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, May 11, 2008

"Potential Democratic landslide this fall"

    With emphasis on the "potential"

    "In the face of a potential Democratic landslide this fall, Florida's Republican legislators picked carefully which issues to champion, which debates to avoid." Here's the outlook:
    This fall's elections could change the dynamics of the state Legislature. All 120 House seats will be up for grabs, as they are every two years. Almost a quarter cannot run for re-election because of term limits. Republicans dominate the House, but Democrats hope to pick up at least three seats.

    Half of the 40 Senate districts will be up for election this fall. Of the 13 running for re-election, eight are Republicans, five Democrats. Political observers say Democrats could gain one seat.
    GOP state legislators careful in election year".

    RPOFer "Anti-government ideology vs. common sense"

    Randy Schultz: "It hasn't sunk in to Florida's legislators that the state can't sell just sunshine anymore."

    Visionary legislators would have kept their eye on 2019 even as they cut the 2009 budget. Instead, these legislators cobbled together a budget for next year and prayed that things will get better in 12 months. Let's look at what will have happened by then.
    The editors continue:
    At some of Florida's key institutions, dry rot is setting in because of the state's neglect. University degrees are being drained of value. Career prosecutors are leaving state attorneys' offices because they can't expect the modest raise that would be enough to keep them on the job. As the state invests nearly $1 billion in biotechnology, legislators were trying to make denial of the theory of evolution state policy. As the state encourages innovative forms of energy, legislators were letting people bring guns to work. As legislators were cutting so many items that raise up society, they were adding prison beds, even in this historically tough budget year.

    It is anti-government ideology vs. common sense. Is Florida Over? Only if this ideology prevails.
    "Signs of Florida dry rot: UF down, prisons up".

    Is "Purer" really the way you want to put it?

    Mary Anne Lindley has passed a cup of her kool aid to John Kennedy and Aaron Deslatte, and the result is this: "They're not out founding grandfathers, but . . . Back when big state changes were purer".

    Just another RPOFer empty suit

    The St. Petersburg Times's Deputy Editor of Editorials, Tim Nickens
    "On the front page of the New York Times last week, Gov. Charlie Crist succinctly summed up his approach to governing: 'I'm supposed to respond to the people and try to make them happy.'"

    And the governor tries really hard.

    Gasoline prices too high? Crist proposes suspending the state gas tax for two weeks in July, which caught the attention of the New York Times.

    Property insurance too expensive? Crist promotes the expansion of the underfunded state-run Citizens Property Insurance Corp. and a freeze on premiums.

    Property taxes too much? Crist persuades voters to approve a constitutional amendment to expand the homestead exemption and make Save Our Homes benefits transferable to new homes.

    At this rate, we should expect the governor to provide all-you-can-eat ice cream to combat the summer heat. But that would be just as likely to give you a headache as the other quick fixes.
    "It's way too early to talk about a Crist legacy. But there ought to be more to it than gas tax suspensions, insurance premium freezes and tax cuts."
    But after two regular legislative sessions as governor, it's hard to see where Crist has spent his political capital on long-term solutions to the state's most pressing problems. Now his job approval ratings have dropped from the unsustainable stratosphere to the merely high. One wonders whether he will become even more reluctant to tell voters anything they don't want to hear after his term hits the half-way point and he starts thinking about re-election in 2010.
    "Master of quick fixes".

    Nickens observes that there ought to be more "than gas tax suspensions, insurance premium freezes and tax cuts*." But hasn't RPOFer policy over the last decade been little more than that, together with massive (failed) privatization schemes, vouchers for religious schools, shilling for Batista-worshippers, FCAT follies, attacking government employees (recall the gutting of civil service), eliminating intangibles taxes on the wealthy, and ... oh yeah ... the failed attempt to have State LEOs seize Terri Schiavo from her hospice bed, only to be rebuffed by local lawmen.

    Are we missing something? The same old RPOFer nonesense.

