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 Thursday, February 17, 2011

"Scott's obsession with courting the tea party movement"

    "Gov. Rick Scott says he will reject $2.4 billion for high-speed rail". See also "A different train of thought", "Gov. Scott says no thanks to federal government's $2.4 billion for high-speed rail", "Florida Gov. Rick Scott rejects funding for high-speed rail" and "Reaction to Gov. Rick Scott's decision to reject rail money". More: "As Florida says no, other states scramble for high-speed rail money" and "Can the route still be built?" More: "Florida Leaders on Rick Scott Refusing Feds' High-Speed Rail Stimulus Funding" and "Local, Polk Officials Blast Scott's Decision".

    The Saint Petersburg Times editorial board: "Gov. Rick Scott rashly acted in his own political interests and sacrificed the best interests of Florida Wednesday by rejecting federal money for a high-speed rail line between Tampa and Orlando. It is a reckless, devastating decision that has nothing to do with the merits of rail and everything to do with Scott's obsession with courting the tea party movement and fighting the Obama administration." "Train wreck of a governor".

    The Orlando Sentinel editors ask "What drove Mr. Scott to turn away from so many arguments in favor of high-speed rail?"
    It might have been that governors of New Jersey, Ohio and Wisconsin rejected federal funding for rail projects before Mr. Scott, earning rave reviews from Tea Party enthusiasts. No doubt they're applauding Mr. Scott in Eustis, where last week he unveiled his program-hacking budget to tea partiers.

    Mr. Scott needs to do what would benefit all Florida, not what might play well before his Tea Party fans. High-speed rail would have benefited the state. So will SunRail, which Mr. Scott on Wednesday ominously said he's still "reviewing."

    An adviser to Mr. Scott said the governor's budget includes money for SunRail. But Mr. Scott has suspended contracts that are needed to build the line.

    If he signs off on them, he'll be getting behind a project that can get Floridians back to work — and perhaps temper the monumental blunder he's made with high-speed rail.
    "Gov. Rick Scott's runaway train". The Sun Sentinel editorial board: "Governor Scott's opposition to high-speed train makes little sense". The Tampa Tribune editorial board: "Scott is very wrong on rail" ("Everyone makes mistakes, but this one by Scott is too big to be allowed to stand unchallenged.")

    With "Jeb!" gone, Mike Thomas is relegated to channelling the teabaggers: "Scott sends shock waves by rejecting high-speed-rail money". More from the right wing: "Democrats Get Political in Florida Rail Fight".

    William March writes that, since being elected, Scott has:"
    •Startled the governing establishment by announcing his budget proposal at a Tea Party rally in Eustis, instead of the traditional presentation before legislators and the press in the Capitol.

    While he was at it, he tossed barbs at the two other most powerful state officials – the House speaker and Senate president, fellow Republicans -- for saying his tax cut proposals might not be workable.

    Normally, if they're in the same party, those officials maintain a façade of unity and agreement.

    •Told his staff members to boycott the Senate Criminal and Civil Justice Appropriations subcommittee chaired by Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, because Fasano had pointedly questioned a staffer in a meeting. Fasano called the snub "childish" and "absolutely unprecedented" in the decorous confines of the Capitol.

    •Buzzed around the state in his private plane while telling Cabinet members and legislative leaders, who normally made heavy use of the two state planes, that he's selling the aircraft and they should find their own transportation.

    •Revived the tradition of an industry-funded black-tie inaugural ball, despite criticism that it was inappropriate with hundreds of thousands of Floridians unemployed.

    •Installed his private lawyer, Enu Mainigi, a non-Floridian, in a Capitol office with a secretary but with no state salary, as his top adviser.

    •Shrugged off whining about lack of access by the Tallahassee press corps, usually the linchpin of Governor's Office communication with the public – a fitting move for the first major statewide candidate in recent memory to refuse endorsement interviews with newspaper editorial boards.

    Oh, and by the way, he announced to a gathering of the press corps shortly after taking office, he doesn't read newspapers.
    "Rail decision shows Scott's a different kind of governor".

    More: "Lawmakers hope to find a way around Scott's rail decision" and "Can high-speed rail backers bypass Gov. Rick Scott?"

    Scott slams state employees

    "State employees — seven years without a general pay raise, layoffs looming and a separate proposal to require them to pay 5 percent of their salaries into pensions — also face the possibility of a massive change to their health benefits." "Scott's health insurance proposal would hit state workers' wallets hard".

    Cop pensions on the chopping block

    "Two new state Senate bills would require state and local governments to close their traditional retirement plans to new hires, enroll all employees in 401(k)-style plans and limit retirement options."

    The two proposals, sponsored by Sen. Jeremy Ring, Margate Democrat and chairman of the Senate Government Accountability Committee, are intended to help local governments shore up their tottering employee retirement accounts as well as relieve the mounting financial obligation local and state governments have made to their retirees. If passed, the changes would take effect July 1.

    One of the bills also requires state, school and county employees to pay into the Florida Retirement System for the first time since 1974. But rather than embrace the 5 percent contribution rate sought by Gov. Rick Scott in his budget proposal, the Senate is likely to settle on a lower number. That decision, Ring said, won’t be made until early March when the Senate budget committee decides how much to charge employees for their benefits.
    "Top lawmaker proposes moderate pension reform". See also "Senate Rolls Out Pension Revamp, Draws Cops' Heat".

    VA hospital protest

    "Protesters said their concerns were not so much about illegal immigrants as contractors who classify skilled workers as laborers, denying them higher pay required under federal labor law. The group also protested the use of foreign-made materials and a failure to hire veterans to build a hospital they one day may use themselves." "Protest over illegal immigrants shuts down VA Hospital site". See also "Union workers protest Orlando VA project" ("The protesters on Wednesday complained that the construction project has failed to hire union workers and veterans but has hired illegal workers. Federal agents arrested nine undocumented workers hired by contractors to work on the site last week.")

    Restrictions on choice

    "House bill 321, the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, filed yesterday by state Rep. Carlos Trujillo, R-Miami, represents the first time the Florida legislature has filed a bill to restrict abortion beyond 20 weeks. Pro-choice advocates say a national movement to pass similar bills in other states amounts to an effort to weaken Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that limited states’ abilities to restrict abortion." "Pro-choice advocates say Trujillo bill threatens to “chip away” at Roe v. Wade".

    West meets with anti-Muslim group

    "West meets with head of anti-Muslim group ACT! for America".

    Medicaid deform

    "Total HHS spending and Medicaid spending under the Scott proposal would in fact rise next year. But in the sense that the proposed funding level for Medicaid in 2011-12 would not meet the state's currently projected need, the recommendations amount to a $1.2 billion cut." "Budget Proposal Equates to Cuts in Health and Human Services". Related: "Medicaid Opt-Out on Table as GOP Rolls Out Reform Bill" and "State senator outlines plan for Medicaid reform".

    "Tallahassee always knows best"

    Howard Troxler: "Tallahassee always knows best. Republicans who complain about "big government" only mean big Democratic government — when they're the ones doing the bossing around, it's just fine." "Spread the nitrogen and pass the ammo".

    Another - brighter than the rest of us - billionaire

    "Declaring that a recall alone is not the answer, billionaire businessman Norman Braman and former charter review task force chairman Victor M. Diaz announced a slate of specific reforms aimed at changing the way Miami-Dade County government operates." "Braman outlines reforms for county government". See also "Throwdown in Miami: Mayor Faces Recall".

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