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 Saturday, February 20, 2010

RPOF "mired in infighting, financial scandal and suspicion"

    "Florida Republicans will try to turn the page on their state party's embattled chairman and elect a new leader today, but the potentially divisive vote and lingering questions about party spending could make for more drama."
    Both leading candidates for chairman — longtime party activist and Republican national committeewoman Sharon Day and state Sen. John Thrasher — voiced confidence they had the votes to win, but in a secret ballot with more than 250 eligible voters, anything can happen.

    The once mighty and disciplined Florida GOP has been mired in infighting, financial scandal and suspicion for much of the year. It's unclear whether electing a new leader puts an end to the division, as the race to succeed Jim Greer to a large extent pits the Tallahassee establishment backing Thrasher against the longtime grass roots activists backing Day.
    "Shadows hang over GOP voting".

    "A month ago, Florida Republicans met in Orlando amid demands for a new party chairman, rumors of lavish spending and rising discontent among grass-roots activists."
    In hindsight, it seems pretty tame.

    Since January, the GOP has been rocked by a financial scandal that has stunned its members. Reports of private jets, five-star hotels and secret contracts have tainted the party, delighted Democrats and spurred calls for a criminal investigation.

    And as the party meets todayin Orlando to replace ousted Chairman Jim Greer, the revelations threaten anyone tied to the party's establishment.
    "Florida GOP gathers in Orlando to elect new chairman". See also "Candidates for GOP chair promise audit" and "Updated: Florida GOP readying for election of new chairman".


    RPOFer "financial collapse"

    "A scandal over alleged misuse of state Republican Party money and credit cards, formerly a tempest in the party teapot, is threatening to boil over and affect the party's 2010 election chances. Republicans statewide are outraged and looking for someone to blame for what appears to be the financial collapse of their party."

    "How can we, with any credibility, claim to be the party of fiscal responsibility and standing up against wasteful spending, if we can't do it within our own party?" said Hernando County party chairman Blaise Ingoglia. "We can't earn people's trust without fixing that. The first step on the road to recovery is admitting we had a problem."

    But at the same time party leaders and candidates are demanding an open accounting, they're also worried about public relations damage from information that may come out.

    Gleeful Democrats as well as some 2010 GOP candidates, are calling for full release of records, including Gov. Charlie Crist, running for U.S. Senate, and state Sen. Paula Dockery, running for governor.

    "The party would do itself a great favor if it would just release the information," said Dockery.

    "If there's nothing to it, then why don't we come clean and prove there's nothing to it? If there is something, then why don't we come clean and get past it?"

    Others are reluctant, including Crist's primary opponent Marco Rubio, and Attorney General Bill McCollum, frontrunner in the primary for governor.
    "Questions about GOP credit card use get louder".


    Debate debate

    "Rather than actually have a debate with each other, Gov. Charlie Crist and former Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio are having a debate about where and when to hold a debate in the Republican U.S. Senate race." "Crist, Rubio debate over debate".

    "Crist and Marco Rubio apparently will conduct the first debate of their Senate primary campaign March 28 on Fox News Channel. Republican Party organizations in Hillsborough, Pasco and Pinellas counties, however, have also asked the two to hold a debate at Tampa's Pepin Center in May. The campaigns, meanwhile, are trading accusations that each candidate is afraid to debate the other." "Crist, Rubio camps dicker over debates".


    Whooppee!!!

    "Brown-Waite announces re-election bid".


    "What to do next"?

    The Tallahassee Democrat editorial board: "The increase in a tax that goes into a trust fund to compensate unemployed workers appears to be on a slow track for the time being. That should be of help to Florida businesses and, indirectly, Florida workers who have been laid off."

    House and Senate committees on Wednesday unanimously approved legislation (HB 7033 and SB 1666) that would delay the unemployment compensation tax increase for two years. Notice of the sudden jump for business owners came this winter after the state's fund to pay laid-off workers bottomed out. It went broke last summer as the number of unemployed Floridians hit record highs. The jobless rate in Florida is now approaching 12 percent.

