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 Saturday, December 05, 2009

"Behind closed doors"

    "With the House poised next week for a floor vote, most of the real work in a special session on rail issues disappeared Friday behind closed doors." "Success of rail deal is far from certain".

    "Florida lawmakers dug into a 49-page bill Friday that conjures a future of passenger trains zipping through the state."
    But for the proposed SunRail commuter-rail system in Central Florida, the bill comes down to this: Will lawmakers go along with a legal agreement that is critical to the project?

    The agreement would help shield railroad company CSX Transportation from financial liability if one of its freight trains collides with a SunRail commuter train.

    Without the agreement, CSX won't sell 61 miles of tracks to the state. And without the state owning the tracks, SunRail won't happen. ...

    Bills that called for similar legal protections died in the Senate in 2008 and spring 2009, jeopardizing the SunRail project that would ultimately stretch from DeLand to Osceola County.

    But legislative leaders, in a special session that started Thursday, have offered a revised proposal to try to ease concerns about the CSX agreement.
    "Will legal caveat defeat SunRail?". See also "For aspiring Atwater, rail vote is crucial" and The Orlando Sentinel editorial board's "Room for more riders".

    "Still a 'dropout factory'"

    "State claims lower dropout rate, but not all are happy".

    Florida's jobless rate expected to climb into 2010

    "A surprise dip in the national jobless rate in November has some analysts tweaking their forecasts upward, but most expect Florida's jobless rate to keep climbing into 2010." "In Florida workplace, more pain, then gain".

    Crist's "political pals"

    Scott Maxwell: "It's great that Gov. Charlie Crist got his wish for a grand jury to look into public corruption in this state."

    Let's just hope Crist's own associates and appointees won't be excluded from the investigation.

    One of them, after all, is Scott Rothstein, a Fort Lauderdale lawyer who was arrested this week, charged with running a $1.2 billion investment scam.

    Maybe you don't know about Rothstein or care about the case. But what you should care about is Crist appointed Rothstein to a judicial-nominating committee down in South Florida.

    He did so after Rothstein cut checks to his own gubernatorial campaign — and precisely four days before records show Rothstein gave $140,000 to the Republican Party of Florida.

    Mixing politics with judicial appointments should sound familiar to Central Floridians.

    You may remember that Crist also stocked a judicial-nominating committee in Seminole County with political pals — including the chairman of the Seminole County GOP and the wife of State Rep. Chris Dorworth.

    The result? Seminole County residents got saddled with Mike Rudisill, a 33-year-old judge who was actually the least-experienced applicant on the short list and who had absolutely no courtroom experience handling some of the life-altering matters over which he can now preside. (Rudisill did, however, have a lot of political connections — including to several of those involved in his selection.)
    "The bench is no place for politics".


    "Everglades restoration advocates hail beginning of Tamiami Trail bridge".

    Political leadership required

    The Tallahassee Democrat editorial board: "On Friday, a little good news came from state economists who are predicting a slight increase in the state's general revenue — an estimate that indicates the end of four straight years of declining general revenue from sales tax."

    The preliminary numbers, according to The Associated Press, included a potential increase of between $126.5 million and $481.3 million for the current $66.5 billion budget and a possible increase for the budget year beginning next July 1 of between $102.9 million and $452.6 million. ...

    Floridians ought not take too much comfort in tiny upticks in revenue. In general, our state tax structure is lopsided and unfair in several ways. Heavy reliance on sales tax places the heaviest percentage burden on the lowest income households; the property tax caps that benefit longtime homeowners are still unfair to newcomers, owners of rental property and small businesses. We allow too many unwarranted sales tax exemptions and we don't successfully collect taxes on purchases that aren't exempted — specifically via online sales.

    The result is unhappiness among taxpayers who know that there is an imbalance that hits them in one way or another. At the same time the revenues from various taxes and fees are inadequate to respond to fundamental state obligations and services ranging from education — public schools through universities — to health care to human services for the elderly, poor, disabled, children and juveniles.

    These challenges require political leadership willing to tackle meaningful reform of our antiquated tax code, and also participation by citizens.
    "Good news, but a long way from tax trailblazing".

    Hawkins passes

    "Florida's ex-Sen. Paula Hawkins shook up 'boys club'". See also "From 'housewife' to Capitol Hill".

    Frequent fliers cleared

    "3 Florida officials cleared over use of state planes".

    Never mind that law stuff

    "Two campaign videos Pam Bondi posted on the internet Wednesday just after she filed to run for attorney general are drawing fire from her Republican primary opponents."

    The issue: Florida law prohibits a candidate from spending any money or authorizing any campaign expenses before filing, but the videos were produced before Bondi filed.

    "They clearly jumped the gun," said Rocky Pennington, political strategist for Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp, one of Bondi's opponents in the Republican primary for attorney general. "If you're running for the top legal spot in the state, you shouldn't start off by breaking the law."

    But the Bondi campaign said Friday the videos weren't illegal because they were produced using volunteers' time, to be used only if Bondi filed.

    "We have abided completely by Florida law," said Brett Doster, political consultant for Bondi's campaign.

    Bondi, a prosecutor in the Hillsborough state attorney's office for 18 years, is making her first run for public office. The videos were made by another campaign adviser, media consultant Adam Goodman of Tampa.
    "Bondi campaign videos draw fire from opponents".

    Temp employment rising

    "Temporary work on the rise locally, around the nation".

    Florida Commission on Ethics

    "Before sealing its doors and windows to secretly consider three legal complaints made by citizens against high-flying state officials, the Florida Commission on Ethics voted Friday to seek power to start its own investigations — with 10 times the fines at stake and a lowered standard of proof." "Ethics commission seeks power to begin its own investigations".

    Daily Rothstein

    "Herbert Stettin’s latest Chapter 11 case management study offers intriguing details about what the top five officers and directors at the Rothstein Rosenfeldt Adler law firm were reportedly paid: Rothstein, chairman and CEO, pulled in $35.7 million in 2008 and $10.5 million up to Oct. 31 of this year. Rosenfeldt, president and 50 percent partner, received more than $6 million in 2008 and $847,599 in the first 10 months of this year." "Records: Rothstein firm top dogs made big bucks". See also "Herald: Scott Rothstein paid himself $35 million last year".

    Local politics

    "Two suspended Levy County commissioners have been found guilty of federal bribery charges for approving of what they believed was a new development project." "2 former commissioners guilty of bribery charges".


    The Sun-Sentinel editorial board: "There is a simple, foolproof way for politicians and public officials to eliminate 'confusion' when it comes to accepting gifts."

    Officials are required by the state to file a quarterly disclosure report for any gift worth over $100. According to a Sun Sentinel analysis of of disclosure reports for the past five years, few officials even bother to file the form. And punishment for that failure is virtually non-existent, with only eight people statewide penalized for breaking disclosure laws on gifts in the past 18 years.

    The solution is simple, even quaint. But it's effective. Just say no.
    "Officials can't say no to gifts".

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