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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 Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Club for Growth continues attack on Crist

    Chris Chocola, president of the Club for Growth in Washington, D.C. asks this morning "what is a 'Charlie Crist Republican' anyway?"
    Honestly, do you know how Charlie Crist would vote on a federal takeover of health care, on a cap-and-trade energy tax, on massive new spending bills, or on another stimulus boondoggle? ...

    If you're not sure about what Governor Crist really believes, it's okay – Governor Crist doesn't seem to know, either. Don't believe me? See for yourself. As of this writing (the second week of November), the "Issues" page of Crist's official campaign website consists of the following message: "ISSUES PAGE COMING SOON!"
    Chocola continues with a full throated endorsement of Rubio:
    It is no wonder that Floridians have been turning to Crist's opponent in the Senate Republican primary race, Marco Rubio. Rubio is the former speaker of the Florida House of Representatives, and before that served in local government in West Miami. He has a strong legislative record of fighting for tax relief and reform, limited government, and market-driven solutions in Florida's energy and education industries.

    Rubio knows what he believes and why he believes it. He trusts in the founding principles of our nation – individual liberty and limited government – and in the wisdom and ingenuity of the American people to spend their own money and solve problems. He distrusts big government power grabs – the thousand-page, trillion-dollar bills that takeover entire sectors of our economy without being read by a single congressman or senator.

    Put simply, Marco Rubio believes the federal government is too big, so he will fight to make it smaller. He believes Congress takes too much of your money and spends it foolishly, so he will bring real change and reform to Washington. He believes politicians make for terrible businessmen, doctors, automobile engineers, and bankers, so they should not take over Wall Street, health care, car companies, and banks. He believes that free people make better decisions about their own money and their own lives than politicians ever could.

    There's no way to know if Charlie Crist believes that, or anything else.
    "What is a 'Charlie Crist' Republican anyway?".

    Marco moves South

    "[T]he contest is drawing national attention as the highest-profile example of the moderate vs. conservative battle within the GOP. Rubio said he believes that is true, but also believes there is a deeper analysis to be made." "Senate candidate Marco Rubio delivers a right swing during Naples stop".

    "A handful of gimme and a mouthful of much obliged"

    "Sens. Mike Haridopolos, R-Melbourne, and Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, told the News Service of Florida they will advance plans to seek a federal waiver that would allow Florida to retain the $18.2 billion in state and federal funding needed to finance the program next year, but without the strings typically attached by Washington." "Two Senators Seek Medicaid Change".


    "The Rubio campaign said the similarities weren't a case of plagiarism, but rather an homage to an effective ad that captured a defining moment in the 2008 presidential election." "Rubio ad in Fla. Senate race mimics Obama ad".

    For background, see yesterday's "A mere coincidence?", courtesy of The Carmon Report.

    Yee haw!

    "Hundreds greet Huckabee in The Villages".

    Sink and McCollum "have dramatically cut back their use of state aircraft"

    "The two leading candidates for Florida's governor have grounded their high-flying ways on state-owned airplanes. Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink and Attorney General Bill McCollum have dramatically cut back their use of state aircraft since a Herald/Times analysis in June revealed that they had racked up hundreds of thousands of dollars in flights, including questionable use of planes by family members and use of the planes to commute to work from their homes in other parts of the state." "State planes used less in '09". See also "Crist puts brakes on travel costs". Related: "Strict business travel guidelines issued for state workers".


    Catherine Dolinski: "Next year could be a watershed for Florida Democrats, who have an opportunity to regain parity or even take the lead on the state Cabinet. So far, they have credible candidates running for every Cabinet post — except one: chief financial officer." "Democrats scouting for CFO hopeful".

    Pollution standards

    "EPA to set water pollution standards for Florida". See also "U.S. to be czar for water pollution".


    "Federal health care reform isn't yet a reality. But Florida is one of 11 states whose lawmakers have filed measures that would pre-emptively block or circumvent parts the federal plan, should it become law. The moves appeal to those who think health care is not in crisis and the uninsured and ill aren't their (or government's) problem."

