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 Saturday, May 28, 2011

Sorry Ricky, but "that's not true"

    "A day after some Democrats were removed from Gov. Rick Scott's budget signing by sheriff's deputies because the event was 'private,' a Scott spokesman tried to deflect blame by claiming that Scott's office ordered no one out. Only that's not true."

    "Here's what happened:"
    The $69.1 billion budget signing took place in a town square owned by the Villages Community Development District, which functions as the community's government. The space, however, is leased to the Village's corporate developer. And in this case, it was subleased by the Republican Party of Florida, said Barbara Vesco, director of entertainment and special events for the Villages.

    Scott staffers dressed in dark suits and wearing black ear pieces summoned Sumter County sheriff's deputies. They told the deputies that the state budget signing was a private event and that a group of Democrats standing or sitting in the last two rows of the audience must leave.

    Deputies went to tell the group to leave. The Democrats mentioned how the event was described as being open to the public in the local newspaper, the Villages Daily Sun. "Well, I don't read that paper," the deputy responded.

    The group of Democrats then said it was unfair that they were being singled out.

    "You all are preaching to the choir," the same deputy told them. "I'm doing what I'm told."

    The deputies received their instructions from Russ Abrams, a $60,000-a-year special assistant to Scott. When a Times reporter approached Abrams to ask why some people were being asked to leave, Abrams said: The budget signing was "a private event." When asked more questions, Abrams said: "I don't need to talk to the press," and then, "I don't have anything to say."
    "Scott's office tries to shift blame". See also "Rick Scott’s staff tries the ole Jedi mind trick on the media after booting Dems".

    Ricky flops and backtracks

    The Orlando Sentinel editors remind readers that Scott "suggested some of that [vetoed] money should go back into the budget to boost public education. But the Legislature's cuts to education were much less than what Scott suggested." "Does Rick Scott care about education?".

    "The governor — as usual — was on radio silence"

    The Saint Petersburg Times editorial board: "It's hard to imagine how local officials could compound the damage that Gov. Rick Scott and the Legislature have caused to the environment. But this week, the Southwest Florida Water Management District found a way. The agency that oversees water resources on Florida's west coast agreed to disband the boards that see to the needs of local water basins. The move was a rash response to bullying from Tallahassee that undermines the environment, transparency and local control."

    Board members of the agency known as Swiftmud voted to get rid of the seven basin boards in a move agency officials said was prompted by demands from the governor and Legislature that Swiftmud cut its budget. ...

    Swiftmud concedes it had no directive from the governor and was reading the tea leaves from Tallahassee. The governor — as usual — was on radio silence; his environmental protection agency thinks the idea is great. But this is much more than a paper loss.
    "Decoding Scott's messages".

    SOEs say "no"

    "The elections supervisor in Rick Scott's home county refuses to recognize a new law the governor signed out of concerns that the U.S. Department of Justice hasn't decided whether it violates a law protecting minority voters." "Elections supervisors in key counties refuse to implement new law".

    RPOF runs with Ricky's con

    As Scott Maxwell wrote yesterday, "after vetoing projects for universities, the environment and veterans — things Scott described as 'frivolous' and 'wasteful' — he then called on legislators to redirect the money to schools."

    It was a con for the ages.

    Anyone paying a lick of attention knew that it was Scott himself who had called for the biggest school cuts in Florida history (after promising he would not).

    And yet now — after legislators followed his orders — he was going to try to blame them?

    Yes, indeed. His staff even unfurled a banner that read: "Less Waste. More for Education."

    Even House Speaker Dean Cannon called out Scott on this flagrant fabrication. "The budget we sent him funds education at a higher level than the Governor recommended just a few months ago," Cannon said.
    "Scott's posturing was obvious malarkey."

    The Republican Party of Florida is running with the malarky: "The state Republican Party has put out a robocall in which Gov. Rick Scott pushes his position on the $69.1 billion state budget he signed Thursday, including the contention that his vetoes cut 'special interest waste' and that he wants the proceeds to go to public schools. Both those claims have been controversial with Republican legislators, who note that the budget they passed included more education funding that the one Scott initially proposed." "Florida Republicans put out Scott robocall on budget".

    The sorry state of higher education

    Was this really the best they could do? "Senator Marco Rubio to give keynote address at FIU Law graduation".

    Florida adopts Texas-style textbook process

    Bill Maxwell: "When Gov. Rick Scott signed the state budget into law last week at the Villages retirement community, he virtually removed the concept of "public" from the process of adopting textbooks and other instructional materials for Florida's public schools."

    Tucked away in SB 2120 is a Republican-sponsored measure that kills the decades-old method of using statewide committees of administrators, school board members, teachers and other Floridians to select textbooks. Despite what critics say, this process is democratic, bringing together diverse views and different levels of knowledge that enrich learning.

    In addition to eliminating the lay committees, SB 2120 requires schools to adopt digital textbooks by the 2015-16 school year and spend 50 percent of their textbook budget on digital materials.

    With the stroke of the governor's pen, Florida now has a Texas-style textbook adoption process.
    "Scott’s textbook case of myopia".

