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 Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Is Charlie billing us ... ?

    ... for his appearance at this?:
    Floridians will be holding two – not just one – major social events in the nation's capital in conjunction with next month's presidential inauguration festivities.

    A previously announced black tie "Sunshine and Stars 2009 Florida Inauguration Ball" featuring Republican Gov. Charlie Crist officially has sold out. It is to be held at the prestigious Corcoran Gallery of Art on Jan. 19, the eve of President-elect Barack Obama's inauguration. ...

    Now there's word of another event to be held in honor of Florida's congressional delegation, dubbed "The 2009 Florida Inaugural Celebration." Net proceeds from this event are described as going to all the American Red Cross chapters throughout Florida.
    "Florida Has Plans To Shine At 2 Major Inaugural Events".

    "With Washington booked solid for Barack Obama's inauguration, a South Florida group has arranged a novel way to provide travel and a bed: It is hiring a cruise ship. " "Obama supporters are cruising to the inauguration".

    "Florida is expected to gain at least one seat in Congress"

    "Florida has attracted more people from outside its borders than any other state in the nation since the start of the decade. However, from 2007 to 2008, more people left Florida for other states than moved in — a net loss of nearly 9,300 people. The state still gained population from births and foreign immigration, but growth was slower than in previous years. Nevertheless, Florida is expected to gain at least one seat in Congress, and perhaps two, following the 2010 census, said Kim Brace of Election Data Services, a Virginia-based firm that crunches political numbers." "States in South, West to gain seats in Congress".

    A good thing

    "Orlando area reports 21 hate crimes in 2007 -- state's count lowest in 9 years".

    A little cake

    Charlie shares a little cake with "the people":

    With Florida's unemployment rate at a 15-year high, Gov. Charlie Crist toured an unemployment office Monday to encourage job-seekers about getting through a worsening national recession.
    "Crist sees opportunity in job loss".


    "Florida legislative leaders and Gov. Charlie Crist have agreed on a basic road map for closing a $2.3 billion budget hole next month by draining trust funds, delaying construction projects and going deeper into debt."

    The latest menu of options from Crist's office is anchored by two big-ticket money savers: tapping another $850 million from state reserves and cutting $565 million in spending as part of an already-ordered 4 percent holdback from state agencies. Through last month, state agencies had already shaved about $320 million in spending by cutting staffing, shrinking checks to schools and universities, and delaying purchases.

    Crist also wants to scrap nearly $120 million in construction work, borrow rather than pay cash for $300 million in prison construction and raid $318 million from state trust funds that finance everything from conservation lands to affordable housing.
    However, "Atwater and Sansom ruled out Crist's request to reopen debate on the Seminole Tribe's nullified gaming compact during the special session. The issue will be debated in the regular session that starts March 3." "State's budget plan: Tap trust funds, increase debt".

    And they did ...

    "Firefighters called to rescue pig".

    Poor Buddy

    "The Hillsborough elections supervisor and his chief deputy say he's getting a raw deal on his appeal for an extra $2.3-million to balance his books. " "Buddy Johnson says shame on critics".

    "Legislature in Grip of Good College Cabal!"

    Troxler: "Outraged by another round of Nobel Prizes awarded to Florida's universities, critics Thursday called for a cutback. 'This special-interest group has had its way in the Legislature for too long,' said the director of Florida Common Cause." "Here's the tip — uh, paycheck, senator".

    Pave away

    "When candidate Barack Obama promised voters on the campaign trail that "help is on the way," he could have been talking to the millions of frustrated motorists sweltering in traffic jams across Florida." "Obama's aid plan may pave road to Florida jobs".

    Milton Friedman would be happy ...

    ... after all, we're "free to choose": "Madoff scandal to cost Palm Beach County public schools".

    Lie down with dogs ...

    "State Rep. Franklin Sands, D-Weston, the House minority leader, told the Sun Sentinel on Sunday that his life savings had been nearly wiped out in the Bernard Madoff financial scandal. Sands said he invested millions with Madoff over decades." "House leader says he lost life savings".

