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, November 15, 2008

They're a comin' Back to Tally !!!

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    The Tallahassee Democrat editorial board: "Florida lawmakers are coming to town next week, the new ones and the older hands, who will be facing the downward spiraling effects and certainly they and Gov. Charlie Crist must do more than wring their hands until March."
    "It may be a rough Thanksgiving".

    Dumb and Dumberer, or is it vice versa?

    Douglas C. Lyons, writes in the The South Florida Sun-Sentinel today that "the party's future may come down to a choice of conservatism embodied in two very different Florida governors. Jeb Bush vs. Charlie Crist."

    On one hand, we have these creeps ...

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    ... and their pals

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    Regarding Bushco, Lyons argues that Jebbie
    Bush remains the quinessential party brand and a darling of the conservative base. He accomplished [sic] a lot, slashing taxes, implementing school vouchers and strengthening the chief executive's role to name a few. Of course it helps to have a pliant Republican majority in the Legislature, a big budget surplus and a brother who is president of the United States.
    And precisely what part of that was "good"? Lyons neglects to mention Jebbie's other "accomplishments", including his leaving Florida's public finance system in shambles, hundreds of millions of dollars in privatization scams, stacking the bench (just like Charlie) with right-wingers (can you say Batista's grandson?), and many other gems.

    On the other hand ... the GOPers have ...

    ... Chain Gang Charlie's "veneer of moderation".

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    When it comes to Charlie, Lyons observes that
    Crist doesn't have his predecessor's advantages. He has to rely on a veneer of moderation to reach across party lines. Still, Florida's current governor remains popular in pushing a wide range of initiatives from addressing global warming to making it easier for ex-felons to regain their civil rights.

    Both men are accomplished politicians, bonafide conservatives and party stalwarts. Crist may be the better fit to meet today's challenges, but the heart and soul of the party faithful remains with Bush.

    It's a quandry Republicans must resolve if they want to remain a viable alternative when Democrats take over in January.
    "Douglas C. Lyons: Florida could help shape GOP's future".

    Sincere props to Lyons for acknowledging that Chain Gang Charlie maintains a mere "veneer of moderation".

    At the same time, it speaks to the extent knuckles are drug in the RPOF when Chain Gang has to be commended for having the balls to acknowledge the existence of "global warming" and, get this ... even suggesting that Florida join the rest of the states (i.e., those that did not join the traitorous War of the Rebellion) and modify Jim Crow era limits on felon voting. (Lyons does not mention Charlie's courageous stand against murdering civil rights warriors, and his heroic opposition to murder generally).

    This, apparently, is what it takes to be viewed as a "moderate Republican" in Florida.

    The "values" crowd

    "The state's public schools have laid off lunchroom workers and bus drivers, slashed administration, put maintenance on hold and soon will exhaust their reserve funds." "Fla. budget cuts exhausting school reserve funds".

    Meanwhile, as "Budget cuts, brain drain, drown Florida universities", "The Florida State University Board of Trustees gave President T.K. Wetherell [a former state House Speaker] a glowing evaluation Friday, and renewed his current contract. ... Wetherell did not receive a raise. His salary will remain at $309,000. In addition he'll receive two bonuses totaling $285,000." "Board of Trustees praises Wetherell in evaluation, gives him bonuses totaling $285,000".

    "That still leaves Republicans with a 76-44 House majority"

    "The Republican challenger in Florida's only previously undecided legislative race has conceded." "Fla. GOP legislative candidate concedes".

    Never mind

    "After spending 27 years in prison, convicted killer Bill Dillon will get a new trial."

    Dillon, 49, who has always maintained his innocence, is getting help from The Innocence Project of Florida, an organization that uses DNA evidence to try to overturn convictions.

    The group has footed the bill for tests that showed Dillon's DNA was not on a bloody T-shirt that was used to convict him.
    "Man to get new trial in Brevard after serving 27 years for murder conviction" ("The Innocence Project also helped Wilton Dedge, a Brevard County man convicted in a 1981 rape and freed after 22 years when the DNA of semen taken from the victim proved he was not the rapist.")

