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, June 08, 2008

Florida looks to be in play for Obama

    The Palm Beach Post's Michael Bender writes that "the hundreds of Floridians who have organized a campaign in Obama's absence are among the reasons that his campaign officials expect to compete this year in Florida, a state that voted for President Bush twice and where Republican candidate John McCain enjoys strong support from a popular governor."
    As Obama looks to unfold a Florida campaign for the first time - he and the other Democratic candidates avoided the state during primary season - he'll find the bones of an energized volunteer base in place and a fund-raising machine that has managed to keep pace with Republicans.

    But Obama also will have high hurdles in Florida.
    "Obama's fight for Florida won't be just with his GOP opponents."
    Instead, Democrats in Palm Beach and Broward counties could rank as his biggest challenge. Voters in these two counties combined to give Hillary Clinton primary victory margins larger than she received in New York City and other parts of her home state.

    Although many state superdelegates insist that Clinton loyalists will unite behind Obama, a former Democratic gubernatorial candidate said that support shouldn't be taken for granted.

    "He's got to get the Clinton supporters to suck it up," Bill McBride said.

    McBride said his 2002 gubernatorial loss to Republican Jeb Bush could be blamed partly on a disappointing showing from South Florida Democrats, who largely preferred his primary opponent, former U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno.
    Much more here:"Obama's Florida base has mettle, needs to prove it".

    "Florida's traditional Democratic geography also may have been turned upside down by the newly minted presumptive nominee." "How Obama could capture Florida". Scott Maxwell has some ideas: "Game on!".

    "Not proud of the misleading ad the Republican Party is doing. I'm ashamed"

    "Sponsored by the Republican Party of Florida, the ad attacks [Sen. Dave Aronberg, D-Greenacres] for allegedly voting for high taxes during his six years in the state Senate, and for being "out of touch" with the economic downturn."

    But the ad is so misleading a group of Aronberg supporters, including prominent Republican business leaders, gathered Friday to refute it.

    "I'm proud to be a Republican," said Sam Galloway, who hosted the event at his car dealership. "But I'm not proud of the misleading ad the Republican Party is doing. I'm ashamed ... and I'm disgusted to see political hacks producing an ad that attacks our Dave. It's wrong. It's immoral. This ad spreads mistrust in an attempt to turn us against each other."
    "Republican attack ad takes aim at Aronberg".

    A bribe?

    "Could a $100,000 payment to a county commissioner's favorite lobbyist actually have been a bribe?"

    Even Palm Beach County Commissioner Mary McCarty, the apparent target of a federal investigation, admitted that the payment doesn't look good. "If he had talked to me about it, I would have told him not to do it," she told Post Staff Writer Tom Dubocq for last Sunday's story. "It's not something that should be done, because it can be misconstrued as something more than it is."

    Commissioner McCarty would like the public to think that the $100,000 payment to lobbyist Hugo Unruh, a close friend and traveling companion, was all very innocent. She wants the public to think that her aide in 2005, Boynton Beach Mayor Jerry Taylor, told a prominent developer to hire Mr. Unruh but never mentioned the recommendation to his commissioner boss.

    That's hard to believe. It's also hard to believe that Commissioner McCarty got nothing in return for helping the developer who paid her good friend so much money. And it's just plain disgusting that such exchanges pass for business as usual in pay-to-play Palm Beach County.

    It's wrong for a mayor to tell a developer which lobbyist to hire. But to the [compliant]developer, the Sembler Co., paying lobbyists is just a cost of doing business. The company viewed a $100,000 fee as a small price to get approval for a $300 million project that included a SuperTarget-anchored shopping center and 1,120 condominiums in Boynton Beach.

    Sembler had agreed to pay another lobbyist, Bill Boose, up to $20,000. But Boose, whom Commissioner McCarty disliked, could not deliver Commissioner McCarty's vote. Mayor Taylor knew that Mr. Unruh could.

    Was that all there was to it?
    "Follow lobbyist's $100,000 and who money touched".

    Might that compliant developer be the company owned and run by that Mel Sembler fellow from St Pete, who courageously served his Country "as United States Ambassador to Italy from 2001 to 2005 and as U.S. Ambassador to Australia and Nauru from 1989 to 1993.", and whose formidable talents in international relations include exercising the diplomatic skills necessary to raising "a record $21.3 million at a single dinner in April 2000" for Republicans. Yeah, that's him.

    A "hidden Abraham Lincoln", he ain't

    "One of the nation's top vice presidential scholars is Joel Goldstein, a law professor at St. Louis University and author of "The Modern American Vice Presidency." He said it seemed "impossible" that Crist would be McCain's running mate. 'Unless Gov. Crist is some sort of hidden Abraham Lincoln, it just seems to me that it's a huge risk to put someone on the ticket with that level of experience,' Goldstein said." "McCain/Crist? To many it's a good/bad idea".

