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 30, 2010

"Grayson is too smart to act that dumb"

    Scott Maxwell keeps his nose to the grindstone on the Grayson-teabagger thing:"Among the most tantalizing accusations is that Democratic U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson of Orlando is funding the Tea Party movement — or at least those involved with it."
    On some levels, this is true.

    As previously reported, Grayson's campaign has directed nearly $28,000 to a candidate and member of the newly formed Florida Tea Party — the party that has also fielded a candidate against Grayson.

    The philosophy behind why Grayson — or any Democrat — would want a Tea Partyer in their race is that, when both a GOP and Tea Party candidate are in a race, the two candidates split the conservative vote, giving the Dem an edge.

    Anyway, Grayson claimed he paid this Tea Partyer for polling services. But when I asked Grayson if he could give me a single example of successful polling work this unknown pollster had performed in the past, he could not. In fact, he chastised me for expecting him to know anything about the pollster's resume.

    Silly me. I mistakenly thought that, before Grayson handed over nearly 30 grand, he would have asked for evidence that it would be money well spent.

    Grayson is too smart to act that dumb.

    There are also Grayson's odd connections to Florida Tea Party chairman Fred O'Neal and his Tea Party buddy, Doug Guetzloe. Grayson spent money buying ads on Guetzloe's radio show — a move that would probably be questionable for most anyone, considering the size of Guetzloe's audience (before his show was recently booted off the air, anyway). It becomes even more questionable when you consider Grayson is a liberal and Guetzloe is a self-proclaimed conservative.

    But Republicans all over the state are trying to turn Grayson into some kind of Machiavellian genius, rigging elections from North Florida to Key West. And that claim simply lacks credibility — and proof.

    In fact, the best I can gather — after interviewing Republicans, Tea Partyers, Democrats and Grayson himself — is that this issue simply isn't black or white.
    "Conspiracy, confusion all part of the Tea Party war". See also "Florida Is Battleground for Tea Parties -- Against Themselves". Related: "Another tea-party-vs-Tea-party showdown brewing?".

    LeMieux sacrifices Floridians to "score political points"

    The Saint Petersburg Times editorial board: "The unemployment rate in Florida and the nation remains depressingly high, few private sector jobs are being created and the Consumer Confidence Index plummeted again Tuesday. Yet Congress callously refuses to assist Americans most desperate for help."

    Senate Republicans, including Florida Sen. George LeMieux, blocked a comprehensive bill last week that included an extension of unemployment benefits and other badly needed assistance. The House on Tuesday could not muster the two-thirds vote needed to quickly pass just the unemployment benefits, so it will try again as early as today. Floridians who cannot find work in this terrible economy should not be sacrificed to score political points on the federal deficit.
    "Unemployed Floridians are sacrificed".

    "'Absurd' and skewed"

    "An optimistic report that foresees high-speed rail systems driving high-dollar growth and jobs in hub cities nationwide -- including Orlando -- is being assailed by one national critic as 'absurd' and skewed." "Optimistic High-Speed Rail Benefits Assailed".

    "Amnesty" OK

    "Amnesty may carry a negative connotation when it comes to immigration, but it turns positive when applied to taxes. At least some people think so. Beginning Thursday, the state of Florida will waive penalties on back taxes owed by businesses and individuals. During a three-month window closing Sept. 30, all applicable interest fees also will be cut in half." "Florida Gives Another Break to Tax Scofflaws".

    Meanwhile, editors want to gut their pensions

    What an ironic juxtaposition of stories. This from the AP: "2 Tampa officers killed in shooting".

    And this from the Sun Sentinel editors: "Cities need to make pension changes", wherein they whine that "municipalities see funds dwindling and services having to be cut, they are going to have to be creative with retirement plans, and be prepared for predictable battles with unions."

    Law enforcement officers and firefighters risk their lives every day; we ought to be finding ways to make sure they and their families can count on good pensions. Instead newspaper editors around the state give us a steady drumbeat of Chamber of Commerce/League of City propaganda, together with a healthy dollop of union bashing, calling for eliminating defined benefit plans and replacing them with cheap, junk 401(k) pension plans.