    Charlie's Cheerleaders (a/k/a "the press")

    Desperate to get on the big bus with the national media in 2012, Charlie's Cheerleaders in Florida's pipsqueak "political media corps" are desperate to carry his water. The latest is from Steve Bousquet: "Two years ago, Crist answered a hard-right challenge from Tom Gallagher by playing to the conservative base and calling himself 'a Jeb Bush Republican,' a label not altogether fitting."

    And precisely why is considering Charlie a Jeb-clone is not "altogether fitting"? The best Bousquet could do:

    Crist won a three-way race for governor with 52 percent of the vote, and for two years has glided toward the middle on issues like climate change and civil rights for released felons. At the same time, he tries to say and do just enough to avoid alienating the GOP base.

    He has put two conservative white men on the state Supreme Court, and the libertarian Cato Institute awarded him an "A" for fiscal policies, one of only three governors rated so high. He firmly opposes raising taxes.

    But Crist says he respects Barack Obama's Florida victory and Democratic gains in voter registration that nearly produced wins in Jacksonville and Sarasota, an idea unthinkable a few years ago.
    "Crist stays as close to center as he can".

    Another newspaper company lightweight chimed in earlier this week: "After a wild ride of an election season that took him from John McCain's Arizona ranch to Old Europe, Gov. Charlie Crist is in the midst of a quick rise to the national stage, proposing a distinctive blend of sunny, pocketbook-driven politics as Republicans plot a way back to power. Could it be the right message for a party demoralized in the election?" "Crist in 2012?". See also "Florida a model for GOP?".

    A "distinctive blend of sunny, pocketbook-driven politics"? Precisely what does that mean? But we look forward to Charlie taking whatever that is elsewhere.

    Anyway, "DraftCharlie.com" is still available.

    "Shill, baby, shill!"

    While Frank Cerabino is too kind to pin this on the empty suit occupying the Governor's office, this is yet another example of what passes for leadership in Florida these days:

    "Once we sell off Alligator Alley, we can unload the fishing rights on Lake Okeechobee, start some logging in the Ocala National Forest, and place some ads on the skin of the Space Shuttle."

    Yes, the new motto of Florida is "Everything Must Go."

    Shill, baby, shill!
    Sen. Dave Aronberg, D-Greenacres, the anti-freedom [assert additional right-wing buzz words as appropriate] Commie raising a stink about selling Alligator Alley to foreign investors is
    stuck on some quaint idea that because taxpayers paid to build the road, which wasn't even envisioned to be a toll road, they shouldn't now be the drivers who will get to pay the higher tolls to make the deal profitable for the foreign investors.

    This type of thinking is so 2007. What's going on now is the "monetizing" of assets.

    That's a highfalutin way of saying that we're looking to get quick cash in exchange for giving up something of long-term value. Sure, it's a bad deal in the long run. But it's got short-term appeal.
    Aronberg's stuck on some quaint idea that because taxpayers paid to build the road, which wasn't even envisioned to be a toll road, they shouldn't now be the drivers who will get to pay the higher tolls to make the deal profitable for the foreign investors.

    This type of thinking is so 2007. What's going on now is the "monetizing" of assets.

    That's a highfalutin way of saying that we're looking to get quick cash in exchange for giving up something of long-term value. Sure, it's a bad deal in the long run. But it's got short-term appeal.
    What's the problem? After all,
    Crack addicts do these sorts of transactions all the time. So why not the state?

    "They're even talking about privatizing the Lottery now," Aronberg said. "This is an example of term-limit politics. You have immediate gratification, and by the time the bills come due, you're out of office."

    And when the tolls go up, you can't blame the politicians, because they aren't the ones raising them. Go dial up some European conglomerate, or wherever the benefactors of this deal might be.
    "Alley lease to foreigners a bad deal with appeal".

    The root of all evil

    "The sponsor of a law forbidding investment of state funds in companies doing energy business with Iran wants Gov. Charlie Crist to look into financial arrangements of a European oil company building a fuel terminal at Port Canaveral. State Sen. Ted Deutch, D-Boca Raton, said the energy giant Vitol supplies about 60 percent of the gasoline imported by Iran. He said the company is building a $100 million fuel terminal at the Florida port." "Crist asked to scrutinize Vitol deal".

