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, December 28, 2008

"All that's left is: borrowing"?

    The Tallahassee Democrat editorial board: "How do 160 people, plus one governor, find a way to fill a $2.3 billion hole in the state's $66 billion budget? So far we can't mint our own Sunshine money, and something in the GOP water says all taxes, even sensible ones, are poison — at least to politicians' careers. So all that's left is: borrowing." "Our Opinion: Borrowing is yesterday's solution for budget blues".

    The RPOF has painted itself into its childish "all taxes, even sensible ones, are poison", and deserves to be left to die in it.

    Wishful thinking

    Mary Ann Lindley, The Tallahassee Democrat Editorial Page Editor: is "dying to see if Jeb Bush really sets out on a quest of family retribution by running for the U.S. Senate. Will this seem his time to begin restoring confidence in the Bush family name after his brother — God bless him, as bona fide Southerners would say — has so blown any hope of a respectable presidential legacy. ... But who else could give Jeb a run for his money in Florida?"

    So who might replace Mel Martinez in the U.S. Senate when he steps down? If not Jeb, it's going to be someone already sitting restlessly on the bench. Look for someone who will summon up the courage, cunning and deep intelligence to lead Florida out of the fiscal wilderness we've been wandering in. The economic downturn offers an almost unprecedented opportunity for that rare creature, the statesman, to evolve — and make us wonder why we didn't notice him, or her, before.
    "Many eyeing Martinez seat really shouldn't".

    "Definitely improper and probably illegal"

    The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "About two weeks ago, "

    after intervention by Gov. Crist, the commission that screens applicants for the Florida Supreme Court added the politically connected general counsel for the Navy to the list of candidates for a high court seat. The commission changed its own rules to add Frank Jimenez, who as deputy legal counsel to Jeb Bush advocated a system to find judges who were "ideologically compatible" with Mr. Bush. The commission added Mr. Jimenez during a secret deliberation. The commission's action was definitely improper and probably illegal.
    "Reform judicial nominations". See also Talbot "Sandy" D'Alemberte and Bob Graham's "Take politics out of Florida's judiciary" in the The St. Petersburg Times.

    Long range planning

    "Ballooning budget deficits have prompted more U.S. states to sell off roads, parks, airports and lotteries to raise money." "States are selling off roads, parks, airports and lotteries to raise funds".

    A monster single in Florida ...?

    "The chairman of the Republican National Committee said Saturday he was 'shocked and appalled' that one of his potential successors had sent committee members a CD this Christmas featuring a 2007 parody song called 'Barack the Magic Negro.'" "GOP chief 'appalled' by Obama parody". But see "RNC chairman candidate defends 'Barack the Magic Negro' song".

    I wonder if Florida's political reporters will follow up on this with Florida's RNC members' and ask if they heard it, what their response to the "song" was, whether they copied the CD or otherwise distributed it to fellow RPOFers ... and other journalisticky [sic] questions like that.

    Indeed, someone pretending to be a political reporter might ask crazy questions something like these:

    Question: National Committeewoman Day [or National Committeeman Senft or Governor Crist or Chairman Greer, etc.], did you receive a copy of the CD with the song "Barack the Magic Negro" on it?

    Alternative Question: Have you heard the "Barack the Magic Negro" song?

    Follow up question: Have you had the song copied ... have you distributed it in any way ... to whom ... why?

    Follow up question: What steps have you taken to repudiate the song as racist?

    [continue using your skills as a journalist]
    Don't expect any follow up (at least in Florida) any time soon. For more on this subject, see "After All, He Is Black".

    And this is something to be emulated by the public sector?

    "Pensions are being phased out in the private workplace because of their high and uncertain future costs." The Tampa Trib editors apparently think so: "Lawmakers Must Trim Pricey Pensions".

    Bright futures

    "The extreme financial pressures facing Florida are forcing lawmakers to take a hard look at everything the state offers, no matter how popular. That includes the virtually untouchable Bright Futures merit-scholarship program. Past attempts to alter or diminish the lottery-funded program have been met with swift and strong protests from parents and students, causing lawmakers to back down." "Florida legislators ponder future of state's Bright Futures college scholarships — again".

