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 Monday, May 25, 2009

Bankrolled Bill

    "When Democrat Alex Sink announced she was running for governor last week, the Republican Party instantly branded her a 'former banker,' invoking the ugliness of subprime loans, corporate greed and government bailouts."
    But by raising questions about Sink, the state's chief financial officer and longtime Bank of America executive, the party walks a precarious line.

    The GOP's own candidate, Attorney General Bill McCollum, spent 20 years in Congress, all of them on the committee that oversees banking, and he advocated many of the industry's issues. When McCollum left Congress in 2001, he became a lobbyist. His first client: the Mortgage Bankers Association of America.

    With next year's governor's race likely to be overshadowed by a fractured economy and Florida's crippled housing market, a central question will be whether Sink or McCollum had any role in promoting or preventing the crisis.
    Here's a start:
    McCollum's interest in banking began after he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in November 1980, when he joined the Banking, Finance and Urban Affairs Committee.

    As McCollum settled into Washington, the subprime lending industry was being born. Significant legislation in the early 1980s, which McCollum and most members of Congress supported, loosened rules on mortgages so banks could sell exotic versions, such as interest-only and adjustable rate loans. The year before McCollum arrived, Congress allowed banks to charge much higher interest rates.

    More than a decade later, he was pushing his own banking-related legislation, including a bill aimed at curbing the rapid increase of personal bankruptcy filings that stymied debt collection (a version passed in 2005).

    Over the years, McCollum collected hundreds of thousands in campaign donations from financial institutions. In the 1998 cycle, his top contributor was Bank of America with $18,000.

    In 1999, McCollum cosponsored the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, which undid a Depression-era law and allowed holding companies of commercial banks to own investment firms. That and a subsequent law in 2000 changed investment rules to allow banks to take on riskier investments in mortgages.
    "Housing crisis may haunt Florida governor's race".

    More trouble for Sansom

    "The grand jury that indicted ousted House Speaker Ray Sansom will reconvene Wednesday morning to review evidence that surfaced after the charges were filed in April." "Ray Sansom facing more scrutiny". Charlie turns on Sansom: "Crist: College should return money Sansom secured". See also "Sansom, Richburg grand jury to meet again" and "Sansom grand jury to reconvene".

    Florida begs for more federal help

    "Crist is asking that a federal disaster be declared after heavy rains flooded central and northeast Florida." "Crist asks disaster be declared".

    At the trough

    "In the midst of a $6 billion state budget deficit and widespread private-sector layoffs, one Florida industry looks recession-proof: Lobbying state lawmakers. The Capitol lobbying corps earned up to $45 million from January through March to influence the Legislature." "For Tallahassee lobbyists, tough times are good for business".

    Charlie's finger's in the wind

    "A growth-management bill awaiting Gov. Charlie Crist's signature is being hailed by developers as the coveted key to unlocking hundreds of delayed construction projects across the state."

    The same bill is seen by environmentalists and local governments as a shortsighted solution that will exacerbate Florida's housing glut, increase traffic delays and allow uncontrolled development in rural areas.

    It is up to Crist to sort it out. The governor said last week that he probably will sign the measure, known as SB 360, but his top guru for growth management, Department of Community Affairs Secretary Tom Pelham, sounds less certain.
    "Times: Florida growth-management bill awaits governor's signature".

    Charlie made this bed ...

    The Daytona Beach News Journal editorial Board: "A few things are worth noting:"

    Crist chose most of the members of the judicial nominating commission. When he became governor, the commission had two black members -- now it has none. And the list originally submitted to him includes the names of two women. A friend-of-the-court brief submitted by the Florida Association of Women Lawyers rightly points out that the 5th District appellate court is the most lopsidedly male appeals court in the state. Jacqueline Griffin, the court's only woman, was appointed in 1990. ...

    Crist could save the Supreme Court the necessity of publicly chiding him, by choosing a name from the list provided.

    But he should go further -- and to his credit, he told the News-Journal editorial board last week that he intends to. Florida's judicial nominating process -- once regarded as one of the most balanced in the country -- was badly subverted eight years ago, when the Legislature changed how the nominating commissions were appointed. Reverting to the old process, in which the governor and the Florida Bar Association worked together to choose members nominating commissions, would help ensure that the commissions act with independence. Moreover, it would erase the appearance of pique that's marring the current stand-off between the governor and his hand-picked commission.
    "How to pick a judge and avoid high court rebuke".

    Perhaps the feds will come to the rescue

    "A bullet train, its supporters say, could boost tourism, create jobs and get cars off Florida's crowded roads. There's even $8 billion in federal stimulus money available to help build the proposed Tampa-Orlando-Miami line, where trains would move at least 110 mph and zip travelers from South Florida to Disney World in less than two hours. Although big obstacles stand in the way, Lee Chira, chairman of the Florida High Speed Rail Authority, said 'we've got a pretty good chance.'" "Florida still has chance for fast train, but other states vying for U.S. aid".

    The latest from RPOFer-run-Tally

    "Home insurance prices likely to rise by 10 percent".

    "Meager rations"

    "A stripped-down state budget means meager rations for the state and the Big Bend." "Budget lean for area projects".

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