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 23, 2010

"Personal attacks and wild exaggerations"

    "The first debate between the leading Democratic candidates for Florida's open U.S. Senate seat was characterized by personal attacks and wild exaggerations."
    "How dare you attack the character of my mother,'' demanded Kendrick Meek of rival Jeff Greene on Tuesday, in the first debate between the major Democratic candidates for U.S. Senate. "How dare you, Jeff Greene.''

    Greene didn't apologize for attacking the Miami congressman for seeking earmarked federal funds from a developer who had hired his mother, former U.S. Rep. Carrie Meek. Kendrick Meek denies any wrongdoing and says he didn't know developer Dennis Stackhouse -- now facing fraud charges -- had given his mother $90,000 and a Cadillac Escalade for consulting work.
    On the subject of Escalades:
    Asked to describe his own "carbon footprint,'' Meek said his family owns a Ford Hybrid and a minivan. Greene acknowledged driving a Cadillac Escalade -- the same kind of car he has mocked Meek's mother for driving -- but didn't mention his yacht, three planes or other cars parked at his $24 million mansion.

    "I ride my bicycle around Palm Beach all the time,'' he volunteered
    "Senate candidates Jeff Greene, Kendrick Meek clash in debate". See also "Debate ends, as it began, with heated exchange between candidates Meek, Greene".

    Pressure on Bud Chiles

    "Lawton 'Bud' Chiles III has been an independent candidate for governor for only a few weeks, but some longtime friends and associates already are trying to persuade him to drop out." "Bud Chiles is being pressured to drop out of Florida governor's race".


    The Saint Petersburg Times editorial board: "U.S. District Judge Martin L.C. Feldman’s decision Tuesday to overturn the Obama administration’s six-month moratorium on deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico is indefensible. " "A reckless ruling on gulf oil drilling". More: "White House will appeal as judge blocks Gulf offshore drilling moratorium; Florida officials, candidates react after ruling".

    See also "Florida officials, candidates react after judge overturns Obama moratorium on Gulf oil drilling", "County officials, leaders in oil-spill response meet today in Fort Walton", "BP exec visits Fla. areas hurt by oil spill", "Drilling chief to lead investigations" and "Dolphins gauge damage as oil creeps toward pristine St. Joe Bay".

    Lawson walks

    "State Attorney Willie Meggs declined to prosecute anyone Tuesday in the weekend camera-snatching incident at state Sen. Al Lawson's campaign headquarters, so the Tallahassee lawmaker's congressional campaign took the case to a higher court: YouTube." "Lawson posts video confrontation on YouTube; no charges to be filed".

    What's wrong with Hillsborough?

    "An upcoming county commission primary race could test whether hard-core conservatives will continue to dominate Hillsborough County's Republican Party."

    The contest pits incumbent District 7 Commissioner Mark Sharpe against conservative Josh Burgin, a former executive administrator with the county GOP. Burgin entered the race hours before last Friday's noon qualifying deadline.

    It's been well known in Republican political circles that conservatives were looking for someone to challenge Sharpe because of his advocacy of a 1 cent sales tax for mass transit and road projects. Burgin, who has never held elected office, said he waited until the last minute to see if anyone else would take on Sharpe in the primary. ...

    The contest pits incumbent District 7 Commissioner Mark Sharpe against conservative Josh Burgin, a former executive administrator with the county GOP. Burgin entered the race hours before last Friday's noon qualifying deadline.

    It's been well known in Republican political circles that conservatives were looking for someone to challenge Sharpe because of his advocacy of a 1 cent sales tax for mass transit and road projects. Burgin, who has never held elected office, said he waited until the last minute to see if anyone else would take on Sharpe in the primary. ...

    Before his job as Blair's aide, Burgin worked in the same capacity for former state House Speaker, Johnnie Byrd, R-Plant City.
    "Conservative enters commission race against Sharpe".

    "Marc Johnson, a candidate for Florida House District 56, has one of his opponents, Rachel Burgin, in the crosshairs."
    This morning, his campaign office filed an order asking Wildfire Marketing Group, a website vendor, to take down www.votemarkjohnson.com for what it claims is a violation of the 1999 Federal Anti-Cybersquatting Consumer Protection Act.

    Enacted to thwart cyber and typo squatters, the law makes it illegal to register or use a domain name that is "confusingly similar to" a trademark or personal name. In this case, Johnson's campaign claims the linked site is not legitimate and was created to confuse voters by diverting them to Burgin's website, www.voterachelburgin.com, through a misspelling of Johnson's first name.

