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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, March 03, 2011

Ricky's constitutional whinge

    "Scott says two senators suing him because he rejected federal money to build high speed rail want the court to push their failed policies."
    His sometimes stinging response filed Wednesday with the Florida Supreme Court calls them “senators whose policy preferences have not prevailed in the political process.”

    Republican Thad Altman and Democrat Arthenia Joyner filed the lawsuit Tuesday, saying Scott overstepped his executive authority by killing the project after the Legislature approved it and appropriated money for it.

    Oral arguments in the case are set for 3 p.m. on Thursday. Both sides have asked the judge to rule by Friday. ...

    In a 29-page court document filed Wednesday, attorneys for Scott argue that the Legislature appropriated only $131 million for high speed rail, not the entire $2.4 billion awarded by the federal government.

    To fulfill the request made by Altman and Joyner, Scott’s attorneys say, would require the court to order the Legislature to appropriate the entire $2.4 billion, order the governor not to veto the legislation, and, if the governor does veto the legislation, not to override the veto. ...

    In a reply to Scott filed by Altman and Joyner on Wednesday afternoon, the pair said it’s incorrect that they want the court to take over the rail project.

    They say Scott "set up a fake argument just in order to tear it down."
    Joe Little weighs in:
    Joseph Little, professor emeritus at the University of Florida law school who specializes in state Constitutional law, said he believes Altman and Joyner have a strong case.

    “In my opinion, once the Legislature enacts the statute and directs that something be done, then the governor’s job is to enforce that statute,” Little said. “He can say he doesn’t like it, but he has to enforce it.”
    "Scott, again, slams high-speed rail plan".

    See also "Gov. Scott says blocking rail construction not a violation" ("Read Gov. Scott's full response"), "Thad Altman: 'Mini Mica' or Voice of Reason?", "Scott squares off against senators over rail funds", "Altman, Joyner file response to Scott’s reply; oral arguments on high-speed rail tomorrow" and "Gov. Scott, state senators exchange fire over high-speed rail suit; hearing set Thursday". Related: "U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown overstates Florida high-speed rail job figures".

    The Tampa Tribune editorial board: "A lawsuit against Gov. Rick Scott sends a question to the state Supreme Court that is more important than the high-speed train behind the controversy. Does Florida's governor have the power to single-handedly change state law?"
    Conservative leaders at the state and national level, who are usually defenders of the rule of law and the limits of constitutional authority, have been oddly silent on the issue.
    "A law-making governor?".

    Privatization follies

    "The recommendations, released in a 154-page report late Tuesday, call for cutting 1,608 department jobs and consolidating dozens of divisions and bureaus. One of the proposals would buck the powerful doctors' lobby by lifting a requirement that the department secretary be a physician. The reorganization would lead to many department duties being shifted to other state agencies, privatized or eliminated altogether."

    In another big change, the report calls for contracting with a private company to run at least part of the Children's Medical Services program. CMS serves children who have a variety of serious medical conditions.
    "Fla. Health Department may cut 1,600 jobs".

    Haridopolos ignores his own advice to return calls from the media

    "Senate President Mike Haridopolos' $152,000, four-year-old book became available today to anyone with a Kindle. For $9.99, readers can get advice on how to display their names on a campaign sign and learn that the Legislature has two branches, the House and Senate."

    Haridopolos didn't immediately return a request for comment made through his legislative office. He also didn't respond to several requests for comment on the original story, ignoring his own advice in his book to promptly return phone calls from the media.
    "Haridopolos' $152,000 book now available online".

    Florida's campaign finance system concentrates power among a few

    "The state’s campaign finance system is tilted to favor political parties, a dynamic that contributes to a partisan divide in the Capitol and concentrates power among a few lawmakers." "Campaign dollars are hard to track".

    "Florida is not one of those enlightened states"

    The Saint Petersburg Times editorial board: "President Barack Obama extended an olive branch this week to opponents of health care reform by agreeing to let states act sooner to create their own programs. It’s a smart political move for the president, and it could lead to innovative solutions by states whose leaders are sincerely interested in ensuring their residents have access to affordable health care. Unfortunately, Florida is not one of those enlightened states."

