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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 Monday, June 13, 2011

Scott's embarrassing job creation puffery

    Beth Kassab: "There was no shortage of eye-rolling last week when the 'important' jobs announcement made by Gov. Rick Scott midway through his weeklong jaunt to Canada turned out to be five months old."
    His attempt to claim credit for a deal that was mostly negotiated under his predecessor Charlie Crist made him look desperate to create jobs buzz amid flailing public approval numbers.

    Surely, he wouldn't do that again.

    But two days later, on Friday morning, his office issued another press release, this time from Toronto, touting two more companies coming to Florida: Aircraft Armature Inc. and UCC Steelwork Connections Inc.

    "With three jobs announcements in one week, Florida is clearly on the right path," Scott said.

    In the case of these companies, however, their moves seem to be the result of simple timing rather than Florida's "path."

    Aircraft Armature Inc. was a small airplane repair company that went out of business in Hialeah and last October was bought by Toronto Sky Aviation Inc.

    Richard Howard, a vice president with Toronto Sky and the new president of Aircraft Armature, told me Toronto Sky started negotiating a move to Florida as far back as May 2010 when Aircraft Armature came up for sale. Earlier this year the company bought a building in Opa-Locka and is hoping to hire 50 to 100 people in the next year or so, he said. Today they have five employees.

    Did the governor influence his decision?

    Howard, told [Kassab] flatly ...

    For UCC Steelwork Connections, operated by Toronto-based UCC Industries International Inc., opening an office in Tampa in April was a natural fit after it hired an employee who already lived there and didn't want to move, said President Brent Hughes. He hopes to grow the Tampa office from two to 10 during the next few years.

    He also said the governor's policies didn't impact his decision ...
    "Scott's jobs claims cue eye-rolling".

    Meanwhile, The Saint Petersburg Times editorial board reports how "Jackson Laboratory's abrupt exit from Florida this month illustrates how Tallahassee's shortsighted fiscal policy undermines the state's future."
    Eight years after Gov. Jeb Bush started Florida on an aggressive path to wooing the biotech research industry, Gov. Rick Scott and other state leaders are abandoning that strategy. Scott claims to be all about attracting jobs to Florida. That should include nascent industries as well as traditional ones. ...

    Most surprising is that Scott — who frequently boasts he spends time every day talking to out-of-state businesses to come to Florida to create jobs — never reached out to Jackson Lab leaders to see if something might be worked out during these tight fiscal times. ...

    Scott's most concrete economic development plan thus far is his unrealistic goal to make Florida the "shipping capital of the East Coast" by investing in the state's 14 ports. Port investment does make some sense, but a governor who claims to be all about business ought to be able to simultaneously juggle revitalizing traditional industries and boosting new ones.
    "Governor's failure on biotech jobs". See also "Is Scott the 'jobs governor' he promised to be?".

    Castor's potential opponents in limbo

    "Jockeying is starting for the 2012 Tampa area congressional seats, including challengers to Tampa's Rep. Kathy Castor – but uncertainty over redrawing districts muddies the picture of who might run against her."

    Republican Hillsborough County Commissioner Mark Sharpe is the most likely Castor opponent to make himself known so far, but even he acknowledges others are likely.

    State Sen. Mike Bennett of Bradenton has filed to run in Castor's District 11, but he's less likely to run in the district if it remains centered in Tampa and Hillsborough County – the kind of district Castor and Sharpe both want to run in.

    The district could change substantially, like all congressional and legislative districts in the state, because of the redistricting under way following the 2010 Census.

    Challenges from Democrats to the five Republican incumbents who surround Tampa are up in the air, partly because of redistricting, but also because of the usual election-year uncertainty about whether Rep. C.W. "Bill" Young, R-Indian Rocks, will retire.
    "Redistricting questions leave Castor's opponents uncertain".

    Another dead construction worker

    "A search continues for the body of a welder who was helping dismantle a Tampa Bay area power plant when it collapsed." "Search resumes for body of missing welder".

    Where's the vigil?

    The I-4 corridor and San Juan

    "President Barack Obama will break a 50-year record Tuesday, when he becomes the first president since John F. Kennedy to come to San Juan and meet with Puerto Ricans. But experts say the whirlwind visit to an island crippled by a soaring murder rate, mass exodus and 16.2 percent unemployment has less to do with the island’s overwhelming problems and much more to do with Florida’s I-4 corridor." "Obama visit to Puerto Rico: It’s all about Florida". Related: "Obama Re-election Campaign Names First Latina Political Director" and "Central Florida's 300,000 Puerto Ricans want voices heard in 2012 elections".

    Meanwhile, the traditional media Obama haters are revving it up: "Obama is deceiving Hispanics on immigration".

