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, December 09, 2009

Never mind the bad investments

    "Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink's two-year push for broader oversight of Florida's investments was blocked Tuesday by two [Republican] colleagues on the Cabinet who help her oversee the nation's fourth-largest public pension fund." "Proposal to expand oversight of Florida's pension fund is blocked".

    "In a starkly partisan vote that split two candidates for governor, the board managing Florida's pension fund and treasury investments punted to the Republican-run Legislature on Tuesday on proposed changes to oversight of how the taxpayers' money is managed." "Sink loses push for more pension-fund oversight".

    AFL-CIO compromise

    "An important move came early Tuesday afternoon when the Florida AFL-CIO said it had reached a compromise with transportation officials in a dispute about protecting rail-worker jobs -- a major issue for many Democrats. 'It was a key to whether this legislation was going to pass,' said Senate Minority Leader Al Lawson, D-Tallahassee." "Senate backs SunRail project".

    "Another key was winning the eleventh-hour endorsement of the AFL-CIO, which had opposed SunRail and the surrounding legislation as a thinly veiled attempt at union busting. Talks between bill sponsors and union leaders went on for weeks and culminated in what AFL-CIO President Mike Williams called a compromise as the Senate took to the floor."

    Details were sketchy, but the deal revolved around the union getting some assurances that up to 200 jobs held by its members would be protected when the state buys the tracks SunRail will run on from the CSX railroad company in Jacksonville.

    "They had a greater degree of comfort," Senate President Jeff Atwater said of the union.

    Between the union backing off and the high-speed-rail push, SunRail proponents were able to pick up 11 votes compared with the previous regular session. They also got more help from the governor, who personally lobbied senators during the week to get their support for the bill.
    "SunRail rolls to approval".

    This wisdom from the union haters on The Orlando Sentinel editorial board: "Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer ... kept pressing Senate Democrats to listen less to labor leaders howling over a few lost union jobs and more to experts about how rail would produce thousands more jobs, some of which unions could snare." "All aboard, finally".

    More: "Senate passes rail bill; now heads to Crist", "Rail bill passes in Fla. Senate, 27-10" and "Senate clears rail bill".


    "Seeking a foothold in the U.S. Senate race, long-shot Democratic contender Maurice Ferre on Tuesday sided with his party's most liberal wing and said he opposes President Barack Obama's decision to send more troops to Afghanistan. Ferre's main rival, U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek of Miami, was among a minority of Democratic members of Congress who publicly praised the president's plan last week." "Ferre, Meek at odds on Afghan plan".

    Never mind the treason

    "Confederate forces have charged into federal territory and are hailing as victory a recent U.S. District Court's decision in their struggle to get a specialty license plate pushed through the Florida Legislature."

    "Confederate license plate proposal may rise again".

    And for those who wrote us in connection with previous posts on this issue, arguing the Freeper myth that secession was somehow not treason, we direct you to the following:
    - "When, therefore, Texas became one of the United States, she entered into an indissoluble relation. All the obligations of perpetual union, and all the guaranties of republican government in the Union, attached at once to the State. The act which consummated her admission into the Union was something more than a compact; it was the incorporation of a new member into the political body. And it was final. The union between Texas and the other States was as complete, as perpetual, and as indissoluble as the union between the original States. There was no place for reconsideration or revocation, except through revolution or through consent of the States. ...

    Considered therefore as transactions under the Constitution, the ordinance of secession, adopted by the convention and ratified by a majority of the citizens of Texas, and all the acts of her legislature intended to give effect to that ordinance, were absolutely null. They were utterly without operation in law. ...

    The authority for the performance of the first had been found in the power to suppress insurrection [to wit: secession and military action in support thereof] and carry on war; for the performance of the second, authority was derived from the obligation of the United States to guarantee to every State in the Union a republican form of government. The latter, indeed, in the case of a rebellion [to wit: secession and military action in support thereof] which involves the government of a State and for the time excludes the National authority from its limits, seems to be a necessary complement to the former." (Texas v. White, 74 U.S. 700 (1868))

    - "Persons who play only a peripheral role in a conspiracy to levy war are still considered traitors under the Constitution if an armed rebellion against the United States results. After the Civil War, for example, all Confederate soldiers were vulnerable to charges of treason, regardless of their role in the secession or insurrection of the Southern states. No treason charges were filed against these soldiers, however, because President Andrew Johnson issued a universal amnesty." (Law Encyclopedia: Treason)
    Enough, please, with the secession was "legal" stuff.

    "Scam capital"

    The Miami Herald editorial board: "South Florida is scam capital".

    "Is that leadership?"

