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 Thursday, September 03, 2009

Rubio takes on Crist/Obama combo

    "If Marco Rubio's appearance in Lakeland on Wednesday is any indication of his support in his campaign for the U.S. Senate then Gov. Charlie Crist had better take notice."
    Rubio, the former speaker of the Florida House who is challenging Crist for the Republican nomination, addressed a Lakeland Republican Club luncheon at Cleveland Heights Golf Course. The crowd that was expected to be about 160 grew to a little more than 190 and gave him three standing ovations.

    His main message, to the audience and during an interview with The Ledger, was that Republicans should elect members of Congress who will stand up uncompromisingly to the "radical" economic policies of the administration of President Barack Obama. He implied that Crist wouldn't do that.
    "Marco Rubio Criticizes Governor".

    RPOFers wanna drill, baby, drill!

    "A secretive group of powerful legislators, business groups and Texas oil companies has been laying the groundwork since December to win legislative approval to open Florida waters to oil exploration and end the 20-year drilling moratorium." "Campaign to drill off Florida's coast has cash, confidence".

    The Tallahassee Democrat editorial board thinks "the Legislature should consider including the drilling ban in a special session that Mr. Crist is expected to call soon to address the casino deal he recently negotiated with the Seminole Tribe." "Deep debate".

    But The Orlando Sentinel editorial board wants to "slow things down": "Winter Park's Dean Cannon drew richly deserved criticism in the spring for trying to rush a bill through the Legislature in its final hours that would rid the state of its offshore-drilling ban."

    Florida's Chief Financial Officer and now-Democratic gubernatorial candidate Alex Sink rightly called it "unconscionable" without a "significant debate, serious study or real time to hear from Florida's citizens." Bill McCollum, Florida's Republican attorney general and now the Republican candidate for governor, derided it as "unnecessary" and a risk.

    So Mr. Cannon, slated to run the House of Representatives as its next speaker in 2010, decided over the summer to aggressively vet his proposal this time around, right? He chose, surely, to give anyone with a keen interest in the issue every opportunity — and the sooner the better — to debate its impact?

    Hardly. He waited till last week to invite leading environmentalists to comment on a retooled version of it. Emboldened by future Senate President Mike Haridopolos' embrace of the plan, and Gov. Charlie Crist's infatuation with it, Mr. Cannon instead is trying to rush it through the Legislature a second time in a special session that could unfold next month. But Mr. Cannon, what's the hurry? Why not slow things down?
    "Why rush drilling bill?".

    Let me check with Charlie and get back to you

    "Where's LeMieux on the thorny immigration issue?"

    RPOFers embarrass themselves

    "The head of the state Republican Party has attacked President Barack Obama's plan to give a back-to-school address to the nation's students next week, saying the president wants to push a 'socialist' agenda on children." "Fla. GOP: Obama to spread socialism in schools". See also "Florida GOP chairman accuses Obama of trying to ‘indoctrinate’ schoolchildren to ’socialist agenda’ in Sept. 8 speech".

    "Every speech, every staff decision, every gaffe"

    Bill Cotterell: "Crist will be held responsible for every vote LeMieux makes, every speech, every staff decision, every gaffe — although those are unlikely from the calculating, mild-mannered LeMieux."

    During the Republican primary campaign with Marco Rubio, if not sooner, Crist will be asked in some forum, "Governor, can you name three things Sen. LeMieux has done that you would have done differently, if you'd had the nerve to just go ahead and appoint yourself to the Senate?" If the past is any indicator, Crist will say that he's busy being governor, as well as running a campaign, that he has his job and LeMieux has his own duties, so he's never really thought about comparisons.

    And, of course, people will be pulling their phone records, e-mails and regular correspondence to see who works for whom.

    Crist couldn't appoint himself, for practical political reasons, so naming LeMieux was the next best thing — or worst, depending on your viewpoint. It certainly was the safest choice.

    Cronyism or qualifications? Consider some of the people Crist considered, after Sen. Mel Martinez announced he was coming home ASAP. If Crist had chosen former U.S. Rep. Clay Shaw or former Gov. Bob Martinez, either man would have been labelled a loser, rejected by the voters the last time his name was on the ballot. Rep. C.W. "Bill" Young or ex-Reps. Lou Frey and Gus Bilarakis? Too old, throwbacks to the Reagan era — even the Nixon years.

    If Crist had gone with longtime legislator Dan Webster or state Rep. Jennifer Carrol, the critics would have howled that we need Washington experience, even foreign intelligence. Jim Smith, who was attorney general for two terms as a Democrat and secretary of state as a Republican, would have been specially galling for his former party — lobbyist, turncoat, insider.
    "Surprise! A politician who is playing politics".

