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 Sunday, September 19, 2010

Florida Chamber a subsidiary of the RPOF

    The Florida Chamber has in recent years been little more than a shill for the Republican Party. Nothing new there. It is only sad that the traditional media hasn't picked up on it more often.

    The Saint Petersburg Times editorial board: "The board members of the Florida Chamber of Commerce must have whiplash. Before last month's primary election, the chamber was among those spending millions to paint Republican Rick Scott as unqualified to be governor. But on Thursday, board members endorsed him over Democrat and retired banking executive Alex Sink. In fact, they didn't find a single Democratic candidate they could embrace."
    It suggests the chamber is happy to cede its role in making independent, merit-based judgments on behalf of its members to become a wholly owned subsidiary of the Republican Party. ...

    Just how did Scott go from notorious scoundrel to the right candidate for governor of the fourth-largest state? In the chamber's view apparently only one answer matters: He's not a Democrat.
    "Chamber puts party above sense".

    Teabaggers run wild in St. Augustine

    "The four-hour 'Forward with the Constitution Rally' was organized by tea party groups in an 11-county region in northeast Florida, and was far and away the largest event of the 2010 campaign season in Florida."

    If the rally had a headliner, it was Marco Rubio, the U.S. Senate candidate who received a thunderous welcome at high noon under a brilliant sun.

    "This election is nothing less than a referendum of our identity as a nation and as a people,'' Rubio said, calling 2010 an historic moment "when people were pushed to the brink.'' ...

    Speaker after speaker tossed red-meat to the audience. ``Fox News isn't fair and balanced, they're right,'' said Pam Bondi, the GOP nominee for attorney general and a Fox News analyst. ...

    Others who spoke included the candidates for governor, Rick Scott; chief financial officer candidate Jeff Atwater; Mike Yost, a Republican candidate for Congress; and Alex Snitker, the Libertarian Party candidate for U.S. Senate. ...

    The first-time candidate, with his wife Ann standing beside him, focused a good part of his 15-minute speech on criticism of President Obama, Washington and the federal government. ...

    More than two dozen colorful exhibition booths hawked items such as bumper stickers that read, "End slavery, abolish the IRS'' and T-shirts that read, ``Beware of liberals posing as Americans.''

    A handmade sign read, "Obama bin lyin,'' and eight-year-old Bryce Danforth of Palm Coast held a toy rifle with a sign affixed that read, ``I'll take my guns and freedom. You can take a hike.''
    "At Florida tea party rally, fervor and fight for victory". See also "Rubio lights up 5,000 faithful at North Florida tea party rally".

    The worst?

    Lucy Morgan: "Chief Judge Paul M. Hawkes of the 1st District Court of Appeal got the lowest Florida Bar poll rating ever given an appellate court judge up for merit retention."

    Hawkes, a 53-year-old former legislator from Citrus County, was appointed to the court in 2003 by Gov. Jeb Bush. He previously served as a consultant to the House of Representatives and worked for Bush's budget office.
    "Appellate judge earns Florida Bar's lowest rating ever".

    "One more time"

    Howard Troxler is on a mission: "One more time:"

    Make them move.

    Make. Them. Move.

    Kick the 1st District Court of Appeal out of the Taj Mahal. The court robbed the money for its new palace from the public. It snookered the taxpayers. It grabbed $48 million, and worse, it did it by last-minute trickery and sleaze and political connections in the Legislature, and even worse than that, it did it by driving the public further into debt with a sneaky law to borrow most of the money.
    "Once more, with feeling: Make judges move out of the 'Taj Mahal'". Background: "Kick 'em right out of the 'Taj Mahal'".

    Amendments 5 and 6

    "Amendments 5 and 6 on Florida's ballot in November seek to erase gerrymandering. Supporters want the state's constitution to require political districts be drawn without benefit or harm for any candidate or party. Next year will begin in earnest the laborious, contentious every-10-years process of redistricting. Those lines determine who represents you in Tallahassee and Washington, D.C." "Ballot to address legislative districts".

    That gerrymandering thing

    "Ever wonder why some congressional districts are just plain odd-looking on a map? Florida Gulf Coast University professor Peter Bergerson said it often comes down to one word — gerrymandering." "Collier linked to Miami-Dade in Congressional District 25, but that might change".