    The Saint Petersburg Times editors: "As speaker of the Florida House last year, Marco Rubio supported rail as an economic investment. As a U.S. Senate candidate now, the Miami Republican waffles. The Legislature approved a revised rail package Tuesday. Gov. Charlie Crist, Rubio's Senate opponent, supports it. Rubio won't say where he stands. Is that leadership?" "Which is it, Marco?". Related: "Crist uses special session bill to criticize Senate opponent".

    Foreclosures skyrocket

    "The November tally is a 15 percent increase over November 2008. The region is on pace for nearly 97,000 foreclosure filings this year, up from 75,000 in 2008." "Foreclosure filings skyrocket in South Florida".

    Daily Rothstein

    "Rothstein's investors scrutinize banks |".

    "Empower Ethics Commission"

    The Daytona Beach News Journal editorial board: "After three tries, the Florida Supreme Court finally granted Gov. Charlie Crist's request for a far-flung statewide grand jury investigation of corruption and ethics violations in local and state governments. It's an effort bound to garner headlines and draw much attention to the problems of keeping government officials on the straight and narrow."

    But lawmakers shouldn't wait on the grand jury's report. Friday, the state Ethics Commission said it would ask the Legislature for greater power to investigate wrongdoing by public officials, and greater penalties for those who violate the state's ethics laws.

    It might seem incredible, but under current law the commission has no power to initiate investigations on its own. It must wait for a complaint to be filed by a citizen -- who risks personal liability if the allegations can't be proven. Giving the commission authority to launch an inquiry on its own would allow it to more quickly respond to breaking scandals.

    The commission is also seeking an increase in the maximum fine it can impose -- from $10,000 to $100,000 -- and a lessening of the burden of evidence required to prove a case.
    "Florida's corruption probe".

    McCollum desperate

    "The Bill McCollum for Governor campaign announced today that Kristy Campbell has been hired as communications director. Campbell, 28, most recently worked for former Gov. Jeb Bush’s two non-profit public policy organizations: the Foundation for Excellence in Education and the Foundation for Florida’s Future." "Former Jeb Bush, Mitt Romney staffer joins McCollum’s gubernatorial campaign".

    "Sweetheart deal"?

    Frank Cerabino suspects that "somewhere in the recesses of CSX's Jacksonville corporate office is a secret laboratory that distills batches of stupid potion — a bevy that has proven to be a real thirst quencher in the Florida Legislature."

    For how else can you explain the magical ability of a company that made $1.3 billion profit last year to routinely persuade the Florida Legislature to act as its wholly owned charity, handing over hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars in exchange for … oh, let me calculate this … nothing.

    Yes. It's got to be a potion.

    Lawmakers or zombie-bots?

    Here's the latest spell.

    The Florida Legislature is in special session, allegedly to vie for $2.5 billion of stimulus money to build a high-speed rail in Florida. CSX doesn't have anything to gain by high-speed rail, but it would like its legislative zombie-bots to partner up in a 61-mile commuter rail line called SunRail in Central Florida.

    And so after what must have been a round of group chug-a-lugging, Florida legislators moved ahead on SunRail, making their offer to CSX:

    The state's taxpayers would pay CSX $432 million for 61 miles of track. It plans to operate SunRail's commuter trains on this track between DeLand and Poinciana. CSX would be able to continue to run its freight trains on the track .

    And that's not even the stupidest part of this proposed deal.
    More here: "No logical explanation for state's rail deal with CSX". See also "Commuter rail measure criticized as 'sweetheart deal'".

    Dan, it's a just a union thing

    Dan Moffett is confused as to why Publix "is opposing an effort to treat Florida farmworkers fairly. Publix has taken a hard line against the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, a farmworker group [i.e., "union"] that wants to improve conditions in the fields and increase tomato pickers' pay with a penny-a-pound pass-through plan."

    The idea is for the state's largest tomato buyers to pay an extra penny per pound, with the extra money going to raise pickers' wages above the poverty level.

    Publix, a huge buyer of Florida tomatoes, has refused to participate in the plan, claiming that the company has no business getting involved in pay issues on the farm. "Publix has made it a practice not to intervene in labor disputes between a supplier, its employees and their union," says company spokeswoman Kim Jaeger. "Publix does pay fair market value for tomatoes; it's just not our place to determine what that rate should be, which is why this is a labor dispute that should be settled between the workers and the growers. We urge them to come to an immediate resolution."

    If this sounds like a prepared statement, that's because it is. Publix has been saying the same thing for many months. Meanwhile, some of the country's most prominent corporations and competitors — McDonald's, Subway, Yum! Brands (KFC, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell), Burger King and rival grocer Whole Foods Market — have been signing on to the plan.