    "HIV/AIDS ... has reached critical levels"

    "HIV/AIDS among Florida's men has reached critical levels, according to a new state report, and the highest rate in any racial/ethnic groups was in Miami-Dade County." "HIV-AIDS rate is increasing across Florida".

    Charlie's "numbers don't add up"

    The Tampa Tribune editorial board: "Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty and Gov. Charlie Crist insist the state's homeowners insurance market is resurging."

    Their proof: Forty new companies have come into the state since 2006, bringing with them nearly $5 billion in capital.

    McCarty used these numbers during the legislative session to argue against a bill that would have allowed well-capitalized insurance companies to sell homeowners insurance at unregulated prices. The new companies and new capital, he said, would increase homeowners' options, negating the need for the legislation.

    The trouble for McCarty, and by extension, Crist, is the numbers don't add up.
    "Insurance chief's numbers amount to fuzzy math".

    "As good a deal as the Legislature should expect"?

    Daytona Beach News Journal editorial board: Crist

    has negotiated a better deal for the state than his first attempt in 2007 and as good a deal as the Legislature should expect. Lawmakers, in rejecting Crist's first go-round with tribe leaders, wanted a bigger share of proceeds and expanded gaming limited to four Seminole casinos, one in Tampa and three in South Florida. House leaders, hypocritically spouting anti-gambling rhetoric in opposing the Seminole's gaming expansion last spring, said they also wanted an option to permit slot machines at dog tracks, jai-alai frontons and other pari-mutuel establishments in the state where they would not compete with casinos.
    "A game of chance".

    "Crist: Casino deal will aid schools" Mike Thomas dismantles Crist's claim: "And now the only way to put the brakes on gambling is to expand gambling."
    This is what Gov. Charlie Crist's new deal with the Seminoles would do. It is why Central Florida legislators should support the agreement. It keeps high-stakes gambling away from our borders by limiting it to one casino outside Tampa and a handful in South Florida.

    That is how Crist should sell it.

    Instead, his pitch hearkens back to the Florida Lottery campaign. We were told the proceeds would be a windfall for schools. Instead, for every lottery dollar that went into the education pot, the Legislature pulled one out to spend somewhere else.

    School spending did not increase.

    And now Crist is resurrecting this scam, proclaiming the Seminole deal would pump almost $150 million a year into education. Crist says this "will enable the state of Florida to invest in the future of Florida's children."

    It's like he's trying to poison his own deal by basing it on something we know is a lie.

    The deal not only would not boost education; it also would not bring new money into the state.
    "OK, it's a deal -- but let's rein in casinos".

    Like flies on sh**

    "When a crowd of about people 50 began holding a candlelight vigil near the amphitheater to show support for health reform that included a public insurance option,"

    another group of equal size gathered next to them holding signs that read "Stop Obama Care" and "No Socialized Medicine."

    Shouting matches quickly erupted between members of the two groups at the park in downtown Orlando. One man could be heard calling another a "racist," while another labeled an opponent a "communist."
    "Candlelight vigil at Lake Eola becomes emotional debate on health-care reform".

    "Corruption County"

    The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "It beats 'Corruption County'".

    "A tax by any other name is still a tax"

    The Tampa Tribune editorial board: "Granted, lawmakers faced a budget crisis."

    But lawmakers generally avoided serious government streamlining and refused to consider tax reform, including collecting sales tax from out-of-state vendors. These fee increases allowed lawmakers to claim they held the line on taxes. But they hit low-income workers the hardest. The Legislature's "fees" aren't fooling anybody. A tax by any other name is still a tax.
    "Pain of higher fees evident from crowds".

    "Ailing economy is No. 1 issue"

    Anthony Man: "With primary a year away, ailing economy is No. 1 issue for Florida voters".

    "A poke-in-the-eye to the road-obsessed former Gov. Jeb Bush"

    Hasterok: "The bullet train might be back"

    The specter of its return is satisfying merely as a poke-in-the-eye to the road-obsessed former Gov. Jeb Bush. He put his political capital into scrapping the statewide high-speed train Floridians approved nine years ago.

    But landing a new high-speed rail system, most likely from Miami to Tampa, would be much more than Bush payback.
    "Riding the rail remains remote".

    Birther Bill in action

    U.S. Rep. Bill Posey, R-Rockledge gathered yesterday with 2,000 fellow Floridians who don't see there's much of a health care problem. Some hi-lights:

    The leading House health care bill being considered in Washington, D.C., raises thousands of questions by granting the government "tremendous, unprecedented authority" over states and private insurance carriers, a former Medicaid administrator told a capacity crowd at the King Center for the Performing Arts on Wednesday night.

