Since 2002, daily Florida political news and commentary


UPDATE: Every morning we review and individually digest Florida political news articles, editorials and punditry. Our sister site, FLA Politics was selected by Campaigns & Elections as one of only ten state blogs in the nation
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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, April 15, 2011

"Awful. Disgusting. Disaster."

    "Gov. Scott's first 100 days: Your reaction, in one word". Here's a hint: "Awful. Disgusting. Disaster."

    Scott's lawyer admits giving Court inaccurate figures

    "Gov. Rick Scott's attorney has told the Florida Supreme Court that he was wrong about the money already spent on the state's high-speed rail project while defending the governor's right to kill it."

    Scott's general counsel, Charles Trippe, sent Chief Justice Charles Canady, a letter Thursday. He acknowledged that he gave inaccurate figures during oral arguments last month supporting the governor's rejection of $2.4 billion in federal funds for the project linking Tampa with Orlando.

    Trippe attributed the inaccurate information to a miscommunication with the Florida Department of Transportation.
    "Scott's attorney admits giving wrong figures in rail debate".

    State Senator Thad "Altman said he believes the dollar figure was critical to the case, because the large sum of unspent money shows the governor was "impounding" funds he was obligated to spend."
    "There was a big misrepresentation of the facts. Would this be a legitimate reason to reopen this case and reassert that the governor misused his authority? Certainly, clearly it shows either his office didn't know what was going on or they misrepresented the facts," Altman said. "What is the bigger and more important question is the misuse of executive authority and not faithfully implementing the law. That applies not only to rail, but many other things."
    "Gov. Rick Scott lawyer to Supreme Court: My facts were wrong on high speed rail".

    Scott's double flop

    Ricky's flip-flopping faster than he can plead the fifth.

    First, "Gov. Scott, lawmakers reverse deep funding cuts to disabled". See also "Spending for disabled saved".

    Then this: "Gov. Rick Scott reluctantly endorses pain-pill database" ("The change in tone may have saved Florida's governor from a public flogging.")

    Today in Tally

    "Today in Tallahassee: guns, abortion, sexting". See also "the state REPORT".

    Voter suppression, Republican style

    "The latest House makeover of Florida election laws stirred intense controversy Thursday as unions and grass roots political groups complained that it would suppress 2012 voting in a state Barack Obama won in 2008."

    By a 12-6 party-line vote, the House State Affairs Committee approved the new bill, setting up a vote by the full House. Similar legislation will be taken up Friday by the Senate Rules Committee.

    The 150-page rewrite surfaced the afternoon before the vote.
    "Critics lash Florida elections bill as 'voter suppression'". Related: "Presidential Primary Measure, Election Bill Pass House Panel".

    Budget blues

    "Senate budget chief J.D. Alexander seems a little more dour these days, especially when budget talks broke down, but he said the Republican Senate and House will likely come to an agreement by session's end, May 6." "Budget disagreements leave a sour taste in Capitol".

    Court packing

    "Hours before the House started discussion of a bill to drastically remake the Florida Supreme Court, former governor and U.S. Sen. Bob Graham, attorneys and four former justices launched an initiative to stop the measure." "Graham, others move to stop high court bill". See also "Florida House Prepares for Supreme Court Reform Vote".

    These rules are fine with RPOFers

    "In a year when lawmakers are slashing state oversight and regulations, there is one area where they are moving to add a layer of more rules — local government pensions. Under a plan that won swift approval by the Senate Budget Committee on Thursday, local government pensions would face tough new reporting requirements — and the short-term use of insurance premium taxes — to become stable again." "Florida lawmakers propose new rules for local pension funds".

    Thank you, Mr. Obama

    Update: "Florida jobless rate drops to 11.1 percent".

    "More good news on Fla. unemployment anticipated".

    Meanwhile, "to mark the governor's first 100 days in office, the Democrats launched WhereIsMyFloridaJob.com accusing Scott of destroying more jobs than he has created." "The state REPORT".

    FRS pension changes on hold?

    "State officials have warned that a major pension overhaul pushed by the Florida Senate can’t be carried out until January 2012."

    This bit of news could throw a major wrench in budget negotiations. That's because it means that savings from pension reform won’t be there until halfway through the next fiscal year.

