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 Sunday, May 22, 2011

Teabaggers key to FlaDem victory in 2012

    Jeremy Wallace: "A stunning upset victory in Jacksonville's mayor's race, following a Democratic come-from-behind victory in Tampa earlier this spring, have Democrats around the state believing that their disastrous 2010 election problems are finally behind them. ... Democrats say the wins, particularly in Jacksonville, are lighting a potential path to victory in the 2012 presidential election, partly by exploiting divisions created by the Tea Party in the GOP nominating process. ... Brown's win came less than a month after Democrat Bob Buckhorn, once a distant fourth place in polling, won the Tampa mayor's race."
    The city races show that Florida voters are reacting to the ultra-conservative political agenda pushed by the Tea Party, Smith said. In the last four months, Republicans have catered to Tea Party groups by battling unions, cutting pension benefits for public employees including police and firefighters, passing new abortion restrictions and killing a high-speed rail project that was expected to create thousands of construction jobs in Tampa and Orlando.

    That is not going over well with conservative Democrats and moderate Republicans who were critical in Brown's Jacksonville win, [FlaDem Chief Rod] Smith said. The Jacksonville race was a chance for Democrats to prove they could appeal to a moderate Republican and conservative Democratic electorate overlooked by the Tea Party.

    "For us, this was a litmus test to make this party broader," Smith said.

    Steven Schale, a Democratic political consultant and Jacksonville native, said for the last 20 years Republican candidates have won in Jacksonville by picking up conservative Democrats and moderate Republicans. This time it was a Democrat who carried that formula to victory because Republicans nominated someone ideologically farther to the right.

    "There is a 'too' far," Schale said. "You can go too far right and lose the center-right voters."

    The outcome has some Republicans worried going into 2012.

    "Democrats have proven twice in Florida now that they can mobilize their people," said veteran Republican political consultant Jamie Miller. "It's an indication of what could happen in 2012."
    "Are Florida Democrats regaining momentum?".

    "Drug addicts, drunks, terrorists, welfare queens, illegal immigrants, of course, liberals Must Be Stopped"

    Howard Troxler: "At first I thought this crackdown on democracy in Florida, signed Thursday by Gov. Rick Scott, was mostly about Republicans sticking it to Democrats."

    But after being flooded with some of the angriest e-mail ever, I see it's about more than that.

    It's also about the certainty that Bad People (drug addicts, drunks, terrorists, welfare queens, illegal immigrants and, of course, liberals) have hijacked our democracy and they Must Be Stopped.
    "These Bad People are stuffing the ballot box willy-nilly."
    They pick up bums and illegals on the street, load them onto buses and take them to the polls, where corrupt and/or incompetent election workers let them vote on the spot.

    This is the only way that Barack Hussein Obama could have been elected in 2008.
    "So, in sum:"
    Throw up roadblocks at the polls.

    Discourage voter registration.

    Cut back early voting.

    Shut down citizen petitions.

    That'll show them.

    Whoever "them" is, exactly.
    Florida cracks down on democracy".

    Public employee pay cuts

    "Govt. agencies plug budget holes with pension 'savings'".

    "Free labor from grandstanding politicians"

    The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "Rep. Allen West spent part of Monday pumping gasoline in West Palm Beach. Maybe if enough stations could get free labor from grandstanding politicians, they could cut the price a few cents."

    That approach offers quicker prospects for price relief than the "Drill Baby Drill" reprise being sung by Rep. West and, in his own fashion, by President Obama even as domestic production hits record levels. Mr. Obama got burned a year ago when he called for more offshore drilling just before the BP/Deepwater Horizon disaster. Apparently, that embarrassment is wearing off as gas prices top $4.
    "Pump more than rhetoric: Obama, Democrats, GOP confusing political churn with serious energy policy.".

    Good luck with that

    The Saint Petersburg Times editors write that, "as the governor considers how best to use his line-item veto power for the first time, he would be wise to focus more on the merit of individual projects rather than broader questions about the state's debt load. Florida should continue to invest in higher education, even in tough economic times." "Sifting through higher-ed pork".

    "Everything they wanted to do"

    "In its 35 years, the state Department of Community Affairs has irritated some of Florida's most powerful people, including developers, lawyers, the Florida Chamber of Commerce, the Florida Farm Bureau and a coalition of the state's biggest landowners."

    Pelham contends the DCA was done in primarily because he crossed the state's biggest landowners on making rules for how rural areas in Central and South Florida are developed.

    "When I came into office, I found waiting for me all the large landowners with huge new plan amendments converting lots of rural land into urban development," [Tom Pelham, who ran the department during Gov. Charlie Crist's term] said. That included such big names as Alico, which is run by state Sen. J.D. Alexander, R-Lake Wales.

