FLORIDA POLITICS
Since 2002, daily Florida political news and commentary

 

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Welcome To Florida Politics

Thanks for visiting. On a 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, February 19, 2010

Rubio embarrasses himself

    "The Tea Party's choice in the Florida Republican primary, Marco Rubio, began his address to a crowd of conservative conventioneers by taking a shot at President Obama for reading from a teleprompter."
    He did it while standing in front of two easily visible teleprompters.

    It was unclear whether the devices were placed there for him or for other speakers at the Conservative Political Action Committee conference, or CPAC, at which he was a keynote speaker. A HuffPost reporter, however, watched his speech from the front row and Rubio could clearly be seen looking intently and repeatedly at the teleprompters. He also had a stack of papers with him at the lectern and flipped through them as the speech progressed, perhaps unwilling to take any chance he would flub the swipe at Obama.

    The first major speaker at CPAC -- a mecca of conservative thinkers and activists -- Rubio drew a crowd that packed a hotel ballroom in Washington, each attendee eager to get a glimpse of the man who has come to personify conservative re-ascendance in the age of Obama. The speech itself was a rather standard red meat affair, with the expected swipes at his primary rival, Gov. Charlie Crist, and even more at the president and his administration.
    "Rubio Slams Obama's Teleprompter While In Front Of Telemprompters".

    If that wasn't embarrassing enough,
    When he spoke about capturing terrorists, one audience member had a suggestion.

    "Waterboard them!" the man yelled.

    Rubio smiled, and the audience laughed.
    "Rubio Grins At CPAC Crowd's Waterboarding Line". See also "WATCH The Video".

    More: "Rubio Kicks Off CPAC", "Rubio wows national conservative conference", "Rubio to conservatives in D.C.: I won't be 'co-opted' by big government", "Crist, McCain challengers woo conservatives", "Crowd cheers Rubio like a rock star", and "Rubio wows conservative group" ("he was hailed as a savior of the Republican Party").


    Yaaawwwnnn ...

    "Jeb Bush Predicts 'Tsunami' For Republicans In November".


    "Where's our trusty attorney general? MIA"

    Scott Maxwell argues that the RPOF "may want to rethink their decision to pin all their chances on two-time loser Bill McCollum."

    This is, after all, a time when residents are sick of the status quo, career politicians and toe-the-line partisanship. McCollum epitomizes all three.

    He wants to fix rotten big government — and wants even more for you to ignore the fact that he has been part of said government for 30 years.

    Republicans have other options. State Sen. Paula Dockery is a no-nonsense leader who commands respect from both sides of the aisle and makes Democrats nervous.

    Or, if the GOP kingmakers are hell-bent on McCollum, they should persuade him at least to act like he gives a flip about good government, transparency, social justice — heck, just about anything other than his 15th campaign for public office.

    Most recently, McCollum has come under fire in his current job as attorney general for showing no interest in investigating the credit-card scandals in the Republican Party of Florida.

    Basically, public officials are prohibited from taking gifts from special interests. Yet, now it looks as if multiple legislators had Florida GOP-issued American Express cards that special interests were helping pay off.

    So where's our trusty attorney general? MIA.
    Read the rest of it here: "GOP needs grit — not Bill McCollum".


    The usual suspects

    "Citrus growers, cattle ranchers, sugar farmers and utility operators told federal environmental regulators Thursday that they are all for keeping rivers and lakes clean, but they don't want to go broke doing it."

    The overriding fear was cost. A coalition of foes -- including Associated Industries of Florida, Florida Farm Bureau, Florida Chamber of Commerce, Florida Stormwater Association, Florida Tax Watch, Sugarcane Growers Cooperative of Florida and some 60 other organizations that collectively wield considerable political clout -- has put the estimate at $50 billion, a staggering price tag for a state reeling from a collapsed housing market and high unemployment.

