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, September 07, 2009

"State of Working Florida"

    Marcia Heroux Pounds:
    On this Labor Day, gains made during Florida's boom period have been wiped away by the recession's job losses and increased joblessness, according to an annual report, "State of Working Florida," released today by Florida International University's Center for Labor Research and Studies.

    The report also reveals disparities in employment and wages among African American, Hispanic and white workers over the past three decades.

    Trends from 1979 to 2008 show decreased employment, especially for construction workers; longer unemployment for Florida's jobless, and slightly higher hourly wages for workers.
    "Florida's job gain becomes loss in recession".

    "Lawmakers return to Capitol Hill on Tuesday"

    "After spending several weeks hearing from constituents on health care reform, lawmakers return to Capitol Hill on Tuesday with their views mostly unchanged but with fresh reminders that they need to pay close attention to the debate."

    Some members of Florida's congressional delegation hosted town hall gatherings on health care reform, while others saw constituents pack rallies, chamber meetings and other public forums where health care quickly became the focus.

    Sen. Bill Nelson spent the beginning of the August recess in China with members of the Senate intelligence committee as part of a 12-day congressional trip.
    Reform likely to stall on Capitol". Related: "Dueling health care rallies set tone of debate".

    "The people's governor" in action

    Bill Cotterell: "Crist, of course, has probably added an extra rider on his health insurance in case he dislocates a shoulder, patting himself on the back for being the people's governor. Most of his Senate campaigning now consists of fundraising events, but his official schedule is full of public appearances to show his interest in the economy, schools, energy — you name it." "Running government while running for office".

    Goin' back

    "Cultural nuances, such as strong family ties that provide a safety net, and a potentially lower cost of living, make it easier to endure hard times." "In hard times, some Puerto Ricans move back to island".

    Making the case for "Hometown Democracy"

    Daytona Beach News Journal editorial board:

    Miami Corp., with the blessings of local bureaucrats in Volusia and Brevard counties (the tract straddles the county line), wants changes approved in local growth blueprints to allow five residential "villages" and three so-called mixed-use commercial and residential areas with the fetching labels "town center," "workplace" and "gateway." Gateway to 29,500 houses and apartments, instead of the 2,287 single family homes allowable under existing rural land use rules. Plus 4 million square feet of shops, offices and industrial space, a hospital and eight schools. It amounts to a city of 50,000, gulping nearly 7 million gallons of water a day. Water coming from where? And arterial roads paid for by whom? Oh, the developer and county officials will work that out, never you mind.
    "The landowner wants the land use changes approved soon by both county's officials -- the proposal goes before the Brevard planning board Monday, Volusia's Sept. 22 -- no doubt to avoid having it scrutinized by voters should the Florida Hometown Democracy constitutional amendment requiring such referendums pass next year. "
    But neither Miami Corp. or any developer who buys its land piecemeal has an inherent right to land use changes allowing higher-density building. The counties should deny them on their face as unwanted, unneeded urban sprawl. The landowner is free to develop the property -- the largest private land holding in Volusia County -- at existing legal densities of one house per 20 acres, or one per five acres (4,692 houses) if clustered for a modest set aside of conservation land. Further subdivision should be denied thereafter.
    "Conservation cabal".

    Related: "Daytona redevelopment spending draws more criticism" ("The city has been scolded again by the state for decisions and expenditures connected to its community redevelopment areas.")

    Entrepreneurs in action

    The Saint Petersburg Times editors: "All Hillsborough County public works employee Steve Valdez wanted to do was cash a check written on his wife's Bank of America account. Valdez had two forms of identification, including his driver's license with an address matching his wife's on the check. "

    Seems like a simple enough transaction.

    But since Valdez was born without arms and uses prosthetic limbs, he obviously could not provide the Bank of America teller with a thumb print to complete the transaction. Even a bank manager refused to honor Valdez's check without the impossible thumbprint.
    "A lack of sense, respect".

    "But why inch?"

    Kingsley Guy: "Slowly, the state has been inching toward approving full-blown casinos."

    But why inch? Why should an agreement like the one with the Seminoles allow people to play blackjack and baccarat at a casino, but keep them from playing roulette or craps? And why should the Seminoles receive special status over operators of pari-mutuel facilities, who find themselves at a competitive disadvantage because of restrictions placed on them?

    Those restrictions limit their intake, and reduce the taxes they otherwise would be paying to the state.

    It's time for the Legislature and voters in Florida to level the playing field. Casino gambling is here to stay because plenty of people enjoy it and want it.

    Regulate casino gambling in a rational way, tax it at reasonable levels, and otherwise let people spend their money the way they want to, and where they want to.
    "Casino gambling: As history shows, Floridians want it".


