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 Friday, February 06, 2009

The right kinda "blue"

    "State Senate Democratic Leader Al Lawson will challenge incumbent U.S. Rep. Allen Boyd in 2010, sources close to Lawson confirmed this morning. Boyd, elected to Congress twelve years ago, is a leader of the 'Blue Dog Coalition,' a group of conservative Democrats. The Panhandle farmer also served in the state House." "Lawson to challenge Boyd for Congress".

    Cretul's a complete wingnut

    About Mr. Cretul:

    He's conservative [sic] -- and has backed losing candidates in recent GOP primaries, including Fred Thompson in last year's presidential race and Tom Gallagher in 2006's gubernatorial primary versus Charlie Crist.

    In 2006, Cretul sponsored a bill that would have outlawed Florida tax dollars being spent on same-sex or unmarried partners of employees of public universities and community colleges. But with no indication that such a thing was a problem -- or something many Floridians cared about -- the proposal failed to gain traction, even in the Republican-dominated Legislature. So it died.

    He's one of the most consistently pro-business legislators in the state, according to numerous groups, including the Florida Chamber of Commerce and Associated Industries of Florida.

    Cretul made national news in 1997 when, as a Marion County commissioner, he led a fight to keep an abortion clinic out of his county. He worked with the FBI in a sting that led the feds to charge the doctor with extortion, accused of wanting money in exchange for not opening his clinic.
    "Speaking of House speakers, we've got 'em".

    Another failed Jebacy

    "About 42,000 Medicaid patients in Broward County and 37,000 others will have their health care disrupted because the largest HMO in Florida's Medicaid reform experiment is dropping out, health officials said Thursday. The reform, started by then-Gov. Jeb Bush in 2006, moved almost all Medicaid patients in Broward and the Jacksonville area into HMO-style plans, aiming to trim the state's $16 billion Medicaid budget and improve care." "Big HMO in Medicaid reform drops Broward". See also "42,000 in Broward to have health care disrupted".

    Sansom death spiral

    "Sansom and the board of trustees of Northwest Florida State College met in Tallahassee last March to discuss legislation that, once passed, elevated the school above traditional community colleges."

    State law requires a get-together like that be held in public. But the meeting, arranged by Sansom at the request of college president Bob Richburg, was held with little public notice at a members-only club in Tallahassee, 150 miles from the Northwest Florida State campus in Okaloosa County. ...

    Caterers for the University Center Club overlooking the football stadium at Florida State University, where the meeting was held, were told not to post signs directing the public to the private room.

    ''For this particular event, they didn't want it open,'' said Robin Wharton, the club's private events director.

    Sansom, recently ousted as House speaker, is a club member, and the event was booked as the ''Sansom dinner'' rather than as a Northwest Florida State event.

    A member who reserves space -- there is no charge -- can ask for signs to be placed in the building so people can find the room. In this case, ''the host requested no signs,'' Wharton said in an interview with The Miami Herald/St. Petersburg Times Tallahassee Bureau.
    "Ray Sansom probe turns to secretive college meeting".

    "A no-brainer" ... assuming you have a brain

    "On Wednesday, President Barack Obama signed federal legislation that will raise cigarette taxes nationwide by 61 cents, bringing the federal tax to a little more than $1 a pack. The $33 billion in new federal revenue will be used to provide subsidized health insurance to 4 million children over the next four and a half years, potentially cutting the number of uninsured children in the nation in half." "Additional state tax on cigarettes considered".

    George Diaz: "With public schools under siege and social-service money drying up, Florida's kids finally got a jolt of good news to go along with Thursday's morning chill: President Barack Obama has signed a bill extending health insurance to millions of low-income children."

    In Florida, that means that about 253,000 children -- nearly 50,000 of them here in Central Florida -- should be eligible for coverage. Overall, there are about 797,000 uninsured children in Florida -- that's more than one out of every six children in the state ... .
    "The $32.8 billion necessary to fund the program will come by increasing the federal excise tax on tobacco products, something Gov. Charlie Crist and the Legislature don't seem to have the stomach to do on a state level, despite our economic crisis."
    At first blush, you might say, "OK, that's nice," and label this as a no-brainer.

