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 Thursday, July 10, 2008

And so it goes

    "A public test of new voting machines in Sarasota County showed two things: that the machines work and that southwestern Floridians prefer Jay Leno." "Vote on comics gives machines serious test".

    Not so fast. Jac Wilder VerSteeg writes that "the latest technology-fueled glitch comes to us courtesy of the Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Office, which in last month's special West Palm Beach City Commission election failed to count 700 votes in a timely fashion."
    After Palm Beach County's experience with the butterfly ballot and then the no-paper-trail touch screens, this was not supposed to happen. After trashing the touch-screen system, voters once again mark a paper ballot, just as they did in days of counting one, two, three. But any sense of old-fashioned simplicity is false. The counting is not done by human hands. A computer does the counting. The data are stored electronically. Counting procedures have become so complex and arcane that speed-of-light counting reaches the wrong conclusion and nobody notices. A memo from Sequoia Voting Systems Inc., to Elections Supervisor Arthur Anderson, illuminates that problem, if not much else.
    " "Bring Back Voting 1.0".

    The Maitland housewife ...

    ... takes on union thug, who "speaks for a bygone education system that abysmally failed our most vulnerable children." The Maitland housewife thunders: "How can people as smart as teachers have such a bubble brain as their union president?" "Just like our kids, teachers union chief Andy Ford needs educating".

    Translation: Florida's "lousy education" system is not the result of underfunding, rather it was and is the teachers' fault; better yet, it is the teachers' unions' fault.

    Now everything is kewl because Jebbie installed a silly school grading plan.

    And Poof! without spending a nickel (except on private school vouchers) problem solved. And did I say we get to keep running our public education system on the cheap, and blame failures on "bubble brain" union thugs.

    Thomas' buds on the The Tampa Tribune editorial board, are happy to join the fun, writing today that "A Decade Of School Grades Show Accountability Movement Delivers". What they mean by "delivered" is hard to fathom, especially when the editors concede that

    at A-rated high schools, it is common for fewer than half of the students to be reading proficiently, and the numbers are even more disappointing on the science FCAT.
    And schools are apparently not being graded on a curve; after all:
    1,583 Florida schools earned an A from the state - that's 55 percent of the schools
    A majority of Florida's schools are already way "above average".

    RPOFer who slimed opponent "cleared"

    "The Florida House of Representatives will not pursue action against a state lawmaker accused of using his office to undermine a political opponent."

    Rep. Paige Kreegel, R-Punta Gorda, did not engage in electioneering — asking people to vote for or against someone — when he raised questions about the education background of his opponent, a panel of his peers determined Tuesday after a probable cause hearing.

    The three lawmakers on the House panel quickly dispensed of the case, but the sole Democrat said the incident left much concern.

    "I hope, if nothing else, that this sends a message to our colleagues in the Legislature, future legislators, that this kind of action is troubling," said Rep. Curtis Richardson, D-Tallahassee.
    Here's what happened:
    Kreegel was notified in September that his opponent in the 2008 election, Keith Richter, had a job at a Hodges University campus in Fort Myers but claimed to be

    Remind me why Buddy Dyer (D-Orl, who formerly had statewide political aspirations) was removed from office?

    obtaining a doctorate from a school that is not accredited in the United States.

    Records show that Kreegel's legislative aide, Barry Millman, contacted the school, and Richter was demoted from adjunct professor to teaching assistant. Kreegel said he asked Millman to make the call, according to a statement he provided.

    But while Millman lost his job amid the controversy, the House panel said there was not sufficient evidence to suggest his boss violated a state law forbidding employees from using their state office during working hours to further a political campaign.
    "Lawmaker cleared of campaign charge.

    Bottom line: when "Kreegel's legislative aide e-mailed information to Hodges University officials that undermined newly hired Keith Richter, a District 72 primary opponent of Kreegel's" to "discredit" his "political opponent's academic credentials were not electioneering." "Representative Kreegel cleared of electioneering".

    No Pols at NASCAR in Daytona

    "Voters should not expect to see either John McCain or Barack Obama making appearances at NASCAR events in Daytona Beach Florida, or a dozen other speedways across the country before Election Day."

    According to officials from the International Speedway Corporation (ISC), which owns the Daytona International Speedway, as well as major facilities in both candidates' home states of Arizona and Illinois, the company is implementing a firm policy that prohibits political candidates from campaigning in any capacity at their racing events
    "Campaign Ban Hits Some NASCAR Tracks".