    "One flip too many"

    The Saint Petersburg Times editorial board: "Crist has flipped so much over the past few months that he could try out for the Olympic gymnastics team."

    He was for the teacher merit pay bill, and then was against it. He was for the federal economic stimulus plan, and then was against it, and then was for it again. He was for expanded oil drilling - after having been against it - and then was against it. He was against the federal health law, and then was for it. All these flips on issues, of course, came after the governor's biggest flip - running for the Senate as an independent right after he had been calling himself a "proud Republican."

    Some of those flips, whatever the motivation, left the state in a better position. The merit pay bill, which the Legislature crafted without consulting teachers, was terrible. Other flips may cost the governor votes or win him some. But Gov. Crist is considering one more big flip that could hurt people the governor claims to be helping.

    This week, Gov. Crist said that he might drop the state's appeal of a lawsuit challenging Florida's ban on gays and lesbians adopting. Just months ago, as a presumed Republican candidate, the childless governor was reiterating his belief that children do best "in a home with one man and one woman." Now, with most GOP social conservatives probably set to vote for Marco Rubio, the governor wants to broaden his appeal.
    "Crist shouldn't drop state challenge to adoption ban".

    Scott was "cautioned year after year" about the fraud

    "Rick Scott has said he would have immediately stopped his former hospital company from committing Medicare fraud -- if only 'somebody told me something was wrong.'"

    But he was cautioned year after year that the financial incentives Columbia/HCA offered doctors could run afoul of a federal anti-kickback law that seeks to limit conflicts of interest in Medicare and Medicaid.

    The warnings were contained in the company's annual public reports to stockholders that Scott, now the Republican candidate for Florida governor, signed as Columbia/HCA's president and chief executive officer.
    "Annual reports warned of trouble at company Scott ran".

    Do what I say ...

    "Marco Rubio took the stage in front of 2,000 cheering supporters in Sarasota earlier this month and delivered a stark warning: Government debt is destroying America."

    For 16 months, Rubio has carried this message of fiscal responsibility to great applause across Florida.

    What Rubio does not tell the crowds is that he has gone deep into debt and struggled to make his payments, with Deutsche Bank initiating foreclosure proceedings on one of his homes in June.

    Rubio resolved the foreclosure case, but debt has been a constant companion. In 2005, he carried more than $1 million in debt with mortgages on three homes, a home equity line of credit, a car loan and more than $150,000 in student loans.
    "As he tried to meet his obligations, Rubio engaged in a series of financial transactions that led to accusations that he received special treatment because of his political connections, abused campaign cash and engaged in deals where a conflict of interest existed between his political position and financial benefit."
    Such deals seem to contradict the principles Rubio espouses on the campaign trail: calling for balanced budgets as he strained his own, and criticizing government waste as he arranged unadvertised government jobs for himself.
    "Money matters follow Rubio".

    Entrepreneurs in action

    "Authorities find 36 dead alligators in truck".

    Crist slams audit, demands apology

    "Crist lashed out at Florida Republican Party leaders Saturday over 'a sham' internal audit that suggested party donors may have funded personal vacations and expenses for him and his family. But his hastily called news conference raised as many questions as it answered." "Crist blasts GOP leaders for 'sham' audit". See also "Crist calls Republican Party audit a 'sham'".

    RPOFers running elections like a business

    "Less than two months before the general election, Florida's voter-registration rolls still include thousands of dead people and felons who by law should have been removed."

    Statewide, as many as 14,892 voters dead as long as two decades were still registered as of July. As many as 9,766 felons who have not gotten their voting rights restored under Florida law remain registered. ...

    State elections officials pledged to clean up the rolls two years ago after a Sun Sentinel investigation found they included 28,000 people who had died and 33,000 ineligible felons.

    More than half of those names were removed or deemed eligible voters. But the rest, along with newly added felons, remained on the rolls as of July, the most recent data available.
    "Thousands of felons, dead people still on Florida voter rolls".

    Just another DFE?

