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, April 17, 2011

Cuban-American twist on union-busting issue

    Myriam Marquez asks "Why would lawmakers who ran on a platform of jobs, jobs, jobs, be so fixated on wrecking havoc with public workers’ lives?"
    Union busting, that’s why. Unions donate to Democrats because they’re friendly to their cause. Business lobbies give globs of campaign cash to Republicans because they’re friendly to anti-union causes. Not complicated and nothing new.
    Marquez then adds a Cuban-American twist to the debate, pointing out that
    Every Cuban-American Republican in Tallahassee should not only be concerned, but incensed at this assault on basic individual rights. Every one of them, when talking about Cuba’s dictatorship, will list "independent labor unions" and an independent press and legalization of all political parties as among their demands before bargaining with the dictatorship.

    In Cuba, there are no union dues, no paycheck deductions (barely a paycheck when you live on $20 a month), but, of course, that’s because unions are run by the regime.

    South Florida’s Cuban-American Republicans know that truth. It’s past time they spread the word and get their GOP colleagues to stop meddling with union workers’ paychecks.
    "Meddling with union paychecks".


    "The BP disaster in the Gulf of Mexico underlined the state’s vulnerability to far-off oil spills." "With Florida in the loop, drilling remains a concern". The Saint Pete Times editors: "Too soon to rush back to deepwater drilling".

    "Uterus Song"

    "The flap over the word 'uterus' in the Florida Legislature has been made into a song, thanks to South Florida's Raging Grannies." "Florida's Raging Grannies join debate with 'Uterus Song'".

    "Tiptoeing along the bright line of fascism"

    "U.S. Rep. Allen West strode up to a buzzing crowd of conservative activists who had gathered in the bowels of the Capitol, setting off a wave of applause as delighted fans rushed up to shake his hand and snap his picture."

    West accused Democrats of "leadership by fear-mongering," called the detention center at Guantanamo Bay "a five-star hotel for some very bad actors" and said that when people like Secretary of State Hillary Clinton dictate foreign policy "we are in a world of you-know-what." ...

    He [previously] raised eyebrows, for instance, by vowing in one radio interview to bring to its knees "this liberal, progressive, socialist agenda, this left-wing, vile, vicious, despicable machine that's out there." ...

    [R]adio talk-show host Joyce Kaufman declar[ed] at a West campaign rally, "If ballots don't work, bullets will."

    Keith Olbermann, formerly with MSNBC, called West a "bald-faced liar" who had "disgraced the uniform" of his country and was prone to "tiptoe along the bright line of fascism." ...

    West so far has shrugged off pressure to run for a U.S. Senate seat in Florida next year or to eventually seek the presidency.
    "Conservative freshman Rep. Allen West is media sensation".

    "Scott doesn't just look scary; he is scary"

    Stephen Goldstein writes that "Florida Gov. Rick Scott doesn't just look scary; he is scary — and he does scary things. As Floridians watch helplessly, millions are screaming 'buyer's remorse,' now that they finally understand the extent of Scott's radical agenda — and face what they did to themselves by failing to heed warnings."

    "In addition, the Florida Legislature, now tea party/Republican-dominated with overwhelming majorities, is matching Scott's madness. Under the pretense of achieving fiscal soundness, Tallahassee is giving Florida an extreme makeover — as a state in which corporate interests trump people's rights and religious zealots tell everyone how to live. Floridians have a choice: They can grouse but do nothing — or they can retake the state and show the governor and Legislature that 'the people' are still boss. Voters should pass eight constitutional amendments to restore representative government in Florida:"

    1. The "Recall" Amendment

    2. The "Majority Rule" Amendment

    3. The "60 Percent" Amendment

    4. The "Follow the Will of the People" Amendment

    5. The "Blind Trust" Amendment

    6. The "Anti-lobbying" Amendment

    7. The "Open Primaries" Amendment

    8. The "Representative Government" Amendment
    See what he means here: "Retaking state: Floridians need to get active now".

    Another day at the office

    "Coral Springs firefighters got help from fire departments in Margate, Deerfield Beach, Pompano Beach, Tamarac, Palm Beach County and Miami-Dade County, said the spokesman for the firefighting effort, Capt. Rich Antonini of the Coral Springs Fire Department." "Firefighters battle blaze at recycling center in Parkland".