    And so it begins

    "Anyone with fashion sense will tell you: If you want to mask those bulges that occur over time, stripes are the last way to go. So it was that a proposal to redraw Volusia County's political boundaries into horizontal strips drew some of the strongest negative reaction Monday at a rare joint meeting of the County Council and School Board. But that plan, the most radical of the maps reviewed Monday by elected officials, made one point abundantly clear: Reapportioning the county's voters -- as required by law after a census -- won't happen without some uncomfortable changes. " "Volusia officials discuss new voting districts". More: "Fair and balanced districts [in Sarasota County]".

    Professor Rubio

    "Rubio already has begun co-teaching a summer course on Florida politics with Dario Moreno, a longtime FIU political science professor who briefly did some work in 2009 as a pollster for Rubio's 2010 Senate campaign. Moreno, who taught four courses with Rubio in the past, said the freshman senator is a 'very good' instructor who is popular with students." "U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio's teaching post at FIU draws scrutiny".

    From the "values" crowd

    "Manatee teachers take brunt of proposed budget cuts".

    "One-time windfall"

    "The Florida Legislature gave government agencies across the state a one-time windfall when it rewrote the state pension plan's contribution formula. For most, it's a cash infusion during another year of dropping tax revenues, as the cut in the contribution rate translates into hundreds of millions in savings to governments across the state." "Pension windfalls aid Brevard agencies".

    West takes a dive

    "The congressman and his dive buddies planted an American flag on an artificial reef and highlighted efforts to provide therapy and new skills to Iraq and Afghanistan veterans." "Rep. Allen West leads vets on patriotic dive".

    Lincoln spinning in his grave

    "As America embarks on four years of Civil War commemorations, it revives an unsettling debate that lingers 150 years after the conflict: how to view the role of African Americans in the Confederacy."

    Most Civil War historians agree black slaves and even some free blacks contributed crucial manpower to the Southern war effort - but it was mostly menial work done under duress or for survival, not out of support for the secession movement.

    John David Smith, professor of American history at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte and a member of North Carolina's Sesquicentennial Academic Advisory Committee, said the South's 11th-hour effort to recruit black soldiers was "too little, too late."

    "There's no evidence of any real mobilization of slaves," Smith said. At most, a company or two - including one of hospital workers - was ever organized.

    Yet efforts to depict blacks as Confederates persist. ...

    Smith says he believes painting African Americans as Confederate sympathizers plays down the real causes of the Civil War.

    "What gets professional historians concerned is when certain people start calling these people soldiers. It all goes back to how you define soldier. And for me, the story of so-called black Confederates is not as important as the story of why it keeps coming back."

    He added, "I think it keeps coming up because there are certain people who resist the idea that slavery and white supremacy were the cause of the Civil War."
    "Blacks' role in Confederacy remains touchy subject".

    FlaDems need to "Hold on a minute"

    Nancy Smith: "Florida Democrats, salivating over the governor’s sorry 29 percent approval rate, had a high old time in Hollywood during the weekend, dancing like Ya-Yas around Rick Scott’s bones. Win a second term? They don’t think Scott has a prayer."

    I'm told the Dems’ Jefferson-Jackson fund-raising dinner was energized. Everybody was talking about candidates who might challenge Scott. The list included the veteran cast you would expect -- Alex Sink, Jeremy Ring, Rod Smith, Dan Gelber -- plus, of course, the notable inside-outsider, the Ghost of Christmas Past, Charlie Crist.

    "If Charlie's our candidate, Scott's out," one attendee told me Sunday. "He's gone. Dead in the water."
    But Smith warns:
    Hold on a minute.

    I don’t know how to break it to these folks, they were having such a good time at their dinner, but here it is: It’s a tad early to be giving the governor’s political journey its last rites.

    Scott hasn’t been in office six months. He has three more budgets to prepare, three more Legislatures to deal with, three more years to help shovel out the red ink and re-glue a state whose economy had come apart -- not by his hand, but in a staggering national recession.

    In fact, the Dems can't even be sure Scott's abysmal approval ratings will help them in 2012. If the Florida enconomy is still bad, if the homeless rate remains above the national average and if people keep losing their homes, Florida voters could grudgingly give the governor a pass and blame President Barack Obama. I'm not saying that's going to happen, I'm saying it's a possibility and the Democrats know it.
    "Democrats Really Shouldn't Go Counting Their Chickens ...".

    Experts weigh in on Florida voter suppression

    "In 2008, more than half the African-American voters in Florida who participated in the historic election of President Barack Obama did it by voting early."

    In the state's largest counties, with the highest number of black voters, many voters went to the early voting sites on the Sunday before Election Day.

    Now, under a new law — passed by a Republican Legislature and signed by Gov. Rick Scott last month — that early voting period has been cut from 14 days to eight days. And the Sunday voting, before Election Day, has been eliminated.