    The EPA's economic analysis put costs at no more than $140 million a year -- only $5 million to $10 million more than rules proposed by Florida's Department of Environmental Protection.
    "EPA gets earful from those opposed to proposed water regulations". See also "South Florida officials, farmers lash out at EPA’s tough new water pollution rules".


    Entrepreneurs in action

    Fred Grimm: "Ghosts don't work cheap in Miami-Dade County."

    Wackenhut, according to the county auditor in 2008, had billed the county millions for phantom security guards along the Metrorail line -- "ghosts posts'' they were called, back when naïve taxpayers mistook this practice for scandalous duplicity.

    The county even sued, feigning an interest in recovering the ghost money. That suit was in addition to a 2005 whistle-blower lawsuit filed by a Wackenhut sergeant who claimed she was fired for exposing the ethereal nature of her fellow security guards.

    Wackenhut, meanwhile, sued the county back, claiming the ghostly allegations had besmirched the company's reputation.

    But it looked as if a powerful vendor finally might be made to pay for its sins, despite Wackenhut's cadre of powerful lobbyists (including the conflicted Carrie Meek, the former congresswoman collecting checks from both the county and the company).

    Retribution, as it turns out, was just another illusion.

    The Miami-Dade Commission will consider a settlement of the Wackenhut imbroglio on Thursday. The headline will say that Wackenhut agreed to pay $7.5 million. A spectral voice in the background whispers, "Beware of the details.''
    See what Grimm means here: "Taxpayers don't stand a ghost of a chance".


    More entrepreneurs in action

    The Orlando Sentinel editorial board: "With her organization under intense scrutiny for sweetheart deals and inflated executive compensation, how did Florida's Blood Centers CEO Anne Chinoda react? She accepted a 13 percent hike in her already bloated pay package last year. Amid the worst recession in decades. And less than two months before the nonprofit decided to lay off 42 employees." "Resign, Ms. Chinoda".


    PSC ethics

    The Saint Petersburg Times editorial board: "It's too early to declare victory for Florida utility consumers. But the state Senate is poised to approve next month the most sweeping ethics reforms in the history of the Public Service Commission. Now House Speaker Larry Cretul just needs to make sure his chamber follows suit." "Reforms at PSC overdue".


    No deal for Sansom

    "Unable to reach a deal to avert a spectacle that could embarrass some of the state's top politicians, the Florida House plans to begin its disciplinary hearing of Rep. Ray Sansom next week." And

    there could be plenty of drama.

    Sansom has scheduled as witnesses several current and former lawmakers, including former House Speaker Marco Rubio, R-Miami, and future Senate President Mike Haridopolos, R-Melboune.

    Both men, and others, say they will testify if needed. But the mere fact of being put under oath in a messy ethics investigation could prove uncomfortable, particularly for Rubio, who is surging in his U.S. Senate race against Gov. Charlie Crist.

    Among the potential witnesses for House prosecutor Melanie Hines is former Sen. Lisa Carlton, R-Osprey, who worked closely with Sansom in putting together the state budgets in 2007 and 2008. Carlton has told investigators that had she known the $6 million could have benefited Odom's corporate jet business, she would not have signed off on it. Sansom has said the money was solely for an emergency management and training center at the airport.
    "Rep. Ray Sansom's House disciplinary hearing on track to start Monday". See also "Investigating House committee prepared for Sansom hearing".


    "Give me Marco Rubio or give me death!"

    Joel Engelhardt writes about "how to pull off a good ol' American grass-roots political movement. In the 1960s, drugged-up youths took to the streets, and the FBI feared a Soviet plot. Now, sober-minded Americans take to the streets and deny that they're part of a political plot. Unless you count FreedomWorks."

    "Media Matters, a liberal watchdog group, has tracked some FreedomWorks money."

    The Richard and Helen DeVos Foundation [DeVos also owns the Orlando Magic], financed by the Amway fortune, gave $100,000 in 2007. The Sarah Scaife Foundation — remember Hillary Clinton and the "vast right-wing conspiracy" that now seems so quaint? — gave $200,000.

