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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 Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Scott Crashing and Burning

    "Rick Scott is so far one of the least popular Florida governors in recent memory with almost half of registered voters saying he's doing a bad job in office, a new poll shows."
    Only 35 percent voters give the Republican newcomer a positive job-approval rating, according to the survey of 1,499 Florida registered voters conducted by Quinnipiac University.

    The reasons for Scott's popularity problems are varied: an economy on life support, power scuffles with lawmakers from his own party, a newly energized left that deeply dislikes him and a hard-right governing style that seems to estrange middle-of-the-road independent voters who swing elections.

    "Today, Scott is a four-letter word to many Florida voters, but political popularity can change with time," Quinnipiac pollster Peter A. Brown said.
    "Poll shows increase in Florida voters' dislike for Gov. Rick Scott". The poll results: "April 6, 2011 - Florida Voters Turn Thumbs Down On Gov. Scott, Quinnipiac University Poll Finds; Voters Back Drug Tests For State Workers Almost 4-1 ". See also "Q-Poll Finds Honeymoon Over for Rick Scott" and "Gov. Scott's popularity plummets in latest poll".

    Regarding Scott's teacher pay scam, the poll shows that 57 % disapprove the legislation that ties a teacher's pay to student performance."

    "Lawmakers accelerating Florida's decline into mediocrity"

    Update: "Budget cuts to dominate Legislature".

    The Saint Petersburg Times editorial board: "The separate state budget plans that the Florida House and Senate will start debating today are shortsighted and irresponsible in every respect. Instead of investing in Florida’s future, lawmakers are accelerating a decline into mediocrity." "Irresponsible budget plans".

    Pension battle

    "Pension debate to get heated again during Senate floor action today".

    "Hey Cannon! Your epidermis is showing!"

    Update - Cannon relents on the "U" word: "Rep. Scott Randolph, D-Orlando, has garnered a national media audience since he was scolded last week for suggesting his wife should 'incorporate her uterus' to get Republican legislators to leave her alone."

    Randolph used the phrase during a House floor debate on a union bill and said he was challenging Republicans like Cannon to stay true to their stated beliefs about relaxing regulations. Randolph suggested they start by not adding new ones to his wife's uterus, a reference to the 10 anti-abortion bills moving through Tallahassee.

    He said House Republican leaders later sought him out, telling him not to use the word without first warning those who might be offended. ...

    Randolph said he was in fact told through his party's leadership that Cannon's office was unhappy with the use of the word. He also refuted the speaker's claim that he was ineffective as part of a minority-party with less than one-third of the 120 seats in the House. The GOP has an 82-38 majority in the chamber, which allows Republicans to steamroll whatever they want through the chamber.

    "I think I'm the most effective at calling out their radical agenda," Randolph said. "A Legislature that is bought and sold by the Florida Chamber of Commerce will not let us pass bills that effectively protect the middle-class and effectively protect women from their radical agenda."
    "House Speaker Dean Cannon responds to 'uterus' flap: No ban".

    Scott Maxwell: "It's a pretty common word when talking about reproductive rights — one that probably wouldn't even make your average middle-schooler giggle."
    It's a pretty common word when talking about reproductive rights — one that probably wouldn't even make your average middle-schooler giggle.

    And yet it set off a firestorm in Tallahassee.

    House Republicans sent word to Randolph, a Democrat from Orlando, that he should no longer say the word without first warning those who might be offended.

    "Actually, they said I was no longer allowed to say any body parts," Randolph said.

    Holy fallopian tubes, Batman.

    Here's a good rule of thumb: If you can't say a word, don't try to regulate it.

    When I first heard this story, I wondered if perhaps House Speaker Dean Cannon genuinely didn't know what uterus meant.

    Maybe he was that kid from second grade who always teared up and ran to hide in the bathroom when some other kid said: "Hey Dean! Your epidermis is showing!"
    "The word 'uterus' isn't obscene, but politics in Tallahassee are".

    Today in Tally

    "Today in Tallahassee: Budget, budget and Medicaid".

