FLORIDA POLITICS
Since 2002, daily Florida political news and commentary

 

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Welcome To Florida Politics

Thanks for visiting. On a 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 Thursday, May 14, 2009

Sink jumps

    "Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink became the first candidate to officially enter the campaign for governor. She will likely face rival Attorney General Bill McCollum in the race."

    "Sink drew endorsements from former governor and senator Bob Graham and Democratic party officials." "Florida CFO Alex Sink announces bid for governor".

    More: "Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink announces bid for governor". See also "Sink is 1st to enter race for governor", "Florida CFO Alex Sink joins race for governor" and "Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink announces bid for governor". Related: "Statement from Alex Sink's gubernatorial campaign".

    Mike Thomas identifies an obvious speed bump: "Sink was preordained to run for higher office. Charlie Crist running for the U.S. Senate only makes things more convenient. Sink is a CEO by training and temperament, making her a better fit for the governor's office. There is no other Democrat in the race, so all resources can be devoted to the general election. But being the Democrats' only viable candidate doesn't necessarily make her a winning candidate."

    Thomas continues: "Sink's greatest selling point in 2006 will be a major weakness in 2010."
    A political newcomer back then, she relied heavily on her extensive résumé with Bank of America. Who better to serve as chief financial officer than the woman who was president of Florida's biggest banking network for seven years?

    Her mentor at Bank of America, current CEO Ken Lewis, said of Sink, "She's bright. She's a good communicator. She's a winner. She's driven to do all she can to succeed."

    But now Bank of America has soaked up $45 billion in bailout money. Its widely reviled CEO, Lewis, earned more than $20 million in 2007 and $9 million in 2008. He has been blamed for the disastrous purchase of Merrill Lynch & Co., which has caused Bank of America stock to plunge.

    Sink retired in 2000 and had nothing to do with any of this.

    But details come second to perception in the political realm. So the Republicans will hammer away at the association.
    "Career makes campaign tricky for Alex Sink".

    "Republican Attorney General Bill McCollum is expected to announce his gubernatorial candidacy next week in Orlando, while Agriculture Commissioner Charles Bronson — who's term-limited in his current office — also wants to run." "Democrat Alex Sink will run for governor". Related: "Sink, McCollum turn up early heat in governor’s race".

    Only yesterday: "A day after Gov. Charlie Crist announced he will run for the U.S. Senate in 2010, state Cabinet members Alex Sink, Bill McCollum and Charles Bronson refused to say whether they will seek the governor's office next year. 'Soon,' was Sink's response today when asked about the timing of an announcement about her political plans. 'We're going to talk about politics next week,' McCollum, the Republican attorney general, said moments later when asked about his plans. Bronson, the Republican agriculture commissioner, also indicated he might make an announcement next week." "Cabinet members mum about governor's race".


    RPOFer base likes their Rubio rare

    The South Florida Sun-Sentinel's Anthony Man reports that last night "Rubio wowed an audience of Broward Republicans on Wednesday evening with his call for a new form [sic] of conservatism that rewards entrepreneurial attitudes and eschews government as the first choice for solving all problems." "Forget Crist, conservative Republicans in Broward like Rubio". See also "Senate candidate Marco Rubio wows Republican audience, calls for new form of conservatism".

    Is this the man crush ...

    image description

    ... that will rock Florida politics?

    E. J. Dionne writes that
    conservatives, who have long mistrusted Crist, now loathe him for committing the cardinal sin of enthusiastically endorsing President Obama's stimulus plan this year. Among right-wing stalwarts, even using the word ''stimulus'' is a wicked act. They insist on the ugly locution ''porkulus,'' as in political pork.

    Crist even embraced the president during a Florida rally in February, and the hug really got under the skin of the wingers. On Mike Thomas' Orlando Sentinel blog, a commenter recently declared, in all capital letters: ''I as a Republican, will never forget what Gov. Crist did, hugging and kissing Obama and taking all that stimulos (sic) money on TV.'' Ouch.

    Marco Rubio, the former Florida House speaker, will be the conservatives' champion in the primary. ...

    He was mentored by former Gov. Jeb Bush. As soon as Crist announced, Florida political junkies went into overdrive speculating whether Bush would endorse Rubio and turn the primary into a brawl. ...

    According to the exit polls, the proportion of Florida voters who call themselves Republicans fell from 41 percent in 2004 to 34 percent in 2008. A Quinnipiac poll last month found that Crist's net approval was marginally higher among Democrats than among Republicans. ...

