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, November 07, 2010

A "conservative revolution"?

    "Now that Florida voters have given conservative Republicans almost unchecked control of state government, the big question is: How far will the GOP go?"
    And that starts with whether the new Legislature, which takes power Nov. 16, will enact the economic plan put forth by Gov.- elect Rick Scott.

    Scott made unusually specific pledges during the campaign, including cutting property taxes 19 percent, phasing out the corporate income tax and cutting the state work force by 5 percent.

    "I know I have promises to keep," Scott said following Tuesday's election. "I will not rest until we are a model for the nation in job creation and education."

    Such cuts, which include reducing by half the state prisons budget and chopping the current main source of funding for the state's schools, would be a huge shift for Florida, and they are sure to generate a fight even in a Legislature where Republicans have an advantage of better than two to one.

    Taxes and budget cuts are just part of a large group of issues likely to be targeted by state leaders, who, across the board, are more conservative than their predecessors. ...

    New state Senate President Mike Haridopolos ... sounding reminiscent of former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich two decades ago: A "conservative revolution" is at hand, Haridopolos said. "This is the best opportunity we've ever had." ...

    Scott is probably more conservative than former Gov. Jeb Bush ...

    Haridopolos is perhaps the most conservative Senate president in decades ...

    Next year is a non-election year, meaning that the Legislature has a cushion before it must run on its record.

    So if big changes are coming, expect them to happen in next year's legislative session.
    Much more here: "Conservatives hold the cards".

    Get a room

    Myriam Marquez, who defined journalistic lapdoggery with her paeans to Jebbie, including once calling his so-called "vision", "'universal and timeless...clear and electrifying as the day's cobalt-blue sky'", is at it again: "Marco Rubio's simple ways to win hearts".

    To which we say: get a room.

    Hiaasen: "The election changes absolutely nothing"

    Carl Hiaasen writes that Rick Scott "won't change Tallahassee, but Tallahassee will change him."

    Nobody who knows Florida believes that last Tuesday's vote marks the end of politics as usual. It's just another chapter of politics as always.

    The Republicans have controlled the state Senate for 18 years, the state House for 14 years and the governor's mansion for over a decade. The election changes absolutely nothing.

    After his hairbreadth victory, Scott sunnily declared: "Florida is open for business.''

    Is he kidding? Florida has always been open for business. Ask any lobbyist.

    Developers, insurance companies, utilities, Big Sugar - for special interests with gobs of money to spread around, we're the most accommodating state in the union.
    Hiaasen continues:
    It's no accident that the national housing bubble burst here first, or that we're racking up top numbers in bank failures, mortgage frauds and, of course, foreclosures. They don't call us the "Ponzi state'' for nothing.

    The GOP-held Legislature couldn't be more accessible or easily bought, and Scott will be expected to hop aboard the train.
    Scott was one of many improbable candidates who benefited from the national backlash against the Democrats. Too bad for him that the Democrats have been out of power for so long in Tallahassee. Scott can't clean house because, as far as the GOP is concerned, the house was already cleaned.

    Now Scott's living in it.

    He either joins the team or runs the risk of being bypassed - and even ignored. Republican lawmakers can push through their programs without him. He needs them more than they need him.

    In one of his many tiresome campaign commercials, Scott blasted the politicians who've made such a mess of Florida. That can only be the party in charge for all these years, his party.

    With both the former GOP chairman and the ex-speaker of the House under criminal indictment, Florida Republicans caught a break in the midterms. Bashing Barack Obama was a calculated distraction, and it worked.

    Eventually even the dimmest of voters will figure out that neither healthcare reform nor the stimulus package caused Florida's problems. The economy here was in deep trouble long before Obama took office, and the stimulus actually saved thousands of jobs in schools and law enforcement.
    Much more here: "Scott wants to clean house? Lotsa luck".

    Be careful what you wish for ...

    The Saint Petersburg Times editorial board:

    Republican Gov.-elect Rick Scott said during the campaign that Florida should reconsider the high-speed project if the federal government fails to fully fund the project. Scott has softened his opposition, but he remains a skeptic. Other leading Florida Republicans also have sent mixed messages. U.S. Sen.-elect Marco Rubio declined to support high-speed during the campaign, citing federal budget woes. And U.S. Rep. John Mica of Winter Park, who is in line to head the House Transportation Committee, said last week he may revisit the spending for high-speed rail, including the Tampa-Orlando route. Mica suggested the Florida project could be scaled back to serve only the Orlando area and its theme parks.
    "Keep moving on high-speed rail".

    Perhaps Floridians ought to get what they wished voted for: enough of this wasteful federal stimulus money - cancel the rail projects.

    Sink speaks

    Politico: "In the wake of the party’s worst election drubbing since 1994, the deep frustration felt by many centrist Democrats toward the White House and the national party is now out in the open. And it’s being aired in the battleground state that’s the biggest prize in presidential politics."

