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, April 03, 2008

Run on cocktail dresses in Florida

    "A pledge from Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean to seat Florida convention delegates sets a new tone for how the state will be treated and puts pressure on the presidential candidates to find a compromise, party leaders said Wednesday." "Howard Dean reaches out to Florida voters". See the FPC's "Now Do You Believe Us".

    See also "Dean says Florida delegates will be seated at convention", "Dean: 'We believe we'll seat delegation'", "Florida Democrats to be represented at national convention", "DNC chief will seat Fla. delegates, but details up to rivals", "Dean: We'll try to seat state delegates" and "Hope Springs Eternal for Florida Delegates".

    The "hospitality rooms" are all set and ready to go: "Florida has hotel rooms, but no votes yet".

    Choice politics

    "The Florida House on Wednesday mounted what critics called a two-pronged assault on abortion rights, passing legislation that would require pregnant women to undergo ultrasound exams before getting abortions and effectively defining life at conception for criminal prosecutions."

    Remember all the hullaballoo about this bonehead being appointed to fill her husband's position:

    "I can't imagine any man having a surgical procedure without prior tests," Rep. Marti Coley, R-Panama City, said during debate over the ultrasound bill. "As a woman, as a mother, I ask you to support this bill, not to invade privacy, but to ensure that all women are offered safe health care."
    "Florida House votes to require ultrasound before all abortions".

    "The measure, which could amount to the most significant abortion legislation in years, now heads to the Florida Senate where its powerful sponsor, Sen. Dan Webster, R-Winter Garden, said he's confident it will pass." "Abortion vote may add rule". See also "Abortions may require ultrasound" and "Tensions high as Florida House passes bill requiring exams before all abortions".

    "House Democrats said the bill is simply an attempt to throw up a roadblock for women wanting abortions and called it partisan posturing aimed at pleasing the conservative base. They said it was a waste of time when the House should be making more of an effort to find solutions to the budget crisis." "Pre-abortion ultrasound passes".

    Laff riot

    As the AP noted yesterday, "Crist a possible McCain VP?".

    No word yet on the intangibles "fee"

    The courageous RPOFers in Tally are playing word games - repeat to yourself over and over, "fees" are not taxes: "From the courthouse to the college lecture hall to the driver's-license office, Floridians could pay higher fees as part of legislative plans to pump up the state's withering budget. The proposed fees [sic] from the Republican-led Legislature come while lawmakers prepare to slash spending as much as $5 billion in next year's budget." "State could jack up fees".

    Voucher madness

    "While state lawmakers scavenge for dollars to run crucial services, a legislative committee agreed Wednesday to possibly take in $150 million less from corporations over the next five years."

    The money would be diverted away from public schools and toward school vouchers for private secular and religious schools for low-income families.

    The annual $30 million less the state would collect in the corporate taxes could equate to an additional 8,000 children each year receiving the maximum $3,750 Corporate Tax Credit Scholarship to attend private institutions.
    "Corporate voucher program could grow". Go here for more on our taxpayer dollars at work subsidizing private schools (yes, the State pays for this website, and an entire "Office of Independent Education and Parental Choice").

    "The duplicity is too rich not to observe with some awe"

    The St. Petersburg Times editorial board: "Citizens who are fed up with overburdened highways and water restrictions may want to pay close attention to a bill written by Dean Cannon, in line to become speaker of the Florida House in 2010."

    The duplicity is too rich not to observe with some awe. After all, the Florida Legislature doesn't trust mayors and city commissions with their own tax dollars, thinks county property appraisers need to prove the validity of their assessments and could care less whether a school principal deems certain teachers worthy of extra pay. So when a House council considers writing into law that city and county officials should be "presumed to be correct," one has to wonder what has left legislators so smitten.

    The answer is as obvious as the bulldozers and construction cranes that dot the local landscape: developers.

    That's right. In a bill being offered by the House Economic Expansion and Infrastructure Council, lawmakers would turn the 1985 Growth Management Act upside down. The reason the law exists is because cities and counties were giving green lights to almost every developer who wanted to build condo towers or shopping strips. That's why the state is required to make sure that new developments are consistent with city, county and state plans. ...