    "Hayes, a doctor since 1998, said in an interview with The Palm Beach Post that Solantic's medical director asked him to inflate patients' costs by ordering potentially unnecessary medical procedures. Hayes said he also was told to sell more of the clinic's prescription drugs, despite cheaper alternatives at a pharmacy."

    "Ethically and morally I just couldn't do that," Hayes said. "Just because you walk through the door with a runny nose doesn't mean an automatic X-ray and breathing treatment and lab work."

    The campaign dismissed Hayes as a disgruntled former employee ["DFE"], the same phrase used to reject a handful of women who filed lawsuits alleging Scott and Solantic would not hire overweight workers. Solantic settled those cases.
    "Rick Scott touts business background in push to be Florida's next governor".

    More entrepreneurs in action

    "Nonprofits serving poor, sick or foster children and poor or sick senior citizens are among the dozens of agencies awaiting nearly $1 million in reimbursement for overpayment to Office Depot, state records show."

    The 129 organizations submitted claims for $908,752.54 as part of the Florida Attorney General’s $5.9 million settlement with Office Depot, an initial list of claims obtained by the Daily News shows.

    The list exposes for the first time the extent to which nonprofits weren’t informed of “option 2,” a price plan once on the Boca Raton office supply giant’s nationally available contract with Los Angeles County. Option 2 was more expensive than the contract’s “option 1” price plan for 85 percent of the hundreds of Florida government and nonprofit agencies that were on it.

    Among those that weren’t explained the options is the Gainesville-based Partnership for Strong Families, a nonprofit serving foster children in a 13-county region of North Florida.
    "State records: Agencies aiding children and seniors among those that overpaid Office Depot".

    Mickey Mouse hearts RPOFers

    "Mickey Mouse appears to be quite fond of state Rep. Dean Cannon."

    Shortly after Cannon, a Winter Park Republican in line to be the next speaker of Florida’s House of Representatives, opened his campaign for re-election last year, Walt Disney World wrote him a check for $500, the maximum amount allowed by state law.

    Disney didn’t stop there. In February, according to state campaign-finance records, the giant resort gave Cannon eight more checks worth $500 apiece — each one issued by a different Disney entity, from its time-share unit to its cruise line to its gift-card processor.
    The Mouse especially likes RPOFers:
    Since the start of 2009, Disney has donated $578,000 — including $525,000 in money and $53,000 in tickets, rooms and meals — to the Republican Party of Florida, which commands sizable majorities in both chambers of the Legislature. That’s nearly double the $320,000 that Disney gave the GOP for the entire 2008 election cycle.

    Disney has given the Florida Democratic Party a combined $246,000 in contributions and goods ahead of the 2010 elections. It gave the Legislature’s minority party only $214,000 during the full 2008 cycle.The resort has also steered six-figure checks to other entities, including $250,000 to a political committee set up by the Florida Chamber of Commerce and $220,000 to an organization that helps candidates who support tighter limits on lawsuits. It didn’t make any similarly sized donations to organizations during the 2008 elections.

    In addition to writing bigger checks to the parties and special-interest committees, Disney has begun using its many corporate entities to donate cash — a strategy that allows it to funnel more money to individual legislators.
    "Disney entities dole out big checks to Florida political candidates, records show".

    "Signs that the election season is in full force"

    Jane Healy: "Now that Florida has early voting, it doesn't take long for the November election to rev up. Already there are signs galore that the election season is in full force."

    Sign No. 1: Newfound positions. It didn't take long for U.S. Senate candidate Charlie Crist to roll out new positions on the gay-rights issues. Only four years ago, he crucified Jim Davis, his Democratic opponent for governor, for supporting adoptions by same-sex couples, saying he "turned his back on our values." ...

    Sign No. 2: Waste, waste, waste. That's exactly what you hear from so many candidates when they are asked how they would find the money to keep government running. No one wants to talk about a tax increase, so instead they simply say they will find "waste" — or its close brothers fraud and abuse.
    "Waste, new positions — campaigns in full swing".

    Courtesy of the "values" crowd ...

    ... who have been running Florida for many years.

    Scott Maxwell: "The statistics about how we treat our children in this state should make you sick."

    We have one of the highest child-abuse rates in the country. We have more uninsured children than 48 other states. Our graduation rates lag.
    "Politicians need to show up to support Florida's children".

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