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 Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Crist to bare his fangs

    William March: "Faced with an onslaught of bad news for his U.S. Senate campaign, Gov. Charlie Crist is starting to fight back."
    Crist allies say he will begin taking a more aggressive approach to his Republican primary opponent, former Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio, who has seized the momentum in their race during the past few months.
    "Crist might be moving against Rubio earlier than he had planned."
    Traditionally, said GOP political consultant Corey Tilley, public campaigning in Florida begins after the election year's legislative session ends, which would mean May 2010. The public pays little attention before then, Tilley said.

    "Deciding when to launch your strategy is what campaigns are all about," he said. "Sometimes it takes discipline to wait until the timing is right." ...

    But the Rubio buzz among party insiders and political junkies "is becoming problematic," said another Tallahassee GOP strategist, Geoffrey Becker.

    "It's distracting," Becker said. "He's got to get control over it."

    Crist recently moved [Eric Eikenberg] to the campaign from his position as governor's office chief of staff, with indications the move was made sooner than planned. He also added a media spokeswoman to what had been a skeleton campaign staff.

    Crist has a long way to go to restore the air of charmed invincibility he once had.
    "Crist taking off gloves earlier than expected". Meanwhile, "Rubio draws cheers and checks at Stuart luncheon".

    2.3 million Floridians on food stamps

    The Orlando Sentinel editorial board: "Floridians pained by the recession don't need another report on the state's troubled economy to tell them how tough things are."

    Eleven percent of them already know it because they can't find work.

    Hundreds of thousands know it because they can't keep up with the rent or mortgage on their homes.

    And 2.3 million Floridians know it because they're pulling food stamps from their pocket books.
    "But when the widely respected Pew Center on the States issues a report "
    that lumps the Sunshine State with economic disasters like California and Michigan — when it warns Floridians their fortunes will worsen before they improve because of their systemically vulnerable state and local economies — residents should expect those setting policy to tell them how they'd strive to improve Florida's prospects.

    Certainly, it's the very least they should expect of those now running for key elective positions around the state — for U.S. senator, for example, and for governor, Cabinet offices, legislative and mayoral offices.

    But little's being said. That quickly needs to change.
    "Weighing Florida's hard times". See also "" and "".

    Open mouth ...

    "Rooney criticizes federal government, which claims jobs were created in non-existent congressional districts".

    Expect "an eye-roll from the feds"

    The Daytona Beach News Journal editorial board: "Give us the money. You can keep the rules."

    That's the message two powerful state senators are considering delivering to Washington about Florida's vast and still-growing Medicaid program. It's hard to imagine any response but an eye-roll from the feds, who have watched Florida's fumbling attempts at Medicaid reform for the past five years.

    The idea is being floated by Sen. Don Gaetz, R-Niceville and chairman of the Health Regulation Committee, and Sen. Mike Haridopolos, R-Titusville.
    "An estimated 3.8 million Floridians lack health insurance, and nearly 800,000 of those are children -- giving Florida the second-worst rate of child health coverage in the nation."
    As for the state's experiment in privatizing Medicaid, only zealots can characterize it as a success. ...

    If the state can't police its current small-scale experiment, which only affects 10 percent of Medicaid recipients, there's little reason to believe that it would adequately oversee a program covering 2.2 million low-income Floridians, let alone those who would othewise be covered under a Medicaid expansion. If the Gaetz/Haridopolis request makes it out of the Legislature, it should be greeted by a rapid "no" from federal authorities.
    "Florida can't justify taking control of Medicaid".

    Skyrocketing UC taxes

    "Unemployment compensation taxes paid by Florida businesses will skyrocket next year due to the state's high jobless rate - 11 percent in September." "Fla. unemployment tax to skyrocket".

    Enough with going to the barricades

    Andres Oppenheimer doesn't believe in going to the barricades.

    "Not enough"

    "Not enough money. Not enough progress."

