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 Tuesday, January 06, 2009

"Grim budget-cutting"

    "Florida lawmakers began a grim budget-cutting session Monday with more bad news: the state's deficit is likely $100 million bigger than expected and Florida leads the nation in food stamp requests. ... That means the budget hole could be $3 billion by year's end." "Crisis getting worse, lawmakers are told".

    "Florida is even deeper in the red than expected and the state deficit could grow by another $700 million by the end of this budget year". "Budget deficit could grow $700 million by June 30". See also "No one spared as state keeps hacking budget", "House begins stemming $2.3B budget shortage", "Florida Legislature to focus on cutting spending first, according to Republican leadership" and "Schools, health programs face massive cuts from Legislature".

    Oh yeah, the Dems?:
    Democratic Sen. Nan Rich of Weston said virtually every type of social service could get gutted — from transition homes for foster children to drug-treatment programs. Rich said the Legislature is precariously close to making Florida a place with little quality of life.

    "This isn't a sky-is-falling prediction," Rich said. "There are people who could be put out on the street or lose their jobs or lose their health care, and for what? We have to ask ourselves what kind of a state do we want people to live in?"
    "Florida's budget news gets worse"

    "Committees in both chambers are meeting again Tuesday to consider about $1 billion in cuts to go along with tapping reserves and raising court fees and fines - but no tax increases." "Fla. lawmakers resume budget deficit discussions".

    That many geniuses in one place isn't comforting to some of the great unwashed: " Floridians should be afraid of special legislative session":
    Be afraid. Be very afraid.

    Florida state lawmakers are in special session.

    The session that began Monday and goes until Jan. 16 is the legislature's latest slash-and-burn, take-no-prisoners attempt to balance the state budget, which is being sucked into a $2.3 billion black hole from which not even "empty chair" Gov. Charlie Crist can escape.

    His brilliant contribution in leadership so far is to call for "smart" cuts, whatever that's supposed to mean.

    This from the governor wunderkind who promised to make property taxes "drop like a rock." We're still waiting for the rock to land.

    The Republican-dominated legislature seems determined to ride the same old horse, cutting aid to schools and other critical programs, doing everything it deems politically expedient while doing its best to avoid the "T" word — taxes.
    We look forward to Charlie's "smart cuts".

    Smart?: "Crist proposes cutting $50M from Florida's universities".

    The South Florida Sun Sentinel editorial board: "As state lawmakers begin a special session to reconcile a gaping $2.3 billion budget gap, the consensus is that the only way to reconcile the shortfall is to continue business as usual, meaning cutting programs and raiding trust funds." "State budget crisis needs revenue-generating fixes".

    In the pipsqueak category: "Florida lawmakers propose raising traffic fines".

    Swept under the rug?

    "Sansom on Monday announced he'd leave his $110,000-a-year job at Northwest Florida State College in an attempt to douse a fire of controversy." "Sansom resigns controversial position at Panhandle college".

    "Florida House Speaker Ray Sansom announced Monday he will give up the $110,000 Northwest Florida State College job he took the day he was sworn in as speaker. ... Sansom defended himself even as he stepped down from the college job." "Florida House speaker to leave college job". See also "House speaker resigns college job", "Speaker resigns college position" and "House Speaker Ray Sansom resigns job at Northwest Florida State College".

    Geoff Oldfather: in the "'House Speaker Ray Sansom asinine remarks'" category:

    Sansom, R-Destin, in a moment of oratory brilliance last week, said "tough times require tough decisions."

    Wow. This from a man who cowered behind closed doors after it was learned he'd taken a $110,000 a year job as a part-time vice president at Northwest Florida State College, a school he diverted more than $30 million to while budget chairman from 2006-2008.

    The fact he resigned from the college Monday doesn't change a thing. The only reason he did was because it got too hot in the kitchen and that doesn't negate the fact he never would have acknowledged the impropriety in the first place if he hadn't been found out.
    Are Florida's meek newspaper company editorial boards willing to let bygones be bygones?

    Probably. The Tallahassee Democrat editorial board: "For Mr. Sansom to step down as speaker now, however, as the Democrat Party is urging, would probably not be in the best interests of the House. It has urgent budget work to do this week and next and needs to get back to it." "Stepping down: Legislature needs to police itself". The Orlando Sentinel editorial board: "Sansom had little choice but to resign his college job".

    The Palm Beach Post editorial board argues he must resign as Speaker as well, writing that "resigning his college job might have been enough before it became clear how much Rep. Sansom abused his legislative power."
    Now, the extent of that abuse for personal gain makes him the wrong person to lead the House during a period in which so many will be asked to sacrifice. He is scheduled to be speaker for this and next year. If revenue estimates are even close to accurate, Florida faces more cuts to education and health care. What will he tell poor transplant patients who worry that they won't get drugs to keep them alive?