    But opting out of reform, especially for a state like Florida, where one in five Floridians is without insurance, doesn't solve problems. It compounds them and invites more. The state isn't in a position to rebuff a plan that would swell the ranks of its uninsured. Florida's attempt at doing so, through a state-backed plan called Cover Florida, is a failure. Coverage is minimal, premiums expensive, and potential customers uninterested. The state's finances, in deficit for the past two years, should make the case for more federal help (as would be forthcoming with a federal health plan), not less. And why would lawmakers deny constituents a chance at lower health-insurance premiums overall?

    Yet senators and house members ... are proposing a constitutional amendment that would "prohibit laws or rules from compelling any person, employer, or health care provider to participate in any health care system."
    "Both front-running candidates for governor in 2010, Republican Bill McCollum and Democrat Alex Sink, have so far exercised their own opt-out:"
    They don't address the option directly. But McCollum makes a point that should interest actuarians and people who pay health premiums: At a minimum, federal health-care reform would ban insurers from dropping the sick or preventing those with pre-existing conditions from buying insurance. States would not be allowed to get around those portions of reform, should they become law. Absent a public option, which could cover anyone who applies, some private insurers would not survive if they had to carry the riskiest customers.

    It's a twist on conservatives' standard fear of the public option -- that it would drive private insurers out of business, because they wouldn't be able to compete with the government. Gov. Charlie Crist, a candidate for U.S. Senate, maintains that a public option would lead to a government "take-over" of health care. He should know better.
    "Opt-out posturing".

    See you in Havana

    Sen. Richard G. Lugar, R-Ind., ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Rep. Howard L. Berman, D-Calif., chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, write this morning that "U.S. law lets American citizens travel to any country on earth, friend or foe -- with one exception: Cuba. It's time for us to scrap this anachronistic ban, imposed during one of the chilliest periods of the Cold War." "Lift the ban -- let Americans visit Cuba".


    "There was nothing secret about funding for a Panhandle state college, former House Speaker Ray Sansom argued to an investigative panel." "Sansom: Budget no secret".

    Follow the money

    "The board of state-run Citizens Property Insurance Corp. approved what is likely the largest no-bid contract in its history last month, awarding a $60 million deal to a software company in Jacksonville." "$60 million no-bid contract awarded by Citizens insurance creates storm cloud of discontent".

    "Sink raised the bar"

    The Saint Petersburg Times editorial board: "Alex Sink raised the bar in the race for Florida governor Sunday by calling for the state to end an outright ban that prevents gays and lesbians from adopting. Sink made the challenge in a speech to the state's largest gay rights group. Her approach could end the state-sponsored bigotry that denies vulnerable children safe, stable homes."

    Florida is the only state with a blanket ban barring adoption by gays — though the state, hypocritically, will allow them to serve as foster parents. The adoption ban is an embarrassment in the 21st century and a pound-foolish policy in a state where nearly 20,000 kids languish in foster care awaiting permanent homes. ...

    [Sink's stand] says less about her than the sheep in Tallahassee over the past three decades who have not shown the courage or decency to remove the second-class status that homosexuals have in Florida by virtue only of their sexual orientation.
    "A stand against hypocrisy".

    CD 16

    George Bennett: "Democrat Chris Craft, running as a 'moderate and independent voice' in Republican-leaning congressional District 16, broke with many moderates in his party last week when he said he would have voted for the Democratic health care overhaul bill that recently passed in a 220-to-215 House squeaker." "Democrat Craft breaks with moderates, Slosberg eyes state House, local Dems warned of Palin-Limbaugh-Beck troika".

    See 'Ya

    "Crist's communications director formalized her resignation late Monday, warmly thanking the governor for about three years of interesting work but giving no indication what she plans to do next." "Crist's communications director makes resignation official".

