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 Saturday, July 11, 2009

Sink raises a million ...

    ... so did Wrongwood Bill, but he's a RPOFer and is expected to raise bucketloads of cash: "Republican Bill McCollum and Democrat Alex Sink each collected more than $1 million for their respective gubernatorial campaigns during the second quarter of the year, according to campaign finance reports released Friday." "Sink, McCollum raise $1 million in second quarter". See also "McCollum raises $1 m plus. Less than Sink." and "Sink ahead of McCollum in fundraising".

    More fundraising news: "Senate President Jeff Atwater, R-North Palm Beach, reported raising $528,655, or more than 10 times the amount his primary opponent, Rep. Pat Patterson of DeLand, has on hand. Both Republicans want to replace Sink as state CFO. State Sen. Dave Aronberg, D-Greenacres, took an early money lead in his primary race against Sen. Dan Gelber, D-Miami Beach. The two Democrats are hoping to succeed McCollum as attorney general." See also "David Rivera's cash haul: $161k", "Aronberg takes lead in money race for Democratic attorney general primary" and "Putnam (R), Draper (D) lead in state agriculture commissioner races".

    Charlie wimps out

    "Crist blamed a busy schedule for missing an early U.S. Senate campaign showdown during his swing through Palm Beach County on Friday to appear at a journalism convention. Crist strolled into The Breakers in Palm Beach a few hours ahead of the scheduled appearance his U.S. Senate Republican primary opponent, former Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio." "Crist visits Palm Beach, misses Rubio". See also "Florida Rep. Marco Rubio has the floor to himself at Florida Press convention".

    PlaneGate: Sink "in damage control"

    "State Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink is the top fundraiser in the governor's race, but her financial report released Friday suggests she's in damage control over her use of state airplanes. The report shows her campaign recently made an unusual $17,000 payment to her own agency for 20 airplane trips to different cities where she had state business -- and campaign events." "State CFO Alex Sink reimburses state for use of plane". See also "Sink says she didn't abuse use of state aircraft".


    "Crist teams up with a ‘Real Housewife of N.Y.’ for fundraiser" ("The host committee for Zarin’s fundraiser for Crist is peppered with NYC socialites and also includes Donald Trump and New York Yankee slugger Johnny Damon.")

    Tuff talker

    "Rubio Predicts He Can Beat Crist". More: ""Rubio says he will win Fla. Senate race on ideas"".

    "Fishing elsewhere for lobbyists' money"

    "State legislators can't take even a bottle of water from lobbyists, but the ban on gifts won't stop enterprising lawmakers from fishing elsewhere for lobbyists' money."

    Thirteen House members belong to a charity called the Florida Hispanic Legislative Caucus, which is holding a deep-sea fishing tournament in Key West this weekend to raise money for the nonprofit group.

    For $15,000, donors get two suites at a Marriott resort and assorted promotional goodies. They also get valuable face time with legislators, seven of whom plan to attend.

    The caucus' chairman, Rep. Juan Zapata, a Miami Republican, says lobbyists and clients support the caucus for other reasons.
    "Lawmakers find way around lobby rules". See also "Fishing for lobbyists' money".

    Charlie "impresed"

    "Applicants for [Hillsborough] elections supervisor impress Crist". The Tampa Tribune editorial board: "Keep Latimer on elections job".

    "Shaping up to be one bizarre election cycle"

    "Three of Florida's four Cabinet members are spending more and more time away from their Capitol offices as they rush around the state to collect campaign checks at dinner soirees, fishing trips, coffees and private parties. The packed schedules reflect the reality of what is shaping up to be one bizarre election cycle." "The one place you're least likely to see Crist, Sink, McCollum? Tallahassee".

    Never mind

    "High court sets free death row inmate".

    As developers rub their thighs in glee ...

    ... "We're stuck in park". The Saint Petersburg Times editorial board: "The future has arrived in west-central Florida. And it’s not pretty. A study out this week by the Texas Transportation Institute added to the body of evidence that a region whose population is expected to double, to 7 million people, by 2050 can’t keep just building roads to solve its traffic problems."

    Negron at the trough

    "Negron's financial advantage grows in special state Senate race".

    "One of the hottest races of 2010"

    "The campaign to succeed Florida’s longest-serving state legislator next year will feature a unique field in one of the hottest races of 2010."

    Senate Minority Leader Al Lawson, D-Tallahassee, has represented the Big Bend area in the House or Senate since 1982. He’s planning a congressional campaign next year, but would be forced out of the Legislature by term limits anyway.

    Running to replace him are three Democrats -- none currently holding public office, all with past experience winning major campaigns and each with a particular power base in the diverse district that runs from the farmlands of Madison County to the edge of Panama City.
    "Local political heavyweights vying to replace Sen. Al Lawson".

    Yee haw!

    "Plan would open Big Cypress to hunting, vehicles".

    Hate crimes?

    The Sun-Sentinel editorial board: "Nobody questions that crimes against the homeless, in South Florida and elsewhere, have been gruesome, violent and cowardly. What is highly questionable is whether those deplorable crimes should be classified as hate crimes." "Treat crime severely, but not as a hate crime".

    HD 26

    "A battle between family members threatens to tarnish the reputations of Mayor Fred Costello and his wife, Linda, who are fending off claims of abuse being leveled by their troubled daughter. ... Fred Costello, a Republican who has announced his candidacy for state House 26 seat in 2010, says they are innocent victims of their daughter's lashing out." "Ormond mayor, wife face daughter's attack".

