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 Wednesday, February 17, 2010

What is McCollum hiding?

    The Saint Petersburg Times editorial board: "Florida Republican leaders are struggling to contain a brewing scandal within the state party by shifting money and dodging questions. "
    Too many of them believe stonewalling will silence critics who include many of the party's own grass roots supporters. It's time for state and federal authorities to investigate to determine if campaign finance and tax laws have been broken.

    The most obvious question is whether state Republican Party staffers, leaders and elected officials misspent political contributions for personal gain — and should have paid taxes on that compensation. Millions of dollars in soft money has been raised by the party in recent years. Much of it, apparently, went to pay American Express bills that were never fully disclosed in campaign finance reports. While state law requires such transparency, an elections division ruling let the party off the hook.
    "Attorney General Bill McCollum, despite knowing about the secret contract and the transferred funds for more than a month, is resisting calls for an external inquiry."
    He's content to let the next state party chairman, due to be elected this weekend, conduct an internal audit before calling the authorities in. Surely many of the entities that the attorney general investigates wish they were given such leeway to clean up their books. McCollum's office is likely not the appropriate state agency to investigate — a state attorney, statewide grand jury or the Florida Department of Law Enforcement would seem more likely — but his answer suggests he's more interested in saving the party embarrassment than getting at the truth.
    "Inquiry into GOP cash needed".


    Setbacks for Sansom

    "State Rep. Ray Sansom's attempt to have a fellow lawmaker removed from a panel investigating his ties to a state college has failed, and Sansom's defense was handed two other setbacks late Tuesday."

    Sansom argued Monday that Rep. Joe Gibbons, D-Hallandale Beach, had a conflict of interest because he works for the same law firm as the lawyer representing witnesses for Northwest Florida State College.

    Sansom, R-Destin, also said Gibbons was biased because he told a reporter that Sansom could be trying to delay the tribunal.

    But Rep. Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, the chairman of the five-member committee, said Tuesday night that Gibbons could stay because the review was not like a judicial setting, but instead a review by Sansom's colleagues. He added that Gibbons' statements did not rise to the extreme and stressed that any disciplinary action would be voted on by the 120-member House.

    As head of the House budget, Sansom steered $35 million in extra or accelerated money to Northwest Florida State College, including $6 million for an airport building that a developer at one point was eyeing for his corporate jet business. He later took a $110,000 job at the school on the same day he was sworn in as speaker of the House.

    The tribunal is to begin Monday, and Sansom will be limited by a decision Galvano made Tuesday granting a motion by the House's special prosecutor, Melanie Hines.
    Much more here: "Three requests rejected in House probe of Sansom". See also "Sansom loses rulings by chairman in House inquiry" and "".


    PSC ethics

    "A bill to raise ethical standards at the Public Service Commission sailed through the Senate Rules Committee on Tuesday, clearing the way for Senate floor debate as early as the first week of the 2010 session next month." "Bill to reform PSC ethics earns quick endorsement".


    Sink gets frugal

    "Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, a Democratic candidate for governor, continued Tuesday to emphasize the theme of a more-businesslike approach to state government. To save money, the former bank executive is calling on state agencies to eliminate jobs of middle managers as they retire or quit." "Sink emphasizes cost-saving measures for state agencies". See also "Sink wants to thin state's bureaucratic herd".

    Meantime, Billy bares his fangs: "It didn’t take long for Attorney General Bill McCollum’s campaign to slap Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink’s proposal to save $10 million a year by leaving her agency’s middle management positions unfilled after workers retire or leave the state. The GOP candidate for governor’s campaign called Sink’s announcement a political publicity stunt by her official state office." "UPDATE: Sink-McCollum smackdown, Part II".


    "The right to participate"?

    "A Tallahassee appellate court will soon weigh in on whether Florida's Sunshine Law gives citizens the right to be participants, not merely spectators, in government meetings." "Court to decide public's right to speak, be heard".


    Entrepreneurs in action

    The Miami Herald editorial board: ""

    The hotel bellman worked without breaks for a 16-hour shift when he was asked, but didn't get the contracted gratuity in his paycheck.

    A landscape subcontractor promised Guatemalan workers $100 a day for a week's work but disappeared on pay day.

    People in low-paying jobs -- U.S.-born and migrants alike -- are overly susceptible to unscrupulous employers who exploit them, as the South Florida Wage Theft Task Force has found.

    Activists call this "wage theft,'' and they have enlisted Miami-Dade Commissioner Natacha Seijas to their cause. The result is a county ordinance, cosponsored by Commissioners Audrey Edmonson and Jose "Pepe'' Diaz, prohibiting wage theft. The County Commission will consider the ordinance on Thursday. Commissioners should adopt it.

    Recovering back wages owed workers will put more money in the local economy, send a message to crooked employers and create a more level playing field for honest employers.
    "Stop the wage theft".


    Yaaawwwnnn ...

    "Bushes in Naples: George W. and Jeb show personal side in appearance".


    Paper or plastic?

    "Should plastic shopping bags be banned? A state panel addressed the question, but offered no answer Tuesday." "Report could spur debate on plastic-bag ban in Florida".


    Tea partiers in a dither

    Jeremy Wallace: "Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele was still at a summit with tea party activists in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, when people connected to the movement hatched plans to protest his arrival in Charlotte County for meetings with top Republican fundraisers later this week." "Tea party to protest Republicans".


    Foreclosures

    "Hispanics hit hard by foreclosure".


    Swine flu

    The Sun-Sentinel editorial board: "Swine flu no big deal in Florida thanks to efforts to thwart it".


    "Florida hasn't reaped much"

    The Orlando Sentinel editorial board: "It's easy to find fault with the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act a year after President Obama signed it. Florida hasn't reaped much from it."

    The act's worst excesses, its expenditures that have little to do with creating jobs and more to do with letting lawmakers fatten their favorite constituencies, continue to pop up.

    Exhibit A: $325,394 in stimulus money for the University of Florida to determine how the environment affects the mating decisions of female cactus-bugs.

    The project has created one research technician's job. Defenders of the project say it could uncover a hormone in the insect that may aid medicine. And that would create jobs … how?

    We'd also love to hear from anyone who can explain how $59,845 in stimulus money for Florida International University graduate students to analyze an explosion of lawsuits in 17th-century Peru and Mexico is going to put 21st-century Floridians back to work.

    Several other handouts from Washington that on the surface might seem to have public value — $34,000 for Oviedo police to buy 42 Tasers, for instance — similarly chafe us because they simply don't do anything to get the state working again. ...

    It has, by state and federal accounts, saved or created about 35,000 jobs in Florida.

    But in 2009, the state lost 1.1 million jobs and unemployment rose to 11.8 percent from 9.4 percent. Which leads to our greatest frustration with the Recovery Act — the sometimes slow-as-molasses spending of its billions. Florida ranks 47th in spending its federal-stimulus largess.
    "Stimulate the stimulus". Related: "Posey: Almost nobody better off because of stimulus".


    NASA

    "Sometime next month, if all goes well, a 154-foot-tall white rocket will rise from a launchpad at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in a crucial test of the ambitions of upstart space company SpaceX —- and of President Barack Obama's new policy for NASA." "SpaceX rocket launch: SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launch will be test of commercial space business".


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