    Florida Republicans' "bad case of spite"

    The Miami Herald editorial board: "Talk about a bad case of spite. The Republican-led Legislature was very unhappy last year when the state Supreme Court tossed out three constitutional amendments sponsored by lawmakers. The court’s rejection was because the proposals had confusing or misleading ballot summaries. ... To get back at the Florida Supreme Court, they are crafting new amendment proposals that would radically — and pointlessly — overhaul that institution."

    Bad ideas — all. First, as [former Florida Governor and U.S. Senator] Graham put it, the plan to expand and split the Supreme Court is a "solution seeking to find a problem." The state’s highest court works fine. It doesn’t have a backlog, and, in fact, has reduced its caseload in recent years.

    Adding three more justices wouldn’t improve the state’s justice system one bit, but it would allow the governor to stack the court. Under the proposal, the three additional justices would each get three law clerks and a secretary. It’s roughly estimated that splitting and expanding the court could cost an additional $21 million. Where will this money come from in such tight budget times?

    The proposal to open up JQC proceedings may look like a step toward more transparency, and supporters liken it to proceedings at the state Ethics Commission. But the JQC probes of judges — arising from complaints by litigants or lawyers who go before the judges — are far different than when a citizen complains to the Ethics Commission about a city commissioner.

    Finally, the proposal to remove The Florida Bar from its JNC-member recommendation job is a slap in the face to minorities — blacks and non-Cuban Hispanics, especially, as they trend toward the Democratic Party and would be shut out of the judicial nominating process even though more than half of Florida’s registered voters are Democrats.
    "Don’t tamper with state’s Supreme Court". Background: "House GOP passes bill to dramatically alter Supreme Court that GOP says 'has failed us'".

    Thank you, President Obama

    "Hints of rebound may boost sales of luxury condos".

    Some call it "journalism"

    Mike Thomas is, after all, in the readership business. And what better way to do it than making a fool of your self, which achieves this morning with this drivel: "How I learned to 'luv the guv'".

    Luv 4 sale

    "With a former corporate executive in Gov. Rick Scott and growing Republican supermajorities controlling the legislature, Florida is poised to enact sweeping 'pro-business' and deregulatory changes in the next three weeks." "Corporate millions have paid off in 'pro-business' legislative agenda".

    "Scott couldn't pass up a chance to perform"

    The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "Until recently, Gov. Scott and House Speaker Dean Cannon, R-Winter Park, wanted the Legislature to scrap the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program before it got started, citing concerns over privacy, government overreach and costs."

    Gov. Scott, though, couldn't pass up a chance to perform in Washington. Before a House committee on Thursday, he testified on the growing danger of prescription drug abuse. How credible would he have looked as the governor who opposed the database?
    "Scott's convenient switch: Congress beckoned, so he came out for drug database".

    Enough with Citizens

    The Tampa Trib editors think it's "Sunset for Citizens".

    "Naked pandering looks downright refreshing"

    Scott Maxwell: "For all his many imperfections, Charlie had concern for his fellow man. And compared with some of the nonsensical and truly damaging actions we are seeing from Rick Scott nowadays, a little naked pandering looks downright refreshing." "Rick Scott is enough to make me miss Charlie Crist".

    It has pickshures and everthin'

    "The Florida GOP has rolled out a new website, www.presidency5.com, to tout what could be the biggest political event of the year: Presidency 5, a GOP-apolooza, featuring a debate among the presidential candidates and an officially meaningless 'straw poll' for Florida Republicans to vote on who they want for their nominee." "GOP unveils website".

    Entrepreneurs in action

    "Five years after a $5 million pledge from north Palm Beach County business leaders helped steer The Scripps Research Institute to Jupiter instead of Boca Raton, most of that money intended for minority businesses and students remains past due." "Businesses fail to deliver half of millions pledged for Scripps".

    Scott jumps on Jax Teabagger

    North Florida has for decades been the home of right-wing nutballery, but may actually be on the verge of taking a small step out of the sewer; or stepping further into it. There's a serious choice for voters in

    a fascinating mayor's race playing out in Jacksonville, featuring a tea party Republican, Duval Tax Collector Mike Hogan, against a conservative African-American Democrat, Alvin Brown, a former Bill Clinton aide and now a business school dean.

