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 Thursday, May 26, 2011

Scott's "job-killing budget"

    The Saint Petersburg Times editors: "Gov. Rick Scott will sign into law today a $69.7 billion state budget for 2011-12 that he boasts is all about creating jobs and reducing Florida's high unemployment. In fact, it is a job-killing budget that threatens the state's anemic recovery and makes the state less attractive to new residents and businesses. The governor and the Legislature are starving the state instead of investing in it." "The job-killing governor".

    Scott's budget "tanking with voters"

    "Scott is expected to sign the budget at 1 p.m. in The Villages, a Republican stronghold that likely will be filled with friendly faces." "Gov. Scott, $69.7B budget are tanking with voters".

    Teabaggers want more

    "With strong backing from business interests and tea party conservatives, the way appears clear for Gov. Rick Scott to make 'significant' cuts in the Legislature's $69.7 billion spending plan."

    As Scott balances politics and principles, tea party groups that played a key role in his election last year are hoping the governor holds firmly to the latter.

    "Anything that does not create jobs or that increases spending should be cut. We elected him on his platform to create jobs, and that's what we expect him to do with this budget," said Billie Tucker, head of the First Coast Tea Party in Jacksonville.

    Danita Kilkullen, head of Tea Party Fort Lauderdale, wants Scott to get back to his original $66 billion proposal.

    "His plan to trim billions from health care, Medicaid, education, property taxes, pensions, prisons, etc., is designed to put more money into the hands of the taxpayers," Kilkullen said. "Privatize as many programs as possible." ...

    Fred O'Neal, founder of the Florida TEA (Taxed Enough Already) Party, urged the governor to slay TaxWatch's turkeys, and then go further in the future.

    "TaxWatch has a pretty good list of turkeys. I'd go along with trimming all those turkeys from the budget," he said.

    Beyond that, O'Neal added, "One huge cut in education spending would be to authorize vouchers as a way to encourage parents to take their kids out of the public school system and either home school them or put them in private schools.

    "We spend around $10,000 per year per public school student. A $2,000 voucher per student per year would represent a net savings to the taxpayers of $8,000 per student per year."

    But, O'Neal added on a sober note, "The teachers' unions and the vendors invested in increased spending on public education will never let that happen."
    "Rick Scott Supporters Urge Deeper Cuts in State Budget" ("The plumpest 'turkey,' $12 million for a homeless veterans center in Brevard County")

    The lowest of the low

    "Scott is one of the least popular governors in the United States, according to a new Quinnipiac University poll that shows 57 percent of Florida voters disapprove of his job performance. Only 29 percent favor the job Scott is doing, the poll of 1,196 registered voters shows."

    Quinnipac's Peter

    Brown said he was unaware of any poll of any other governor showing a lower approval rating. Nor could pollsters John Zogby, Matt Towery, Brad Coker or Tom Jensen cite a lower rating. A Times/Herald survey of recent polls of controversial governors in large states showed Scott has the lowest approval rating.
    "Poll: Rick Scott one of the nation's least popular governors". Related: "Poll: Scott's popularity sinking".

    Right wing blames poll results on media

    Kenric Ward whines that the "Tallahassee press corps could barely contain its orgasmic outpouring in reporting Gov. Rick Scott's latest poll numbers Wednesday. The only thing missing was a comparison to Adolph Hitler's lagging popularity in the dying days of the Third Reich, though I may have missed that angle amid the effusion."

    Whether it's his private jet, his personal wealth or his corporate (horrors!) background, Scott is alternately portrayed as clueless or criminal. Actual facts are optional.

    Broad-brush, ad hominem attacks have a way of sinking in when they are part of the daily media narrative. That narrative shapes public opinion, and public-opinion polls.

    Decidedly Democratic and left-leaning, reporters and editors seize on selected events to burnish their liberal template. After a Democrat won the mayoral race in Jacksonville this week, the election predictably morphed into a referendum on Scott.

    In fact, the governor spent less than a day campaigning on Mike Hogan's behalf, and there were plenty of other players (and issues) deserving far more blame (or credit) for the outcome.

    Then there was the ginned-up story about Scott's presidential prospects. The premise began with a thumb-sucking piece concocted by a political writer, who quickly knocked down his own straw man as "absurd." In true Pavlovian fashion, the media hounds descended on the governor's office for comment ... and then mocked the very notion that Scott would consider himself White House timber. (He doesn't, by the way.)

    Then came this week's Quinnipiac Poll, which showed Scott's disapproval rating rising to 57 percent. No surprise there, given the foregoing media "treatment."
    "Florida Media, Rick Scott and the Poll Position".

    Wingnut whine

    More on annual the "TaxWatch" wingnut whine: "TaxWatch 'turkey' list blasts state spending on local projects". See also "TaxWatch Turkey List Draws Ire of Lawmakers".