    Prison Privatization

    "Florida officials are reviewing eligibility for a St. Petersburg-based prison labor program after a participant killed a correctional officer at a Daytona Beach prison. Officer Donna Fitzgerald was stabbed to death June 25 at Tomoka Correctional Institution after she was attacked by an inmate who fashioned a knife made from sheet metal."

    Despite a rap sheet showing a history of violence toward women, Hall passed a security clearance to work in a heavy-equipment shop for PRIDE, the nonprofit that has provided jobs for inmates for nearly three decades.

    "We're reviewing all of our policies and procedures," said state corrections spokesman Gretl Plessinger. She said the state and PRIDE work jointly to determine an inmate's eligibility for a prison job.

    PRIDE, created by business executive Jack Eckerd, aims to teach skills to inmates that will help them readjust to society, such as reporting for work on time, following directions and learning a trade.
    "Prison job program under review".

    How 'bout we let the delightful folks at the Heritage Foundation talk to us about "PRIDE" and prison privatization:
    Florida is Leader

    Florida in 1981 became the first state to contract out the entire state prison industry to private management. Prison Rehabilitative Industries & Diversified Enterprises Inc. (PRIDE), a firm based in Clearwater, Florida, now manages all 53 Florida prison work programs as a for profit operation. PRIDE made a $4 million profit last year. Many states considering privatization of prison industries are studying the PRIDE

    operation. PRIDE employs only inmates who want to work. As such, work is viewed as an opportunity rather than a punishment. PRIDE pays 60 percent of the workers' wages directly to the state government to defray the costs of imprisonment. PRIDE products, which range from optical and dental items to modular office systems, are sold to the local and state government agencies.
    "A Guide to Prison Privatization".

    Substitute ...

    "Democrats have settled on a Broward County Realtor to take Skip Campbell's place in the election campaign against state Senate President-designate Jeff Atwater." "Democrats tap sub for Atwater battle".

    "The Legislature, of course"

    The St. Petersburg Times editorial board: "Welcome to the state of democracy in Florida these days, where legislative and congressional jobs are as likely to be filled by cartographers as they are by voters. Forty-two state and federal lawmakers were automatically elected this year without opposition, in large part because their districts were drawn to discourage competition. Who draws the lines? The Legislature, of course." "Voters, not maps, must rule".

    Any wagers ...

    ... as to the chances of this wedding coming off?:

    Crist clarified his past engagement history, which he said has been reported wrongly in some newsoutlets, and added that his wedding to Carole Rome probably will be after the Nov. 4 election—maybe not be until spring.

    Crist had said last week, when telling friends and reporters about his engagement, that the wedding likely would be “some time in the fall.”

    Asked today if it was likely to be before or after the election, he said likely afterward, and that it “could be in the spring—it’s looking like the fall will be pretty busy,” clearly referring to the election, in which he is a strong backer of John McCain.

    Crist was married once before, very briefly, in 1979, and has said he was also engaged once a few years later.
    "Crist May Not Wed Until Spring".

    it seemed like just yesterday that Gov. Charlie Crist was announcing he had a new girlfriend. Now, he says he's engaged. So congratulations to the Lovernor and our future first lady. Still, the timing sure was interesting. On Tuesday of last week, national pundits, like those at Politico.com, were suggesting that Crist had dropped off John McCain's running-mate radar. The Politico piece even went so far as to label Charlie a "second tier" candidate, suggesting family-man Mitt Romney was a more likely contender than the Florida bachelor. And holy coincidences, Batman: Two days later, Crist popped the question.
    "Scott Maxwell: Crist engagement just in time to revive that shot at VP spot".


    "Pay Buffett now for chance to pay him later".

    Killing machine

    "Crist signed a death warrant Wednesday for a Central Florida man convicted of killing two young girls after raping their mother in 1993." "Crist signs death warrant, sealing fate of child-killer".

    "State college system"

    The South Florida Sun-Sentinel editorial board: "A bachelor's degree via a community college may not be the norm, but it could soon lead to more students earning four-year degrees in Florida. The state's foray into a 'state college system' comes just in time to offset the closing of higher education opportunities at Florida's public universities, where thousands of students are being rejected due to higher admission standards and pricier tuition rates." "State college system has potential".

    Just check with McSame and get back to us ...

    The Orlando Sentinel editorial board argues that it is "a gubernatorial leap into the political muck that's keeping Wekiwa Springs and many of the state's 700-odd springs from a clean future would benefit Florida more than the governor actually submerging himself in them." "It's outrageous that Wekiwa Springs is being sacrificed".

