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 Sunday, June 12, 2011

Sink, Ring, Smith, Gelber, Iorio, Seiler, Dyer and Crist(?) in the mix

    "Forget Barack Obama. The fellow really firing up Florida Democrats is Rick Scott."
    On Saturday, Democratic activists who gathered in Hollywood for their annual Jefferson-Jackson fundraising gala invoked the name of Florida’s unpopular, hard-right governor at least as often as Obama.
    "In addition to helping Obama’s re-election prospects in America’s biggest battleground state, the backlash against Scott already is generating speculation about who will take him on 2014."
    In addition to helping Obama’s re-election prospects in America’s biggest battleground state, the backlash against Scott already is generating speculation about who will take him on 2014.

    Two widely expected challengers — former gubernatorial candidate Alex Sink and South Florida state Sen. Jeremy Ring — mingled with party activists Saturday along with two other less certain prospects, state party chairman Rod Smith and former state Sen. Dan Gelber.

    "When you have a governor with a 29 percent approval rating, I would imagine that there are a lot of people who will be interested in running," said Ring, 40, a wealthy former Yahoo.com executive from Margate, dismissing the notion that Democrats would clear the field for Sink as they did in 2010.

    Other names, including former Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio and current mayors Jack Seiler of Fort Lauderdale and Buddy Dyer of Orlando, get tossed around, but besides Sink there is only one other person with a big statewide footprint.

    "Charlie Crist is the wild card in this whole thing," said Democratic consultant Steve Schale, who led Obama’s Florida campaign in 2008 and worked for Sink in 2010. "It’s hard to say how Democrats would react to Crist switching parties, but if he was thinking about it I think he would find a base of support."

    Charlie Crist, the lifelong Republican-turned independent, running as a Democrat for the position he walked away from?
    "Crist for governor? As a Democrat? His name comes up at gala".

    FBI investigating former Florida Republican House Speaker

    "The FBI and a federal grand jury are investigating former House Speaker Ray Sansom. At least part of the investigation appears to be centered on his spending and his travel while he was in the Legislature."

    Rep. Matt Gaetz confirmed that his office received a subpoena on Thursday that requires staff of his office to testify before the grand jury. Gaetz has also been asked to turn over documents by June 20 regarding how Sansom used one of his office accounts. Legislators are allowed to transfer leftover campaign funds into their office accounts and can use it for various expenses.

    Katie Betta, a spokeswoman for House Speaker Dean Cannon, also said that the House had received a subpoena for “documents, including travel records” held by the Office of Legislative Services.

    News of the investigation and the subpoena was first reported by the Northwest Florida Daily News.
    "FBI and grand jury now investigating Sansom".

    FlaDem chairman promises "sweeping changes"

    "Close to rock bottom after the last election, the Florida Democratic Party is gearing up to transform itself. State party chairman Rod Smith told party leaders Saturday that if Democrats hope to regain relevance in Florida, sweeping changes are needed." "Chairman of Florida Democratic Party vows changes" ("He didn't offer details"). Related: "Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick Addresses Florida Democrats".

    Medicaid deform

    "The state's plan to steer almost 3 million low-income, elderly and disabled Floridians into managed care health coverage drew wide-ranging criticism Friday in the first of a series of public hearings on the proposed overhaul. ... While then-Gov. Jeb Bush got a quick and favorable review from President George W. Bush's administration to launch the 2006 pilot program, the Obama administration said it wants to closely examine Florida's plan and gain assurance it does not jeopardize patient care." "Independent pharmacies raise concerns about Florida Medicaid overhaul". Related: "Skepticism, Skepticism: Florida Medicaid Plan Goes on Tour".

    "A game of chicken feathers and vodou dolls"

    Myriam Marquez: "Maybe what Carlos Gimenez needs is one of those vodou/Santeria dolls that have been employed by Heat fans to bring good vibes and eagle-eye scoring baskets to LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and the team as they struggle in the NBA finals."

    That would mean, though, that Gimenez might have to go to Hialeah to get the best santero to sprinkle some chicken-feather eggshell magic to help make him the winner in the June 28 election for Miami-Dade mayor. Heaven only knows that there is plenty of black magic being tossed at the former county commissioner to get him to lose against former Hialeah Mayor Julio Robaina.

    Some of that bad mojo may be coming from Gimenez’s friends, as the offensive robocalls that went out just before the May 24 first-round election seem to indicate.

    “We are not Hialeah, nor do we want to be … Let’s stop Hialeah’s Robaina from importing his brand of shady politics to our neighborhood” has now become the subject of a complaint sent to the State Attorney’s Office. ...

    As for dirty tricks, on Thursday former rapper Luther Campbell endorsed Robaina — after pulling a fast one on Gimenez, who had called a press conference on Wednesday expecting Campbell would back him instead.

    Campbell, who came in fourth in the May election, had accused Robaina in the campaign of being “Hialeah’s overlord.” He accused Robaina of paying off two other African-American candidates — Roosevelt Bradley and Wilbur Bell — to run for mayor to dilute the black vote away from Campbell. Outrageous.

    “See, cause Mr. Robaina has a lot of money. He can buy off everybody up here but me,” Campbell said then.

    Now they’re both kissy-face nice.
    "Miami-Dade mayoral race needs a good Santeria cleansing".

    Why not gut their pensions while we're at it ...

