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 Sunday, February 21, 2010

RPOF's Sansom and credit card scandals move to front burner

    "Republicans are riding high following surprise electoral wins in the Northeast, President Barack Obama's slipping popularity and unexpected retirements in the U.S. Senate that give the GOP new hope of regaining control of Congress."
    But in Florida, chaos in the state party is making it difficult for Republican activists to partake in the confidence surge that is sweeping the party nationally.

    At a time when Republicans should be preparing for victory in the fall, top activists were being summoned to Orlando for an emergency meeting Saturday to choose a new party leader who will have to manage the GOP through a mindfield of potentially explosive financial and ethical controversies over the next nine months.

    Even with John Thrasher chosen as the chairman Saturday, party regulars still face serious inner turmoil, worries about what they will find on secret credit cards the previous chairman handed out and concerns over the list of Republican witnesses former House Speaker and fellow Republican Ray Sansom has threatened to bring before an ethics panel scheduled to start Monday.

    Already, the credit cards, which as many as 60 Republican leaders may have had, have shown lavish spending on meals, travel and golf outings. ...

    While some GOP activists want all of the credit card statements opened to the public to get to the bottom of the budding crisis, others fear opening them will be embarrassing for elected officials who had the cards.
    "GOP momentum eludes Florida".


    Baby Jebbie comes to Rubio's rescue

    "Jeb Bush Jr. [has written, or has had ghost written (who knows)] a letter to The Miami Herald in response to a biting column by Carl Hiaasen about U.S. Senate candidate Marco Rubio" "Herald Blog: Jeb Bush Jr. comes to Rubio's defense".


    RPOFer head calls Florida's 4.7M Dems "the enemy"

    "After weeks of angst over lavish spending and secret deals, Florida Republicans turned to a GOP stalwart [State Sen. John Thrasher, a 66-year-old former House speaker from Clay County ] Saturday to help lift the cloud of financial scandal hanging over the party." "Florida Republicans elect Thrasher to lead state party, root out scandal". See also "Thrasher to lead RPOF" and "State Sen. Thrasher is new state Republican Party chair".

    "Our enemy is the liberal media and the Democrats," Thrasher told the committee."

    It was a secret ballot, and Thrasher said he would make no effort to find out who supported him, Day or Cross.

    "Folks, the fractioning of our party stops today," he said. "There is going to be no more leadership versus membership, no more 'electeds' versus grassroots, no more Legislature versus rank and file."

    Lawson issued a statement saying he was "very concerned" by Thrasher's comments.

    "In his comments, Sen. Thrasher referred to voters that register with the Democratic Party as his enemy," said Lawson. "John Thrasher's language is beyond the pale and offensive to the nearly 4.7 million voters who identify themselves as Florida Democrats."
    "Sen. Thrasher new chair of Florida Republican Party". More: "'Our enemy is the liberal media. And the Democrats'".

    The Reid Report has this:
    Did the Republican Party of Florida just go from bad to worse? When Jim Greer stepped down as chairman amid charges he treated the party’s piggy bank the way the Duvaliers treated Haiti, activists in the GOP base shouted with glee. Greer was not just a guy with caviar tastes and an uncontrollable fear of President Obama’s mesmerizing power over schoolchildren. He was also BFFs with Charlie Crist, the dreaded HUGGER OF OBAMA.

    So, the qaida demanded that the party not just anoint another insider fat cat, but rather, that they listen to the voices of "the people" — and choose someone approved of by the grass roots.

    Problem: the fat cats, apparently including Jeb Bush, wanted State Sen. John Thrasher (Jebbie helped him win his Senate seat just last year), and so today, it’s Thrasher they got. Funny thing about that though … Thrasher (who was already interim chairman) doesn’t seem like much of an improvement, if by "improvement" you mean the appearance of better ethics.
    Much more here: "Florida GOP elite show the 'baggers who's boss: ethically sketchy Thrasher is new chair".


    Sansom

    The Palm Beach Post editors: "Former Florida House Speaker Ray Sansom, R-Destin, and two co-defendants face grand theft charges in criminal court. Rep. Sansom has argued that to protect his legal rights, the House should postpone misconduct hearings against him until the criminal cases are finished. That's nonsense. The House Select Committee on Standards of Official Conduct has a duty to proceed." "Start judgment of Sansom: No reason to delay ex-speaker's ethics hearings".


