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 Saturday, October 03, 2009

Corporate media turning on Crist?

    Steve Bousquet writes that "When the governor gets good press, it's the kind most politicians can only dream about. But when it's bad, it's ugly. And lately it has been very bad."
    There has been a clear shift in the mainstream media's portrayal of Crist in the past few months.

    A glance at the record suggests things went south in June when Crist signed a bill weakening growth management controls, which editorial boards agreed was a terrible decision.

    Things got worse in August after the governor picked his friend and campaign adviser, George LeMieux, to warm the Senate seat Crist covets.
    "Consider a few choice words about Crist in recent days:"
    Orlando Sentinel columnist Scott Maxwell wrote that Crist reminds him of Casper the Friendly Ghost: "always smiling, always friendly — and yet never really completely there."

    St. Petersburg Times political editor Adam C. Smith wrote a piece this week suggesting Crist was "dissing" Jeb Bush's legacy, noting how Crist spoke to a GOP group in Michigan last weekend and pointed out that one national study has Florida schools showing big gains after he came along in 2007. Dissing Jeb? Not the kind of message Crist wants Republican primary voters to hear.

    • A recent piece by syndicated columnist George Will, a widely read conservative voice, heaped praise on Crist's Senate rival, Marco Rubio, while calling Crist a "climate change worrywart" who approved a public-option property insurance program in Florida. Will wrote that the Florida race is a test of whether a "principled conservative" can win, and he wasn't referring to Charlie Crist.

    The Palm Beach Post's Frank Cerabino wrote that it was "embarrassing" to see Crist on TV touting his Cover Florida program and its 4,000 subscribers at a time when nearly 4 million people in Florida have no coverage. "Charlie's Hooey," read the headline.

    Now, Cerabino and others rarely wax poetic about Crist. But the criticism appears to be growing in size and scope, and most experts who follow this sort of thing will tell you that critical press coverage can spiral out of control quickly.
    "Suddenly, things aren't so sunny for Crist".

    Laff riot

    "Senate President Jeff Atwater tapped newly elected state Sen. Joe Negron to chair the Judiciary Committee, a plumb post for the freshman senator." "Senate newbie Negron to chair judiciary".

    That Grayson guy

    "Pugnacious, partisan, smart and rich, the Orlando Democrat has been stirring the pot since taking office in January, most vividly when he took to the House floor this week and said the Republican health care plan amounted to 'die quickly.'"

    The rant would have been unusual for a lawmaker from even the most liberal congressional district. But Grayson, 51, represents a part of Florida that is divided politically — probably not the constituency that wants to hear the GOP is "knuckle-dragging Neanderthals" as he fumed on CNN Wednesday. ...

    Already Grayson is one of the most targeted incumbents in the country, having defeated four-term Republican Ric Keller, and his re-election bid embodies the challenge Democrats face in holding control of Congress as the president's approval rating falls.

    But a leading opponent has not yet emerged and Grayson, the 12th-wealthiest member of Congress, has resources to defend himself. He spent $2 million of his own money on the 2008 campaign. (The "die quickly" speech has triggered $150,000 in contributions, his office says.) And his district has shifted from slightly Republican to slightly Democratic.

    "It's no coincidence the National Republican Congressional Committee has named me as the No. 1 target next year," Grayson said. "We're working hard, getting things done."
    "Grayson's life story has the makings of a Horatio Alger novel."
    He grew up in a cramped Bronx tenement, the asthma-inflicted son of public school educators.
    The rest of the story here: "'Die quickly' just a sample of Alan Grayson's sound bite attack".

    The Hill has a substantial piece on central Florida's exceedingly weak GOPer political bench. Aside from warmed over wingnuts, ethically challenged country clubbers, and the usual cadre of lightweights, we have this:
    A wildcard is Armando Gutierrez, the 28-year-old son of a politically active Cuban émigré of the same name. Gutierrez, whose father served as spokesman for Elian Gonzalez’s family during the child’s well-publicized custody saga, is making some waves as a potential candidate.