    Regrettably, the road has been long and hard and cluttered with partisan politics.

    It starts with George W. Bush. The Decider decided that he didn't like the SCHIP bill, so he vetoed it twice in 2007. It seems a bit counterintuitive for a man who demanded that No Child Be Left Behind.

    Bush also had a hard-line chorus behind him, including former Central Florida House Republicans Tom Feeney and Ric Keller. Feeney was particularly disingenuous, calling it "Cuba-style health care" and warning that it would encourage "illegal immigrants to flock to the United States in search of health care at taxpayers' expense."

    Illegal immigrants weren't eligible for coverage, but let's not have that stand in the way of a nonsensical rant.

    Bush, Feeney and Keller can continue complaining about the SCHIP program, but it won't matter much anymore. The moving vans came for all of them after the last elections.
    "Let's get past phony immigration issue when it comes to children's health insurance".

    Why not just warehouse 'em

    "Facing more budget cuts, Florida Senate education leaders said Thursday they will consider asking voters to change a 2002 constitutional amendment that placed limits on school class sizes." "Legislators plan to revisit class size".

    Let's repeat: it was "racist" not merely "racial"

    "A longtime Republican party leader from Hillsborough County who distributed an e-mail mocking black victims of Hurricane Katrina resigned Thursday, just hours after the message was sent to the media and the state party chairman. Carol Carter, a member of the party's executive committee for much of the past 30 years, sent the e-mail Friday to less than a dozen people on her personal account."

    Was the e-mail "racial" or "racist"?:

    Referring to the record-setting crowd at President Barack Obama's inauguration, it reads: ``I'm confused. How can 2,000,000 blacks get into Washington, DC in 1 day in sub zero temps when 200,000 couldn't get out of New Orleans in 85 degree temps with four days notice?''
    The headline writers can't seem to get it right: "GOP board member quits after sending racial e-mail". Try "racist e-mail". Why can't our timid reporters bring themselves to use the words?

    "Jim Greer, chairman of the Republican Party of Florida, ..."
    called Carter a ''loyal, hard-working Republican''but said he had chastised her.
    "chastized her"? How big of him.

    She - and they - still don't seem to get it:
    Before she resigned, Carter followed up the e-mail with an apology, but added in the message, ''I do hope that we are going to be allowed to keep our sense of humor.'' Later in a telephone interview, she said she regretted that the e-mail became public because she realized it ``could be taken as very racial.''

    ''I would never take something like this to the media,'' she said. ``It's like what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.''
    As long as no one knows RPOFer leaders a racists, what's the harm?

    Background: "Hillsborough GOP official rebuked for racial e-mail joke".

    For more on RPOFer racism, see our ongoing project "After All, He Is Black".

    One penny

    "The state's teachers union is betting that parents and educators are so fed up with budget cuts that they'll help pass a penny sales-tax increase to raise money for schools -- a move that likely would fail miserably in normal economic times." "Teachers union says penny tax can add up to $3.5B for schools".

    They're a comin' outa the woodwork

    "Baker said he hasn't ruled out a potential Senate run." "St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker considers U.S. Senate run".

    "Republican Attorney General Bill McCollum and Democratic Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink batted down speculation about next year's governor's race as both attended the annual Voters Coalition dinner here tonight." "Attendees of Voters Coalition dinner speculate on McCollum, Sink".

    A Miami book burning

    Embarrassing ...

    "Miami school officials can remove from library shelves a book about Cuba that depicts smiling children in communist uniforms but avoids mention of problems in the country, a federal appeals court ruled Thursday." "Miami school board can ban book about Cuba".

