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 Monday, February 15, 2010

RPOFers quaking in their Plus fours

    "Tea Partiers could be sliding into an increasingly influential position as their stock as a coveted voter bloc rises, and they know it. Elaine Thompson, head of the Jackson County Tea Party, for instance, says her group’s e-mail list has grown to about 800." "Tea Party influence increasing as membership grows".


    "When it comes to Panhandle politics — in both physical stature and clout — Al Lawson looms large."

    A state lawmaker for 27 years, the Tallahassee Democrat is the longest serving member of the state Legislature, having risen through the ranks to Senate minority leader. Lawson is now making a run at the Congressional seat held by another Panhandle stalwart, seven-term incumbent Allen Boyd.

    The jump from being a big fish in a small pond, to its cliche opposite, however, could be proving tricky for the unofficial “Dean of the Legislature.” National observers, strategists and some state party members have started taking notice of Lawson’s small fundraising numbers, and of a strategy, they say, that might work when running for a safe state seat but misses the mark when it comes to running for Congress, despite the anti-incumbent fervor roiling the Washington establishment.
    "In diverse 2nd district, money becomes an issue".

    Another RPOFer in CFO mix

    "Rep. Pat Patterson, R-DeLand, has filed papers to run for state chief financial officer next year, creating a likely primary fight against Senate President Jeff Atwater, R-North Palm Beach, according to the Florida Division of Elections website." "Patterson ready to run for CFO".

    Wingnuts of the world unite

    Chris Cillizza: "Former Florida state House speaker Marco Rubio will make a stop in the nation's capital this week to raise money for his Senate primary at an event headlined by, among others, Jeb Bush Jr."

    "Jebby," as Bush Jr. is known, is the son of the former Florida governor, who hasn't taken a public position in the GOP primary fight between Rubio and Gov. Charlie Crist, although many of his past aides -- as well as his son! -- are backing the former state legislator.

    Among the other boldface names sponsoring the Rubio event on Wednesday night are Bush White House political director Matt Schlapp, former ambassador Mary Ourisman, and former Tom DeLay aides Brett Loper and Drew Maloney.
    "The Rubio Express".

    Millionaires row

    "The three running Rooneys are grandsons of late Pittsburgh Steelers founder Art Rooney and sons of Pat Rooney Sr., the longtime Palm Beach Kennel Club president who handed the reins to Pat Rooney Jr. a few years ago." "Tom and Pat aren't the only Rooney candidates".

    At the trough

    Aaron Deslatte: "House and Senate leaders are pushing an elections bill this year to resurrect what are known as 'leadership funds' — political committees unconstrained by the statutory $500 limit on campaign contributions that thus can enable legislative leaders to collect huge checks from donors."

    The funds were once a way for lawmakers to raise huge sums that the leaders could then hand out to pay for polling, campaign staff and other expenses of legislative races. The funds were outlawed in 1989 during a round of "good government" reform. Lawmakers promptly got around the ban by raising gobs of money for the state parties, which then turned around and spent big on legislative races. Though state law prohibits the parties from "earmarking" dollars to be used — or directed — by specific elected leaders, the parties and politicians know who raised what.

    The reason "leadership funds" have come back into vogue is that the Republican legislative leadership doesn't trust the Republican Party of Florida to spend its money wisely. That's why incoming House and Senate leaders Dean Cannon and Mike Haridopolos yanked close to $1 million out of RPOF accounts last month after the much-reported scandals — lavish credit-card spending, a secret fundraising deal — surrounding ousted Chairman Jim Greer.

    Cannon, R-Winter Park, and Haridopolos, R-Merritt Island, are storing the cash in another type of political fund called a "Committee of Continuous Existence." But Florida law limits what the money can be spent on.
    "Political scandals ignite new look at fundraising".

    Big of 'em

    "A Fort Lauderdale man who spent three years and seven months in prison for a robbery he didn't commit will become the first wrongfully convicted person to receive compensation under a new Florida law." "Lauderdale man to get $179K under wrongful conviction law".


    "U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek honored for efforts to get a missions group home from Haiti".