    "The pragmatic political acumen of Bullwinkle J. Moose"

    Daniel Ruth: "This is what happens when state government is hijacked by a 12-year-old with all the pragmatic political acumen of Bullwinkle J. Moose.?"

    A perfectly legal organization seeking to improve its business interests in Florida offers to share its profits, committing to pay the state a minimum of $100 million a year in a deal that will result in billions of more dollars dedicated to the public exchequer.

    At a time when the state is struggling with massive budgetary shortfalls resulting in the reduction of services, increased costs for education, neglected infrastructure needs and a decline in the ability of first responders to meet public safety needs, you would think the infusion of the generous extra dollars would be met with open arms in Tallahassee.
    because the deal with the state involved the Seminoles to offer high stakes slot machines as well as enhanced card games such as blackjack and baccarat at its casinos across Florida, Rubio got his knickers in a wad, challenging Gov. Charlie Crist's authority in court to negotiate an agreement with the tribe.

    A few days ago, the Florida Supreme Court sided with Rubio, voiding the Seminole agreement and likely setting the stage for a legal pie fight up the federal legal food chain.

    Rubio, exuding all the sincerity of Baghdad Bob, argued he was merely trying to protect the interests of parimutuel outlets, which at the moment are prohibited from offering gambling options such as the high-stakes card games the Seminoles provide.

    But that is a canard wrapped in fiddle-faddle.

    If the Speaker wants an equitable playing field, all he needs to do is create legislation granting the parimutuels the same gaming attractions presently conducted by the Seminoles. Crisis averted.

    Would you be willing to bet, say $100 million, Crist would sign that bill faster than you could say: "Laissez les bon temps roulez!"
    ""It Means Let The Good Times Roll".

    Meanwhile, "an attempt by a Pompano Beach casino to stop the Seminoles from offering blackjack and baccarat at the tribe's casino has been rejected by a judge." "Blackjack still on at Hard Rock, for now".

    Bad planning

    The Palm Beach Post editorial Board: "Planned Parenthood Federation of America acted quickly and correctly, closing the clinics associated with the mismanaged affiliate. Now, the federation should further account for what went wrong, and how. Any unanswered questions about the failed affiliate would hinder the proven Planned Parenthood of Greater Miami, Palm Beach and Treasure Coast Inc.'s expansion. And that expansion must happen as soon as possible." "A missing half-million".

    Looks good on a political brochure ...

    The Daytona Beach News-Journal editorial board: "This is the country of second chances. Education is itself in many ways a process of second chances. But not in Florida. "

    When it comes to crime and children, lawmakers in Florida tend to opt for reaction over nuance. They like to appear tough: Three-strikes-you're-out laws choke prisons and aren't necessarily effective, but they're popular. So are laws restricting ex-sex offenders' civil and residential rights. The trend favoring tougher rather than more intelligent laws continues.
    "Florida's new law on educators' ethics ... overreaches."
    It doesn't merely punish current offenders or discourage potential offenders from abusing their position. It prohibits second chances involving individuals whose lives today may have nothing to do with lives they may have led in the distant past. Those are the sort of judgments a local school board could make in determining whether an individual should be hired. Those are the sort of judgments the new law takes away from local boards and forbids altogether. In the law's eyes, there is no such thing as youthful mistake anymore. It's a one-strike-you're-out deal.
    "No second chances".

    The Sugar thing

    Steve Bousquet and Jennifer Liberto: "U.S. Sugar's disappearance will alter the political landscape in Florida as well."

    "For the last decade, the 600-pound gorilla has been U.S. Sugar," said lawyer John French, an election law expert who has worked in the grower's campaigns. "Having that kind of leadership and resources disappear from the political radar is going to leave a vacuum. I don't think it will be filled by another industry or company."

    Coker, still the company's lobbyist, declined to comment for this article.

    But state campaign records show that since 1996, U.S. Sugar has spent $17.5-million in its name to influence the outcome of state elections in Florida.

    The company donated untold millions more through political committees, including millions used to kill a constitutional amendment that would have taxed sugar for Everglades cleanup.
    "Glades deal creates political void".

    Joel Engelhardt: "The proposed buyout of U.S. Sugar means land - lots of it - in state ownership. What the inland port needs more than anything is cheap land. The state, through the South Florida Water Management District, could make that happen. And that's not all. Aside from 300 square miles of land, the U.S. Sugar sale includes a fully operational railroad. The South Central Florida Express encircles Lake Okeechobee and connects to the area's two main freight lines, the CSX and the FEC." "Save Everglades, or the Glades?".

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