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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 Friday, February 18, 2011

Scott's Presidential Dreams

    "Scott is blunt and outspoken in his dislike of President Barack Obama’s policies, but is the tough talk part of a strategy to run for president in 2012? He says no, but signs of his higher political ambitions are popping up everywhere." Scott
    has taken his war on the federal government, and Obama in particular, from the campaign trail straight into the state’s most powerful political office.

    And nearly four months after Election Day, Scott acknowledged he’s still in campaign mode.

    “I’m still used to running for office,” he joked during a tour of the Florida Lottery on Thursday.

    “I believe in the sovereignty of the great state of Florida,” Scott said. “We’ve got to defend the rights of Floridians as citizens of this great state.”

    But his devotion to the tea party and his continued focus on federal issues — health insurance, unemployment benefits, immigration and now high-speed rail — has some asking if Scott wants to run for president. ...

    Scott has denied interest in the White House, saying he wants to serve a second term.

    But the signs are piling up.

    He beefed up the Washington, D.C., extension of the governor’s office by hiring former health care lobbyist Brian McManus, an ally of Scott’s Conservatives for Patients’ Rights group. Spencer Geissinger, Scott’s external affairs director, is considering joining the D.C. office, too.

    Frequent appearances on FOX News also feed speculation.
    "Is Gov. Rick Scott eyeing White House in 2012?".

    12 years of GOP rule in Florida

    "According to fourth-quarter results released Thursday, Florida continued to have the highest loan delinquency rate in the country during the end of last year with 19.3 percent of the state's home loans either in foreclosure or 90 or more days past due." "Florida leads nation with 1 in 5 behind on their mortgage, association says".

    The knuckle-draggers are not resting

    "From Washington to Tallahassee, Florida lawmakers scrambled Thursday to save $2.4 billion in federal money for high-speed rail that Gov. Rick Scott rejected."

    In Tallahassee, a veto-proof majority of the Florida Senate rebuked Scott in a letter that urged the federal government to give the state the money Scott has refused.

    “Politics should have no place in the future of Florida’s transportation, as evidenced by this letter of bipartisan support,” said the letter, signed by 26 members of the Republican-controlled Florida Senate.

    “This project would create real jobs, cleaner and smarter transportation and true economic development for Floridians,” said the letter written to LaHood.

    The letter was authored in part by one of Scott’s first Senate backers, Republican Paula Dockery of Lakeland, who argued that the newly created Florida Rail Enterprise could act independently of Scott because the state’s share of the rail money — $300 million — was already approved last year by a previous governor, Charlie Crist.
    Nevertheless, the knuckle-draggers are not resting:
    Late Thursday, a Florida tea party group and the conservative activist organization Americans for Prosperity[*] reached out to supporters to drum up support for Scott’s decision.
    Florida's pusillanimous
    Senate President Mike Haridopolos didn’t sign the letter. “I was never a big supporter of high-speed rail,” said Haridopolos, who voted for the rail legislation package in December 2009.

    Haridopolos, who is running for U.S. Senate against Nelson, did give the green light for some of his top lawmakers to sign Dockery’s letter, including Senate Republican leader Andy Gardiner, R-Orlando, who pushed the rail legislation more than a year ago.
    "Scott rebuked by 26 senators over high-speed rail funding". See also "Senator makes point about Rick Scott's authority to nix rail deal, but Scott still holds most cards", "Lawmakers Want to Route Rail Around Scott", "Feds give Florida one week", "U.S. transportation chief gives Fla. one week to circumvent Gov. Scott on high-speed rail", "Senator makes point about Rick Scott’s authority to nix rail deal, but Scott still holds most cards", "Lawmakers seek control of high-speed rail project" and "Feds set Feb. 25 deadline for fast-rail deal".

    - - - - - - - - - - -
    * In a disservice to readers, the story neglects to mention that "Americans for Prosperity (AFP) is an astroturf front group started by oil billioniare David Koch and Richard Fink (a member of the board of directors of Koch Industries). AFP works together with the Koch family’s other conservative foundations and think tanks to disrupt Barack Obama's presidency." For more see Jane Mayer's Covert Operations: The billionaire brothers who are waging a war against Obama, The New Yorker, August 30, 2010.

