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 Thursday, June 25, 2009

Wrongwood Bill's campaign "shocked"

    "Florida's Chief Financial Officer may have made extra stops on the state plane to pick up or drop off family members while conducting state business, travel records show."
    Flight logs show that while Alex Sink and staff were traveling to the capital from West Palm Beach in January, the plane stopped in Tampa for 20 minutes. No one got off, and only Sink's husband, Bill McBride, got on the plane before taking off again.

    Similarly, McBride was with Sink and staff members in Boca Raton in October 2008. On the way back to Tallahassee, the plane stopped in Tampa for five minutes, where McBride got off and the rest of the passengers continued to the capital, records show.

    Sink's office didn't dispute the records, but would not comment on whether the Tampa stops were scheduled solely to pick up and drop off family members.

    "The rare times a family member has been on the plane, the CFO proactively paid the state for the cost of travel," said her spokeswoman Kyra Jennings.

    Jennings also pointed out that Sink pushed for more transparency in use of the state plane, leading to the flight logs being posted online by the Department of Management Services. ...

    "It's shocking that the Chief Financial Officer who is the self-proclaimed watchdog of the taxpayers' money would use the taxpayers' money in such a manner, what appears to be a pickup and drop-off service for family members," said Matt Williams, McCollum's campaign manager.
    "Fla. CFO Sink flew family members on state plane".

    Williams' shock was a bit premature. After all, his candidate seems "guilty" of precisely the same thing:
    On several occasions, McCollum dispatched an empty plane from Tallahassee to his home near Sanford [Longwood (a/k/a Wrongwood) to be precise] to take him to events around the state. Often the plane would return him to Central Florida and fly back to Tallahassee with no passengers.

    One such example: On Feb. 3, 2007, a state plane went to Sanford to get McCollum, who attended funerals in the Panhandle for two murder victims: the wife of a sheriff and a sheriff's deputy. After the funerals, the plane flew McCollum back home to Sanford and the empty plane flew back to Tallahassee. The extra cost of flying from Tallahassee to Sanford and back for McCollum: $1,950, according to state flight records.
    "Florida governor candidates defend use of state planes"

    "Exotic invader"

    "An exotic invader considered a serious threat to Florida's marine life was captured on a wreck in the waters of Biscayne National Park. " "Venomous lionfish captured off Miami".

    Hometown Democracy

    Mike Thomas: "Hometown Democracy: The Eve of Destruction?".

    Yee Haw!

    "Rubio gets backing from U.S. Rep. Jeff Miller".


    "The Obama administration will move to put Everglades National Park back on a United Nations list of endangered sites and reverse a controversial decision by the Bush administration." "U.S. seeks to put Everglades Park back on U.N. endangered list".

    Crist vetoes AIF insurance bill

    "Crist on Wednesday vetoed a hotly contested bill that would have deregulated rates on many insurance policies that protect Florida homeowners from hurricanes and other disasters."

    Although its backers called the legislation (HB 1171) a "consumer choice" bill, it would have allowed about 40 of the largest property insurers to start charging virtually any price they wanted for policies with hurricane coverage — and to bypass regulations the state imposes on other companies.

    "The bill actually gives the 'choice' to a select group of property insurance companies and allows them to decide who they are willing to sell a non-regulated policy," Crist wrote in a letter explaining his veto. "These select property insurance companies will be able to cherry-pick, or sell only to profitable policyholder[s] ..."

    Supporters of the legislation, including the business lobby Associated Industries of Florida, had hoped it would prevent some big, well-financed national companies from leaving the state or dropping Florida policies.
    "Crist vetoes bill on deregulation of insurance".

    The Saint Petersburg Times editorial board: "Allowing large insurers to determine their own rates while rates for other insurers are regulated would have undermined the state’s efforts to ease the property insurance crisis." "License to gouge consumers vetoed".

    More from The Tallahassee Democrat editorial board: "Override this veto". See also "Crist vetoes insurance-deregulation bill". Related: "Crist vetoes public record exemptions" and "Two more vetoes from Crist".

    Goin' down down ...