    Johnson's real website, www.votemarcjohnson.com, was activated in October 2009, the other two by Wildfire Marketing in February. Burgin's campaign finance reports show she paid $1,225 to Wildfire in January.
    "Website taken down after Burgin's opponent claims website violated law".

    Is it us, or is Ms. Burgin (who you will recall was appointed "at age 26, to be the party's candidate to replace her boss, Trey Traviesa, for state House District 56 after Traviesa declined to seek re-election") doing her level best to make herself look like Sarah Palin?

    "Incestuous pit of influence peddling"

    The Miami Herald editorial board: "How ethically challenged is the Broward County Commission?"

    Very, sad to say.

    Last week, just before its summer recess, county commissioners unanimously voted to ask a judge to decide whether the county ethics commission's proposed reforms that would govern county elected officials, their families and staff are unconstitutional.

    This is a joke, right? ...

    At stake are the side jobs several commissioners have lobbying city governments on behalf of private clients, as well as the lobbying done by spouses of some commissioners and county staffers.

    It's no secret that Broward is an incestuous pit of influence peddling. Some county commissioners lobby city commissions, which are dependent on the county for money and services. City commissioners lobby neighboring municipalities on behalf of would-be contractors. Spouses of elected officials -- School Board members and county and city commissioners -- wield enormous power as lobbyists thanks to family connections.

    What will it take for the commission to get the message? Former County Commissioner Josephus Eggelletion, notorious for skirting conflict laws in his private role as a lobbyist, has been marched off to federal prison for money-laundering. He also recently pleaded guilty to a state bribery charge. He's cooperating with investigators and more arrests are expected.

    Former School Board member Beverly Gallagher pleaded guilty in March to taking bribes. Former Miramar Commissioner Fitzroy Salesman was convicted of public corruption and faces up to 10 years in federal prison. A statewide grand jury is now investigating public corruption in Broward. It recently summoned two Broward school district officials to testify.

    And yet, the Broward Commission can't understand the necessity for adopting a strong ethics reform package.
    "Broward's influence peddlers".

    Desperate RPOFers

    "Financial links between the Florida TEA Party and U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Fla., are giving Republicans plenty of political ammunition in the crowded 8th Congressional District race."

    Grayson had bought advertising on an Orlando radio program -- now canceled -- hosted by Doug Guetzloe, a TEA consultant. And Guetzloe's son interned at Grayson's congressional office.

    This week, TEA Party legislative candidate Victoria Torres also was connected to Grayson. Torres, a last-minute filer in the 51st Florida House district, worked as a pollster for Grayson.

    According to the Florida Department of State, Torres incorporated Public Opinion Strategies Inc. in December 2008. In the first quarter of this year, Grayson’s campaign made two payments to her firm, totaling $11,000, for polling and survey expenses.

    Curiously, Public Opinion Strategies also happens to be the name of a large Alexandria, Va., polling firm that does work for the Republican Party nationally.

    “She’s got various businesses on the side,” said TEA Party spokesman Nick Egoroff, who fielded calls to Torres. “It’s just a business relationship. Nothing more. Nothing less.”

    Republicans pounced on the news.
    "Gunning for Alan Grayson, GOP Attacks TEA Links".

    When it is politically convenient ...

    "In a quick campaign stop at a Gainesville restaurant Tuesday, Marco Rubio told reporters that Gov. Charlie Crist's decision to veto $9.7 million from the state budget for Shands at the University of Florida to treat the uninsured 'makes no sense.'" "During Gainesville stop, Rubio criticizes Crist's Shands veto".

    "A group rarely, if ever, seen together"

    "It was a group rarely, if ever, seen together on Florida's political money trail."

    There was Pat Neal, former executive director of the Florida Christian Coalition, mingling near Barbara A. Zdravecky, the head of Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida.

    Nearby, former Sarasota Republican Party Chairman Bob Waechter chatted amiably at the appetizer table with the very Democrat, Shirley Brown, he worked to defeat four years earlier for School Board and has vowed to defeat this year.

    In another corner of the beachfront estate, State Rep. Darryl Rouson, a Democrat, held court before a gaggle of Republican donors who have already written checks aimed at defeating Rouson's fellow Democratic colleagues in the state Legislature.
    "A diverse fundraiser signals Crist strategy".

    McCollum desperate

    "Dick Morris backs McCollum in Florida Governor race".


