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
"every political insider should be reading right now."

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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 Tuesday, July 22, 2008

"Florida's economic reality bites"

    The Daytona Beach News-Journal editorial board: "The state led the nation in job losses for a 12-month period ending in May, and experts say the construction and tourism industries have yet to hit rock bottom, though declining home sales and rising gas prices already have done considerable damage. By next July, state economists expect unemployment to hover just above 6 percent (the current rate is 5.5 percent) and estimates released last week predict that the economy won't begin recovery until late 2009."
    Even without an economic decline, the state's budget picture could worsen. The Florida Budget and Taxation Reform Commission failed to tackle the state's real budget needs this year, instead recommending a foolhardy measure that would make state and local governments even more reliant on the unreliable sales tax.

    It's understandable that Florida's leaders don't want to face economic reality. It's grim. But if they don't, they risk something worse than the current, painful but temporary economic downturn.
    "Florida's economy teeters on visit-build whims".

    But "Jeb!" said ...

    ... to round up: "Florida's method ... has consistently resulted in much higher graduation rates than the national studies." "Mixed results in study of Fla. graduation rate".

    Cuba cash

    "House lawmakers agreed to unfreeze $45 million in assistance to Cuba after the U.S. State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development promised to immediately work to improve the program, the head of the House Foreign Affairs Committee announced Tuesday." "US aid to Cuba unfrozen, State Dep. pledges reform".

    Amendment 5 battle heatin' up

    "A group of business leaders have filed a lawsuit to remove the amendment from the ballot and John Sebree, of Florida Realtors Association, which has pledged $1 million to support Amendment 5, acknowledged today he was concerned about the opposition from small businesses."

    Sebree said eliminating property taxes that pay for public schools, which is where the proposed cut would happen, would help make Florida business more competitive.

    "That's a big deal," Sebree said. "I think they're looking at the unknowns two or three years down the road and not looking at what this could really do for them now. I think that it's short sighted."

    But Barnie Bishop of the Associated Industries of Florida, one of the groups that filed the suit in Leon County Court, said, "There is no now." ...

    Sebree held a press conference to unveil giveme5florida.com and promote support for the amendment from state Reps. Frank Attkisson, R-Kissimmee, and Darryl Rouson, D-St. Petersburg.
    "Property tax amendment faces opposition". See also "Florida Association of Realtors campaigns for 'tax-swap' amendment".

    Go gators

    "It's 7 a.m. in the marsh, and like some sort of cigar-chomping swamp cowboy, biologist Lindsey Hord is about to reach for something that could cost him a few fingers -- or worse -- if he's not careful. It's the first day of Florida's annual alligator egg collection program, a yearly ritual to replenish stocks for the state's gator farmers." "State keeps farms full by culling wild nests".

    AFSCME endorsements

    "Declaring that state employees can't afford to have legislators on a 'learning curve,' the labor organization representing public workers announced its endorsements Monday." See who they are here: "Public workers' union endorses candidates".

    "A 1930s-style economic depression"

    "If U.S. Sugar Corp. isn't replaced with something equally viable, the towns and rural counties around Lake Okeechobee could be thrust into a 1930s-style economic depression, a Glades County commissioner said Monday." "Loss of U.S. Sugar big Glades concern".

    Luv dat corporate welfare

    The Palm Beach Post editorial Board: "Today, Palm Beach County commissioners will consider a contract that calls for the public to pay more than $3 million a year, to start, for 20 years to raise $86.9 million for Max Planck. The result would be Planck's first American operation. The county would pay for a $60'million building at Florida Atlantic University's Jupiter campus, next to Scripps, and contribute nearly $27'million for Planck's operating costs, including equipment. The state would match the county's contribution." "Invest in better times; seal the deal on Planck".

    "Mortgage fraud"

    The St. Petersburg Times editorial board: "There is plenty of blame to spread around for the mortgage crisis and the record number of home foreclosures, from greedy mortgage companies to individuals who recklessly bought more house than they could afford to lax federal regulation."

    Now it appears the state of Florida shoulders a good bit of responsibility as well. The state has failed to adequately screen mortgage professionals, aggressively discipline those who took advantage of borrowers or even regulate a significant portion of the industry. Gov. Charlie Crist and the Cabinet need to take immediate action to ensure the state fulfills its obligation to protect homeowners from the worst of the predatory brokers.
    "An eight-month investigation by the Miami Herald (www.miami herald.com) is appropriately labeled "Borrowers Betrayed.'' The newspaper found thousands of ex-convicts were allowed by state regulators to enter the mortgage business, where they had access to borrowers' personal financial information."
    From 2000 to 2007, the state let more than 10,000 people with criminal records go to work in the mortgage business — including more than 4,000 who passed background checks even though they committed crimes such as fraud and extortion that state law says should be flagged by regulators. A 2006 law requiring national criminal background checks was routinely ignored by the Office of Financial Regulation.

    Guess what happened: The Herald found those ex-convicts committed more than $85-million in mortgage fraud and stole identities and money from some borrowers.
    "As mortgage mess spread, Florida failed".

    The Miami Herald editorial board: "Licensed to steal, with state's blessings". The Orlando Sentinel editorial board: "Florida is too weak in protecting the public from mortgage fraud". The Tampa Tribune editorial board: "Negligent Florida Let Criminals Infect Mortgage Industry".

    The skeeters are doin' OK, though: "Swimming pools at foreclosed houses become mosquitoes' home".


    The Palm Beach Post editorial Board: "The key issue was simple:"

    Would Congress cut payments to doctors who treat Medicare patients or payments to private insurance companies that cover Medicare patients? Since Republicans have tried since 2003 - and the overpriced, oversubsidized prescription-drug plan - to privatize Medicare, most GOP lawmakers first wanted to penalize the doctors. But a July Fourth weekend of ads by the American Medical Association and hostile reaction from constituents shifted the debate. The House and Senate passed the bill by wide enough margins that the veto didn't matter.
    "Unprivatizing Medicare".

    God forbid that these slavers miss a paycheck

    The Palm Beach Post editorial Board: "Florida tomato growers correctly blame the FDA for stigmatizing their product without working more closely with the industry early on to trace the problem to its source."

    It appears that the government jumped to a convenient conclusion under public pressure to come up with an answer - any answer. Tomato sales have plummeted, and growers have no assurance that things will get better with the next harvest. Some farms may switch to other crops in the fall to avoid the risk of more wasted effort and heavy losses. Consumers figure to take a hit from rising prices, too.

    The FDA's inept and irresponsible response to the outbreak cost Florida growers mightily. They want compensation from the government, and they deserve to get it.
    "Growers' case stronger".

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