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 Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Rubio's fundraising dismal

    "Marco Rubio's U.S. Senate campaign raised $340,000 in the second quarter of 2009, a figure that could spur questions about his ability to mount a viable challenge to Gov. Charlie Crist in the Republican Senate primary. ... Leaks from close advisers, however, indicated that Crist, who set a fundraising record in his 2006 governor's race, appeared likely to set another by raising $3 million to $3.5 million." "Rubio sees donation disparity". See also "Rubio Senate campaign rases just $340,000".

    Although "He's winning glowing praise from conservatives casting him as the future of the GOP, but Marco Rubio's early fundraising raises doubts about his viability in a Senate match-up against Gov. Charlie Crist."
    Nobody expected the former state House speaker from Miami to match Crist in fundraising, but Rubio's announcement Tuesday that he raised just $340,000 had Republicans questioning his ability to compete.

    ''It's hard to call him credible when he only raised that much in his first quarter. . . . No candidate wins if they're outraised 10 to one,'' said Republican consultant Jamie Miller of Sarasota. ...

    The actual fundraising reports are not due until next week, and the Crist campaign on Tuesday did not release its campaign finance numbers or comment on Rubio's figures. Crist allies say he is likely to raise about $3 million in his first quarter as a U.S. Senate candidate, but even that may be a low-ball for a sitting governor who has been raising money at a breakneck pace.

    Rubio, 38, has been seen as a wild card in a Republican primary that many national conservatives are touting as a contest for the heart and soul of the Republican Party. Early polls show the more moderate Crist is the heavy favorite to win the nomination and general election, but he antagonized many conservative activists for enthusiastically supporting President Obama's economic stimulus package.

    Influential anti-tax groups including the Club for Growth and Americans for Tax Reform have been heaping praise on Rubio ...
    "David Keating, executive director of the Club for Growth, said Rubio doesn't have to match Crist dollar-for-dollar to win, but he hasn't answered the question of whether he's a financially viable candidate."
    ''He's got to raise a lot more to make the race something he can win....'' Keating said. ``If he can get to the $4- to $5-million range, then I think it's a doable race. I don't know if he's on track or not.''

    The Rubio campaign noted that nearly 2,500 people from all 50 states donated to Rubio's campaign -- including $144,000 online -- and most were small donors who can give again and again before hitting the maximum contribution of $2,400. ...

    At this point in the 2004 Republican Senate primary, Mel Martinez raised $1.7 million, then-U.S. Rep. Mark Foley raised more than $700,000, Larry Klayman raised $673,000 and Bill McCollum raised $330,000.
    "Marco Rubio's fundraising numbers cast doubt on Senate bid, fellow Republicans say".

    In the meantime, "U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek, D-Miami, raised $1.2 million in the second quarter of this year in his U.S. Senate campaign, bringing cash raised since the campaign began to more than $3 million, his campaign announced Tuesday." "Meek surpasses $3 million mark in campaign fund". See also "Meek's Senate campaign raised $1.2 million last quarter".

    Nevertheless, "Rubio unintimidated by larger war chests of Meek, Crist".

    Related: "More than a month after announcing that she was exploring a Senate bid, Rep. Corrine Brown (D-Fla.) has raised less than $5,000 for that effort and has yet to file any paperwork to form an exploratory committee with the Federal Election Commission." "Brown Delaying Senate Fundraising in Florida".

    Maddox jumps into Ag race

    "Scott Maddox, who was Tallahassee's youngest city commissioner in 1993 when he was elected at 24, and who ended his tenure as Florida Democratic Party chairman under a financial cloud, is getting back into politics." "Maddox to run for Cabinet spot". See also "Scott Maddox running for agriculture commissioner".

    "Investigate state's role in huge investment swindle"

    The Miami Herald editorial board calls for a "state grand jury armed with subpoena power ... to find out why Mr. Stanford and his operation were allowed to flourish while fortunes vanished and regulators slept."

