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 Thursday, December 03, 2009

Rail war

    Updated: "A special session on rail issues raced out of the station this morning, and one of the chief engineers had his eyes fixed firmly on the horizon." "Updated: Lawson: Fate of special session could hinge on backroom negotiations".

    "Senate President Jeff Atwater says he's confident his chamber will reverse its prior opposition to legislation that would clear the way for a commuter rail system in central Florida."
    The legislation faces stiff opposition from labor unions that argue 95 union rail workers would lose their jobs or take pay cuts. That's because the plan calls for the state to purchase existing rail lines from freight hauler CSX, which now employs those workers. The state would hire contractors to fill the jobs.

    The number of workers affected could grow into the thousands as additional commuter systems are developed, said Florida AFL-CIO spokesman Rich Templin.

    Atwater said he's met with the unions and that talks will continue on seeking an accord.
    "Fla. lawmakers open special session on rail". See also "Lawmakers debate Tri-Rail funding subsidy", "Crist: Opposing rail package would be catastrophic", "Once again, Dockery takes on SunRail" and "Senator keeps up fight to halt transit proposal" ("State Sen. Paula Dockery has successfully fought SunRail twice, but this time is different as the special session gets under way.")

    The Miami Herald editorial board: "It's up to Messrs. Atwater and Cretul to make sure their goals are met rather than derailed by the problems threatening this important special session. If they walk away empty handed so will Florida in its quest for the coveted high-speed rail project." "Keeping Florida rail project on track". The Sun-Sentinel editors "Lawmakers falling short in resolving state's rail problems".


    "Former Miami Mayor Maurice Ferré is turning to donors in his native Puerto Rico to boost his long-shot bid for the U.S. Senate. " "Ex-Miami Mayor Maurice Ferré turns to Puerto Rico for Senate bid funds".

    Never mind the treason

    Coming to a Florida road near you ...

    image description

    ... never mind the treason and slavery stuff ...

    "The Sons of Confederate Veterans' fight for its specialty license plate rages on in federal court."
    It won a legal battle this week when U.S. District Judge John Antoon II denied the state's effort to toss the lawsuit, which was filed earlier this year.

    "We are very excited about it," said John Adams, lieutenant commander of the group's Florida division.
    "Group continues to fight for Confederate license plate.

    Deutch, Graber debate

    "Democratic congressional rivals Ted Deutch and Ben Graber differed on the war in Afghanistan during a debate today while three Republican candidates offered varied evaluations of President Obama's call for 30,000 more troops and a U.S. withdrawal beginning in mid-2011." "Democratic rivals for Wexler seat split on Obama's Afghanistan plan".

    Daily Rothstein

    "The trustee in the bankruptcy case involving Scott Rothstein's former law firm Rothstein Rosenfeldt Adler has compiled a list of the 20 largest creditors owed money. The list is based on bank records and documents from the firm but may not reflect an accurate or complete picture, trustee Herbert Stettin wrote in the filing." "See who is claiming to have lost big in alleged Rothstein scheme". See also "Rothstein trial set for January".


    "Water managers and environmental regulators have acknowledged the state is in violation of a landmark legal agreement requiring Florida to halt the flow of polluted water into the Everglades. At the same time, however, they're urging a federal judge overseeing the progress not to declare them in violation or, in fact, do anything at all." "Florida water managers admit violations; seek more time to clean Everglades".

    "Workers ... need affordable places to live"

    The Orlando Sentinel editors: "Florida's sky-high unemployment rate means creating jobs must be a top priority for state leaders."

    That argues not only for passing a plan to build and support rail systems during the special legislative session that begins this week. It also calls for lawmakers to renew a commitment to the state's landmark work-force housing program when they reconvene for their regular session next year.

    At the urging of the Sadowski Housing Coalition — a remarkably broad-based alliance that includes business groups, local governments, growth-management organizations and advocates for the elderly and homeless — lawmakers created the program in 1991.

