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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, January 14, 2010

RPOF works to ally itself with Tea Partiers

    Bill Cotterell writes that Florida "Republicans are really worried about the exasperated Americans who have been turning out for 'Tea Party' rallies to protest government spending policies."
    Peter Feaman, a GOP committeeman from Palm Beach County, read a resolution that was roundly acclaimed by the 243-member committee:

    "WHEREAS there are thousands of discontented citizens across the state of Florida, loosely identified as 'Tea Party' people, who agree with the Republican philosophy of government, but may not know it.

    "Be it resolved, therefore, that the Republican Party of Florida, through its paid staff and other resources, develop a program to be implemented by the county Republican Executive Committees, or otherwise, to communicate the Republican message to the Tea Party citizens, find common ground, get out their vote on Election Day and encourage their participation in electing Republican candidates."
    "Bob Smith is a former U.S. senator from New Hampshire"
    warned the state committee members that "we'd better wake up" to the success of Sarah Palin. If the Republicans can't win the Tea Partiers, he said, Democrats will win and move the country to the left — and instead of the GOP making a comeback, a new party will emerge to win back what the Republicans lost.

    "There is a danger of a third party," he said. "The Republican Party has to show the Tea Party folks that it is the party of Reagan and the principles we all know and love."

    But any Republican conversation containing the words "Tea Party" quickly runs aground on another term, "purist." Outgoing state party chairman Jim Greer frankly admitted that "I've never been a purist" and said (without naming them) his opponents were willing to "burn the house down" to get their way. And it's true that the typical Tea Party voter, if there is such, would rather lose a principled election than win one by compromising.
    "Bill Cotterell: Republicans weigh purity vs. practicality".

    "A handful of gimme and a mouthful of much obliged"

    "For all their hand-wringing over President Barack Obama's $787-billion stimulus plan, Florida's Republican-controlled Legislature has weathered tough economic times by pumping $9.5 billion from the bailout into the state's budget." "GOP legislators may criticize stimulus funds -- but they've spent $9.5 billion so far".

    Steve Otto ...

    ... explains why he doesn't trust teachers' unions: "Frau in my bedroom, not HCTA". We're sure his column will make his anti-union employer very happy.


    Aaron Deslatte: "Florida lawmakers plan to push this year to re-enact rules on so-called '527' political groups that right now are free to launch ad attacks on candidates without telling voters who is paying for them."

    But a Senate panel heard Wednesday that a federal judge's ruling last year could mean some of the most common tactics that stealthy groups use to attack candidates – phone calls and campaign mailers – could be off-limits.
    "Regulating 'stealthy' attacks on candidates won't be easy, senators told".

    Mica's mess

    "D'Anne Leigh Mica, daughter of U.S. Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.), was arrested on the morning of January 8 for driving under the influence. Her blood-alcohol content was more than twice the legal limit."

    The incident might have faded away, but Rep. Mica's opponents were reminded of potentially suspicious connections between the congressman's legislation and his daughter's business with a large Florida construction company.

    The website of D'Anne Leigh Mica's PR firm lists Florida-based construction giant, PBS&J, which has recently been involved in corruption scandals of its own, as a client. Rep. Mica is the ranking Republican on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, and has, in the past, pushed for construction projects that clients of his daughters would be in charge of overseeing.
    "ABC News reports:"
    One of the most high profile of those has been his effort to secure federal support for a high speed rail link that would connect Orlando to Lakeland and Tampa. Mica helped push legislation for the 110-mile-per hour fast train through congress in 2008. Last month, he said Florida was one of four finalists to get millions in funding for the pioneering project. (The Federal Railroad administration disputed that, saying there is no short list yet. They are currently considering requests from 24 states seeking a combined $50 billion.)

    Forms submitted by PBS&J lobbyists last year indicate the company has pursued the rail project both with members of the House Transportation Committee and congressional representatives from Florida to discuss, though it does not identify which members they contacted.
    "DUI Arrest Of Congressman's Daughter Renews Ethics Violation Charges".

    Thomas on Sink

    Mike Thomas anoints "Gov. Bill McCollum."

    You heard me right.

    I now give Bill a 50.1 percent chance of becoming the most personality-challenged governor in America.

    That is 50 percentage points more than I gave him when he entered the race with these stirring words about the state's highest office: "That is a position we have to have filled by someone who will be strong.''

    What changed my mind? Alex Sink.
    "In theory, the state's chief financial officer was the perfect candidate. She was a moderate Democratic woman with a strong business background."
    But in practice, Sink turned out to be the worst candidate since, well, Bill McCollum. She may even be as bad as her husband, Bill McBride.

    McBride ran against Jeb Bush in 2002. The two faced a pivotal third debate with the race deadlocked. Stunningly, McBride arrived like a high-school student who didn't crack a book before his final exam. Jeb wonked him to death, grabbed the momentum, won handily and marveled afterward about his good fortune in running against Democrats.