    "Bottom for home prices? Not yet".

    "Not necessarily right"

    Joel Engelhardt: "It's easy to believe that the potential riches of an inland port - whose location is to be determined by the Port of Palm Beach - are destined for land owned by the Fanjul family-owned Florida Crystals. Easy, but not necessarily right." "New deal, same governor".

    Petition drives salvaged

    The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "The Florida Supreme Court ruled in favor of democracy last week by rejecting a state law designed to undercut petition drives for state constitutional amendments." "High court goes with voters". See also "Bill Cotterell: For better or worse, we love our petition initiatives".

    Thanks, but no thanks

    "Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, the leading Democrat running for governor in 2010, on Wednesday removed ex-Miami City Commissioner Johnny Winton as a cohost of an upcoming fundraiser."

    Winton was suspended from office by Gov. Jeb Bush in 2006 after a drunken scuffle with police. He pleaded guilty to charges of misdemeanor battery and disorderly intoxication.

    Winton also weathered ethical questions about partnering with Miami Mayor Manny Diaz and former City Manager Joe Arriola in a $3.1 million real estate deal. He paid a $750 fine and was reprimanded by the Florida Ethics Commission in 2007. He has since kept a low public profile, but his name was listed among 22 cohosts of a Sink fundraiser planned for Monday night at the Miami Beach home of developer Andi Greenwald.

    After The Miami Herald asked about Winton, Sink campaign spokeswoman Tara Klimek said he would be removed as a cohost.
    "Johnny Winton removed as cohost of Alex Sink fundraiser".


    "Brevard officials curious about saltwater alligators, crocodiles".

    No Hav-A-Tampa

    The Tampa Tribune editorial board: "Tampa hasn't been the Cigar City for many decades."

    The cigar-manufacturing plants that provided the community a national identity long before the Bucs, the Lightning or even MacDill Air Force Base have been closing or relocating from the area for more than a generation.

    Still, it's sad to see the closing of Hav-A-Tampa's Seffner plant, which produced the product so closely associated with a community that once hosted the Cigar Bowl.

    The company will continue to produce cigars in Puerto Rico. But close to 500 local jobs will be lost. Hillsborough's sole cigar operation now will be J.C. Newman, which, fortunately, still operates a plant in Ybor City.
    "So long, Hav-A-Tampa".

    "A test of loyalty to the party"

    "Since the age of President Andrew Jackson, patronage has been a prized privilege that executives have used to maintain and reward the support of their most fervent followers."

    And now many are watching to see whether Gov. Charlie Crist, who is running for the U.S. Senate next year, will follow or buck tradition when he chooses an interim supervisor of elections for Hillsborough County.

    Either way, he risks alienating voters he will need in his Senate bid.

    The supervisor's job came open Tuesday when Phyllis Busansky, a Democrat, was found dead of natural causes in a St. Augustine hotel room. Busansky was a popular and charismatic politician who had been in office just five months.

    Political tradition says Crist, a Republican, will choose Busanky's successor from the ranks of the GOP. The governor has drawn a challenge from conservative Republican Marco Rubio, a former speaker of the state House, in the race for the U.S. Senate seat.

    "The Republicans are going to look at this as a test of loyalty to the party," said Darryl Paulson, a former political science professor at the University of South Florida-St. Petersburg. "Are you going to appoint one of your own? Certainly there's going to be some pressure on him to do what I think is the traditional thing."
    "Naming successor to Busansky an opportunity, risk for Crist".

    Another failed Jebacy

    The Sun-Sentinel editorial board:

    Community-based care came about during the first term of then-Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who combined his zeal for public private partnerships with the need to improve the state's largest government agency to create a largely successful policy initiative. Today, more people are involved in the critically important care of Florida's children.

    Yet, cases like the death of 7-year-old Gabriel Myers continue to expose holes in what remains a major governmental reform.
    "Child's death exposes a big problem in foster-care reform".

    Charles DuToit, 2009 Resource Manager of the Year

    The Daytona Beach News Journal editorial board: "For too long, Floridians have attempted to drain, dredge and fill land that's meant to be swampy, with little regard for the impact on natural systems or humans. Looking to the past could provide vital clues for dealing with issues of flooding and pest control in the future." "Restoring Florida's past".