    The Tampa Trib loses even more of whatever credibility it still has by publishing garbage like this "

    - "With Sen. Reid and his Big Labor allies in Congress in full payback mode, Sens. Bill Nelson's and George LeMieux's votes could easily determine the fate of public safety workers all over the country."

    - "The better-named Police and Firefighter Monopoly Bargaining Bill could turn over police and firefighters of local governments to union boss control by federal mandate."

    - "Most Democrats and some weak-kneed Republicans are rushing to ram this bill through, regardless of the cost [*] to America's police and firefighters"

    - "States and localities that have "taken the lead" by doing public employees the disservice of forcing them under union boss control are at the forefront of state and local budgetary disasters."

    - "Out-of-control government union bosses and their outrageous demands.
    Public sector union bosses simply hold the public 'hostage' - denying important public services - until they win amnesty for themselves and their members."

    - "Union-label politicians love to include strike ban clauses in legislation to make the Big Labor bosses' takeover of important public services sound less dangerous - as they've done with S. 3194. But the reality is, they're virtually meaningless."

    - "The Democrat [sic] Congressional Leadership is beholden to Organized Labor bosses for their power."

    - "During these economic times, the devastating 'fruits' of government monopoly unionism have never been clearer."
    "Big Labor targets safety workers".

    All of this is of course false, at least insofar as it relates to Florida. First, the legislation would have no effect on Florida which has allowed its public employees to unionize (although not bargain), since the 1970s; second, under Florida's bargaining law, the public employer has the unilateral right to determine the terms of any contract with a union; and third, when was the last time there was a public employee strike in Florida? This is not the first time that the Trib has misrepresented Florida labor law: see "Embarrassing".

    By the way, the writer, one "Mark Mix", is not "president of the National Right to Vote Committee", as falsely stated in the Trib's online edition this morning, but rather is president of the union-hating, big business and right-wing funded** "National Right to Work Committee"***.

    The phrase "right to work" is a misnomer at best: Under a state’s right-to-work law, workers do not have to join the union or pay dues or anything at all, but are nevertheless entitled to the full benefits of the union contract. Unions in these states, like Florida, are required by law to negotiate contracts that benefit all employees, including nonmembers, and the cost of negotiating and enforcing the contract is picked up by dues paying fellow employees; the non-dues paying employees get the benefits, but pay nothing.

    A right-to-work law "does not give workers more rights, but weakens unions and their ability to bargain for improved benefits and working conditions. Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. gives the best description of the law: 'right-to-work ... provides no 'rights' and no 'works. ... Its purpose is to destroy labor unions and the freedom of collective bargaining. ...'" "What does 'right-to-work' mean?"

    - - - - - - - - - -
    *There is no "cost to America's police and firefighters" of having the opportunity to unionize. The employee is free to vote for or against unionization. And, in a right to work state, the employee does not have to pay a nickel; the cost of negotiating and enforcing the contract is born by his or her fellow dues-paying employees.

    **The National Right to Work is funded by influential right-wing foundations, including the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, the Walton Family Foundation, the Sarah Scaife Foundation and the John M. Olin Foundation, as well as Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform and the anti-union Alliance for Worker Freedom.

    It is disappointing that the Tribune would not have disclosed to its readers the source of this drooling, anti-union diatribe.

    ***"National Right to Work is the country’s oldest organization dedicated solely to destroying unions. Its network consists of four organizations that share leadership, offices, resources and staff, all with the common goal of undermining workers’ freedom of association. To carry out this mission, the National Right to Work Committee employs over 200 staff to lobby, fundraise, distribute propaganda, and interfere with workers’ union organizing efforts, and the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation employs nearly 50 staff for its litigation efforts." "National Right to Work".

    "Jeb!" calls Obama "childish"

    "For months now, Jeb Bush has been listening as President Obama blasts his older brother’s administration for the battered economy, budget deficits and even the lax oversight of oil wells."

    “It’s kind of like a kid coming to school saying, ‘The dog ate my homework,’ ” Mr. Bush, this state’s former governor, said over lunch last week at the Biltmore Hotel. “It’s childish. This is what children do until they mature. They don’t accept responsibility.”
    "For Jeb Bush, life defending the family name".

    Outa here

    "Between 2008 and last year, half of the Tampa Bay region's 50 incorporated cities lost people, according to census figures." "Many Bay area cities losing residents".

    Gen. Edmund P. Gaines

    Gerald Ensley: "What's in a name? Plenty of history".

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