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 Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Like rats off a sinking ship

    "In the latest sign of turbulence for Charlie Crist's wounded U.S. Senate bid, key staffers are starting to leave the campaign."
    Political Director Pablo Diaz, one of the first people hired by Crist to run his Senate campaign, is departing at the end of the month for "a new opportunity.'' Sean Doughtie, a new media consultant who had worked with Crist for years, stopped working for the campaign at the end of January.

    "The campaign was going in a different direction,'' Doughtie said.
    "Some key Charlie Crist aides leaving campaign". Related: "Rubio pounding Crist in latest poll".


    Sansom blames the bloggers

    Get this. Sansom's "attorney, Gloria Fletcher, said he resigned because the proceedings were unfair." She

    complained that "bloggers" were now deciding who serves in the Florida House. She also commented on revelations in the press that Eric Jotkoff, spokesman for the state Democratic Party, had in fact drafted the complaint that a private citizen had filed against Sansom, which had sparked the House probe.

    "I thought the Constitution was by, for and with the people," she said. "Call me politically naïve, I had absolutely no idea that bloggers determined who served and who didn't. I thought it was we the citizens."

    Asked for an explanation of her comment about bloggers, she said the depositions in the case made clear how and which bloggers played a role in Sansom's downfall. "It names names, and it names blogs."
    "Attorney: Bloggers played role in Sansom's downfall".


    Crist "is trying to get his mojo back"

    Mike Thomas writes that Crist "is trying to get his mojo back." You should go read it all, but here is a taste:

    The rapid rise of Marco Rubio hit the normally unflappable governor like a left hook from the blind spot.

    Charlie based his career on pleasant populism, on style over substance, on just getting along with everybody. And now nobody wants to get along anymore, particularly the kind of people who vote in low-turnout Republican primaries.

    Dazed and confused, Charlie stumbled badly as Rubio applied the pressure. ...

    Apparently, the Crist campaign has regrouped, come up with a coherent message and is ready to join this battle anew.

    Forget Charlie as the wonk-less opportunist with little interest in actually governing. Now he is an all-business chief executive busy running the state. He has budgets to balance, jobs to save, schools to fund and an economy to rescue. He can't go scampering around the state groveling for votes, like some people. ...

    Charlie has decided to double-down on practicality and civility, except when it comes to his opponent.

    He will pound the former House speaker as a spendthrift who sent Charlie a budget packed with $459 million in pork barrel spending. This included $800,000 to put artificial turf on a football field where Marco played in Miami-Dade.

    In the four years before Charlie became governor, state spending went up $15 billion. He inherited a bubble economy and a bubble budget. Both burst, leaving him to deal with the mess, overseeing $7 billion in budget cuts. ...

    Charlie's campaign has been passive and unfocused, while Rubio's campaign is relentlessly on-target. The message is simple and blunt. When confronting Obama, moderation is surrender.

    Charlie shrugs it all off. He will win regardless. This campaign hasn't even begun. People have yet to receive a critical introduction to you-know-who. That is coming.

    I don't know if he's optimistic, delusional or just knows something I do not.
    "Crist bubbles with election confidence"


    Counting HS graduates

    "Until 2008, Florida counted students who received standard diplomas, special diplomas for disabled students and people who earned high school equivalency certificates as graduates. That method tended to inflate graduation rates compared to many other states, which tended not to count recipients of special diplomas or equivalency certificates. ... Beginning in 2012, Florida plans to switch to the federal uniform rate of measuring how many students graduate from high school. Only those students who earn standard diplomas will count as graduates." "Rules for counting graduates about to get tougher".


    "Daffy" congressional hopeful Allen West

    Rubio is commended by The New Republic’s John Judis for not calling

    his political opponents socialists. [Rubio] didn’t describe the White House as followers, as one daffy speaker put it, of Marx, Engels, Che Guevara, Hugo Chavez, and Saul Alinsky."

    The unnamed "daffy" speaker was South Florida Republican congressional hopeful Allen West.
    "West ‘daffy’".


    One in five Floridians lack health coverage

    "Few states have as much at stake in the health care fight as Florida, a state where one in five residents lacks any health coverage, where what coverage is available for the poor is breaking the bank, and where a large percentage of people — seniors — have government­-provided health care that they're keen to protect." "Last-ditch effort carries high stakes for Florida patients".


    "Perilous times"

    The Orlando Sentinel editorial board: "School districts across Florida face perilous times."

    Their revenues from property- and sales-tax collections have been driven down by the recession, and they are burning through federal stimulus cash meant to make up the difference. Orange has lost $87.5 million in state funding for its budget over the past two years; Seminole about $40 million.

    Now they also are confronting the cost of a strict cap this fall on the number of students in each classroom where core academic subjects are taught, the final stage of a constitutional amendment that state voters passed in 2002. The amendment imposed its limits — 18 students in grades K-3, 22 in grades 4-8, and 25 in grades 9-12 — based first on a district average, and then on a school average. Lawmakers extended the school average approach into the current year.