    "Make way for Florida, Foghorn Leghorn"

    Daniel Ruth: "There is an understandable reason why Florida Republicans are quite correct in insisting the state hold its 2012 presidential primary early in the election cycle, much to the pouting, whiny consternation of Iowa and South Carolina. "

    Florida is simply more important to the presidential nomination process than two states populated by Mr. Green Jeans and Foghorn Leghorn.

    This may offend Iowa and South Carolina. But really now, who cares?

    So while various party fussbudgets in Iowa and South Carolina stomp their feet and hold their breath and ask for their mommies merely because they might lose what precious little influence they have in picking the GOP nominee, Florida Republicans have essentially extended the international hand gesture signifying "have a nice day."
    "Make way for Florida, small fry states".

    Rail blunder

    "States, Amtrak vying for Florida's rejected high-speed train money".

    "Scott has a clear conflict of interest"

    The Saint Pete Times editors: "Scott has a clear conflict of interest between his public job and his private finances. The controversial policies he is pursuing as governor clearly would benefit the health care company he co-founded and increase the value of his family's investment. Such a blatant example of a public official pushing changes that would financially benefit himself is banned by the federal government and most other states, but in Florida anything goes." "Scott's financial conflict: unethical, legal".

    "Immigration Bill Rammed Through Committee"

    "After introducing an 11th-hour amendment and taking no testimony from opponents, Senate Judiciary Chairman Anitere Flores on Monday rammed through quick party-line approval of an immigration bill."

    Passage of Senate Bill 2040 was immediately hailed by Senate President Mike Haridopolos as "the first significant step in stopping illegal immigration in Florida." Others begged to differ after the panel's hurried vote.

    Late amendments created a loophole in what was initially a tight E-Verify bill requiring employers to use the federal database to screen job applicants. The adulterated measure now offers employers the alternative of verifying applicants' driver's licenses.

    Though Republicans called the amendment an improvement, the driver's license provision fueled more controversy. An eclectic coalition of immigration advocates and businesses still opposes any state-imposed eligibility requirements, while immigration-control groups seethed over what they called betrayal by GOP leaders.

    After the vote, some frustrated attendees in the packed committee room loudly chanted "Let Us Speak," and the panel quickly adjourned.
    "Republicans Ram Immigration Bill Through Committee".

    Gambling bill, except in Orlando

    "A reconstituted casino gaming bill emerged Tuesday in the Senate, allowing for a casino to be built in each of five regions of the state, but forbidding casinos in Orlando's tourism havens. It also provides sweeteners to the parimutuel industry." "Bill to expand casino gaming makes headway". See also "Senate Panel Wants All-In on Gambling, Casino Resorts" and "Bill to allow 'destination resort' casinos clears Florida Senate committee".

    Voucher madness

    "School-choice advocates hailed this week's U.S. Supreme Court decision upholding Arizona's tax-credit scholarship program. The 5-4 ruling affirmed a 2002 high court decision for a Cleveland voucher program, and gives added support to the 10-year-old Florida Tax Credit Scholarship (FTC) program which awarded $106 million in private tuition grants to 28,927 last year." "Suddenly, Opportunity to Expand Tax-Credit Scholarship Program?".

    Big Tobacco

    "Big Tobacco Companies Rally Workers for Taxing Dosal".

    RPOFers can't find a candidate

    "Public Policy Polling (PPP), a firm with connections to prominent Democrats, unveiled a poll Tuesday that showed that Republican voters in Florida have not found a front-runner in either the race to see who the GOP’s presidential nominee will be or who will emerge to take on Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson." "PPP Poll: No GOP Favorite in Florida Presidential, U.S. Senate Field".

    Republicans undermine state minimum wage

    "The state’s constitutionally mandated minimum wage would grow at a slower rate under a measure that narrowly passed a House committee Tuesday allowing the state to take into account years in which the cost of living goes down. By a 13-11 vote, the House Finance and Tax Committee approved a bill (HB 1425) that changes the way the state calculates increases in the state’s minimum wage, part of an index that was added to the Florida Constitution in 2004 after being approved by 72 percent of voters." "Minimum Wage Bill Advances in the House".

