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 Sunday, August 09, 2009

Crist apparently thinks he can say anything

    "A success rate of less than a tenth of a percent might not sound like much, but to Gov. Charlie Crist it's campaign-trail bragging material for healthcare reform."
    Crist's new Cover Florida healthcare proposal has signed up only 3,757 people in a state with nearly four million uninsured. Meantime, an estimated 77,250 Floridians have lost health-insurance coverage since Cover Florida began releasing statistics in March.

    Yet Crist touts Cover Florida as a "national model'' and as a private-sector alternative to the government-run insurance plans of congressional Democrats and President Barack Obama. ...

    Families USA also reports that more than 556,070 Floridians are projected to lose health coverage from January 2008 to December 2010. That's a weekly average of 3,560 -- almost equivalent to the entire Cover Florida population.

    "That estimate is probably low,'' said Families USA analyst Kim Bailey. She said Families USA based its projections on data from Congress's research arm and didn't factor in the number of unemployed people in Florida, which lost 392,000 jobs from June 2008 to June 2009.
    "Gov. Charlie Crist touts Cover Florida healthcare plan as `national model' despite its failings".

    Ugh! "Union influence seems to be evident everywhere"

    Zell Corporation flack and openly anti-union Orlando Sentinel writer Jane Healy is getting nervous: "The union influence seems to be evident everywhere you look." "Lots of reason for concern about Cabinet candidates".

    Will RPOFer wingers direct anger at Charlie?

    "Whether appearing with President Obama to promote the $787 billion stimulus or appointing a Democrat to a hospital board, Republican Gov. Charlie Crist has infuriated some of his party's grass-roots activists." "Is seemingly invincible Crist in trouble with his party's conservative base?" See also "Do straw polls, censure votes signal a problem for Crist?".

    Here's an idea. Why don't the goons who showed up at Kathy Castor's town hall spend their energies more productively - by showing up at Charlie Crist campaign events.

    Tallahassee ... we have a problem

    "Outside of Florida, no other prisoner in the nation is serving a life sentence without parole for a juvenile burglary conviction. But in Florida, Graham's case is not rare. Records show that Florida has handed out more life sentences to juveniles for non-murder crimes than have all other states combined." "Florida justice: Tough on youths".


    "Florida is seeing a huge increase in applications for concealed weapon permits." "State gun permit requests way up in 2009".

    Hard charging "entrepreneurship" , Florida style

    "At Stanford's downtown Miami center, documents which showed employees were selling securities and lending financial advice without a license were destroyed. " "At Stanford's Miami office, documents were routinely shredded".

    And who was in charge of "regulating" all this? Why, it was the unfortunately named, "Linda Charity".

    Under federal law, firms that get into trouble selling securities overseas must report the problems on their regulatory records. But Stanford's brokerage failed to disclose the crackdown, and the Miami office -- running without any regulatory controls -- did not have to file anything. "It was a black hole,'' said Mark Raymond, a Miami lawyer representing investors.

    Several securities lawyers said such disclosures often spark investigations by regulators in this country.

    But nothing happened in Florida.

    Linda Charity, acting commissioner of Florida's Office of Financial Regulation[*], said the state's authority was restricted by the agreement it struck with Stanford a decade ago. "We really couldn't do anything,'' she said.
    We hate to break it to you Ms. Charity,
    But under the law, state agents are empowered to probe any company they believe is violating banking and securities statutes.

    During a key visit by Florida examiners in 2005 -- while Stanford was under investigation in Ecuador -- agents found employees shipping checks to Antigua, marked as deposits, and shredding the records left behind. No investigations were launched.
    "Florida regulators failed to stop Stanford's Miami operation".

    Surely someone is going to investigate all this - perhaps our Attorney General, Mr. McCollum? Billy is, after all, quite the interrogator - See e.g., "Bill McCollum questions Starr".

