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 Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Anti-choicers harass doctors at their homes

    "What was supposed to be a week-long protest outside of clinics in Orlando has turned out to also include harrassing doctors at their homes. Operation Save America has posted pictures on their website, along with a written account, of the group showing up to harrass a doctor at his house. The group’s website describes how members showed up an abortion provider’s house in Orlando, 'knocking at the door, hoping to talk to the 'abortionist.''" "Anti-abortion activists take pictures and harrass doctor at his Orlando home" ("One of the protesters involved in this week-long protest of clinics in Orlando is a convicted stalker of an abortion provider.") See also "Orlando 'Siege' Fails to Draw Protesters, Yet Stalking Continues".

    Utilities blamed for exaggerating cost of EPA rules

    "The Public Service Commission is echoing the concerns of electric utilities in comments against a pair of proposed federal environmental rules."

    The PSC on Friday sent comments to the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency on its proposed air toxics rule and its cooling water intake rule. The commission said compliance with the rules could cost Florida utilities between $4.4 billion and $6.7 billion a year.

    Utilities can petition the PSC to cover those costs, so the proposed rules "will have a near immediate rate impact on Florida’s consumers," the commission said in a letter sent to Florida's congressional delegation. The PSC asked that the EPA allow more flexibility in applying the rules.

    But an environmental group that has called for even stronger EPA rules blamed utilities for exaggerating the cost to individual consumers.
    "PSC sides with utilities against proposed federal environmental rules".

    Walmart knows no bounds

    "Couple says image of Jesus appears in Walmart receipt".

    West opens mouth, inserts foot

    West must enjoy the taste of his feet: "West trashes Wasserman Schultz as ‘vile’ for budget comments". See also "Allen West calls Debbie Wasserman Schultz 'vile, unprofessional and despicable'". Yesterday: "Allen West: Obama supporters ‘a threat to the gene pool’". More: "Florida's Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Allen West trade barbs over budget deal".

    "Among the lowest library visit rates in the nation"

    Jackie Bueno Sousa: "Miami-Dade County’s public libraries have among the lowest visit rates in the nation." "More libraries doesn’t mean more readers".


    "A day after signing off on federal funds for Central Florida’s planned commuter rail project, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood is singing the project’s praises on his personal blog." "LaHood: SunRail will increase Central Florida’s economic competitiveness".

    "Six in the morning"

    Travis Pillow's "Six in the morning: A six-pack of Florida news tidbits".

    Medicaid deform

    "A campaign opposing Florida’s proposed overhaul of its $22 billion Medicaid program continues as a grassroots, patients-rights group sent a letter to the federal government on Tuesday asking it to reject the plan that calls for a statewide expansion of managed care." "Feds asked again to reject statewide Medicaid overhaul".

    "Intraparty cash scramble"

    "Adam Hasner appeared to win a public-relations skirmish after Mike Haridopolos' withdrawal from the contest Monday. Hasner's camp quickly claimed endorsements from the national tea party organization FreedomWorks, along with a nod from American Future Fund PAC and Concerned Women for America."

    But George LeMieux is sitting on a growing pile of cash, and that $950,000 counts for a lot. It led the GOP field in the second quarter.

    Conventional wisdom holds that big money wins big elections. Yet that calculus did not work out for Haridopolos, whose early start helped him raise more than LeMieux and Hasner combined.

    It's unknown where Haridopolos' backers will go now, but an intraparty cash scramble is beginning.
    Meanwhile, the Teabaggers are in a dither; Henry Kelley of the Fort Walton Beach Tea Party
    and South Florida Tea Party director Everett Wilkinson called FreedomWorks' early endorsement a mistake.

    "FreedomWorks jumping into this race was not, in my opinion, helpful or wanted. Their record of winning seats in 2010 calls into question their judgment," Kelley said.

    "Frankly, [FreedomWorks' founder] Dick Armey should be called to account for his votes as a congressman on raising the debt ceiling rather than trying to dictate who we should support and vote for in 2012."

    Another Florida Republican, speaking on background, said FreedomWorks doesn't rate as a "grass-roots" operation. "FreedomWorks is a top-down driven Washington group with more bluster than troops," the source said.

    Wilkinson said he "begged" FreedomWorks to stay out of the race at this stage.
    "Republicans Will Need Cash to Carry U.S. Senate Contest".

    Chamber of Commerce outraged

    "The Florida Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld a $28.3 million verdict against tobacco company R.J. Reynolds in what may be the first ruling in a looming wave of cases." "Supreme Court upholds multi-million verdict in smoking lawsuit". See also "Fla. justices uphold $28.3 million smoker verdict".

    Bondi has some explaining to do

    Scott Maxwell: "A few months ago, two of Florida's assistant attorneys general were blowing the lid off foreclosure fraud in this state."

    Right up until they were ousted, anyway.

    At the height of their popularity, when Edwards and Clarkson were generating national headlines — and making profiteers nervous — Attorney General Pam Bondi's office asked them to leave.

    So said Edwards, who recalled: "Our director called us in at 3:30 one Friday afternoon and said: 'You can either resign today, or you're going to be fired.'"

    The news came on the heels of a performance review filled with praise.

    "Obviously we did our job too well," Edwards said. "We were making too much noise."