    - - - - - - - - - -
    *Let's not forget to give Charlie credit for at least mouthing a few green words, but more importantly, for his role in the restoration of felons' right to vote; the restoration process needs tweaking, but Crist deserves complete credit for that.

    Amendment folly

    "On Nov. 4, voters will confront another nine constitutional amendments."

    Three placed on the ballot by the TBRC -- one swapping a sales-tax increase for $9.5 billion in school property taxes, and two others reversing court rulings that invalidated Gov. Jeb Bush's school-voucher programs -- are expected to draw major opposition from business and education groups.

    The Florida Education Association could decide Friday whether to challenge the voucher questions in court, and industry groups have discussed suing to block the tax swap from reaching voters.
    "This all leads somewhere".

    A "poll tax" by any other name

    The Miami Herald editorial board: "For more than a half century, the U.S. Supreme Court interpreted voting law in a way that encouraged voting and access to the polls. But no longer. The court's recent ruling in an Indiana voter-identification case reversed the modern court's role as a champion of voting rights. Instead, the conservative-majority court* has swung to the other side. This court is doing what states once did: making it more difficult for citizens to participate in their democracy."

    The Indiana case presented the Supreme Court with an easy choice. It could follow legal precedent established with the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which outlawed poll taxes, literacy tests and other barriers that states -- mostly Southern -- erected to suppress votes, especially of African Americans. The other option was for the court to support Indiana's restrictive law that requires voters to have a government-issued photo ID. Regrettably, the court chose the latter in a 6-3 vote.
    "Indiana had passed the photo-ID law in 2005, ostensibly to prevent voter fraud even though there was no documented evidence that voter fraud actually was a problem."
    On the other hand, there was plenty of evidence that the strict photo-ID requirement will be difficult for some people, especially the elderly, the disabled and some segments of Hispanic and black populations. It is true that for most people, producing a photo-ID isn't a problem. But a retired or disabled person who doesn't drive will find that getting an official ID can be difficult.

    Many states issue official photo IDs to nondrivers, but getting one of these requires having a passport, birth certificate or other document that some people don't have. For these people, getting that government-issued photo-ID will be time-consuming and costly. No doubt, some won't bother to try to get one, or will give up in frustration.

    This is the kind of obstacle that the 1965 voting-rights law was designed to erase. For more than a century, states had suppressed the black vote by requiring special fees, poll taxes, literacy tests, etc. They gerrymandered districts, established primaries for whites only and created many hurdles to prevent blacks from voting.
    And catch the hubris of this crackpot, who you might expect has never ridden a bus in his life:
    During oral arguments in January, Chief Justice John Roberts** indicated how indifferent the high court's majority was to voters who might find the photo-ID requirement difficult. He said that it wasn't ''very far'' for a voter who had to travel 17 miles by bus to get government-issued photo-ID.
    "Court makes a U-turn on voting rights".

    Recall that "Twenty-five states including Florida require some form of ID, and the court's 6-3 decision rejecting a challenge to Indiana's strict law could encourage others to adopt their own measures."

    - - - - - - - - - -
    *A pet peeve: folks often forget that seven of the nine Justices were appointed by Republicans. There is no "liberal" wing on the Court; indeed there is arguably not a single "liberal" on the Court.

    **After all, Roberts' "father was an executive with Bethlehem Steel", and lil' Johnnie likely wasn't spending a lot of time riding buses.

    Same old

    The Daytona Beach News-Journal editorial board writes that "halfway through the Taxation and Budget Reform Commission's yearlong function, it became obvious its members weren't concentrating on reforming the state's broken-down tax system or addressing the state budget. Instead, they pursued political and ideological agendas, such as diverting public education dollars to private institutions and expanding faith-based programs in state prisons." "State constitutional panel lost sight of its mission".

    At least read the stuff

    The Tampa Tribune editorial board: "All too frequently, lawmakers use a strike-all amendment to substitute new language - often a completely different topic - that's never been heard in committee or presented for public comment."