    - - - - - - - - - -
    * According to the website, Florida's "Office of Financial Regulation is dedicated to safeguarding the private financial interests of the public by licensing, chartering, examining and regulating depository and non-depository financial institutions and financial service companies in the State of Florida. The Office strives to protect consumers from financial fraud, while preserving the integrity of Florida’s markets and financial service industries."

    Test case?

    "Risking tens of thousands of dollars in potential fines, St. Petersburg mayoral candidate Scott Wagman is leaning toward challenging a complaint filed against him over Google and Facebook ads. The case has broad repercussions for candidates across Florida. ... Until recently, if you Googled the name of another mayoral candidate, up popped an ad for Wagman. The complaint filed with the Florida Election Commission contends the ad should have included a disclaimer identifying that it was paid for by Wagman's campaign." "St. Petersburg mayor's race tests law on Web ads".

    "Balance" buffoonery

    Florida's alleged journalists can't help themselves - they must appear "balanced" at all costs. For example, was the recent wingnut thuggery, notably Congresswoman Kathy Castor's town hall meeting, truly the fault of people on "both sides" of the issue?

    Scott Maxwell thinks so, and claims "Democratic elitists" share the blame:

    The problem is that Republican extremists are so hellbent on getting attention, they don't just want center stage — they want the whole darn auditorium.

    The problem is that Democratic elitists are too quick to dismiss the unrest, further enraging very real people with very real concerns.

    We have problems on both sides.
    "Blood, sweat and town halls: Problems mar both sides of debate". Related: "Congressman gets death threat over health reform".

    Daniel Ruth has a little fun with the issue: "If these sorts of dumber-than-a-sack-of-birthers protests keep up, these folks will probably start insisting that NASA stop interfering with the space program by sending people into space." "A debate sure to make you ill".

    "It's 2006 all over again"

    Daytona Beach News Journal editorial board: "Florida's Bill Nelson is right. "

    It's about greed on oil companies' behalf. Leave Florida, and its 125-mile buffers, out of it. What was true in 2006 is true today. There may well be plenty of oil in the waters of the Gulf, relatively speaking (up to 15 billion barrels, by the most optimistic accounts, though that's still barely 5 percent of the reserves far more easily accessible under Saudi Arabia's sands) and even more gas (5 to 6 trillion cubic feet). But don't be fooled by the big numbers.

    The country has plenty of natural gas supplies and more coming (ask anyone in Wyoming, where the natural-gas boom has busted much of the state's beauty). Even if the Gulf holds 15 billion barrels of new oil, it wouldn't start flowing until late in the next decade. The best estimates see production increasing by about 700,000 barrels per day, from today's production capacity of 1.5 million barrels -- barely a dent in the country's consumption of 20 million barrels per day. By the end of the coming decade, consumption will be closer to 23 million barrels per day. Gulf oil may profit its drillers, not its consumers. It will merely delay a necessary reckoning with the century's energy reality: It isn't so much dependence on foreign oil that's the danger, but continued dependence on oil, period.

    That's without mentioning the effect on Florida's beaches should new oil rigs -- either in far deeper waters or closer to shore -- spill and muck up their surroundings.

    Yes, oil needs to be part of the country's energy mix for the foreseeable future. That's what the 2006 compromise was about. No, the country shouldn't confuse energy independence with dependence on the oil industry, possibly at the expense of Florida's tourism industry. That's what the latest Gulf-drilling proposal is about.
    "Big Oil's shills back with a new push to drill off Florida".

    Martinez Fallout

    Mark Lane: "The resignation of U.S. Sen. Mel Martinez means the unusually early start in the race to succeed him gets even more interesting before its time."

    Martinez's announcement Friday leaves Gov. Charlie Crist with two unappealing options: Either appoint himself to the job, inviting resentment inside his party and easy shots from outside, or appoint a seat-warmer, somebody guaranteed not to hold onto the job after 2010.

    Little wonder Crist ruled out the first option within hours of Martinez's announcement.

    But the second option has drawbacks, too. There's always the off chance the person selected might come to like a job that Crist already is running hard for.