    Maitland housewife talks space

    "If only NASA could get John F. Kennedy for Christmas. He would order us to Mars, stoke the space budget with unlimited billions and off we'd go to visit the little green men. Instead, it's Barack Obama under the tree. He may remind some of Kennedy, but I don't see any star wanderlust in his eyes. Nor do I see him on the same flight path as NASA." "NASA's essential place in space is saving Earth".

    Big of him

    The Tallahassee Democrat editorial board: "A sigh of relief could be heard throughout the land — well, around the 702 square miles that make up Leon County, plus surrounding territory — when on Friday Gov. Charlie Crist granted state employees two paid days off." "Work relief: State employees deserve this gift".

    "Dismal turnout"

    "The dismal turnout for Tuesday's runoff election for Miami-Dade County's property appraiser probably could have been predicted, but even so, it was still disappointing. The ballot question of whether to switch to an elected from an appointed property appraiser was overwhelmingly approved last January. It's obvious Miami-Dade residents thought the office important enough to warrant their right to choose who would hold it. The runoff cost the county dearly -- between $3 million and $3.5 million -- with lonely poll workers manning voting machines that were seldom in use. The sad thing is, this costly exercise could have been avoided without hindering the democratic process. The problem rests squarely with the Miami-Dade County Commission." "A costly exercise in democracy".

    The latest from Mr. Zell's toy newspaper

    The Tyrell, err ... Zell Corporation thinks American autoworkers should be forced, as a condition of federal aid, to adopt "wages and work rules by the end of 2009 that are competitive with the foreign-based automakers with U.S. plants." "The White House's gift to the auto industry doesn't guarantee real change".

    Just like "Jeb!"

    The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "The worst kind of judicial politics may place an unqualified person on the Florida Supreme Court. Blame Gov. Crist and some of his allies."

    It appears, though, that Gov. Crist wants a specific Hispanic - Frank Jimenez. And the idea of Mr. Jimenez serving on the high court should alarm anyone who believes in the independence of the judiciary.

    When Jeb Bush became governor in 1999, Mr. Jimenez was Mr. Bush's No. 2 legal adviser. In that role, Mr. Jimenez envisioned a judiciary that was in philosophical lockstep with a governor who - like his brother - sees the courts' role as validating whatever the executive branch wants to do. In an e-mail, Mr. Jimenez proposed a system of "unofficial regional panels" of Bush supporters to recruit candidates for judgeships. Mr. Jimenez added in the e-mail, "Warning to all who respond: I will be a pain-in-the-you-know-what if the recommended person is not ideologically compatible with the governor."

    That idea, which died after it became public, should be enough by itself to disqualify Mr. Jimenez. But last week, the Judicial Nominating Commission added him to the list of candidates for Justice Anstead's seat. ...

    Jimenez didn't even apply for the seat. So he was added without having to go through the customary interview before the commission. Also, according to The Daily Business Review, Mr. Jimenez had support from two commissioners who should have recused themselves. ...

    Further, Gov. Crist just passed up two chances to put a qualified Hispanic on the Supreme Court. We mentioned Judge Labarga, who also was a finalist for an earlier high court seat. When Gov. Crist chose Ricky Polston last month, Miami lawyer Edward Guedes was a finalist for the seat. But Judge Labarga is a moderate Republican whose rulings are not influenced by ideology, and Mr. Guedes is a Democrat.

    Another factor that disqualifies Mr. Jimenez is his recent experience. ...

    Either way, the commission's credibility is gone. Those commissioners who backed Mr. Jimenez should resign.

    And if the governor picks Mr. Jimenez, the choice should be challenged in court as illegal.
    But the bottom line is this - Charlie, to Florida's detriment, continues to suck up to the wingnuts that comprise the GOP to establish his bona fides for 2012:
    Gov. Crist dismisses the idea that the fix is in, saying that his choice will surprise people. The real and sad surprise has been how far the governor is willing to go to show far-right conservatives, through his Supreme Court choices, that the GOP base could be comfortable with him as a presidential candidate. He filled two high court vacancies with high-profile social conservatives; Mr. Jimenez could be even more extreme.
    Read it all here: "Florida high court politics now officially out of control". More: "Lawyers: Politics swayed Frank Jimenez's nomination to court".