    And we of course know what "Texas-style" means: "After three days of turbulent meetings, the Texas Board of Education on Friday approved a social studies curriculum that will put a conservative stamp on history and economics textbooks, stressing the superiority of American capitalism, questioning the Founding Fathers’ commitment to a purely secular government and presenting Republican political philosophies in a more positive light."
    There were no historians, sociologists or economists consulted at the meetings, though some members of the conservative bloc held themselves out as experts on certain topics.

    The conservative members maintain that they are trying to correct what they see as a liberal bias among the teachers who proposed the curriculum. To that end, they made dozens of minor changes aimed at calling into question, among other things, concepts like the separation of church and state and the secular nature of the American Revolution.

    “I reject the notion by the left of a constitutional separation of church and state,” said David Bradley, a conservative from Beaumont who works in real estate. “I have $1,000 for the charity of your choice if you can find it in the Constitution.”

    They also included a plank to ensure that students learn about “the conservative resurgence of the 1980s and 1990s, including Phyllis Schlafly, the Contract With America, the Heritage Foundation, the Moral Majority and the National Rifle Association.”

    Dr. McLeroy, a dentist by training, pushed through a change to the teaching of the civil rights movement to ensure that students study the violent philosophy of the Black Panthers in addition to the nonviolent approach of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He also made sure that textbooks would mention the votes in Congress on civil rights legislation, which Republicans supported.

    “Republicans need a little credit for that,” he said. “I think it’s going to surprise some students.”

    Mr. Bradley won approval for an amendment saying students should study “the unintended consequences” of the Great Society legislation, affirmative action and Title IX legislation. He also won approval for an amendment stressing that Germans and Italians as well as Japanese were interned in the United States during World War II, to counter the idea that the internment of Japanese was motivated by racism.

    Other changes seem aimed at tamping down criticism of the right.
    "Texas Conservatives Win Vote on Textbook Standards". And our favorite: "The Board removed Thomas Jefferson from the Texas curriculum's world history standards on Enlightenment thinking, 'replacing him with religious right icon John Calvin.'"

    Rubio pays price for sleeping with Teabaggers

    "A crack is forming in U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio's tea party."

    Conservative activists — still raw over what they say was his role in blocking illegal immigration legislation while speaker of the Florida House — say the burgeoning Republican star needs to deliver on campaign rhetoric for tougher enforcement.

    "We've been waiting for him to come up with something and to be a leader on this issue," said Danita Kilcullen, founder of Tea Party Fort Lauderdale.
    Poor Marco:
    He is being torn in opposite directions by his base: Washington's Republican elite and Florida's grass-roots activists who propelled him into office.

    The establishment is eagerly positioning the charismatic 40-year-old son of Cuban exiles as the Hispanic face of the party. The Latino population in the United States has grown 43 times faster than the non-Hispanic white population, rising from 35.3 million in 2000 to 50.5 million in 2010.

    Last week, former Republican Party of Florida chairman Al Cardenas, now head of the American Conservative Union, boasted in Politico that Rubio's inclusion on a presidential ticket would "almost guarantee" a GOP victory.

    The safe route, then, is to avoid being drawn into a serious immigration debate. "If anything, they're saying (to Rubio) 'Let's not talk about this,' " said Patrick Davis, a national Republican consultant. "It motivates Hispanics to look at Democrats and Obama."

    Rubio's pledge to vote against the Dream Act, which would create a path to citizenship for some children of illegal immigrants, has struck some Hispanics as particularly offensive.

    Still, talk is not enough for the other side of Rubio's base — the conservative activists who provided early momentum for his once long-shot campaign.

    "He wants to have it both ways," said George Fuller of Sarasota, who is aligned with several tea party groups. "We're going to be zeroing in on him like a laser."
    "Tea party wants U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio to step into contentious immigration debate Republicans want to avoid".

    "Particularly appalling"

    "In March, Gov. Rick Scott’s staff said he would accept a $35.7 million 'Money Follows the Person' federal health grant.""

    But the Legislature appears to have decided otherwise. In the 2011-12 budget Scott just signed, lawmakers failed to give the Agency for Health Care Administration budget authority to draw down and spend the money.

    Patient advocates were dismayed at the omission, because the money was to have been spent on home- and community-care programs that let disabled and elderly people move out of nursing homes or avoid them in the first place.

    "It's particularly appalling, considering the Legislature just cut funds to nursing homes," said Jack McRay, AARP Florida lobbyist. The industry has said the Medicaid pay cuts will force staff cuts.

    Neither the Legislature nor AHCA had publicized the decision. When Health News Florida inquired, AHCA spokeswoman Shelisha Coleman confirmed it in an e-mail: "The Florida Legislature did not include budget authority … for the administration of the Money Follows the Person grant award.”

    No explanation was immediately available.
    "Florida won't get $35.7 million federal health grant". See also "Florida Won't Get $35.7 Million Federal Health Grant".

    "Governor's new stance on education funding 'hypocritical'"

    Ricky Scott's vetoes

    have stirred up ill will again among powerful legislators, including Republican leaders who saw favored projects fall victim to the veto pen.