    "Being mean to the little guy"

    "It pays to be nice. Just ask Mayor Roger Wishner, who helped kill a multimillion-dollar city partnership with Merrill Lynch because parent company Bank of America has been accused of being mean to the little guy." "Sunrise to Bank of America: Clean up your act".

    Oregon versus Florida

    Mike Thomas: "Oregon and Florida have polar-opposite tax structures."

    Florida has no income tax. It relies largely on a regressive sales tax that takes a bigger bite out of low-income residents.

    Oregon has no sales tax. It relies on corporate taxes, and a progressive income tax that takes a bigger bite out of high-wage earners. It is a mecca of wealth redistribution.

    The problem is that when corporations and rich people take big hits, tax collections fall off a cliff. A very progressive income tax is much more volatile than a soak-the-poor sales tax.

    Oregon's state revenues have plunged 19 percent, compared with 11.5 percent in Florida.

    Oregon responded by cutting the state's budget, but also by raising taxes by 22 percent on the wealthy. It also raised taxes on businesses and taxes on gasoline — and borrowed $176 million for a stimulus package.

    Compare this response to Florida, where legislators have savagely slashed the budget and raised taxes on low-income residents through $2 billion in higher cigarette taxes and fees.

    Florida's version of a stimulus package is eliminating regulations that would prevent developers from building more empty houses for our declining population.

    But the budgetary bloodletting, mandated by a strict balanced-budget requirement in the constitution, means we already have gone through a lot of the suffering other states have been trying to avoid with borrowing.

    "According to Florida's budget office," reports Pew, "haggling [sic] through those hard choices this year has put the state on firmer long-term fiscal footing."

    However, that footing will give way quickly if people don't stop moving to Idaho.

    Florida's recovery is based on enough people moving here to fill 300,000 empty houses so we can begin building more houses.

    Oregon's recovery is based on people buying stuff again.
    Much more here: "Finally! Oregon is worse off than Florida".


    "Up in smoke: Tax snuffing cigarette sales in Florida".


    "Voters in Miami will soon be heading to the polls to elect a city commissioner to fill the seat vacated by their new mayor." "Election held for Miami mayor's former post".

    Daily Rothstein

    "Attorneys in the firm now believe 'the client' was actually Rothstein." "Rothstein sought countries without extradition treaties for 'client'".


    The Sun-Sentinel editorial board: "Tri-Rail seems closer to gaining a reliable source of funding as state lawmakers realize that Florida's hope for high-speed rail hinges on the success of its only existing commuter line. So, as chances that a special session next month improves, and with it the opportunity to usher in the start of a new passenger rail system in Florida, there's still one very important person who isn't yet on board — Gov. Charlie Crist." "High-speed rail hopes still hinge on Tri-Rail".


    "Corruption County: Masilotti wants out of slammer early".

    Sink, Gelber SBA reform proposals

    The Orlando Sentinel editorial board: "Currently the agency is overseen by the Florida Board of Trustees, made up of the state's governor, chief financial officer and attorney general."

    CFO Alex Sink has proposed a series of reforms. They include adding a financial expert to the trustees, conducting more independent audits and increasing the involvement of local governments and pension holders.

    Ms. Sink was calling for reform before she launched her campaign for governor and became the Democrats' front-runner. Yet her ideas haven't quite caught fire with the other two trustees, Gov. Charlie Crist and Attorney General Bill McCollum. Mr. McCollum happens to be the leading Republican candidate for governor.

    Meanwhile, a Democratic candidate for attorney general, state Sen. Dan Gelber of Miami Beach, has called for replacing the attorney general on the Board of Trustees with the fourth member of the Florida Cabinet, the commissioner of agriculture. Mr. Gelber's reasoning makes sense; the attorney general shouldn't be part of an agency he might have to investigate.
    "Fix investment board".

    The cranes are coming

    "The flock of endangered birds is headed for St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge in north Florida." "Whooping cranes make annual journey to Fla.".

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