    "Sweeping Florida property insurance changes"

    "Sweeping property insurance reform bills that critics deride as a gift to the industry are getting blessed by Florida lawmakers." "Lawmakers move forward with sweeping Florida property insurance changes".

    Does DWS have what it takes

    It is all well and good that "U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz is new DNC chair", but does she have what it takes to do the job?

    Remember back in 2008, when Wasserman Schultz said her relationship with Republican Congressional incumbents, Reps. Lincoln Diaz-Balart and his brother Mario, and Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen precluded her supporting any of their Dem challengers? On top of that, Wasserman Schultz played a leading role in persuading the new Democratic majority to sustain the economic embargo against Cuba, and she apparently established close ties to the staunchly pro-embargo U.S.-Cuba Democracy political action committee. "Enough to make you sick".

    School boards are special

    "A proposal to scrap salaries for school board members got its first public airing when it was introduced into the Senate's Education Committee. Though the bill — put forth by Sen. Stephen Wise, R-Jacksonville — did not come up for a vote, it drew a robust audience." "School board pay bill draws protests".

    Teabaggers can't find the word "water" in the Constitution

    "As environmentalists increasingly sound the alarm over proposed budget cuts for the state's water management districts, Gov. Rick Scott's administration is considering adding a tea party leader to the board of governors of the South Florida Water Management District." "Scott administration interviews tea party leader for South Florida water district".

    Trump laff riot

    "Stone: Trump sees Florida edge". See also "The Donald to stop by Boca Raton".

    Big of him

    "Chief Justice Charles Canady and Gov. Rick Scott's office have agreed on a plan to loan money from reserves to Florida's court system to avoid furloughs and curtailing some legal services through May." "Chief justice, Scott agree on Florida court loan". See also "Courts get funding reprieve through end of May".

    Trump drinks the tea

    "Trump tea-ing off in Florida".

    "Incredibly oddly drawn"

    "Want a lesson on redistricting? Just take a look at Florida House District 78." "House District 78: A lesson on redistricting".

    Video schools

    "Bill would expand virtual schools in Florida; educators ask if it lowers standards".

    "Scott is precipitating a crisis"

    The Saint Pete Times editors: "Scott is precipitating a crisis that will cause the courts to shut down for days in April and May if he does not agree to an emergency $28.5 million loan to cover a shortfall. The governor may not be fond of the courts, but it would be a mistake to force the courthouse doors to close." "Don’t close doors at Florida courthouses".

    Big plans

    "Martinez, Penelas weighing Miami-Dade mayoral bids".

    Poor George

    "George LeMieux would not have made it to the U.S. Senate in 2009 but for his long friendship with Charlie Crist, the governor who appointed him to the job after Mel Martinez resigned. Now that LeMieux is running for the Republican Senate nomination in 2012, that long friendship looks like his biggest liability." "LeMieux's Senate hurdle: Crist". See also "Post On Politics: LeMieux enters U.S. Senate race" and "LeMieux enters U.S. Senate race".

    Them lawyers use big words

    The Orlando Sentinel editors: "Florida legislators who would shake up the state Supreme Court insist it's all about efficiency. And who could be against more efficiency in any part of government?"

    But longtime followers of the annual antics in Tallahassee have heard this song and dance before when other politically motivated "reforms" to the high court have been proposed.

    In 2000, then-Rep. Dudley Goodlette, a Naples Republican, called for adding two justices to the seven-member court, including a chief justice who would be chosen by the governor. He said his proposal would help the court keep up with a steady increase in its workload — his own efficiency argument.

    But Goodlette unveiled his proposal soon after a Tallahassee circuit judge riled GOP lawmakers by striking down a statewide school voucher plan from then-Gov. Jeb Bush. A senator at the time, South Florida Democrat Walter "Skip" Campbell, called the proposal "an attempt to intimidate the courts." It failed to pass.

