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 Sunday, October 18, 2009

Crist plays "the ingénue"

    The Miami Herald editorial board: "In Florida's political theater, leave it to Gov. Charlie Crist to play the ingénue."
    He now wants to empanel a statewide grand jury to root out corruption in Florida politics. This comes after the FBI arrests of several public officials and big-money political players and lobbyists in Broward County.

    Among those indicted: Alan Mendelsohn, a Broward ophthalmologist who was a member of Mr. Crist's gubernatorial transition team in 2007. Mr. Mendelsohn has pleaded not guilty to federal fraud charges involving raising more than $2 million for political action committees and fabricating his political clout to pad his own pockets. He also falsely claimed he could bribe Mr. Crist, according to federal investigators.

    Mr. Crist preferred not to talk about his relationship with Mr. Mendelsohn, a major fundraiser for his 2006 gubernatorial campaign, during a press conference last week. Instead, when asked about Mr. Mendelsohn, the governor noted that in the past two years he has had to remove more than 30 public officials from their offices because of corruption charges. "It's obvious to me that something's wrong with the system.''

    In Florida's political theater, this is what is called the climactic moment -- the Aha! that leads to . . . where?

    Campaign finance reform?

    Tougher ethics rules?

    Disclosure of the membership of "electioneering communications organizations'' that can raise unlimited amounts of money to influence elections? ...

    In truth, Mr. Crist has spoken his lines in the reform script but has done little to advance the plot.
    "Governor's political theater".

    RPOFer AG blues

    William March: "2 new entries could crowd GOP attorney general race".

    LeMieux puff piece

    "Crist appointee says he consults the governor at least a couple of times a week. Republican leader says George LeMieux is not a 'seat-warmer.'"

    Try not to laff too hard at this: "Five weeks into the job, he has turned into a conservative critic of Democratic health-care proposals and the free-spending ways of Congress." "Florida's newest U.S. senator brings young dad's view to national decisions".

    RPOFer run "Tallahassee is Wall Street before last year's crash"

    Aaron Deslatte: "Florida Power & Light, the utility seeking a $1.3 billion rate hike, is the biggest giver to the Republican Party of Florida:"

    The RPOF's next-biggest giver was the Florida Medical Association, which has had to distance itself from Mendelsohn, its former finance chairman. The FBI indicted him for siphoning hundreds of thousands of dollars in political contributions to pay for a love nest with his mistress and other perks. He also allegedly gave $87,000 to a so-far-unnamed "former public official."

    Interests have been funneling large checks to top political leaders for years. Florida's campaign-finance laws allow it, lawmakers take huge checks for political bank accounts that are separate from campaigns. ...

    But a growing number of players in Florida politics feel that the current system — embodied by Mendelsohn, who cut checks to virtually every influential politician in Florida — is out of control.

    "Tallahassee is Wall Street before last year's crash," said one longtime Tallahassee lobbyist, who requested anonymity for fear of angering clients and politicians.

    "A few people [are] raising obscene amounts of money and spending it on everything in sight like there's no tomorrow."

    Perhaps, Crist agrees.
    "Corruption follows money to Tallahassee".

    Charlie's the "last one in, first one to claim credit"

    Randy Schultz writes that, "Charlie Crist used to play football. As a politician, he likes to jump on the pile after others have made the tackle, then pop up to show that his uniform is dirty." Ouch.

    Schultz proceeds to give Crist a well deserved spanking:

    The governor acted nearly a month after the arrest in Broward County of three politicians on corruption charges growing out of an ongoing FBI operation. For his cover story, Gov. Crist claimed that he acted because those arrests followed the removal from office of three Palm Beach County commissioners, also on federal corruption charges. The governor wants the grand jury to cover South Florida and Southwest Florida.

    More likely, Gov. Crist showboated because of another case. One week after the arrests of the politicians, federal agents arrested a Broward ophthalmologist and political fixer named Alan Mendelsohn. He is charged with using $350,000 in campaign contributions for his own use. In 2006, Dr. Mendelsohn served on Gov.-elect Crist's transition team. That sort of political gum can be hard to get off the bottom of your shoe.

    If the governor had wanted to make public corruption a real priority, though, he didn't have to pull this stunt. He could have done something meaningful, and done it before now. ...

    Conveniently, the governor also didn't include Leon County - Tallahassee, the Legislature, state government - as a target area for his "statewide" corruption grand jury.

    With any luck, the Florida Supreme Court will reject the governor's request. There's a question of whether the statewide prosecutor, who would run the grand jury, even has jurisdiction on this issue. Moreover, all three South Florida state attorneys now have anti-corruption units. What they need are tougher laws from the governor, not grandstanding.

    This, though, is the same Charlie Crist who as attorney general didn't oppose a big phone-rate increase until long past the time that anyone could stop it. Others do the work, and the governor seeks the headlines. He got them last week. Last one in, first one to claim credit.
    "Crist a corruption kibitzer".

    Must placate them, thar "business groups"

    The Sun-Sentinel editorial board: "County, business groups must reach consensus on ethics reform".

    Rubio at work

    Jim Saunders: "Republican U.S. Senate candidate Marco Rubio tried to build support in Volusia and Flagler counties Saturday, criticizing 'big government' solutions to the nation's problems."

    Trying to appeal to conservatives who are unhappy with the direction of the Democratic-led country, Rubio pointed to federal efforts to deal with problems such as health care and job creation.

    At both stops, Rubio said greater federal involvement in the economy would lead to the government picking "winners and losers" and limit the ability of people to build businesses.

    Rubio also said he is concerned that political leaders are passing along problems to future generations, which could threaten the ability of children to do better than their parents and grandparents.
    "Rubio chides big government at GOP event".