    Another RPOFer privatization flop

    "A seven-year privatization effort for prison food services is officially over as the state begins taking over meal preparation in some prisons" in Florida last week.

    Since signing a contract with the state seven years ago, Aramark has received mixed reviews. There have been questions about food quality, quantity and potential health violations. At times, the company has been fined by the state for failure to meet the specifications of its contract.

    The company now faces fines of more than $300,000 for violations.

    Trinity, which serves the region of the state from Madison to Flagler counties, will ceas[d serving food Thursday]. Aramark will gradually withdraw from the rest of the state and will be out of the state's prison food business by mid-January.

    Taking back food operations is "quite unprecedented for a department of corrections," Aramark spokeswoman Sarah Jarvis said.

    Prison officials they can cut the food price by altering the menu and making other cost savings quickly, [Department of Corrections spokeswoman Gretl] Plessinger said. The department will realize 100 percent of the savings by changing the menu to cheaper items instead of splitting that with the vendors, she said.
    "State takes over cooking for inmates from private firms".

    Bingo! The government "will realize 100 percent of the savings ... instead of splitting that with the vendors", who in turn plow part of their privatization contract profits back into the Republican Party of Florida as kickbacks political contributions for being awarded the contracts (and profits) in the first place. Paul Krugman put it a bit more delicately a few years ago: its simple a "spoils" of victory thing.

    We've touched on this RPOFer privatization scam many times over the years. Back in 2005, we took a look at "'Jeb!''s Spoils System"
    The Palm Beach Post editorial board today [July 5, 2007]:
    Gov. Bush is interested in accountability only when it does not to apply to him or to private companies being paid by state taxpayers.
    And we know why, of course (coursesy of Paul Krugman):
    Jeb Bush has already blazed the [spoils system] trail. Florida's governor has been an aggressive privatizer, and as The Miami Herald put it after a careful study of state records, "his bold experiment has been a success" at least for him and the Republican Party, records show. The policy has spawned a network of contractors who have given him, other Republican politicians and the Florida G.O.P. millions of dollars in campaign donations."
    "Victors and Spoils". And here are some recent examples.
    Last summer, the Florida Department of Children and Families secretary quit after an inspector general found that he and some of his executives had accepted favors and steered contracts to lobbyists and friends. In October, the State Technology Office canceled a $173 million contract with Bearing Point Inc. and Accenture, large donors to the Republican Party of Florida, amid a criminal investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and a critical review by the Legislature's auditor general.

    Another private company, Convergys Corp., is being paid $350 million in a nine-year contract (that mysteriously grew from $262 million over seven years) to handle the state's personnel services. But the company has missed or delayed paychecks to workers, caused employees to be dropped from health insurance plans because Convergys did not pay increased premiums, erroneously deducted too much from paychecks for benefits and otherwise provided unacceptable service.
    "Governor wants to spend without anyone watching".
    And, in "Jeb!"'s "Excesses", it was observed that "Jeb!" "vetoed three bills that were designed to better oversee privatization and improve government efficiency." "Lawmakers counteract excesses by governor"."

    "Obama's inaugural"

    "West Palm Beach prepares to celebrate Obama's inaugural".

    "Sore Loserman"

    "Departing Hillsborough County commissioner Brian Blair said Thursday he intends to pursue legal action against his opponent in last week's election for spreading lies about him during the campaign."

    Blair, a Republican, claims that Democrat Kevin Beckner falsely accused him in campaign fliers of giving himself a pay raise. He also took issue with Beckner suggesting that he funneled taxpayer dollars to a cleanup of his private lake and supports the Confederate flag.

    Beckner beat Blair, who was seeking a second term, by a 10-point margin Nov. 4.
    "Brian Blair plans to ask the court to weigh in on campaign fliers".

    The other second amendment

    "Fla. 3rd-grader shows up to school with gun".

    I'm gitin' me a fast shooter 'un

    "Gun sales are up across Central Florida ... after President-elect Barack Obama's open support of permanently banning assault weapons." "Gun sales up after Obama openly supports banning assault weapons".

