Since 2002, daily Florida political news and commentary


UPDATE: Every morning we review and individually digest Florida political news articles, editorials and punditry. Our sister site, FLA Politics was selected by Campaigns & Elections as one of only ten state blogs in the nation
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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 27, 2011

"As long as it's not because he's a coward"

    "Many Floridians are ticked about House Speaker Dean Cannon's decision to spend millions of tax dollars trying to overturn their Fair Districts vote."
    Using public money to fight the public's vote is something you'd expect from a third-world dictator … not an American public servant.

    Alas, Cannon's office said Tuesday that he probably won't show up for his hometown [redistricting] hearings.
    "A spokeswoman said Cannon will watch video from afar"
    and that he didn't want his appearance "to diminish the opportunity for public input by shifting the focus of the meeting from his constituents to himself."

    OK. As long as it's not because he's a coward.
    "Are you sick of shady politics? It's time to speak up!". See also "Here's a primer on congressional and legislative redistricting" and "Round-up of media coverage of redistricting for 7/27".

    "I just want to say one word to you, just one word": "asphalt"

    "Gopher tortoises are in trouble but won't get federal protection". See also "Gopher tortoise makes slow progress toward federal endangered species protection".

    Texas diploma mill system coming to Florida?

    "Controversial changes that have rocked Texas’ higher education system may be coming to Florida."

    Gov. Rick Scott has begun discreetly promoting the same changes to the higher education system that Texas Gov. Rick Perry has championed. The proposals include some of the same reforms pushed by conservatives in K-12 schools: merit pay for professors, tenure reform, and generally a much greater emphasis on measurement of whether professors are turning out students that meet certain goals.

    The attempt in Texas has caused something of an identity crisis in that state’s higher education community, with opponents saying what needs to be reformed is Perry’s control over university policies.

    Scott told the News Service of Florida on Tuesday that he has discussed the Texas reforms with his appointees to university and college governing boards in an effort to line up support for a nascent campaign to dramatically change how universities and colleges are funded, overhaul professor tenure, emphasize teaching over research, and give students more influence.
    "Perry’s higher education reform efforts were not welcomed with open arms."
    Perry’s proposal tries to mold state universities into operating more like businesses, treating students more like customers, and universities like companies that offer a product -- a degree.

    The suggested changes include, in addition to professor merit pay, a greater emphasis on student evaluations and teaching in awarding tenure, abandoning the traditional accreditation system, and giving more state funding directly to students. Many of these ideas are outlined in a report called “Seven Breakthrough Solutions,” put out by a Perry donor named Jeff Sandefer and the right-leaning Texas Public Policy Foundation in 2008. ...

    Gerry Griffin, a former member of the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board and former director of NASA’s Johnson Space Center, is part of a group opposing Perry’s changes.

    Griffin, an alumnus of Texas A&M University, said the group is concerned “and trying to take the stance that we are against these kinds of reforms that have been shoved on our universities.”

    The group, the Texas Coalition for Excellence in Higher Education, includes former members of university governing boards, former university presidents, and prominent alumni and business leaders, such as Gary Kelly, CEO of Southwest Airlines.

    Griffin said the solutions are too simplistic.

    “Universities are not a factory,” he said.

    Top-tier research institutions such as Texas A&M University and the University of Texas would become “diploma mills” if the full extent of the reforms were implemented, Griffin added.

    “At the end of the day, the reformers that started down this path only thought of numbers,” Griffin said. “They didn’t think about the quality of education.”
    Gov. Rick Scott Promotes Controversial Education Reforms".

    "General chaos could come"

    "Higher mortgage rates, costlier loans for governments and general chaos could come to South Florida from Washington’s debt woes. But watch for Brazilian condo buyers, too." "Washington’s debt crisis: the elephant in the room for South Florida’s economy".

    "If this doesn't stink, you need your schnoz checked"

    Scott Maxwell: Florida's Republican Attorney General Pam Bondi "made jaws drop when it was revealed that her office ousted two of its top investigators."

    assistant attorneys general Theresa Edwards and June Clarkson were making national news uncovering foreclosure fraud when Bondi's office forced them out.

    At first, Bondi's office refused to say why. But after public outcry intensified, Bondi's deputies claimed Clarkson and Edwards were guilty of "poor performance."

    It was an interesting claim for two people who had recently helped net a $2 million settlement. Also for two people with stellar job reviews.