    In an interview with POLITICO, Sink said the administration mishandled the response to the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, doesn’t appreciate the political damage done by healthcare reform and argued that her GOP opponent’s strategy of tying her to the president did grave damage to her candidacy in the state’s conservative Panhandle.

    "They got a huge wake-up call two days ago, but unfortunately they took a lot of Democrats down with them," said Sink of the White House.

    She added: "They just need to be better listeners and be better at reaching out to people who are on the ground to hear about the realities of their policies as well as politics."

    Sink’s complaint can, of course, be chalked up in part to sour grapes on the part of a candidate fresh off a tough loss looking for an explanation. She lost her race by a single percentage point.

    But Sink's pointed critique expressed the sentiments of other Florida Democrats after an election in which the party lost four U.S. House seats and every statewide contest Tuesday, not to mention statehouse losses that left Democrats facing GOP legislative supermajorities in one of the largest states in the nation.
    Much more here: "Sink rips 'tone-deaf' White House". See also "After loss, Sink calls White House "tone-deaf"".

    E. J. Dionne explains that "Obama allowed Republicans to define the terms of the nation’s political argument for the past two years and permitted them to draw battle lines the way they wanted. Neither he nor his party can let that happen again." "Going forward, Obama must put GOP on spot".

    GOPers needed the nation to hurt economically to win

    "GOP comeback strategy factored in lagging recovery".

    'Ya think?

    "Rubio in GOP weekly address: Republicans share blame for big spending".

    Just saying "no" has consequences

    Mike Thomas: "You are a fiscal conservative, a Republican politician well versed in attacking federal spending, and there, sitting on the table in front of you, is $2 billion for your state, with love from Barack Obama."

    All you have to do is build train tracks from Orlando to Tampa and it's all yours.

    There was a time when this was a no-brainer. You would build the Tower of Babel if the feds paid for it.

    But now a new political dynamic is in play, one in which rejecting Washington's largess has become a badge of honor.

    That has put high-profile rail projects under the gun. ...

    Politically, if Scott holds out for more federal dollars, he simply looks like the kind of Republican fiscal fraud that spurred the Tea Party movement. ...

    This will create a very interesting dynamic with Rick Scott, House Speaker Dean Cannon and Senate President Mike Haridopolos. The legislative leaders were heavily involved in getting the federal money for high-speed rail.

    Cannon used the promise of high-speed rail as leverage to get the Legislature to approve SunRail — Central Florida's proposed commuter rail.

    Now the legislative leaders have been backpedaling.
    "Has GOP roadblock fallen on tracks of Florida's high-profile rail projects?".

    Run Marco! Run!

    "By far the most buzzed-about candidate is Florida's newly minted Senator Marco Rubio." "New GOP stars get VP look".

    We're waitin' for that Arizona plan, Ricky

    Will Ricky and the wingnuts running the Florida Legislature please hurry up and commit political suicide with the Arizaona "papers please" legislation. Or will they backpedal on that too? After all, "Hispanics emerge as key 2012 wildcard".

    Meanwhile, Ricky wants to drill

    "Will oil bring death to Gulf's rich web of life?".

    "Our friends over in the House and Senate"

    The Sun Sentinel editorial board: "In July, the credibility of the Public Service Commission took another major hit. A nominating council that's dominated by the Legislature, which in turn is dominated by the utility monopolies, had effectively purged two PSC commissioners, who a year earlier had rejected the biggest electricity-rate request in Florida history."

    The nominating council's chairman, Sen. Mike Bennett, offered this reason: Commissioners Nancy Argenziano and Nathan Skop could be "disagreeable." Bennett said his panel was "looking for a Public Service Commission that will be more congenial, more cooperative."

    He's apparently found it. The PSC's new chairman, Arthur Graham, said last month that he hoped to lead the commission "on the path that I think that our friends over in the House and in the Senate want us to be on."

    The PSC's not supposed to be beholden to the Legislature.
    "Impartial regulation, not prayers, needed at PSC".

    We're waitin' on them 700,000 jobs, Ricky

    The Miami Herald editorial board points out that "exit polls both nationwide and in Florida confirm that voters believe 'spending to create jobs' should be the government’s overriding concern." "Lessons of the election".

    "By labeling himself 'the jobs governor,' Scott carries the burden of reviving Florida's economy. He wants to be held accountable and he senses political traps ahead. After all, he has lived in the private sector, is unfamiliar with how the state Capitol works and has no experience at political leadership." "How will Scott lead? Follow his early clues".

    Ricky has made the "preposterous" promise to create 700,000 jobs (conveniently in 7 years, long after he has lost his bid for a second term). To be fair, though, we'll expect a minimum of 100,000 net new jobs a year. And, in counting, Ricky will surely agree with us that jobs attributable to federal stimulus dollars (like rail construction projects or federally funded road projects), or temporary/casual/part-time jobs, or jobs subcontracted outside of Florida*, will not count toward the 700,000 he has promised.