    Florida is violating the state constitution by not pouring enough money into schools and relentlessly focusing on high-stakes testing policies that aren't getting good results, says a lawsuit expected to be filed Wednesday in Leon County Circuit Court in Tallahassee.

    Prepared by a team of lawyers that includes a former Democratic House speaker and a Republican Party patriarch, the suit takes aim at virtually every aspect of the sweeping education overhaul engineered by former Gov. Jeb Bush and kept largely intact by his successor, Gov. Charlie Crist.

    Low graduation rates, stagnant test scores, a persistent effort by lawmakers to shift education costs to school districts - all of it shows Florida is not living up to a constitutional mandate to provide high quality schools, the suit says.
    "The arguments may boil down to what judges think of words like 'paramount' and 'high quality.'"
    In 1998, 71 percent of Florida voters approved a constitutional amendment that says educating children is a ``paramount duty'' of the state - and that the state shall make ``adequate provision'' for a school system that is ``uniform, efficient, safe, secure and high quality.''

    The suit says the state isn't living up to those promises and is "misusing'' the FCAT to retain some students and keep others from graduating: "Overemphasis on high stakes testing for multiple purposes has not improved overall performance generally.''

    The suit offers a barrage of statistics as proof: No. 29 in average teacher salaries. No. 39 in per pupil spending. No. 2 in the percentage of teachers who report being threatened by students.

    The suit also points to FCAT scores. "Statewide, there is an alarming number of students who are not reading at grade level: 63% of Tenth Graders, 53% of Ninth Graders, and 46% of Eighth Graders,'' it says.
    "The defendants are listed as"
    the state Board of Education, Education Commissioner Eric J. Smith, Senate President Jeff Atwater and House Speaker Larry Cretul.

    Board Chairman T. Willard Fair did not return a call for comment*. Smith, Atwater and Cretul all declined comment because they had not yet seen the suit.

    Bush declined comment, too. But Kristy Campbell, a spokeswoman for one of his education foundations, foreshadowed the statistical duel that lies ahead.
    "Lawsuit seeks to overhaul state education policies".

    - - - - - - - - - -
    This is the same Fair who said of Jebbie, "there is no greater person on this Earth than you. I love you."

    Raw political courage

    "Crist: Ban texting while driving".

    Travel time

    "At a time when state employees face travel restrictions to save money, Florida's top juvenile justice official racked up $44,000 on travel -- much of it for commercial flights between his office in the capital and St. Petersburg, where his family lives."

    Frank Peterman, secretary of the Department of Juvenile Justice, has flown at taxpayer expense 68 times between Tampa and Tallahassee since taking office in February 2008, at a cost of almost $20,000. Many flights left Tallahassee on Thursday or Friday and brought him back to Tallahassee on Tuesday.

    Peterman defended his travel as a legitimate and necessary way to get away from the bureaucratic atmosphere of Tallahassee and close to his staff members and young clients, who are concentrated in seven urban counties, including Pinellas.
    "Travel expenses by Florida's juvenile justice chief raise questions".

    "New taxes could scuttle the deal"

    "Crist hopes lawmakers are close to agreeing on a special session for rail projects, but concerns over new taxes could scuttle the deal." "Bullet train might get special legislative session". See also "Crist hopeful special session on rail is near". Related: "SunRail hits new snag -- how to pay for TriRail".

    No-bid $60 million contract

    The Saint Petersburg Times editorial board: "Florida's state-run insurer absolutely should be rooting out fraud and incompetence that is inflating hurricane-mitigation discounts for homeowners. But Citizens Property Insurance Corp.'s board of directors should not award a no-bid $60 million contract to a private vendor who has not tackled a project of this size." "A bad deal from Citizens".

    Openly gay mayor

    "Keechl is Broward's first openly gay mayor".

    Daily Rothstein

    "Rothstein asks to voluntarily give up law license".

    Hometown Democracy

    Scott Maxwell on Hometown Democracy: "Pols fear power of the people".

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