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 Sunday, June 28, 2009

Wrongwood Bill working "part-time"

    If yesterday's "AP 'in the tank' for McCollum?" (scroll down) weren't enough, Wrongwood Billy takes another hit this morning.

    "Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum has carried a part-time workload for the past two months, according to his schedule posted on his website."
    McCollum, a Republican who announced his candidacy for governor on May 18, has worked an average of about 22 hours a week since May 1, the records show.

    During the same period, McCollum has averaged nearly 17 hours a week of ''personal time'' during normal business hours.

    He has worked 178 hours -- including a nine-hour stint on June 17 in his official capacity as state attorney general at the Florida Cattlemen's Association Convention -- since May 1. He has logged 135 hours of ''personal time'' between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. during the same time period.
    By contrast,
    Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, a Democrat who is McCollum's chief rival for governor, has taken 68 hours of personal time -- an average of eight hours a week -- during the same period. She has logged 262 hours on official business over the past eight weeks, an average of about 33 hours per week.
    "Florida attorney general's schedule shows part-time workload".

    "The injustice of mass incarceration"

    The Daytona Beach News Journal editorial board: "Last year Florida hit a disturbing milestone: For the first time, the state's daily prison population topped 100,000, a figure that didn't include people locked up in county jails (about 60,000) or serving probation (nearly 160,000)." "A rising voice for change".

    "There is reason to be optimistic"

    The Tallahassee Democrat editorial board: "Sales tax collections in Florida inched up a little bit last month, exceeding state estimates for the first time in nearly three years. General revenue collections have been steadily dropping for three years, but they are $56.2 million above what economists forecast in March."

    The stock market held its own last week, and nationwide, retailers had some upbeat news, even as the number of claims for unemployment jumped unexpectedly, according to the U.S. Labor Department.

    What all this demonstrates is that our economic lives are still very much touch and go, but there is reason to be optimistic.
    "It's no strategy but ...".

    Trust Charlie?

    The Sun-Sentinel editorial board: "The Florida Ethics Commission declined to look into allegations regarding the governor's use of private jets of wealthy businessmen. Gov. Charlie Crist said he had paid for those flights he considered personal, and in the minds of the commissioners, that was good enough."

    "Crist routinely uses private jets, whether it's a flight back to the capital from a Super Bowl in Tampa, a hop over to a Sheryl Crow concert in Gainesville or a golf tournament hosted by Donald Trump in Palm Beach. The governor insists he paid for the trips. He also declines to produce any receipts or other details of the payments." "Crist case shows ethics panel needs more clout".

    RPOFer laff riot

    "Republicans have a serious problem with young voters. In Florida, they overwhelmingly backed Barack Obama over John McCain and since the 2008 election, voters 18-29 have continued registering Democratic far more than Republican."

    "Its secret weapon for winning back the Twitter/Facebook generation? Brace yourself."

    Panel discussions! And that's not all. Bruce Jenner, too!

    On Aug. 22, the state Republican Party is hosting a "Drive the Discussion Exchange '09" youth conference in Orlando. Targeting Floridians 15 to 35, the conference promises panel discussions, "exciting speakers" and a voter registration drive.

    The keynote speaker is Bruce Jenner, who won his Olympic gold medal before most of the event's target demographic was born.
    "GOP hatches a plan to snag the youth vote".

    Trib editors go off deep end ...

    More anti-worker bile from the wackos on the The Tampa Tribune editorial board: "The pay and benefits for employees of state and local government are too high, and relative to workers in the private sector, getting higher."

    Tax revenue stopped growing as pension funds lost value, yet promises of lifetime pay to workers and former workers must be kept.

    An economic recovery that is strong and fast would provide some relief, but if the recovery is slow, local governments could be forced to lay off workers to keep paying generous retirement benefits to former workers.

    A statewide investigation is needed to determine the scope of the problem [?!?], publicize the financial facts that politicians find embarrassing and come up with solutions.
    After calling for an "investigation", the wingnut editors want
    a task force to investigate the realities of government pay and benefits. Are some local governments heading toward bankruptcy? What are fair levels of compensation? How can the state Legislature be discouraged from improving the retirement benefits of police officers and firefighters and forcing local governments to pay for it?

    The other suggestion is to change municipal elections to coincide with general elections. Now, many cities, including Tampa, hold special elections in the spring. An advantage is that the ballot is simple. The major disadvantage is low turnout.

    In the Tampa city election of 2007, turnout was a mere 15 percent. That means a majority is something less than 8 percent of registered voters.

    Municipal elections are dominated by public-employee unions. Candidates who campaign against higher pay and benefits don't have much of a chance to win.
    "Public payroll becomes unfair load".

    Jeez, why not let the Chamber of Commerce set everyone's wage rates?

    "Point of contention"

    "Surveillance videos point of contention for prison system".

    Pond scum

    The pond scum who made fortunes polluting and developing Florida, "the Florida Chamber of Commerce, Realtors, home builders and developers such as Lykes Brothers, A. Duda & Sons and Alico Inc. have poured $3.8 million into Floridians for Smarter Growth."