    More than 4 million Floridians are uninsured, yet Republicans in Tallahassee fight health care reform at every turn and are more interested in saving money and battling Obama than in helping residents get coverage. Gov. Rick Scott deceives voters by calling the federal law a jobs killer, and Attorney General Pam Bondi basks in publicity surrounding the Florida-led federal lawsuit seeking to overturn the law. The state Senate even plans to vote next week to place a state constitutional amendment on the ballot that aims to prevent Florida from participating in national health care reform.
    "Against Obama, not for Florida".

    There's an idea

    The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "Pay for drug database with money seized during last week's statewide raids on clinics".

    "Significant partisan divide"

    "The U.S. government won't grind to a halt Friday after bipartisan House and Senate votes this week to finance another two weeks of federal operations. But as anyone who's attended recent congressional town hall meetings in Palm Beach County can attest, a significant partisan divide remains over spending, taxes and the deficit." "Fla. reflects partisan divide in vote delaying U.S. government shutdown". Related: "Republicans Look to Force Bill Nelson's Hand on Spending".

    Scott's fool's gold

    "Florida's corporate-tax rate has become a pivotal driver of state politics ever since Gov. Rick Scott proposed cutting education and other expenses to give businesses a tax break. He wants to eliminate the corporate tax during the next seven years in hopes of luring more companies to the state."

    But in a recent survey of business executives for Area Development magazine, corporate taxes ranked sixth among the most important factors when companies relocate or expand — trailing transportation, labor costs, tax exemptions, occupancy and construction, and tax incentives.

    Florida's current corporate-tax rate of 5.5 percent is already near the bottom among states with flat rates, which range from 4.6 percent to 9.9 percent. The tax now funds education and other services, generating about $2 billion a year in revenue for a state currently facing a $3 billion budgetary shortfall.

    Of the 32 states with flat rates, only five have rates lower than Florida's: South Carolina, Utah, Michigan, Colorado and Ohio. Those states combined are home to 52 headquarters for companies on the Fortune 500 list of largest U.S. corporations. The five states with the highest tax rates — Pennsylvania, Minnesota, New Jersey, Rhode Island and California — are home to more than 120 Fortune 500 headquarters.
    "Florida's low corporate taxes not its biggest draw, survey finds".

    Does these count as Ricky-jobs?

    "More rickshaws coming to Fort Lauderdale".

    "A legal no-brainer"?

    Bill Cotterell: "State Sen. Greg Evers, R-Baker, has a bill allowing concealed-weapons permit owners to wear their guns openly, Old West style. There are fashion reasons not to, but it seems like a legal no-brainer." "Clarence Thomas may be silent, but the Curmudgeon never is". Related: "Stearns gives gun bill another shot".

    Rules for teabaggers

    Joy-Ann Reid: "For the enterprising conservative seeking political stardom, some tips for getting to the top."

    1. Smack the teachers around.

    Maybe you grew up respecting teachers, policemen and firefighters. But if you want to make it in today’s GOP, they are “public enemy No. 1.” stardom is directly connected to your propensity to punch them — especially teachers — in the face.

    2. What’s good for Wall Street doesn’t work for people who aren’t rich. ...

    Wall Street has to dole out obscene salaries and bonuses to retain top talent — otherwise, who’d tank the economy so tea party governors could cut corporate taxes and slash spending on the backs of poor people and teachers? ...

    3. Corporations, good . . . unions, bad.
    Much more here: "Rule book for tea party governors".

    Florida Romney country?

    "2012 Around the Corner, Mitt Romney Continues to Build in Florida".

    "Free Market Florida"

    "A new group claiming that California-style regulation and litigation are crippling Florida’s economy has launched to 'take the fight to' environmental groups and other 'special interests.'" "Free Market Florida prepares to do battle with environmentalists".

    5 gears in reverse

    "Responding to a Florida Independent story revealing ties between Project SOS, a federally funded Jacksonville abstinence education program, and Martin Ssempa, a controversial Ugandan pastor who supports a law in that country that prescribes the death penalty for homosexuality, program founder Pam Mullarkey says she wants to 'dissociate and distance' herself from 'allegations' about Ssempa made by 'the US media.'" "Project SOS founder says she won’t work with ‘Kill the Gays’ pastor ‘in the foreseeable future’".


