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, October 19, 2009

Sink's "crossover support"

    "Democrat Alex Sink has handily out-raised Republican rival Bill McCollum in the early stages of what could be the priciest race ever for Florida governor next year. At least part of the explanation: "
    hundreds of donors who in the past gave to Charlie Crist and other Republicans are rethinking which party to back in 2010 or are hedging their bets by also sending money to Sink.

    Nearly 500 individuals who gave to Crist's 2006 gubernatorial campaign have crossed over and written checks for up to the $500 maximum to Sink this year, according to an Orlando Sentinel analysis of campaign-finance data.

    Their contributions account for about $200,000 of the $4 million Sink has raised to date, bolstering Democratic optimism that she represents the party's best shot in a dozen years to win back the Governor's Mansion.

    By comparison, McCollum has collected nearly $1.9 million since entering the race in May. Of that, only about $22,000 came from 68 contributors who gave to Democratic gubernatorial nominee Jim Davis in 2006.
    "Sink wins crossover support from GOP early in race".

    Listen to NOAA

    The Sun-Sentinel editorial board: "Florida, and U.S., should heed NOAA's concerns over environmental impacts from oil drilling".

    "Watchdogs can be put on short leashes"

    The Orlando Sentinel editorial board: "Last week Gov. Charlie Crist's inspector general blew the whistle on a state-funded corporation that had made a series of improper loans to insiders. It was a textbook example of how inspectors general — the in-house watchdogs in government agencies — serve taxpayers by exposing waste, fraud or abuse."

    But for all the good they can do, these watchdogs can be put on short leashes or forced out by their masters, the politically appointed leaders of their agencies. When that happens, taxpayers also end up losing.
    "State Sen. Dave Aronberg, a South Florida Democrat seeking his party's nomination for attorney general, is working on legislation to strengthen inspectors in state agencies. He is considering several promising ideas, including the following:"
    •Giving inspectors a fixed term of appointment that wouldn't match the term of their agency leaders. And those leaders would have to cite a cause for firing their agency's watchdog.

    •Subjecting inspectors to confirmation by the state Senate or both chambers in the Legislature, and requiring an agency chief planning to fire one to notify legislative leaders first.

    •Providing inspectors with separate budgets that can't be cut by their agencies.
    "Keep watchdogs alert".

    An Okaloosa irony

    "Okaloosa asks for $299 million in stimulus money".


    "Parties rake in oil, gas cash".

    Daddy's little boy

    "Matt Gaetz hasn’t just jumped out to a big fundraising lead in the race for the District 4 state representative’s seat; he’s lapped the field a couple of times. When candidate quarterly contributions were released last week, Gaetz, a 27-year-old Fort Walton Beach attorney with no prior political experience, reported raising $167,685." "Gaetz’s cash unmatched in state rep race".


    "Florida officials like their chances of winning billions of federal dollars for a high-speed train, but almost every contender from California to Georgia insists its rail pitch is the best." "Florida's high-speed-rail pitch has stiff competition".

    AIF still ain't over that box of manure ...

    ... Argenziano sent them.

    "Argenziano's PIN messages reveal a distrust of fellow commissioners, especially Edgar and Skop, a constant skepticism about the veracity of Florida Power & Light's data, and a double standard: "

    While Argenziano insisted that her aide write down all communications with lobbyists, she relied on communicating with him through BlackBerry PIN messages that didn't leave a paper trail and a Google e-mail account whose data resides outside the state server.

    That contradiction, and the fact that Argenziano held herself out as an outspoken critic of the PSC, prompted Associated Industries of Florida to question her impartiality in the rate case and call for the agency's inspector general to investigate her.

    The records "show that she is violating her code of conduct, her oath of office and she's had ex parte communications with people that she's not supposed to have had,'' said Barney Bishop, president of AIF, a business lobbying group that has sided with Florida Power & Light in its request to raise base rates by $1.3 billion.
    "PSC messages reveal level of distrust within agency".

    Bill Cotterell has this this morning: "PSC messages are a warning for all".

    More about Argenziano in this 2001 piece from Howard Troxler: "An impolitic politician pays for her individuality".


    "State gambling agreement with Seminole tribe may still be far away".

    Another fine Jebacy

    The Sun-Sentinel editorial board: "Not to sound like a broken record, but the state of Florida is facing another big budget deficit - $2.7 billion at last count. Medicaid is a big budget-buster, and unfortunately, it's clear that state lawmakers aren't sure how to address the increasing costs of a badly needed program."

    One thing they can do is reject programs, like the

    much-publicized initiative under former Gov. Jeb Bush to operate the program more like an HMO - [it has had] dubious results, and the near-term outlook isn't that promising. With a new state budget cycle looming, and talk that federal health care reforms will have a major impact on the Medicaid program, state lawmakers have reason to be concerned.

    Currently 2.7 million people are eligible for Medicaid in Florida, and that number is expected to increase. Cutting Medicaid benefits would only force recipients to either delay health care or force them into hospital emergency rooms, and both would put an even greater strain on Florida taxpayers.

    Instead of grasping at straws, state legislators should approach their counterparts in the Florida congressional delegation and urge them to make sure the federal government continues to give its fair share to the program. Right now, the federal government pays 67 percent of the program's expenses, thanks to federal stimulus money, and even more for a children's health insurance program covered by Medicaid. Florida could do better.

    State legislators could push Washington to revamp the funding formula to meet Florida's needs, but that means the Republican majority in Tallahassee will have to go beyond berating Medicaid and work with their congressional delegation to ensure that legitimate concerns aren't given short shrift.
    "Medicaid, a still unresolved budget buster".

    Coastal alliance

    "4 states in Southeast form coastal alliance".

    "The ongoing scandal"

    The Daytona Beach News Journal editorial board: "Crist has good reason to be sick of the ongoing scandal, after being dragged into the investigation of political fundraiser and South Florida eye doctor Alan Mendelsohn."

    Mendelsohn was arrested last month on 32 counts of fraud for promising to broker influence with several elected officials, and collecting political contributions that he is accused of diverting for personal expenses. The FBI says it taped Mendelsohn claiming that he'd successfully bribed Crist (who was then Florida's attorney general) to back off an investigation of an insurance company -- a claim that was later proven to be false.

    Floridians should be disgusted as well. Most recently, the weakness of Florida's anti-corruption statutes played into the decision of a Tallahassee judge who shut down most of the corruption charges pending against former state House Speaker Ray Sansom, R-Destin, and Bob Richburg, former president of Northwest Florida State College. A grand jury had indicted the two men of conspiring to appropriate millions of dollars for an airport building meant to benefit political donor Jay Odom -- after which Sansom was given a six-figure job on the college's payroll. "One can understand the frustration and indignation" of the grand jury that indicted Sansom on official misconduct charges, Circuit Judge Terry Lewis wrote. But what the men did wasn't, strictly speaking, illegal.
    "A worthy crusade".

    No one "dragged" Charlie to the bank to deposit the checks Mendelsohn delivered.

    Chinese drywall

    "U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson is urging state lawmakers to provide financial help to homeowners dealing with Chinese drywall." "Nelson seeks funds to replace drywall".

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