    He claimed $615 million in "special interest" cuts before signing the budget, but $305 million comes from Florida Forever funding that was to be derived from sales of state land -- a tough proposition in today's real-estate market. House Speaker Dean Cannon, R-Winter Park, was also quick to point out that Scott's wish to put the savings back into education would be limited to the $100 million in general revenue gleaned from the line-item vetoes.

    Cannon, who saw his coveted $400,000 study of the court system hit the cutting room floor, also noted that Scott's initial budget request was hardly kind to education funding, coming in at less than the Legislature funded in its final budget.

    Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, went further, calling the governor's new stance on education funding "hypocritical."

    "Where I do have a concern, all of a sudden, is his newfound love of education and for the teachers in our state," Fasano said Friday.
    "Gov. Scott's Love-Hate Relationship With Florida Lawmakers".

    The Wal-Mart way

    "Yes, there were jokes made when Gov. Rick Scott appointed a Wal-Mart Stores Inc. executive to as Florida's emergency management director". "State's new emergency director listens and learns".

    Stop by and give them a hand

    "Following up on the success of a similar event, Palm Beach and Broward county teachers are planning a 'grade-in' at the Town Center at Boca Raton this morning."

    Organizer Suzi Grbinich, a teacher at Boca Raton High School, said teachers will meet in the mall’s food court beginning at 11:30 a.m. to grade papers and demonstrate to the public how much work they do outside the classroom.

    They will also be offering free tutoring for any students who come to the mall.

    “We’re right in the middle of exams. We have tons of papers to grade,” Grbinich said when asked about the timing of the event.
    "Teachers host 'grade-in' event today at Town Center at Boca Raton". Meanwhile, "Another 400 Broward teachers to have their jobs eliminated next week".

    "Environmentalists remain wary"

    "Environmentalists said Friday they remain wary of legislation signed into law by Gov. Rick Scott that sharply reduces water managers' dollars while giving lawmakers new control over district spending." "President Obama returning to Miami next month to raise money".

    Back in town

    "President Obama returning to Miami next month to raise money".

    "Not exactly someone in sync with working-class homeowners"

    Aaron Deslatte: "Even though his fellow Republicans hammered him for his refusal to give in to the marketplace logic and demands of the industry, Gov. Charlie Crist never wavered during his four years in office: he was an unrelenting supporter of regulating the property insurance market."

    He kept a lid on insurers like State Farm that wanted to dramatically boost rates, despite considerable venom from pro-industry lawmakers who screamed that the state was chasing away private companies and guaranteeing a financial disaster when the next Hurricane Andrew hits.

    By contrast, Crist's successor, Rick Scott, said in a recent interview that the insurance bill (SB 408) he just signed, which allows companies to raise rates up to 15 percent to pay for reinsurance without seeking regulators' approval, didn't go far enough to de-regulate the marketplace. He wants to dramatically scale down the state-run Citizens Property Insurance Corp. – now Florida's largest insurer – and, some say, completely abolish it.

    "There's always more things that you could have done," Scott said after signing the bill. "We're going to do this, we'll see the impact it has, and then we'll come back and see if we need to do something else."

    But Scott also said at the state's hurricane conference that he has a second roof in storage in case his $11-million Naples mansion takes a hit – not exactly the words of someone in sync with the plight of working-class homeowners.
    "Consumers aren't happy about Scott's insurance policy".

    Pension deform

    "Breaking down Florida's pension reform changes".

    Will Glades Correctional Institution close?

    "A police union website said Friday that Glades Correctional Institution will close although not before July 1, but state prison officials continued to say that no decision has been made about the future of the Belle Glade prison." Union says Glades prison to close, but corrections officials say no decision yet".

    Anyone wanna be State Board of Education commissioner?

    "The State Board of Education reopened the application process for education commissioner Friday after receiving submissions from 19 people including longtime Florida politician Tom Gallagher, who held the job once before. Applications had to be postmarked by midnight Wednesday, but the panel voted to extend the deadline through midnight June 6 at the request of its consulting firm."

    You read that right:

    Gallagher, a three-time candidate for governor, was the state's second-to-last elected education commissioner before the job became an appointed one in 2003. Gallagher, a Republican, held the post from 1991 through 2001. He was succeeded by Charlie Crist who later was elected governor. Gallagher also has won election as state treasurer and chief financial officer, the first person to hold that post.
    "Fla. education chief application deadline extended".

    To kill a snail kite

    "Environmentalists say pumping from low Lake Okeechobee to irrigate farms will threaten snail kites".

    While we were sleeping

    "Firefighters in Orange County battled three brushfires near the BeachLine Expressway through much of the day Friday." "Brush fires near BeachLine keep firefighters busy".

    Casinos again

    "A movement to bring Las Vegas-style 'destination casinos' to Florida fell apart this year when lawmakers could not come to an agreement on whether the state should further expand its gaming industry. But industry lobbyists and lawmakers are already drafting a revamped plan to push to the Legislature when it returns to Tallahassee this fall." "Lawmakers, lobbyists to push for 'destination' casinos".

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