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, June 30, 2009

Poll: McCollum leads Sink, but within MOE

    "Mason/Dixon: Attorney General Bill McCollum 41%, state CFO Alex Sink 35%, undecided 24 %"* "Florida gov poll: McCollum (R) 41, Sink (D) 35". The poll: in .pdf. See also "Poll: McCollum leads Sink".

    - - - - - - - - - -
    *"This poll [.pdf] was conducted by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research, Inc. of Washington, D.C. from June 24 through June 26, 2009. A total of 625 registered voters were interviewed statewide by telephone. All stated they vote regularly in state elections. Those interviewed were selected by the random variation of the last four digits of telephone numbers. A cross-section of exchanges was utilized and quotas were assigned to reflect voter turn-out by county. The margin for error, according to standards customarily used by statisticians, is no more than plus or minus 4 percentage points."

    Love fest with Charlie waning?

    "A new Mason Dixon poll shows that nearly all Floridians recognize Gov. Charlie Crist’s name - but less than half of them view him favorably." "Poll shows Floridians know who their governor is".

    Plane-Gate heating up ...

    ... yet Charlie and Wrongwood Bill - unlike Alex Sink - want no more investigations.

    "Top Florida officials misused state resources to travel between the capital and their homes, costing taxpayers at least $51,000 and raising potential IRS violations, according to state investigators' findings that were removed from a final auditor's report."

    [Chief Financial Officer Alex] Sink, along with Attorney General Bill McCollum and Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp, spent $51,000 of taxpayer money from July 1, 2008, through Feb. 15, 2009, commuting to their homes or taking ''unnecessary legs during business trips,'' according to the Department of Management Services' March 3 audit.

    Sink spent the most -- $27,200 -- while McCollum spent $12,600 and Kottkamp spent $9,900, according to auditors. ...

    ''The use of the state aircraft to transport the Governor, Attorney General, CFO and Commissioner of Agriculture between the seat of government and a residence located outside of Tallahassee would appear to be a misuse of state resources,'' auditor Sandra Lipner wrote March 4, although those findings were not included in the final report.

    Kottkamp reimbursed the state $10,000 for his travels after news reports exposed the practice. Sink has ordered her staff to conduct an internal investigation into her use of the state plane.

    Crist said Monday that he believes no additional reviews are necessary, adding, 'from what I've seen, they're using the taxpayers' property for taxpayer purposes.''

    McCollum said he is not doing any further internal investigation. He said he needs to use planes to get around the state because ``Tallahassee is not the easiest place to fly into.'' ...

    In a draft of the final report, investigators raised the prospect of tax consequences, noting that if officials are misusing the aircraft, ''the travelers could be subject to federal income taxes on the costs paid for the aircraft flights'' because the flights could be considered a ''fringe benefit'' by the IRS.

    The draft report recommended that the department seek an attorney general's opinion as to whether the use of the aircraft was a violation of the state law that prohibits officials from using state resources to commute home.
    "But the attorney general's opinion was never sought."
    After a March 2 meeting with DMS Secretary Linda South, Inspector General Steve Rumph concluded that the state had neither the manpower nor the resources [nor the cojones] to verify whether the governor and Cabinet officials were telling the truth when they said the trips to their home towns were for official business, said Cathy Schroeder, DMS communications director.
    "Audit: Top Florida officials spent $51K on plane commutes".

    Strange, the state has enough money to investigate and litigate the discharge the lowliest government employee for alleged misconduct (e.g., taking too long a lunch break), yet can't find the "manpower []or the resources" to investigate this?

    Get this: "Sink ethics complaint filed by Crist, Jeb! appointee".

    Browning folds like a cheap suit

    "Secretary of State Kurt Browning has decided to drop plans to appeal a federal court ruling that tossed out Florida's electioneering communications law, a decision that means political groups will be free to pump money into influencing elections next year without promptly disclosing their contributors to the state." "State drops appeal of ECO lawsuit".

    "State Sen. Charlie Justice, a St. Petersburg Democrat, said he was 'very disheartened and discouraged' Monday that Secretary of State Kurt Browning opted to drop the state's legal fight to preserve its electioneering communications law."

    The case was brought by a Broward condo association, along with a University of Florida student libertarian club, the National Taxpayers Union, and other plaintiffs -- and guts what had been some of the strictest regulations on interest-group communications in elections nationwide....