    Democrats and other critics say the changes — which are just part of a sweeping elections law that also revamps voter registration, petition drives and other voting issues — are designed to raise barriers to potential Democratic votes in the nation's largest battleground state heading into the 2012 presidential election. They contend the law will have a disproportionate impact on black voters.
    The experts are lining up:
    Michael McDonald, an assistant professor of government and politics at George Mason University, demonstrated that African-American voters accounted for roughly 22 percent of the daily turnout at the early voting sites in 2008, although they only accounted for 13.1 percent of the registered voters.

    The early voting daily percentages for black voters ranged from a low of 19.6 percent to a high of 36 percent.

    Based on that data, McDonald said Florida could face a significant legal challenge in demonstrating to the federal government that shortening the number of early-voting days will not negatively impact black voters.
    "Another elections expert "
    said despite keeping the potential for the same 96 hours of early voting, the new law changes the system and could discriminate against black voters.

    "It's not just the hours," said Justin Levitt, an associate law professor at the Loyola School of Law in Los Angeles.

    Levitt said Florida has significantly changed the system by eliminating the voting on the Sunday before the election Studying data from the 2008 and 2010 elections, Levitt said he initially saw a steep decline in voting on the final Sunday.

    But he said a deeper analysis showed that wasn't true in the largest counties with the largest African-American voting blocs.

    "The larger, more urban counties — Miami-Dade, Duval, Palm Beach, Broward (in 2008) — chose to make voting available on Sunday, and voters responded," Levitt wrote in a recent blog post.

    That analysis was backed up by McDonald's research, which showed on the final Sunday before the 2008 presidential election, black voters accounted for 32 percent of the daily early-voting turnout in Florida.
    "New election law unfairly impacts blacks, critics say".

    "It isn’t easy finding someone to criticize Smith"

    "It isn’t easy finding someone to criticize Eric Smith."

    Even the most ardent critics of the direction Florida is taking on education, with increased emphasis on test score data and expansions of voucher programs, charter and virtual schools, hold back when it comes to Smith.

    Florida’s popular education commissioner, whose last day on the job was Friday, has earned accolades from a wide spectrum of education stakeholders during his four years in office.

    “Considering the political environment in Florida, he has done very well,” said Andy Ford, the head of the Florida Education Association. “The politics of this state will not allow anybody to do the job fully.”
    "Education Stakeholders Praise Outgoing Ed Commissioner".

    "The Florida U.S. Senate race is already ugly"

    Kevin Derby: "The 2012 U.S. Senate race in Florida is already ugly -- and there's more than 14 months to go until the Republican primary and more than 17 months until the general election. While most Floridians are paying attention to the hot weather and the Miami Heat’s pursuit of the NBA title, and most pundits are focused on the presidential race, the attacks are already flying in the Senate race." "Florida's U.S. Senate Candidates Turn Up the Wild and Woolly".

    LeMieux supports Ryan's plan to end Medicare

    The Orlando Sentinel editors: "Campaigning to again represent Florida in the U.S. Senate, LeMieux calls himself a conservative's conservative and knocks former Gov. Charlie Crist, though LeMieux had a hand in Crist's left-leaning climate-change initiative. LeMieux says he backs Rep. Paul Ryan's budget plan". "George LeMieux talks SunRail, Cuba drilling, budgets and more".

    DWS on Weinergate

    "Wasserman Schultz pressures Weiner to resign".

    Teabaggers cross their fingers ...

    ... they do not want another Jindal speech: "All eyes will be on the Sunshine State’s junior senator Tuesday when Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, a rising star with conservatives across the nation takes to the Senate floor to make his maiden speech. ... " "Marco Rubio Ready to Walk Deeper Into the Spotlight".

    Orlando to establish domestic-partner registry

    For the first time north of the Lee-Hendry-Palm Beach line, and "with support from Central Florida's gay community, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer said he plans to ask the City Council to consider [a domestic-partner registry, a way to legally memorialize a relationship] this summer, but it's unlikely Orange County leaders will move as quickly."

    The registries, which exist in a few Florida communities, don't bestow the same privileges as a marriage or even a civil union, but they do give unmarried couples — gay and heterosexual alike — a few legal rights that most people take for granted.

    Those who record their relationship in the registry would have visitation rights if a partner is hospitalized or jailed and the ability to make funeral arrangements. It could also help in some other situations, such as picking up a partner's child from school.

    Gay-rights activists say they're pleased Dyer has embraced the idea. ...

    Broward and Miami-Dade counties already have a registry, according to the Human Rights Campaign. So do cities such as Gainesville, Key West, Miami Beach and West Palm Beach. Most open their registries to same- and opposite-sex couples, though their residency requirements differ.

    Supporters brush off critics who suggest that such systems essentially give gays the right to marry.
    "Orlando to pursue registry for gay couples".

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