Chairman Jim Greer said similar struggles are occurring in other Florida counties and states. But, for now, it's not a major concern, he said.
    "Ron Paul loyalists, state Republicans at odds".

    "Open primaries?"

    "State Rep. Rick Kriseman, D-St. Petersburg and State Sen. Paula Dockery, R-Lakeland, have filed bills (HB 1189 and SB 2726) to open Florida's primaries and let unaffiliated voters weigh in on the presidential choices. There's little enthusiasm so far from legislative leaders, and Crist sounded ambivalent. 'It wouldn't offend me,' he said of the idea." "Should Florida hold open primaries?"

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