    The Orlando-based group was designed to undercut Hometown. It floated an alternative amendment that would allow a public vote on land-use changes only if 10 percent of voters in a city or county signed a petition asking for one.

    Although the group created some headlines and garnered 443,500 signatures for its own amendment, it went dormant after Hometown failed to make the 2008 ballot.

    Now its backers will be forced to decide whether they want to respond by pushing their plan onto the same ballot next year — or spend their money on an all-out media campaign against Amendment 4 itself.
    Meanwhile, a group of business interests led by Associated Industries of Florida is weighing a constitutional amendment to allow voters to revoke their signatures.
    Now its architects want legislators to get around that decision by placing a constitutional amendment on the 2010 ballot.

    "I think we're looking for serious firepower on this one," said AIF lawyer John French.

    It would undoubtedly cause much confusion among voters, which Hometown's founders claim has always been the intent.
    "Growth amendment fuels opponents' angst".

    More from Jane Healy: "It's no wonder that opponents of Florida Hometown Democracy have suddenly gotten very nervous. The proposed constitutional amendment passed muster with the Florida Supreme Court, and the secretary of state last week placed it on the 2010 ballot, naming it Amendment 4. The battle will be fierce, but if opponents really want to defeat this proposal, they had better come up with some new arguments against it rather than the hysterical ones they are spouting now." "Better reasoning needed to defeat controversial Amendment 4".

    The Saint Petersburg Times editorial board parrot the developers' line: "A formula for gridlock".

    SBA secrets

    The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "Investigations by the St. Petersburg Times show that the State Board of Administration hasn't given up the secretive, misleading practices that lost investors millions and caused a run on one of the SBA's funds. The investigations also raise doubts that Gov. Crist, Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink and Attorney General Bill McCollum - the three trustees of the agency - have pushed hard enough for reforms and openness." "Who's watching the money?".

    "Many favors"

    Randy Schultz: "Among the many favors Florida has done for insurance companies ...". "Don't bet the (State) Farm II".

    "Silencing Christians"?

    "A flood of telephone calls and e-mails cascaded into WFLA News Channel 8 on Saturday afternoon and night over the airing of "Silencing Christians," a religious paid program that some say contained open hate speech against gays and lesbians."

    Before the hourlong program ended at 8 p.m., the station had logged hundreds of telephone calls and more than 1,000 e-mails, all protesting the broadcast.

    Stratton Pollitzer, deputy director of Equality Florida, has seen the program and said the message was clearly hate speech.

    "I think this program is a piece of homophobic propaganda and it has no place on a major network like NBC," he said just after 7 p.m., as the program was airing.

    The show was hosted by author and commentator Janet Parshall who, at the outset, said the homosexual community has established a plan for widespread acceptance at the expense of Christian morals and values.

    "And to run it the same day as Gay Pride festival in St. Petersburg just adds insult to injury," Pollitzer said. "While tens of thousands of people in Tampa Bay area are celebrating diversion, WFLA is broadcasting homophobia."
    "Paid program draws protest calls, e-mails".

    "Insular and tone deaf Tallahassee"

    "In Tallahassee, with all the evidence now out in the open, they are not outraged. Instead, there is disbelief and even disdain for the grand jury's laserlike conclusions. The damning report by the House's own investigator, released only days ago, was greeted by lawmakers with measured concern for ... Sansom."

    It only proves how insular and tone deaf Tallahassee can be.

    Few seem willing to do anything about the culture of pork barrel politics, secrecy and last-minute deals that favors high-ranking officials like Sansom. Gov. Charlie Crist demanded the college return the construction money, but he has said next to nothing about what should happen to Sansom.

    The reluctance to act reveals long-standing flaws in the culture of the capital and the Legislature as an institution.
    "Absence of outrage". Background: "The tale of the trail left by e-mail and evidence". Related: "Sansom report: 'It will blow over,' Richburg thought".

    "Closed meetings to pick chief judges"

    The Saint Petersburg Times editorial board:

    It is particularly disappointing in Florida, where open government is embedded in the state Constitution, that the judges of Pinellas and Pasco counties will meet in secret this week to vet a pair of candidates for chief judge. The longtime tradition of closed meetings to pick chief judges belies the significance of the decision at hand. The 69 county and circuit judges are filling one of the top law enforcement offices, and it is not just a ceremonial position. Someone with such power should get a public vetting.
    "Closing doors on the public".


    The Orlando Sentinel editorial board: "The state won a reprieve Wednesday when CSX Corp., which owns the track on which SunRail trains would run, agreed to waive this week's purchase deadline. But the extension won't get SunRail to serve residents from DeLand to Orlando to Poinciana unless those positioned to determine its fate -- supporters like Gov. Charlie Crist and opponents like state Sen. Paula Dockery, who's considering running for governor -- this time take a markedly different approach to it." "Worth a try, if done right".

    Brand spanking new

    "Florida among state with new laws taking effect July 1".

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