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, November 23, 2009

A "guy perceived ... as having no principles"

    "Crist has capitalized on huge campaign finance advantages to win three statewide elections in the past decade, and he's off to a quick start in his latest campaign."
    But could Crist's prodigious fund raising, which strategists agree has been a key to his decade of electoral success, prove to be the Achilles' heel of his 2010 U.S. Senate campaign?

    Three of Crist's top fund-raisers have been hamstrung by federal investigations in the past nine months, and a fourth, Jupiter sports agent and real estate investor Marc Roberts, is facing a federal lawsuit alleging he defrauded a business partner out of $100 million to support his own "lavish personal lifestyle."

    Crist has "never discriminated" in whom he takes money from, said a former state Republican Party staffer with knowledge of Crist's fund raising. "Now he's facing the consequences of not being careful. And it raises questions about his judgment." ...

    But some political strategists say that as pocketbook issues such as the state's 11 percent unemployment rate take center stage in political debates, the questions surrounding Crist's fund-raisers give his opponents a line of attack to build on.

    "The problem for Crist is that he's already a guy perceived within much of his party as having no principles," Democratic strategist Steve Schale said. "So that narrative becomes easier to write, whether it's factual or not."
    "Will donor scandals doom Crist's Senate bid?" See also "Could Crist’s money men legal woes harm him?".

    Daily Rothstein

    "Complete coverage".

    Council on Efficient Government kaput

    Bill Cotterell: "Consider Florida's Council on Efficient Government. That's a seven-member panel of state officials and business experts set up in 2006 in response to then-Gov. Jeb Bush's privatization binge, some of which (think People First) wasn't working out so well."

    With only four staff members (including a vacant executive director post, to be discussed shortly), the council has done a remarkably efficient job of tracking state "outsourcing" projects. It also provides consultation and training to agencies in developing "business cases" for major privatization plans, to help the taxpayers get their money's worth.

    So now, to save money, the Department of Management Services proposes to shut down the efficient-government council. Actually, DMS doesn't want to, but all state agencies had to go through a fiscal "exercise" to show how — if they were forced to — they would live on 10 percent less than their current budgets.

    "In the budget exercise that the departments are required to go through, the council is once again on our cut list," DMS Secretary Linda South, who chairs the council, said at its meeting last week. "That's disturbing for the council staff and the work being done by the council."

    Well, yes. That's why the executive director position is vacant. South said he quit recently, and there's no point recruiting a new captain of a possibly sinking ship.
    "Council on Efficient Government is back on chopping block".

    LeMieux's wingnut folly

    The Miami Herald editorial board: "When George LeMieux was appointed three months ago to replace retiring U.S. Senator Mel Martinez, the 40-year-old former chief of staff to Gov. Charlie Crist vowed to focus on making government more efficient and effective. He has a strange way of going about it."

    In his first foray into foreign affairs, Sen. LeMieux has placed a "hold'' on the nomination of President Obama's choice to become ambassador to Brazil, putting a freeze on the Senate confirmation process. This ensures that U.S. relations with the largest country in Latin America are neither efficient nor effective. ...

    He told The Herald's Washington Bureau that he has heard concerns about the nominee's record from constituents and fellow members of Congress, including Cuban-American members of the House.
    "Unblock ambassador nomination".

    Hmmm ... we wonder of those unnamed "Cuban-American members of the House" will be supporting Crist, or at least staying neutral in the Senate primary?

    When LeMieux runs for office ...

    The Saint Petersburg Times editorial board writes that LeMieux's manuvering "appears to be about scoring political points with a vocal Republican constituency upset about the Obama administration's relaxing of relations with Cuba and the role the president's nominee played in that. It's the second time LeMieux has used a hold to affect anti-Castro interests."

    LeMieux — who opened a political action committee last week that suggests a future run for office — isn't just currying favor with a group that gives generously to political campaigns. His moves help his political benefactor and former boss, Gov. Charlie Crist. The governor faces a Cuban-American, former state House Speaker Marco Rubio, in the 2010 Republican primary for the Senate seat LeMieux is keeping warm. ...

    LeMieux isn't big on nuance. He prefers the blunt instrument of partisan politics to the finesse of bipartisan compromise. He intended to vote against taking up health care reform in the Senate. And earlier he claimed an independent federal panel's new mammogram guidelines were the Democratic-led government's first attempt to force "rationing" — ignoring that the guidelines were based on new research reviewed by a panel of doctors and scientists who were all appointed when Bush was president.

