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 Monday, August 24, 2009

Florida's failed experiment ...

    ... shows how not to do health care reform.

    "More than 120 million Americans are members of nonprofit cooperatives where they bank, buy groceries or get electricity."
    Now some members of Congress want to adopt the same concept to address the nation's 40 million to 50 million people without health insurance.

    But an initiative that lasted a brief six years in Florida offers a cautionary tale.

    In 1993, Gov. Lawton Chiles oversaw creation of a network of regional "Community Health Purchasing Alliances" aimed at helping small businesses and the self-employed buy coverage from insurance companies at reduced cost.

    The alliances, known as CHPAs (pronounced chip-ahs), were nonprofits started with government seed money, much like the cooperatives that some U.S. Senate Democrats are championing as a potential compromise in national health care legislation. As with Florida's health alliances, the co-ops would aim to expand coverage without having the government become a direct competitor to the private insurance industry.

    Within the first year of the Florida program's existence, participating employers saw their premiums drop an average of 25 percent. At the CHPAs' peak in 1998, more than 91,000 people - half of them previously uninsured - got coverage through the alliances.
    "But by 2000, during Jeb Bush's first term as governor, the CHPAs disappeared."
    Hampered by lawmakers' refusal to let them negotiate rates, and unable to help small businesses pool their resources effectively, the alliances weakened as insurers withdrew. The alliances also faced resistance from insurance brokers, who made lower commissions on products sold within the CHPAs than elsewhere.

    While much uncertainty exists about how health co-ops would work on the national level, critics fear that, like the CHPAs, they would be too weak to provide a counterweight to the powerful for-profit insurance industry.
    "Florida's failed experiment in the 1990s may hold lessons for national health reform".

    RPOFers in foreclosure

    "State Rep. Erik Fresen's Miami home is in foreclosure because he stopped making payments to his mortgage company more than a year ago."

    Fresen faces the threat of losing his home, a possible damaged credit rating -- and the potential that the messy foreclosure lawsuit could create ammunition for opponents of the up-and-coming Republican.

    In his push to become House speaker, Fresen, 33, faces Republican Rep. Chris Dorworth of Orlando, who has financial problems of his own. Dorworth faces a $2.7 million judgment over a failed business deal and his home faces the threat of foreclosure.
    "Miami State Rep. Erik Fresen facing foreclosure".

    "Reality check"

    "A reality check for those who believe that an inland port would produce jobs to save the Glades communities comes in the state's objections to a proposal by Florida Crystals." "Port dream a pipe dream?".

    If this were a union representative ...

    ... he'd be in the hoosegow before the screen door hit him on the ass.

    A review of campaign contributions does not reveal any payments from state Rep. Ray Sansom, who charged more than $170,000 on his Republican Party of Florida-issued American Express card during 2006-08.

    The ousted House speaker's spending included plane tickets to Europe for his family and items from Cole Haan, Kenneth Cole and Harrods -- items that would be hard to justify as party expenses.
    "Sansom did not reimburse RPOF, records show".

    Rubio campaign changes

    "Brandon Patty will be joining the Marco Rubio U.S. Senate campaign next week as Campaign and Political Director, while former Rubio field director Jessica Corbett leaves to take a job at the state party. Patty was special Assistant to Gov. Bush in "06, was northeast Florida field director Mitt Romney’s campaign". "Marco Rubio's new campaign director".

    "Tallahassee can't continue to nickel-and-dime education"

    The Miami Herald editors: "It would have been much worse this year were it not for the federal stimulus money that poured into schools to keep teachers in classrooms. But that rescue won't last but another year."

    Gov. Charlie Crist and the Legislature need to find a secure funding source that shows Florida values education. The recession can't be an excuse to gut schools again. When the state was enjoying the high-rolling years of real estate exuberance, Tallahassee ignored Florida voters who passed class-size restrictions and mandated quality education.

    Now the argument is that there's not enough money to keep the state's commitment to voters. That's a cop out.
    "Back to school".

    All politics, all the time

    "An attorney representing the mother of the 17-year-old girl who ran away from her Muslim family in Ohio and showed up in Orlando as a convert to Christianity said Florida Gov. Charlie Crist issued an 'unfortunate' statement that politicized a family issue."

    In a statement released in the wake of a judge's order to keep 17-year-old Fathima Rifqa Bary in custody of a foster family in Florida while her family is investigated by state law enforcement officers, Craig McCarthy accused the governor of taking sides before evidence has been submitted.

    "The governor's unfortunate decision to make a public statement taking sides in the Rifqa Bary case before any evidence other than allegations has been presented underscores the need to return this case to the child's home state of Ohio," McCarthy said in the statement. "Governor Crist stated that he was 'grateful' that the judge ruled a specific way and in support of his 'administration's position.'
    "Attorney says Crist 'taking sides' in Fathima Rifqa Bary case".

    Yesterday, Mike Thomas had a related take on the case: "Fathima Rifqa Bary is playing a familiar role in Florida's latest cultural clash, a symbol who personalizes a much broader conflict." "Anti-Muslim bias obvious in Fathima Rifqa Bary case".

    Where's Blago when we need him?

    Charlie seems unable to make a decision.

    "Gov. Charlie Crist on Sunday announced three more candidates for retiring Republican U.S. Sen. Mel Martinez's job. According to a statement from Crist's office, former U.S. Reps. Clay Shaw, Mike Bilirakis and Lou Frey have been asked to fill out a questionnaire for the position."

    Shaw lost a fierce, costly bid for a 14th term representing his Broward and Palm Beach County district to Democrat Ron Klein in 2006.

    Bilirakis served 12 terms in Congress until he was succeeded by his son, U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis, in 2006.

    Frey served as a state chairman of Bob Dole's presidential campaign. In recent years, he joined former Gov. Bob Graham in lawsuits challenging the Florida Legislature's authority over tuition and fees at state universities.
    "Three more names to replace Martinez". See also "Lou Frey joins Crist's list of Martinez replacement candidates", "Former South Florida Rep. Clay Shaw on governor's list as Martinez replacement" and "Former Rep. Mike Bilirakis among Senate candidates".


    Bill Cotterell: "As all state employees know, OPS work carries no fringe benefits — no vacation time, sick leave, health insurance, pension benefits or holiday pay. It's second-class state service. And OPS workers can be fired or reassigned without so much as an explanation." "Flu and storm seasons show second-class status of OPS".

    Coral "comeback"

    "In the Florida Keys, staghorn, elkhorn coral making a comeback".

    FPL follies

    "When Florida's largest electric utility goes to state regulators Monday to ask for permission to dramatically raise rates, it will have recent history, powerful supporters and financial clout on its side."

    FPL's timing is awkward: The state economy is in tatters, unemployment stands at 10.7 percent and consumer pocketbooks are stretched thin. On top of that, just last week FPL flouted the commission's unanimous decision to force the company to disclose how much its top executives make. The utility said it will challenge the ruling in court.
    Much more here: "Political clout bolsters FPL push for rate increase". See also "FPL proposal to raise rates enters final stretch of hearings".

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