    And then they put their blinders on, and sanctimoniously give us editorials like this:

    Both men were only 31. Kocab's wife is nine months pregnant with his first child. Curtis has four young sons, the youngest only eight months old. It is impossible to calculate the number of lives that will be forever scarred by the gunman's savagery.

    The tragedy underscores more than just the great dangers of police work.

    It also reveals how the police are always at a disadvantage when facing thugs who have no regard for human life.

    The officers seek to protect the innocent and strive to avoid violent confrontations.

    Yet they sometimes must confront monsters who will kill without the slightest hesitation. And there is no predicting when a seemingly harmless encounter can turn deadly.
    "A day of horror in Tampa". Related: "Trying to make sense of senseless police shooting".

    Crist a witness in alleged "intricate web of deceit"

    "Gov. Charlie Crist and a future Florida House speaker are listed as witnesses in the criminal corruption case against former state Republican chairman Jim Greer."

    Those revelations emerged late Tuesday as prosecutors released hundreds of pages of evidence and a taped telephone call related to Greer's indictment in state court earlier this month on six felony counts of theft, money laundering and orchestrating a scheme to defraud the Republican Party of Florida.

    Altogether, the documents lay out an intricate web of deceit sown by Greer and his cohort, Delmar Johnson, the party's former executive director, as they created a secret agreement involving a company called Victory Strategies LLC. Prosecutors say this deal siphoned $200,000 in party donations into the shell company. They also include some intriguing political tidbits with possible repercussions on the November elections.

    Crist, who hand-picked Greer for the chairmanship, will face the toughest questions as he campaigns as an independent candidate for the U.S. Senate. He is listed as a low-priority witness, probably because of his close connection to Greer, and it is unclear whether he will be called to testify at trial.

    Authorities interviewed witnesses who suggested Crist knew about the secret fundraising contract at the center of the investigation, something Greer's attorney has previously suggested.
    "Prosecutors lay out ex-GOP chief's alleged fraud scheme".

    Delmar cuts a deal

    "The Office of Statewide Prosecution on Tuesday made public much of its case against Greer. It shows the state party struggling with dwindling donations and a chairman — Greer — who loved to spend money."

    It also reveals how powerful the party chairman is. His Victory Strategies partner, Delmar Johnson III, said he knew about Greer's connection to the company but the following people insisted they did not: the party's treasurer, its top lawyer, the executive who cut the checks to Victory Strategies, and Gov. Charlie Crist. ...

    Among the paperwork released Tuesday was a copy of the deal prosecutors made with Johnson, who was the state GOP's executive director until his resignation in February. Johnson owned 40 percent of Victory Strategies and pocketed $65,000, according to prosecution records.

    He will not go to prison, serve probation, pay a fine or have a criminal record.

    He must repay the $65,000, and he must appear anywhere, anytime the Office of Statewide Prosecution says and tell what he knows, according to the agreement.

    That includes testifying before a federal grand jury, the agreement says. State party officials have confirmed that they've been interviewed by the FBI and Internal Revenue Service about party spending.
    "Prosecutors: Ex-GOP chief Greer lied about ties to company". See also "While Greer May Face Time, Johnson Walks".


    Is this ... you know ... ethical?

    John Jackson Harris, a government consultant for the GrayRobinson law firm that drew up the organizing papers for Victory Strategies, told investigators Greer implied his name should be kept from appearing on any public records related to the company.

    He said the law firm used the address of its Tallahassee office and named a legal assistant there as its authorized representative so Greer's name would not appear on records filed with the state Division of Corporations.
    "Former GOP aide cuts deal with state prosecutors".


    "BP and the Coast Guard sent oil-scooping skimming ships in the Gulf of Mexico back to shore Tuesday because nasty weather from Alex churned up rough seas and powerful winds. The storm plowing across the far side of the gulf makes containment booms useless, even from some 500 miles away. But the rough weather also might give nature a hand in breaking down crude from the massive oil spill." "Rough seas halt skimming operations in gulf as storm slows oil spill cleanup". See also "Some 70,000 turtle eggs to be whisked far from oil", "Valdez expert: Psychological impact of Gulf oil spill won't fully emerge for years", "" and "Wind, waves from hurricane dock oil skimming boats".