    Bondi's office won't say why the two were ousted — or even confirm that they were. Instead, the office stresses [claims] that the two attorneys "resigned."

    Spokeswoman Jennifer Meale said her office is as committed as ever to rooting out financial fraud. "The resignations of these two individuals will not impede these investigations," Meale said. "In fact, we are more aggressively pursuing these investigations."

    Edwards found that claim interesting — since neither she nor Clarkson were even allowed to brief anyone else in the office on the year's worth of work. "I couldn't even write a memo," she recalled.

    This duo attracted acclaim for exposing "foreclosure mills," which are involved in ousting massive numbers of families from their homes, sometimes without following all the rules. ...

    And keep in mind: All of this had to do with companies attempting to foreclose upon people's homes.

    The duo's work attracted widespread attention — from the Los Angeles Times to the Washington Post. "60 Minutes" was particularly intrigued with their disclosure that "Linda Green" had signed thousands of mortgage documents and supposedly served as a vice president of more than 20 banks.
    "Attorney general's ouster of 2 top investigators raises troubling questions".

    How the folks in the other lane live

    "With Mica onboard, tolled 'Lexus lanes' on I-4 may get rolling".

    "Caricature of a politician"

    The Tampa Tribune editorial board: "Gov. Rick Scott called Mike Haridopolos' withdrawal from the U.S. Senate campaign a 'sad day for Florida.'"

    Sad day? Hardly.

    The political system effectively winnowed out a flawed candidate.

    The 41-year-old Haridopolos never should have been in the race. The brash president of the state Senate has been a virtual caricature of a politician who preaches one thing and does the opposite.

    Quick to bash government and extol the virtues of the free market, the college professor has been adept at securing sweetheart deals from tax-supported institutions. Brevard Community College paid him $152,000 to publish an electronic book on Florida politics that offered such keen advice as make sure candidates display their last names prominently on yard signs. He then took a lecturing job, for $75,000 a year, at the University of Florida.

    By seeking the Republican nomination to challenge incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson, Haridopolos compromised his responsibilities as president of the Florida Senate. It ensured that political concerns — not what was best for Florida's future — would dominate his agenda.
    "Exit Haridopolos".

    Jury secrets

    The Saint Petersburg Times editorial board: "Rep. Scott Randolph, D-Orlando, is exploring legislation that would keep the names of jurors secret for at least nine months unless they voluntarily identified themselves. He already has filed another constitutionally suspect bill that would make it a felony for any juror to sell his or her story within 270 days after any civil or criminal trial. That would violate the First Amendment rights of jurors, and the notion that jurors' names should routinely be kept secret is just as misguided." "No place for secrecy in court".

    Laff riot

    "The South Florida Tea Party this week launched the Tea Party Chamber of Commerce web site, using the slogan:"

    "Businesses Create Jobs Not Government." The site also includes this call: "Now is the time for patriots to step up and start supporting businesses that share our values of fiscal responsibility, limited government and free markets. We can help build the America we believe in by doing business with those that support our values."

    Since launching on Monday, the site has attracted listings for more than 100 businesses in 10 states. The bulk of those businesses -- 78 -- are in Florida. South Florida Tea Party chairman Everett Wilkinson hopes to have 500 businesses listed in the next month.
    "Tea Party launches web site to promote businesses with shared values".

    "Equivalent of paving parks with Walmart parking lots"

    "After 1,000 angry residents, including several Republican lawmakers, showed up at a public hearing in this west coast town, Gov. Rick Scott this month killed a hastily contrived plan that would have allowed a private vendor to set up an RV camp at a beachfront state park."

    But introducing what Scott's administration calls "family camping" to 55 other parks, including Palm Beach County's John D. MacArthur Beach State Park, is still on the table.

    Critics call it the equivalent of paving the parks with Walmart parking lots, and it's just the latest of Scott's public-area proposals riling them.
    "Rick Scott RV camp plan sparks uproar".

    Insurers demand 30 percent increases

    "Castle Key Insurance Group, the third-largest private homeowner insurer in Florida, asked state regulators Tuesday for average rate increases of 31.2 percent and 35.7 percent for Castle Key Insurance and Castle Key Indemnity, respectively, two different entities controlled by the company." "Castle Key Insurers Look for More than 30 Percent Hike".

    PBA files suit to block prison privatization

    "The union that represents state correctional officers is suing Gov. Rick Scott's administration, seeking to derail a massive privatization of state prison operations in 18 South Florida counties."

    The suit, filed by the Florida Police Benevolent Association against Corrections Secretary Edwin Buss, hopes to block a plan to privatize 30 prisons in Miami-Dade, Broward and 16 other counties.

    The legal challenge by the union is the seventh major lawsuit seeking to block or overturn policies initiated by Scott, a Republican who was elected in November, either through passage of new laws or executive orders.

    Other lawsuits take aim at an overhaul of the state elections code, mandatory drug testing for state employees, a freeze on new rulemaking by state agencies and a requirement that government employees contribute 3 percent of their pay to their pensions.
    "Union sues Scott over prison plan". See also "Fla. Police Benevolent Association suing to block the state's prison-privatization plans".

    Never a dull moment

    "Firefighters pull racehorse from swimming pool".

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