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, March 20, 2009

"'Somewhere in-between malfeasance and malpractice'"

    Cut-and-Run Charlie can't wait to get to the U.S. Senate.

    "State agencies presented dire scenarios Thursday for budget cuts that included hundreds of layoffs, severely reduced services and thousands of children and the sick kicked out of programs. " "State agencies plan for far-reaching budget cuts".

    "As Florida's finances continue to unravel, Gov. Charlie Crist on Thursday froze 15 percent of state spending for the rest of this budget year."
    The Senate has begun what it calls an ''exercise'' in which all agencies are asked to plan for cuts of from 10 percent to 20 percent in next year's budget. What senators heard Thursday was a long list of horror stories: a 20,000 wait list for early childhood education, 70 state trooper layoffs, early-inmate releases and eliminating payments for eyeglasses, dentures and hearing aids for nearly 60,000 poor, elderly Floridians.

    ''These cuts are somewhere in-between malfeasance and malpractice,'' said Sen. Durell Peaden, R-Crestview, who oversees healthcare spending.
    "Crist freezes 15% of spending". See also "Crist freezes $800 million in state spending", "Crist Holds Back 15% Of Revenue", "State holding back 15% of agencies' money for April, May, June", "Turn out the highway lights? Budget proposals hit dark side" and "Paul Flemming: A cut here, a box of ballots there ... no problem".

    The saving grace in all this of course, is that Floridians aren't saddled with that "insidious" intangibles tax on wealthy investors, that raised hundreds of millions in tax dollars.

    Crime scene

    "Since the [2000] ballots are historic, the Smithsonian Institution might be interested, Sen. Chris Smith, D-Fort Lauderdale, suggested."

    "Well they are historic documents, aren't they?" committee Chairman Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, wanted to know.

    "It's a matter of opinion," Browning said.

    "Well, we Republicans think they're historic," Fasano quipped.
    More importantly, isn't the state supposed to preserve the evidence of a crime?

    Billy's rules

    "Unlike Attorney General Bill McCollum, two other statewide officeholders who ran public service announcements last year did not appear in them and sought competitive bids." "Democrats blast Bill McCollum's public service ads".

    Frank Cerabino has a little fun at Boy Scout Bill's expense: "Who could possibly be against joining this Jiminy Cricket look-alike to save the children?"

    OK, McCollum is a bit of a political stalker himself.

    His political career peaked during his days as a Bill Clinton predator, wasting America's time and money by being one of the Republican congressmen prosecuting a what-now-seems-quaint presidential misadventure.

    But I feel sorry for the guy. McCollum's star turn in the Clinton show failed to get him the U.S. Senate seat he thought he had earned. He lost two bids for the Senate, including one when the eventual winner, Mel Martinez, accused McCollum of being too gay-friendly.

    C'mon, McCollum's about as gay-friendly as your average gansta rapper.

    And now he's getting ripped by the Democrats for trying to buy ballot-box appeal in the guise of self-starring public service ads for his office.
    "McCollum deserves pity: His ego can't catch a break".


    The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "Floridians who played by the rules when buying their own homes but, through various bailout plans, are paying for the mistakes and greed of others also might have to pay more to insure their cars even though they've followed the rules on personal credit." "Give Floridians some credit"

    What's next? Amway?

    "Florida officials are pressing the Legislature to pass a new law they say will help them get tough on rogue pest-control companies." "Officials bugged by pest-control fraud aim to get tough".

    When you load the Legislature with RPOFers ...

    ... the results are predictable:

    The Miami Herald editorial board: "For too long the Florida Legislature has been reducing its general-revenue contribution to the state's public-education budget and making up the difference by raising a school-board tax called the Local Required Effort."

    Though school boards had no control over this, it looked as though they were responsible for increasing property taxes when it was really done by state lawmakers.

    From the sentiments expressed during Wednesday's education rally in Tallahassee, the days of the Legislature getting by unnoticed for underfunding schools are over. Now perhaps legislators will take their education-funding responsibilities and obligations to Florida's school children more seriously. As in, if they don't do right by Florida schools they run the risk of voter backlash by angry parents and school employees, not to mention business leaders who know how important education funding is to the state economy.
    "For schools, the buck stops in Legislature".

    Sorry you weren't there

    "The night of fun was Tuesday. The governor and nearly a thousand of his closest friends were there to take in the sketches, songs, videos and alcohol." "Skits".


    "Former Gov. Martinez Named A 'Great Floridian'".

    After 8 years of Jebbie, the light bulb goes off

    The The Orlando Sentinel editorial board is in a dither:

    This mess is due partly to the economy but also to a state government that has never taken public education very seriously. Florida has long been mired in the bottom tier of states in how much money it spends per pupil on education.

    What's happening right now perfectly illustrates why that is.
    "Don't look to the governor for leadership on this issue. Charlie Crist snuck out of Tallahassee on Wednesday when hundreds of students, parents and teachers rallied on the Capitol steps to demand more support for education."
    Mr. Crist showed up in Jacksonville where, asked about a proposal to increase the sales tax by a penny to support education, dismissively responded, "I don't like that. I don't like taxes."

    Thanks for clearing that up, governor. Neither do we. Maybe a higher sales tax isn't the way, but what would he suggest, aside from some chump change out of a gambling compact with the Seminole Indians? Or hoping for federal bailout money that may or may not come, and certainly will have plenty of federal strings attached if it does?

    We wonder to whom Mr. Crist owes his loyalty: Florida's schoolchildren or Grover Norquist, the anti-tax crusader who in an opinion column recently reminded Mr. Crist and 30 Republican state legislators that they've signed a pledge to never increase taxes.
    "Legislators sleep as the education funding crisis deepens".

