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 Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Charlie's "messy divorce" from the RPOF

    "On the first day of the 2010 hurricane season, Gov. Charlie Crist vetoed an expansive property insurance bill, citing concerns about making it easier to increase rates for policyholders." "Crist cites rates, critics cite politics, as he vetoes property insurance bill".

    "Crist late Tuesday vetoed a broad property insurance bill that would have made it easier for insurers to raise rates and reduce claims costs. ... Among other things, the bill would have:"
    Allowed insurers to raise rates if they show the "mitigation" discounts were too high and to pass to customers the costs of advertising and agent commissions without interference from regulators.

    Expanded a provision from last year allowing insurers to raise premiums by up to 10 percent a year for certain back up coverage costs without full oversight from regulators. The bill this year would have allowed inflation and other costs to be included in the provision.

    Limited the time policyholders have to file a windstorm claims to three years after a hurricane, down from five years, and allowed insurers to withhold part of most claims until the homeowner has a contract to make repairs and "as the work is performed."
    "Crist vetoes bill allowing certain property insurance rate hikes". See also "Crist Vetoes Property Insurance Legislation", "Crist vetoes property insurance reform bill". See also "Crist vetoes insurance bill; Atwater blasts governor saying he "mischaracterized" bill".

    Regarding Crist's veto of the Legislature's raid of transportation funds, the Tampa Tribune editorial board writes that "Taking a calculated risk that Florida's economy will be stronger in years ahead, Gov. Charlie Crist vetoed the Legislature's ill-advised hijacking of transportation funds. The move will save construction jobs and probably keep some construction companies out of bankruptcy, at a time of unprecedented hardship for the building industry." "Crist saves road jobs with budget gamble".

    More from the Orlando Sentinel editors: "What's next for Gov. Charlie Crist in the wake of his vetoes last week of a good chunk of the Legislature's business last session?"
    Impeachment? Incarceration?

    That's about what some pious GOP legislative leaders suggested would suit the Republican-turned-independent governor.

    House Speaker Larry Cretul said Crist's vetoes amounted to an "abuse of power."

    Senate budget chief J.D. Alexander said Mr. Crist "prefers a drive-by, hit-and-run approach to governing." "Hit and run" – that's criminal, isn't it?
    "Mr. Crist on Friday vetoed $371 million from the state's $70.2 billion budget. While some of the cuts appeared questionable, several were right on the money. For Mr. Cretul and Mr. Alexander to summarily dismiss them — while sermonizing how they don't constitute good government — is at once amusing but also the definition of gall." "Merit behind the vetoes".

    TPM puts it this way: "Crist's separation from the Republican Party to run for Senate as an independent is turning more and more into a messy divorce, with the newest item being the feuding over Crist's line-item vetoes of the state budget." "Charlie Crist Clashes With Republican Legislature In Florida".

    It ain't me ...

    "Gubernatorial candidate Rick Scott is not shrinking away from attacks on him for having headed a company that committed Medicare fraud."

    Looking squarely into the camera, the candidate chides McCollum for focusing of Scott's track record over his own. "That's what career politicians do," he says. He then acknowledges that his company was fined by the government for Medicare fraud.

    "Unfortunately, that's true," he says, noting quickly that he was never charged or questioned personally in the case.
    "Rick Scott launches campaign to deflect HCA fraud attack ads".

    Perhaps he should sue?

    "McCollum says he was left out of oil spill meeting". See also "Florida attorney general not invited to meeting to discuss Gulf oil spill".

    Spill, baby! Spill!

    The oil is almost here:

    An oil sheen was confirmed about nine miles off the Florida coast, and officials are saying it could hit the white sands of Pensacola Beach as soon as Wednesday.
    "OIL CLOSES IN ON FLORIDA". See also "Oil may hit Pensacola beaches by weekend", "Oil could hit Florida Panhandle by Wednesday", "Oil sheen reported about 9 miles off Florida coast" and "No Answer From BP Over Aid Request".

    TPM has a "Gulf Oil Spill Wire". More at the Huffington Post's "Gulf Spill BIG NEWS Page".

    "Bits and Pieces"

    Kevin Derby's "Political Bits and Pieces".

    Once a teabagger ...

