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 Friday, July 03, 2009

Crist administration handles stimulus "dismally"

    The Daytona Beach News Journal editorial board: Smart Growth America "released a report on how states spent the first portion of the $787 billion stimulus package Congress approved in February."
    Forty of the 50 states and the District of Columbia spent wisely -- devoting 60 percent or more of the money on repairing existing roads and bridges, which puts more people to work quickly and addresses a serious need. Some states did poorly, devoting about 40 to 50 percent of the stimulus money on new road construction. And some states, Florida among them, did dismally.
    Imagine that, even with the Obama handing Florida billions to backstop years of RPOFer gutting of Florida's public finance infrastructure, the RPOFers who run Tallahassee manage to do "dismally" with the cash.

    Here come the Crist administration excuses:
    The Florida Department of Transportation says it didn't spend more money on repairing infrastructure because it's done a good job of keeping up the state's roads and bridges. True, just 24 percent of state roads are in poor condition, but adding capacity to existing roads is less of a priority than improving mass transit systems that reduce capacity overall in Florida. Stimulus money was also eligible for mass-transit spending. But Florida devoted just 4.4 percent to that category.
    Read it all here: "State slow to spend transportation stimulus".

    Another fine Jebacy

    "Demand is soaring at Miami-Dade and Broward community colleges, but the cash-strapped schools can't add enough classes." "Demand soars at S. Florida community colleges, but not enough classes".

    Kosmas gets another lightweight RPOFer challenger

    "State Rep. Sandy Adams, R-Orlando, said today that "there's a high probability that there's truth to" the rumor she plans to run against freshman Democratic Congresswoman Suzanne Kosmas."

    Adams could face a primary fight against Winter Park Commissioner Karen Diebel and Kenneth John Miller, who have already filed paperwork to run. Diebel has already taken some hits from Democrats, who've cited her "erratic behavior" at a council meeting and during a 911 call from her home. Still, national Republican campaign groups have spoken favorably about her candidacy.

    According to the most recent reports posted on-line, Kosmas, of New Smyrna Beach, had about $230,587 in cash on hand at the end of March.
    "Rep. Sandy Adams likely congressional candidate". See also "Sandy Adams v. Suzanne Kosmas?".

    Sansom watch

    The recent Republican Party of Florida's Speaker of the House had been dubbed the "'kingpin' in airport deal".

    Just doing business in Tally

    "A federal corruption unit is trying to find out if top Florida officials were solicited to tank a state probe into a fraudulent Fort Lauderdale life-insurance company."

    The U.S. Justice Department is investigating corruption allegations made by an indicted Fort Lauderdale insurance executive who, in a bid for a favorable plea deal, has named lawyers, lobbyists and fundraisers he claims plotted with him to thwart a state crackdown on him and his industry.

    Justice officials have convened a federal grand jury to pursue the claims of former Mutual Benefits Corp. chief Joel Steinger. The wealthy businessman contends that he orchestrated a campaign to stifle a 1999-2000 statewide grand jury probe by attempting to improperly influence public officials, three knowledgeable sources have told The Miami Herald.
    "Feds probing whether top Florida officials were asked to kill insurance fraud investigation".

    Will a Florida "journalist" ask Greer ...

    ... whether the RPOF agrees with this: "The top Republican on the Senate committee that will consider Sonia Sotomayor's Supreme Court nomination says ['Sotomayor had ties to extreme group']"?

    "Crist got a crack-back block"

    Paul Flemming: "Crist got a crack-back block from The Wall Street Journal for his veto of what's not to be called The State Farm bill."

    The dead proposal would have allowed big insurance companies to sell homeowners' policies regulated in every way save one: Eligible companies, State Farm among them, could have charged whatever rates they wanted.

    Proponents said it would attract private insurers, State Farm among them, back into Florida and reduce the number of policies covered by government-run Citizens Property Insurance.

    It's not the first time the Journal's editorial pages, reliably to the right of Vlad the Impaler, have chastised the moderate Crist.
    "Insurance veto gets panned by critics".

    The best they can do?

    "Radio Iowa reports there have been robocalls in the state asking which Republican candidate do they prefer for the 2012 presidential race. The candidates were [get this] Michael Huckabee, Sarah Palin, Bobby Jindal, Newt Gingrich and Jeb Bush." "Jeb Bush Robocalls".

    "Something appears fishy" with Vern

    The Saint Petersburg Times editorial board:

    When a Democrat who is broke and has never made a campaign contribution gives the maximum to the re-election campaign of Republican U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, something appears fishy. The two-term congressman from Sarasota disavows any breach of campaign finance laws. But there is a swirl of allegations that contributions made to Buchanan's campaign have been illegally reimbursed. A federal investigation should be launched if one is not already under way.
    "Investigate Buchanan campaign".

    "'A handful of gimme and a mouthful of much obliged'"

    "Florida residents and business leaders told federal lawmakers that the rising cost of property insurance is hitting state residents and the economy hard, and called on Congress to pass legislation for a "catastrophe fund" to help local homeowners." "Floridians ask Congress to pass 'catastrophe fund' legislation".

    Whenever fiscally irresponsible, low tax states like Florida beg for federal handouts, it reminds us of RJ Eskow point that Southerners "love to preach about fiscal responsibility and lower taxes, but they keep dipping their beak into the Federal trough. I believe the applicable Southern phrase is 'a handful of gimme and a mouthful of much obliged.'"

    "Circular firing squad"

    More from Flemming:

    Leon County Democrats this week formed anew its circular firing squad and commenced squeezing the trigger. Leon Democratic Executive Committee Chairman Rick Minor quit his party post and filed to run against the incumbent for House District 9.