    Florida will be one of the clearest tests of whether rank-and-file Republican voters are more interested in doctrinal purity, or in winning -- even if it means nominating an Obama hugger.
    "Crist gives his party clear choice".


    Backlash

    Michael Mayo:"You can just imagine the campaign zingers coming soon from Charlie Crist's opponents:"

    "When the going got tough, our governor got going."

    "In the middle of his first term and he wants to go to D.C.? This guy gives new meaning to the term 'federal bailout.'"
    Mayo continues: "The man who calls himself 'the people's governor' definitely let self-interest prevail in his decision to flee Tallahassee. You can't fault him for it. After all, here are his options for the 2010 election season:"
    a) Run for a second (and final) term as governor during a financial meltdown while dealing with a dysfunctional Legislature.

    b) Head for D.C. with his socialite wife to hobnob with the elite, smile for the cameras and face no term limits as one of 100 in a club that doesn't require much heavy lifting.

    I think we all know which job suits Crist best.

    Crist started off promisingly as governor, showing a healthy pragmatic side. But he hasn't shown much leadership during the budget crisis or recent legislative session. Critics have called him Empty-Suit Charlie, Empty-Chair Charlie and Empty-Calendar Charlie.
    "Senator Crist? 'People's governor' pulls a fast one".

    The Tampa Tribune editorial board: "" "Leaving the governor's office after just one term and in the midst of a fiscal crisis is going to give Gov. Charlie Crist's critics plenty of campaign ammunition."
    They'll be able to say Crist is more interested in seeking an office than in holding it. This will be his fifth campaign for statewide office in 12 years. Democrats already are attacking Crist for hightailing it from Tallahassee. Former House Speaker Marco Rubio, who also will run in the Republican Senate primary, is taking potshots at Crist's conservative credentials.
    "While eyeing Senate, Crist can't ignore job".


    'Glades

    "South Florida water managers have approved Gov. Charlie Crist's deal to buy farmland from the U.S. Sugar Corp. for future use in Everglades restoration." " U.S. Sugar Everglades deal takes another step forward". See also "Water managers approve historic $536 million land buy for Everglades restoration".


    "Local governments have only themselves to blame"

    sThe Orlando Sentinel editorial board: "It took several years, but the state Legislature finally acted to end this expensive and increasingly outrageous use of taxpayer money. A bill is on its way to Gov. Charlie Crist's desk that would stop school boards, cities and counties from spending public money on campaigns to support or defeat referendums or amendments." "End the campaigning".


    "Ah, but perception"

    The Tallahassee Democrat editorial board shatters some of the "double dipping" myths: "We all know perception sometimes can be more important than reality."

    Such is the case with efforts to end the so-called "double-dipping" by government employees who retire and then reclaim their old jobs after a 30-day wait, collecting both their pay and a pension.

    As the Tallahassee Democrat's Bill Cotterell has stated eloquently and often, it's really not double-dipping and it costs the state almost nothing extra. Employees are being paid for work that somebody would have to do, while collecting retirement money that is theirs in the first place.
    "Double-dipping".


    He who makes the rules ...

    The Saint Petersburg Times editorial board: "Letting schools make more of their own decisions could make them better. After all, who knows the needs of a school's students better than the principal, teachers and parents there? Working with that philosophy, the Pinellas School Board voted unanimously Tuesday to take the first step toward school-based decisionmaking, agreeing to hold a public hearing on the new policy. It is a step in the right direction, but the district needs to continue to move cautiously and methodically." "A smart move on school decisions".


    Another privatization flop

    The Tampa Tribune editorial board: "Not long ago the mantra in Tallahassee was that the private sector could do no wrong and government could do nothing right."

    Former Gov. Jeb Bush led a wholesale effort to privatize government functions, including a Medicaid reform program that relied on private insurers. ...

    Too often in recent years some market-worshipping lawmakers seemed to have thought simply handing a private entity the keys to a government office would improve things.

    The lack of oversight has led to a number of scandals, overspending and other embarrassing affairs involving outsourcing efforts, with WellCare being the latest.

    An investigation by federal and state authorities found the company charged the state for mental health services it did not provide. It routinely skimped on children's mental health services to pocket more of the state's compensation.