    What to do?
    Lane runs through the options here: "Martinez resignation ignites blasts from the political past".

    The Saint Petersburg Times editorial board notes that a frequently mentioned possibility, Jim Smith, "is a partner in Smith & Ballard, one of the top-grossing lobbying firms in Tallahassee. The firm has dozens of clients, including a variety of health care companies that have an interest in health care reform. Among its other clients are Florida Power & Light, which has an interest in the energy legislation passed by the House and awaiting Senate action. It's bad enough that lobbyists have so much influence in Tallahassee and Washington without having one occupy one of Florida's U.S. Senate seats." "Quitting seat does Florida no favors"

    Besides that, Smith will be incapable of working with Democrats. See "An example of the problem with Florida's traditional media" (scroll down).


    "Rep. Boyd to speak with constituents during House recess"


    Daytona Beach News Journal editorial board: "There is no mistaking the groundswell of support for the South Florida Water Management District's purchase of land from U.S. Sugar Corp. for Everglades restoration." "Fresh hope for 'Glades in Sugar sale".

    Related: The Miami Herald editorial board: "Time's running short for Everglades and Florida Bay".

    Don't worry, be happy

    "Some Lee schools graded 'A' by state are failing under federal standards".

    "Sansom is not going away quietly"

    Aaron Deslatte: "Ray Sansom is not going away quietly — a fact that may have consequences for legislative Republicans."

    Last week, a select committee charged with looking into a complaint that Sansom, R-Destin, used his office to steer millions of dollars to his hometown college and secure a $110,000-a-year job for himself held its first meeting — and quickly adjourned until similar criminal charges go to trial.

    Amy Mercado, a Democratic activist and president of the Orange County Democratic Hispanic Caucus, used the occasion to call out her opponent in a 2010 state House race — none other than Speaker-designate Dean Cannon, R- Winter Park — for not calling for Sansom to resign from the Legislature. He stepped down as speaker earlier this year.

    "Important work in the Florida House of Representatives, such as the bipartisan goals of improving the economy and our schools, should not be distracted by the ethics mess of one man," she said.
    "Democrat raps opponent on Ray Sansom stance".

    "Both take pride in dragging out recounts"

    "Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty — once one of Gov. Charlie Crist's rivals as a potential running mate with John McCain — will headline the Florida Republican Party's Statesman's Dinner later this month."

    Democrats were quick to mock the gathering. Florida Democratic Party spokesman Eric Jotkoff chided the pairing of Pawlenty and Florida GOP leaders at an event designed to reach independents. Both "appeal to the radical right wing, and both take pride in dragging out recounts," he said, referring to the U.S. Senate race in Minnesota that finally saw Democrat Al Franken emerge the winner.
    "Minnesotan assists Florida GOP".

    Another Florida first (and only) goes by the wayside

    "Florida is changing its policy on youths who opt for a GED to finish high school in less than four years. ... Department of Education lawyers researching another issue could find no state law authorizing it." "Fla. to stop giving diplomas for GED graduates".

    Gotta stop those libruls

    "Kissimmee commissioner Art Otero is not letting go of his effort to add the words 'In God We Trust' to the city logo and says he will take the initiative to a referendum if needed."

    Otero had told the Orlando Sentinel he started the logo effort because he feared the country was moving toward "liberal postures such as homosexuality, gay marriage, abortion and the legalization of marijuana." He also referred to the Obama administration as "socialist."
    "Kissimmee City Commissioner Art Otero still wants 'God' in city logo".


    "Just for fun, I put the latest campaign contributions in the St. Petersburg mayor's race into a spreadsheet. This took less than a day." "Here's where the cash came from".

    Lindley on Brogan

    Mary Ann Lindley: "Incoming Chancellor Frank Brogan isn't officially on the job until Sept. 14, but his office on the 16th floor of the Department of Education building — one floor up from where he once served as Florida's Commissioner of Education (1995-99) – was already taking on the aura of authority Thursday." "A welcome challenge for Brogan".

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