    In 2001, legislators again targeted the Supreme Court for an extreme makeover. That was just weeks after its 4-3 ruling in favor of Democratic presidential nominee Al Gore in his battle over election results with Republican nominee George W. Bush.

    Legislators discussed expanding the high court from seven to nine justices to give Jeb Bush two new appointments. They also considered creating a separate court to handle criminal appeals.

    This year, House Speaker Dean Cannon, a Winter Park Republican, has proposed dividing the Supreme Court into separate criminal and civil branches. Cannon has said this reorganization would mean death penalty cases — a small part of the high court's caseload, but a majority of its workload — would be turned over to a panel with special expertise to prevent civil cases from backing up.

    But the speaker's plan also would create three new justices for Republican Gov. Rick Scott to appoint. And it would likely exile the three senior justices on the current court, all chosen by former Democratic Gov. Lawton Chiles, to the criminal panel.

    Cannon's proposal came after the Supreme Court struck from last year's ballot three constitutional amendments proposed by the Legislature. One would have undercut two citizen-proposed amendments to clean up the Legislature's process for drawing legislative and congressional districts. Cannon personally made the case before the court to keep the Legislature's amendment on the ballot, but was rebuffed in a 5-2 ruling. He blasted the decision in his first speech as speaker.
    "Supreme Court coup cover story".

    Net tax

    "The Senate Commerce and Tourism Committee voted 5-1 to allow Florida to join with 20 other states in a compact that will make it easier for businesses to impose Florida sales tax on goods sold to Floridians online." "Bill to broaden sales tax advhttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifances".


    "Damages from legal advice that led to Sunshine Law violations and the breakup of the merger between Bert Fish Medical Center and Adventist Health System could reach into the tens of millions of dollars, an attorney said Tuesday night. The toll from the voided merger continued to be added up Tuesday as the Southeast Volusia Hospital District board took its first formal steps to take back the New Smyrna Beach hospital it last controlled June 29. " "Lawyer: Merger damages may cost millions".

    Bad poll questions, good poll results for Florida's unions

    Regarding Florida's public employee unions, the poll shows surprisingly strong support for the unions' positions on several key pieces of legislation. This despite the fact that the questions appear to have been poorly formulated. First the results:

    47% think it is a bad idea, while 43% think it is a good idea, to ban public-sector unions from using automatic payroll deductions to collect union dues. 74% think it is a good idea to require unions get individual member's approval before using their payments for political purposes.
    One suspects that there would be greater opposition to the RPOF legislation, if the poll question reminded the respondents that union dues in Florida are entirely voluntary, and that public employers allow employees to make deductions for other purposes.

    The questions asked were as follows:
    The bill would ban public-sector unions from using automatic payroll deductions to collect union dues. Do you think that banning these automatic payroll deductions is a good idea or a bad idea?

    The bill also would require that those unions get individual member's approval before using their payments for political purposes. Do you think that requiring individual member's approval before using payments for political purposes is a good idea or a bad idea?
    "April 6, 2011 - Quinnipiac University Poll".

    Fairer questions might have been as follows:
    The bill would ban public-sector unions from using automatic payroll deductions to collect unionhttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gif dues for those employes who voluntarily choose to pay dues and who authorize such deductions in writing. Do you think that banning these automatic payroll deductions for just union dues, while at the same time permitting deductions for other things, like the United Way, is a good idea or a bad idea?

    The bill also would require that those unions get individual member's approval before using their payments for political purposes. Recognizing that employees have no obligation to join a union or pay dues, and employees may quit a union at any time, and that employees who are members have the right to attend union meetings where political endorsements are discussed, do you think that also requiring individual member's written approval before using voluntary dues payments for political purposes is a good idea or a bad idea?
    The questions actually asked entirely ignored the fact that union membership is entirely voluntary (there is no "automatic deduction" without written authorization which can be revoked), union members can quit the union at any time and stop paying dues if they don't like the endorsements made by their fellow employees via their unions, and union members are free to attend meetings where endorsements are discussed.

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