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 Friday, January 08, 2010

"'Is the Florida GOP imploding or not?'"

    William March: "In the aftermath of Greer's resignation Wednesday, the division in the state GOP is being viewed by some as part of a national breakup that will weaken Republicans in the 2010 elections - a tea party takeover."
    To the Democrats this means, "The Republican Party is narrowing ideologically," their ad says. "If you don't pass the right-wing purity test, there is no room for you."

    Tea party activists are fueling that impression.

    "If they continue to do things like they did in Florida, it's not going to be good for them," Dale Robertson, founder of the TeaParty.org Web site, warned GOP leaders in an interview published Thursday. "If they don't get that, and their party chairmen don't get that, they are going to be ostracized."
    "Is this a real problem for Republicans, or just wishful thinking by Democrats? Experts and party insiders say it might be some of both."
    [I]t's an open question whether the fissioning of the Florida GOP presages a destructive tea party rebellion. ...

    If the Florida party is wrought with internal bickering, that could carry consequences for Republicans nationally, said University of Virginia political scientist Larry Sabato.

    "This is turning into one of the big stories of campaign 2010," he said. "Is the Florida GOP imploding or not?"

    "If they have a total meltdown, it could cost them the governorship and conceivably even the Senate seat," he said.
    "GOP division seen as strength, weakness".

    Meanwhile, Scott Maxwell takes a shot at Greer as he's run out the door by the tea partying wingnuts that are now grasping for control of the RPOF: "Apparently, Jim Greer can't even go down with dignity."
    On the heels of his ouster from the Republican Party of Florida, Greer tried to claim that some Republicans just weren't ready for all the big-tent inclusion he tried to promote. ...

    But nowhere was Greer's version of "inclusion" better on display than at the past Republican National Convention. That was where Florida sported one of the least diverse delegations in modern history — and the country. Out of 114 delegates, three were black. There were also so few women that on "Ladies Night" at the convention — an evening meant to show support for Sarah Palin by asking all the female delegates to sit up front — Florida's delegation didn't even have enough to fill the seats. They had to recruit non-delegate seat-fillers to help out.

    So, for Greer to claim that he was ousted because he was just so gosh-darn inclusive is to ignore reality.
    "Greer's griping".

    And the RPOFer is the House's lawyer?

    "The Florida Supreme Court has reprimanded former Miami state Rep. Miguel De Grandy, now a special counsel for the Florida House."

    The justices Thursday accepted De Grandy's plea of guilty with conditions that included the reprimand for violating legal ethics due to a conflict of interest in his private practice.
    "Ex-Miami state Rep. Miguel De Grandy rebuked for ethics breach".

    "Indict[ing] a secretive state budget process"

    "Meggs has shaken the Legislature with his prosecution of former House Speaker Ray Sansom. In a broader sense, he indicted a secretive state budget process." "In Sansom case, prosecutor 'just trying to do what I think is right'". Related "Sansom taking 'The Fifth', so House lawyer wants grand jury testimony".

    RPOFer whitewash

    "A top Florida Republican leader and a key critic of outgoing party chairman Jim Greer announced his resignation Thursday."

    The departure of state party vice chairman Allen Cox allows Republicans to avoid a messy grievance dispute about whether Cox leaked internal budget documents that showed the party faced a deficit.
    "Florida GOP bypasses dispute".

    The Klan speaks

    "The Imperial Wizard of the United Northern and Southern Knights of the Ku Klux Klan is guarded about discussing his organization's membership. But this much Cole Thornton openly shares: Florida cops belong to his Klan group because he said they like its rigid standards and its adherence to a strict moral code."

    Florida ranks third nationally, behind California and Texas, in the overall number of identified hate groups, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center ...

    The United Northern and Southern Knights of the Ku Klux Klan is listed as one of 56 Florida "hate groups" identified by the law center.
    "State KKK leader says law enforcement drawn to his group".

    "Crist long on platitudes and short on specific promises"

    "With the Space Coast facing the loss of as many as 19,000 jobs when the space shuttle is retired later this year, Gov. Charlie Crist came to town to check out what the state might be able to do to soften the blow. But anybody hoping that Crist was going to throw a lifeline to a deeply anxious region was left disappointed. Crist was long on platitudes and short on specific promises." "Crist short on details on help after shuttle".

    McCollum's "extreme position"

    The Saint Petersburg Times editorial board: "As Congress negotiates the final version of health care reform legislation there is a move to derail the effort through legal action among Republican lawmakers and state attorneys general, including Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum."

    They claim requiring nearly every person to have health insurance or pay a tax or fine would violate the U.S. Constitution, an extreme position disputed by many legal scholars. This is less about protecting constitutional rights and more about Republicans using the courts to accomplish what they have not accomplished so far in Congress. ...

    There are nearly 4 million uninsured Floridians, yet McCollum is using the attorney general's office to explore using the courts to block the most promising health reform effort in years. He may win more praise among conservatives, but his actions will be hard to explain this fall to voters who have lost their health coverage or wonder how they will care for their sick children if they lose their jobs.
    "McCollum's health care block".

    The Orlando Sentinel editors are predictably receptive to their hometown boy's right-wing political posturing: "With Democrats in Washington heading toward the end zone on health-care reform, Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum is mounting a goal-line stand. He says he has 'grave concerns' that a key provision in both the House and Senate bills, a requirement that individuals buy health insurance, is unconstitutional."
    It's obvious there are political advantages to Mr. McCollum, the GOP front-runner to be Florida's next governor, leading the charge among Republican attorneys general against legislation that is poison to the party's voters. But that doesn't mean his argument should be waved off by health-care reform advocates.
    Kudos to the editors for at least figuring this out:
    There is an irony in Republicans, who claim the mantle of personal responsibility, taking up the case of people who refuse to buy health insurance. When those free-riders wind up in hospital emergency rooms with serious illnesses or injuries, and no way to pay for their care, they end up raising the costs of insurance for those who pay for coverage.
    "Clear up reform doubt".