    But it surely ain't just the assault weapon talk from Obama. There's the whole thing about blacks taking over the White House; as Florida's "walking deliverance themes" put it,: purty soon we'll have black "people swinging from trees and scratching their armpits forever" herun Florida, and, worseun still, "BLACK OBAMA SUPPORTERS COMING FROM THE INNER CITY" to take over our white 'hoods (intentional pun) and stuff. After all,: "Gun sales rise predictably whenever there is a social or economic crisis".

    But ... wait ... in Jacobs v. Seminole County, ...

    ... it was OK if all the Republican absentee ballot voters had their absentee ballots counted so long as there was no finding of "fraud, gross, negligence, or intentional wrongdoing in connection with any absentee ballots." Technical deficiencies weren't enough to prevent an otherwise valid ballot from being counted.

    That was then.

    "The Palm Beach County election canvassing board on Friday reluctantly agreed to throw out 372 absentee ballots because voters hadn't penned their signatures in the right place. The absentee ballots had been in limbo since last week's presidential race as the board searched for a way to let them count." "Ballots signed in wrong place, thrown out".

    In the Top Three!

    "In RealtyTrac's report, three states — Nevada, Arizona, Florida — had the nation's top foreclosure rates. " "Foreclosures speed up across South Florida".

    Does this deserve an editorial?

    Always happy to smear a public employee with a defined benefit retirement plan, we get this gem today from the The Palm Beach Post editorial Board:

    Rothe was briefly suspended but then went back to work as a firefighter and paramedic. His service has been valuable. His actions were not malicious, and he was not solely responsible for Mr. O'Hara's death.

    But the level of Rothe's irresponsibility is egregious, as is his repeat status as a DUI offender. The fact that he is in the life-saving business doesn't atone for the life lost in that boating accident. Rothe faces a maximum of five years when sentenced in January, and he should serve at least one.
    "Firefighters behaving badly".


    "Wasserman Schultz, Wexler among 50 most influential Jewish Americans".

    FPL follies

    The Miami Herald editorial board: "FPL customers pay for others' mistakes".

    Yet more from the "values" crowd

    The St. Petersburg Times editorial board: "The VA has turned on a dime several times in the past year when faced with celebrated cases of indifference, poor judgment and neglect."

    Officials at the James A. Haley VA Medical Center in Tampa reached out in October to James Carroll when the Air Force veteran, dying of leukemia, charged that Haley had refused to admit him because it lacked the space. "The good thing about the VA is that we were able to get it fixed," a spokesman said at the time. The move followed the VA's apology in August to Florida Sen. Bill Nelson for not providing a more complete picture about the death of a veteran and a reversal in September of the agency's ban on voter registration at veterans' facilities.
    "Veterans deserve better".

    The Peter Principle in action

    "State Sen. Mike Fasano, a New Port Richey Republican who has become one of Tampa Bay's most powerful lawmakers, on Thursday got a new job in the Senate: president pro tempore. That appointment makes him top chief to incoming president Jeff Atwater." "Fasano gets new job in Florida Senate".

    Off topic

    "The widely unknown story of the Bielski brothers, who saved more than 1,200 Jews from Nazis during World War II, is about to become a major motion picture starring Daniel Craig." "Three brothers defied terror".

    Intolerant Democrats

    The idiots at the Zell Corporation want you to know that Dems are intolerant..

    Real intolerance

    "'National Day of Protest' of gay-marriage bans includes Orlando, 85 other cities".

    The RPOFers call this ...

    ... governmental interference with "freedom": "a bill designed to crack down on predatory towing companies." "State Looks At County Towing Legislation".

    Perhaps the author of this piece ...

    ... "Back to democratic reality after Obamamania" ... will get to his point.

    The Daytona Beach News-Journal editorial board shows its chops in a coupla good ones this morning: "Arbitrary sentencing" and "Threats under the high seas".

    Not just Florida

    "Obama Getting More Threats Than Other Presidents-Elect".

    Sinking ship

    "At Miami conference, GOP governors vow to right the ship". See also "SC Gov. Sanford named head of GOP governor group".

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