Since 2002, daily Florida political news and commentary


UPDATE: Every morning we review and individually digest Florida political news articles, editorials and punditry. Our sister site, FLA Politics was selected by Campaigns & Elections as one of only ten state blogs in the nation
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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 Saturday, June 05, 2010

McCollum grubs for the anti-choice vote

    "Attorney General Bill McCollum sent a letter Friday urging Gov. Charlie Crist to sign into law legislation requiring women to be given a chance to view an ultrasound of their fetus before obtaining an abortion."

    McCollum only likes right wing mandates:
    McCollum, who is spearheading a lawsuit for 20 states fighting the federal healthcare overhaul as an unconstitutional mandate, wants Crist to approve the measure, HB 1143, imposing the new requirement on women.
    "McCollum pushes proposed abortion bill".

    McCollum ignored warnings about Rekers

    "Disgraced psychologist George Rekers was labeled a 'right-wing, religious-based' expert witness and rejected for months by state attorneys defending Florida's gay adoption ban."

    But when they couldn't find anyone else to replace him on the witness stand, Attorney General Bill McCollum overruled his trial attorneys, quickly hired Rekers, and paid him twice his agreed upon contract with no questions asked, according to documents released this week by McCollum's office.

    Rekers, a psychiatry professor at the University of South Carolina, has been stripped of his credibility after reports surfaced that he hired a gay male escort to give him nude "sexual'' massages and accompany him on a recent European vacation. ...

    Rekers had been used in a previous case involving the state DCF and was retained as an expert witness in an Arkansas case. But the lead trial attorney defending the state ban on adoption, Assistant Attorney General Valerie Martin strongly urged the state not to use him again.

    "Dr. Rekers is a right-wing, religious based expert who I was reluctant to use - but nevertheless contacted him with no response,'' Martin wrote in a March 2007 e-mail to John Slye, DCF deputy general counsel.
    "Records show attorney general hired George Rekers despite warnings".

    Pill Mills

    "Crist signs laws regulating pill mills, tattoo parlors". See also "Crist signs bill cracking down on 'pill mill' operators".

    Keep it secret, keep it safe

    Aaron Deslatte: "The indictment of former GOP Chairman Jim Greer is dominating the headlines. But it could also lead to a much broader exposure of the cottage industry of vendors who feed off the politicians in power."

    Or, the issue could just drop off the radar – as seems more likely.

    Amid the frenzy after Greer was forced out, when Republican leaders were frantically attempting to calm the nerves of donors, new Chairman John Thrasher ordered a forensic audit into credit-card spending and contracts between the party and outside vendors.

    The Atlanta firm he hired, Alston & Bird, LLP, spent 18 months as examiner in Texas energy giant Enron's monumental bankruptcy case in 2002-04.

    Its early findings on the credit-card charges of Greer and former executive director Delmar Johnson will be presented to the GOP's audit committee in two weeks. It's known that the auditors have turned up a few oddities: the party was renting an apartment across the street from its headquarters in Tallahassee, for instance.

    But Thrasher is mum on whether any findings will be released.
    "Will Greer's downfall force a look at Tallahassee political money?".


    "The last, desperate defense against the oil creeping onto the delicate shores and tangled marshes of the Gulf Coast are bits of plastic that at best can only keep some of the slick away."

    Yet imperfect as they are, the booms are so precious some of them have been stolen and coastal counties are clamoring for miles more -- underscoring the helplessness that pervades communities along the Gulf of Mexico 45 days into the spill.
    "Imperfect barriers a fragile defense". See also "Crist goes on morning shows to talk oil spill approaching Florida", "Obama: Oil spill upends life for Gulf residents", "Oil pours from cap over Gulf gusher, some captured", "Birds frozen in oil: image of a desperate summer", "As oil spews, S. Fla. quietly prepares", "Oil hits Panhandle beaches, threatening environment and tourism", "Oil globs reach Pensacola Beach shore", "Tar balls hitting Pensacola Beach probably the first from Deepwater Horizon to hit Florida; Crist meets with Obama", "What Happens To The Oil If A Hurricane Strikes?", "Apalachicola Bay oyster harvests expanded to include Saturdays", "Many ideas for spill cleanup 'not feasible'" and "Tar balls stain beaches in Escambia County".

    "The New Charlie"

    "Crist's campaign has signed up the firm of SKD Knickerbocker, with co-founder Josh Isay becoming Crist's lead media consultant." "Charlie Crist's New Media Team Members Have Dem-Heavy Resumes". See also "Crist Hires Ex-Schumer Chief of Staff to Run Media Campaign".

    Bill on the dole

    "Republicans like to call it "welfare for politicians," but guess who criticizes the system and is one of the biggest beneficiaries? You got it — Republican politicians." "Public financing may be doomed in Florida, but McCollum sure needs it".