    They raised the state's documentary-stamp tax on property purchases by a dime to create a trust fund. They dedicated that fund to state and local initiatives that would spur construction or rehabilitation of homes affordable to Floridians of low and moderate income, and provide down-payment, mortgage or rent assistance to help them stay in their homes.

    Modestly paid workers like teachers and firefighters need affordable places to live in the communities they serve. So do workers in lower-paying service-sector jobs.

    The state program to make this possible benefits those workers and their communities. It also delivers a huge boost to the economy.
    "Keep hands off housing".

    McCain's man

    "In a New York City hotel room in late 2007, Scott Rothstein arranged to meet the Republican frontrunner for president, John McCain."

    "He kind of shocked the room by telling McCain, 'You're going to win the Florida primary, and I will ensure it. We will raise whatever it takes to win,' '' recalled political operative Roger Stone, who had a consulting business with Rothstein and introduced him to the U.S. senator from Arizona.

    The following May, Rothstein hosted McCain at his Las Olas Isles home, and he and his wife donated $140,000 to the campaign. Rothstein's law partner Stuart Rosenfeldt and his wife contributed another $210,000, and a third lawyer at the firm, $10,000.

    Rothstein cultivated an image as political rainmaker, pouring huge sums into local, state and national campaigns — money that federal authorities now say came from a $1.2 billion Ponzi scheme he ran since 2005.

    Arrested Tuesday on racketeering and fraud charges, Rothstein used his now dissolved law firm Rothstein Rosenfeldt Adler, its employees and a web of corporations to conceal the source of the political contributions and get around legal limits on donations, according to federal prosecutors.
    "Scott Rothstein wooed politicians".

    Laff riot

    Mike Thomas claims he is "not anti-union", but has zero problem spewing the usual, uninformed anti-union talking points:

    Organized labor wants no commuter train coming down our track unless there is a union worker at the throttle, a union worker maintaining the track and, if coffee and doughnuts are to be served, a union worker doing that too.

    And given that Democratic legislators are beholden to the unions, this is the last remaining threat to approval of our choo-choo next week.

    The Florida AFL-CIO supposedly is driving this hardball negotiation, but I think the big rail unions up North are the ones calling the shots here. The state union is merely a front for them.

    The rail unions fear the Central Florida deal could set a precedent, jeopardizing union jobs in other states.
    "The Legislature should not cave in on this."
    It is the South Florida Democrats who are most beholden to the unions. If they kill commuter rail here, they effectively kill it in Tampa and Jacksonville. They also take us out of the running for high-speed rail.

    The payback will be that Central Florida Republicans not only will kill a planned expansion of Tri-Rail in South Florida, but also will start eliminating its existing state subsidies. Ironically, Tri-Rail uses union workers, which will mean a lot of lost union jobs.

    It will be a high price for Democrats to pay simply to ingratiate themselves to union bosses.
    "Union label shouldn't affect commuter-rail vote".

    Perhaps a different job?

    "Vicki Kirsch, a third-grade teacher at Dixon Intermediate School in Milton, told a federal court Wednesday that an agreement to end officially sanctioned prayer in Santa Rosa County schools is at odds with her religious beliefs." "Teachers want to revamp school prayer decree".

    "Funding shortfall"

    "Taxable property values for school funding are falling even more than expected, meaning more deficits and the prospect of budget cuts." "Plunging property values will cause school funding shortfall".

    Second try

    "The Florida Supreme Court approved Gov. Charlie Crist's revised request for a statewide grand jury to investigate public corruption and recommend changes in state law Wednesday, just two days after rejecting his initial petition." "High court OK's Crist request for grand jury".

    "Line in the sand"

    "Florida's beaches have come under scrutiny before the U.S. Supreme Court in a case that could determine whether Florida's Supreme Court deprived property owners of their right to beachfront property. " "Beachfront homeowners draw line in the sand".

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