    Good luck with that

    The St. Petersburg Times editorial board is smoking something if they think their RPOFer friends in Tally will consider this: "As Florida lawmakers look to solve the state's budget crisis, here's an idea the Legislature needs to embrace: Funnel state funds to preventive treatment for the severely mentally ill to ultimately lower the demand for forensic hospital beds." "Plan improves care, saves money".


    Who elects these people? "In all that mass of zeroes there is $393,000 coming to Florida from the National Endowment of the Arts to recover or preserve arts jobs. That got hoots from Florida senators."

    "What jobs? Don't tell me some artist," said Sen. Mike Fasano, a New Port Richey Republican. "What, draw a picture? That's wild."
    Now, if the money was being used to preserve Ronald Reagan films, well ... that'd be sumthi' important.

    Tuff job

    "More than 100 female employees have filed a lawsuit against the state Department of Corrections, alleging they were subject to constant sexual harassment from male inmates." "Female prison employees sue over inmates' sexual harassment".

    Fees and Fines

    The South Florida Sun Sentinel editorial board: "There seems to be a good deal of anger over the increased fees and fines being levied by cash-strapped governments, as detailed in the Sun Sentinel this past week."

    Nobody likes being nickel-and-dimed to death, but city, county and state governments in Florida are tapped out, and looking for revenue wherever they can find any. It is a strategy being repeated nationally.

    On top of that, nobody wants to cut education. Nobody wants to cut police. Don't even think about cutting fire service. Nobody wants to cut park hours.

    Sorry, but not everything can be spared. And demanding no cuts is unrealistic at a time when revenues are falling and state and local government expenses are either unchanged or rising. There is going to be pain.
    "Sorry, but increase fines and fees make sense".

    Sad day

    "A real estate developer from Miami-Dade County, Tate wrote the legislation in 1987 that created what is now called the Stanley G. Tate Prepaid College Program to allow families to pay future tuition and fees over time."

    The goal was to make college more affordable, said Tate, who oversaw the program for 18 years. Now he is pouring thousands of his own dollars into a campaign to kill a proposal from Rep. Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, and Sen. Ken Pruitt, R-Port St. Lucie, to allow six of Florida's universities to raise tuition by up to 15 percent a year. Tate has commissioned a Web site, hired a public relations firm and bought full-page ads in newspapers attacking the bill.

    "The low-income people don't have anyone to stand up here for them," he told a House panel that oversees university budgets. "The African-American people don't have anyone to stand up here for them. I'm here representing them. ... I'm begging you not to do it."

    But the House panel voted against him - unanimously ...
    "House Panel OKs Tuition Bill".


    "The people who run Florida's giant public employee pension plan recently distributed a report reassuring hundreds of thousands of workers that their retirement fund was financially healthy and running a surplus."

    The plan "was fully funded for the 11th consecutive year, with an estimated $8.7 billion surplus, a major achievement considering the fact that most state public pension funds in the United States are underfunded,'' the report said.

    But records show that almost three weeks before distributing the report on March 5, the people who run the pension fund knew that it faced a massive funding deficit.
    "Florida pension plan report was rosy but fund wasn't".

    "Attacking local government control of wetlands permitting"

    Denise Layne, executive director of the Coalition 4 Responsible Growth:

    For the fifth year in a row, the Florida Legislature is attacking local government control of wetlands permitting, especially aiming at Hillsborough County's Environmental Protection Commission (EPC). In the name of streamlining, legislators maintain that local wetland review duplicates that of other state agencies and is a reason for the state's economic crisis. Ha!
    "One-Stop Permitting In County's Interest".

    Bushco dead enders living in the past

    Florida is turning bluer by the day, and "bleeding voters in Florida".

    Unfortunately, Suzanne Kosmas is stuck "in a district tailored for Republicans." She's also got to deal with right wing newspaper companies: "On card-check bill, Nelson and Kosmas will show if they leveled with voters"

    Fortunately, the RPOF has no new ideas, just the same old Bushco dead enders, who are living in the past:

    Kosmas previously served in the state Legislature; her eight years in Tallahassee were marked by fights for more funding for the arts and medically needy, and against school vouchers.

    John Dowless, an Orlando-based Republican consultant, said this illustrates Kosmas' liberal bent and will force her to make a choice.

    "She'll have to decide to vote her conscience, which is very left-leaning Democrat, or to moderate her vote," he said.
    "Republicans have vowed to reclaim her seat and are talking up several potential opponents,"
    including state Sen. Lee Constantine, R- Altamonte Springs; state Rep. Dorothy Hukill, R-Port Orange; and Brian Rooney, brother to U.S. Rep. Tom Rooney, R- Tequesta.

    "Any of the potential Republican candidates on our side would provide a great voice to holding Kosmas accountable for siding with partisan leaders like Nancy Pelosi," said Paul Lindsay, spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee.
    "New U.S. Rep. Kosmas tries to avoid liberal label".

    Even Kassab gets it

    Like a broken clock, even the generally uninformed* Beth Kassab is right at least twice a day: "SunRail vs. schools? That's not the choice".

    - - - - - - - - - -
    For more on Chamber of Commerce shill Beth Kassab see "Pathetic" (scroll down).

    At the fed trough

    "The federal government has approved nearly $731 million in funding for 48 states, including $91 million for Florida to help stabilize housing markets hit hard by foreclosures." "Florida to get $91M to stabilize housing market".

    More: "Florida awaits first stimulus payout", "Crist asks citizens to press for stimulus money" and "Eight road projects in Palm Beach County will get federal stimulus aid".

    My garage is available

    "The state's flailing economy resurrected the disputed 2000 election Thursday during Senate budget discussions." "Storing 2000 ballots costs $153,000 a year".

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