    Jacksonville's most recent mayors, John Peyton and John Delaney, have been moderate Republicans, but in the era of tea party activism, there's a chance voters in the May 17 election may find a centrist Democrat more reflective of the community than a hard-right Republican whose campaign website talks about his commitment to protecting gun rights and combating abortion and illegal immigration, before creating jobs.

    Stunningly, one of Florida's top Republican fundraisers, former St. Joe chief executive Peter Rummell, endorsed Brown on Friday.

    "We're coming out of a terrible time, and how we treat that and what we do is terribly important. We need to have an adult conversation about this. … I happen to think Alvin will be more productive about that than Hogan," Rummell told the Times-Union.

    Not stunningly, Gov. Rick Scott on Friday joined Hogan — the heavy favorite — for a tea party antitax rally.
    "Jacksonville mayor's race politically revealing". Meanwhile, even some mainstream GOPers recognize that Scott's main is not up for the job: "Brown wins over big GOP backer".

    First DCA Impeachments?

    "A House Committee should consider impeaching 1st District Court Judges Paul Hawkes and Brad Thomas for their role in building a new courthouse critics call a 'Taj Mahal,' says Rep. Franklin Sands, D-Plantation." "Lawmaker asks House speaker to consider impeachment judges for roles in 'Taj Mahal' courthouse".

    Teabaggers show (yet again) that they're merely RPOF shills

    Florida's teabaggers once again demonstrate that they are little more than a Republican front group:

    South Florida Tea Party members are on the same page [as the union haters running the Florida Republican Party], spokesman Tim McClellan said. "They unionize a workplace and then tell the employer, 'You have to help us collect the dues,' " he said. "That's ridiculous. And most of that money is going to elect liberals and it's giving those liberals an unfair advantage."
    "Union leaders’ complaint: Fla. workers 'under assault’".

    "Extremist and self-serving agenda"

    The Orlando Sentinel editors write that "the last thing Floridians need is for the Legislature to grant itself an extension, creating even more opportunities for lawmakers to pass their alternately extremist and self-serving agenda. Some of the agenda's bitter highlights:"

    Creating jobs was supposed to be Job One for this Legislature, remember? Forget it. Fashioning an environment that reflects the Republican-led Legislature's sensibility on social issues is instead driving legislators. Needlessly divisive bills could pass that infringe on a woman's constitutional right to an abortion, permit prayer at school events, quash public unions, force people needing the government's temporary financial help to get drug tested, and permit schools to teach what the sponsor calls "non-evolution."

    Don't forget legislators' breathless pursuit of regulations, attempting to eradicate them as if they were plague-carrying rats. As if you could forget it, with the legislators' hooting and hollering about their eagerness to overturn rules that protect consumers from unscrupulous mechanics and rogue telemarketers. That curb unneeded, sprawl-inducing developments. And that come from Washington, like the new federal clean water rules. ...

    They've gone "cap crazy" — seeking to limit lawsuits against nursing homes for negligence and wrongful neglect, to limit legal damages for agencies providing foster-care services and to limit lawsuits in medical-malpractice actions involving Medicaid patients. All to ostensibly crimp the ambition of Democrat-backed trial attorneys. But should the bills pass, they'd create an environment encouraging the mistreatment of some of our most vulnerable populations.

    Speaking of lawsuits, Republican legislators haven't given up on remaking the state's judiciary in an image to their liking. House Speaker Dean Cannon would carve up the state Supreme Court, whose decisions last year made it harder for the GOP to gerrymander districts. And he'd have legislators take over some of the court's rule-making authority. Who better, after all, than legislators – so many of whom know nothing of the law?
    Much more here: "Lawmakers' self-serving measures don't serve Floridians".

    Teabagger clown

    "Donald Trump filled several roles Saturday: Self promoter; crowd pleaser; economic analyst; and slashing critic of President Barack Obama."

    Trump bragged about his intelligence, touted his business acumen, laid out areas in which he thinks American domestic and foreign policy is wrong, and again raised questions about whether the president really is a U.S. citizen.
    "Trump bashes Obama, hints at possible presidential run". See also "Trump tells Boca crowd of 2,000 he can oust Obama".

