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 Saturday, June 06, 2009

"A virtual tie for governor"

    "A new statewide poll shows Attorney General Bill McCollum and Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink in a virtual tie for governor nearly a year and a half before the 2010 November election."
    The poll, conducted by Atlanta-based Strategic Vision LLC, found 41 percent of potential voters supported GOP hopeful McCollum while 39 percent opted for Democrat Sink. The poll, with a margin of error of +/- 3 percent, showed 20 percent were undecided in that race.
    "Poll: McCollum and Sink neck and neck for guv". See also "New poll: Crist is cruising; McCollum not so much" and "Crist leading over Rubio for US Senate seat, poll shows".

    Why is Bill McCollum sitting on his hands?

    "A price tag is now emerging for what last year’s collapse of investment giant Lehman Brothers could cost the state of Florida: more than $1 billion. The losses could make Florida and its citizens among the biggest casualties in the biggest bankruptcy ever."

    In the past decade, Florida paid Lehman at least $27 million in fees for managing public investments and brokering and underwriting bond deals.

    The storied bank hired former Gov. Jeb Bush as a consultant in June 2007, five months after he left office. As governor, Bush also served as a trustee for the State Board of Administration, which invests public money.

    Lehman was the dominant Wall Street broker that sold the state board [on which Jebbie sat] $1.4 billion of risky, mortgage-related securities that started tanking in August 2007.

    Bush has said he had nothing to do with those sales.
    "Lehman Brothers collapse costs Fla. and its citizens $1 billion".

    But there is much more to this story - here's the time line, courtesy of the Palm Beach Post:
    # Until January 2007, Jeb Bush, as governor, is one of three trustees of the State Board of Administration. The SBA administers $180 billion in Florida assets, including the Local Government Investment Pool.

    # In February, out of office, Mr. Bush forms Jeb Bush & Associates.

    # In June, the Lehman Brothers investment firm hires Jeb Bush & Associates as consultants.

    # In July and August, Lehman Brothers sells the Florida pool $842 million in mortgage-backed debt. At the time, the SBA's executive director is Coleman Stipanovich. Promoted to the job in 2002 by Gov. Bush and the other SBA trustees, Mr. Stipanovich is the brother of Jeb Bush's former campaign manager.
    Where's the investigation, Mr. Attorney General McCollum? As the The Palm Beach Post editorial board pointed out in late 2007, "The role of Jeb Bush and political crony Stipanovich in the Lehman Brothers deal is just one issue for the state to investigate." Why are we still waiting, Mr. McCollum?

    "Some conservatives fretted privately"

    "The fourth African-American ever on the Florida Supreme Court formally took his seat Friday, making Charlie Crist the first governor to pick a majority of the high court in his first term."

    Justice James E.C. Perry is the fourth and, most likely, the final Crist appointee on the seven-member court.

    But though they've all been chosen by the same governor, the justices already are showing signs they won't vote as a bloc.

    On Thursday, the two Crist appointees considered most conservative -- Justices Charles Canady and Ricky Polston -- cast the only dissents in a case concerning Florida's ban on gay couples adopting children.

    The other two Crist picks -- Perry and Justice Jorge Labarga, the second Hispanic to serve on the court -- joined the majority in ruling that the Family Law Section of the Florida Bar could file a friend-of-the-court brief in the gay adoption case. Perry joined the ruling though he was not yet formally invested as a justice.

    Though the justices didn't rule on Florida's gay adoption ban itself, some conservatives fretted privately that Thursday's ruling indicated Crist didn't appoint enough solid conservatives when he had the chance.
    "Gov. Charlie Crist's 4th justice pick takes seat on state Supreme Court". See also "Florida's fourth black Supreme Court justice sworn in".

    "Savaging Florida's growth laws isn't 'balance'"

    The Daytona Beach News Journal editorial Board: "Before Charlie Crist flies again, his doctor should check him out. Could be the governor has some ear damage from the hasty plunge into his Senate campaign. Or a touch of vertigo, perhaps, from his rapid ascent into national politics last year. Something's distorting his sense of balance."

    Lawmakers, with the governor's complicity, used the economy as an excuse for big business interests to gut Florida's growth management laws -- the sponsor and champion of the bill, Sen. Mike Bennett, is, surprise, an electrical contractor for Pete's sake. Instead, they should have used this past session to fix the law's few technical problems. (The real problems with growth management in Florida had less to do with the law than with elected officials' failure to enforce it.) The traffic concurrency provision, which required developers to build or improve roads inside big cities before adding homes, wasn't working. It instead encouraged sprawl into urban fringe and rural areas. Also, the review process for massive Developments of Regional Impact had become unwieldy and unreasonably costly to developers.