    Pelham's DCA instituted rules the big landowners didn't like, rules the DCA said were necessary to protect rural land from being overrun by sprawl. So they joined with the Chamber of Commerce and the Florida Farm Bureau to file a legal challenge.

    "They made all their extravagant claims and lost on every point," Pelham said.

    The judge ruled for the DCA, but the changes the Legislature made will wipe out that decision, Pelham said.

    "It will open the door for them to do everything they wanted to do," he said.
    "Powerful interests checkmated Florida's growth management agency".

    River of Grass

    The Sun Sentinel editors write that now is the "time for Washington to step up, not only to cover the state government's cuts to Everglades restoration, but to show that it is indeed a partner in this badly needed public works project. If the River of Grass is the treasure politicians in Tallahassee and Washington say it is, now's the time to prove it." "Federal partner needed now more than ever to restore the Everglades".

    Rubio's "governance by fiefdom"

    The Saint Petersburg Times editors: "Don't be fooled by U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio's latest scheme to reduce the federal deficit. His REFUND Act, introduced with U.S. Rep. Denny Rehberg, R-Mont., would have little impact on the deficit as it shifts power from Congress to individual governors. That's not democracy, it's governance by fiefdom." "Rubio's REFUND Act is a superficial political tool".

    Legislature's watchdog "severely weakened"

    The Sun Sentinel editorial board: "one has to wonder why the Florida Legislature, which seemed so insistent on new measurements for teachers, government employees and state agencies, turned around and severely weakened the one agency that measures the work of lawmakers."

    Republican legislative leaders now call the shots at the state Office of Program Policy Analysis & Government Accountability, the Legislature's independent research arm and watchdog agency. OPPAGA, as it is referred to in Tallahassee, is comparable to the federal General Accounting Office. Instead of relying on a dedicated funding source in the state budget, which insures autonomy, OPPAGA now depends on the leadership's discretionary spending.

    Worse, the director of the agency has resigned and Gov. Rick Scott has signed legislation giving the Speaker of the House and the Senate President power to fire the next director rather than requiring a legislative vote — an obvious dealbreaker for any candidate crazy enough to want the post now.
    "Legislature leaves its "watchdog agency" toothless".

    "Where Skeletor lurks in the shadows"

    Steve Otto "visitors to Florida can't say they weren't warned, especially if they have thoughts about moving to a state where Skeletor lurks in the shadows." "Great Scott! It's Florida".

    Charter attack on public schools exploding in Florida

    "The charter school movement is exploding in Florida, creating new opportunities for parents, educators and entrepreneurs. But are the results any better than traditional schools?"

    "Many, many studies reach the same conclusion," said Diane Ravitch, a former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Education under Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton and a charter school opponent. "Charters don’t get better results than regular public schools."

    Ravitch, now a research professor at the New York University Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development, said charter schools often "skim" high-performing kids out of neighborhoods, and advise low-performing kids and kids with disabilities to go elsewhere.

    "When they take special-ed kids, they tend to be those with mildest disabilities," Ravitch said. "Thus, the regular public schools get overburdened with most challenging students." ...

    Charter school operators and management companies maintain a strong presence in Tallahassee, contributing thousands of dollars to both Republicans and Democrats. One Broward-based charter school operator, Charter Schools USA, donated $65,000 to political parties, candidates and political action committees in the 2010 election cycle, public records show. The movement has lobbyists (including former Republican Party of Florida Chairman Al Cardenas) and considerable influence. ...

    Big dollars are also at play. In Florida and across the United States, the charter school movement has spurred a multi-billion dollar industry for school operators, consultants and management companies. Charter school operators aren’t likely to get rich overnight, but experts say the field can be lucrative for entrepreneurs, executives, consultants and investors.
    "Charter school movement exploding in Florida".

    "After All, He Is Black"

    Howard Troxler received the following email from a "reader":

    When an organizer [read: black person] can pick up individuals, buy them whatever, take them to the polls and they are allowed to vote. Throw in motor voter and club wielding gaurds [sic] that are ignored by authorities. What we have is a cabal of thugs running the country with doctorates from the University of Chicago in thuggery and voter fraud.
    To which we respond - we know, we know: many black people are Democrats. We've previously addressed the inability of many Florida Republicans to accept the fact that we have a black president.

    "Bills that legislators failed to pass"

    Scott Maxwell looks "at two bills that legislators failed to pass. One would have gotten more Floridians to work. The other would've improved the justice system. Both would save the state money. But legislators bypassed them for bills they found more pressing ... such as regulating the way kids wear their jeans." "Getting justice right, jobs, should be our goal" (ellipsis original).

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