    Aside from the presumption of correctness, the bill also would: loosen standards for intensive development on existing rural lands, weaken requirements to upgrade overburdened roads before allowing new construction, and give cities and counties three more years to prove their development plans are financially feasible.
    "Bill undermines state growth laws".

    Why do some editorial boards ...

    ... confuse "freedom" with "materialism? In a Miami Herald editorial this morning, with the word with "freedom" in the headline, the lede is "Change is happening in Cuba, but its impact is still uncertain. Under Raúl Castro, the government is lifting some old prohibitions. If they can afford it, ordinary Cubans can now buy what could be sold only to foreigners and top government officials: computers, cellphones, microwaves and other appliances. Cubans may also stay in luxury hotels and rent cars ...". "Thirst for freedom not easily restrained".

    RPOFer "Dark Ages" values

    The Palm Beach Post editorial Board: "heartless, irresponsible state budget cuts proposed in the name of saving $1 billion on health and human services."

    As one nursing home director correctly described the proposed cuts, which would eliminate nursing home staffing requirements, Florida "is going back to the Dark Ages.
    Florida GOPers, lacking any form of leadership from the happy faced Governor, are happy to hammer the helpless as opposed to upsetting "the base", a/k/a "the haves and the have mores".
    Such cuts appeal more to most Republican legislators than drawing new, available revenue by closing sales-tax exemptions and loopholes that benefit non-Florida corporations and the wealthy. Senate Democrats, for example, want to close tax loopholes involving the real-estate transfer tax, which wealthy developers use to avoid paying the state up to $200 million a year; off-shore or out-of-state tax shelters, which corporations use to avoid paying up to $400 million a year in taxes to Florida; and deep-sea fishing charters, which could draw an estimated $65 million.
    "Balance state budget without assaulting poor".

    There's much more: "Threats of early prisoner releases and the potential for bank failures emerged Wednesday as a series of austere spending measures advanced in the Florida Senate as part of the budget-writing process."
    One panel unanimously agreed on a justice system budget that includes eliminating 2,200 positions from the Department of Corrections and 382 from court support staff. ...

    The prison reductions are a powerful bargaining chip to get legislative leaders to allocate more money for the entire justice system, Crist said. That's because the prison cuts could lead to the early release of inmates under a federal court order that prohibits overcrowding.

    The House's $65 billion proposed budget bill for the fiscal year that starts July 1 would cut fewer prison jobs — 900 — but more court support positions — 542. Judges and other elected judicial officials cannot be let go.
    "Corrections, courts are eyed for cuts". See also "Austere budget brings threats of prisoner releases, bank failures". Mike Thomas this morning:
    Florida lawmakers are slashing services to the poor with a rusty sling blade.

    They do that rather than eliminate special-interest tax exemptions for corporations and wealthy residents.

    Evangelical leaders such as Joel Hunter are questioning the morality of a regressive tax system that targets low-income residents, and then hits them with the deepest cuts.

    It's a new twist on injecting Christian ideology into government.
    A lot more here: "Ask yourself: What would Jesus cut?". See also "Proposed cuts could slash hard-won senior funding".

    "Central Florida schools, already bracing to cut hundreds of teaching jobs, were staggered again Wednesday by a Florida Senate school-funding plan that could force even deeper reductions. The Senate proposal earmarks $79 million less for schools than a House plan released earlier this week that led officials in Orange, Seminole and Volusia counties to warn that job cuts were likely." "Schools fear even deeper cuts under state Senate funding plan".

    Mend it, don't end it

    The Senate proposal earmarks $79 million less for schools than a House plan released earlier this week that led officials in Orange, Seminole and Volusia counties to warn that job cuts were likely.".

    "Florida's once-praised system of using tax dollars to help candidates running for statewide office could become political history."

    The Florida House voted Wednesday to scrap the system that offers candidates for governor and state Cabinet posts the chance to tap public financing if they agree to overall spending limits. ...

    The law was designed to curtail the influence of big-money contributors by imposing spending limits and by providing public funds to candidates whose rivals exceeded the spending cap. But critics said it was made toothless by changes that allowed politicians to tap more than $11 million in taxpayer cash in the 2006 elections.

