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 30, 2009

Subsidies for me, but not for thee

    "Top Florida lawmakers are balking at Congress' plans to help more poor people get healthcare, though they've protected an entitlement of their own: free insurance premiums."
    Taxpayers have been stuck with covering the premiums -- at a cost of about $45 million a year -- even while lawmakers pledged to scrimp as they grappled with three straight years of budget shortfalls.

    Florida doesn't limit the subsidies to statewide officeholders like Gov. Charlie Crist and Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, or to legislators like Senate President Jeff Atwater and House Speaker Larry Cretul. About 27,479 state employees -- many of them high-level bureaucrats and political appointees -- also get the break. So do their families.

    "I think it's appropriate. I think it's part of the compensation package for a public servant,'' Crist said. "It's a policy that has been supported by the Legislature and I'm comfortable with it.''

    The governor plans to add his wife of nearly one year, wealthy businesswoman and philanthropist Carole Crist, as well as her two daughters from a previous marriage to his health plan on Jan. 1. The girls attend an all-girls private school in New York and live with their father, who owns a jet-rental company.

    "There is not a residency requirement for coverage,'' explained Crist spokesman Sterling Ivey.

    Only six other states offer free insurance premiums to some employees and their families, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Even members of Congress pay monthly fees for health benefits.
    "Of the government workers who get free insurance premiums in Florida, 2,431 earn more than $100,00"
    Crist's Republican rival for the U.S. Senate, former House Speaker Marco Rubio, also opposes the healthcare bills in Congress. He received premium-free insurance during his eight years in the Legislature and never proposed scaling back benefits to save tax dollars.

    Rubio declined to comment for this story.
    "Crist, others get major medical subsidy".

    Grubbing for dollars

    Scott - you're amazing! ...

    image description

    ... Charlie Crist

    You call yourself a "conservative"?

    "By a wide margin, Americans consider Rush Limbaugh the nation's most influential conservative voice."blockquote>Those are the results of a poll conducted by "60 Minutes" and Vanity Fair magazine and issued Sunday. The radio host was picked by 26 percent of those who responded, followed by Fox News Channel's Glenn Beck at 11 percent. Actual politicians — former Vice President Dick Cheney and former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin — were the choice of 10 percent each."Poll: Limbaugh is most influential conservative".

    "Wildly inconsistent"

    "Are you a government official or an elected official looking for box seats to a sporting event? No problem. Need a new set of golf clubs? You got it. What about a fancy dinner for you and your spouse? No sweat."

    There is a legion of influence peddlers just waiting to help out. And it's mostly legal. Officials are required only to file a quarterly Form 9 disclosure report with the state for any gift worth more than $100. And if they don't, they could be fined by the Florida Commission on Ethics.

    Yet an analysis of the last five years of Form 9 data from the few officials who filed suggests that compliance with the law in Broward and Palm Beach counties is wildly inconsistent and enforcement is nearly nonexistent.
    "Few officials report gifts under state ethics law, and few are fined for it".

    Related: "Govt. Corruption Pt. 1" and "Tweak rules, change law".


    "U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek wants to be seen as more than a politician."

    Meek is seeking the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Republican Sen. Mel Martinez. Meek hopes to collect the more than 100,000 signatures needed to get on the ballot.
    "Senate hopeful Meek aims for a strong start".

    "Better districts mean better representation"

    The Daytona Beach News Journal editorial board:

    You live in Daytona Beach near the mall. Your state senator, John Thrasher, lives in Jacksonville. One of your co-workers lives a few miles away in Holly Hill. Her state senator, Tony Hill, also lives in Jacksonville.

    A third co-worker lives in Ormond Beach. So does Evelyn Lynn, his state senator.

    Which lawmaker is more likely to take your concerns seriously? ...

    The district lines for the state Legislature -- particularly the Senate -- and Florida's Congressional seats make no sense, except to the lawmakers who drew them in 2002. Take the state Senate map. It was drawn to maximize GOP control of the Legislature's upper chamber, giving Republicans an electoral advantage in 26 of the 40 districts.
    The editors want to make sure you
    don't blame Republicans. For decades, Democrats did exactly the same thing, crafting lines that secured the party's dominance of the state Legislature through the early 1990s. In the early days of Florida government, district lines also helped consolidate power in sparsely populated north Florida at the expense of central and southern regions.

    Next year's census will kick off another round of redistricting in 2012. This time, things could be different.

    For the past two years, a group called Fair Districts Florida has been collecting signatures on a pair of proposed constitutional amendments that would force more regularly shaped, compact districts. The amendments would ban districting plans drawn to favor incumbents or political parties and encourage the creation of districts that are compact and, when possible, follow county and city boundaries.

    It's hard to say how the amendments would affect the redistricting process. But it seems almost certain that districts like the ones held by Thrasher and Hill -- which are more than 120 miles long but only a few miles wide in spots -- would be outlawed.
    "Dividing up fairness".

    "Citizens is a political creature"

    Jim Saunders: "Citizens Property Insurance Corp. is a bane to some people, a necessity to others."

    But don't mistake Citizens -- a state program that has more than 1 million customers -- with other insurers.

    Citizens is a political creature.

    When lawmakers didn't want Citizens to compete with private companies, they required it to charge high rates. When lawmakers wanted to give relief to hurricane-addled homeowners, they suppressed its rates.

    But here's something to think about the next time politicians or customers debate whether premiums are too high or too low: Citizens has never charged the proper rates to insure homes.

    One result is that Citizens would likely run out of money paying claims after a major hurricane. That would force residents and businesses throughout the state -- including non-Citizens policyholders -- to chip in to cover the shortfall.

    Another result is that the patchwork rate history has led to Citizens customers in some parts of Florida subsidizing customers in other areas.
    "Costly political workings of high-risk state insurer".

    Temporary thing

    "Snowbirds a welcome flock to South Florida businesses".

    A better neighbor

    The Orlando Sentinel editorial board: "Earlier this year, regulators made State Farm pay policyholders more than $100 million in credits and refunds because it failed to honor state rules requiring the company to tell customers about discounts they can get for hardening their homes against storms."

    State Farm said it needed to impose a 47-percent rate increase on homeowners, only regulators and an administrative law judge found the request actuarially unsound and insupportable.

    Then, because it couldn't get its 47 percent, State Farm said it would pack its bags, shed its remaining homeowner policies (it previously had cut loose thousands of loyal customers it considered too high-risk) and leave Florida.

    But now the company's slowing its packing because…it's negotiating with Florida about possibly staying!

    Hey, if State Farm wants to stay — something we thought it planned to do all along if it managed to wrest some concessions from the state — let it.

    So long as state regulators continue to reject excessive rate hikes. And so long as they keep working to make State Farm a better neighbor.
    Much more here: "Don't sacrifice homeowners".

    4 sale

    "Condo prices have fallen more in Orlando during the past year than in any other metro area in the state and, most likely, the country, according to state and national Realtor reports." "Prices plummet; Orlando condo market worst in U.S.".

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