    On Tuesday, 50 leaders of the supposedly leaderless Tea Party met with Republican National Party Chairman Michael Steele. It was a great chance for Tea Partiers to tell Republicans where to get off. After all, Tea Partiers know that the GOP needs them more than they need the GOP. For Mr. Steele, it was a great chance to link Republicans to the Tea Party.

    He should know better. The Tea Party isn't about political parties. It's about do-it-yourself venting. With the help of patriotic organizations — nonpartisan or not — like FreedomWorks, anyone can set the water to boil. I'm hard at work on my slogan — "Give me Marco Rubio or give me death!" — and ready to party.
    "How to throw a Tea Party: It's a no-brainer with Dick Armey's easy kit".


    Nelson speaks to "the cancer cluster in the Acreage"

    "U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson called on mustering the 'full research capability of the federal government' to find the cause of the cancer cluster in the Acreage." "Nelson: Acreage cancer cluster deserves federal government's 'full research capability'".


    Statewide space symposium

    "A statewide space symposium convened by Gov. Charlie Crist in Orlando on Thursday heard repeatedly from industry executives, academics and experts that Florida had to adapt to a new U.S. national space policy that favored commercial rocket companies or give up its ambitions to be a world-class launch center." "At Charlie Crist’s space summit, Florida space backers told to get with Obama's program, let go of the past".


    Local election laws

    The Daytona Beach News Journal editorial board writes this morning: "Florida's elections system was crafted around local control. State government provides a basic legal framework, but elected supervisors in each county choose the equipment, hire the pollworkers and oversee ballot counts. It's not a perfect system -- but it's better than the alternative of overly politicized management from Tallahassee. The elections debacles of the last decade, and the slowness of the state Legislature to pass meaningful reforms to elections laws, prove the value of local input."

    In 2006 -- in the midst of headline-grabbing debates over the accuracy of electronic voting systems -- Sarasota voters decided to exercise that prerogative. They approved a charter amendment that required paper ballots and set up a system of audits and potential recounts in close or disputed elections.

    Voters there weren't trying to buck state elections laws; they just wanted more assurance that their votes would be handled accurately. What they got was a lawsuit -- filed by the Florida Division of Elections and Secretary of State Kurt Browning, saying that Sarasotans had been too presumptuous.

    Last week, the Florida Supreme Court smacked down that argument, ruling that local voters have the right to demand higher standards of vote integrity and that the bulk of the Sarasota rules posed no conflict with state law. The court did discard one provision, which kept county officials from certifying votes to the state until all challenges had been resolved -- but other than that, Sarasota's elections will be held to a higher standard than those of other counties.
    Much more here: "Tighten rules to protect votes".


    Greer to show at booting out ceremony

    "Ousted Republican Party of Florida Chairman Jim Greer says he's coming to Saturday's executive committee meeting to preside over the election of his replacement."

    But Greer will leave the party with only a handshake.

    Party officials acknowledged Wednesday that there were negotiations to continue paying Greer his yearly $130,000 salary and other benefits as severance. But they said the agreement was never formally "executed." Greer's ouster was precipitated by lavish spending, subpar fundraising and a grassroots rebellion.

    As recently as last weekend, Greer had been expected to avoid the meeting and the furor over a secret fundraising contract he inked with former Executive Director Delmar Johnson that boosted Johnson's pay last year to at least $408,000. Greer also spent lavishly on charter planes and fancy restaurants. ...

    But Greer, who has refused to comment since the Johnson news broke, has told party officials he'll be there. And if he shows, Greer may have to answer a question many RPOF executive committee members have been asking: whether he got any part of the nearly $200,000 in fundraising commissions secretly steered to Johnson last year.
    The rest of it: "Party chief to get a handshake but not severance". Related: "Florida GOP: Follow the story of ex-chair Jim Greer and fundraiser Delmar Johnson".

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