    But abolishing that review altogether? Ending transportation concurrency not just inside big cities but in thinly populated areas? Promising to sincerely talk next year -- an election year -- about charging developers a traffic "mobility fee" to help with road improvements? Come on. Just thinking about SB 360's imbalance is dizzying.

    The governor really should stay out of high places, that is, unless Sen. Bennett's standing by to catch him.
    "Dizzying SB 360".

    Laff riot

    "Martinez says Cuban spy case should be wake-up call for Obama".


    "While Aronberg had been looking at the race for months, his announcement surprised some leading Democrats who had hoped to avoid an expensive primary between Aronberg and two others eyeing the seat: former gubernatorial candidate Rod Smith, and state Sen. Dan Gelber of Miami Beach." "State Sen. Dave Aronberg's bid for attorney general means the Democrats' primary will be expensive".

    Obama's Florida strategy: 2010 and 2012

    Maurice A. Ferre, a former Miami mayor, Miami-Dade County commissioner and state legislator asks "How will Obama carry Florida in 2012? The same way he carried it in 2008 by almost 380,000 votes -- a 600,000-plus Democratic swing from Bush's 2004 victory. According to Democratic strategist and pollster Sergio Bendixen, the Obama Florida victory number included a plurality Latino vote of more than 200,000."

    By 2012 there will be almost one million Puerto Ricans in Florida, all U.S. citizens. Puerto Ricans are the political opposites of Cuban Americans, voting more than two-to-one Democratic. What happens if by 2012 instead of 300,000 registered Puerto Ricans, the goal of 500,000 Puerto Rican voters in Florida is met? If Florida votes for Obama in 2012, along with California, New York and the Southwest, there is little doubt who will dominate presidential politics for years: Democrats.

    So the real political question is: Will Emanuel and Obama political heads David Plouffe and David Axelrod concentrate on building up Obama's South Florida and Hispanic vote leads for the 2010 races for U.S. senator and governor? If the answer is yes, we can then bet on Alex Sink as our first female governor and -- maybe -- Kendrick Meek as our next U.S. senator.

    As for Puerto Ricans in Florida: How about Obama's promise to solve the political-status impasse of Puerto Rico by 2012? On May 19, Puerto Rico's representative in the U.S. House, Pedro Pierluisi, introduced a bipartisan bill with 84 co-signatures, where Congress would, for the first time in 111 years, ask Puerto Rican-born U.S. citizens registered to vote anywhere in the country if they are satisfied with the current political status of Puerto Rico as a U.S. Territory or if they want a change. If the answer is change, a second plebiscite would ask for a preference between U.S. statehood and one of two forms of independence.

    On immigration reform, Obama said, ''I hope I can get something moving this year.'' As for Puerto Rico's political status, just a little movement is enough to motivate Florida Puerto Ricans. If Pierluisi's ''Puerto Rico Democracy Act 2009'' prospers, that alone will induce thousands of Puerto Ricans to register to vote in Florida, to help decide their island's political future in plebiscites in 2010 and 2011. These same voters will be ready to vote for Obama in 2012, along with other Florida Latinos.
    "Obama's 2012 Florida strategy".

    Is this an editorial?

    Who writes these headlines?: "Crist's high court pick puts him in political center".

    Unintended consequences

    The Saint Petersburg Times editorial board: "Say a powerful developer seeking a significant zoning change decided to donate money for a swanky renovation to City Hall but evoked his right to anonymity. Unlike a campaign contribution, which is public record, the anonymous donation would mean citizens have no way of knowing about his potential influence over the city council."

    And what would stop politicians from soliciting anonymous donations for their pet projects — perhaps a building named in their honor at a state college? Special interests seeking influence with the politician would be able to give to the pet project with no public disclosure.

    The state already provides ways for universities, museums, athletic departments and others to get around public records law by creating separate nonprofit organizations to raise money for them. That should suffice.

    The legislation claims the public's interest is served because it would protect donors and potential donors from identity theft by shielding their name, address and phone numbers. A donation record likely contains less information than what can be found in county property records. And if there is sensitive information in such donor files, the bill should have been more narrowly tailored to accomplish that goal.