    "At a stage in the campaign when many statewide candidates would be trying to moderate their message to appeal to general election voters, Senate candidate Marco Rubio continues to emphasize a platform that appeals to conservative Republicans and the Tea Party movement." "For Senate candidate Marco Rubio, no swing to the left".

    What's next ... secession?

    "Local [Brevard County] legislators want to mirror Arizona's new law that would enable police on routine stops and arrests to ask and determine whether a person is in the country illegally. Rep. Ritch Workman, R-Melbourne, said he plans to introduce such a bill to help curb illegal immigration, because the federal government has failed to do so."

    "We are a sovereign nation of 50 sovereign states," Workman told a crowd of about 70 at a town hall meeting Tuesday at Melbourne City Hall. "We have to remove ourselves from the bosom of the federal government."
    "Local legislators want Arizona-style law in Florida".

    "What's that smell?"

    "Florida's governor was supposed to lock down outgoing Sen. Mel Martinez's seat for the GOP as soon as he declared his candidacy. Crist won the endorsement of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, raised an astonishing $4.4 million in the first reporting period of his campaign and led former state House Speaker Marco Rubio by more than 30 points in a June 2009 primary poll."

    But like Specter, Crist had severe liabilities from the start — and did even less than Specter to address them. His open support for the stimulus bill and literal hug of President Barack Obama enraged the GOP base — not since Joe Lieberman embraced George W. Bush has one image so defined a Senate campaign. Crist's efforts to reconnect with the party faithful were either transparently political (announcing he'd oppose Sonia Sotomayor's confirmation) or inept (denying he'd offered full support for the Recovery Act, before conceding that he had). The fact that Crist is actually more viable running without a party is a testament to his disastrous performance as a GOP primary candidate.
    "What's that smell? The worst campaigns of 2010".

    Teabagger gets herself fired

    "Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp and Attorney General Bill McCollum urged a North Florida state attorney Tuesday to rehire a prosecutor who was fired last week for expressing her 'originalist' view of the U.S. Constitution at Tea Party rallies and other conservative events."

    KrisAnne Hall's dismissal will also be the subject of a protest Thursday at the Suwannee County courthouse. Independent congressional candidate Paul McKain issued a statement Monday saying he would attend to show support for the ousted assistant state attorney, who headed felony prosecutions in Hamilton County.

    "News reports state that Ms. Hall was speaking about educating oneself on the Founding Fathers and the U.S. Constitution," McCollum wrote to State Attorney Robert "Skip" Jarvis. "As you know, the Constitution's First Amendment vigorously protects free speech, particularly political speech."

    Hall, 40, was told by Jarvis to stop speaking at public events and in radio interviews. He said last week he received a complaint from a citizen who said she was associating with "fringe" political groups.
    "Kottkamp, McCollum spring to the defense of fired prosecutor".

    Greene once a GOPer

    "Records show that Democratic U.S. Senate candidate and Palm Beach billionaire Jeff Greene spent most of the time since 1977 registered with no party affiliation and was once a Republican before moving back to Florida in 2008 and registering as a Democrat." "Palm Beach billionaire and Democratic Senate candidate was once a Republican".

    Greene refuses to disclose tax returns

    "Unlike his U.S. Senate rivals, Democrat Jeff Greene -- who reaped millions off the subprime mortgage market that helped wreck Florida's economy -- is not releasing his tax returns. ... It's become standard practice for high-profile statewide candidates in Florida to release their tax returns." "Democratic Florida Senate candidate Jeff Greene hasn't yet released tax returns".


    Scott Maxwell: "On readers' minds: Making contact with politicians".

    Race to the "top"

    The Tallahassee Democrat editorial board: "Quiet as it's been kept — this second time around — Florida's Race to the Top grant application provides reasons for concern ... Should Florida join the winners' circle in September, local districts will have the chance to opt out of accepting the federal money without consequence. This is a safeguard that wise education stakeholders may want to keep in mind, because the money comes attached to a good many requirements." "Before we leap".

    The rich are different

    The Miami Herald's Michael Putney: "Are Florida voters so fed up with experienced politicians they know that they'll replace them with inexperienced, millionaire outsiders they don't? That's the question that hangs over the Senate and governor's races. Along with a more personal one: Are Rick Scott and Jeff Greene on an expensive ego trip or do they truly aspire to become public servants?"