    But we had "Jeb!" and Katherine

    Randy Schultz: "Yes, there is media bias. Against Florida." "Minnesota recount ousts Florida".

    C'mon ... just do it Jebbie

    "Jeb Bush Signals He's Poised to Run".

    FCAT Follies

    "Last spring, Florida lawmakers sought to ease the pressure the FCAT applied on public high schools by developing a more rounded appraisal of student performance."

    But those good intentions may end up putting more schools in the "needs improvement" category.

    In an early proposal, state education officials have recalculated the grades given last year to Florida high schools by using a model that halves the weight of the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test.

    The results: Dozens of schools would drop a letter grade on the state's report card and the number of "failing" schools would double.
    "FCAT Fix Is Flawed, Critics Say".

    The poor things

    "The real estate decline - at least as it is measured by property appraisers - is hitting hardest so far in Southwest Florida." "Dip in tax base stings region".

    More on 1950s Mississippi SW Florida

    "Lee County is not known as a hotbed of tolerance for gay people and issues important to them. Almost 65 percent of Lee voters last month backed the marriage protection amendment, which defined the union as between a man and woman." "Florida high court to rule on same-sex adoption ban".

    Pusillanimity all round

    Bill Cotterell: "In the current controversy over House Speaker Ray Sansom's landing a $110,000-a-year job at a Panhandle college, after steering $25 million to that campus, Gov. Charlie Crist and the Republican leadership have been dutifully blind to all appearance of impropriety."

    It was, they rightly insist, not against any laws — as if bare legality were the ethical standard to which all should aspire.

    Even Crist, with his self-conscious disdain for the trappings of privilege and power, professes to see nothing amiss in the speaker's deal. He clearly doesn't want to talk about it, giving one-word answers and sometimes hastening his pace when asked if this is the sort of thing the Republicans stand for, or how they can have credibility in cutting the budget while finding more than a hundred grand for the speaker's other job.

    Democratic Party Chairwoman Karen Thurman has been calling for an investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, which is also quite predictable. It's her job to view with alarm anything the Republicans do.

    But House minority leader Franklin Sands, D-Weston, has been a model of timidity. He waited a week or so for Sansom to explain the deal, then approached the topic like Oliver Twist telling the orphanage boss, "Please, Sir, I want some more."
    "Speaking truth to power isn't the best strategy".

    'Ya reckon?

    The Orlando Sentinel editorial board: "Commuter rail's benefits extend far beyond getting from here to there".


    The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "Florida's growth-management opponents have a two-pronged strategy to end what they consider "draconian" state oversight. First, do away with the Florida Department of Community Affairs, which provides a necessary counterweight to local growth decisions. Then, push a constitutional amendment that stamps out a competing amendment that truly would be draconian." "Budget tricks, tricky words are threats to growth control".

    Wishful thinking

    The Orlando Sentinel editorial board: "Fewer people moving to Florida will mean fewer new developments that locally elected officials can't seem to live without, but whose arrival lays waste to so much of what makes the state so attractive in the first place." "Florida's not the magnet it was, but there's no reason to panic".

    But will local (or even Florida) workers build it?

    "Judge Paul Hawkes, a former prosecutor and legislator now on the 1st DCA bench, has helped usher the project through the Legislature."

    Planning for the new building began several years ago, long before the recession and the collapse of the housing market created a state budget crisis.

    Hawkes has acknowledged that such a large project became a difficult sell after the state was forced to cut vital services. However, the construction will be a boon for the Big Bend when unemployment is rising and the state wants to jolt the economy with public-works projects.
    "District Court of Appeal to get $40M complex near Southwood".

    "How bad is it going to have to be"?

    The St. Petersburg Times has this today from Donald R. Eastman III, president of Eckerd College: "There are really two key questions for Florida higher education policy: How bad is it going to have to be for Florida to wake up and create a rational, powerful, nonpolitical governance system? And what governor is going to be courageous enough to lead that badly needed change?" "Low marks on higher education".