    A .pdf version of the opinion can be found here. Pages 72 through 79 of the majority decision reflects the decrepitude of the court - in those pages, the majority makes certain findings as to purported factual errors in the book (to wit: Cuba is a bad place), justifying it being removed from library bookshelves; in the following pages the court comically claims that it is not upholding "banning" of a book.

    The vigorous dissent by Judge Wilson (beginning on page 118) takes issue with the majority's claim that it is not partaking in "book banning", writing that he does

    not believe that he First Amendment permits a school board to ban a book for the purpose of suppressing the viewpoints expressed in the book, when the educational content of the book is otherwise innocuous. Vamos a Cuba, which is simply a part of an apolitical, superficial geography series, is only 26-sentences in length. ...

    Having read the book and independently examined the entire record, I agree with the district court that the School Board’s claim that Vamos a Cuba is grossly inaccurate is simply a pretense for viewpoint suppression, rather than the genuine reason for its removal. The record supports the district court’s determination that the book was not removed for a legitimate pedagogical reason.
    (Slip Opinion at pp. 126-27).

    With this decision, one assumes that librarians will now be scouring the bookshelves, making sure books purporting to describe the pre-Castro era in Cuba accurately report Fulgencio Batista's brutal dictatorship, mob connections, murders of political opponents and labor leaders, etc. Indeed, even the Commie rag, Encyclopaedia Britannica, describes Batista as a "terrorist", "jailing his opponents, using terrorist methods, and making fortunes for himself and his associates."

    'Glades games

    "Crist's administration decided to put the full burden of his billion-dollar-plus Everglades initiative on taxpayers in southern Florida so as not to worsen the state's already strained budget, newly released court records show." "U.S. Sugar deal too costly for state role".

    The free market for thee

    "Republican lawmaker Carl Domino of Jupiter is sponsoring a bill to require all Florida pharmacies to buy biometric identification equipment for people filling prescriptions. Only one company, the one that took the legislation to Domino, could carry out the mandate." "Lawmaker's measure would drive drug ID business to one firm".

    Unions breathe a sigh of relief

    "UM's Donna Shalala won't pursue old Cabinet post".

    'Ya gotta problem wit' that?

    The Daytona Beach News Journal editors: "Local governments are generally required to conduct the public's business in the open. Twice in the past six months, three local governments, the Palm Coast City Council, the Bunnell city administration and the Flagler County Commission, conducted or sanctioned secret negotiations with two private companies involving hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars in incentives." "Enough with secret tax handouts".


    "Medicaid officials don't expect their $250 million computer system to run trouble-free until summer."

    That was the forecast from Medicaid administrator Alan Strowd, who acknowledged to a state Senate health care committee Thursday that technical glitches have created headaches for providers and beneficiaries since the system went online about seven months ago.

    "I would expect it would be sometime in the summer that we're in a steady stage," said Strowd, chief of the Medicaid Contract Management bureau.

    Florida hired Electronic Data Systems more than three years ago to develop and maintain the system for the state's $15 billion Medicaid program. Since the system debuted in the summer, beneficiaries have complained that they can't access the system and providers have had problems getting proper payments.

    Strowd said the contractor might bring on additional staff. The state has requested that a consultant review the system and is conducting its own review
    "Meanwhile, EDS is making technical fixes, and the state is making emergency payments to providers when necessary."
    "I'm not looking for zero errors," said Sen. Don Gaetz, R-Niceville. "But you're saying it's going to be into the summer before we can expect our constituents to be able to get through on the call lines?" ...

    Gaetz also raised the issue of Medicaid providers who have encountered billing problems.

    "They live hand to mouth," Gaetz said. "They've got to meet payroll on Friday, and they've got disabled people relying on them."
    "Medicaid Glitch Continues".

    The Senate thing

    The Tampa Trib editors: "Crist's interest in the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Mel Martinez in two years might seem a blessing for the Republican Party."

    But Crist's dallying with the Senate post could end up damaging his reputation, his party and the state. He needs to think hard about his next move but make his intentions clear - and soon.