    Greene, a Democrat who lives in Palm Beach, and Scott, a Republican from Naples, are richer-than-Croesus candidates running for Senate and governor, respectively. Both boast of being outsiders who will go to Washington and Tallahassee to "shake things up.''

    Such claims are largely fatuous; political neophytes lucky enough to get elected have to sit back and listen before they start shaking things up.

    Greene spent most of his adult life in California, where he once ran (and lost) for Congress -- as a Republican. An anomaly, Greene says, since he was raised a Democrat.

    He insists he understands Florida well since the family moved to Fort Lauderdale when he was a teen and he accompanied his father as he serviced vending machines. The son has risen: Forbes estimates Greene's net worth at more than $1 billion, thanks largely to shorting the housing market in credit default swaps. Try explaining that in the capital of foreclosure.
    "Upstarts have fighting chance".

    What's a teabagger to do?

    When common sense and wingnuttery collide:

    - Ben Brooks, a lawyer and Republican state senator from coastal Alabama, says he's no fan of big government but he expects an aggressive federal response as a gunky oil spill threatens the Gulf of Mexico.

    - All along the Gulf Coast, where the tea party thrives and "socialism" is a common description for any government program, conservatives who usually denounce federal activism suddenly are clamoring for it.

    Take Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, a Republican elected in 2007 when Democrat Kathleen Blanco opted not to seek re-election after she was widely panned for a bumbling response to Hurricane Katrina two years earlier.

    Since April 20, when a gulf rig exploded and blew out an underwater oil well about 50 miles south of Louisiana, Jindal has been a ubiquitous presence in the fishing communities and barrier islands along his state's fragile coastline. He's been out on boats and up in Black Hawk helicopters, doors open, to survey the spreading, rust-colored swath of crude.

    Jindal, a possible 2012 presidential candidate, has demanded a stronger response from the Obama administration, accusing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers of dragging its feet in approving Louisiana's plans for protective berms - a plan that took three weeks to approve.

    - Jindal is a fiscal conservative who made headlines last year by rejecting some federal stimulus money, then distributing other stimulus funds by handing out oversized cardboard checks to local officials.
    And then there's billy:
    A bipartisan group of attorneys general from Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida sent Obama a letter May 6 asking for federal help in documenting information about oil company BP PLC's response to the blown well.

    "We recognize that BP has stated publicly that it will live up to its obligation to pay all claims arising from this environmental and economic disaster. We hope that BP will," the five attorneys general wrote. "But we would be remiss in our responsibilities if we did not consider the possibility that enforcement or litigation efforts may be required in the future."

    Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum, who is in a Republican primary for governor, posted the letter on his state website, with other information about the oil spill.
    "Conservatives seek gov't solutions after oil spill".

    HD 45

    "In a move that has been anticipated, [Republican] Kathryn Starkey officially announced today her resignation from the Pasco County School Board effective Nov. 2. State law required Starkey to resign the board seat because she is running for the District 45 seat of the Florida House of Representatives." "Starkey resigns from Pasco board to run for Florida House".

    PSC prospects

    "The top vote getters from the legislatively-dominated council were former state Sen. Curt Kiser who was hired as the PSC's general counsel in November, and Kevin Wiehle, staff director for the Senate utilities committee -- each received 11 votes. Receiving 10 votes each were James Baumstark, a retired nuclear engineer formerly with Progress Energy and Sen. Lee Constantine, a Republican state senator from Altamonte Springs who retires this year because of term limits." "PSC nomination panel trims list for 2 openings". See also "28 candidates to interview for spots on PSC".

    Greene calls his mother

    "What do you do if you're a carpetbagging billionaire with a party-hearty past trying to connect with ordinary Florida voters? Call your mother. Because even if you don't like U.S. Senate candidate Jeff Greene, a 55-year-old real estate tycoon who moved to Florida in 2008, you'll love his mother Barbara, an 83-year-old canasta-playing, line-dancing resident of Century Village in West Palm Beach for more than three decades." "In new ads, U.S. Senate candidate Jeff Greene lets mom do the talking".

    What the RPOFers call and infringement on "freedom"

    "The Public Service Commission has ordered Florida Power & Light Co. to refund nearly $13.9 million to customers for a 2008 outage." "Fla. Power & Light to refund $13.9 million".

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