    "One man’s political tunnel vision "

    The Miami Herald editors: "It was imprudent for the governor to unilaterally turn down an initial $300 million in federal stimulus dollars already appropriated by the Legislature — in fact, he has no constitutional authority to do so. Florida Senate Budget Committee Chair J.D. Alexander and Senate Transportation Committee Chair Jack Latvala wondered as much, too. This is a case of the governor putting his ideology before common sense — even if it means turning down 14,000 jobs and eventually as many as 25,000 by the time the Miami leg would be completed. ... How unfortunate that one man’s political tunnel vision has sought to bury a project that just a few months ago won bipartisan support and would get Floridians to work." "Scott’s high-speed imprudence".

    Scott insists he's not a crook

    "Scott says sale of state planes wasn't illegal".

    "Difference between ripping off the government and governing a government"

    Howard Troxler writes that Scott has

    simply entered his own parallel universe of right-wing/libertarian chin rubbers who see any government effort with Barack Obama's name attached to it as a Socialist/Marxist/Trotskyite/Jane Fonda/George Soros high-speed rail plot to turn the state over to Hugo Chavez.

    Never mind that construction on the Tampa-to-Orlando leg of the system could have created as many as 20,000 jobs, not to mention the ripple effect of genuine economic stimulus, the very things Scott, R-Let's Get To Knee Jerk, campaigned on during his witness protection run for the governorship.

    In the wake of the decision to make sure Florida remains firmly mired in the 15th century, one can't help but think if the high-speed rail funds had come from Ronald Reagan or George W. Bush, Scott would be hailing the effort as a bold, visionary, recession-busting godsend to the citizenry of the state.

    Instead Scott met with tea party apparatchiks, who regarded the prospect of high-speed rail as if black helicopters were descending on Central Florida, and decided it was better to tell 20,000 potential workers to keep filling out resumes somewhere else.

    Therein can be found Rick Scott's festering problem. The governor has yet to figure out there is a substantial difference between running a company that ripped off the government and actually governing a government. That's why they are called governors.

    And in his first major test of fiscal accountability, Scott relied more on the ideological rantings of hysterical political spear carriers than on the larger needs of all his constituents.

    It's the Governor's Office, governor — not a Fox News sweat lodge, where you seem to be spending much of your time.
    "In just weeks, Scott makes Florida cry uncle".

    RPOFer contributors dancing in the streets

    "Most of the 3 million beneficiaries of Florida's Medicaid program would be placed in managed-care plans under a dramatic overhaul of the health care system for the poor now moving through the Legislature." "Bill would put most Medicaid recipients in managed care". See also "Medicaid Reform Bill Makes Committee Debut" and "Florida Senate Medicaid bill would use HMO-like plans, ban illegal immigrants from care".

    Related: "Speaker calls suggestion that Florida drop out of Medicaid a "hazardous threat"" ("Cannon: 'I am always a big believer in never make a threat you are not prepared to carry through on immediately.'")


    "The embattled head of the fund to compensate losses from last year's Deepwater Horizon oil spill will appear this morning before a House committee intent on answers." "BP claims administrator will appear before House committee".

    Here's some raw political courage for you: "Bondi slams Feinberg over oil spill claims promises not kept".

    "If only you yahoos knew"

    Steve Otto writes that "everybody got a good laugh on Monday at the annual Governor's Day luncheon at the Florida State Fair when the Rev. Tom Scott, who is chairman of the Tampa City Council and a candidate to become the city's next mayor, asked for a little divine intervention on high-speed rail."

    In front of more than 800 people, including scores of muckety-mucks including the governor, the attorney general, the agricultural commissioner, Tampa's mayor and the area's power elite, Scott wondered if the Almighty might help Gov. Rick Scott bring high-speed rail to Tampa.

    Everybody giggled, even the governor. Looking back you wonder what might have been going through Scott's mind at the time. "If only you yahoos knew what I was going to do in a couple of days after I get out of here. That high-speed rail is going to end up as a carnival ride out there on the midway.''
    "An unanswered prayer".

    Jobs action

    "Rural County Leaders Strategize How to Get in on Jobs Action".

    Arranging deck chairs

    "Some of the proposals read more like an eye chart than a way to save millions of dollars." "FDOT, Other Agencies Could Be in Merge Lane".

