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 Friday, December 04, 2009

Rail fight begins

    "A special session on rail issues got off to a bumpy start Thursday, with the high-profile defection of a former Senate transportation chairman." "Session sees bumpy start".

    Jim Saunders: "Lawmakers started a fast-moving special session devoted only to rail projects, as supporters of the Central Florida system tried to overcome Senate opposition that killed bills in 2008 and 2009."
    Florida is seeking about $2.6 billion in federal stimulus money to build a high-speed rail system that would start between Tampa and Orlando and possibly expand later to Miami. Crist and Atwater say lawmakers need to pass a bill to show the federal government that Florida is committed to rail transportation.

    The measure is expected to easily pass in the House, which has supported SunRail proposals during the past two years. The House Economic Development & Community Affairs Policy Council voted 12-0 Thursday to approve the bill.
    "Special session opens with 2-way commuter-rail barbs". See also "Legislative session on rail opens with defections, polarized debate".

    See also "Paul Flemming: They'll ride the train if it leads to jobs".

    "GOP opponents of spending make exception for $3B in rail funding"

    "Crist and other GOP lawmakers who have bashed federal spending are supporting drawing down federal stimulus checks of $2.6 billion for high-speed rail and an additional $300 million for SunRail, Central Florida's commuter-rail project." "SunRail vexes foes of federal stimulus".

    As Crist sleeps on the job ...

    ... "State economists updating Fla. revenue estimate".

    LeMieux toes party line

    "Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida voted Thursday against a proposal to send a landmark health care reform bill back to committee over provisions that would cut Medicare spending."

    He and 57 other senators voted against a proposal from Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona to send the health care reform bill back to the Finance Committee.

    Republican Sen. George S. LeMieux of Florida was among 42 senators who voted for McCain's motion.
    "Florida senators split on Medicare".

    Stearns takes on Harvard

    "Stearns, Grayson duel over health care study".

    "Making government act more like business"

    "For years, the Republicans in charge in Tallahassee have pledged to save tax dollars by making government act more like business. Now it looks like those leaders may be guilty of the same sense of entitlement that has led to outsized perks for corporate titans — and higher costs for taxpayers."

    Florida is one of only seven states that still covers the entire health insurance premium for its elected officials and some state employees. The state shed the perk years ago for most employees when it realized, as most private employers have, that it couldn't keep absorbing double-digit increases. It's time for the Legislature to shed this double standard or risk losing all credibility on health care matters. ...

    Only one Republican, Attorney General Bill McCollum — who opts for coverage under a plan for former members of Congress in which he pays part of the premium — was willing to state the obvious: All health plan participants should be contributing to their premiums like the vast majority of private sector employees.

    Run government like a business, Republicans promised. That's the least they could do when it comes to health insurance.
    "Perk for few as millions do without".

    Even The Trib gets it

    "State Agriculture Secretary Charles Bronson and other opponents of a federal plan to decrease the pollution of Florida's rivers, lakes and bays say the restrictions would generate billions of dollars of costs for businesses and local governments."

    They want Florida's congressional delegation to curb the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's efforts to limit nutrient pollution.

    But the delegation, rather than heeding Bronson's scare tactics, should recognize nutrients are the leading cause of water pollution in Florida. Existing rules are inadequate.
    A little background:
    This widespread contamination is a far bigger threat to Florida's economy than water-quality rules. And the feds would not have gotten involved if the state had addressed the situation.

    The EPA ordered the state in 1998 to devise nutrient restrictions for its waterways and set a 2004 deadline. The state [read: the RPOF] failed to produce specific standards. When the deadline passed and [Dubya's] EPA did nothing, a number of environmental groups sued the agency, claiming it had failed to enforce the Clean Water Act.

    Earlier this year, EPA [finally] agreed it would act to curtail nutrient pollution in Florida waters. Opponents challenged the agreement, but a federal judge last month approved it. This has Bronson and others in a dither.
    "Clean water won't hurt economy".

    Daily Rothstein

    "New court filings show that some of Scott Rothstein's biggest investors stand to lose hundreds of millions of dollars in his Ponzi scheme." "Hedge funds sank $775 millions into Rothstein scheme". See also "Rothstein cedes homes, cars, businesses to government".

    Never mind that silly constitution thing

    "Class sizes in Florida's public schools crept upward this year for the first time since 2002, a reversal fueled by Florida's worsening budget crisis." "Class sizes grow amid state's fiscal woe".


    "A state Senate hearing into the business practices of blood banking in Florida — including the operation based in Orlando — has been postponed a month because of the special session on rail transit."

    FBC's top administrator, Anne Chinoda, was compensated almost $600,000 and three other managers made at least $250,000 in 2007, the most recent year public compensation records were available.

    [State Sen. Don Gaetz, R-Destin, chairman of the health-regulation committee] has been supportive of the agency's shake-up, but nonprofit expert Ken Berger of Charity Navigator is skeptical. Berger, who runs a New Jersey-based company that evaluates nonprofits and charities, said FBC should make a clean break with all the companies doing business with the agency that have an employee on the board.

    As it stands, Darden Restaurants and the Holland & Knight law firm will retain lucrative contracts with FBC because the vice chairman, Brad Richmond of Darden, and the chairman, attorney Leighton Yates, are stepping down. FBC pays Darden $1.6 million annually for donor gift cards to its restaurants. Yates' firm has been paid more than $1 million by FBC since 2003.
    "Are these truly competitive contracts that are in the best interests of the community?" Berger asked.

    Berger also doubted the compensation committee would come back with credible recommendations. He maintains Chinoda is overpaid and that comparing her salary and those of FBC managers to those at other blood banks might not be the best method.

    Blood banks tend to pay executives more than other comparably sized charities in unrelated fields, according to Internal Revenue Service forms known as 990s.

    "This could appear to be an objective process when in fact it's still a scam," Berger said.
    "Florida Senate postpones hearing into blood banks".

    "Narrow interests of a few waterfront property owners"

    The Orlando Sentinel editorial board: "Governments in Florida spend tens of millions of taxpayer dollars a year to restore beaches and protect the coastal property that is so critical to the state's tourism economy."

    But a case pending before the U.S. Supreme Court could throw sand into the gears of those efforts, if justices put the narrow interests of a few waterfront property owners ahead of the broader interests of the general public in Florida.

    This week the high court heard arguments from a lawyer for six Panhandle property owners who contend they deserve compensation for losing their private waterfront access because of a beach restoration project. If they win, the cost of paying off property owners could make the already high price of restoring beaches prohibitively expensive.
    "Bogus beach claims".

    'Ya reckon?

    "FPL's chief said revelations of cozy relationships with regulators undermined his company's image. " "Boss: FPL's image has suffered".

    Crist takes on foreign policy ...

    ... in cosmopolitan Pensacola ...

    Parroting right wing talking points, Charlie "said he didn't like the president saying that he would begin to bring units home in 18 months."

    "All that does is tell the Taliban and others over there how long they have to wait," Crist said.
    "Crist speaks to local GOP".

    "Keep those snakes out of Florida"

    The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "However many exotic snakes inhabit the Everglades, they're not good for the Everglades. Today, a U.S. Senate panel hears a bill designed to keep those snakes out of Florida." "Keep snakes off the planes".

    Missing Floridian

    "The United States has called on Iran to help find Robert Levinson, a retired FBI agent from Florida who has been missing for 1,000 days." "U.S. pressures Iran for answers on S. Florida man".

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