    "Realize that for 300 million Americans, we don't need to turn the world upside-down," said Dennis Smith, former director of the federal Center for Medicaid and State Operation. Smith was the featured speaker at a packed health care forum organized by U.S. Rep. Bill Posey, R-Rockledge.

    "(Should we) solve the problems for a relatively small number of people that need assistance? ...

    Smith headlined a group of 10 panelists -- including state Reps. Ritch Workman, R-Melbourne, and Mike Horner, R-Kissimmee -- who criticized House Resolution 3200 and similar legislation being considered in Washington.

    "The bills that are being proposed in Congress are the beginning of a slippery slope to socialized medicine," Horner said. ...

    Posey lobbied for health insurance tax credits -- $2,000 for individuals, $5,500 for families -- to fuel private competition. He also called for tort reform, investment in electronic medical records and a focus on healthy living and preventive care. Several of his points were met with standing ovations from the crowd.

    "I don't like someone, at my age, telling me what health care I can have," said Larry Cygan, 63. "(Obama) took longer to decide what kind of dog to get for his family than he did for our health care."
    "Forum crowd cheers message of restraint". More deep thinking: "McCain, McConnell visit Florida to denounce health care changes". Yesterday: "Healthcare battle brews in Florida".

    Beware! The commies are a comin': "Pasco Conservative Club fears health care plan".

    Tea Party flops: "500 come to Jacksonville Tea Party but guests didn't show".

    Don't forget the "underinsured"

    The The Miami Herald reminds us that "While covering the uninsured has been a main focus of healthcare reform, millions more fall into the category of 'underinsured' -- those with coverage, but not enough." "`Underinsured' find health bills piling up".

    Never mind ...

    "State Rep. Ray Sansom, Jay Odom and Bob Richburg -- the protagonists of a political scandal involving a $6 million taxpayer-funded building in Destin -- no longer appear to fight the idea that Odom planned to store private aircraft there."

    After months of denials, that possibility has been well-established through testimony, e-mails, court motions and other documents. During a court hearing Wednesday, Odom's attorney declared the move "perfectly legitimate and legal.''

    But lawyers for all three men -- indicted on felony official misconduct charges -- argued that State Attorney Willie Meggs' case should be dismissed anyway, saying he has neither the evidence nor the authority to pursue an issue that originated in the Florida Legislature. A ruling could come next week.
    "Sansom appears in court seeking dismissal of case". See also "Sansom lawyers: Prosecutor doesn't have right to go after lawmaker".

    St. Pete

    Troxler: "Winners, runnersup, also-rans and stragglers in the St. Petersburg mayoral elections". Background: "St. Pete's mayor race has been whittled to 2".

    "Lawmakers plan to close an election-law loophole"

    Marc Caputo: "The hardball tactics used by attack groups in a state senate race could be just a prelude of tough campaigning in 2010 as lawmakers plan to close an election-law loophole." "Florida lawmakers want names behind political attack ads".

    PSC follies

    "A Public Service Commission lobbyist [Ryder Rudd] may have violated rules by attending a party hosted by a utility executive, an inspector general found, as state police investigated the commission in a possible ethics case."

    More PSC follies:

    An ethics complaint filed in May by Tallahassee businessman Steven Stewart accuses PSC Commissioner Lisa Edgar of violating state ethics laws by allegedly using her aide as an intermediary to discuss a pending PSC issue with FPL executive Ken Hoffman.

    Edgar denied any wrongdoing Wednesday. "There was no inappropriate or illegal communication,'' she said.

    According to Fasano, when Edgar was seeking confirmation by the state Senate for her reappointment to the commission, Rudd worked closely with her, escorting her to senators' offices.

    At the same time, Rudd was in frequent contact with utility lobbyist Jorge Chamizo, who represents FPL and Progress Energy of Florida, according to phone records obtained by the Herald/Times.

    Edgar said she knew nothing of any phone calls by Rudd to the utility lobbyist.

    Stewart, an engineer who worked for three years in the Office of Public Counsel representing consumers in rate cases and then spent 15 years as an expert witness in utility cases, also made a conflict of interest allegation against another PSC commissioner, Katrina McMurrian.

    McMurrian agreed to serve on a utility-sponsored conference this year with FPL executives at the same time she was being asked to review their rate case -- which would be the first increase for the company in 24 years.

    As a member of the board of the Energy Efficiency/Smart Grid Public Advisory Group, she attended private dinners with FPL executives. McMurrian responded that she joined the group to better educate herself on the issues.

    State law prohibits PSC commissioners from discussing a pending rate case with utility officials but it specifically excludes PSC staff from the ban.

    A 1991 grand jury report recommended that the statute be changed to close that loophole but it was never amended.
    "Public Service Commission lobbyist flagged for 'poor judgment'".

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