    The state's role in the operation of accused swindler Allen Stanford stinks. As reported in a detailed story in this newspaper on Sunday, Florida regulators allowed Mr. Stanford to set up a dubious, one-of-a-kind office to handle vast investments, but never bothered to find out what he was doing with the money or whether he was playing by the rules. ...

    If they had actually performed due diligence -- in other words, done their job -- they might have caught Mr. Stanford, or at least closed his shop, before he managed to get away with the nearly $7 billion that prosecutors say he unlawfully diverted. In fact, if they had possessed even a slight regard for the wellbeing of potential customers, they would not have given Mr. Stanford a clean bill of health to begin with. ...

    Even the routine practices of the office should have set off multiple alarm bells. The Herald found that state regulators in 2001 duly noted that local documents recording the sale of certificates of deposit -- the amounts of money the office raked in -- would be burned after the figures were shipped to an office in Antigua, famous for its banking secrecy. And no one became suspicious? Amazing.
    Much more here: "Florida regulators failed in Allen Stanford case". The Orlando Sentinel editorial board: "State aid for fraud?" More: "Florida regulators let Stanford firm move vast sums offshore, ignored signs of massive fraud, experts say".

    Dem CFO quandry

    "Ted Deutch and Jeremy Ring: These two South Florida Democratic senators have been bandied about as potential candidates for CFO. Both could be well suited for the job. Deutch, 43, has been a major player on insurance issues since entering the Legislature in 2006. Also, his signature achievement (aside from the cigarette tax) came in the financial sector: He led the fight to divest state investments from terrorism-sponsoring states Iran and Sudan. Ring, 38, is a former executive at Yahoo! who is well-versed in financial matters. Last year, he was behind a successful bill that allowed the state to invest $2 billion from its financial portfolio into biotech firms. Ring is wealthy and could self-finance, in part, a statewide campaign." "South Florida legislators may be in running for state's chief financial officer, attorney general". See also "Democrats struggle to find a CFO candidate".

    Who elected this genius?

    "Gov. Crist urges caution during lightning storms".

    PlaneGate: the missing words

    "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."

    Tallahassee lawyer Jose Blas Lorenzo Jr. also filed an ethics complaint Monday accusing Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink of ''abusive, unauthorized use of state aircraft'' following reports by the Herald/Times and other news organizations.

    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. ...

    Auditor Sandra Lipner wrote on March 4 that any state officials who used the state plane to transport "between the seat of government and a residence located outside of Tallahassee would appear to be a misuse of state resources.''

    That statement, and her findings relating to travel by Kottkamp, Sink and McCollum, were not included in the final report.
    "Audit: Top Florida officials spent $51K on plane commutes".

    Castor leads the way

    The Tampa Tribune editorial board: "With health care reform the rage in Washington, Congresswoman Kathy Castor may have her best shot at helping to stem the doctor shortage facing Florida in the not-too-distant future. The Tampa representative wants to make sure the Resident Physician Shortage Reduction Act is included in the reforms Congress debates." "A move in Washington to cure doctor shortage".

    Race against Mica getting mighty crowded

    "Nine-term Republican U.S. Rep. John Mica has additional company in his 2010 reelection bid."

    Palm Coast Democrat Heather Beaven, a Navy veteran and chief executive of an education foundation, entered the race this week. Beaven, 40, had campaign kickoff events scheduled Tuesday in Flagler County. ...

    The race for the congressional 7th District appears to be a crowded one. Also in it are Faye Armitage, a Fruit Cove Democrat who lost to Mica of Winter Park last fall; Peter Silva, a St. Augustine Democrat; and no-party-affiliated Stephen Bacon of DeBary.
    "Palm Coast Democrat to challenge Rep. Mica".

    Charlie's "fake anthrax powder" scare

    "Without charging any suspects, state police closed an investigation into a threatening letter that contained a fake anthrax powder that was sent last August to Gov. Charlie Crist." "Police drop case of Crist 'anthrax' letter".