    This just in from the Tribune Company, a/k/a The Sun Sentinel editorial board: "Gov. Rick Scott should veto every dollar worth of budget turkeys".

    Another Florida Republican at the federal trough

    "Ander Crenshaw Gets Mayport Carrier Funding Back on Track".

    Republicans runnin' Florida like a bidness

    The Orlando Sentinel editorial board: "More than two years after the package became a law dubbed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, Florida has spent only about 58 percent of the $11 billion awarded to the state to create or save jobs, as the Sentinel reported this week."

    Florida's unspent billions might have done a lot more good when the state's unemployment rate was rising through 2009 and 2010. The rate is still in double digits — 10.8 percent in April — but it's been coming down in recent months.

    It's true that a portion of Florida's unspent money was earmarked for public schools through the state's "Race to the Top" grant, which wasn't awarded until July 2010. But hundreds of millions of federal dollars intended for the state to build or upgrade roads, lay water and sewer lines, rehabilitate abandoned and foreclosed houses, extend broadband networks and weatherize homes — all projects that would put more Floridians to work — also haven't been spent.

    Rather than being "shovel-ready" — a term that became a cliché during the debate over the Recovery Act — many stimulus-eligible projects in Florida hadn't been bid or even fully planned when the law passed.
    "Sputtering stimulus".

    No one wants the job

    "The State Board of Education is searching for a new Education Commissioner to replace Eric Smith, who will leave his post in June after four years as Florida’s top education policy maker. But the search for his replacement has been slow, netting only the three applicants so far in over a month." "Applicants Trickle In for Education Commissioner".

    RPOFer candidates kiss TaxWatch's ring

    "Former U.S. Sen. George LeMieux addressed the Florida TaxWatch board meeting Wednesday. The [right wing] research and advocacy group with close business ties has recommended that Gov. Rick Scott veto Florida budget 'turkeys' worth $203 million. ... Another GOP contender, former Florida House Majority Leader Adam Hasner, will address the Florida TaxWatch board later Wednesday. A third hopeful, Florida Senate President Mike Haridopolos, addressed the group Tuesday." "2 GOP Senate hopefuls address Florida TaxWatch".

    "One of the most toxic governors in the country"

    William March: "Scott's voter approval rating hit a historically rare low of 29 percent in a new poll released Wednesday, raising questions about whether his unpopularity could affect Republicans in the 2012 elections."

    Democrats exulted over the poll numbers.

    It "shows that the people of Florida are rejecting Rick Scott's extreme Tea Party agenda and job-destroying polices," said party spokesman Eric Jotkoff. "Floridians are going to hold Rick Scott accountable in 2012 by electing Democrats up and down the ballot."

    But state GOP Chairman Dave Bitner said Scott is pursuing an agenda that will help Florida and won't be distracted by polls.

    "Policy and not polls is what drives his agenda," Bitner said. "We're already seeing unemployment numbers coming down, and once the budget is implemented, I think you're going to see a lot more Floridians getting back to work. That will be a good message to send."

    [Dan Smith, head of the University of Florida's political campaigning program], said the numbers make Scott "one of the most toxic governors in the country. It's highly unusual for that to happen for a first-term governor."

    He said Scott's comparatively low approval from fellow Republicans "is telling as to how divisive the primary was" – in which Scott upset establishment GOP favorite Bill McCollum – "and how divided the party is. The leadership of the party is now in a tough bind because they've embraced Scott."
    "Experts mixed on whether Scott's low ratings will hurt GOP".

    "Despite keeping his promises not to raise taxes and to shrink government, Gov. Rick Scott's approval ratings keep plunging." "Experts: Scott's approval decline a result of poor communication".

    Entrepreneurs in action

    "Loophole lets Disney cut tax bill by selling tickets to itself". See also "Disney withdraws trademark application for 'SEAL Team 6'".

    Another entrepreneur in action

    "Ex-millionaire arrested on fraud charges".

    Collective bargaining ... imagine that

    Here's something the Ayn Rand crowd (few of which can honestly say they finished the silly Atlas Shrugged) will never understand - a group of individuals sacrificing pay cuts to avoid layoffs of a few of their fellow workers: "The Miami-Dade school district and its teachers’ union have reached a tentative agreement on salaries for the current school year. The deal: Teachers won’t receive their annual pay increases known as steps, but their jobs will be safe for next year." "Miami-Dade teachers’ union opts for job security over pay raise".

    Department of Children and Families layoffs

    "State mental hospitals have begun notifying about 240 administrative and maintenance employees of impending layoffs, part of nearly 500 job cuts earlier announced by the Department of Children and Families." "State mental hospitals start notifying employees of layoffs ".