    "Illicit sex. Profane outbursts. Lies." Court TV anyone?

    "Illicit sex. Profane outbursts. Lies. And that's just the judges."

    Monday begins the trial of Judge Michael Allen, a 1st District Court of Appeal judge who could be removed from the bench if the Judicial Qualifications Commission charges against him are found to have merit.

    His case — which flamed into public view when he called out a fellow judge in the usually staid pages of a court opinion — has roiled the state's largest, most influential court for more than four years.

    Now Allen's trial will lay bare even more explicitly the inner workings of what is usually unseen and secret. The case is unprecedented, defense and prosecution agree.
    "Six members of the Judicial Qualifications Commission hearing panel — two judges, two lawyers and two regular folks — will consider charges that Allen violated nine separate ethics rules."
    The whole thing comes from a 2006 opinion Allen wrote that said fellow Judge Charles Kahn should have recused himself from the appeal of W.D. Childers, a defendant Allen said was personally and politically connected to Kahn. Allen drew dotted lines between Kahn and Childers that, Allen said, could lead to questions about the court's impartiality.

    The ethics charges all stem from the written opinion itself.
    Just read it: "Judge Michael Allen's trial starts Monday".

    On a related note, "Childers' denied appeal ended long trial". More: "Judge's opinion critical of ties to defendant" ("On June 28, 2006, the court denied the request. The 49-page ruling was another incredible read.")

    Wal Mart

    Philip Gailey, Times Editor of Editorials, writes that "there are signs that the campaign waged by union activists protesting Wal-Mart's treatment of its workers is doing some good." "Wal-Mart, critics do some bargaining".


    Mary Ann Lindley: "At a birthday event downtown Thursday night for Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, one of Florida's two statewide elected Democrats, her celebration was inevitably a celebration of the way state Democratic leaders had performed over the weekend at a national party meeting in Washington. They broke the political spell cast when our state stepped out ahead of the primary parade, leading to a protracted power struggle that was finally resolved." "Party harmony".

    More Media Hubris

    The normally competent The Orlando Sentinel editorial page writer George Diaz, gets a bit carried away this morning. In "Spin the facts, not fiction, Diaz properly describes as "appalling" the most recent RPOF abjectly false attack on Obama:

    The image of Fidel Castro holding a poster of Barack Obama says more than a thousands words, most of them expletives to anyone who has felt Castro's dictatorial squeeze.

    It's a perfect smoking gun that drills Obama right between the eyes. For a Cuban-American with voting power, Obama is toast in '08.

    But there's just a little problem with the image you see. It's not real. The wonders of photoshop.

    Castro did not hold a poster of Obama, nor did he say "Me encanta este hombre! (I love this man!) as the caption suggests. It's all part of political chicanery from the Republican Party of Florida, which sent out an e-mail blast recently with the doctored image in question. They even provided a Spanish version. And just in case I missed it, the e-mail was re-sent by a GOP spokeswoman in the party. "Wanted to be sure you saw this," it read.
    To be sure, the RPOF was yet again engaged in "appalling" (an understatement) behavior. And Diaz was right to call them on it. It was actually a no-brainer.

    Unfortunately, Diaz could not stop there.

    In that never ending fake dance that newspaper company employees apparently must do to keep up the pretense of "balance" (and their jobs), Diaz was apparently compelled to take a shot at the FlaDems. After all, we must be "balanced" and all that (even if the truth may be otherwise).

    Unfortunately, because Diaz couldn't find something as remotely egregious as the RPOF's fraud on Obama, he did some serious spinning of his own to identify (create?) a FlaDem transgression. Of course he had to do it because, he had to be balanced and... you know ... the lack of "balance" might result in a newspaper company employee receiving a demerit or two at his annual merit pay review meeting.

    So, Diaz came up with this:
    Though not nearly as offensive, another e-mail, this one from the Florida Democratic Party, said: "MUST READ: Miami Herald; Crist should drop out of Veep race." It appears that The Miami Herald is pushing for Charlie Crist to drop out of consideration for vice president on the GOP ticket.
    And here's the writer's deluded coup de grace:
    But it's really a column from Carl Hiaasen, a Herald columnist. It's Hiaasen's opinion, not the Herald's.

    The political spin season is set at full throttle, with the White House in play, which means that we enter an alternate universe in which everything is not what it seems.
    There you go: they all do it.

    Here's the problem: in the zeal for "balance" - and merit pay - Mr. Diaz got it bad wrong.

    For those readers who didn't see the FlaDem release, and assuming it is the same release we received, it reads like this:

    CONTACT: Mark Bubriski or Alejandro Miyar, 850.222.3411

    MUST READ - Miami Herald: Crist should drop out of Veep race
    by Carl Hiaasen, June 1, 2008

    Despite his coy avoidance of the topic, Gov. Charlie Crist is acting like he'd love to be vice president of the United States. ...
    Did I miss something? Could I have overlooked the part of the release that makes it, as Diaz trumpets,
    appear[] that The Miami Herald is pushing for Charlie Crist to drop out of consideration for vice president on the GOP ticket
    Crazy me, I always assumed that "bylines tell who wrote an article".