    "Public Service Commissioner Nancy Argenziano, who has criticized her agency for being too close to the utilities it regulates, fired her top aide Sunday after he admitted to giving the private messaging code for his BlackBerry to a Florida Power & Light executive." "Florida Public Service Commissioner Nancy Argenziano fires top aide over BlackBerry access". Related: "Is PSC subverting public records laws by sharing message codes?"

    Thank you, Mr. Obama

    The Saint Petersburg Times editorial board: "The University of Florida is playing it smart in using $10 million in federal stimulus funds to hire up to 100 new professors this year. Normally, it is unwise to spend one-time money on recurring costs such as salaries. But in this case, the federal dollars will serve merely as a bridge until money flows in from the new differential tuition rates, which took effect last week." "Stimulus welcome for UF faculty".

    Laff riot

    "Putnam: Health-care bill is flawed".

    What's the rush?

    The Gainesville Sun editorial board: "Today a conglomerate of oil interests, which refuses to identify its members by name, is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to convince Florida politicians to open up the state's coasts to oil and gas drilling. " "The rush job".

    "The Annual Labor Day Insult"

    Each Labor Day we post something called "The Annual Labor Day Insult" about how Florida's media use Labor Day as the opportunity to either ignore, if not outright bash, organized labor. Here're the 2007 and 2008 editions. We are pleased to report that there have been some cracks - albeit tiny - in the dismissive way Florida's traditional media treats Labor Day.

    We'll start with the biggest surprise, The Orlando Sentinel. The reliably anti-union Sentinel has an editorial today that breaks the mold - the editors actually offer presidential quotations from past Labor Day addresses, some actually mentioning the existence of labor unions in a positive light:

    The workers of America are witnesses, before the world, of the strength, the pride and the prosperity that alone can be won by free labor. They are strong in their independent unions. ... They are an indestructible bulwark of free government. These witnesses to freedom's blessings give the lie to the sly evil of the promises of totalitarianism.

    Dwight D. Eisenhower, Sept. 7, 1953

    The history of the United States is in vital respects the history of labor. Free men and women, working for a better life for themselves and their children, settled a continent, built a society, and created and diffused an abundance hitherto unknown to history.

    John F. Kennedy, Sept. 2, 1963

    Social and economic justice is a basic goal of the Great Society. Working people and their organizations are leaders in the pursuit of this national objective.

    Lyndon B. Johnson, Sept. 3, 1966 ...

    Despite labor's tremendous contribution to the growth and success of our country, those who worked hard and played by the rules were once frequently unrecognized and exploited. Yet the cause of labor has advanced greatly in this century because of the determined efforts of brave labor leaders who risked their own security to bring about fair working conditions and a decent standard of living for the rank and file ...

    Bill Clinton, Sept. 3, 1993
    "Labor Day: White House view". Although the editors were themselves incapable of uttering kind words about the labor movement, even on labor day, it nevertheless was decent of them to pass on the words of others.

    The overrated The Saint Petersburg Times editorial board also surprises this morning with the following small remark:
    The government also needs to protect those hard-won victories that the American workforce, and especially organized labor, brought to society: the 40-hour work week, job site safety rules, child welfare protection, family leave and medical and pension benefits. These compacts that many take for granted not only enabled generations of families to live dignified lives, they also built the civic fabric of communities that made America the hallmark of democracy and opportunity.
    "Labor for a new era".

    The Tallahassee Democrat merely includes an editorial, "No laboring today", about how
    Labor Day is different from what it was 115 years ago, because labor is different. We labor from our homes, we labor abroad, and of course women and minorities hold jobs long forbidden to them — just as the nation now struggles with immigration laws that acknowledge a change in the labor force that's been almost as dramatic as the end of the Industrial Age.
    No reference to labor unions. The Democrat does include a guest commentary by U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis, "We need to renew our commitment to economic bill of rights", about the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA).

    That is not to say that The Democrat does not mention labor unions today; however it does so, incredibly, in the form of a letter to the editor by an official of the virulently anti-union Associated Builders and Contractors corporation:
    While Labor Day has typically been associated with unions, the majority of construction professionals — more than 84 percent — choose [sic] to work by the merit shop philosophy[*]. These workers place a high premium on the quality of work they produce and believe employment opportunities should be awarded based on qualifications and performance, not labor affiliation. They deserve our praise.
    "Paying tribute on Labor Day". In the eyes of those with any familiarity with labor history, publishing anti-union garbage like this is the equivalent of publishing something by a KKK leader on Martin Luther King's birthday.

    The Miami Herald editors only advert to "Labor Day" in an editorial about unemployment: "Silver lining in economic storm" ("Unemployed workers poised to overcome hardships, regain optimism"). However, the Herald was kind enough to print a couple of "Other Views", including one Solis, "Nation's workers are hopeful, resilient" (with this very oblique shout out to unions: "a good job means having a voice in the workplace"); and the other by the Business Manager of United Association (UA) Local Union 725 (i.e., the plumbers and pipefitters union): "Labor unions build on history of progress".

