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 Thursday, August 06, 2009

Former RPOF House Speaker Ray Sansom's defense strategy

    "Former House Speaker Ray Sansom's lawyer sought to gut the indictment against him Wednesday, claiming the state can't prove Sansom knew a $6 million airport appropriation was a favor for a friend rather than a government priority." "Sansom lawyer: State can't prove intent".

    Hey Mel, it's your party

    "U.S. Sen. Mel Martinez, one of only a handful of Republicans supporting Sonia Sotomayor, took to the Senate floor Thursday to admonish fellow lawmakers who have politicized the confirmation process for the Supreme Court nominee." "Sen. Martinez admonishes fellow lawmakers on Sotomayor votes".

    This might explain why Mel's getting all sensitive on us: "Orlando Hispanics to celebrate Sotomayor".

    Boyd's "political theater"

    Bill Cotterell: Congressman Allen Boyd,

    who came home to his district this week to talk about health care. Both sides in Congress are using the August recess for tactical advantage, and Boyd, one of the 51 "Blue Dog" Democrats considered swing votes in the House, is right in the middle of it.

    Republican radio ads attack him and Reps. Suzanne Kosmas, D-New Smyrna Beach, and Alan Grayson, D-Orlando, on this touchy topic. The Democrats have countered with their own ads, praising them. Both sides send carefully prepared questioners — or hecklers — to "town hall meetings" and other forums the Congress members will hold during the recess.
    "Everyone has starring role in this political theater".


    "Harlow Hyde of Deland is just another ordinary citizen with a few ideas about how government should save money -- except that his suggestions have gotten attention."

    State Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink on Wednesday scolded the head of the Florida Department of Transportation for brushing off Hyde's ideas as having "no merit'' -- including one suggesting the agency stop awarding automatic pay increases to contractors.

    Then she asked Secretary Stephanie Kopelousos to take another look and report back.
    "Hyde, 61, is a retired contract writer for the DOT, and Sink and Kopelousos are among about half a dozen state officials whom Hyde had sent a dense, 12-page letter outlining his suggestions for saving money."
    He wrote it on his last day on the job in February and blasted the agency for wasting "several hundred millions of dollars a year on these consultants.''

    "I just was at the point where I said I can't continue to write these contracts with all these escalations,'' Hyde told the Herald/Times.

    "When we're in the middle of the greatest recession since the 1930s and these gold-plated prima donnas need automatic price increases, it's wrong.''

    He also suggested that consultants bid on a price before they are selected, that DOT reduce unnecessary contract increases and extensions and that the agency hire consultants only when they are less costly than using state employees.

    Kopelousos' staff dismissed Hyde's suggestions on June 12 in a prepared form that allowed room for a limited answer.

    Staffer Brian Blanchard wrote: "Suggestion has no merit.''

    By July 28, state Sen. Dave Aronberg, a Palm Beach County Democrat, had called attention to the escalation clauses awarding automatic salary increases for DOT contracts.

    Kopelousos wrote him saying she had "instituted a statewide policy'' halting the practice -- a move that has saved at least $10 million.

    It was exactly what Hyde had called for. And Sink was not pleased.

    "When a citizen takes the time to suggest efficiencies that can save taxpayers money or help eliminate waste, fraud and abuse, it is incumbent upon all of us to give these ideas the acknowledgement and consideration they deserve,'' Sink wrote in her letter to Kopelousos on Wednesday.

    She asked Kopelousos to respond to Hyde's six other suggestions. "I look forward to hearing back from you in the next 30 days,'' Sink wrote.
    Much more in the entire Herald/Timesstory: "Sink: Don't dismiss money-saving ideas".

    "Back-to-the-moon loons"

    Mike Thomas: "Back-to-the-moon loons divert cash from better mission".

    Wingnuts gone wild

    "Judging from the wave of public anger and outrage that has hit Clearwater government this week, one might think the very fabric of democracy is being undone by a city proposal to take down 13 of the 59 American flags flying on city properties."

    City officials have been staggered by the name-calling, demands for them to be fired, and accusations that they are unpatriotic or even promoting a socialist agenda. That kind of vitriol and its damage to civic discourse is the real threat, not whether the city flies four dozen flags instead of five dozen.
    "Anger over flags overdone".

    "The silliness remains unchallenged"

    The Tallahassee Democrat editorial board: "A Florida lobbyist association has gone to the U.S. Supreme Court, asking for a review of Florida's ban on gifts — not even a free cup of coffee is OK — to legislators. But the appeal is really about the law's requirement that lobbyists broadly report their compensation."

    But as with all ethics legislation, the appearance of propriety is very important and a deterrent to blatant behaviors that turn voters into lifelong cynics. ...

    The ban is extreme in its prohibition of even a cup of coffee, but the message it sends is important for public trust, which is not exactly at a pinnacle. And it also has the virtue of freeing lobbyists from the grasp of legislators who are perhaps more than ready to be the recipient of any and all largess regardless of the perceptions that leaves behind.

    No one knows if there is a direct quid pro quo between a fancy dinner and a vote, but unfettered coziness leaves plenty of room for speculation, just or unjust. A gift ban law is a sound idea and, despite this last-ditch challenge to get it turned around, lobbyists, legislators and businesses have learned to live with it. To overturn it now would send a message that, in Florida, anything goes.
    "Our Opinion: Gift ban appeal".


    "Closing arguments begin today in a lawsuit that could undo Florida's historic planned $536 million deal to buy land from U.S. Sugar Corp. for Everglades restoration." "Closing arguments set in lawsuit against Everglades land deal".

    Sentinel editors embarrass themselves yet again ...

    The editors at the newspaper that is rapidly becoming the Washingtin Times, Southern edition, foams at the mouth about those horrible "unions" and "union jobs" again this morning:

    [T]he key to SunRail's future likely rests with Democratic lawmakers representing South Florida districts. Most of them fought it because they're beholden to unions who oppose SunRail because they fear losing union jobs.

    But they're also desperate to secure funding for Tri-Rail, Florida's sole commuter rail system, hobbled by inadequate funding. The SunRail bill last session would have given South Florida the chance to raise millions through a rental-car surcharge. But that region's lawmakers spurned it, thinking they could later secure the money on their own.

    Wrong. But this time it may be too hard for some of them to refuse, even with the unions opposing it.
    "Sunrail: They think they can ...".

    Desperate to remain in the headlines

    "Jeb Bush and Steve Uhlfelder preach mentoring".

    Doggin' the watchdogs

    The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "When those being watched by a government watchdog threaten to fire the watchdog, the natural suspicion is that the watchdog is sniffing out something that the government wants to keep buried." "Give watchdogs room to run".

    Charlie's raw political courage

    Charlie shows us he's no empty-suit governor, as he strides up to the dais and"calls attention to Florida's python problem". Is that what they mean by "Republican Party Reptile"?

    Background: "Ban on reptiles being considered".

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