    Union busting

    "[G]overnors from Nevada to Florida have been touting the need to weaken union powers and extract more money from government employees to help balance out-of-whack budgets." "Republicans challenging unions in state capitols".

    A reminder to the drooling union-haters out there: under Florida's public employee bargaining law (the "PERA"), if the public employer and the union do not reach agreement, the public employer has the unilateral authority to decide all wages, hours and terms and conditions of employment. See "Ignorance".

    So, stopping whining about Florida's public employee unions.

    The best they can do?

    "The Florida Senate has moved one step closer to letting voters decide whether to place a constitutional limit on the growth of the state budget." "Proposal to limit state revenue advances through Senate".

    SunRail next?

    "Scott's rejection of high-speed rail may have laid the groundwork for derailing a Central Florida commuter train."

    SunRail, a planned $1.2 billion line running through four counties, doesn't have the sex appeal of a high-speed train, but it has strong political ties to state GOP leaders.

    "High-speed rail was President Obama's train. SunRail is the Republicans' train," says Matthew Falconer, an Orlando-based commercial real-estate owner who ran for Orange County mayor last year.
    "SunRail: Next Stop on Gov. Scott's Hit List?".

    From the "values" crowd

    "Turning the screw on unemployment compensation". See also "Unemployment Compensation Reform Passes House Committee" and "Unemployment compensation bill reduces benefits".

    "School funding formula scrutinized"

    "Gov. Crist last year vetoed $100,000 set aside for a study of the funding formula." "Senator wants school funding formula scrutinized".

    Scott to dump 1000 additional jobs

    "One thousand state jobs would be eliminated under a move pushed by Gov. Rick Scott to create a public nursing home corporation for Florida veterans. Department of Veterans' Affairs interim executive director Bob Milligan vetted the proposal at the Senate Budget Subcommittee on Health and Human Services Appropriations Wednesday. He was joined by the Florida Health Care Association, who told the committee the private nursing home industry supports the move." "Change to veterans' nursing homes would eliminate roughly 1,000 jobs".

    AIF poll shows Floridians favor dumping raw sewage

    "Poll shows Floridians don't want to pay for new water quality standards".

    Increasing the influence of RPOFer teabaggery

    "Defenders of Florida's early primary date have a new ally with some serious clout: Marco Rubio. The freshman GOP senator told The Palm Beach Post that Florida shouldn't move its primary from January to later in the presidential election season, despite entreaties from national Republicans to abide by the RNC-mandated schedule." "Rubio backs early Florida primary".

    "Little more than ideology and politics"

    Beth Kassab: "Not even two months into his term, Gov. Rick Scott is already hurting his credibility as the 'CEO' governor."

    He sold voters on his knack to govern Florida like a business.

    We all took that to mean he would make decisions based on facts and financials after thorough due diligence.

    Yet when Scott killed high-speed rail this week, he used little more than ideology and politics.
    "Scott a 'CEO' governor? Not by a long shot".

    Rubio embarrasses Florida

    "A legislative effort to block White House plans to expand travel to Cuba failed, but the sponsor, Sen. Marco Rubio, said he will continue to push for passage." "Rubio to press for flight restrictions to Cuba".

    "That's a wobbly hook for Mr. Scott"

    The Orlando Sentinel editorial board:

    Scott's banking on saving money by relying more on privatized prisons. State mandate requires the six facilities run by private operators yield at least a 7 percent savings over state-run prisons.

    But an Arizona Corrections Department cost study recently found it often cost more to house felons in private prisons. Similarly, a 2010 Florida Center for Fiscal and Economic Policy report declared "there is no compelling evidence that the privatization of prisons has actually resulted in savings."

    That's a wobbly hook for Mr. Scott to hang his bean-counter visor.
    "Find savings in prison reform".

    Tampa elections

    "Early voting gets under way in Tampa's elections".

    Needed: people that read books without pictures

    "Florida needs 80 new trial court judges, but the state Supreme Court doesn’t expect to get them. In an opinion released Thursday, the state’s highest court noted it was fulfilling its Constitutional duty by recommending the creation of new judicial posts — 26 circuit judges and 54 county court judges." "More judges needed in Fla.".

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