    Minor said he didn't think state Rep. Michelle Rehwinkel Vasilinda represented the core values of Democrats in the district, mentioning, with a straight face, her failure to support the Equal Rights Amendment.

    Minor's stunt makes it more likely Republicans will be able to steal an otherwise safe Democratic district. In 2008, Rehwinkel Vasilinda took 48.6 percent of the vote, winning by 430 votes out of more than 42,000 cast in a race against a well-funded, high-profile Republican opponent. No doubt the GOP will gun for this seat again in 2010.
    "Dems eat their own".

    Don't be so sure that Minor doesn't pull it off.

    Speaking of "circular firing squads"

    "The race for Florida attorney general may be one of the state's hottest contests in 2010, but the presumed Republican frontrunner has yet to step in the ring."

    Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp, a former legislator from North Fort Myers, promised an announcement at the end of June. Kottkamp was in his Fort Myers office on Thursday and could not be reached for comment.

    As his supporters wait, and the Ethics Commission weighs a complaint about his use of state airplanes, the name of a potential primary opponent has surfaced: Holly Benson, secretary of the Agency for Health Care Administration and a former lawmaker from Pensacola.
    "Benson for top cop?".

    Pension checks for Florida's Confederate "losers"

    Mark Lane:

    I was stuck in traffic recently behind a six-wheeled pickup with a Confederate flag sticker that said "heritage not hate." As if "heritage" and "hate" were two utterly separate things. Sadly, like "tastes great" and "less filling," these qualities are not mutually exclusive.

    But we as a people don't dwell on that kind of thing.

    Only 20 years after the Civil War, the state of Florida started paying pensions to Confederate soldiers. In how many countries do the losers in insurrection movements get government checks? But within two decades of the nation's bloodiest war, we were so far along in moving to other things that people on both sides of the conflict could unite in the common goal of getting retirement money from the government.

    We're that kind of country.

    And that's why when we hear explosions in the distance, Americans look up in the sky rather than drop and roll.

    Happy Fourth of July.
    "In praise of ditching the past".


    "Crist and the Seminole Tribe of Florida began negotiating a new gambling compact Wednesday that would bring revenue to the state in exchange for the tribe's right to a monopoly on some of its casino games." "Gov. Charlie Crist resumes gambling talks with Seminoles".

    Sounds like a plan

    Jac Versteeg:

    So, what did Mr. Hernandez do? Basically, Mr. Dow says, he reclassified hundreds of "teachers" as "coaches." Not athletic coaches but academic coaches in areas such as math, science, reading and language arts. The coaches, most of whom will focus on struggling schools, will spend part of the time teaching teachers and part of their time working directly with students. The federal stimulus program, which supposedly focuses on innovation, will pay for those coaches but not for ordinary teachers.

    Is it really better for students to have those teachers working as "coaches" than it would be to have them still in the classroom full-time? I don't know. I think it's definitely better to have them with the district in some capacity than to lay off hundreds of teachers.
    "Bend rules, save teachers".

    Judicial appointments

    The Florida Supreme Court "ruled Thursday that Crist must make a judicial selection from the all-white list of six names for the Fifth District Court of Appeal in Daytona Beach."

    ''While we applaud the governor's interest in achieving diversity in the judiciary -- an interest we believe to be genuine and well-intentioned -- the Constitution does not grant the governor the discretion to refuse or postpone making an appointment to fill the vacancy on the Fifth District Court of Appeal,'' Justice Jorge Labarga, a Crist appointee, wrote on behalf of the court.
    What's good for the goose apparently was not good enough for Labarga. After all, "Labarga, a Cuban American, was a key player in Crist's controversial efforts to bring more diversity to the bench."

    last year, after a Supreme Court nominating commission forwarded Labarga's name to Crist, the Republican selected him to sit on an appeals court, instead. Crist then asked the commission to send him more diverse candidates for the Supreme Court seat. After a contentious late-night phone conference, the commission nominated Frank Jimenez, another Cuban American and a U.S. Navy attorney who had worked for both Jeb and George Bush.

    A group of high-powered lawyers protested the process. Some critics said it had become too political. Crist, now a U.S. Senate candidate for the 2010 election, denied the charge. He then elevated Labarga to the Supreme Court seat vacated by [the grandson of Cuban military dictator Fulgencio Batista] Raoul Cantero, the state's first Hispanic justice.
    "Florida Supreme Court rejects Gov. Charlie Crist's judge-picking plans". See also "Pick a name from the list, Crist told", "Court: Crist must choose from current judicial nominations" and "Florida Supreme Court rules against Crist in judicial spat".

    Try taxing sky boxes next time

    "Smokers fuming over cigarette tax hike".

    RPOFer family values

    When his son "returned to the kitchen to get something to drink, witnesses said [former professional wrestler, Hillsborough County Commissioner, and all purpose wingnut Brian] Blair continued to yell at him, pushed him, punched him once in the face and then put him in an arm lock. Bradley jumped on his dad and began hitting him before being pulled off by his mother and the two friends. Witnesses said Blair hit Bradley with a closed fist on his head for punching him." "Blair will be allowed to reunite with family".

    "A conservative Republican who stressed family values, Blair was elected to the county commission in 2004 but lost a heated election last year to Kevin Beckner." "Blair released from jail on child abuse charges".

    Too much water?

    "Another wet month has erased water supply concerns across South Florida, but all the rain will raise flooding concerns if a tropical storm hits." "South Florida water shortage ended".

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