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 Thursday, August 21, 2008

Charlie's hacks play the race card

    This is rich:
    Both LeMieux and Ballard suggested that had the Sargeant-related contributions come from people with names like "Smith" or "Jones," rather than through a Sargeant associate named Mustafa Abu Naba the media wouldn't be as interested.
    "Ibrahim A. Marabeh has never been to Florida and has "absolutely" no interest in Florida politics. But the district manager for Rite Aid in the Temecula area of California was among three dozen in a California Muslim community who contributed $500 each to Gov. Charlie Crist's 2006 gubernatorial campaign."

    Nevertheless, some wonder "why a group of modest-income Californians who aren't avid voters ... contributed to Crist in his 2006 campaign for governor of Florida."
    Ibrahim A. Marabeh has never been to Florida and has "absolutely" no interest in Florida politics.

    But the district manager for Rite Aid in the Temecula area of California was among three dozen in a California Muslim community who contributed $500 each to Gov. Charlie Crist's 2006 gubernatorial campaign.

    Marabeh's contribution was among some $20,000 raised on June 19, 2006, by a business relation of Harry Sargeant III, an oil company executive, a formal naval officer and longtime friend and fundraiser for Crist.
    "Bundled money helped Crist raise a record-breaking $19-million in direct contributions. Among the others:"
    • At least 30 companies owned by Ken Underwood of Ponte Vedra Beach gave the maximum $500 to Crist, for a total of $15,000, and half of the checks were written within days of the firms' creation. Underwood holds a state contract to publish driver safety handbooks.

    •Crist received some $6,500 from Miami companies owned by Sergio Pino, a prominent builder and developer and supporter of Republican candidates. Pino was the subject of a federal public corruption investigation along with Miami-Dade County Commissioner Jose "Pepe" Diaz.
    "Donations for McCain and Crist bundled far from Florida".

    FlaDem circular firing squad

    "South Florida's most competitive state Senate primary is rapidly becoming its nastiest thanks to shadowy third-party groups with a reputation for stealth attacks. Heading into Tuesday's primary, voters in state Senate District 31 have been inundated with mailings and robo-calls blasting Democrats Ken Gottlieb, Eleanor Sobel and Tim Ryan -- three former state representatives locked in a tight contest to replace term-limited Senate Democratic Leader Steve Geller." "State Senate 'stealth' campaign ads getting nasty".

    'Ya think?

    The Tallahassee Democrat editorial board: "The long-term solution — which only a state with strong political leadership could craft — is comprehensive tax reform. Meaningful reform goes far beyond promises of lower property taxes, which scores political points but fails to solve Florida's fundamental financial challenge, which isn't simply a result of the current downturn. Whether that reform will ever come about is uncertain. But in the meantime, public education can't be allowed to wither on the vine." "Save our schools".

    Off topic

    The St. Petersburg Times editorial board: "In a little-noticed speech, Defense Secretary Robert Gates offered some unusually clear-headed thinking about the role of the military in a changing world. He suggested that concerns about 'creeping militarization' of American foreign policy are not unreasonable, and he emphasized the benefits of negotiation and diplomacy in a tone refreshingly different from the Bush administration’s usual rhetoric." "Wisdom, candor at the Pentagon".

    "Legislative leaders have ruled out tax hikes to close the gap"

    The Orlando Sentinel editorial board: "Bleak tax-revenue forecasts for Florida have become depressingly familiar."

    So have stopgap responses from the governor and legislators. They prefer the path of least resistance -- cutting programs indiscriminately or raiding reserves -- to the tougher but smarter course of running government more efficiently.

    State economists, citing the weak economy, recently predicted Florida's tax revenues in this budget year would fall $1.8 billion short of earlier estimates. That would open a new gap in a budget already cut by $6 billion from last year.
    ""Lawmakers are taking the easy way out when balancing the budget".

    FCAT trap

    The Palm Beach Post editorial Board: "State sets FCAT trap".

