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 Saturday, June 14, 2008

Obama takes Florida on

    This tends to suggest that Obama thinks Florida is in play:
    They're coming from all over the country, lured by their faith in Barack Obama, to spend a weekend in Tamarac, then six weeks bringing the Obama message to Floridians.

    It's part of a massive mobilization of volunteers for Obama's campaign throughout the nation. The 3,600 volunteers — the campaign calls them "fellows" — include 400 in the key battleground state of Florida.

    They're unpaid, save for food and gas stipends for some, and they covered their own expenses to travel to the 2 1/2 days of training that begins today.
    "Obama campaign begins massive Florida mobilization this weekend".

    Holy Moses!, even Florida's newspaper companies are paying attention to the FlaDems: "In any other year, Democrats in Florida might be accused of being delusional. But this is not just another year."
    In any other year, Democrats in Florida might be accused of being delusional. But this is not just another year.

    Gasoline may soon cost five bucks a gallon. Florida has the nation's second-highest rate of home foreclosures. Even unemployment, rarely a problem here, is going up.

    People are in a foul mood, a bad sign for the party in power. Six of 10 Florida voters in a new Quinnipiac poll say they are dissatisfied with things in Florida.

    Democrats are talking about not only recapturing the White House with Florida's help, but knocking out two or three Republican congressmen (maybe Tom Feeney or one or both of the Diaz-Balart brothers).
    "Democrats can swoop in and dash GOP hopes".

    But Dems being Dems, we get this delightful bit of news: "Florida Democrats discuss Obama's delegate slate". More:
    The argument turned ugly late Thursday when Ausman released excerpts from a series of e-mails he exchanged with Kirk Wagar, a Miami lawyer and Obama's finance chairman in Florida.

    In those e-mails, Wagar criticizes Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson and rips into Ausman, dropping a handful of obscenities along the way.

    "You [expletive] us," Wagar wrote to Ausman on June 6. "We are dealing with it. You need to accept the fact that you [expletive] us."

    About Nelson, Wagar wrote, "I am getting very sick of Nelson making a bad situation worse" and, "Let me be clear as a bell: As of right now, you [Ausman] have made a difficult situation worse."
    "After an agreement was reached on how to seat the delegates -- each one would get half a vote -- Ausman and Wagar began corresponding over who would be seated. Ausman, in the message sent late Thursday to reporters, suggests Wagar became hostile."
    Wagar issued an apology, saying he was sorry for and "embarrassed" by the language he used. But he said Ausman was difficult to work with.

    "At every turn, Jon Ausman demanded his pound of flesh," Wagar's e-mail said. "This was about Jon's ego and his view that control over party rules was his only power."

    With respect to Nelson, Wagar said that he and the senator also disagreed about the process for selecting the delegates. But Wagar insisted that he didn't "malign [Nelson] in private nor in the excerpts Jon blasted out."

    Friday, Wagar said, "I wish I'd kept my cool."

    Despite the blow-up, Wagar's spot with the campaign is "absolutely" safe, Obama spokesman Josh Earnest said.
    "Florida Democrats air intra-party spat".

    And then there's the party: "Florida Democrats will gather Saturday night in Hollywood looking for unity after one of the most fractious primary seasons ever." "Democrats bicker as they try to heal".

    "Don't be fooled by the Republican rhetoric"

    The newspaper company employees on The St. Petersburg Times editorial board sound like they're almost at (though not quite late) to the game:

    "Charlie Crist is being less than candid with Floridians in handling the state budget crisis."

    One day he quietly signs a terribly inadequate 2008-09 state budget that is almost $6-billion less than the one lawmakers approved a year ago and claims it meets the needs of the state.

    The next day he tells state agencies he will hold back an additional 4 percent because of slumping tax revenues, forcing more painful cuts before the new budget even takes effect July 1. While this approach may be prudent, it lacks transparency and prevents taxpayers from seeing the full ugly picture and expressing their views. ...