    LeMieux was given a rare opportunity. Without having to pander to special interests or raise a single campaign dollar, he entered the Senate when Crist appointed him to fill the vacancy left by Mel Martinez, who resigned. And he won't be staying long. Yet rather than use this freedom to make hard decisions, he appears more interested in laying the groundwork for a future political campaign. Florida voters should remember that when he needs their support — and not just support from his old boss — to win his next job.
    "Partisan politics isn't service".

    Haridopolos suggests Medicaid is a "failure"

    Aaron Deslatte reports that

    Two of the most powerful men in the Florida Senate took a trip to Washington last week that could foretell the state's eventual response to the federal health-care debate.

    Sens. Mike Haridopolos, the Merritt Island Republican next in line to lead the chamber, and Don Gaetz, a Niceville Republican who co-founded a national hospice company, met with anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist, the Heritage Foundation and other conservative actors critical of the Democratic health-care reform plans.

    They came home with a radical – if still embryonic – idea: blowing up Medicaid, the federal-state program that provides health coverage to the poor and elderly.

    All Washington does is set rules for Florida's $18 billion-and-growing program; the state is left to figure out how to run it. That led the two lawmakers, flabbergasted with its spiraling costs, to pose a question: What would happen without all the federal red tape?

    "It's not like this is a great program. It's been called by many a failure," says Haridopolos, slated to become Senate president next November.
    We'll see how this Medicaid is a "failure" remark plays when Haridopolos makes his bid for statewide office.

    Hometown Democracy

    The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "If Floridians approve a constitutional amendment on the November 2010 ballot, local voters would have to vote on every change to a city or county comprehensive plan — the blueprint for development — no matter how innocuous. Ballots would be full of items that have little impact on, and make little sense to, the average voter." "The town that saved Florida".

    "Conservative, right-wing politicians"

    "All along, everyone involved in Martin Gill's adoption of two foster boys agreed that the best possible home for the children was with Gill and his partner."

    Everyone, that is, except the lawyers hired by the Department of Children and Families who asked an appeals court to reverse the adoption and "make the children available" for adoption to someone else.

    "There was an audible gasp in the packed courtroom when the attorney general's lawyer said that," said ACLU Florida spokesman Brandon Hensler, one of the dozens of attendees during oral arguments before the 3rd District Court of Appeal in Miami in August.

    "My recollection was that he seemed uncomfortable saying it, but felt compelled to and the words flowed painfully and quietly from his mouth," Hensler said. ...

    Deputy Solicitor General Tim Osterhaus, who works for McCollum and made the oral argument on Aug. 26, was asked by Judge Vance Salter what relief the agency was seeking from the court.

    Osterhaus asked the three-judge panel to reverse the adoption and "make the children available for adoption."

    "It's a contradiction," said DCF spokeswoman Flora Beal. "We have no intention of removing the children from the Gill's custody."

    Osterhaus' response was the first mention that Gill's adopted children could be taken away, said Gill's ACLU attorney, Rob Rosenwald Jr. of Miami. ...

    "The child welfare professionals at DCF are firmly opposed to the ban. They testified at the trial that it gets in the way of them doing their job," Rosenwald said. "However, there are politicians and other people in the executive branch who are conservative, right-wing politicians who also drive policy."
    "DCF lawyer: Put gay man's kids back up for adoption". See also "DCF, lawyers at odds over fate of gay man’s adopted kids".

    "Lawsuits forcing state to reassess education "

    The Daytona Beach News Journal editorial board: "'The education of children is a fundamental value of the people of the State of Florida.'"

    Except when it's not. Over the 10 years since Florida voters wrote that requirement into the state constitution, the Legislature has reduced state funding for education dramatically, shifting the burden of public schools to local taxpayers and reducing overall per-student funding. Between 2006 and the current school year, per-pupil funding dropped by nearly $1,700. ...

    [One] suit points out that Florida has an abysmally low graduation rate, even using its own calculation method (which the U.S. Department of Education took exception to, leading the state to abandon it for next year). ...

    [T]he average teacher salary in the state is $5,400 below the national average. ...

    A final point worth nothing -- both lawsuits take issue with Florida's consistent reliance on high-stakes testing to prove educational achievement. They assert that the use of the FCAT and other standardized tests to make decisions affecting school funding and student advancement has endangered the state's ability to provide high-quality education. It's the same argument educational experts have made from the beginning -- standardized tests are useful when measuring individual student achievement, but dangerous when used to assess the quality of an educational system. Florida's poor performance on other key measures -- such as graduation rate -- demonstrate the folly of depending on standardized tests for definitive assessments of schools.
    "Kids deserve better".

    Not that long ago

    "The Civil Rights-Era Cold Case Initiative began in 2006 with a solemn charge: Reopen long dormant cases from a period in America's history when blacks and whites were killed in the South's bloody fight to maintain a segregated society." "FBI wants public's help in civil rights killings".