    "We want jobs"

    "The Overtown Alliance and dozens of residents met face to face with representatives of the University of Miami and county and city commissioners on Tuesday afternoon at Williams Park Community Center to deliver a message: We want jobs." "Residents of historically black Miami neighborhood demand jobs".

    We don' need no stinkin' extensions

    "107,000 Floridians lose jobless checks today".

    A Chamber thing

    The alleged Ponzi schemer was described "as a flashy guy involved in social activities who knew how to work the table at a Hialeah Chamber of Commerce dinner." "Jeweler accused of Ponzi scheme made political campaign donations".

    AG differences

    "When voters choose from among five candidates to be Florida's next attorney general, their decision could have a profound effect on some of the state's most highly charged issues, from gay adoption to health care reform." "Separating the candidates for Florida attorney general by key issues".

    Crist's protection and rewarding of loyalists

    Tim Nickens finds "more disturbing than Crist's flexibility on policy is his weakness for protecting and rewarding loyalists. Three of the most obvious examples: "

    • Indicted former Republican Party chairman Jim Greer. Why Crist chose an obscure Central Florida fundraiser to lead the state party in 2007 remains mystifying. ...

    • Sen. George LeMieux. After Sen. Mel Martinez resigned last year, Crist went through a charade of visiting with members of Congress and others about filling the vacancy. LeMieux never had held elected office, but he had been the governor's campaign manager and chief of staff.

    There were better choices. ...

    • Department of Juvenile Justice Secretary Frank Peterman. Crist's top aides warned Peterman against flying so often at state cost, and the former St. Petersburg legislator kept doing it.
    "Crist’s loyalty becomes fault".

    Rubio's extreme right wing positions could hurt him

    "It's among Hispanic voters that some of Rubio's conservative positions could prove divisive."

    Last fall he opposed the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor, the country's first Hispanic Supreme Court justice, saying he had concerns about her case history and testimony on issues such as the Second Amendment right to bear arms. He opposes counting undocumented immigrants in the U.S. census and providing them a pathway to citizenship.

    He suggested in an interview with a conservative publication, Human Events, that even illegal immigrant children who have spent most of their lives in the U.S. shouldn't be allowed to stay. He later told The Associated Press: "Young children have to go wherever their parents are."

    And after initially expressing concerns about Arizona's immigration law, the nation's harshest, Rubio reversed his position and came out in support, saying subsequent changes aimed at preventing racial profiling have greatly improved it.
    "Fla. Senate candidate tests politics, ethnicity".

    Sordid doings at the RPOF

    Jac Wilder VerSteeg: "The indictment of Jim Greer for allegedly looting the Republican Party of Florida brings us another case of a political figure indulging a cold-blooded instinct to attack the vulnerable, particularly those sick enough to be hospitalized."

    The tale of how Mr. Greer cast aside a veteran RPOF fund-raiser who didn't buy into his alleged scheme is the newest episode in a series. For previous episodes, think of former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich. He already was in the House in 1980 when his first wife, Jackie, underwent surgery for uterine cancer. Mr. Gingrich, a family-values guy, visited his wife in the hospital the day after the surgery to negotiate terms of their divorce. She is said to have thrown him out.

    Then there's the weird case from 2004, when White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales and White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card invaded the hospital room of Attorney General John Ashcroft. The two White House staffers tried but failed to get Mr. Ashcroft - recovering from gall bladder surgery, sedated and barely conscious - to sign off on a program to conduct warrantless domestic surveillance.

    Mr. Greer's efforts to push aside Meredith O'Rourke fit into that pattern. The details are contained in a Florida Department of Law Enforcement affidavit used to indict Mr. Greer this week on six counts of fraud, theft and money-laundering.
    Here's part of the story:
    Knowing that Ms. O'Rourke was in a Tallahassee hospital, Mr. Greer "called her to demand that she meet him in Tampa to sign the contract," and that if she didn't sign that very day, "the offer would be gone and her contract terminated."

    What could Ms. O'Rourke do? "She checked herself out of the hospital, against her doctor's advice, and drove several hours to Tampa." Once there, however, "she was handed a contract that amounted to a nearly 85 percent pay cut."

    When Ms. O'Rourke objected, "Mr. Greer raised his voice, slammed his hand on the table and said, 'You don't want to take it to that level.' " She still refused to sign. "Before she got out of the parking lot, her BlackBerry e-mail account controlled by Mr. Greer already had been canceled."
    The rest of it is here: "Greer's real indictment: Ex-GOP chief bullied an ethical staffer.".


    This may be the most ignorant thing written by a newspaper editorial board for at least a week. The Tampa Tribune editorial board claims that

    once a union member, a public employee has pretty close to lifetime job security and benefits at great cost to taxpayers.

    Unionization "creates a powerful, permanent constituency for bigger government – one that is motivated, well-funded and organized," writes University of South Florida economist Donald Bellante, who co-authored an article published last year by the libertarian Cato Institute.