    While the rest of us were sleeping on this leisurely week end, "challenging brush fires [are] burning in Flagler County -- the nearly-3,000 acre Espanola Fire and the 150-acre White Eagle Fire. ... The fire has been burning for about a month, with very little getting in its way. On Saturday, the state Division of Forestry took over command of the fire and immediately called in extra crews."

    And then there's this: "At the Flagler County Emergency Services building in Bunnell, they're accepting donations of water for the crews in the field. They're in search of the small bottles, which are easier for those crews to carry with them." "More help arrives to help battle Flagler fires".

    Say what? We can't supply water to our own men and women out there battling these wildfires? We need "donations"?

    Intellectual bimbocracy

    You'll be shocked to know that, at least according to our nation's leading intellectual bimbo, "President Obama is sacrificing economic growth and job creation in order to placate organized labor."

    "Convenient blind spots"

    Carl Hiaasen: "Legal opposition to the new federal health-care plan is focused on the part requiring almost all Americans to carry health insurance, which has widely been denounced as intrusive and unconstitutional."

    "Government, the opponents cry, cannot compel citizens to pay for products such as insurance policies. If that argument prevails in court, I look forward to the day when I can tear up my auto insurance policy, which the state of Florida makes me purchase every year if I want to drive a car. Likewise, I can put a torch to the flood insurance that I’m required to own because my house sits in a zone that nosy Uncle Sam says is at risk of being swamped in a storm."

    Here in Florida, as in many other states, drivers caught without auto insurance must pay a ticket and can even lose their license. So far, no high court has ruled these penalties to be unconstitutional.

    In fact, most of the insurance we end up purchasing is not by happy choice. If you don’t maintain policies for flood, windstorm damage or homeowner’s protection, banks and mortgage firms are legally entitled to impose that coverage at their own chosen (and ludicrous) price.

    And they can do it even if your mortgage payments are up to date.

    Interestingly, these laws remain unchallenged by state governors and other politicians who pass themselves off as constitutional purists. Surely their convenient blind spots have nothing to do with the political reach of the banking and insurance industries.

    Individual home and auto policies are already brutally overpriced, but they would be astronomical if the costs weren’t mandatorily spread among all consumers.

    It’s true that thousands of Floridians still drive around with no car insurance, but millions would take the same road if it became legal. Meanwhile, drivers who responsibly purchased liability policies would see their premiums shoot through the roof, as they got stuck with subsidizing everyone else.

    That’s exactly what’s been happening with health care in this country for too long. According to government estimates, paying the medical bills for uninsured Americans costs taxpayers about $43 billion each year.

    It’s utterly insane, especially in a deficit crisis. ...

    If Obama’s healthcare plan is struck down in court, lots of politicians will celebrate it as a victory over big government. The dubious reward for taxpayers will be to continue footing the medical bills for 50 million uninsured Americans, and watching the dangerous deficit swell.
    "'Utterly insane' healthcare insurance situation".

    We don' need no stinkin' reger'lations

    "With its lax laws and proliferation of pain clinics, the Sunshine State is hospitable to drug addicts and dealers looking to buy up lots of pills and turn them around for profit on the streets of Florida and other states throughout the South, East and parts of the Midwest."

    In fact, 90 of the top 100 oxycodone-purchasing physicians in the nation last year were from Florida, according to federal records.

    Local and state leaders, and even the White House and Drug Enforcement Administration, point to Florida as a top source for prescription drugs. Yet politicians, law enforcement, health officials and others can't seem to get their arms around the problem.

    Years of weak regulation, a lack of legislation and no prescription-drug-monitoring program — combined with doctors who liberally prescribe narcotics — helped make Florida the poster child for the prescription-drug epidemic.
    "RX FOR DANGER How did Florida become 'pill-mill' hotbed?"

    "A national joke"

    Scott Maxwell: "By now, you're probably familiar with Florida's attempts to stifle free speech inside doctors' offices."

    But you probably don't know how this ham-fisted pandering to gun extremists is going to waste taxpayer dollars.

    Or about the constitutional concerns the Legislature's own staff had over the bill — concerns that mysteriously disappeared from print right before the bill passed.

    Here's what happened ....
    "Flawed new gun law costs you money, rights".

    Florida's default rate on student loans higher than the national average

    The Orlando Sentinel editorial board: "The average debt load topped $20,000, a jump of more than a third from 2001. That 2009 total was slightly below the national average, despite Florida's low tuition compared to most other states. And the forces driving the rise in student debt in Florida — higher tuition, lower aid — have only intensified since then."

    In Florida, the unemployment rate has been in double digits since May of 2009. It's not surprising that the default rate on student loans in the Sunshine State has been higher than the national average. ...

    State aid to students also is going down. Legislators cut Bright Futures, the state's main merit-based scholarship program, by about 20 percent for next year. They cut grants to students attending private nonprofit colleges by about 12 percent, and for-profit colleges by some 15 percent. ...

    We agree with the board that oversees the state's public universities, which declared in December, "Florida must have well-educated citizens who are working in diverse fields, from science and engineering to medicine and bioscience to computer science, the arts and so much more."

    But if those citizens are weighed down by debt, they — and the state's economy — will suffer.
    "College debt bubble".


    "'Professor' Rubio great role model for kids".

    "'Gray area' of state law shelters casino-style gambling"

    The Daytona Beach News Journal editorial board: "Florida lawmakers need to be concerned when a so-called 'gray area' of state law shelters what may be a billion-dollar industry built on the appeal of games that resemble casino-style gambling. " "Legislature must act on Internet cafes".

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