    "State Rep. Carlos Trujillo, R-Miami, says he filed House Bill 321 because he’s 'pro-life, a devout Catholic and based on the scientific evidence,' he believes 'you can have a debate on when a child can feel pain and when that fetus is viable.' His bill, titled the 'Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act,' would not allow a woman to have an induced abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy." "Trujillo says science on fetal pain is inconclusive, still pushing forward on anti-abortion bill".

    Jebbie's "bureaucratic nightmare"

    "The Medicaid Reform Pilot program running in Broward County since 2006 has not improved or increased health care coverage, but has instead become a bureaucratic nightmare with lower costs because of reduced services. That was the consensus of speakers at a Tuesday evening workshop held in Hollywood and organized by Democratic state Rep. Elaine Schwartz." "At Broward workshop, testimony that Medicaid Reform Pilot is a failure".

    "No Crist to save teachers from the Republicans"

    Mike Thomas: "This time there will be no Charlie Crist to save teachers from the Republicans."

    One of Charlie's last acts as governor was vetoing the infamous Senate Bill 6, which would have tied teacher pay and job security to student test scores. Teachers and their unions cheered, but I knew it was a short-lived victory. The unions are on the wrong side of history.

    A new bill has been filed, and Rick Scott will sign it.
    "New merit-pay bill will revolutionize teaching profession".

    Nelson files bill "amid the glare of publicity"

    "Facing a protest by Holocaust survivors, U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson filed legislation that would allow them to sue European companies that have failed to pay their families’ life insurance claims from before World War II." "Sen. Nelson files Holocaust survivors’ bill".

    Rising casino revenues

    "While casinos in other parts of the country struggled, Florida tribal casinos enjoyed rising revenues in 2009, a new report says." "Florida casinos buck national trend".

    Farmworker protest

    "Immokalee farmworkers group plans Publix protest Saturday in Tampa".

    Scott's "sweeping and ill-advised change"

    The Orlando Sentinel editorial board: "The details of the budget process in Florida might seem like a subject that would matter only to accountants. Or geeks."

    But Gov. Rick Scott has proposed a sweeping and ill-advised change in that process that deserves the attention — and opposition — of all Floridians, starting with members of the state House and Senate. It could have a negative impact on what state government does, who it serves and how accountable it is to the public.

    In his proposed state budget, Mr. Scott has called for shrinking or eliminating 124 trust funds associated with specific government activities or programs. The cash from those funds, almost $8.5 billion, would be dumped into the general fund, the biggest pot of money under state government control. There, it would be available to spend on "Florida's highest priorities," according to the governor's office.

    Problem is, trust funds weren't created to bankroll the broader priorities of whoever happens to be in charge in Tallahassee.They are intended to provide a consistent and predictable source of money for narrowly defined purposes.
    "Reject Gov. Scott's proposal to eliminate trust funds".

    Alleged "journalists" at work

    One wonders if it was the "writers" - in this case Matthew Haggman and Martha Brannigan - or the editor(s) that slurred the union in the following Miami Herald article this morning:

    Former TWU union boss Wessell Clarke told The Miami Herald last week it was his understanding the 12 union members "are working on the mayor’s behalf."

    The claim was denied by Talib Nashid, the current transit union boss, who said committee members were talking with workers across the far-flung bureaucracy about the current federal audit into the transit agency and the county’s budget – even though the budget was passed in September.
    "County Mayor Alvarez criticized for bus drivers’ campaign work".

    Note to alleged journalists: these current and former elected officials have formal titles, and they ain't "boss".

    Tampa election detail

    "Analysis: Breaking down the election results".

    "Revolving door in Tallahassee"

    "Term limits have spun a revolving door in Tallahassee, where the House seems like a training ground for future senators." "How term limits reshaped Florida politics — for better or worse".


    "Top Cuba exile leader may have funded ex-CIA agent".

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