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.


Older posts [back to 2002]

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The Blog for Sunday, June 15, 2008

Surely you jest?

    Kudos to the The Palm Beach Post editorial Board for laying this out for we mere voters: "Florida voters are promised that the third voting system in eight years will be the charm. Now, there will be a paper record of every vote cast. So, every vote can be counted in case anything as unlikely as a tight race to determine the presidency comes along, right? Wrong."
    Florida law doesn't allow all of those paper ballots - in a statewide race there would be millions - to be recounted by hand. Not under any circumstances.
    "In the closest elections, decided by less than a quarter of a percent, laws written after 2000 call for election officials to review a small percentage of ballots,"
    just those that were not counted because no vote appeared - an undervote - or too many votes appeared - an overvote. Legitimate votes found among those undervotes and overvotes would be added to the appropriate candidate's total.

    A machine recount, limited to undervotes and overvotes, is required when the margin of victory is between a quarter of a percent and half a percent. But even in a race as close as the 2000 presidential contest, the law does not allow the millions of legitimate ballots counted initially to be counted again.
    "ELECTION NON-REFORMS: New, useless paper trail". See also "Ballot Audits Under Scrutiny" ("What's the use of paper ballots if no one looks at them?")

    There's more ... actually less.

    The Palm Beach Post editorial Board further advises that
    Optical-scan voting, new this year in Palm Beach, Martin and 13 other counties, does nothing to keep voters from skipping a race. Election supervisors say it can't. Too many voters routinely skip races - think constitutional questions or judicial choices - making it too hard to set off alarms to stop them as they leave the polling place.

    Alarms will sound for voters who make no mark at all on the entire ballot or vote for too many candidates in a given race. Scanners will spit out the ballot, and voters will be given a second chance.

    When voters go to the polls ... casting an undervote will be possible. For instance, a voter could circle the candidate's name instead of filling in the space between the arrows. A single undervote in this race would mean a blank ballot, triggering the alarm. ...

    There's the obvious problem: Absentee voters will mess up and, in the privacy of their own home, cast an undervote with no alarm to alert them. Some voters at polling places could ignore the alarm in their haste to leave.

    The only sure way to eliminate undervotes is to add "none of the above" to the ballot, which legislators have refused to do. This year, there won't be any hanging or dimpled chads or controversies over votes in cyberspace. But there still will be votes that don't count, and that's not much of an improvement.
    "ELECTION NON-REFORMS: Watch the undervotes".

    Those of us who were in the midst of the "recount" halted by the USSC will recall the many, many "undervotes" (e.g., circled names) that would have made up the difference (not to mention over votes (properly indicating "Gore" and also, stupidly, "writing" Gore's name in)) that were never counted, due to the USSC's decision to protect Dubya's "equal protection" rights [sic].


    "Democrats call for unity during Broward weekend of events". See also "State Democrats rally, unite", "Florida's Democrats rally to back Obama", "Florida Democrats seek Obama unity at fundraiser" and "Unity key to success for Florida Democrats".

    "If you're upper-middle class or above in Florida ..."

    ... ever thing's kewl. The Palm Beach Post editorial Board: "If you're upper-middle class or above in Florida, you're still doing from OK to very well. As the not-for-profit Corporation for Enterprise Development in Washington points out, though, Florida is squeezing the middle class on down."

    Stop the presses!

    Florida can't survive only on sunshine any longer.
    "Adjust state's priorities to the post-bubble world".

    It crawls out from under a rock, and blesses us with its presence ...

    How nice: Jebbie's paid lackeys will tell us how fabulous he is, and the newspaper companies will dutifully report it: "This week, in the center of the state he governed for eight years, Bush ends his 18-month hiatus from Florida public life. The chosen occasion: a high-profile education conference, organized by his foundations, that will showcase the controversial reforms of his tenure."

    And this is doubly nice: "Bush and his allies are expected to campaign, if only behind the scenes, for two school voucher proposals they helped usher onto Florida's November ballot."

