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 Saturday, April 12, 2008

This is your RPOF

    Florida's RPOF in action:

    -- "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". Sounds like a tax to me.

    -- "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 Palm Beach Post editors: "Florida will have Take Your Gun To Work Day because Republicans want John McCain to be president."
    Twice before, the National Rifle Association demanded that the Legislature prevent private businesses from making their property firearms-free. Both times, the NRA failed. But this election year, 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".

    Horror feature: "A Republican dentist from Umatilla"

    "House lawmakers have rewritten a proposal allowing science teachers to question or contradict the theory of evolution in class. The changes, they say, will ensure it doesn't usher religious proselytizing into public schools."

    As first introduced, the "Academic Freedom Act" from House sponsor Alan Hays and Senate sponsor Ronda Storms protects teachers who present "scientific information relevant to the full range of scientific views regarding biological and chemical evolution in connection with teaching any prescribed curriculum regarding chemical or biological origins."
    "On Friday, Hays introduced an amendment during a House Schools and Learning Council meeting that struck out nearly all of the bill's original language."
    In its place, the bill requires that instructional staff in public schools provide students with "a thorough presentation and critical analysis of the scientific theory of evolution."

    Hays, a Republican dentist from Umatilla, said afterward the change is significant.
    "School Science Bill Evolves To Squelch Religion Angle". See also "It would be ludicrous for Legislature to undercut evolution decision" (RPOF "Lawmakers are determined to embarrass Florida by injecting themselves into an already settled debate over teaching evolution in public schools.")

    $7,000-a-month ... what a bargain

    "Incoming Senate President Jeff Atwater has named a well-connected South Florida businessman, Robert 'Budd' Kneip, as Senate chief of staff to run day-to-day operations starting in November."

    Atwater, R-North Palm Beach, took the unusual step of putting Kneip on the Senate payroll April 1 at a $7,000-a-month salary, seven months before he's scheduled to move into the president's suite. Kneip's duties until then: learn the legislative process and assist with the transition. Before Atwater takes the reins of the Senate, however, he first must win what's expected to be a tough, costly re-election campaign against former Fort Lauderdale Sen. Skip Campbell, a Democrat.

    Florida's Democratic Party pounced on Kneip's appointment and his monthly salary.

    "The state's in a recession … and Atwater is wasting thousands in taxpayer dollars every month on a professional outsourcer with zero legislative experience?" said party spokesman Mark Bubriski, referring to Kneip's background as president of The Oasis Group, a business outsourcing company.
    "Incoming Florida Senate president Jeff Atwater names South Florida businessman as next Senate chief of staff".

    "Anywhere but the Glades"

    "In September 2000, The Post reported on the deplorable quality of public water in the communities around Lake Okeechobee. It has taken almost eight years, but that public health threat is nearly gone."

    Last week, South Bay became the first town to get water from the county's new regional treatment plant. Belle Glade is scheduled to start next Friday and Pahokee by May 2, after meters and pipes have been upgraded. If a new water plant doesn't seem like a big deal, consider that last May federal scientists warned pregnant women in the Glades towns to avoid the water because of cancer-causing chemicals known as trihalomethanes. ...

    Had this moral outrage been happening anywhere but the Glades, it would have been dealt with years ago. There have been many proposals for raising the standard of living in the Glades. With the simple arrival of safe water, the standard of living has been raised.
    "Third World no longer".

    strong>Courageous stand

    "Robbing the Florida Forever land program makes no sense".

    Budget blues

    Here's a shocker: "Foster children don't have as much clout in Florida's Capitol as the Tampa Bay Rays. Dying hospice patients on Medicaid don't have as much clout as the Miami Dolphins." "Florida's strained budget is testing pro sports' muscle".

    Do your research dopey: "The problem is Florida does not have any Atocha booty. Salvor Mel Fisher fought efforts by the state and federal governments to seize the treasure and won his case in the U.S. Supreme Court." "Deep-sixed: pirate booty to state budget".

    "Cuts to education and health care will hit Southwest Florida hard as lawmakers hunker down to iron out their budget differences over the next several weeks." "State budgets differ, but both bring cuts".

    And the winner is ...

    Even the Tampa Tribune editorial board concedes that "there is never any shortage of arrogance in the Florida Legislature,"

    but Sen. Charles Dean, an Inverness Republican, may offer the most presumptuous bill of the session.
    See what they mean here: "Legislation Buries Public, Resources".

    As Rome burns ...

    "Hundreds of thousands of Floridians who drive every day on suspended and revoked licenses, or without any license at all, could soon get a break from the state Legislature." "Bill eases up on drivers with suspended licenses".

    The old "task force" copout

    Not exactly raw political courage: "The Florida Springs Stewardship Task Force would study existing data on major threats to the state's 33 largest springs and develop ways to address those threats. It also would look for ways to fund its recommendations. The task force would make a report to the Legislature by January." "Legislature looks at protecting springs with task force".

    >That "free market" thing ...

    The Trib editors write this morning that "after two hurricane-free years, the [insurance] companies have recorded record profits and still ask for more. Even those of us who have long advocated free markets to control costs are sick of it." "Allstate's Surrender May Give State Long-Awaited Answers".