    Sen. J.D. Alexander, R-Lake Wales, said Thursday he does not agree with the analysis on House and Senate pension plans that was put together by the Division of Retirement.

    “I don’t buy it,’’ Alexander said.

    One of the big differences between the House and Senate pension overhauls is how much state workers, teachers, firefighters and sheriff’s deputies have to pay. The House has proposed a flat 3 percent contribution rate and state officials say they can put that in place by July 1 of this year.

    The Senate, by contrast, has a tiered approach where employees would pay 2 percent, 4 percent or 6 percent based on their salary. That method, according to the Division of Retirement, would “represent a significant programming challenge” for both state government and the nearly 1,000 local governments that also participate in the Florida Retirement System.

    House Speaker Dean Cannon said that analysis means that the Legislature should abandon the concept for now.

    "It does mean it is not practical to implement a tiered system or count any of the savings,'' Cannon told reporters.
    "Cannon calls Senate pension proposal "not practical."".

    "Principles, it appears, are often situational"

    The Saint Pete Times editors write that, "as the old saying goes, talk is cheap. Principles, it appears, are often situational. Even at the top."

    House Speaker Dean Cannon, R-Winter Park, is proposing an expensive expansion of the Florida Supreme Court. This came after he and Senate President Mike Haridopolos, R-Merritt Island, insisted on a law that requires major state rules to pass legislative muster a second time. So much for streamlining government.

    Lawmakers whose party claims to champion personal freedoms are poised to outlaw droopy drawers for schoolchildren, limit when doctors can talk to patients about guns, restrict how Floridians buy wine from out-of-state vendors, require all panhandlers to register and make it a crime to take pictures of farm animals.

    Personal privacy also is up for negotiation. ...

    And forget that GOP ideal of local control.
    "Principles left at Capitol door".

    Runnin' gub'ment like a bidness

    "Orlando woman's unemployment check delayed as state verifies her work search".

    "'Tallahassee' is an old Indian word for 'Where's mine?'"

    Daniel Ruth: "If passed into law, the new Buy One Legislator, Get One Free regulations"

    would permit lawmakers to accept up to $25 in chow, gee-gaws in appreciation for dedicated service to the state's special interests, or liquid nourishment. Items between $25 and $100 would have to be reported, and anything above $100 would first have to be approved by House Speaker Dean Cannon or Senate President Mike Haridopolos when they can find the time away from stuffing their own pockets and bellies to deal with the requests.

    After all, this is Tallahassee, which is an old Indian word for "Where's mine?"

    "I think the timing is kind of bad," uttered the Senate's Socratic sage Sen. Steve Oelrich, D-Camus, who observed it looked sorta sleazy to be imposing all manner of austerity measures on the body politic, while at the same time making it easier for elected officials to chow down on the lobbyist-funded buffet line. Gee, do you think?

    When a recent grand jury excoriated the Florida Legislature as a breeding ground for a "culture of corruption," does anyone, with the glaring exception of the tone deaf Florida Legislature, think it is a particularly bright idea to ease up on the ways lawmakers can be compromised more than the Mayflower Madam?
    Much more here: "Buy one legislator, get one free". Background: "The best Legislature money can buy".

    Medicaid deform

    "The Medicaid reform[*] bill passed Thursday along party lines in the Florida Senate's budget committee is so loaded with controversy that parts of it won't pass the Florida House. Or the federal government, which pays for more than half the program, could reject the plan entirely." "Florida Medicaid reform embraces controversial push toward managed care". Related: "Medicaid Reform, Abortion Bills Clear Florida Senate Budget Committee" and "Florida's Republicans face tough Medicare vote".

    - - - - - - - - - -
    *Alleged journalists are apparently unaware that the word "reform" means

    1. a : to put or change into an improved form or condition b : to amend or improve by change of form or removal of faults or abuses

    2 : to put an end to (an evil) by enforcing or introducing a better method or course of action

    3: to induce or cause to abandon evil ways
    Merriam-Webster. So, when a "journalist" uses the word "reform" to describe the proposed changes to Medicaid, (s)he is implicitly saying that the proposed Republican changes are a good thing. A more appropriate word would be "change", as in the "Medicaid change bill passed Thursday".

    At this website, we use the word "deform" because we don't pretend to be "journalists", and we certainly do not claim to be "unbiased".