    Finally, the question everyone is eager to ask: is "Jeb!", by making himself available to fawning Florida newspaper company employees, like he has deigned to do in "similar to events he has attended outside Florida", hinting at "another entry onto the political stage?" More here:"Jeb Bush campaigns for education, not office".

    As Florida ...

    ... crashes and burns, and otherwise heads into the dumpster on Charlie's watch, it is nice to see what Charlie is up to: "Gov. Crist's fundraisers keep money flowing".

    Don't worry, be happy.

    "Juicy tell-all"

    A "juicy tell-all book" by former Katherine Harris campaign manager, Jamie Miller, is in the offing [you may remember Miller; he recently contributed this to the site].

    Miller lasted six months on the Harris campaign — longer than any of her other three campaign managers, and he is shopping around a book about his former boss whom he said once assured him — when he tried to persuade her to drop out and pursue a punditry career — that God intended her to be in the Senate.

    "What I try to do with the book is describe the conflict between the persona of Katherine Harris and the person," Miller told Buzz. There is Harris, the thoroughly charming Steel Magnolia; and there is the other Harris that Miller said is more like the Incredible Hulk on a particularly bad day.

    There are likely to be stories about Harris eviscerating her chief elections deputy Clay Roberts on election night after Jeb Bush woke up Harris in the wee hours to find out what the heck was going on with the Florida vote tally. Or what happened to the pitiful staffers who botched her constant Starbucks orders (always Triple Venti, no fat, no foam, extra hot, with pink sugar).
    "It's not her book, but it's her story".

    "Hoo, boy"

    Randy Schultz: "For Florida, the biggest vote in November is not on a person. It's on a tax-cutting constitutional amendment. Will it pass? Do Gators and Seminoles hate each other?"

    For all the griping about the "county" tax, the biggest item on most Floridians' tax bill is for the school district. In this part of the state, the biggest portion of the school tax comes from the "Required Local Effort," or RLE in Tallahassee Acronymspeak. The Legislature - not the local school board - sets the RLE each year as a county's contribution to education spending. The state budget supplies the rest. The arrangement is in the Florida Constitution.

    Statewide, that RLE makes up between 25 percent and 35 percent of tax bills. The percentage has been creeping up in recent years as the supposedly tax-cutting Legislature has "raised" education spending by raising the RLE. ...

    Since voters in January overwhelmingly approved a much smaller tax cut, this one would seem to be a lock. And then? Hoo, boy.
    "If the amendment passes ... it would cut nearly $9 billion from school spending, or almost 50 percent."
    Though we assume that even the most anti-government legislator doesn't want to eviscerate public education, the amendment also requires the Legislature to spend no less on schools.

    The amendment provides four options for replacing the money: 1) End sales tax exemptions; 2) Raise the 6-cent sales tax by one cent; 3) Cut money from other parts of the budget; 4) Find the money somewhere else, or hope that the state is collecting more in taxes by then.

    Not one of those alone would work.
    Much more here: "For Florida, one tax cut too many".

    More 'o that wasteful public spending

    The Daytona Beach News-Journal editorial board: "Across the state, school boards are being forced to slash budgets by millions of dollars. ... What is going on?" "Public schools under assault".

    'Ya reckon?

    The Orlando Sentinel editorial board: "Central Florida's increasing diversity will add to its richness".


    "Bill Nelson, a Democrat and Florida's senior U.S. senator, has proposed three important changes to the way America votes:"

    (1) Abolishing the Electoral College and turning to a direct, popular election of the president.

    (2) Creating a system of rotating, regional primary elections to choose party nominees, instead of the mess we have now.

    (3) Moving toward more early voting, absentee voting, voting by mail and other ways to make voting easier, along with a "paper trail" for ballots.

    Of these, I love the second, like the third, and would take the first only if you twisted my arm (it's that "federalist" thing again, sorry).
    See what he means in "Should the side with the most votes always win?"

    Union referred to as "education group"

    Could a new day be dawning - the teachers union referred to as a mere "education group"? The Miami Herald is to be commended for this wordage: "Education groups sued to block two proposed amendments designed to validate school vouchers and state spending on religious institutions." "School groups attack 2 ballot items".

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