    But meeting class-by-class caps is expected to add at least $350 million a year statewide to the bill for public education. It would force districts to hire more teachers and create more classrooms, or take other costly steps to redistribute their student loads.

    Given the fiscal free fall looming for schools, it's only responsible for state lawmakers to put before voters a plan to incorporate some flexibility into the original class-size mandate. Such a plan would preserve precious dollars that should be invested elsewhere in education, like for good teachers.
    "Ease class-size limits".


    Bad unions

    The Miami Herald editorial board establishes its union hating bona fides today, whining about "trimming outrageous union benefits", and puffing about "Finally, leaders of four Miami-Dade County employees' unions have agreed to revised contracts based on today's Great Recession reality -- a concept all public unions in South Florida must recognize as budgets shrink." "Miami-Dade unions take a reality check".

    Surely these dopes know that under Florida's public sector bargaining law, when a public employer and a union can't reach agreement, the public employer has the power to unilaterally set the terms of the contract.


    Thank you, Mr. Obama

    "State officials recently announced that $1.28 million is now available for organic producers in Florida as part of a nationwide initiative to assist certified organic producers and those making the transition to organic production." "Fed money available for organic producers".


    Rubio dodges a bullet, Legislature off the hook

    The Saint Petersburg Times: "Ray Sansom's resignation neatly solved a problem for Tallahassee: The House can wash its hands of the indictment of it own former speaker and a critical grand jury report that cast the entire Legislature in a harsh light." "Legislature is off the hook". More: "Sansom's resignation leaves key questions unanswered" and "Sansom leaves Floridians in dark".

    The Daytona Beach News Journal editorial board: "When former House Speaker Ray Sansom announced Sunday that he would resign from the Florida Legislature, the sighs of relief across the state were almost audible."

    The announcement derailed the work of a special committee set up to investigate Sansom's 2007 actions in steering more than $30 million to a community college that would later (briefly) become his employer. The committee's witness list included powerful ex-lawmakers who let pass Sansom's inclusion of a $6 million classroom/ "emergency response workforce center" for Northwest Florida State College, located at the Destin Airport. The building -- never constructed -- matched almost precisely the description of an airplane hangar that Sansom supporter Jay Odom had sought to have funded previously. Sansom also wrangled a far- greater share of state construction funds for the college than it, otherwise, would have received, at the expense of others in the community-college system.

    But it was the job that tripped the greed meter. The same day he became House speaker in 2008, Sansom accepted a $110,000 position at the college. The position had never been advertised and had poorly defined duties.

    Sansom's resignation ends the House's jurisdiction over him. But it shouldn't end lawmakers' quest to eliminate the blind spots that allowed the blatant money grab.
    "From scandal, better ethics rules".

    The Tallahassee Democrat editors "Well, thank goodness that's over. At least that's what some politicians may be thinking now that former Speaker Ray Sansom has resigned from the Florida House of Representatives."
    There are rumblings that Mr. Sansom felt political pressure to resign and end the investigation. Indeed, Marco Rubio — House speaker when Mr. Sansom was the budget chair — was among those subpoenaed for the hearing.

    Gov. Charlie Crist, running against Mr. Rubio for the U.S. Senate, wasted no time sounding the alarm: "It is essential," he said in a news release, "that the Republican primary voters and the people of Florida understand the role that a potential U.S. senator might have played in matters that are now under investigation."

    But what really should concern Floridians well beyond election-year rhetoric is whether the Sansom spending spree has been and continues to be business as usual.
    "Business as usual".

    "Marco Rubio may have dodged a bullet Monday, but there could be more bullets coming."
    Ray Sansom's resignation Sunday night from the state House, just hours before a House committee hearing was to begin on ethics charges against him, delays but may not eliminate the potential embarrassment for Rubio and other Republicans of having to testify in Sansom's case.

    Although Rubio seems to be the one with the most to lose, his opponent in the U.S. Senate primary, Gov. Charlie Crist, also could be touched by the scandal, as could others.

    Still, Crist indicated Monday he's willing to open the Pandora's box.

    His campaign issued a statement to Rubio calling Sansom "your handpicked budget chief" and calling on Rubio to make public all his e-mail and correspondence with Sansom, though such correspondence already is a public record.

    Several Republican legislators and former legislators were subpoenaed for the hearing Monday, but Rubio may be the one closest to the matter being investigated.
    "Rubio, Republicans spared by Sansom's resignation". More from The Tampa Tribune editorial board: "Slippery Sansom slinks away". See also "Sansom hearings called off by House". Background: "The rise and fall of Ray Sansom".

    In the meantime, "Crist set special election dates for replacing Sansom in his Panhandle district: Primaries will be held March 23 and the general election will be held April 13." "Crist sets special election to replace ex-House speaker who resigned".

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