    Global warming bill set for a vote Friday

    The Miami Herald editorial board: "A bill in the U.S. House of Representatives that would push the United States toward using cleaner energy and cap carbon emissions that cause global warming is set for a vote Friday. Florida's lawmakers should strongly support it."

    When it comes to the ill effects of climate change, Florida is one of the nation's most vulnerable states. In a June report, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration outlined what Florida would be in for if no significant action is taken soon to curb the emissions that contribute to global warming:

    • Over time, sea-level rise will put 99.6 percent of Monroe County under water; in Miami-Dade, 70 percent would be awash, while 10-22 percent of land would be flooded in 14 other coastal counties. This would destroy real estate worth more than $130 billion.

    • Florida's tourism industry will lose $9 billion by 2025 and $167 billion by the end of the century from the loss of beaches and other attractions.

    • Sea-level rise will destroy some important infrastructure: two nuclear power plants (Turkey Point being one), three prisons, 68 hospitals, 74 airports, 334 public schools and nearly 20,000 historic structures.

    • Gradual warming and rising of the seas will increase hurricanes' intensity, inflicting an estimated $25 billion in damages on Floridians by 2050.
    "U.S. House should pass energy bill". The Orlando Sentinel editorial board: "Time for climate action".

    Just another day at the office for Florida's firefighters

    "Three firefighters responded within four minutes"

    Officials this morning said the toddler pulled from a trailer fire in northeast Lake County died late Wednesday at Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children in Orlando.

    His 18-month-old twin had died at the scene....

    Shortly before 3:30 p.m., neighbors along Pine Tree Lane in rural Lake County heard a "boom," and the trailer burst into flames. Within minutes, firefighters knocked a hole in the rear wall to reach the people inside, including the toddlers.
    "Second twin brother dies in Lake County trailer fire".

    Privatization follies

    "Should Seminole libraries be run by private companies? Petitions say no".

    "Less courage than expediency"

    The Daytona Beach News Journal editorial board:

    To a small minority of conservatives, the Voting Rights Act's Section 5 is discriminatory. Activists drafted a small utility district in Texas that didn't exist in 1965, and used it to challenge the constitutionality of the law. The case went to the U.S. Supreme Court where, in oral arguments on April 29, Chief Justice John Roberts, who argued against renewing the act in 1981 when he was working for President Reagan, ridiculed the law's open-ended provisions. Other conservative justices questioned the constitutionality of the law. The Voting Rights Act looked like it was heading for an ash heap.

    It isn't. At least not yet. The court ruled 8-1 on Monday to exempt the Texas utility district from the act. But the court skirted the more important question of the validity of the Voting Rights Act by leaving it unanswered. "Whether conditions continue to justify such legislation is a difficult constitutional question we do not answer today," Roberts wrote for the majority. The justices' compromise avoided the fracturing effect of a decision that would have demolished a pillar of the civil rights era. But it left the door open to another challenge. There was less courage than expediency in the decision.
    "Still needed".

    Reining in that good 'ole "entrepreneurship"

    "Verizon cell phone customers in Florida can get refunds for charges for ringtones and other features that people did not order or did not know would add monthly fees from $9.99 to $49.99." "Florida Verizon cell phone customers can seek refunds for hidden charges".

    Bear tales

    "Cast out of Weston, black bear makes his way back east".

    Diaz Virginia Key plan flop

    The Miami Herald editorial board: "The Virginia Key Master Plan's debut was a complete flop. Miami Mayor Manny Diaz had no choice but to pull it from the City Commission's June 25 meeting agenda. Universally panned by the city's Waterfront and Planning and Advisory boards, the long-awaited blueprint for revamping the 82-acre barrier island didn't make many stakeholders happy." "Virginia Key plan is a dud".


    "President Barack Obama is praising five Cuban dissidents for their pro-democracy activities, and he's calling on the communist government to release all political prisoners." "Obama urges release of Cuban political prisoners".

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