    “Under the First Amendment, the government’s ability to regulate political speech about candidates and ballot issues is extremely narrow," said Bert Gall, lead counsel to the group that challenged the law and an attorney with the Virginia-based conservative group Institute for Justice. ...

    The now-scrapped law required so-called electioneering communications organizations, or ECOs as they're known in Florida, to follow a number of regulations: registering with the government within 24 hours of their creation; appointing a campaign treasurer; making regular reports disclosing all donors and expenses; restricting expenditures and contributions, including not spending money raised in the five days before the election; and including a prominent "disclaimer" on each communication that disclosed the group's name.

    Last month, [prior to flip-flopping] Browning's office said, "We plan to appeal the final judgment."
    "Senator blasts decision not to appeal campaign-spending decision".

    "A combination of Hee Haw and our own little Watergate"

    "Former House Speaker Ray Sansom not only accepted a $110,000 job at Northwest Florida State College — he helped write the job description. " "Sansom designed his own job". See also "See the contract Sansom wrote".

    The Saint Petersburg Times editorial board: "As the paper trail becomes clearer in the Ray Sansom scandal, the denials by the indicted former House speaker grow more suspect. Thousands of pages of records gathered in his criminal case and by a special investigator for the House shed new light on Sansom's hiring at Northwest Florida State College after he steered millions to the school." "The case against Sansom".

    Howard Troxler: "Think of the ongoing Ray Sansom affair in Tallahassee as a combination of Hee Haw and our own little Watergate. Not only is it not going away — it keeps getting bigger and better."

    Here was an astonishing side point in Kahn's report: The state Senate refused to cooperate with his work, even blocking senators and the Senate staff from giving him statements.

    Just to be clear: The Legislature refused to cooperate with the Legislature's special investigator.
    "This just keeps getting better".

    RPOFer tax increase!!!

    After pledging this, that and whatever about "no new taxes", Floridians get this turd in the pool, courtesy of the Republican Party of Florida: "Cigarette tax increase among new Fla. laws". See also "Tobacco tax worries retailers".

    Don't get us wrong, Florida's tax structure is broken, but throwing a sin tax at one of the few vices we working stiffs can afford ain't the way to fix it. Why not resuscitate the ... you know ... "intangibles" tax instead?

    I'll call my lobbyist and tell him to get right on it.

    "I was a b-b-ba-banker"

    Mike Thomas: "It is time for Alex Sink to stand before the people of Florida, hold her head high and admit:"

    "I was a b-b-ba-banker.

    "And I'd do it again."
    "Alex Sink needs to own her banking past".

    Phew ... at least we didn't get tax increases

    "State park admission fees on the rise".

    Bring Bushco on

    Just what the RPOFers need, another dose of the Bush family: "Jeb Bush, Jr., son to the former Florida governor of the same name, is taking a pretty harsh tone with Gov. Charlie Crist in a fundraising solicitation on the eve of the quarterly cash-call deadline. Jeb Jr. is backing former state House Speaker Marco Rubio, R-West Miami, in his Republican U.S. Senate primary against Crist, and dishes out some unkind words about the popular incumbent governor." "Jeb Jr: Crist caters to special interests".

    If everything goes the FlaDems way, Rubio will pull enough knuckle-draggers together to scrape out a victory in the the primary. Rubio might pull it off. See "Mason-Dixon: Crist still leads, but voters in-the-know divided" ("Among voters who recognized Crist and Rubio, the governor held a statistically insignificant 33-31 percent lead, with 36 percent undecided.")* More: "Download Florida Senate poll 6-29-09".

    ... the general election will then devolve into a referendum on Bushco channeled through "Jeb! Junior" (Rubio). That is a fight the Dems should relish.

    As for that, Robyn Blumner put it this way the other day in connection with Jebbie's recent appearance on the national stage: "having watched Bush lead Florida for eight years, I view the prospect of tapping him to bring the concerns of average Americans into the Republican Party as a little like asking the Real Housewives of New Jersey to live on a budget — it's an exercise so improbable that one isn't sure if it's farce or just delusion."

    As governor of Florida, Bush had plenty of ideas for transforming government. But they all sounded eerily like every other Republican idea: cut taxes to disproportionately benefit the wealthy, privatize government services, push for taxpayer money to fund private and parochial schools, and interfere with highly personal end-of-life decisions and reproductive choice.

    Gov. Jeb Bush made his mark on the national stage in two unappetizing episodes. First, the 2000 presidential election fiasco, which ultimately gave the presidency to his brother in a process that reeked of partisanship. And second, when in 2003 Bush went off the deep end in the Terri Schiavo matter.
    "Jeb won't help GOP appeal to Joe".