    The company has agreed to pay the state $80 million to avoid a conviction on a charge of conspiracy to defraud Florida Medicaid and Florida Healthy Kids Corp. A U.S. attorney called it one of the largest health-care fraud cases in the United States. Criminal charges are expected to be filed against several former executives.
    "WellCare scandal shows need for accountability".


    Black people

    "Rescuers are searching for survivors after a boat carrying about 30 people, mostly Haitians, capsized near Boynton Beach." "At least 9 dead, 16 saved after migrant boat sinks".


    Trending blue

    "Whites no longer are in the majority of the population in Orange County, Fla., home of Orlando. U.S. Census estimates released Thursday show that the theme park mecca joined the ranks of about 300 other U.S. counties in becoming majority-minority. That means half of the population is of a group other than non-Hispanic white. ... Orange County is the largest of the six counties that became majority-minority in 2008." "Whites no longer majority in Orange County, Fla.".


    Bright futures

    The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "It took a $6 billion budget gap for Tallahassee to free Florida from the restraints of Bright Futures."

    Legislators capped the scholarship program at this year's tuition levels, despite an 8 percent tuition increase at community colleges next year and as much as 15 percent at the 11 state universities. The cap will save the state nearly $35 million, which scholarship recipients - meaning their parents - will have to pay. ...

    Bright Futures money has gone to more than 1 million students. It was touted as a program to keep the brightest high school graduates. In fact, it was a pacifier to quell complaints about how the state was using lottery money. Bright Futures began with $75 million. It has ballooned into a nearly $400 million shift of money from mostly poor lottery players to mostly affluent families. Now that the economy has forced legislators to talk about retooling the program, they should consider retaining the cap, raising standards, giving Bright Futures in a lump sum rather than a percentage and setting aside a portion of the money for needy students and for students pursuing degrees in high-needs areas.
    "Brighter future for the state".


    The rich are different

    "A New York billionaire's company has pleaded guilty to illegally importing wildlife parts, after inspectors found a big-game hunter's haul of elephant tusks, a mounted tiger head and bar stools covered with reticulated python hides on the company's 150-foot yacht at Port Everglades." "Yacht loaded with dead animal parts in Fort Lauderdale: Billionaire's company guilty of importing wildlife".


    Courage on the bench

    "Florida must recognize gay couples' adoptions that were granted in other states even though its laws bar granting such adoptions, a state appeals court ruled Wednesday." "Gay adoption gets court support".


    Thank you, Mr. Obama

    "Crist expresses gratitude for Fla. stimulus waiver".


    Charlie's "calculated casual approach"

    Bill Cotterell: "Rubio said the next 16 months should be a grand debate about the future of the state and the party. Crist is far too polite to reply [honestly that a "grand debate" will only raise the profile of the relatively unknown Rubio] ... but his campaign actions speak for him."

    The way the governor entered the race showed a carefully calculated casual approach. Announcing new leadership for the state's emergency-management bureau, he was asked — as everyone knew he would be — about the Senate race.

    Oh, that — well, sure, come to think of it, he'll run, Crist said, in effect, but he's really busy being the people's governor right now.

    This leaves Rubio in an ankle-biting mode, and he'll chomp plenty, in a modern-media way. "Let the debate begin" was the tag line on not only the prepared statement he issued when Crist announced, but also in a YouTube video his campaign distributed. ...
    "'Let the debate begin?' Don't hold your breath".


    Balk

    "Fla. Cabinet balks at proposed auto insurance rule".


    Emergency leadership

    "Ex-Miami-Dade fire-rescue chief to lead Florida's emergency office". Related: "New emergency manager: Florida must prepare for hurricane season".


    Blackwater River State Forest

    "Florida's Cabinet on Wednesday approved the $1.3 million purchase of 575 acres in the Blackwater River State Forest as part of an ongoing Florida Forever project." "Cabinet approves $1.3M purchase for Fla. Forever".


    On the desk

    "Life-changing legislation awaits governor’s signature".


    FCAT Follies

    The Daytona Beach News Journal editorial Board: "As a high-stakes test the FCAT fails on several counts. It works well as a diagnostic test. It was created as a diagnostic test, not as a tool to limit graduation and punish schools. Yet that's how it's been used. Schools with high overall FCAT scores are rewarded with extra money. Schools with overall failing grades get the double punishment of humiliation (when school "grades" are posted) and no "bonus" dollars. It would make more sense to invest more in failing schools -- not to reward them, but to help them improve. Public education shouldn't be about punishment and reward, anyway. It should be about maximizing opportunities." "Students hit tripping point".


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