    "A supreme smackdown"

    The Orlando Sentinel editorial board: "A unanimous Florida Supreme Court has delivered this Civics 101 lesson to Gov. Charlie Crist: The state constitution means what it says. We hope he was taking notes." "A supreme Civics 101 lesson served to Gov. Charlie Crist".

    "Dubious property-tax break"

    The Orlando Sentinel editors: "Three years ago Florida lawmakers created a dubious property-tax break for the Holy Land Experience. For tax purposes, theme park in Orlando is considered a church, not a business. That saves it $300,000 a year." "Holy tax break".

    Never ending story

    Now Jebbie's an expert on immigration

    A bipartisan task force will recommend today that the United States overhaul its immigration system in response to national security concerns, saying that the country should end strict quotas on work-based immigrant visas to maintain its scientific, technological and military edge.

    "The continued failure to devise and implement a sound and sustainable immigration policy threatens to weaken America's economy, to jeopardize its diplomacy, and to imperil its national security," concluded an independent Council on Foreign Relations panel, co-chaired by former Florida governor Jeb Bush (R) and former Clinton White House chief of staff Thomas V. "Mack" McLarty III.
    "Task Force to Recommend Overhaul of U.S. Immigration System".


    "Citizens Property Insurance leaders today will decide how it prefers to set new rates while questions remain about who has the final word and if any option will end up in court." "Citizens Insurance meeting to determine how to set rates".

    Hate crime

    The Miami Herald editorial board: "The Southern Poverty Law Center, for instance, has documented a staggering 926 hate groups operating in the United states. That's more than a 50 percent increase since 2000. ... The FBI's hate crime statistics for 2007, the last year figures are available, noted 1,477 hate crimes motivated by religious bias." "South Florida must do more to battle hate". Related: "Advocates push to add attacks on homeless to Florida hate crimes law".

    "Private deportation"? Huh?

    "Opening arguments are expected to begin Tuesday in the civil trial surrounding the case of a brain-damaged Guatemalan immigrant privately deported by Martin Memorial Hospital."

    Hospital officials won approval in 2003 from Treasure Coast Circuit Judge John Fennelly to privately deport Jimenez. Jimenez had cost the hospital more than $1.5 million, officials there said -- costs they paid largely without government help because Jimenez was an undocumented immigrant. ...

    An appeals court later ruled that Fennelly did not have authority to approve the hospital's request, clearing the way for Gaspar to file a lawsuit against the hospital for false imprisonment.

    By then Jimenez had been kicked out of two hospitals in Guatemala and had moved to a remote village, where his attorneys say he lives today with virtually no medical care.
    "Injured migrant's civil case against hospital to begin".

    Rail again?

    The Saint Petersburg Times editors: "After a quarter-century of effort, Florida is closer than ever to building high-speed rail. This week, the state will begin the process of applying for federal money to build the first leg of the system, from Tampa to Orlando. Federal officials say Florida has a competitive edge; it is more ready to build than almost any other state. It is crucial that Florida’s congressional delegation sends a positive message in Washington. " "Get on board for high-speed rail".


    "Former Senate President W.D. Childers, finished with his prison sentence but still fighting to overturn a bribery conviction, will get a hearing from a federal appeals court late this year." "Childers granted appeal hearing".

    Vasilinda on energy policy

    Michelle Rehwinkel Vasilinda, who represents District 9 in the Florida House of Representatives, writes this morning in The Tallahassee Democrat that"Energy policy must change".

    Our "green governor"

    Mark Lane: "Crist finally gave up his last claims on being "the green governor" last week. He signed into law a bill that drastically reduces the ability of water management boards to, you know, manage water."

    The districts' executive directors now will have sole authority to issue permits for large-scale water consumption and wetlands destruction. The boards will be bystanders.

    Unless, of course, some executive director makes the wild and crazy move of saying "no" to a developer. Then, boards could hear appeals.
    "Three-dot: Water and movers".