    The Republican-led Legislature voted in 2005 to dramatically raise the ceiling on how much candidates could raise from private givers and still tap taxpayer cash for their campaigns. This allowed Charlie Crist to raise more than $20 million in his 2006 race for governor and still receive $3.3 million in taxpayer money for commercials and campaigning.
    "Campaign aid for candidates faces repeal". See also "House: Let's end public financing of campaigns" and "Florida House votes to nix campaign finance".

    Enough with the hard charging, risk taking, job creating, entrepreneurial crap

    "As Poe insurance companies sank toward insolvency after two record hurricane seasons, Poe family members and managers were not just collecting hefty payments, they were also flexing their political muscle."

    Poe board members and family members gave more than $65,000 to state political candidates during the 2006 election cycle, even as their companies' bottom line plummeted.

    About $38,000 went to the Republican Party of Florida and $6,500 to the Florida Democratic Party.

    About the same time, Poe was paying its own managers and family members more than $100-million in dividends, according to a lawsuit filed Tuesday by the Florida Department of Financial Services.
    "As Poe companies were sinking, leaders fed campaigns".

    Here's the scoop:
    Former Tampa Mayor Bill Poe Sr. and 19 others, including his wife and five children, have been sued by Florida regulators for engaging in what the state alleges was an elaborate scheme to divert more than $140-million from three property insurance companies even as the companies hurtled toward bankruptcy.
    "The suit, filed in Leon County Circuit Court, alleges the managers paid themselves about $143.5-million in dividends during 2004-05, a large portion of that flowing out of the company after its liabilities exceeded its assets."
    The Poe companies were hit with more than $2.5-billion in wind damage claims from the storms of 2004-05 and suffered a net loss of $369-million. Those losses triggered a series of assessments on all Floridians' insurance bills that are still in effect. ...

    Regulators last fall signed off on a 2 percent assessment to cover Poe's debt — the third such levy in the past 16 months. With the latest assessment, which began last month, everyone in Florida who buys homeowners or auto insurance is paying an extra $20 for every $1,000 in premium.
    These folks apparently never missed a meal (at the country club)
    The suit alleges that top Poe executives on dozens of occasions transferred millions of dollars out of the insurance operation in the form of dividends and capital contributions to top executives and Poe family members. Bill Poe Sr. alone accounted for a total of $25-million in dividends.
    Being born a Poe apparently a great way to, as the RPOFers put it,"achieve" in life.

    What can one say in response to all this? Anything but this would be a good start:
    "I lost every dollar of profit I ever made in Wilma."
    "Florida sues Poe family over insurance companies' finances". As in Hurricane "Wilma".

    Mpre from The Tampa Tribune editorial board: "To Preserve Legacy, Bill Poe Should Address Charges Soon".

    For background on folks like Poe and his family, see Thorstein Veblen's "The Theory of the Leisure Class". Veblen, believe it or not, was an economics professor at the University of Chicago (before Milton Friedman was invented*). You can read it online or download Veblen's 1899 classic for free at "Project Gutenberg". For more on these startling notions, see "Conspicuous consumption" and "Conspicuous Leisure".
    - - - - - - - - - -

    *(By the way, greed guru Friedman never won a Nobel Prize as is falsely claimed by the wingnuts who worship his worship of money; rather Friedman was handed something from a Swedish bank called the "Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel", and that, according to the folks who invented the award decidedly "is not a Nobel Prize.")

    This website could just as easily ... hell, let's just do it, invent an award called the "World Prize in Economic, Social Political Justice in Memory of Alfred Nobel". And the 2008 award goes to ... any suggestions, err... nominations?

    But the damage FAU's stature is incalcuable

    "The expenses, which were paid for with private donations and $25,000 from the FAU Foundation, include thousands of dollars for security, food, décor, and $1,200 in Port-O-Lets." "FAU spent $200,000 hosting GOP debate".