    Yet another empty suit

    Steve Bousquet: "To the Republican lawmaker from Indialantic, who hopes to become Senate president in 2010, Amendment 5 is a hidden tax increase. That goes against the mantra he has preached during eight years in the Legislature: Government must shrink, not grow."

    But what Haridopolos — the most visible opponent of Amendment 5 — doesn't mention on the road is that he is a longtime government employee, who in February got a big promotion to lecturer and internship coordinator at the University of Florida's Bob Graham Center for Public Service. He is paid $75,000 a year.

    Before that, Haridopolos was a Brevard Community College instructor. And for the past four years, his $38,000 salary didn't require teaching, only that he write a book, still unpublished, about his political experiences and legislative history called Florida Legislative History and Processes. During those years he also collected his legislative salary, now $31,000.

    Haridopolos sees no contradiction between multiple government salaries and his charges of runaway government spending.
    "Haridopolos fights government spending, takes government salaries".

    64,000 deep thinkers

    "Overall, Florida now has nearly 1.1 million black Democrats, compared to just under 64,000 black Republicans. Louisiana has about 704,000 black Democrats and 26,000 black Republicans, and North Carolina has more than 1 million black Democrats and just under 44,000 black Republicans."

    "The only three states that track voting registration by party and race show black Republican registration dropping slightly since the beginning of the year. Florida has 81,512 more black Democrats compared to a loss of 784 black Republicans; Louisiana has 34,325 more black Democrats, while the number of black Republicans dropped by 907; North Carolina has 92,356 more black Democrats and 2,850 fewer black Republicans." "Obama inspires black Republicans to switch parties".

    Florida's finest

    Daniel Ruth - "This is always the best way to begin a political career:"

    simply having someone hand you an elective office, which spares one the indignity of having to bother with all those icky-poo-poo details of a campaign such as shaking hands with total strangers, asking people for money, eating bad food, showing up.

    A few days ago, young Rachel Burgin was a lass working in Washington, just like thousands of other young people yearning to have some sort of politically-juiced job.

    Now Burgin, 26, for all practical purposes has to be considered the presumptive heir to the State House District 56 seat, which has been unexpectedly vacated by Rep. Trey Traviesa, who apparently decided making money in the private sector sure beat having to sit around Tallahassee for months at a time.

    More qualified than your typical RPOFer:
    Burgin was Traviesa's aide until landing some sort of vague White House job she declined to clarify. What is it about people who think bringing Dick Cheney his Sanka somehow qualifies for a "For Your Eyes Only" national security clearance?

    Before working as Traviesa's apparatchik and sharpening Laura Bush's pencils, Burgin cut her political teeth as a minion-in-waiting for Hillsborough County Commissioner Brian Blair, which had to be a bit like learning the ropes on the proper application of cosmetics from Rudy Giuliani.
    So she had "some sort of vague White House job she declined to clarify". Nothing involving pizza one hopes.
    So the Star Chamber of Republican Muckety-Mucks could afford to be magnanimous in selecting a 12-year-old for Traviesa's seat. And why not? Adam Putnam served in the Florida Legislature as an embryo, before getting elected to the U.S. House of Representatives when he was 7 - or so it seemed, to the odd old fogey here and there.

    It never hurts for a political party to develop bench strength for the future, which the Republicans have done here in serving up a political career on a platter to a relatively inexperienced but apparently bright young woman[*].

    She would never admit this, because it's considered very bad form among professional pols, but given her new status, Burgin could be forgiven if in her private moments, she's tried out the sound of: "Senator Burgin," "Gov. Burgin," and yes even (very, very quietly) "President Burgin."
    "Is President Burgin So Far-Fetched?"

    - - - - - - - - - -
    *Bright may be the wrong word: she's "a former assistant to Hillsborough County Commissioner Brian Blair and is studying at Bob Jones University in Greenville, S.C."

    Who knew?

    "[D]espite their obvious destructiveness, hurricanes are highly beneficial — benefits that never get big play in the news. In a word, the hurricane is also 'good.'" "Tropical ill winds blow some good".