    "Forget plans for a 7,000-acre rock mine"

    "Crist's $1.34 billion bid to repair the Everglades by buying nearly all of U.S. Sugar Corp.'s farmland comes with a small demand that could lead to big headaches: Forget plans for a 7,000-acre rock mine on the property. If only it were so easy." "Condition against rock mine on U.S. Sugar land may be hard to meet".

    Fix this

    Myriam Marquez proves that even a broken clock is right twice a day: "Haitians can never seem to catch a break. U.S. immigration officials decided recently that it would be just dandy to deport Haitians while recovery efforts on their part of Hispaniola proceed in spurts and stops, as children die of malnutrition and mudslides continue to impede reconstruction." "Senseless, deadly U.S. policy on Haitians persists".

    If the teachers can't afford to come outa their own pockets ...

    ... "Florida teachers turn to Web donors for supplies".

    Stop the Madness

    The Miami Herald editorial board: "The Liberty City 'terrorism' case was hardly the federal government's finest hour. The arrests were blown out of proportion with intimations that the FBI had uncovered and infiltrated a major jihadist organization. Yet two federal juries have expressed serious doubts about the veracity of the government's claims. Now the feds want a third trial."

    "The Liberty City men said a lot of strange things. They asked the informant for money. They talked a good game. But the only weapon the FBI found when they arrested the group was a Samurai sword. There was also some martial-arts gear and a book, The Way of the Ninja. No al Qaeda tapes. No terrorism manuals. This lack of coherent evidence explains why the U.S. attorney's office has tried the Liberty City group twice only to have U.S. District Judge Joan A. Lenard declare mistrials both times because jurors were hopelessly deadlocked. Obviously jurors simply have not been persuaded that these men were truly plotting an act of deadly terror." Much more here: "Trying Liberty City group unnecessary".


    "While [St. Pete Mayor Rick] Baker won't talk publicly about what his political future could hold, politics are still likely to be a factor in what he's able to get done this coming year." "'Full speed to the finish line'". See also "40 things Rick Baker wants to get done".

    Florida-Georgia Panther

    "A new federal report shows that the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge in north Florida and southeast Georgia could be the ideal place to relocate a population of endangered panthers. The report is part of an update to a plan to increase the Florida panther population, which now lives in a few counties west of the Everglades. The report's recommendations include creating a panther corridor from South Florida into South Georgia." "Okefenokee could be home for endangered panthers".

    Latin America

    Andres Oppenheimer: "Thomas A. Shannon Jr., the top State Department official for Western Hemisphere affairs ... disputed the notion -- expressed often in this column -- that the Bush administration has not paid enough attention to Latin America." Nevertheless,

    Latin American leaders last week met in Costa do Sauipe, Brazil for the largest hemispheric summit to exclude U.S. representation. At the summit, they celebrated what many of them described as a new era of regional independence from Washington, and gave a hero's welcome to Cuban President Raúl Castro.

    Meantime, the Russian Navy made its first stop in Cuba since the end of the Cold War, shortly after a visit by Russian President Dimitri Medvedev to Brazil, Venezuela and Cuba. Simultaneously, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was meeting in Tehran with Ecuador's President Rafael Correa, following a series of Iranian ''strategic agreements'' with Bolivia and Venezuela. ...

    ... an incoming Obama administration that is not tied to the Iraq invasion, the United States will have a good chance to regain some of the ground it lost in the hemisphere over the last eight years.
    "U.S. is down, but not out, in Latin America".

    And then the Chamber of Commerce told me ...

    An alleged journalist by the name of Martiga Lohn has it all figured out:

    Unions don't like privatization deals out of fear that worker wages and benefits will be squeezed as private operators try to boost their profit by streamlining [sic] services.
    And The Miami Herald actually published that garbage.

    On nonprofits

    Kelly Otte is executive director of United Partners for Human Services and an adjunct instructor teaching nonprofit management for FSU's Askew School of Public Administration & Policy: "Nonprofits go through stages, too".


    "Cuba is ending one of its toughest economic years since the collapse of the Soviet Union, as costly food imports and three devastating hurricanes held annual growth to 4.3 percent, barely half the government forecast, top officials said Saturday." "Cuba says economic growth in '08 was stifled by hurricanes and massive food imports".

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