    RPOFers called on political stunt

    "A back-to-school sales tax holiday supported by the governor and legislative leaders is a bad idea that will have little impact on the state's struggling economy. That's not the opinion of some liberal group bashing the policies of the Republican leadership. Instead it's a tart assessment from the Tax Foundation, a Washington, D.C., research group known for its conservative fiscal policies." "D.C. group blasts Florida sales tax holiday".


    Laff riot

    Klein can relax if this is the best the GOP can do: "Republican congressional hopeful Allen West makes a splash at CPAC".


    Amendment 4

    The Orlando Sentinel editorial board doesn't "want to see Amendment 4 pass, which is why it's so mystifying when governments keep repeating the mistakes that gave birth to this bad idea. Defeating Hometown Democracy isn't as hard as they might think. Here are a few suggestions that will go a long way:"

    Stop approving the very type of development that residents hate [and] Strengthen growth-management laws instead of gutting them. There's still time in their upcoming session for legislators to pass a bill that requires local officials to muster a voting super-majority to alter their land-use plans. That surely would reduce the 8,000 to 10,000 times that city councils and county commissions now try to modify them.
    "How to beat Amendment 4".


    Big talk ... where's the cash?

    The Saint Petersburg Times editorial board: "New Florida, which has the backing of the Council of 100 business group, seeks to double the state's university system budget to roughly $4 billion by 2015. The plan calls for investing half the new money in producing degrees and research in the fields most closely associated with knowledge-based economies: science, technology, engineering and mathematics." "'New Florida' offers new hope".


    Bad unions

    Media company employee Fred Grimm wants you to know that teachers unions (you know, the teachers democratically selected by other teachers teachers, to represent them viz. their employers) are bad: "Teachers union's smear campaign misses target".


    Innocence commission neeeded

    The Daytona Beach News Journal editorial board observes that, "in recent years, a string of high-profile exonerations -- some sparked by DNA testing, others by dogged investigation -- have forced policymakers to confront the ugly reality."

    Innocent people are being sent to prison. Not many, but one is too many -- and Florida has seen 11 cases overturned by DNA evidence, with more in the pipeline. State leaders should ask why. Examining overturned cases reveals common elements. Other states have launched innocence commissions to systematically study wrongful convictions, and suggest changes to the criminal-justice system.
    "Innocence panel could improve justice in Florida".


    He can't get enuf'

    "Young will run again".


    Bad company

    "Days after his CPAC speech, Rubio will appear with Karl Rove at a dinner Sunday for the Legacy Political Fund, a PAC that supports candidates who 'embrace a compassionate conservative ideology.'" "Rubio and Rove to share stage in D.C.".


    Tea-baggers in a dither

    "For the first time in years, the nation's 1 million or so farmworkers will get a real measure of fairness in how they are hired, paid and treated on the job."

    Last week, U.S. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis outlined new rules for the temporary immigrant farmworkers program known as H-2A for the type of visa that foreign workers are issued. Solis said these changes would boost wages and tighten protections for American and foreign laborers.

    With these changes, growers will be required to prove they first tried to find American workers to fill jobs that routinely are given to migrants. In the past, they could claim they looked for American workers. They now must prove they conducted legitimate job searches. To this end, the Labor Department will establish a national electronic registry of farm jobs.
    You know the rules have teeth, because
    Growers nationwide are fuming over the new rules, calling them cumbersome and costly.
    "New rules provide measure of fairness for farmworkers".


    Soft on corruption?

    "Critics for years have labeled Broward County State Attorney Mike Satz as soft on public corruption."

    "Public corruption is his underbelly, his soft spot," said longtime defense attorney Hilliard Moldof. "It's not on his radar."

    But what does the record show?

    An extensive public records review by the Sun Sentinel reveals that in the past 10 years, a special anti-corruption unit in Satz's office has filed cases against 218 defendants for alleged acts of official misconduct, bribe-taking, theft and other abuses of positions of trust.

    Only 13 of the accused have been sitting politicians. Most of the criminal charges have been against rank-and-file public employees or law enforcement officers, lawyers and other licensed professionals. In some cases, the alleged crimes might seem minor — stolen library DVDs, embezzled turnpike tolls.
    "Is Broward’s state attorney soft on corruption?".