    The Saint Petersburg Times editorial board: "Gov. Charlie Crist should never have put control of Florida’s water resources in the hands of five unelected bureaucrats. To their credit, a majority of the five have promised to keep the permitting process open and accountable to the public. " "Water worries".

    Entrepreneur flees

    "Medicare fraud suspect from Miami-Dade flees country".

    Impact fees

    "Not surprisingly, anti-impact-fee sentiment has been intense in states such as California and Florida where the housing market has tanked."

    In Florida, many local governments have suspended impact fees - sometimes to standing ovations from developers and real-estate agents at commission meetings. Meantime, lawmakers just passed laws to make it easier for developers to fight fees before a judge.

    Some counter, however, that undermining impact fees could mean resources for roads, schools and other services will be stretched thin.

    Existing taxpayers may eventually have to pony up increased taxes to cover newcomers' share, said Charles Pattison, president of 1,000 Friends of Florida, a Tallahassee-based advocacy group that promotes responsible development policies.

    "You're also going to suspend your quality of life," Pattison said. "In Florida, that's become one of the bigger issues: Does growth pay for itself?"
    "Cities dump fees to bolster building in recession".

    Assault weapons

    The Miami Herald editorial board: "Assault weapons turn mean streets into killing fields". "Ban assault weapons".

    Except in Florida, the "partisans" were right

    The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "It's easy to compare the prolonged Minnesota Senate race to the prolonged 2000 presidential election. Both were determined by incredibly small margins after lengthy recounts. In both cases, partisans concluded that an election had been stolen." "Stolen? No, properly decided".

    The best the RPOFers can do?

    "State Sen. Victor Crist and former Hillsborough County Commissioner Chris Hart III are among the latest Bay-area residents to file applications for the post of Hillsborough County supervisor of elections." "Elections job draws Crist, Hart".

    Some call it extortion

    Daytona Beach News Journal editorial board: "Forfeiture has its place in law enforcement. But it's an invitation to abuse -- and yes, extortion. There's a solution. Property may be seized or impounded, but only when a case is proven. Money-making has no place in forfeiture. Nor does the use of forfeiture as a means of punishing intimidation by police agencies who, at last check, are neither judges nor juries of individuals' criminal behavior, yet are empowered to act like it with the power of forfeiture."

    Kevin Eugene Jones, a resident of Maryland, was on Interstate 4 near Daytona Beach in March when the Florida Highway Patrol says it clocked him going 141 mph on a motorcycle, charged him with fleeing and reckless driving and confiscated his motorcycle. He hasn't been convicted on the fleeing charge, a felony. But, to get his motorcycle back, he'll have to pay the highway patrol 70 percent of the bike's blue book value.

    Police agencies call it forfeiture. Jones calls it extortion. ...

    Volusia County and Florida have been at the center of the controversy. Former Volusia County Sheriff Bob Vogel used forfeiture to add $8 million to his department's coffers after his election in 1988. People carrying more than $100 were presumed guilty of drug trafficking. Cash was confiscated from 83 percent of the drivers Vogel's task force arrested, even though just 19 percent were charged with crimes and far fewer were actually convicted. A federal investigation ended what had amounted to highway robbery. More recently, small local governments such as Palm Bay have passed city ordinances enabling police to forfeit cars for a series of offenses. Palm Bay considered forfeiting vehicles that made too much noise until pressure from the American Civil Liberties Union compelled council members to amend the ordinance.
    "Police's highway robbery".

    Something's gotta give

    "From a mysterious fungus attacking bats in the Northeast to the emergence of Burmese pythons in Florida, native wildlife is facing new threats throughout the country." "Senate hearing focuses on threats to wildlife". See also "8-foot alligator captured in South Florida pool".

    The Tampa Tribune editors: "Nix slithery import". Related: "Senate hearing focuses on threats to wildlife" and "Florida snake tragedy could aid Nelson".

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