    Inappropriate browbeating

    The Tampa Tribune editorial board: "There's nothing like a good old-fashioned power-and-turf struggle to kick off another legislative season. Some lawmakers are rattled by the possibility of two citizen-driven amendments that are meant to help take some of the political machinations out of drawing legislative and Congressional districts."

    There is no way to take all the politics out; this is about power and it's about people, after all.

    But for three hours last week, two powerful lawmakers [Mike Haridopolos, R-Merritt Island, and Rep. Dean Cannon, R-Winter Park] inappropriately browbeat Miami attorney Ellen Freidin, chair of the FairDistricts Florida petition campaign that last year the Supreme Court ruled was ready for the ballot this fall.
    "Redistricting drama".

    More on the "inappropriate[]" conduct by Haridopolos and Cannon here: "The Redistricting Blues".

    "Bill would let public involvement flow"

    The Daytona Beach News Journal editorial board: "Water is one of Florida's most precious assets -- too often taken for granted. When high-level decisions about water are made behind closed doors, protecting that asset becomes a critical public concern."

    But the Legislature closed the doors last year, when it passed a new law taking the authority to grant permits to pull water from the Floridan Aquifer and destroy wetlands away from appointed water-management district boards. Instead, these decisions -- which can involve the use of millions of gallons of water per day -- are made solely by the districts' executive directors. (The new law explicitly bans the water- management district's governing boards, who are appointed by the governor, from "interfering" in permit cases.)

    Lawmakers also stripped the public of the right to appeal permits, while preserving developers' ability to appeal denials. It was a fairly blatant attempt to stack the deck in favor of out-of-control growth and reckless use of resources.

    The new law went into effect in July, after Gov. Charlie Crist signed it.
    "Take down the dam".

    FCAT follies

    The Orlando Sentinel editorial board: "Done right, end-of-course tests could be a promising tool."

    Critics long have assailed Florida's annual test, which assesses student mastery of reading, writing, math and science. They say FCAT, first given in 1998, robs teachers of creativity, forcing them to focus on preparing students to pass the high-stakes test, which holds sway in third-grade promotion, high-school graduation and school accountability grades.

    Similar criticism has sparked growing interest since 2002 in end-of-course tests.

    Because those tests more narrowly measure how students comprehend content in specific courses, they better align with curriculum standards. That helps teachers zero in on course standards, and frees them to present the material in innovative ways.
    "Testing for reform".

    Ethics stuff

    The Miami Herald editors: "State law requires prosecutors to prove that a bribe or other benefit in exchange for an official's vote or favor actually occured. The prosecutors say this hamstrings attempts to root out public corruption. They propose a looser standard that would require them to prove that a public official failed to disclose a potential benefit or conflict of interest behind a vote -- even if the official didn't actually vote on the issue."

    If the benefit wasn't disclosed it would be a criminal offense with tougher penalties than currently apply. [Broward County State Attorney Michae] Satz used the example of an officeholder pushing for approval of a particular contract who "takes a bathroom break just before the vote to avoid declaring a conflict.''

    Such a law would make government more transparent and make it easier to prosecute crooked officials. The Legislature should approve this proposal in its upcoming session.
    "Tougher laws on misconduct".

    More from the Miami Herald editorial board:"A spate of public corruption cases have eroded Broward County's complacency about its officials' ethics -- or lack of them. The recent cases involving three Broward politicians, two still in office, came from FBI investigations with charges brought in federal court. Public ethics has become a hot topic in Broward." "Fixing Broward".

    And the, you know ... unionized cops

    "Tampa gets what works to fight crime".

    From the "values" crowd

    Bill Cotterell: "State employees are understandably reluctant to talk on the record about any developments in their offices, especially when the news is bad. There is a widespread fear of getting fired for making even the most mild, accurate comment about what's going on in different agencies." "Closing child-care center devastating for state employees".

    Imagine that, ... government programs

    "Crist, once known for his support of prison chain gangs, is embracing an inmate rehabilitation effort often seen as 'soft on crime.'" "Crist, others support inmate rehab programs in tight budget".

    "The Children in Need of Services/Families in Need of Services, or CINS/FINS, program has drawn national accolades. About 85 percent of those who spend time at a CINS/FINS shelter - typically two weeks - do not commit a crime within six months of being released, according to the state." "Fla. program diverts troubled kids from court".

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