    Hiaasen on "the party that snuggles up to Big Business"

    Carl Hiaasen: "The U.S. Supreme Court has made it infinitely easier for candidates to sell themselves to special interests, who in return will peddle those candidates to voters."

    Here in Florida, where oil companies are pushing hard for offshore drilling, the Supreme Court's decision opens bountiful opportunities to incumbent officeholders and newcomers alike.

    Although coastal drilling remains an unpopular concept in most beachside communities, any candidate for federal office who supports it could probably count on Exxon-Mobil or Shell to come up with some slick and persuasive commercials, which would be blared over and over and over . . .

    The old campaign-finance laws had holes as wide as the Holland Tunnel, but there were limits. Now it's a free-for-all.
    "Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and other GOP bigshots have cheered the Supreme Court ruling, and they've made it clear that they would try to block any new legislation that would curtail corporate donations to political candidates."
    The reason is no mystery -- the Republicans have traditionally been the party that snuggles up to Big Business, and they stand to gain the most from this opening of the floodgates. ...

    Two Democrats, Sen. Charles Schumer of New York and Rep. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, are leading an effort to pass a new campaign finance law in advance of the November elections.

    They want to make corporations tell shareholders what they're spending on political races, and they also want top executives to appear in campaign ads being funded by their companies.

    Knowing who paid for political commercials would definitely make them more informative, but neither the corporations nor their stooge candidates will be eager to advertise the cozy relationship. ...

    If you thought the airwaves were polluted during the 2008 campaign, just wait until the fall. Political ads will be even more deceptive, nasty, insulting and abundant -- all the free speech that big money can buy.

    That's dreary news for voters, but good news for a certain breed of politician.
    "'All the free speech big money can buy'".


    Grubbing for wingnuts

    Scott Maxwell: "Last week, the state stepped up its taxpayer-financed fight to prevent a South Florida woman from adopting one of her own relatives."

    It didn't matter to Charlie Crist's Department of Children and Family Services that the 1-year-old boy at the heart of the case is thriving in the home of his 34-year-old cousin, who he calls "Mama."

    It didn't matter that everyone who studied the case — from a child psychologist to the state-appointed guardian ad litem — testified that staying with his Mama was "in the best interest" of the child.

    All Crist's DCF officials cared about was that Vanessa Alenier was gay.

    So last week, they stepped up their efforts to block the adoption, appealing the ruling of a judge who said every single piece of evidence presented suggested the adoption should proceed.

    The family is obviously distressed.

    But for Crist, the political benefits could be plentiful.

    Our governor, after all, is in the midst of a brutal primary race, desperate to prove to his base that he's no namby-pamby social moderate.
    "Crist's DCF is still trying to stop gay adoption".


    Daily Rothstein

    "Bankruptcy lawyers handling the financial fallout from Scott Rothstein's mega Ponzi scheme are taking issue with the way federal prosecutors are dealing with the convicted felon's multi-million dollar properties."

    Of particular concern: Rothstein's wife Kimberly is still managing some of the houses and is living rent-free in one of them, the attorneys wrote in court filings Friday.

    "It has recently come to the attention [of the lawyers] that the government has apparently delegated its duty to properly manage and safeguard certain of the property subject to forfeiture to Scott Rothstein's wife – Kimberly Rothstein," wrote Paul Singerman, one of the attorneys handling the case for the bankruptcy trustee.

    "More specifically, the [lawyers] have learned that the government has permitted Kimberly Rothstein to live rent free in one of the forfeited properties and to continue to rent out other properties to tenants," Singerman wrote.
    "Bankruptcy trustee: Kim Rothstein living rent free".


    Overpayment?

    Mike Mayo: "Did Davie overpay for powerful Forman family’s land?".


    "Federal water grab"

    Mike Thomas: "The great federal water grab is on."

    At stake is the right of states to turn their lakes and rivers into snot.

    Florida, which has been doing this for decades, has become the test case for what would be a major expansion of Washington's power as the feds plan a pollution crackdown.

    If the intervention here succeeds, the Environmental Protection Agency will invade other states.

    This is all part of a pent-up demand for green power from Washington, stifled under George W. Bush and now unleashed by Barack Obama.

    The EPA already has moved on air pollution with proposals to regulate carbon dioxide and increase limits on ozone.

    It has conquered the air and now comes the water.

    Call it socialism.

    Call it cleaning up the place.

    Call me conflicted.
    "Feds' water grab is coming, and we might deserve it".

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