    I'm afraid Sink seems no better prepared than her spouse.
    "Sink is sunk if she keeps dodging issues".

    Sansom's lawyer takes a hike

    "The special House committee investigating former Speaker Ray Sansom today agreed to postpone for a month a trial-style hearing because his attorney in the case quit." "House inquiry into Sansom delayed".

    "Florida earned a B-minus"

    "The state also did a little better in the way it funds schools, getting credit for its equal distribution of money to school districts. But the report used data in this category only up to 2007. That means it did not cover the deep funding cuts that came later. Florida's public schools, on average, started this school year with $418 less per child than they had at the start of the 2007-08 school year."

    Education Week gave the state an A in standards and accountability and a B in teacher-related measures, grades based largely on policy.

    Florida received a C-plus in a category called "transitions and alignment," which considers a variety of ways to measure how easily kids move from preschool to school to postsecondary programs.

    Florida rated a C on the report's chance-for-success index, which was determined based on 13 indicators, some of which are largely outside the state's control. For example, states are judged based on family incomes and employment rates as well as on students' work in math and reading.

    One grade that Hightower said could change a lot next year is the state's finance grade.

    Florida is 39th in the nation in terms of the percentage of its budget earmarked for public education, a small improvement over last year. But the rating is based on data collected in 2007 – the most recent available on a national level.

    The current grade doesn't take into consideration how funding changed because of the recession and the influx of billions of federal stimulus dollars.
    "Florida ranks eighth in new education report".

    "Barely true"?

    "With Republicans Charlie Crist and Marco Rubio dominating news coverage about Florida's U.S. Senate race, Democratic U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek would like you to know he's running, too."

    Meek says a number of national publications consider Florida's Senate race this fall a tossup. That number, however, appears to be just one. The overwhelming majority of pundits who attempt to predict election outcomes all have Republicans favored in the Sunshine State.

    Maybe the ratings will change. But they haven't yet. We rate Meek's claim Barely True.
    "Politifact: Meek's 'tossup race' claim isn't substantiated".

    Ye get what ye pay for

    "Budget cuts force Broward services to close Friday".

    "An obscure point of law"

    Joel Engelhardt: "The fate of Gov. Crist's landmark U.S. Sugar deal could come down to an obscure point of law that the Florida Supreme Court is likely to decide this month." "Will court sour sugar deal?".


    "Jeb Bush joins Gov. Crist at education press conference".


    The Miami Herald editors argue that, "[u]ntil her legal status is settled, Michelle Spence-Jones is unqualified to hold a public office. So even though she won back her District 5 Miami Commission seat Tuesday after a dismal 10-percent turnout of voters, Gov. Charlie Crist should again suspend her from the post."

    Ms. Spence-Jones is accused of one count of grand theft for allegedly redirecting $50,000 in county grant money to a family business. Ms. Spence-Jones says that she's innocent. After she was charged in November, Gov. Crist suspended the commissioner, who had just won her second term. That same month, District 1 Commissioner Angel Gonzalez resigned as part of a deal after he pleaded guilty to pulling strings to get his daughter a no-show job.
    "Suspend Michelle Spence-Jones".

    Cancer trials

    "Florida lawmakers, insurers sign deal to protect cancer trial coverage".

    "To turn county librarians into morality gatekeepers"

    The Daytona Beach News Journal editorial board: "The Volusia County Council is preparing to take a Web page out of China's playbook on Internet censorship."

    Hearing of one -- one -- minor case of an individual looking at suggestive images on a Port Orange library computer late last year, the council is on the verge of turning librarians into Internet gatekeepers who will judge what patrons may and may not access on computers. Council members should rethink their Big Brother reflex. Since 1999, when the council last approved a comprehensive policy regulating Internet usage in libraries, Volusia County library patrons have benefited from one of the more progressive and reasonable policies in the state, thanks in large part to wise library administrators and a council's light regulatory touch.

    It would be a disservice to patrons, and an insult to their intelligence and maturity (in a county where 81 percent of the population is over 18), if the council were to update a policy on 21st century technology with 19th century strictures. Especially if it does so as the disproportionate response to one noisy complaint.
    "A Big Brother knee-jerk".

    Yee haw!

    "Tampa will bid on 2012 Republican National Convention".

    Daily Rothstein

    "Accused of perpetrating a $1.2 billion Ponzi scheme, Rothstein on Wednesday gave up his right to appeal sentences stemming from having a former employee defend him." "Accused Ponzi schemer waives possible conflict of interest". Related: "Bar investigates 35 lawyers at Rothstein firm |".

    Florida Power & Light

    "Pointing to the economic struggles of many customers, state regulators Wednesday slashed a Florida Power & Light proposal to raise base electric rates by $1.2 billion." "State cuts FPL rate-hike proposal". The Saint Petersburg Times editorial board: "Utilities hear a rare 'no'". Related from The Saint Petersburg Times editorial board: "Public wins, but advocate may lose".

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