    "Jeb!" laff riot

    A Politico writer named Keith Koffler writes that "Republicans are not happy about their choices for the 2011 presidential nomination. No wonder. The current assortment of GOP candidates and potential campaigners is like a plate of political dumplings — some minus the dipping sauce. But one politician out there would roll over this hapless group like a tractor through a cornfield — and then pose the most formidable challenge possible to President Barack Obama: former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush." "GOP's best 2012 hope spelled J-E-B".

    Property tax system "increasingly obtuse and unjust"

    The Tampa Tribune editorial board: "Rigid policies designed to protect homeowners statewide from rapidly inflating taxes are continuing to do their work in the housing recession. Owners of thousands of properties now owe nothing to help support local governments."

    Under the state's tax policy, the people who can't afford to buy a home, or have lost their home, pay much more in taxes through rents than do homeowners.

    Property taxes are by their nature progressive and fair. The more valuable your property, the more you pay. But the gradual layering of pro-owner exemptions and tax caps to the structure has made a simple system increasingly obtuse and unjust.
    "Property tax implosion".

    "A committee of one"

    "he Florida Public Service Commission spent part of its internal affairs meeting Wednesday struggling with how to search for a new executive director while meeting Florida's open-meeting laws. The answer: assign one commissioner, Julie Brown, the job of searching for applicants so her meetings don't have to be held in the sunshine."

    The PSC accepted the resignation of Timothy Devlin, a 35-year member, on Tuesday. Devlin had been asked to resign by PSC Chairman Art Graham. Graham did not offer a reason for why he sought Devlin's resignation except to say it was a "private matter."
    "PSC will search for new director with committee of one". More: "PSC chairman won't say why he wanted agency head ousted from Public Service Commission".

    Legislation "helps bottom line for insurers"

    "Scott last week signed SB 408 into law, saying the measure would stabilize the state's property insurance market. An analysis by Moody's Investor Service this week says private insurers will be helped by the new law but that same analysis cautioned that the changes are unlikely to create more competition in Florida because of Citizens Property Insurance." "New property insurance law predicted to help bottom line for insurers".

    Republicans "shield doctors from medical malpractice suits"

    "FPIC Insurance Group announced it was being acquired for $362 million on Tuesday. The transaction comes shortly after state lawmakers enacted a series of changes that will help shield doctors from medical malpractice lawsuits." "State's largest medical malpractice carrier reaps big windfall in sale".

    Pawlenty suicides on Medicare in the Gables

    "Pawlenty, a Republican, did not take an unequivocal stance on the hot political issue of the day: a GOP Medicare reform plan. And the former Minnesota governor spent a chunk of his time talking to Florida reporters about … Iowa."

    Pawlenty broadly praised the Medicare proposals outlined by Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, head of the House budget committee, who called for a voucher-like system where Medicare recipients would have to purchase health insurance from private companies.
    "In South Florida, Tim Pawlenty praises GOP Medicare plan" (ellipsis original).

    "Electoral revolt as lonely as it was angry"

    Fred Grimm: "They came not in droves; their numbers so scanty that each vote cost county taxpayers about $21.70 a whack. The turnout, in the second phase of Miami-Dade County’s fit of electoral pique, came to 193,703, which was 15,609 fewer voters than had bothered back in the March 15 election that tossed Mayor Carlos Alvarez and, in District 13, Commissioner Natacha Seijas. After only 17.27 percent of the county’s 1.2 million registered voters showed for the recall. An even paltrier 15.9 percent remembered Tuesday’s special election to fill the political vacancies. For all the smoke and thunder, Miami-Dade County’s electoral revolt has been as lonely as it was angry." "A costly way to get rid of politicians".

    "Changing sentiment among foreclosure buyers"?

    "Sales of homes in some stage of foreclosure declined across South Florida during the first quarter, a result of the recent 'robo signer' controversy and perhaps a changing sentiment among buyers, observers say." "Foreclosure homes starting to lose their appeal, data show".

    "Brittle, ideological, and bought-and-paid-for"

    Howard Troxler: "I  do not think enough Floridians realize what this governor and this Legislature have done — are doing — to our state. Let me tell you, brothers and sisters:"

    It's bad.

    It's awful. It is just about the end of Florida as we know it, and a return to bad old days that we ought to have put behind us forever. ...

    There is a new, inexperienced generation in power in Tallahassee that does not know anything except money.

    And so with no maturity or intelligence, the 2011 Legislature has just repealed the guts of the Growth Management Act.

    Unless a miracle happens, Gov. Rick Scott will sign that repeal into law. ...

    The state that we have lived in for the past quarter-century is gone.

    The rules that we have lived under are gone. The underlying concepts of "growth management" are gone.

    These brittle, ideological, bought-and-paid-for young men and women in Tallahassee do not know any better. The governor is living in a different universe, and he does not know or care.

    Is this the Florida you want?
    "Florida unwisely repeals its growth laws".

    From the "values" crowd

    "Dozens of Orange schools lack art, music teachers".

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