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 Monday, June 27, 2011

"Troubling trend: Florida's low-paying jobs"

    As the TeaBaggers dance in the street about Ricky Scott's so-called job creation "success", seems there's a little trouble in paradise:
    When new employment statistics were announced this month, Gov. Rick Scott was quick to jump on the data, noting that Florida has been steadily gaining jobs - nearly 61,000 since he took office in January.
    "But a closer look at the data shows a troubling trend: Florida's rebound is resting heavily on lower-paying jobs, particularly in the food and hotel industries."
    While the state has been bleeding higher-paying jobs, particularly in the construction field, most of the jobs added have been in lower-paying leisure and hospitality services sector.

    The newer jobs pay an average of $21,176 a year, based on 2010 data, compared with those in the construction sector that had an average salary of $39,916.
    "University of Florida economist David Denslow said it is too early to tell if the lower-wage jobs taking hold in the early phase of the recovery is a significant trend."
    "The question is: Is this going to be a structural transformation where we reduce our already low share of jobs here in science and technology and management and add to the share that's in the services industry?" Denslow said. "I don't think we know yet."

    Florida has added 24,900 jobs from May 2010 to this May, with the largest gains in leisure and hospitality services.

    Meanwhile, Florida was losing jobs in some of the higher-paying fields, including construction, which lost another 14,300 jobs over the same time.
    "The construction industry, which once employed some 640,000 Floridians during the building boom, will not approach those levels until after 2020, according to state economists."
    Currently, the state has 337,000 construction workers.

    "It's going to have to come from the other sectors," said Sean Snaith, an economist at the University of Central Florida.

    Snaith said Scott has a chance to make good on his political promise to create 700,000 [actually 1.7 million*] jobs over the next seven years, in part, because he came into office essentially at the bottom of the business cycle. Florida's unemployment peaked at 12 percent the month before Scott's inauguration.
    "State job recovery shows troubling trend".

    - - - - - - - - - -
    * Scott Maxwell has pointed out that "for Scott to truly make his goal, Florida will need to have 1.7 million new jobs by 2018", not 700,000:
    That's right: 1.7 million. Even [Rick] Scott has been clear about that.

    Here's why: Back when Scott and Alex Sink were in the throes of a heated campaign, Florida economists released a report that said the state would rebound with more than 1 million new jobs during the next seven years — no matter who was in charge.

    Essentially, economists with the Economic Estimating Conference said that even if a blind monkey were running the state, tourism would rebound and the state would net an additional 1 million-plus jobs by 2018.

    Obviously, both Sink and Scott wanted voters to think they would make a better governor than a blind monkey would.

    So Scott made it clear that his 700,000 were in addition to the 1 million jobs we could expect with the monkey.
    "Rick Scott's 700,000 jobs".

    Even "SunShine State News, acknowledges that economists predicted the creation of "1 million new jobs in the next seven years, even if Gov.-elect Rick Scott’s pro-growth legislative policies are not adopted . In campaign speeches, Scott had promised to add 700,000 jobs in seven years." Related: "Still waitin' on them 1.7 milhttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.giflion jobs".

    Budget ax falling on state jobs Friday

    "The biggest work-force shake-up in Florida government history has started. About 1,295 state workers should learn by Friday if they are losing their jobs." "Florida workers in fear till Friday".

    Privatization follies

    "The debate continues over privatizing the prison system as a way to save the state money". "Don't Put Away So Many Prisoners".

    "Wild cards in Florida's politically charged Redistricting process"

    Aaron Deslatte: "Florida lawmakers tasked with redrawing the state's political maps are professing they'll follow the constitutional amendments passed last year to strip partisanship from the redistricting process. Meanwhile, their lawyers are trying to invalidate them in court."

    A federal lawsuit set for a July 29 hearing in Miami is one of the major wild cards in Florida's politically charged process of redrawing legislative and congressional maps during the next year.
    "Lawmakers expect redistricting litigation — and they're ready to pay".

    "Questions continue to swirl around Robaina"

    "Two big-spending candidates trumpeting their reform credentials are vying in Miami-Dade's closely contested mayoral runoff election, but have voters just tuned them out? Julio Robaina and Carlos Gimenez are fighting down to the wire. Robaina, the mayor of Hialeah, edged Gimenez, a county commissioner, in the initial round of voting and he maintains a sizable fundraising lead, as well as the backing of the influential Latin Builders Association."

    But questions continue to swirl around Robaina, and polls sponsored by local media, which have endorsed Gimenez, show the commissioner with a lead heading into Election Day Tuesday.

    "Gimenez has gained steam and Robaina has received a lot of negative publicity," says Sean Foreman, a political science professor at Barry University in Miami Shores.
    "Robaina, Gimenez Fight Apathy in Miami-Dade Runoff".