    "Sen. Hillary Clinton will meet with senior citizens at the Kings Point community in Tamarac today following her appearance at a rally for Barack Obama in Boca Raton." "Hillary Clinton to talk with seniors in Tamarac".

    "One of Florida's greater flood-plain follies"

    Mike Thomas: "Three months ago, Palm Bay was burning up in a wildfire fueled by drought. And now it's drowning in a flood. This is a cursed city, almost perfectly designed for the disasters that have befallen it. Palm Bay was one of Florida's greater flood-plain follies, conceived by one of the state's premier swampland scam artists -- General Development Corp." "Palm Bay's floods, fires a case study in Florida's flood-plain follies".

    What do "minor violations" go for?

    $4,000 for a "serious violation" causing a death?

    Tennessee "has fined a Florida-based company in an accident that killed a bridge worker. Antonios Diassakos, an employee of Tarpon Springs, Fla.-based Seminole Equipment, was killed May 16 when he was hit in the head by a cable while working on a bridge over Interstate 24 in Chattanooga." "Company fined in accident that killed worker".

    "Thanks a lot, Jeb!"

    A mere citizen - one Andrew Balee - bemoans Jebbie's damage to public education:

    But still, to rank 48th, only above Mississippi in the Old South (no offense to you, Misissippi) and below Alabama (see above; you have a beautiful state), but even below Louisiana, whose only superlative among states is this: It ranks 1st in rate of prison incarceration.

    Thanks a lot, Jeb! Privatizing schools was a good way to start killing state government, piece by piece. Privatizing prisons was a good idea too, (except for that time the Wackenhut Corp. gave 24 hours notice that they were abandoning a jail, due to its lack of profitability, and the state had to quickly mobilize other resources to guard the doors, lest there be an "incident.") That's the real problem with privatization, you know: Private comapnies need to make a profit, even if it's off the public.

    I suppose the greatest thing we owe you, Jeb, is the way you have educated the people of this state to keep voting Republican, so that nothing goes wrong. God knows what would have happened under another Lawton Chiles or Bob Graham. (You newcomers can skip that last sentence. I haven't time to educate you. Just accept the fact that it was sarcastic.)
    "Gov. Bush's education plan went sadly awry in Florida".

    Probably a good idea

    "Democratic Party leaders want to regain control of the primary calendar and reduce the number of superdelegates through a new commission announced Wednesday." "Party leaders plan to review Democratic primary calendar".

    A connection or two wouldn't hurt ...

    "Florida State University's incoming freshman class is unlike any in the school's history. Its members have the best credentials of any other freshman class, and it's the smallest in at least a decade." "FSU's new class 'best prepared' in years".

    No mention of his Vietnam "service"

    "Forget the lame-duck status and bad poll numbers. President Bush got a warm reception today when he spoke to the Veterans of Foreign Wars' national convention [in Orlando]. ... He was greeted with a standing ovation and interrupted several times by applause." "Veterans cheer Bush's call for 'offense' against terror".

    Another headline: "Veterans give mixed reaction to Bush's speech in Orlando".

    Is it me? ...

    ... but shouldn't we rugged, independent entrepreneurial types stop running to the feds (read the rest of the Country) for help every time it rains? "Fay's refusal to leave the state has prompted Gov. Charlie Crist to seek federal money for cleanup when the storm finally disappears." "Storm slows to crawl, may douse entire state".

    Who cares

    "Jeb backs Dade Children's Trust ballot initiative".

    Poor Vern

    "Congressman Vern Buchanan's 2005 campaign violated campaign finance law by pressuring employees at his car dealerships for money and reimbursing some for contributions, a watchdog group alleges in a complaint filed Tuesday with the Federal Election Commission." "Watchdog group blasts Buchanan on campaign finance".

    Poor Charlie ...

    ... he's handing out the door prizes. "Crist to speak on final day of GOP convention".

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