    Crist is imposing across-the-board cuts that unfairly treat every program the same — and the budget year doesn't begin for more than three weeks.
    The editors continue:
    Don't be fooled by the Republican rhetoric that there are no other choices beyond cutting well past the fat and into the bone. ...

    And there are plenty of ways to raise revenue and create a fairer tax system, including closing sales tax exemptions, extending the sales tax to services, making it easier to collect sales taxes on catalog and Internet sales, and closing loopholes that enable corporations to avoid paying taxes here by accumulating profits elsewhere. [Ed. note: and let's not forget reinstating the evil intangibles tax.]

    Unfortunately, all of those are nonstarters for Republicans who are content to starve higher education and other government services while waiting for property tax cuts to magically revive the economy. It's been nearly five months since Crist urged voters to pass Amendment 1. Anyone see any houses selling because Save Our Homes benefits are portable?

    The gap between state revenue and recurring costs will continue to grow, and Florida cannot cut itself to prosperity. Even after cutting spending and taking hundreds of millions of dollars from reserves, the Legislature left no wiggle room in the 2008-09 budget. State economists released a new economic outlook statement Friday that shows the state will take in less general revenue than it plans to spend. It's making up the difference only through fees, reserves and budget gimmicks — and there is no room to absorb further revenue declines.

    For the governor to require state agencies to hold back 4 percent of their spending so soon after the Legislature left town suggests lawmakers did not do their jobs well. It is their responsibility to write a balanced budget that meets the needs of the state, and they should come back to Tallahassee in a special session and do it right and in public.

    They won't, of course. They would rather that Crist quietly keep cutting while they run for cover — and for re-election.
    "Florida can't cut itself to prosperity".


    The Tampa Tribune editorial board: "It used to be that a 4.0 grade-point average was considered a perfect 'A,' but the numbers posted by some recent Hillsborough high school graduates have been positively stratospheric - including the county's top GPA of 8.68 ...". "Grade Inflation Making It Tough To Evaluate Students' Performance".

    Chicken shi*

    "Small consolations: The governor this week signed two bills that will benefit state employees, and which this beleaguered work force well deserves given its appalling neglect by lawmakers for three years running."

    I mean really, is this supposed to restore the morale of the poor folk who slave away in the buildings Jebbie wanted to empty?

    The Career Service Reform bill requires objective criteria, including at least the consideration of seniority, when it comes to retaining employees during a layoff. And it makes promotions and transfers to better jobs nonprobationary, meaning employees can return to their former positions if the promotion doesn't prove to be a good fit. It also stops involuntary job transfers of more than 50 miles.
    And this?
    The other legislation, which is unfortunately just a first step, sets up a $100,000 task force and study on how to effectively bring back workplace safety and health laws for Florida public employees.

    It's appalling that these safeguards are not in place in the year 2008. But in 1999, then-Gov. Jeb Bush eliminated the Division of Safety in the Florida Department of Labor and Employment Security, thereby repealing all safety and health laws covering public employees at any level.
    "Two things".

    And when you do crazy things like "repealing all safety and health laws covering public employees at any level", which Jebbie did to the cheers of the dopes at the League of Cities and the Chamber of Commerce, sad things like dead workers tend to occur. This "study" Charlie agreed to spend a hundred grand on was
    a measure that stems from a 2006 explosion at the Bethune Point wastewater-treatment plant in Daytona Beach.

    Federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration standards apply to private-sector workers but not government employees [courtesy of Jebbie's "repealing all safety and health laws covering public employees at any level"].

    The Daytona Beach explosion killed two city workers and severely injured another.
    "Crist approves worker safety bill". God knows how many injuries, large, small or fatal have occurred in the decade since Jebbie (with little (but concededly some) mention in the media because Jebbie was, you know ... a "policy wonk" and his Daddy was Preznit, and his brother was running to be Preznit), "repealing all safety and health laws covering public employees at any level".