    What's wrong with Hillsbourough?

    "Democrat John Dingfelder withdrew from the Hillsborough County Commission race Tuesday, opening up the possibility that he could be appointed to run for the same post – and avoid litigation by county Republicans." "Dingfelder drops out of race but could still be on ballot".

    No-limit poker

    "It's what many players have been waiting for, and it could bring the big-time pros you typically see on TV right here to your local poker room. Currently, the most a player can buy-in for a 'cash' game is $100. After Thursday, there will be no limits." "No-limit poker in Florida legal Thursday".

    But it ain't a tax: "Florida's card rooms start dealing no-limit poker at 12:01 a.m. Thursday, and the state hopes to be a winner. Higher stakes generate bigger pots and more play -- all of which should add up to greater gaming revenues flowing to Tallahassee." "Big Gaming Change: Florida Has Stake in No-Limit Poker".

    Senate race issues

    "The race is likely to be the most-watched Senate race in the nation. Following is a look at how the four leading candidates compare on issues, contributions, net worth and more." "The Candidates for U.S. Senate in Florida - Comparison on Issues".

    Entrepreneurs in action

    "The allegations of wrongdoing at WellCare Health Plans Inc. continued Tuesday with the unsealing of two more whistle-blower complaints against the Tampa company." "More allegations against WellCare".

    527 mess

    "A Tallahassee attorney who last year asked the state for guidance on how to deal with third-party political groups or 527s as they are also known has dropped his request."

    Mark Herron asked whether or not 527 groups can coordinate with candidates if the underlying law regulating these organizations is wiped out. He also asked whether ads run by 527 organizations are considered a contribution to a candidate’s campaign if the ad is drawn in such a way that it serves as a “functional equivalent of express advocacy.”

    At the time Herron made his request, the state law regulating third-party organizations had been declared unconstitutional by a federal judge. During this past session legislators passed an elections bill -- HB 131 -- that includes new regulations for 527 groups. The new law -- which was written in a way to withstand a legal challenge -- would require such groups to register with the state and disclose finances if the groups run ads 30 days before the primary and 60 days before the general election.

    527 organizations are already playing a heavy role in the GOP primary for governor with groups with ties to both Rick Scott and Attorney General Bill McCollum running television ads. Both campaigns have raised legal questions as to whether the other side has failed to follow election laws.
    "No new guidance on 527s coming anytime soon".

    Rubio thinks Paris Hilton is a "job creator"?

    "Florida Republican U.S. Senate candidate Marco Rubio appeared Monday on Fox News arguing that Congress should make the Bush tax cuts permanent before the congressional recess."

    In a fervent defense of supply-side economics, Rubio said that the "upper 1 percent are job-creators."
    "Rubio wants to make Bush tax cuts permanent while reducing deficit".

    "Cap-and-trade politics"

    "Calling Florida Power & Light the 'cleanest' utility 'in the nation,' a representative of the Environmental Defense Fund recently warned the City of Sarasota that ending its franchise agreement with FPL and forging its own municipal utility may not necessarily shrink the city’s carbon footprint." "Debate over cap-and-trade politics trickles down to Sarasota-FPL negotiations".

    "The Legislature was foolish"

    The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "This year's failure of the company that grades the FCAT is more proof that the Legislature was foolish to approve its teacher merit pay plan and Gov. Crist was right to veto it." "Too many tests for testers".

    Yee haw!

    The Miami Herald editorial board: "Monday was a very good day for the National Rifle Association and a very bad day for the sensible state and local officials in this country who want to curb the level of gun violence in their communities."

    This is the first time the high court has found that the U.S. Constitution restricts state and municipal gun-control powers, and it is a hard blow to communities struggling to eradicate gun violence. Many local and state gun regulations will be fair game to legal challenges because the court majority was vague about how far the Second Amendment should be extended on gun ownership. Just as there are limits on citizens' free speech there should also be limits on gun ownership -- but what those limits can be is now pretty murky.
    "A win for the NRA".

    Meanwhile, back at the tea party, "Florida Republicans Praise Supreme Court Ruling Striking Down Local Gun-Control Laws".

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