    "Now, as an economic downturn threatens state and local government revenues, officials who want to keep their fiscal situations under control would do well to look skeptically at public-sector bargaining."

    Just look at what has happened in California. The power of unions to threaten and cajole lawmakers is arguably the central reason the Golden State is broke and private industry is fleeing.
    "Public employees vs. taxpayers".

    Two things: first, labor organizations viz. politicians are nothing more than one of many interest groups in our pluralistic society. In terms of relative power (and specifically the ability "to threaten and cajole lawmakers"), labor unions - the only organizations representing the interests of working people in Tallahassee - pale in comparison to interest groups like Associated Industries of Florida, the League of Cities and the Chambers of Commerce, and their related organizations.

    Second, it is absurd to assert that Florida's unionized employees have "pretty close to lifetime job security". Such an assertion is either abjectly ignorant or a deliberate misrepresentation. There is no legal requirement that a collective bargaining agreement in Florida include any substantive limitation on any public employer's ability to discipline or terminate any employee (City of Casselberry v. Orange County Police Benevolent Association, 482 So. 2d 336 (Fla. 1986)(.pdf)). So, inasmuch as public employer's have the unilateral power under Florida law to determine the terms and conditions included in any contract (Section 447.403(4)(d), Florida Statutes), it is simply false for the Trib editors to suggest that unionized public employees in Florida somehow, by virtue of being "unionized, have "close to lifetime job security and benefits" - actually, Florida's unionized public employees only have what Florida's public employers have unilaterally decided to grant them.


    "McCollum Vows to Take on Water Management Crisis".

    Papers please

    The Palm Beach Post editors: "Attorney General Bill McCollum and state Rep. William Snyder, R-Stuart, say Florida needs an immigration law like Arizona's controversial show-me-your-papers legislation. Given the legal challenges to the new statute - including the threat of a challenge by the U.S. Justice Department - Florida should not rush to follow Arizona."

    As for Florida, neither Mr. McCollum, who is running for governor, nor Rep. Snyder, who is seeking reelection, have cited crime or any other urgent reason for this state to enact an immigration law. Rep. Snyder, a former police officer, said it is an issue of human rights and public safety. "Undocumented immigrants live in a shadowy netherland where they are easily taken advantage of and they don't enjoy the same rights that you and I enjoy," he said. "If they're a victim of crime, they're afraid of law enforcement and they're easily preyed upon because of their illegal status."
    "Don't import Arizona's law: Florida doesn't need it - or the boycotts.".

    RPOF getting desperate

    "There’s a new powerbroker behind Florida Republicans -- former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who ran for the Republican presidential nomination in 2008. Huckabee has moved to Florida and is playing an increasingly prominent role in the Sunshine State’s politics." "Mike Huckabee Gets Active with Florida Republicans".

    First Amendment freedoms of teachers, staff and students

    "Crist has signed a school prayer bill that prevents schools from infringing on the First Amendment freedoms of teachers, staff or students unless they sign a waiver. The legislation (HB 31) originally would have allowed prayers at noncompulsory school activities including assemblies and sports events at the request of a majority of students." "Crist signs bill protecting First Amendment rights".

    A right wing perspective

    From the http://www.sunshinestatenews.com/">Sunshine State News: "Political Bits and Pieces".

    Charlie chats with The Hill

    "The Hill's J. Taylor Rushing recently spoke with Florida Gov. Charlie Crist about the loneliness of his Independent Senate bid, his decision to keep his old party's donations and the strength of the Tea Party movement. Here's the latest installment:" "Crist: Tea Party 'a positive'".

    "Florida politicians are trained sometime around kindergarten"

    "As oil seeped toward Florida's coast Friday, endangering the livelihoods of God-knows-how-many people in an already shattered economy, as well as God-knows-how-many turtles and dolphins and birds and all manner of wildlife, Gov. Charlie Crist took time out to hustle for cash."

    Florida politicians are trained sometime around kindergarten to not, under any circumstances, ask for money when other, less geographically fortunate, people are frantically buying bottled water and batteries and canned tuna as a hurricane looms. America's worst oil spill qualifies as a similarly sensitive crisis.
    "Crist milks spill in appeal for campaign cash".

    Charlie who?

    "Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp Doesn't See Crist Much".

    Laff riot

    "Mike Jennings, a lobbyist for Prudential Financial Inc., presents a sustained exemplary performance award to Gary VanLandingham, director of the Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability, on Friday at the Civic Center." "Fla. salutes state employees".

    "An unconstitutional tax"

    "A Leon County judge ruled yesterday that court filing fees may not be used as a source of income for the state’s general fund, finding that fees used to pay for government programs outside the court system amount to an unconstitutional tax." "Judge: Court fees must remain with the courts".

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