    The issue of higher education will be less emotional but just as awkward for Rep. Sansom. What will he say when the presidents of the University of Florida and Florida State University come before the House for money to retain professors and avoid enrollment caps? How can Rep. Sansom tell them no with a straight face after steering so much money to a backwater institution that has fewer students than either Palm Beach Community College or Indian River State College?

    On Monday Rep. Sansom still insisted that his critics had it wrong. "Unfortunately," he told his colleagues, "some have disagreed with my decision to work at the college. While I do not question their motives, I strongly object to their conclusions. In all my years in public service, I have sought to act in a manner worthy of the trust that the people have placed in me."

    After his announcement, Rep. Sansom received an ovation. Belatedly stepping down from a job you never should have taken deserves an ovation? The Legislature's timing is off. Applaud when Rep. Sansom steps aside as speaker.
    "Sansom missed his chance to give up just one big job".

    The St. Petersburg Times editorial board appears to be the only corporation calling for a criminal investigation, writing that "only a thorough investigation by law enforcement authorities can provide the answers." "Sansom resigns; questions remain"

    Quote of the week: "GOP members in general have looked particularly robotic when it comes to challenging the speaker's misbehavior."

    Run!, "Jeb!", Run!

    Adam C. Smith: "Bush, 55, has been discussing a potential bid with fundraisers, friends and political activists since Republican incumbent Mel Martinez announced Dec. 2 that he would not seek a second term in 2010. But even close friends say Bush has given little hint about his leanings." "Senate bid by Jeb Bush iffy, friends say".

    Maitland Housewife at it again

    "Vouchers can revive budget, but make private schools pass test".

    Pleez, no Dress Greys

    "There will be 10 officially sanctioned inaugural balls. Florida will be part of the Southern Inaugural Ball." "Herald: Florida invited to join Obama party".

    We'll let our people freeze, thank you very much ...

    "Venezuela's state oil company is suspending a much-promoted program that provided free heating oil to hundreds of thousands of poor people throughout the United States, the company announced Monday."

    Mark Wolfe, executive director of the National Energy Assistance Directors Association, a Washington-based group, said Congress doubled the money available under the low-income heating oil program for 2008-09 but many people still will be cold. ''Citgo has been the only major oil company that has been willing to provide supplemental energy assistance,'' Wolfe said. ``We're sorry they won't be able to do it this year.''
    "Hugo Chávez shuts off free heating oil to U.S. poor".

    Brain trust

    "U.S. congressmen-elect Bill Posey, R-Rockledge, and Tom Rooney, R-Tequesta, are stepping into a job this week that requires their immediate attention on a deepening global financial crisis." "Freshmen congressmen settling in ahead of swearing-in Tuesday".


    "Florida House shows support for Israel".

    That's why unions negotiate death benefits

    "Fire-rescue worker killed in collision with truck on Sawgrass Expressway" ("Falzarano had been a fire-rescue employee for nine years, most recently as a rescue truck supervisor, said Palm Beach County fire-rescue spokesman Capt. Don DeLucia.").

    Another vacancy

    "The governor has asked the Florida Supreme Court Judicial Nominating Commission to recommend six nominees - the maximum number - to replace retiring Justice Charles T. Wells. The nominees must come from Central Florida's fifth appellate district [east-central Florida] since Wells was appointed from the region. ... This comes on the heal of the back-and-forth between the governor and a separate nominating commission charged with recommending a replacement for the Daytona-Beach based court of appeal's position left open by retiring 5th District Court of Appeal Judge Robert Pleus Jr." "Sentinel: Gov. Crist asks for 6 nominees to find replacement for departing judge".

    Ahem ...

    ... this doesn't sound like in "impasse", but rather a simple breach of contract:

    The Miami Herald editorial board: "The United Teachers of Dade and the Miami-Dade School Board are at an impasse over a contract the board signed off on last year. It would give teachers a raise in each of the next three years. When the budget shortfall hit hard last summer, then-Superintendent Rudy Crew deferred teachers' raises. A board majority agreed. Further negotiations between the district and the union have proved fruitless. But this impasse isn't doing anyone -- neither teachers nor the administration -- any good. Both sides should go back to the negotiating table with the understanding that they each must give up something." "Miami-Dade teachers, district should compromise".

    Fly in the ointment

    "A proposed 7,000-acre rock mine remains a hulking obstacle to the state's proposed $1.34 billion purchase of nearly all of U.S. Sugar Corp.'s farmland." "Mining firm denies U.S. Sugar lease is void".

    Elementary, my dear Watson ...

    "County auditors aren't sure what former Hills­borough Elections Supervisor Buddy Johnson did with as much as $1.7-million earmarked for new voting machines. They see no proof it went to Premier Election Solutions, the company that supplied the machines." "Audit on Buddy Johnson's spending uncovers mysteries".

    Budget blues

    "FSU to lay off about 200 workers because of budget woes".

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