    The junior Gutierrez has money and connections and could run against one of the big-name candidates as an outsider. He is a good bet to enter the race regardless of others’ plans.
    "Grayson remark gives new urgency to calls for a GOP challenger back home".


    The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "For now, it's just a piece of paper. With any luck, however, it will become the document that helps to save the Everglades. This week, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers signed an $81 million contract with a Broward County company to remove the plug that keeps water from getting to the Everglades. So in about a month, work could begin to raise a 1-mile portion of U.S. 41 - also known as the Tamiami Trail — in Miami-Dade County." "A bridge to the Everglades".

    Enough with the foot dragging

    Tallahassee has its own share of, what Alan Grayson described as "Foot-dragging, knuckle-dragging Neanderthals".

    Daytona Beach News Journal editorial board thinks Floridians should

    be alarmed at a finding that nearly 28,000 applications for restoration of civil rights -- including requests from people who were never incarcerated -- have been ignored. Together, the error rate and the backlog suggest that the Florida Parole Commission, which handles rights-restoration cases, is severely underfunded and overburdened with rules. ...

    [An] audit also found that the [Parole Commission] was putting several categories of request on the backburner, including cases of people who were convicted in other states or in federal court. That left 28,000 cases in limbo, though last week, a commission spokesman said additional staff had been hired to process them. And as part of the 2009 budget, the Legislature asked for recommendations on ways to simplify the process, as well as data that will likely demonstrate how underfunded the commission is. That report was due Thursday but unavailable at press time.
    "Felons on hold".

    Good question

    "Should public officials be doing undercover work?"

    Mel's "unusually blatant example of the 'revolving door' phenomenon"

    "Mel Martinez was a familiar face to the high-powered lobbyists of DLA Piper well before he resigned early from his Senate seat and then, just two weeks later, joined the firm."

    During his 4 1/2 years in the Senate, the firm's members frequently represented clients on legislation before the committees the Florida senator sat on, according to government lobbying records.

    Washington-based public interest activists call Martinez's move an unusually blatant example of the "revolving door" phenomenon — elected officials or government employees moving back and forth to lobbying jobs.
    It seems our Mel is a plain old dissembler"
    Martinez had announced in December that he wouldn't run for re-election, but then vehemently and repeatedly denied rumors among political insiders that he would leave office before his term ended.

    Martinez said he was quitting to spend more time with his family. But DLA Piper has no office in his hometown of Orlando. It has offices in Washington and Tampa.

    DLA Piper officials, however, have been quoted as saying he will spend much of his time in Orlando, but he has been helping set up offices in Brazil.

    A DLA Piper spokesman declined a request for an interview with Martinez or company officials for this story. ...

    DLA Piper officials have been quoted as saying they held a "meet-and-greet" for Martinez before he left office, but didn't discuss employment terms until after he left.

    Senators make $174,000 a year.

    McGehee said former legislators can make $500,000 to $1 million a year at top lobbying firms, "depending on how much work and energy they want to put into it."
    Martinez, his new boss aren't strangers".

    Solar folds like a cheap suit

    "Oil and solar power may seem like strange bedfellows, but this week the Florida Solar Energy Industry Association -- a group that represents more than 100 solar companies statewide -- announced support for oil drilling within 10 miles of Florida's coast so long as oil tax money is used to subsidize solar installations. The deal has upended a longstanding coalition of renewable energy businesses and environmentalists who tried unsuccessfully to pass a clean energy bill in recent years." "Anti-drilling coalition fractures".


    "Signaling his displeasure with the Public Service Commission's handling of two rate cases, Gov. Charlie Crist asked the commission Friday to postpone a final decision on the proposed increases by Progress Energy and Florida Power & Light until his two new hires to the panel take office." "Crist asks PSC to hold off on utility rate case".

    Post strives for "balance"

    The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "It's one thing to criticize a tax cut. It's a different matter to react as if a tax cut is akin to starving the hungry and drowning the sick."