    One supposes that that was one way to effect Jebbie's "JFK-like", "universal and timeless" vision of making "these buildings empty of workers, silent monuments ...".

    Whatever, they're just icky public employees, and some are actually "blue collar" people with dirty fingernails - they don't hang with us at the Governors Club anyway. Nevertheless, we'll throw them a "study", and perhaps they'll shut up get back to cutting the highway median grass and such.

    Voucher madness

    "Florida's statewide teachers union and associations representing school boards, superintendents and administrators sued the state on Friday to remove two pro-voucher proposals from the Nov. 4 ballot." "Voucher plans on ballot face lawsuits". See also "Groups sue to block voucher proposals", "Teacher's union goes to court to stop voucher amendments" and "School groups attack 2 ballot items".

    'Ya reckon?

    "Report: Florida needs to spend more on children".

    Does this really merit ...

    an editorial from employees on the The South Florida Sun-Sentinel editorial board?: "Take-home cars an asset for public, but officers should pay for the perk".

    Inviting "so much mischief"

    The Miami Herald editorial board: "Senate Bill 1706 invites so much mischief from South Florida county commissions that it makes one's head spin. Representing itself as a growth management bill, SB 1706 instead has two noxious provisions that would undermine local and state oversight of large developments. One provision would allow counties with more than 1.25 million residents to exempt land from the Development of Regional Impact process. Only three counties qualify -- Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach." "Local perspectives".

    Another Jebacy from the "Education Governor"

    "Trustees for Florida's largest universities responded to a statewide budget crunch Friday by raising tuition, cutting staff and limiting enrollment. University of Florida trustees approved a tuition hike of up to 15 percent for the 52,000 students at the state's largest university." "Now the tough part: Universities raise tuition and get rid of jobs". More: "FSU OKs higher tuition" and "Universities raise tuition 6% to 15%".

    You remember that fellow "Jeb!":

    Nicknamed "King Jeb," the Republican transformed what he saw as a tangle of red tape and squanderer of public money into a smaller, business-friendly administration needing fewer tax dollars to run.

    Bush, who passed the mantle to Charlie Crist (R) last Tuesday, leaves a legacy of a leader adamant about doing things his way, who fearlessly championed such controversial causes as school vouchers, faith-based prisons and prolonging the life of Terri Schiavo, a brain-damaged woman who became the centerpiece of a national right-to-die battle.

    Yet, while his tenure coincided with a sizzling economy and an overflowing treasury, Bush's back-to-back terms were marred by frequent ethics scandals, official bungling and the inability of the government he downsized to meet growing demands for state services, including education and aid for the infirm and the elderly.
    There's a really kewl picture of Jebbie and Chain Gang Charlie embracing, if a bit feverishly, in this Washington Post piece: "The Jeb Bush Era Ends in Florida".

    'Ya think?

    This is actually coming from the august The Palm Beach Post editorial Board, as opposed to those incessant teachers union whiners: "In 2001, only 37 percent of Florida 10th-graders could read on grade level. This year, according to FCAT results released Tuesday, 10th-grade students reading on grade level had increased to a whopping 38''percent. Give them credit for scoring 4 points higher than last year's sophomores. But the overall "gain" since 2001 again calls into question Florida's focus on one test." "10th-grade FCAT scores show problem with test".

    Bill gets a headline

    "U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Florida, has introduced an election reform package that calls for abolishing the Electoral College and setting up regional, rotating presidential primaries." "Sen. Bill Nelson looks to end Electoral College".


    The Palm Beach Post editorial Board: "Last year, two grand juries concluded that a 'pay-to-play' culture compromised the work of government in West Palm Beach. Last week, a sealed portion of one grand jury report was released, and it gave an account of pay-to-play politics in action. The jurors concluded that state Rep. Mary Brandenburg, D-West Palm Beach, "did not act ethically" in July 2006 when she tried to coax campaign contributions for Mayor Lois Frankel from a not-for-profit development group." "Appropriately appalled".

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