    Farcical amendment to Thrasher's union busting bill

    John Thrasher has amended his union-busting bill prohibiting voluntary public employee union dues deductions. The amendment permits dues deductions from public employee paychecks, but limits use of such union dues to 'non-political' purposes. Conversely, use of deducted union dues for political purposes is prohibited. See "Union Dues Bill Tweaked, Heads to Florida Senate Floor".

    Thrasher's amendment papers over the continued union-busting essence of his bill. To understand the amendment for the farce that it is, one must understand how public employee collective "bargaining" works in Florida. As pointed out last month in "Republican union busting on a roll in Tally", political activity is the sine qua non of union efficacy in Florida.

    Although Florida's public employee unions engage in something called "collective bargaining", we explained, Florida's unions are in fact powerless to meaningfully effect improvements in public sector work places except through the political process. That is so because, under Florida's public employee bargaining law (the "PERA"), if a public employer and a union do not reach agreement, the public employer has the unilateral authority to decide all wages, hours and terms and conditions of employment:

    Even though the right of Florida's public employees to unionize and bargain is a fundamental Florida constitutional right, this constitutional right been reduced by the Florida Legislature to merely permitting employees to form an association and obligating the employer to "bargain" with the association; and, in the event the parties can't reach agreement in this so-called-"bargaining", the public employer essentially has the unilateral ability to do whatever it wants.

    More specifically, Florida's public employers are not required to agree to anything (except non-substantive provisions relating to arbitration and voluntary dues deduction), and just about everything else is subject to complete, unilateral determination by the public employer. The only "pressure" a Florida public employee union can bring to bear is precisely the same power as that as any other group of individuals - at the ballot box.
    Much more here: "Media poodles raise their paws"

    This is to be contrasted with public sector bargaining in other states, where a neutral third party is appointed to resolve bargaining impasses, or a very limited form of public employee strike activity is permitted. No similar mechanisms exist in Florida.

    In Florida, then, the only "power" unionized public employees have is to participate in the political process (just as other interest groups do, like the Chamber of Commerce, the United Way (which ironically enough, has contributions deducted from public employee paychecks*), realtors, the Associated Industries of Florida, developer groups, etc.) by supporting or opposing candidates. Thrasher's bill, even with the amendment, will prevent deducted union dues from being used for the very essence of public union activity: participating (consistent with political contribution limit and disclosure rules) in the political process.

    Thrasher's bill, even as amended, remains a union-busting ploy.

    Even Florida's courts** recognize that politics informs the very existence of public employee labor organizations:
    As noted by Professor Summers [Public Employee Bargaining: A Political Perspective, 83 Yale L.J. 1156 (1969)], the 'employers' in public employment collective bargaining are public officials. These public officials are accountable to the voters who in essence then are the true 'employers.' As a result, public employment collective bargaining is influenced primarily by political forces as opposed to private employment collective bargaining which is essentially shaped by the market. Id. See also Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, 431 U.S. 209, 227-28, 97 S.Ct. 1782, 1795-96, 52 L.Ed.2d 261, 279-80 (1977) (public employer decisionmaking is guided by politics; it is not guided by the profit motive).

    The public employee, as a voter, has the ability to participate ... through normal political processes. ... public employees "certainly have a right to participate in [the] decision, but only through the ordinary avenues of the political process which are equally open to all competing views and interest groups."
    Thrasher's amendment - limiting the prohibition against voluntary dues deduction to 'non-political' purposes is a farce, and strikes at the very viability and indeed the existence of Florida's public employee unions.

    - - - - - - - - - -
    *Thrasher's bill of course does nothing to disturb Florida's public employees longstanding right to have politically correct United Way contributions deducted from their paychecks.

    **The quoted language is from City of Miami v. F.O.P. Miami Lodge 20, 571 So.2d 1309, 1328-29 (Fla. 3d DCA 1989), approved by, Fraternal Order of Police, Miami Lodge 20 v. City of Miami, 609 So.2d 31 (Fla. 1992)(opinion rendered in dispute involving subjects appropriate for bargaining).

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