    While Crist is popular now, his support could sink like a rock should he turn his attention from the office he took over just two years ago. Florida is in a fiscal crisis. It needs strong, focused leadership, not a leader with an eye on the next rung up the political ladder.

    Setting his sight on another office scarcely halfway through his first term is hardly the way to show voters that he puts the people first.

    And it would surely give ammunition to critics who claim he is an opportunistic politician only interested in the next campaign.
    "Looking To Washington Holds Risks For Crist".

    We don' need no stinkin' gov'ment regulation

    "A North Florida resident has been diagnosed with salmonella poisoning linked to a nationwide outbreak, the state Department of Health reported late Wednesday." "Florida reports first salmonella poisoning linked to peanut plant".

    "Endangered towns on Lake Okeechobee"

    Joel Engelhardt: "The endangered towns on Lake Okeechobee find themselves in the uncomfortable position of seeking aid and comfort from the enemy. The enemy in these parts is the state, which is insisting on buying 180,000 acres of fertile farmland to convert into who knows what." "Big deal threatens small towns".

    "So is it?"

    The Tallahassee Democrat editorial board:

    When the city voted on Jan. 28 to approve Ordinance No. 09-0-05, which allows the Tallahassee Fire Department to collect a fee for intervening at the scene of a car accident, several residents and at least one representative of the insurance industry cried that the fee would be act of double taxation.

    So is it?
    "Changing times".

    "Business leaders" share their wisdom

    "The road out of recession starts at the school house, bypasses red tape at city hall and the state house and ends in Washington, D.C. with help from the federal government." "Business leaders, experts say road to recovery starts with local government".

    Gimme a ballot ...

    Early voting is becoming so popular that some Florida voters want it for every election. And some are showing up at Broward elections offices hoping to vote early in next Tuesday's Dania Beach, Fort Lauderdale Is your Fort Lauderdale restaurant clean? - Click Here. and Wilton Manors city elections. But there's no early voting offered for those elections or the March 10 contests in 11 cities, towns and villages throughout Broward County Click here for restaurant inspection reports." "People showing up to vote early – even though there's no early voting for Tuesday's city elections".

    Game over

    "The most twisted judicial race in Palm Beach County - and possibly Florida - history ended Wednesday when the state Supreme Court ruled that suspended attorney William Abramson is not fit to serve on the bench." "Abramson can't take bench, state supreme court rules".

    And there were many

    The Tampa Trib editors: "Buddy Johnson has proven to be one of Jeb Bush's biggest mistakes." "Buddy's Bungled Budgets".

    In Jebbie's footsteps ... "Buddy Johnson asked vendor for job while he was Hillsborough elections supervisor".

    Slow down

    "Black bear released into nature preserve with broken legs after collision with car".

    Try a defined pension plan next time

    "One in five Bernard Madoff investors from Florida".

    Black history

    "A civil rights group is asking the Florida Attorney General's Office to enforce a 1994 state law requiring black history to be taught in all school districts." "Fla. group asks state to enforce black history law".

    Bed tax

    "Extra beds in Pinellas County Jail may hold state inmates — for a price".

    State farm

    Mike Thomas: "State Farm says business is business, and it can't do business in Florida." "Don't fence me off from 'good neighbor' State Farm".


    "More people sought unemployment benefits than expected last week, and laid-off workers found it harder to land new jobs as the economy struggled to show signs of life. Sour economic indicators Thursday also plagued the retail industry; the sales declines last month for many major stores raised concerns about the industry's health. However, productivity rose sharply in the final months of the year, the government said -- but only because layoffs cut the number of hours worked more than output fell." "Pink slips, rejection letters abound".

    "Abortion doctor"

    "Medical board considers penalizing abortion doctor".


    "Florida wildlife officials have cut the fishing season for red snapper in state waters in the Gulf of Mexico." "Florida cuts red snapper season in Gulf of Mexico".

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