    If business owners have to pay substantially more into this trust fund, they'd have to hold off on hiring employees — or possibly even retaining current workers. So the conundrum has been painful on both sides of the fence.

    Eventually, the trust fund will have to be replenished — including enough to pay back $1.1 billion borrowed from the federal government to keep the compensation checks coming.

    What to do next is the question. And when is "next"?
    "Our Opinion: Jobless safety net".


    Sansom

    "A spokesman for the Florida Democratic Party helped write a citizen complaint that served as the basis for a House investigation into Republican Rep. Ray Sansom's dealings with a Panhandle college." "Democratic Party helped coordinate Sansom complaint". Related: "Other House speakers brought home bacon, but Sansom brought trouble". See also "Investigating House committee prepared for Sansom hearing".


    "Nauseated by politicians' freeloading ways"

    The Sun-Sentinel editorial board: "South Floridians nauseated by politicians' freeloading ways will be singing a Hallelujah chorus at the latest silver lining to emerge from local political corruption scandals: Elected officials are getting increasingly gun shy about accepting freebies." "Politicians finally saying no to freebies".


    "Staggering unemployment"

    "Staggering unemployment during an election year means the pressure on state leaders to spur job growth couldn't be greater." "State leaders limited in ways to create jobs but 'heat is on'".


    "An outrage then and now"

    The Tampa Tribune editorial board: "A year ago the Florida Legislature made it easier for developers to deplete public water supplies and destroy wetlands. Lawmakers changed the law that gave the state's water management district governing boards the final say in permitting and gave full authority to take final action on permit applications to the districts' executive directors. In effect, they shut the public out of the process. It was an outrage then and now." "Tipping the deck in favor of the public".


    HD 58

    "3 vie for state House District 58 seat".


    Florida first in foreclosures

    "The news is not that Florida leads the nation in foreclosures, even though it does. The story now is by how much. And how bad it's gotten. Here goes: The number of home loans in foreclosure in Florida at the end of last year was 44 percent higher than at the end of 2008." "Florida foreclosures soar". See also "HeFlorida (again) leads in foreclosures".


    Miami mess

    "Miami's top administrator stepped down, leaving his successor to oversee a crippling budget crisis and a widening federal probe into the city's finances." "Miami city manager resigns amid money mess".


    Rum war

    "At issue is a deal that would bring a rum producer -- and jobs and tax revenue -- to the Virgin Islands."

    But Puerto Rico is crying foul, saying the deal represents a taxpayer handout to Diageo, the British liquor giant that owns Captain Morgan, and could cost Puerto Rico as much as $6 billion in lost rum tax revenues over the next three decades.

    Florida Sen. Bill Nelson is said to be drafting legislation aimed at blocking the deal, enraging allies of the Virgin Islands, including the National Black Chamber of Commerce, which fired off a letter to Nelson saying his intervention would hurt the only African-American majority territory in the United States.

    The group also accuses Florida Sen. George LeMieux of joining the campaign on Puerto Rico's behalf.
    The politics:
    A spokesman for Nelson said ``a number of lawmakers question the wisdom of using billions of dollars of American taxpayers' money to build a rum plant in the Virgin Islands for a foreign company.'' ...

    Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Maurice Ferre, a native of Puerto Rico who is trailing in the polls, has sought to turn the controversy into a campaign issue, estimating there are 750,000 Puerto Ricans in Florida -- a potent voting bloc. Ferre has criticized his primary rival, Rep. Kendrick Meek, for not siding with Puerto Rico.

    A spokesman for Meek said he was still reviewing the issue.
    "Florida senators in middle of rum fight".


    "The year for watershed protection?"

    The Daytona Beach News Journal editorial board: "State lawmakers say all the right things about protecting the springs, preserving fragile aquatic life, assuring the continued attraction of these natural wonders to tourists. But they just can't seem to bring themselves to restrict development and pollution in spring watersheds." "Clean springs".


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