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.
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The Blog for Friday, June 03, 2011
Haridopolos not ready for prime time
Haridopolos finally decides how'd he'd vote on gutting Medicare.
The Washington Republican establishment, conservative bloggers and his Republican opponents Thursday criticized Haridopolos. Not only was his position overly calculating, they said, it was sloppily handled.
During a Tuesday radio interview, Haridopolos repeatedly refused to say whether he’d vote yes or no for the plan, which was crafted by Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan. The host of the St. Augustine radio show, Ray Junior, hung up on Haridopolos in frustration. Then, on Wednesday, Haridopolos issued a statement in which he praised Ryan’s goals and pledged to protect seniors. Later, Haridopolos’ spokesman announced the candidate would have voted against the specific Ryan proposal, which would essentially transition Medicare into a voucher program.
“The current Ryan Medicare plan should be amended to provide for greater protections for seniors,’’ spokesman Tim Baker said. "Sen. Haridopolos would not vote for the plan as currently written."
But, he said, Haridopolos would approve it with changes. Haridopolos – who once favored privatizing Medicare entirely – won’t say what his Medicare plan will look like or when he’ll announce it.
Haridopolos is clearly not ready for prime time: he can't even handle this baby wingnut's radio show. It remains to be seen whether Florida's traditional media employees continue to allow Haridopolos to spin them.
The Miami Herald editorial board: "That Gov. Rick Scott had the temerity to cast the $615 million in projects he vetoed as 'shortsighted, frivolous, wasteful spending' is insult enough."
To have the budget-signing ceremony held at a town square “leased” by the Republican Party of Florida and then to sic sheriff’s deputies on a dozen or so people sitting quietly in the back because they were wearing “Vote Democratic” T-shirts or carrying signs that did not laud the GOP governor is an assault on democracy and free speech.
And, then, for the governor to claim at the budget-signing ceremony last Thursday in the “private” public square of The Villages in Central Florida that “school funding is far more important” than the vetoed $615 million projects is beyond hypocritical. This is the same governor who sent a budget to the Legislature that gutted public schools by 10 percent. The GOP-led Legislature restored some of that money, and K-12 education still took a big hit, but it would have been far worse had Mr. Scott’s budget proposal passed. ...
Is it any wonder that Mr. Scott is so unpopular in Florida? He seems to think he was crowned emperor instead of elected governor — and barely elected at that, winning less than 50 percent of the vote. That is far from a mandate. Mr. Scott, who bankrolled his own campaign, may think he owns the state, but clearly most Floridians do not agree. ...
Howard Troxler: "Public employees, as we all know, are parasites who should be punished. This is why we have not given them a general salary increase in several years."
This year, besides effectively cutting their pay further by requiring a pension contribution, Gov. Rick Scott also has ordered state employees to undergo drug testing — no matter whether there is any reason to suspect drug use, nor whether they are in a job where it actually makes sense.
Not only do I heartily endorse this practice, but I would go further:
I would beat them, too.
"That's right. All public employees should line up in front of their workplace once a month to be beaten by the Decent People."
During these ministrations the Decent People should remind the public employees of why they are being beaten; namely, that they are lazy bureaucrats by definition.
In some cases we will have to rotate the beatings. It seems impractical to pull out all the prison guards, or take all the Highway Patrol troopers off the road, all at once.
On the other hand, I think we can beat schoolteachers twice a month, wholesale, just on general principle. This can easily be worked into the schedule of the public school system, as they are not doing anything most of the time.
The Sun Sentinel editorial board: "Championed by conservatives as some sort of fiscal responsibility measure, Scott sanctimoniously declared in signing the law:"
"While there are certainly legitimate needs for public assistance, it is unfair for Florida taxpayers to subsidize drug addiction."
The insinuation, of course, is that being poor is somehow synonymous with lawlessness and moral weakness, as if people in need of financial assistance are inherently susceptible to drug use and addiction. They're poor; therefore, they must be out boozing and drugging, the prejudicial thinking seems to go.
The fact that Florida itself researched this very issue in 1998 and found no such connection between financial need and drug use doesn't seem to matter to the conservative lawmakers scurrying to curry political favor among their cheering right-wing base.
State officials estimate the costs of the initial screenings at $10, but one state Department of Children & Families official said they could cost as much as $40 — a hefty sum for an impoverished family already struggling just to put food on the table.
Now, in order to get the help they need, the poor — whose ranks are swelling in the bad economy — are being told that their financial status alone makes them suspect, and to prove themselves worthy of assistance, they must front some cash and show the world they're not on drugs.
"Florida Sen. Marco Rubio is returning to teaching politics at Florida International University – a gig that prompted some criticism during his 2010 election."
Rubio’s ties to FIU came under scrutiny during his 2010 Senate run when critics questioned how the former Florida House Speaker landed a never-advertised $69,000 part-time job at the school in 2008. A story by The Herald/Times noted that the post came open as the school’s trustees were grappling with a budget shortfall that led to tuition hikes, the loss of 23 degree programs and 200 jobs. It prompted criticism that the state universities had become a go-to employer for lawmakers who once oversaw their budgets.
The Florida Democratic Party renewed the attacks Thursday, calling for Rubio to step down and return the money.
"The most effective critic of the Republican agenda"
"The most vocal and effective critic of the Republican agenda in Tallahassee"?
The state Democratic party chairman? The minority leader in the state House or Senate?
Try state Sen. Mike Fasano, the lifelong Republican who was passing out campaign fliers for Ronald Reagan long before the GOP came to dominate Florida politics.
Longtime friends are scratching their heads at Fasano's penchant for regularly criticizing fellow Republicans.
One moment Fasano, 52, is blasting colleagues for supporting an insurance bill he insists will sock consumers with big rate increases. The next he's calling Gov. Rick Scott "clueless" for talking about phasing out state-run Citizens Property Insurance Corp. Or telling a Pasco civic group that the session was tainted by Republican Senate President Mike Haridopolos' U.S. Senate ambitions and House Speaker Dean Cannon's prospects as a lobbyist.
"Some districts will be fine, but some are expected to slash jobs in the wake of budget cuts ordered by state lawmakers. Lobbyists for the education system say it's not any one budget cut that puts Florida's K-12 institutions in harm's way, but the slow accumulation of significant decreases since 2008. And the legislature's new-found focus on charter schools and virtual education isn't helping in the tight 2011-12 budget year." "For Florida's public schools, here come budget cuts".
"Jack Sparrow's crew has more discipline"
The Orlando Sentinel editorial board: "Florida's leading Republican lawmakers were crowing last month after approving next year's nearly $70 billion state budget without raising taxes. "If they're going to grade us on financial discipline and fiscal conservatism, I'd like to think we passed that test with flying colors," said Senate President Mike Haridopolos of Merritt Island."
But to balance the budget, lawmakers raided more than a half-billion dollars from 31 trust funds. Those funds were created for specific purposes, including road construction and affordable housing, not to pay for general government operations.
Capt. Jack Sparrow's crew has more discipline.
State Sen. Don Gaetz, the Niceville Republican in line to succeed Haridopolos in 2012, called the trust fund raids "bait and switch" but defended them in remarks reported by the Tallahassee Democrat. "We have violated the trust and we've done it to keep the lights on, keep the critical services moving in the state of Florida," Gaetz said.