    Sometimes a strike-all amendment simply cleans up grammar or typos. But other times, especially on huge packages like the transportation bill, growth management and affordable-housing package, the changes are significant. Yet because there's no time to read, lawmakers must trust the bill's sponsor to disclose any changes and their impacts.

    At a minimum, political leaders should ensure members have time to read the legislation on which they're being asked to vote.
    "Strike The Strike-All Amendments".


    "'We are going to be more important than ever. The Hispanic vote of this nation is going to be more energized, it's going to be more numerous and it's going to be more important than ever before,' U.S. Sen. Mel Martinez said." "Republicans woo Hispanics".

    I love it when RPOFer Cubans discover that they are "Hispanic" around election time.

    "Golden era"?

    "This was supposed to be a golden era for South Florida, an unprecedented four-year period of political power where lawmakers with ties to Miami-Dade and Broward counties -- and the clout to bring the area money and push for local priorities -- were firmly in charge of the Florida Legislature."

    But that era could be coming to a close sooner than predicted.

    House Speaker Marco Rubio, whose two years in charge were tempered by a souring economy, is leaving office. Republican Alex Villalobos of Miami was in line to become Senate president for the 2009 session, but he was toppled after a bitter intraparty fight.

    Sen. Jeff Atwater, a North Palm Beach Republican whose district stretches into Broward County, is next in line for president, but he could face a tough reelection fight in a year when war worries and economic hardships could drag down GOP candidates.

    And along with Rubio, other veteran lawmakers from South Florida, including Senate Democratic Leader Steve Geller from Cooper City and Rep. Jack Seiler of Fort Lauderdale, also are leaving. In all, 10 South Florida legislators will not return.
    "Exiting lawmakers diminishing South Florida's legislative clout".

    It wasn't a complete loss, as "despite difficult circumstances, South Florida lawmakers met with some success during the legislative session." "Legislators made some gains in tough times".


    The Orlando Sentinel editorial board: "Our position: Lawmakers failed on red-light cameras, but locals should still move ahead".

    Did your lobbyist do better than mine?

    Find out here: "2008 legislative session — what it means for you".

    Off topic

    No, Barack Hussein Obama didn't send a million bucks to Kenyan socialist. "Missionaries botch facts". Perhaps the headline should read,

    Missionaries with a political agenda are, like folks of all political stripes, prone to botch facts to serve their political ends
    Just sayin'. More on missionaries in The Orlando Sentinel this morning: "Campus Crusade for Christ mixes good news with community service"

    Daniel Ruth

    "It would seem there were plenty of readers who had the same reaction I experienced to discovering an academic expert on genetics and human evolution had been disinvited to speak by Pinellas County officials on, of alllllllll dates, Charles Darwin Day." "Darwinners And Darlosers: Stupidity Is 1 Thing That Just Keeps Evolving".

    Yet another RPOFer GOTV artifice

    The St. Petersburg Times's Howard Troxler wonders "if you believe that same-sex marriage should be illegal, the question here is whether this amendment — which outlaws something that's already illegal — risks a future court ruling that would intrude into the private affairs of thousands of Floridians." "Aiming at Adam & Steve, or a lot more?".

    That, and whether the RPOF is tying to stimulate its moribund base of knuckle-draggers.

    That this "crook"* resides in Florida ...

    ... speaks volumes: "Limbaugh: 'My impact will increase'".

    - - - - - - - - - -
    *We call him a "crook" because he was "arrested" and "booked" and then entered the typical plea deal for White (wealthy) drug offenders: pre-trial diversion ("PTD"). See "Rehab, $30,000 to keep Limbaugh out of court" and "Limbaugh cuts deal on drug charge".

    Upon completion of the terms of the negotiated PTD settlement, the criminal charges are dismissed. He nevertheless remains a "crook" for a variety of reasons - indeed, with the PTD deal on his record, Limbaugh would probably be unable to hire on as a laborer at a theme park.

    Florida's booming economy

    "State's revenue outlook is bleak". See also "Summer looks bleak for job seekers in Central Florida".

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