    When I read the original press release, I immediately understood (no mean feat) that the article being cited was first, in the Miami Herald newspaper, and second, had been written "by" Carl Hiaasen. I was able to fight through the FlaDem spin and grasp all this because the release specifically says that the quoted piece was "by Carl Hiaasen".

    To the credit of the authors of press release, the byline was not missing, buried at the end of the release, or in any way falsified (or so-to-speak "photoshopped"); the byline appears exactly where journalistic convention requires it to be. And, and it is sad we have to go here, but the words in the column were the actual words penned by Hiaasen - that is to say the words were not altered, let alone made up whole cloth; there was, so-to-speak no "photoshopping" .

    Hence, the FlaDem press release has been misrepresented, not merely spun: any sentient being reading the full title to the release (it is only 16 words long), would discern that this is not a pronouncement of the Miami Herald, but rather the opinion of one "Carl Hiaasen", a writer of some note on these parts.

    To be sure, the press release does indicate that the column containing the assertion that Crist should give up on the VP thing is in the "Miami Herald", and indeed it is. But, as detailed above, the byline, consistent with normal journalistic convention regarding bylines, tells us precisely which employee working for the Herald company is to be credited with the assertions repeated in the press release. If an unsophisticated rube, indeed a"blogger ... without regard for integrity or the truth", can figure that out, it is fair to assume Mr. Diaz was not mislead by this FlaDem press release.

    Mr. Diaz obviously manufactured this issue, and inserted it into his to his otherwise commendable piece this morning; and he surely did so to foreclose any complaint from his masters about any lack of "balance" in his work.

    If that were not enough, Diaz proceeds to scold both "political parties", complaining that
    You would expect political parties to be held to a higher standard than any blogger or nefarious group without regard for integrity or the truth.
    We'll get to what Diaz means with the latter part of that statement (the remark about "any blogger or nefarious group without regard for integrity or the truth") in a separate post later today, but let's leave it at this for now:
    Mr. Diaz, you have misrepresented the Florida Democratic Party's press release, and you owe your readers and the FlaDems an apology for your shoddy comparison (albeit you concede it "not nearly as offensive") between the RPOF's outright fraud and the plain meaning of a press release.
    .The folks who drafted this FlaDem release have been treated unfairly. To compare this press release to the RPOFer sliming of Obama is simply wrong. Don't expect to hear an apology any time soon.

    But perhaps Diaz will take his own advice to heart, and in the future "spin the facts, not fiction"*.

    - - - - - - - - - -
    *While we're talking about spin, fiction and outright fraud, perhaps Mr. Diaz can help us with this snippet in his newspaper today? With no intent to disparage Scott Maxwell's otherwise useful "Game On!" this morning, we were taken aback by Maxwell's assertion,
    Tell your followers . . .

    Obama : Not to go anywhere near questioning John McCain's military record. No decent person should.
    Have we missed something else? Are there any "Obama followers" who are in any way "questioning John McCain's military record"?

    Goodness gracious, are there any "Obama supporters" who are "questioning John McCain's military record". Direct me to them, and I'll be the first to punch them in the nose. To my knowledge, and I try to keep up on these things, there are no "Obama supporters" running around "questioning John McCain's military record". No one wants to see McCain "swift boated", just as war hero John Kerry was "swift boated" by lying idiots who in turn supported a creep who - and there is no dispute about this - when in Texas Air National Guard, "one of the forms he filled out asked if he would volunteer for overseas duty; he checked ''I 'do not' volunteer for overseas.''". "MILITARY SERVICE; Portrait of George Bush in '72: Unanchored in Turbulent Time". Game over man.

    Perhaps Maxwell is referring to these idiots, or these dopes. Again, these are not "Obama supporters" and never will be. Why would Maxwell suggest that there are Obama supporters out there? Why create an issue where none exists.

    "High school graduation rates are abysmal across Florida"

    The South Florida Sun-Sentinel editorial board: "High school graduation rates are abysmal across Florida. There's no disputing that, or its implication for our children's, and our state's, future. What we need is a strategy, and some urgency, to address a dire need." "Graduation coaches novel idea to combat sagging diploma rates".


    The Daytona Beach News-Journal editorial board: "Since 1990, desalination plants have been built around the world at a rate of 350 a year. The 100 largest plants, including 16 in the United States -- four of them in Florida -- were all built since 2000. The trend is here to stay. Seawater, which accounts for 97 percent of the planet's water, is becoming an alternative of choice for places running out of fresh water. Whether desalination is right for this area remains an important question. But another is whether Volusia and Flagler counties can manage to do without it for much longer." "Desalination: doing it right".

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