    The extra penny has done nothing to hurt their business. Customers don't notice it. What they do notice, however, is companies that are trying to do the right thing. A social conscience is good for business, as Publix should know.

    In September, one of the nation's largest food service firms came on board. The Compass Group, which buys 10 million pounds annually and sends them to schools, hospitals, airports and prisons, agreed to pay 1.5 cents per pound more for the tomatoes it buys.

    U.S. Labor Secretary Hilda L. Solis hailed the agreement as "a huge victory" for farmworkers, and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said it was an "expression of the value of farmworkers in our agriculture system as a whole." Both secretaries also commended Compass for adopting a strict code of conduct to monitor farmworkers' safety and expose human slavery.

    The Immokalee coalition has worked with federal officials to prosecute cases against growers who have held foreign workers captive. The coalition has collected some honors of its own in recent years, from human rights groups, including the Robert F. Kennedy Justice Center. Everything Floridians have come to know about Publix suggests that the company should be participating in the farmworkers' initiative. Frankly, you'd expect Publix to be leading it.
    "Publix in the wrong aisle".

    How naive can Moffett possibly be, actually writing "you'd expect Publix to be leading it". Publix has always been virulently anti-union.

    The best they can do?

    "Brevard state Sen. Mike Haridopolos was formally designated Senate president for the 2010-12 term late Tuesday, promising to bring 'economic climate change' to Florida government in difficult budget times." "GOP names Haridopolos next Senate president".

    Remember Tri-Rail

    The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "Backers of the proposed Orlando-area SunRail commuter system wanted the public to think this week's special legislative session was about larger rail issues. Don't be fooled."

    The bottom line of the bill that passed the House on Monday and the Senate on Tuesday is that it allows SunRail to move forward. The favorable spinoff for South Florida is that the bill carves out money to sustain Tri-Rail, the West Palm Beach-to-Miami commuter line. The bill also fixes rail firmly in Florida's future by setting aside $60 million a year for a rail authority. And it puts Florida in the running for federal stimulus money to pay for high-speed rail, a potential $2.5 billion boon to be handed out early next year.
    "Session just barely on track".

    LeMieux wants to "Protect America's Future"

    "The political transformation of George LeMieux took another turn Tuesday as lobbyists and corporate interests lined up to fill his newly created political action committee with donations."

    Florida's new U.S. senator attended a fundraiser at Charlie Palmer Steak on Capitol Hill where guests handed over checks worth up to $5,000 for Protect America's Future PAC.

    Corporate interests on the host committee included CitiGroup and Honeywell International as well as the law-lobbying firm GrayRobinson.

    LeMieux, 40, has drawn notice for creating the PAC because he is a temporary lawmaker — appointed by Gov. Charlie Crist to fill out the final 16 months of retired Sen. Mel Martinez's term — but it signals his future political ambitions.
    "Donations to Sen. LeMieux's PAC feather his temporary job".

    Moody Bible Institute's finest

    "Lithia dentist Marc Johnson, a newcomer to politics, is challenging state Rep. Rachel Burgin in the Republican primary for her east Hillsborough County state House seat, saying voters in the district never had a legitimate say on their representative."

    Burgin replaced state Rep. Trey Traviesa, who was heavily favored to win re-election in 2008 but dropped out shortly before the election - too late for another Republican or prominent Democrat to file.

    Two county Republican Party officials picked Burgin, then a Moody Bible Institute student and Traviesa's legislative aide, as his ballot replacement. She won easily in the heavily GOP district.

    Johnson said Burgin, 27, "has good intentions at heart, but it doesn't seem she can identify with the issues of homeowners and families."

    Johnson, 40, grew up in Brandon and attended the University of South Florida and Boston University dental school. An Army Reserve major, he served three months in Iraq. He and his wife, Sandra Johnson, a high school special education teacher, have two young daughters.
    "Lithia dentist challenges Rep. Burgin in GOP primary".

    Insurers run amuck in Tally

    Jim Saunders: "Less than six months after Gov. Charlie Crist vetoed a similar bill, Florida lawmakers Tuesday announced a proposal that would lift regulations on property-insurance rates."

    Under longstanding law, state regulators review rate proposals and determine how much companies should be able to charge. But the proposed bill would do away with upper limits on rates.

    Crist vetoed a similar deregulation measure in June that would have applied to large insurance companies. The new proposal also would apply to smaller carriers, who have become more prominent in recent years as large companies have dropped hundreds of thousands of policies to reduce financial risks.

    In his veto, Crist pointed to the possibility of homeowners getting hit with major rate increases.
    "Insurance deregulation proposed".

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