    The Democrat gets played by Rick Berman

    Reading this in the The Tallahassee Democrat: "Economy, minimum wage take a toll on teen jobs", accompanied by a picture of the smiling, pretty face of one Kristen Lopez Eastlick, you might not realize you were reading the rantings of a drooling knuckle-dragger.

    You see, Ms. Eastlick, as the Democrat discloses, is a so-called "economist" for the pleasant sounding "Employment Policies Institute". Although the clickable link to the website is for some reason not provided by the Democrat, a quick cut and paste of the URL will take you to the benign looking site of the Institute, which describes itself as "a non-profit research organization dedicated to studying public policy issues surrounding employment growth." The site provides no information as to its founders or funding sources.

    "The Employment Policies Institute (EPI) is one of several front groups created by Berman & Co., a Washington, DC public affairs firm owned by Rick Berman*, who lobbies for the restaurant, hotel, alcoholic beverage and tobacco industries. While most commonly referred to as EPI, it is registered as a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization under the name of Employment Policies Institute Foundation. In its annual Internal Revenue Service return, EPI states that it 'shares office space with Berman & Company on a cost pass through basis'." "SourceWatch: Employment Policies Institute".

    A bit more about the happy, shiny people Ms. Eastlick works for:

    - In October 2008, as Republicans were accusing ACORN, which organizes in low-income communities, of "voter fraud," EPI took out a full-page ad in the New York Times that directed readers to www.RottenAcorn.com. The ad accused 'ACORN of a list of abuses that suggest hypocrisy on some of the group's signature issues: intimidating and firing its own employees if they try to unionize, misappropriating millions of dollars from taxpayer-funded government grants and advocating minimum wage while paying its own employees less than minimum wage,' reported ProPublica. EPI and Center for Consumer Freedom spokesperson Tim Miller said they placed the ad because after the election, "a lot of the coverage of ACORN is going to go away, but they are going to continue the same corrupt and fraudulent practices."

    - The Employment Policies Institute was launched in 1991, around the time of the economic recession that led to the electoral defeat of then-president George Bush. EPI deliberately attempted to create confusion in the eyes of journalists and the general public by adopting a name which closely resembles the Economic Policy Institute, a much older, progressive think tank with ties to organized labor**. In addition to imitating the name and acronym of the Economic Policy Institute, Berman's outfit even used the same typeface for its logo. In reality, the two groups have dramatically different public policy agendas. The Economic Policy supports a living wage and mandated health benefits for workers. Berman's organization opposes both and in fact opposes any minimum wage whatsoever.

    - In 1992, Los Angeles Times business columnist Harry Bernstein noted that EPI was using "misleading studies" to help put a positive spin on rising unemployment. "The conservative EPI, financed mostly by low-wage companies such as hotels and restaurants, is issuing reports the titles of which alone could help put a bright face on the miserable job scene," Bernstein wrote. "The latest one is 'The Value of Part-Time Workers to the American Economy.'

    - The Employment Policies Institute, in a 1994 R.J. Reynolds-drafted press release, predicted the loss of 2-3 million jobs if the Clinton Healthcare plan was enacted. The Clinton plan was to be funded through an additional federal tax on cigarettes. A 1997 internal Philip Morris presentation called indicates PM planned to "sponsor and participate" in the Employment Policies Institute to gain the organization's help in promoting PM's Accommodation Program, a strategy the company designed to fight smoking bans and preserve smoking in public places.
    "SourceWatch: Employment Policies Institute".

    Eastlick, who also believes that "More paid sick leave would hurt workers", is an industrious sort, having held these positions (that we know of) in her brief professional life:
    Berman & Company - Chief Administrative Officer
    Berman & Company - Government Affairs Director
    Guest Choice - Program Manager
    Center for Consumer Freedom - Government Affairs Director
    American Beverage Institute - Director of State Affairs
    American Beverage Institute - Director of Legislative Affairs
    American Beverage Institute - Spokeswoman
    American Beverage Institute - Lobbyist
    American Beverage Institute - Chief Administration Officer
    American Beverage Licensees - Spokeswoman
    Employment Policies Institute - Director of Policy Analysis
    Employment Policies Institute - Spokeswoman
    Employment Policies Institute - Economic Analyst
    Employment Policies Institute - Senior Economic Analyst
    Activist Cash - Senior Research Analyst
    Center for Economic and Entrepreneurial Literacy - Senior Economic Analyst
    "Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington".

    - - - - - - - - - -
    *The delightful Mr. Berman "is a former labor management attorney [beginning his career as an attorney for the steel and automobile industries and became labor law director for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce] and restaurant industry executive who currently works as a lobbyist for the food, alcoholic beverage and tobacco industries. He is the sole owner of Berman & Co., which sponsors many front groups that defend his corporate clients' interests by attacking their critics, allowing his paying clients to remain out of public view."

    Berman also operates the swell The Center for Union Facts, "a secretive front group for individuals and industries opposed to union activities. It is part of lobbyist Rick Berman's family of front groups including the Employment Policies Institute." "SourceWatch: Center for Union Facts".

    **Unlike the Employment Policy Institute, the Economic Policy Institute discloses its founders, to wit: "Its founders include Jeff Faux, EPI’s first president; economist Barry Bluestone of Northeastern University; Robert Kuttner, columnist for Business Week and Newsweek and editor of The American Prospect; Ray Marshall, former U.S. Secretary of Labor and professor at the LBJ School of Public Affairs, University of Texas-Austin; Robert Reich, former U.S. secretary of labor and professor at UC Berkeley; and economist Lester Thurow of the MIT Sloan School of Management."

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