    The RPOFers own Tally; the FlaDems are essentially irrelevant. The RPOF has no excuses. Let's see 'em get to work.

    It should be easy: "When he succeeds Charlie Crist as governor in January, Scott will serve alongside a wholly Republican Cabinet and GOP supermajorities in the state House and Senate -- where, even by Republican standards, leadership is taking an unusually conservative turn. What more could a new, tea-party styled Republican governor want?" "Observers say Scott may have some scrapes with GOP legislature".

    - - - - - - - - - -
    *Just one of many examples: few of us know about the "$50 million Florida paid JP Morgan in the last three years to administer the food stamps distribution. Those services include 24-hour customer-service call centers. Some of those calls were answered in Bangalore and Gurgaon, India. Others were taken at two U.S. call centers." "Food Stamps Create Job ... in India" ("Several States With High Unemployment Are Outsourcing Food Stamp Services").

    Laff riot

    "Rubio urges bold ideas". More foppery: "Republicans Showcase Marco Rubio in Responding to Obama".

    Petitioning government

    The Orlando Sentinel editors: "In March, a Florida district court ruled that the Sunshine Law doesn't give citizens the right to speak at government meetings. Last month, the state Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal of that ruling. This makes it imperative for legislators to pass a law that will guarantee this right for Floridians, and bolster their right under the U.S. Constitution's First Amendment to petition their government." "Let the people speak".

    Legislature to have final say over rules

    Howard Troxler points out that "something very big, but little publicized, is about to change."

    This week, when our newly elected Legislature goes to Tallahassee to organize itself, it will repass a law — overriding a veto of Gov. Charlie Crist — that gives the Legislature the final say over rules.

    In constitutional terms, our legislative branch is taking back some of the power it had "loaned" to the executive branch to write rules.

    In political terms, it also means that our new Legislature is putting the administration of our new governor on a shorter leash.
    "Florida Legislature to put the executive branch on shorter leash".

    Don't be like "Jeb!"

    The Tampa Tribune editorial board urges Ricky to avoid Jebbie's mistakes, writing that

    when Bush acted too hastily, without considering other views, he sometimes sabotaged his goals. He nearly wrecked the state university system by eliminating its governing board, which voters restored by constitutional amendment. Some of Bush's privatization efforts were counterproductive, because he was in such a rush to eliminate public jobs.
    "When Gov. Scott gets to work".

    Scott to plead fifth during transition?

    "Rather than hunkering down in the Capitol basement and redrawing organizational charts, Gov.-elect Rick Scott is running his transition from Fort Lauderdale."

    That's symbolic — an outsider planning an administration where the people are, rather than where the government is — but it's more indicative of what Scott's planners say he values most: efficiency. His campaign headquarters was there, the team that vaulted him past the Tallahassee insiders was there, so he saw no need to move his operation 458 miles north when he claimed victory last week.

    "Obviously, we want to affect the right kind of change and we will be beginning in earnest," said Enu Mainigi, a Washington lawyer who heads the nine-member advisory panel Scott appointed. "We made campaign promises and we intend to deliver on those processes."
    "Gov.-elect Rick Scott expected to turn Tallahassee on its head".

    The ringleader, Ms. Mainigi, is in the business of defending government swindlers. Her bio at Williams & Connolly reads:
    For the last several years, the focus of Ms. Mainigi's practice has been in the healthcare and pharmaceutical areas. Ms. Mainigi has defended numerous pharmaceutical companies, PBMs, hospitals, medical device companies, insurance companies, healthcare companies and individuals in a variety of civil and criminal government investigations, including multi-state and concurrent state and federal investigations. Ms. Mainigi has also defended these corporations in commercial disputes involving civil fraud, breach of contract, and breach of fiduciary duty, among others. She also frequently advises corporations on internal investigations and compliance issues.

    A particular area of experience for Ms. Mainigi is the False Claims Act and she has represented a number of corporations at all stages of False Claims Act/Qui Tam proceedings.

    Ms. Mainigi has also litigated a wide variety of other matters involving allegations of securities fraud, professional malpractice, antitrust violations, media issues, money laundering, mail and wire fraud, and false statements.

    Ms. Mainigi has spoken frequently on topics related to government investigations and the False Claims Act.
    (via Crowley Political Report's "Rick Scott puts his lawyer in charge").

    Give him a parachute and an M-16

    "Sen. Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican who sits on the Armed Services Committee and the Homeland Security Committee, said today the U.S. should consider sinking the Iranian navy, destroying its air force and delivering a decisive blow to the Revolutionary Guard." "Senator: U.S. should consider taking out Iran's military".

    Obama Market

    "Pride in a new president shows at a namesake Liberty City corner store. But two years after the milestone election, there's pain." "Hope alive at 'Obama Market'".

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