    "'Shysters' promoting a 'shell game'"

    "The aggressive push for oil drilling off Florida's shores is backed by a coalition of powerful, well-financed business interests who are determined to succeed where they failed before: the state Senate. But even as proponents insist they'll corral the votes they need, Senate skeptics are multiplying — including the chamber's presiding officer and several key Republicans who sound increasingly hostile to the idea." "Is offshore drilling doomed yet again in the Senate?".

    Steve Bousquet: "Senate President Jeff Atwater, who's running statewide for chief financial officer, is not convinced that Floridians increasingly support drilling. Moreover, he says the issue is not on his priority list for 2010."

    Beyond Atwater's lack of enthusiasm, several veteran Republican senators — some representing beachfront districts — are on record as saying they would not vote for a drilling bill. They include Sens. Victor Crist, R-Tampa; Dennis Jones, R-Seminole; Paula Dockery, R-Lakeland; and Durell Peaden, R-Crestview.

    "Once you ruin those pristine beaches, they're ruined forever," said Peaden, a retired doctor who worked for Texaco before he went to medical school. He describes out-of-state oilmen as "shysters" promoting a "shell game" at the expense of Florida's tourism economy.

    "It's all about campaign money," Peaden said. "And it's one big crapshoot."
    "State GOP senators skeptical on offshore oil drilling".

    "Void in Palm Beach-Broward condo belt"

    "Wexler’s departure leaves power void in Palm Beach-Broward condo belt".

    Gelber slams Aronberg on vouchers

    Beth Reinhard asks "When is a voucher not a voucher?" She answers her own question:

    When you're a Democratic candidate for attorney general and you voted for one of the education legacies of Republican Gov. Jeb Bush.
    Reinhard continues:
    In the kickoff debate of the attorney general race on Sunday, state Sen. Dan Gelber of Miami Beach pointed to two key votes that set him apart from rival state Sen. Dave Aronberg of Greenacres. One was Aronberg's vote for "vouchers.''

    Tossing out the politically charged word in a room full of liberal Democrats was like waxing poetic about ACORN in front of a bunch of Republican conservatives. Aronberg was indignant.

    "I've never had a Democrat distort my record,'' he said. "I have never voted for a voucher.''

    Except that he did.
    "Aronberg voted for legislation tweaking one of Bush's signature voucher programs, which awards income tax credits to corporations that give private school scholarships to poor kids. This amounts to as much as $118 million in tax dollars that otherwise would be going into the state treasury and, critics charge, could be spent on public education. The 2009 bill allowed insurance companies to participate in the program, increasing the pool of donors and potentially allowing more kids to get scholarships."
    Aronberg remained steadfast Friday, saying he has "never voted for a bill that created vouchers or expanded the voucher program.'' It's true that the 2001 legislation creating the program predates Aronberg's arrival in the Senate. And it's true that in 2008, he voted against legislation that increased the available tax credits from $88 million to $118 million. The 2009 bill did not raise the $118 million cap.

    Gelber, who got the union's "Champion of Education'' award Friday, suggested Aronberg was making a distinction without a difference.

    "He voted for the program and I voted against it. It couldn't be clearer,'' he said. ``I want to fix public education, not privatize it.''
    "Vouchers a dirty word to Democrats".

    "How different is that ... ?"

    The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "Former Florida House Speaker Ray Sansom was indicted for secretly diverting $6 million in the state budget to a man who had donated big money to Rep. Sansom and the Republican Party of Florida. How different is that from what Gov. Crist and a few legislators did for a man who promised to bring 500 jobs to St. Lucie County in five years?" "Reform political budgeting".

    A Ferre-Stone connection?

    In case you missed this Adam Smith column yesterday, here's the link: "Maurice Ferre and the trickster's hand".

    Boyd bucks

    "A vocal group of critics apparently has not hindered U.S. Rep. Allen Boyd’s ability to raise copious amounts of campaign cash. The past two quarters have been two of the Monticello Democrat’s most lucrative in his seven-term congressional career."

    Campaign reports filed Friday show that Boyd has raised $282,273 during the October quarter. During the three months period before that, Boyd brought in $374,353, his biggest quarter ever, campaign finance reports indicate. ...State senator Al Lawson, Boyd’s lone primary opponent, brought in $22,845 over the past three months, less than half of what he was able to bring in during the previous quarter, but said he is on pace to meet his goal.

    "We are on target to where I need to be, which is between $150,000 and $200,000," he said. "We don’t need a lot of money to win this race."

    Lawson, who served 18-years as a member of the Florida House before becoming a state senator, said that district name recognition will help him overcome fundraising deficits.
    "Boyd's fundraising near record levels".

    Sunday Healy

    Jane Healy: "Have lessons been learned on Burnham, DVDs or bears?".

    Entrepreneurs in action

    "Debt collectors resort to threats and lies, victims say |".

    Al Zell warming to Grayson

    An editorial from the The Orlando Sentinel editorial board that's not a total anti-Grayson slam? And nice words for Barney Frank as well!?! Stop the presses!

    A better rationale for an audit [of the Fed] comes from Mr. Grayson and others who have argued for an accounting of which banks have been getting taxpayer-backed loans.

    Fed officials have warned that identifying borrowers could damage their reputations among investors and discourage other banks that need credit from getting help. In response, House Financial Services Chairman Barney Frank has suggested the central bank's loans be disclosed, but with a time lag to prevent immediate bumps in the financial markets. That's the kind of reasonable approach that lawmakers should be considering as they aim for more transparency at the Fed.
    "Keep Fed independent".

    "Major sticker shock"

    "Parents shopping for Florida prepaid-college plans are in for some major sticker shock when annual enrollment for the program opens Monday." "Prepaid-college prices: Prepare to be shocked".

    "All-American Road"

    "The Florida Keys' Overseas Highway officially made an 'All-American Road'".

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