    "Fasano can't shrug his shoulders so easily."

    The St Petersburg Times editors: "Not every Florida lawmaker may appreciate the conflict presented by a county property appraiser who puts a value on his or her own land. But those who represent Pinellas County have no excuse, which is why Sen. Mike Fasano can't shrug his shoulders so easily." "No more Jim Smith episodes, please".


    As we noted yesterday afternoon, "Dictator's grandson resigns from Florida Supreme Court". Raoul G. Cantero III a "Jeb!" appointee to the Florida Supreme Court, is the maternal grandson of brutal Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista.

    One of two Bush conservatives on the court, Cantero disagreed with the majority of his colleagues in a 2006 decision overturning a law allowing tax dollars to pay for vouchers to private and religious schools.
    To his credit, "Cantero also could be unpredictably independent."
    He blasted a Bush privatization measure, in which private attorneys with little-to-no criminal law experience were being hired to replace public defenders for death row inmates. Cantero called their performance some of "the worst lawyering I've seen."

    He joined his colleagues in 2005 to unanimously overturn Bush and the Legislature's law reinserting a tube into Terri Schiavo.
    "First Hispanic justice resigns from state Supreme Court".

    How does "Justice Hawkes" sound to you?

    Charlie may need to burnish his wingnut bona fides if he wants to stay in the VP hunt. Consider:

    Whom Crist chooses to replace Cantero, a Gov. Jeb Bush appointee, will take on much greater significance. The search comes as the governor is frequently mentioned as a possible vice presidential running mate for Sen. John McCain.

    On top of that
    , "it's not entirely Crist's decision to make."
    He must choose from a group of three to six finalists recommended by a nine-member Judicial Nominating Commission. The members include Howard Coker, a former leader of the trial bar; Robert Hackleman, a law partner of Crist's former chief of staff, George LeMieux; and Jason Unger, a longtime Republican activist whose wife Karen ran Jeb Bush's 2002 re-election campaign.
    Not a lot of Clarence Darrows in that group.

    Perhaps they can come to a consensus for Charlie, though? How about a brilliant jurist like Paul Hawkes, who was handed an appointment to the First DCA by Jebbie; in connection with that promotion, the St Pete Times editors wrote:
    No other governor since Claude R. Kirk Jr., more than 30 years ago, has had or even sought the opportunity that Jeb Bush now possesses to manipulate Florida's courts. The Legislature has allowed him to name all the members of the judicial nominating commissions, a power previously shared with the Florida Bar and with the commissions themselves. Evidence is now in on what a mistake that was. Exhibit A: the appointment this week of Paul Hawkes to the 1st District Court of Appeal.

    The judges there should be legal scholars foremost, politicians last if at all. In picking Hawkes, Bush got it backward.

    Hawkes is a former state representative who has spent the last two years as chief of policy for the speaker's office, for which he had been a consultant in 1997 and 1998. In those roles, he actively promoted much of Bush's agenda. Former Speakers Tom Feeney* and John Thrasher, close allies of the governor, led Hawkes' list of references.
    "Backward choice in Hawkes". Sounds like a plan.

    "Voice of the People Act"?

    The St Pete Times editors: "Under the Vox Populi or Voice of the People Act (HB 991, SB 2276), Florida's generous sunshine laws would be expanded to include the right of residents to speak at local government meetings on both agenda and nonagenda items. They would also be able to pull items off a consent agenda and have them considered separately. And rather than be shunted to the end of a long public meeting, the public would be invited to speak on any topic for at least 15 minutes at the start. No one would be allocated less than three minutes to speak." "Power to the people".

    May I see your "papers"?

    The News-Journal editors: "Nearly half of the government employees approached during the audit denied, delayed or otherwise blocked requests for records that, by law, should have been readily accessible. Officials improperly demanded names and addresses of people making records requests, refused to accept requests that weren't in writing or flat-out said no." "Shining the light on records".

    More corporate welfare

    "Buoyed by support from Central Florida politicians and business leaders, a House council moved forward a bill that eventually would allow the state to seal a controversial deal with CSX Transportation to build a commuter rail system in the Orlando area."

    Although those on both sides of the debate agree they want better mass transit in Central Florida, critics have raised questions about several aspects of the deal, including the fact that it was hatched largely behind closed doors without input from the public.

    They also raise questions about a provision that would put liability for any railroad accidents and most of the maintenance costs on Florida taxpayers, even though CSX would continue to use the tracks for longer, heavier freight trains.
    "Slowly, Bumpily, CSX Deal Rolls On". See also "Commuter rail plan advances amid angst" and "House panel OKs plan to boost rail".

    "The House Economic Expansion and Infrastructure Council on Friday advanced a bill that limits the railroad's liability for accidents on the 61-mile rail line through Orlando that the state is buying for commuter rail. It also sets up a $200 million fund from which the state would pay victims of any accidents." "Measure limits CSX's liability in case of commuter-rail crashes".


    "With some of them seeking to take the steam out of movements like Florida Hometown Democracy, state lawmakers want to give the public more input when developments are proposed." "Public may get bigger voice in development".

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