    - - - - - - - - - -
    *Check out these misleading headlines: "Poll: Crist has big lead in Fla. Senate race" and "Crist has big lead in U.S. Senate race, poll says". A teensy bit better: "Poll: Rubio still far behind Crist – but closing gap".

    More accurately, "Poll: Rubio and Crist in dead heat among GOPers who know both".

    Editors shouldn't pretend to be lawyers

    Check out this blarney from the wannabe lawyers on The Tampa Tribune editorial board: "High court recognizes reverse discrimination". The case, however, wasn't about "reverse discrimination" per se. "The Court Changes the Game". See also Forbes' "Roberts Court Veers From Pro-Business Tack".

    Luv 4 sale

    "Black-owned media tell GOP that money talks".

    Tiny steps

    "Starting Wednesday, Florida hopes to stoke its real-estate market by becoming one of the few states to offer $8,000 in down-payment assistance to qualified homebuyers so they can benefit upfront from a new federal tax credit." "Florida offers help to some with home down payment".

    You go, Bill

    "Sen. Bill Nelson is attempting to reassemble the formerly solid coalition of Florida Congress members against moving oil or gas drilling closer to Florida shores, with some success." "Nelson gathers drill ban support".

    Wingnuts of Florida Unite!

    "Posey, Rooney slam House-approved climate bill".

    And BTW, never mind this: "Florida Keys 'ground zero' for sea-level rise".

    Laying off Engineering and Computer Science professors

    "Florida Atlantic University professors have filed a formal complaint against the school, claiming the layoffs of tenured faculty members violates their union contract. FAU officials announced in May that the school's 2009-10 budget includes laying off 25 staffers and five tenured professors. All of the professors teach in the College of Engineering and Computer Science." "Florida Atlantic University professors challenge layoffs".

    Ahem, ... Charlie?

    The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "Fill the water board seats".

    The best medical system in the world?

    "Jury selection began Monday in the civil trial on behalf of a Guatemalan immigrant deported by a Martin County hospital after he racked up more than $1.5 million in medical bills."

    Luis Alberto Jimenez sustained severe brain injuries in 2000 when the car in which he was riding collided head-on with a stolen van driven by a drunk driver.

    He was taken to Martin Memorial Medical Center in Stuart, then to a nursing home some months later.

    Jimenez returned to the hospital for more treatment in January 2001, but when hospital officials tried to discharge him a second time, no nursing homes or facilities in the area were willing to take him.

    After Jimenez's medical bills topped $1 million -- costs the hospital largely absorbed because Jimenez was an undocumented immigrant -- officials sought and won a judge's approval to ship Jimenez to a hospital in Guatemala.
    "Injured immigrant's case in court".

    "Blaming Mother Nature for the recession"

    The Miami Herald editorial board: " A popular new pastime in Florida is blaming Mother Nature for the recession. It began in the Legislature when lawmakers used it as an excuse to weaken growth-management laws. Arguing that laws controlling development hinder new construction, lawmakers said that easing these laws would jump-start the state economy. Now developers have taken up the same argument in calling for the wood stork, an endangered species, to be down listed." "Don't delist bird".

    Falling upward

    "FAU President Frank Brogan may apply to become chancellor of the state university system." "Frank Brogan may leave Florida Atlantic University".

    Black Bear

    The Daytona Beach News Journal editorial board:

    Installing more underpasses along an area officially designated last year as the Florida Black Bear Scenic Byway could help reduce wildlife collisions even more. Such underpasses are a top goal for the committee developing plans for the 126 miles of road, including a 60-mile stretch of S.R. 40 that connects Ormond Beach to Ocala.

    The byway committee's plans are ambitious, including trails, informational displays and other features in the area of Barberville and Juniper Springs.

    The new corridor could give an economic boost, drawing visitors to a beautiful, largely unspoiled part of Florida. But as work on the byway progresses, the need for additional safe crossings for wildlife will only increase -- lest visitors be greeted with signs welcoming them to a wilderness bears used to roam.
    "A road for humans, bears alike".

    Photo op

    "Crist held a signing ceremony Monday as a judge in New York sentenced Bernard Madoff, who once owned a Palm Beach mansion, to spend the rest of his life in prison for swindling billions from investors including many Floridians. ... Attorney General Bill McCollum was on hand for the ceremony in Miami." "Crist signs Fla. investor protection bill".

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