    "Help is on the way" - maybe

    "When candidate Barack Obama promised voters on the campaign trail that 'help is on the way,' he could have been talking to the millions of frustrated motorists sweltering in traffic jams across Florida." "Obama's aid plan may pave road to Florida jobs". See also "List of FDOT stimulus-ready projects for the state".

    Question: should the federal government pay for state infrastructure improvements for states, like Florida, that - due to a failure of political courage (read "conservative" anti-tax hackery) - have refused to adopt a system of public finance to pay for the infrastructure and services demanded by their citizens?

    As R. J. Eskow recently explained, in connection with the recent auto bailout imbroglio,

    Southern states have been benefiting from Northern taxes for years. If they start another War Between the States, the Federal gravy train might suddenly stop at the Mason-Dixon line.

    Studies by the nonpartisan Tax Foundation have consistently shown that these Senators' states receive far more from the Federal government than they pay back in taxes. That's an irony that could lead to some Blue State bitterness: They love to preach about fiscal responsibility and lower taxes, but they keep dipping their beak into the Federal trough.

    I believe the applicable Southern phrase is "a handful of gimme and a mouthful of much obliged."

    The numbers in the Foundation's most recent study (warning: pdf) speak for themselves: Mitch McConnell's Kentucky took in $1.45 from the Feds for every dollar it paid in taxes. That's a 45 cent free ride. Bob Corker's Tennessee received at 30-cent Federal giveaway. And Richard Shelby's Alabama extracted a whopping 71-cent subsidy from Northern taxpayers.

    What about Michigan? They lost 31 cents for every dollar they paid. In other words, McConnell, Shelby, and Corker have been skimming a percentage off these autoworkers' taxes for years on behalf of their constituents. Now, when the same Michigan taxpayers need help, these Senators are telling them to get lost.

    It may not be wise for these Senators to push Northern voters too far. Taxpayers in Michigan, New York, Illinois and the other "donor states" may decide thay can't afford to keep subsidizing their Southern counterparts in a time of crisis - especially if all they get in return is "Drop Dead" on a Christmas card.
    "Do Southern Senators Really Want to Start a New War Between the States?".

    "Jeb!" agin Alex

    Aaron Deslatte writes that "the holidays are typically a time for life-altering decisions. Never more so than this year, when four of Florida's biggest political names are mulling whether an open U.S. Senate seat in 2010 will change the trajectory of their careers." Jebbie will of course run ... his gigantic ego prevents him from doing otherwise.

    As for the Dems, Deslatte notes that, Sink "has met with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and other Democratic leaders in Washington, who have made it clear she is the party's favored prospect." However,

    unless Sink decides to get in soon, there are likely to be a lot of Democrats -- including U.S. Reps. Ron Klein of Boca Raton, Allen Boyd of Monticello and state Sen. Dan Gelber of Miami Beach -- who launch campaigns.
    Rumor has it Sink is a lock to run.

    Deslatte continues, observing that "A Jeb-Sink contest also could hold poetic justice for Democrats. Bush handily dismissed Sink's husband, Tampa lawyer Bill McBride, in his 2002 gubernatorial re-election. 'Jeb could make history. He could beat the husband and the wife,' boasts Brian Ballard, a prominent Republican lobbyist, fundraiser and Crist adviser."

    However, could it be Bill "McCollum's last chance?" After all, Billy is "a two-time loser". McCollum nevertheless may want to clear up his image among Republicans as the "'the new darling of the homosexual extremists' and ... appease[r of] ... the radical homosexual lobby".

    And then there's this:
    Quietly, prominent GOP fundraisers have suggested Crist's rule over the state party would have to be tempered a bit if Bush returns.

    Bush would certainly command more of the media spotlight atop the 2010 ticket, even though Crist would be running for re-election too and ostensibly positioning himself for a 2012 White House bid.

    This month, Crist's public comments on Bush have been measured not to sound like he's discouraging everyone else who would be GOP entrants. But he has also cautiously added his own voice to those urging Bush to get in the race.
    "Who will claim Mel Martinez's U.S. Senate seat? How the contenders match up".

    100 to go

    "Wildlife officials are announcing a plan that could reintroduce the Florida panthers throughout the southeast under a recovery plan. ... About 100 panthers are found in South Florida and restricted to less than five percent of their historic range." "Officials: steps necessary to save Florida panther".

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