    Sewage and water mix in Florida

    "A sweeping rewrite of 26 years of growth management law received swift approval from the Senate Environmental Conservation Committee on Thursday, opening the way for the most substantial change in Florida development law in decades." "Florida Senate moves to put local governments, not state, in charge of growth management".

    "HB 13, repealing the statewide inspection tank requirement, is now set for final approval. But bills that would streamline the state permitting process fail to be heard in House and Senate committees, and the House passes a repeal of the law banning water hyacinths." "Environmental bills move through committees and House floor despite opposition". See also "The ocean sewage discharge dilemma: What does this bill really do?".

    "The immigration reform minefield"

    Update: "One Immigration Bill Advances, a Second Stalls".

    "For evidence of the political minefield that is immigration reform, look no further than the Florida Senate." "Florida Senate faces political minefield in immigration reform".

    Anti-Scott protests continue

    "Several hundred teachers braved the rain Thursday to protest what they called an attack on teachers by Gov. Rick Scott, who has championed merit pay and changes to public employees' pensions." "Teachers protest Rick Scott's policies".

    Scott steps out of Solantic slime

    "Following Gov. Scott's deal to sell Solantic, the largest asset in his financial disclosure, Florida Democratic Party chairman Rod Smith sent a letter asking him to disclose all of the investments of his 'immediate family.'" "Scott asked: Show family portfolio".

    "Whiny politicians with a deluded sense of entitlement"

    Scott Maxwell whines about "whiny politicians with a deluded sense of entitlement are still trying to undo the 2006 gift ban, so that they can scarf up free dinners, bar tabs and any other sort of payola that lobbyists want to throw their way."

    The Miami Herald recently quoted an especially petulant and uninformed South Florida senator, Republican Nancy Detert of Venice, as whining: "We can't even eat with our own friends if they belong to an organization that employs a lobbyist, and I think that's a problem."

    Sister, you are the problem. You are free to eat with anyone from lobbyists to the Prince of Darkness himself … YOU JUST HAVE TO PAY FOR IT YOURSELF!
    "Politicians who want gifts deserve the biggest slugs".

    Yee haw!

    "Cabinet members have moved their Tuesday meeting to Panama City, marking the eve of the BP oil spill's one-year anniversary." "Panama City site of Cabinet meeting".

    Another Republican climate change denier

    "Sen. Alan Hays says his House vote for a climate change bill in 2008 wasn't an action that he remembers now. Hays, R-Umatilla, is sponsor of SB 762, which would repeal a 2008 law that directs the state to develop a greenhouse gas abatement program, such as a cap-and-trade program."

    After the meeting, Hays told the Florida Tribune that there has been new scientific information that calls climate science into question.
    "Senator has hazy memory when it comes to bill he once voted for".

    Doc stamp scam

    "Properties purchased through Orange County Clerk of Courts foreclosure sales at one price are appearing in the county Property Appraiser's Office records at a higher price, often tens of thousands of dollars more, according to an Orlando Sentinel review of 16 recent purchases."

    The discrepancy illustrates inherent flaws in a system that apparently allows investors buying up distressed properties to inflate the sale price of their real estate by paying a slightly higher state tax on the sale, commonly known as "documentary stamp tax."
    "SENTINEL EXCLUSIVE Foreclosure auctions: Are bogus sale prices hiding profits in the system?".

    Will "fraudulent panhandling" bill affect political fundraising?

    "A bill that would require a permit to panhandle, and impose fines on those who fraudulently panhandle, was unanimously approved by a Senate panel on Wednesday. The bill sponsor says it should not impact the homeless, while opponents say it could do great harm to those out on the street. ... Sen. Jack Latvala, R-St. Petersburg and whose district has had an ongoing battle in dealing with panhandling, said the proposal is not meant to hurt the homeless. He said it is an attempt to go after those people who lie and are in fact financially stable, but choose to panhandle." "Asking 'Brother, can you spare a dime?' may require a permit". See also "Small government #FAIL".

    School board members keep their cash

    "Sen. Stephen Wise's bid to do away with school board member salaries was short-lived. Wise, R-Jacksonville, last week introduced the measure in the Senate education committee he chairs. The panel took up the proposal Thursday — and voted it down 2-1." "School board salary bill fails".

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