    Remember "Willis V. McCall"? "To the "good people'' of Lake County - bankers, grove owners, white people in general - Sheriff Willis V. McCall was the law. The rest of the people were on their own." "A Southern sheriff's law and disorder".

    Precisely what is Charlie's "day job"?

    Adam Smith on Crist's "bad imagery:"

    As Florida's unemployment rate ticked up to 11.2 percent, Charlie Crist was focused again on political business. On Thursday, he skipped a board meeting of the economic development group Enterprise Florida so he could attend a Republican Governors Association conference in Texas. On Friday, he was out of state raising money for his Senate campaign.

    "I just think it's so important to stay focused on jobs, jobs, jobs," Crist said before heading into a Washington, D.C., fundraiser co-hosted by his U.S. Senate appointee George LeMieux.

    Before heading to New York for another fundraiser, Crist said he didn't expect to debate his Republican rival Marco Rubio any time soon because he was too busy with his "day job."
    "Crist's priorities".

    Meantime, Jebbie is putting a smile on Marco's face: "Jeb raps Crist, defends proposed rate increases".

    Class size

    "Senate looking at class-size change".


    "To lawmakers staring down the barrel of a $2.6 billion budget deficit next year, the prediction of $2.3 billion a year in direct revenue from oil and gas drilling in Florida waters may sound like a dream come true." "Some leery of revenue promised by oil". Related: "Military bases could feel drilling's impact" and "Money speaks and the energy industry has contributed a lot".

    Florida "out of the legal mainstream"

    The Sun-Sentinel editorial board: "Florida is ground zero for a question that the U.S. Supreme Court is pondering: Is it constitutional for judges to send children to prison for the rest of their lives for crimes other than murder? The case before the high court demonstrates how far out of the legal mainstream Florida is on this issue." "Florida stands alone in putting away juveniles".

    "None of them existed when McCollum first took office"

    Adam Smith: "Republicans won widely watched governor's races in Virginia and New Jersey this month. How those results are interpreted has a lot to do with how one sees Florida's 2010 gubernatorial race that's expected to pit Democratic Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, above right, against Republican Attorney General Bill McCollum."

    If you're on Sink's team, those results point less to partisan preferences than a deep anti-incumbent sentiment across the country. You try to portray McCollum, first elected to Congress in 1981 and now in his 14th election, as a lifelong politician and poster boy for status quo politics.

    Dozens of Democratic fundraisers, including a representative from the national group Emily's List, gathered Thursday night at Sink's Thonotosassa home for a pep talk and strategy session with senior campaign aides. They saw a screen featuring several iconic logos — including Nintendo, the A-Team, MTV and Microsoft Windows — and were asked what they all had in common.

    The answer? None of them existed when McCollum first took office.
    "Election message? Call an interpreter".

    "Nanny whips us into shape"

    The Tallahassee Democrat editorial board:

    Florida has become a "primary" seat belt state, allowing cops to stop people just for driving or riding unbuckled, after years of resistance. Federal financial pressure and the state budget crunch played a role there, but so did the idea that we all pay, through insurance premiums and taxes, for the extra deaths and injuries suffered by people who refuse to buckle up.

    Same for those who won't quit smoking, or lose weight, or who insist on cell-phone use behind the wheel (despite evidence that cell phone distraction is rivaling or replacing alcohol as a factor in traffic fatalities.)

    They are driving up the costs, suffering and grief for everybody through conduct they could control.

    But get ready. Laws, insurance premiums, regulations that marginalize the offending conduct — all will be brought to bear as Nanny whips us into shape.
    "What Others Say: Nanny state" (originally an editorial in The News-Press, in Fort Myers, FL.)


    "Jobless rates soar for immigrants".

    "A small army" of workers about to lose their jobs

    The Orlando Sentinel editors: "Unfortunately, the economic turmoil for Florida's Space Coast is just getting started. Shuttle contractors for NASA already have begun cutting jobs there in anticipation of the program's end. Last month, more than 250 positions were eliminated."

    If shuttles are retired as planned, a small army of highly skilled, well-paid workers on the Space Coast will lose their jobs; NASA has put the number at 7,000. Thousands more jobs that depend on them also will disappear. It could be five years or more before the next manned space program, Constellation, is ready to launch from Kennedy Space Center.

    With such a disaster looming for the region's economy, it's imperative for federal, state and local officials together to explore every reasonable opportunity to keep this work force employed and productive.
    "Keep work force on job".

    "Discounts being slashed or eliminated"

    "Homeowners who got insurance discounts after fortifying their homes with shutters are facing new inspections that could lead to their discounts being slashed or eliminated." "Insurers reducing, eliminating discounts for storm fortifications".

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