    Scott still playing to his Tricorn Constituents

    The Saint Petersburg Times editorial board: "Roused by his tea party base, Gov. Rick Scott early this year halted a decades-in-the-works bullet train linking Tampa and Orlando — citing concerns about possible costs to Florida taxpayers."

    Yet a different fate awaits a commuter rail line in Central Florida that would cost state taxpayers even more.

    Why is SunRail likely to go forward when high-speed rail did not?

    A mix of politics, legal concerns and an opportunity to more quickly move commercial cargo, opponents and proponents of the project say.
    Ricky's Tricorn constituents still don't get it:
    Tea party activists and other SunRail opponents plan to protest the project Tuesday when the state's transportation secretary hosts public hearings on the topic with Orlando-area city and county officials.

    "Gov. Scott campaigned on government accountability and not putting the taxpayers at risk. That is his mantra. And he used that when he talked about the high-speed rail deal," said Beth Dillaha, a former Winter Park city commissioner and founder of the group vetosunrail.org. "I don't know how you could then support SunRail, which has all the same issues and then some."

    The governor, though, faces challenges and opportunities with SunRail he didn't with high-speed rail. And while approving it will rankle Scott's tea party base, it could also help advance parts of his agenda.

    Consider: ...
    Read it all here: "Gov. Rick Scott faces tough decision on costly Orlando commuter rail line".

    Lay down with Teabaggers and ... "Records on rail poses trouble for tea party courting GOP Senate candidates".

    Teabaggers resort to attacking poor Charlie

    Nancy Smith, who apparently sleeps in her tricorn hat, writes that "[a]s good as Gov. Rick Scott has been at pursuing job creation, his predecessor Charlie Crist, was even better at pursuing the opposite -- absolutely nothing. Make that worse than nothing. Surely the press remembers."

    Yet, mainstreamers' stories continue to suggest the real job creation started not with Rick Scott's forays to California or Panama or Canada in his own plane, but as a natural turn in the economy and as a result of Governor Charlie's initiatives.

    Good grief, what initiatives are those? ...

    Oh, yes, and in case you didn't know, Florida led the nation in job creation in May. We actually posted 28,000 new workers in non-agricultural jobs – more than twice that of runner-up Ohio. It's true, we have nothing to brag about yet. But Florida is moving in the right direction.[*]
    "Gov. Good-Time's Job-Creating Fumbles: A Charlie Crist Story".

    For "A Rick Smith Story", see "Still waitin' on them 1.7 million jobs".

    - - - - - - - - - -
    *Apparently the "right direction" is pumping up jobs in the T-shirt shops on the beach. See "State job recovery shows troubling trend" ("Florida's rebound is resting heavily on lower-paying jobs").

    "Legislature recklessly killed Commission on Capital Cases"

    The pro-death penalty Tampa Tribune editorial board recognizes the obvious: "When lives are at stake, it is paramount that the process be consistent and equitable. And the smallest lapse can result in death penalties being overturned or delayed."


    the Legislature this session recklessly killed the Florida Commission on Capital Cases, which scrutinizes death penalty proceedings. The panel hears public comment and advises state government on death penalty issues. It also reviews the legal representation of death row inmates in appeals.

    The commission, which includes four legislators and two judges, will be eliminated July 1. It was a short-sighted action that will save only $400,000 but could result in more delays and reversals in a death penalty system that needs more attention, not less. Indeed, even with the commission, Florida leaders have routinely ignored calls for death penalty reforms.
    "Death penalty flawed".

    EPA alternately antagonizes and disappoints

    "Floridians looking for "hope and change" aren't necessarily getting what they expected from the Obama administration's Environmental Protection Agency."

    Under the leadership of Lisa Jackson, the EPA has alternately antagonized and disappointed business leaders and environmentalists.

    Barney Bishop, president and CEO of Associated Industries of Florida, lit into Jackson on Fox News last week, declaring that her agency is "killing" the economy.

    "I think that the face of the 2012 election is going to be EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson. She is killing jobs quicker than the president can create them," said Bishop, who describes himself as a "lifelong Democrat."[*]
    "EPA Boss Lisa Jackson in Hot Water Over Job-Killing Policies".

    - - - - - - - - - -
    *While he probably has remained a registered Democrat", for the self-loathing Bishop to call himself a "lifelong Democrat", is like another notorious autophobic, the union-hating Ronald Reagan, bragging about "lifelong union leader".

    Not so "Bright"

    "Bright Futures used to provide 100 percent scholarships to students who had an A average and met other criteria, and 75 percent scholarships to B students. They now provide a smaller, fixed amount. The program, while well-liked by Florida families, has created headaches for state legislators in recent years as state revenues have declined."

    The state’s Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability reviewed the issue in 2003 and determined Bright Futures was effective, she said.

    That study found the state’s high school graduates are better-prepared academically and that more are going to college, with the largest gains among minority students. A subsequent study found most Bright Futures recipients perform well and remain enrolled in college.
    "Researcher to study whether Bright Futures scholarships work".

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