    Another fine Jebacy

    The Daytona Beach News Journal editorial board: "For the first time since 1916, the federal estate tax is dead. The rate, 45 percent last year, zeroes out this year for everyone. It's been heading there for most of the decade, for individuals and family businesses. The exemption that kept more than 90 percent of estates immune from the tax for decades doubled, then more than tripled, in the past decade, part of the conservative push to eliminate the tax. By last year, only estates worth $3.5 million or more -- affecting less than 2 percent of the population -- would be subject to the estate tax."

    Florida's estate tax, indexed to the federal tax all along, died in 2004, when the federal exemption grew to $1.5 million (making Florida's tax obsolete). Florida lawmakers could have chosen to de-couple the state's estate-tax structure from the federal government's, as several states did. Had it done so, Florida's budget woes would have been considerably eased. In 2002, the last year the state applied the tax under its Clinton-era rate structure, it collected $558 million. Receipts fell gradually to zero by 2007. ...

    Such a tax is not only fair. It's a useful tool against the concentration of unearned wealth, an anti-stimulant to economic growth and innovation. "Dynastic wealth, the enemy of a meritocracy, is on the rise. Equality of opportunity has been on the decline," Warren Buffett, the second-richest man in America after Bill Gates, said in response to the Bush administration's push to eliminate the estate tax. "A progressive and meaningful estate tax is needed to curb the movement of a democracy toward plutocracy." ...

    Next year, the estate-tax rate is scheduled to return. The exemption on estates will fall to $1 million, the top tax rate will go back to 55 percent -- what it was in the 1990s. That's where the rate should be. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the combined estate and gift tax will raise $35 million in 2012, rising to $60.3 billion by 2019. The risk is that Congress, in an election year, would get used to the zeroed out estate tax and prolong its death past 2010. The Treasury couldn't afford it. The more prudent course (for federal and state lawmakers) is to see a zeroed-out estate tax for what it is: the blowing of an unnecessary, larger hole in the federal budget, and a lesson in what not to do in the coming decade.
    "Death-tax holiday at steep price".

    Caning might be more appropriate

    "Fla. man fined for destroying bald eagle nest".

    Evil unions

    The union haters at The Orlando Sentinel post this headline today: "Don't let teachers unions kill $1 billion grant, state says".

    Greer "putting noble lipstick on the pig of practicality"

    Paul Flemming: "Greer said he is stepping down for the good of the party, appeasing opponents who would otherwise "burn the house down and destroy" the RPOF."

    That's putting noble lipstick on the pig of practicality. It wasn't Tea Partistas, it wasn't Marco Rubionettes that were Greer's undoing. It was the money, honey. When political heavyweights — wealthy ones, with lots of loaded friends such as Southwest Florida's Al Hoffman and the Panhandle's Charlie Hilton — say they're not giving money to the party until Greer is gone, you're Melba.

    We'll see more clearly after Monday, when campaign-finance reports for the 2009 fourth quarter are released, how the GOP fared. The party said this week it raised $4.5 million in the final quarter of the year. The details of the filing will give an indication of how that money was raised, whether by party efforts or the related, but distinct, toil of legislative leaders.
    "Bottom line was the bottom line for Greer".

    Good question

    "From the school board to the state Capitol, public officials love texting. It's a convenient way to dash off a message -- to a lobbyist, aide or family member. But when they hit send, are they creating a public record?" "Officials' text messages at heart of open-government controversy".

    Yaaawwwnnn ...

    "Crist to GOP: Return to basics".

    Bright futures

    The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "Free ride needed new rules: Bright Futures fixes were way overdue".

    A country clubbers' thing

    Lucy Morgan: "Crist recently challenged President Barack Obama to be more transparent while negotiating the final details of health care reform legislation in Washington."

    Perhaps the governor would like to support a little more transparency closer to home, within the Republican Party of Florida. So far he's dodged every opportunity to say the beleaguered state GOP should come clean and make credit card statements public.
    "We got a glimpse of how the GOP spends money after former House Speaker Ray Sansom was indicted on criminal charges last year. It wasn't pretty."
    It might cause you to wonder why anyone would donate money to send Sansom and several family members on trips to Europe and western North Carolina. Sansom charged about $173,000 to a party credit card during a two-year period, according to documents that surfaced as a result of the criminal charges against him. That was just a fraction of the more than $3.6 million charged by party officials to credit cards between January 2007 and June 2009. The image that emerges after a look through Sansom's bill is far different than the public image of a small town guy who talked about fiscal restraint.
    "Let's see those GOP credit card statements".


    Jackie Bueno Sousa: "Corruption usually unseen till it's too late".

    Running government like a business

    "A state review found that the state's juvenile justice chief traveled extensively between Tallahassee and his St. Petersburg home, with taxpayers picking up the tab for short-term parking, flight changes and hotel stays." "Juvenile justice secretary's travel expenses questioned".

    There's an idea

    "The League of Women Voters of Volusia County will host a meeting to discuss the pros and cons of the Coquina Coast Seawater Desalination Project, a collaboration between the city of Palm Coast and other local government entities to solve area water woes." "League of Women Voters hosts desalination meeting".

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