    No mention of "Labor Day" on the editorial pages of the online editions of the Daytona Beach News Journal or the The Sun-Sentinel.

    The always anti-union Florida Times Union:
    Government workers are nearly five times more likely to belong to a union than private sector employees. This, despite the fact, that union membership has been declining nationally, from 20.1 percent of the workforce in 1983 to 12.4 percent in 2008.

    Over 1 in 3 public sector workers are represented by a union; just 7.6 percent of private industry workers.

    States with the largest numbers of union members are New York and California.

    Among the public employees with the best deal are those working for the U.S. Postal Service, reported The Wall Street Journal.

    - Most employees have no-layoff clauses.

    - Starting salaries are up to 30 percent higher than comparable skilled private sector workers.

    - About $500 million a year could be saved if fringe benefits were brought in line with other federal workers.
    "Labor Day: America's promise".

    The The Tampa Tribune editorial board gives us this pap:
    The star of the Labor Day parade traditionally has been labor unions, whose leaders emphasize their achievements and solidarity. Yet the overwhelming majority of workers aren't union members, and for them, the day has diminished into a three-day weekend without significance.

    But this nation built by workers and supported by workers should use the opportunity to honor the foundation of the American Dream - the good American job.
    "Here's to us workers".

    The The Palm Beach Post editors gives us a hard hitting editorial about unemployment: "The National Employment Law Project reports that 27,359 out-of-work Floridians will lose benefits by the end of this month. By the end of the year, the figure will be 114,508 in Florida and 1,331,175 nationwide. Congress' Labor Day promise should be another extension. ... Politicians who watch Floridians exhaust their benefits and do nothing should themselves be out of a job." "Now, help the jobless Floridian".

    More on unemployment from the The Sarasota-Herald Tribune editorial board: "Yes, things are looking up, except for one, most important sector of the economy -- the sector we salute on Labor Day: American workers. The U.S. unemployment rate rose to 9.7 percent in August, from 9.4 percent in July. That's the highest level since June 1983, The Wall Street Journal reported on Friday." "Not enough labor days". The same thing from the Naples Daily News: "At least things are looking up" and the Pensacola News Journal: "Take the day off".

    All in all, a slight improvement over last year. In the main, however, Florida's media companies can't bring themselves to recognize labor day for what it is:
    Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. ... Conceived by America's labor unions as a testament to their cause ...
    "The History of Labor Day".

    "But even if you are not a union member — even if you do not approve of unions — consider this while you’re enjoying the long Labor Day holiday: There wouldn’t be any three-day weekends if it wasn’t for those unions. None."
    If unions hadn’t done what they did—and continue to do—it’s highly unlikely that anyone outside the executive ranks would be getting a paid holiday on Labor Day, or on any other day. (Or even, of course, that there would be such a holiday as Labor Day.)

    Nor is it likely that those who are required to work on such holidays would be getting the pay of two to three times their regular rate that unions have made the standard for holiday work in most areas — or get premium pay for any other work, at any other time.

    Holidays meant very little to most working people in the days before unions became effective. They meant only an unwelcome day off and loss of a day’s pay or, at best, a day of work at regular wages.

    Those were the days when unions still were struggling primarily for nothing more than legal recognition. It wasn’t until World War II that unions were able to go beyond the fundamentals and make negotiation of paid holidays a common practice, a concession employers made in lieu of the pay raises federal wage controls prohibited during the war.

    The paid vacations so many working people took this summer also were very rare until unions demanded and won them. So were employer-financed pensions and medical care and other fringe benefits, health and safety standards, job security and other things now commonly granted to most workers, union and nonunion alike.

    Without unions, we should not forget, there would be no paid holidays for most people, no premium or overtime pay, no paid vacations, few fringe benefits and little protection against job-related hazards and arbitrary dismissal. Without unions, as a matter of fact, the standard workday might very well still be 10 to 12 hours, the standard workweek six to seven days, and working people would have few of the rights so many now take for granted. That includes the overriding right of having a genuine voice in determining their pay and working conditions.
    "Labor’s Day—And Yours".

    - - - - - - - - - -
    *The so-called "merit shop philosophy" typically means at-will construction workers, bereft job security, meaningful health insurance or retirement benefits. No one honestly "chooses" to work this way, it is rather the result of the marginalization of construction unions in certain parts of the country, generally Mississippi, South Carolina, Alabama, Texas, and of course the Florida panhandle, where the writer of this garbage is from.

    The mentality of the ABC is exposed by a version of the group's astroturf anti-Employee Free Choice Act piece appearing in Florida Today: "Americans across the country will soon gather with family, friends and co-workers to celebrate Labor Day. ... Where exactly is the free choice? Freedom to choose in the workplace is the highest honor that we can pay — not just to all the men and women in the construction work force, but to every worker in the nation." "Protecting workers’ rights" ("Bill takes away employees' freedom of choice").

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