    Former League of Women Voters President Pamela Goodman is not running for anything - yet. But last week she acted as if she were involved in a political scrum when she called Palm Beach County Commissioner Steven Abrams' vote against a tax hike "despicable, disgusting" and "unconscionable" in an interview with The Post's George Bennett.
    "'Unconscionable'? Hardly".

    Pruitt denies he's a crook

    "Pruitt says he’s not unnamed official in Mendelsohn indictment".

    "Would you want the public to be able to witness the annual lap dance of chicanery"?

    Daniel Ruth

    So would it be that much of a cataclysmic event to consider holding all or part of an annual legislative session in a more centrally located site such as Orlando, or Tampa — you know, where people actually live?

    Wouldn't it be worth experimenting with — just once?

    Then again — pardon the cynicism, it's a character flaw — it is altogether possible the powers that be in Stepford meets Two Egg Heights are perfectly happy with the capital exactly where it is, thank you very much.

    After all, if you made the capital easier to get to, more convenient to visit, well, before you know it, more people might actually want to drop in on halls of government to see how things really work when it comes to legislating. Uh oh. No good can come from this.

    This open-government-in-the-sunshine fiddle-faddle has its limits, you know.

    If you are a member of the Florida House or Senate, or a lobbyist, would you want the public to be able to witness the annual lap dance of chicanery, money-grubbing and influence-peddling that passes for legislating?

    Much better to keep the capital tucked away between Oz and Lower Podunk where the town's two horses can freely cavort on lonely airport runways.

    Government of the people, for the people and by the people is a wonderful concept — that is if you can find it in the first place.
    "The state capital that time forgot".

    After all, she is a woman ...

    "Is Ford's temperament an issue?".

    A Trib thing

    The Tampa Tribune's Tom Jackson gives the West Central Florida wingnuts yet another venue, to wit: his column. In bush league fashion, Jackson slams one of Florida's political rising stars for the teabagger bombing of her

    town hall event [that] provided weeks of hilarity among the read-the-bill set [to be contrasted with the read-books set].

    And Castor's contortions on cutting off federal funding for scandal-plagued ACORN - she voted against the cutoff before she voted for it - fuel a limitless supply of yuks [at least for Jackson and his buddies in the community's "after all, he is black" set].

    But in recent days, Rep. Castor has demonstrated with compelling forcefulness that her reach as an energetic member of the majority party extends far beyond the modest Tampa-centric boundaries of District 11. And Pasco residents are free to be unamused.

    This week, the congresswoman persuaded the Environmental Protection Agency to hold a re-re-review of its own findings, and those of the Army Corps of Engineers, regarding the development plans for Cypress Creek Town Center - a proposed shopping, dining and entertainment mall straddling State Road 56 in Wesley Chapel whose official name seems destined to include "Oft-Delayed."
    Jackson then rubs his thighs and lays this monster hit on Castor
    Assuming the unthinkable does not occur - District 11 goes Republican in 2010 - Rep. Castor will remain a rising star in Speaker Nancy Pelosi's power constellation, and agency operatives resist rising stars at their peril.

    And it's not like her ostensible concern extends beyond her constituents. At the end of its meandering journey from Darby to the Hillsborough River near the University of South Florida, Cypress Creek contributes to Tampa's major source of drinking water. So there's that.

    But those willing to assign subtler intentions will note that Castor is a darling of radical environmentalists, and her intervention cannot help but please them. Environmentalists remain absolutely freaked that Jacobs has chosen a larger asphalt footprint over the breathtakingly expensive - possibly deal-breaking - parking garage they prefer.
    "Rep. Castor's long arm threatens Pasco progress".


    The Miami Herald editorial board: "Three of Florida's big urban centers -- Jacksonville, Tampa-St. Petersburg and Orlando -- want to build commuter rail lines like Tri-Rail which serves the Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach corridor. Yet Tri-Rail is in peril because the Florida Legislature has yet to approve a dedicated revenue source to match the federal government's $500 million investment in the state's lone commuter rail service." "Fund Tri-Rail". Related: "Recent developments might give SunRail commuter train momentum".

    Entrepreneurs in action

    "Former Lehman Bros. executive now owns Fla. stores".

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