    Instead, the governor is being presented with a measure that would reduce access to government records and increase the risk of corruption. Crist should veto SB 166.
    "Ticket to corruption".

    "Something is haywire with the FCAT"

    The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "Tenth-graders who just got their FCAT scores came up through the high-stakes testing system, which began in earnest eight years ago. For all the early-grade improvement since then, this year's 10th-grade reading scores confirm that something is haywire with the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test." "Breaking the FCAT grip".

    The Zell corporation foams at the mouth

    The The Orlando Sentinel's anti-worker gasbags are at it again:

    Mr. Dyer and the council need to resist the temptation to deplete reserves or raise taxes to beat the political heat generated by the city's unions.

    We sympathize with those employees whose jobs are at risk [sic], just as we feel for the many, many employees at other workplaces who have lost their jobs in the recession. But governments, just like businesses and families, need to live within their means.
    "What we think: Cut costs, don't raid funds".

    When slum lords buy newspapers ...

    ... the right wing blather never ceases: "After two days of high-level meetings, the foreign ministers of the 34-member OAS decided to allow Cuba to regain active status in the Washington-based group. That's it. That was the great achievement of this week's gathering, which followed last month's OAS presidential summit in the Caribbean." "Irrelevant OAS misses big opportunity".

    Big of 'em

    "State workers honored for innovation at awards luncheon".

    Now you see him, now you don't

    Steve Bousquet: "Sometimes the absence of the bully pulpit can be as revealing about Crist as the moments when he uses it. This was the case Monday when he signed a highly controversial bill that weakens Florida's growth management laws."

    Advocates said the bill would help the economy by encouraging construction. Opponents say it will add even more sprawl and gridlock on Florida's highways.

    Rather than wheel out the pulpit, Crist quietly signed the bill into law in the solitude of his office. His communications director, Erin Isaac, sent the media an e-mail at 5:05 p.m. that described the bill in legislative jargon as "the Community Renewal Act" and was devoid of a single canned quote from Crist.

    This was one of those times when Crist did something that he didn't "want to make sure that people know about."

    On Thursday, Crist was asked whether he had read Howard Troxler's column in the Times that morning accusing him of "selling the state down the river" and being "gutless" for signing the growth bill in silence, with scant explanation of his actions.

    "No," Crist said.
    "To view Crist's political ambition, look for the pulpit".

    FlaDem GOTV dream

    "Claiming that offshore drilling is the answer to the nation's addiction to foreign oil, conservative activists are gearing up for a constitutional drive to lift Florida's 20-year-old ban." "On offshore oil, a cracked door".

    Chris Craft

    "Some Democrats hoped state Sen. Dave Aronberg, D-Greenacres, would challenge freshman U.S. Rep. Tom Rooney, R-Tequesta, next year. With Aronberg running for attorney general, many Democrats are waiting to see whether St. Lucie County Commissioner Chris Craft will run for Congress." "St. Lucie County commissioner weighs congressional run".

    "Pitting developers against one another"

    "A New York-based developer may mount a legal challenge against part of Florida's new growth-management law, arguing that it violates the U.S. Constitution."

    The growth-management bill that Gov. Charlie Crist signed on Monday has drawn loud objections from environmentalists, who complain that it is a gift to developers. Now, however, a portion of the law is pitting developers against one another.
    "Builder decries new law".

    Cairo speech

    "Obama's Cairo speech finds support, with reservation, in South Florida".


    "Having gone from power broker to supplicant, former Palm Beach County Commissioner Mary McCarty rose before U.S. District Judge Donald Middlebrooks and, sobbing, begged forgiveness." "I'm a criminal, McCarty sobs".

    "There may be more than 150,000 on the loose"

    The Tampa Tribune editorial board: "Florida U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson is sponsoring a measure that would ban the import and trade of the Burmese python, which has already proved to be a threat to native wildlife. The measure deserves adoption." "Kill the snakes". The Saint Petersburg Times editorial board: "Time for python bounties".

    Pivatization follies

    "Florida's prison system is embroiled in a lawsuit filed by an ousted vendor on a major contract that accuses the state of illegally favoring a competitor."

    The lawsuit was filed by MHM Correctional Services, which wants to extend its 2 ½ year contract to provide mental health care to more than 15,000 inmates in a dozen South Florida prisons.

    In an effort to save money, the state privatized prison health care several years ago, but a legislative watchdog agency said in a report last January that the change has yielded ``mixed results.''
    "Prison vendor sues state over secret deal".

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