    The Palm Beach Post editorial Board: "Why would a member of Palm Beach County's legislative delegation want to force the county to approve a landowner's plan for a 3,000-home community? Sen. Larcenia Bullard, D-Miami, voted last week for Senate Bill 2246, which would give Callery-Judge Grove in central-western Palm Beach County protection from local opposition. She was on the losing end of a 4-2 vote, but the bill will be reconsidered today." "Rigged development deck".

    Daniel Ruth ...

    ... has the latest on "state Sen. Ronda Storms, R-Tammy Faye Bakker Only Without The Sense Of Whimsy". See "Her 'Academic Freedom'? Not Free, Just Dumb".

    Foreclosure World

    "Palm Beach County foreclosure filings cooled a bit from February to March, but remained well above 2007 levels, according to the Palm Beach County Clerk and Comptroller's Office." "PBC foreclosures dip but still top 2007 figures".

    FCAT Follies

    "The FCAT, used to measure schools' achievement, could become just one of several factors used to grade state high schools under a bill that's cleared the Senate and is waiting for House action." "Proposed bill would limit FCAT score's impact on Florida high schools' grades".

    Potential disaster for Floridians

    "A federal appeals court in Atlanta has denied the News-Journal Corp.'s last challenge in the dispute over the value of the shares held by its minority partner, Cox Enterprises. Now that the appeal is over, the News-Journal Corp. is left with two basic options:"

    Pay Cox the $129 million set by the court for its 47.5 percent share.

    Move for a court sale of the 79-year-old family-owned newspaper company.
    "Court denies rehearing on News-Journal value".


    "For three years, lawmakers have tried to establish an automatic system for compensating the wrongly imprisoned so they might avoid the bureaucratic tangle Crotzer and others have had to navigate. But once again, a solution is elusive."

    The central problem is over some lawmakers' insistence that automatic payments wouldn't apply to anyone with a prior felony conviction, a measure that would have barred Crotzer [for the 24 years he spent in prison for a double rape he did not commit. DNA evidence exonerated him in 2006.].
    The rules are always different in Florida: "No other state requires such a 'clean hands' provision for restitution."
    But Florida Republicans, who control the House and Senate, insist on such a requirement.
    "Twenty-two states and the District of Columbia "
    have laws that have resulted in payments to nearly half of the 215 prisoners who have been exonerated since the first DNA case in 1989.

    None preclude people with prior felonies.

    "It makes us a leader in compensation but in all the wrong ways," said Seth Miller, staff attorney for the Innocence Project of Florida. "It's ridiculous."
    "Compensation bill stalling". The "values crowd" in action yet again.

    Runnin' government like a business

    "DCF officials have no choice but to implement safeguards that will prevent abuse of public funds in the future. It seems very clear that, wrongdoing or not, DCF's oversight policies appear lax." "DCF needs better financial controls".


    "Two weeks after scaling back a plan to put wind turbines on Hutchinson Island, Florida Power & Light Co. officials released a survey Wednesday attesting to what they say is broad support across St. Lucie County for the more modest proposal." "Survey supports turbines, FPL says".".

    Lobbyists now recruiting children who can sing

    "Broward Democrats waging an uphill battle against the powerful insurance industry to mandate coverage for autistic children have a new ally: Republican Gov. Charlie Crist. Crist this week made a surprise appearance at a Senate committee where the bill by Senate Democratic Leader Steve Geller, of Cooper City, was scheduled for a vote. The governor had been monitoring the meeting on the Capitol's closed circuit television, and decided to appear after he heard the singing of an autistic child" "Gov. Charlie Crist backs mandatory insurance for autism".

    Yeah ... he was just "great"

    Clay Shaw "a former Fort Lauderdale mayor who represented Broward and Palm Beach counties in Congress for 26 years, received the award from Gov. Charlie Crist, who praised him as 'a truly great Floridian' and a 'champion of the Everglades.'" "State panel honors former U.S. Rep. Clay Shaw as a Great Floridian".


    "Don't expect to get free ice any longer from the federal government after a hurricane, FEMA's boss said Wednesday." "FEMA boss Paulison, of Davie, to leave at end of Bush's term".

    Lotharios in the Legislature's cross hairs

    "Laws aimed at protecting victims of domestic violence would be extended to victims of dating violence under a bill passed by the House." "Dating violence in focus".

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