    Most damning, however, was the office's claim that Edwards had been a poor performer for "several months" — even though a supervisor's review from just four weeks earlier concluded: "I cannot overstate the degree to which I respect Ms. Edwards and her work with this unit."

    If this doesn't stink, you need your schnoz checked.
    "Troubling oustings".

    "Perry eyes Florida talent"

    "Texas Gov. Rick Perry is exploring a run for president in a behind-the-scenes effort to set up a shadow campaign that stretches from Austin to New Hampshire to Miami."

    "Texas Gov. Rick Perry eyes Florida talent, money in possible presidential bid". Related: Sunshine News'"Presidential Derby".

    "Florida has a long way to go"

    "Researcher: Low-wage job numbers a ’cause for concern’".

    Florida International University's Research Institute for Social and Economic Policy reports that "The last five months have seen steady declines in Florida’s unemployment rate, from 12% in December to 10.6% in May. The improvement leveled off in June, when the unemployment rate was unchanged. Since January 2010 the state has gained 85,500 jobs, according to seasonally adjusted figures, the longest and largest continuous gain since the recession began more than three years ago. However the state has a long way to go to make up the over 700,000 jobs lost since the start of the recession."

    The good signs of growth are largely concentrated in a few industries, with three industries responsible for 60% of the gains. The top job creator, Accommodation and Food Services added nearly 20,000 jobs, or 23% of the total. Health care continued to add jobs as it has through most of the recession, and Administrative and Waste Services added over 16,000 jobs. Some smaller sectors such as Real Estate and Arts have seen significant improvements as well, as has Manufacturing, while others such as Wholesale Trade, Education and Information lost jobs.

    While the addition of jobs is sorely needed in the state, the majority of the jobs created are in industries that pay below the average wage in the state. The industry that added the most jobs, Accommodation and Food Services, also has the lowest average annual wage at $18,842 per year. Two-thirds of the jobs added in the last five months were in below-average paying industries.
    Much more here: "Economic Update: Job growth slows in June, recent gains mostly in low-wage industries" (RISEP is part of the Center for Labor Research and Studies of the School of International and Public Affairs at Florida International University.) See also the earlier "Behind Unemployment Numbers: Job Formation Continues Slowly" from the Florida Center for Fiscal and Economic Policy.

    "A six-pack of infobits"

    Travis Pillow: "Six in the morning: A six-pack of infobits you might have missed but shouldn’t have".

    "Regulators set clock back on conservation in Florida"

    "State regulators set the clock back on energy conservation in Florida on Tuesday by reversing a rule that would have required Progress Energy Florida and Florida Power & Light to encourage customers to use less electricity." "Progress Energy, Florida Power & Light no longer required to expand energy conservation programs".

    "Doubts about 'stable' SunRail revenue sources"

    "Doubts about 'stable' revenue sources are dogging the SunRail commuter train before it even has a locomotive. Tax increases or further cuts in social services appear to be the only way Central Florida governments will be able to satisfy federal funding requirements." "Florida Train Heist: Robbing Peter to Pay Paul on SunRail".

    "Paul flopping badly in the Sunshine State"

    Kevin Derby: "Ron Paul’s supporters insist their candidate is gaining momentum as the Texas congressman makes his second bid for the Republican presidential nomination. He certainly has more name recognition and a larger war chest this time around -- but he is flopping badly in the Sunshine State." "Ron Paul Needs to Focus on Florida".

    Florida Congressmen deluged with calls

    "Phone lines to Capitol Hill were flooded on Tuesday when thousands of constituents called and e-mailed Florida members of Congress urging a resolution of debt-reduction talks before the nation defaults on its obligations." "Callers deluge Florida members on debt clash".

    Medicaid deform

    "Florida’s Agency for Health Care Administration began making plans to move the state’s long-term care Medicaid recipients into managed care plans Tuesday, but it has until Monday to submit the federal waiver request necessary to implement the changes." "Florida Moves Toward Initial Medicaid Changes".

    Libertarians don' like that disclosure stuff

    "A federal judge is hearing arguments in a challenge to a Florida campaign law regulating political committees and similar groups. The hearing is set for Wednesday before U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle in Tallahassee. The law is being challenged by three Sarasota residents backed by the libertarian Institute for Justice. It requires political committees or groups to disclose who made contributions to them, how much and what the money was spent on. " "Judge hearing challenge to Florida campaign law".

    Jackson stumps against Florida's new election law

    "The Rev. Jesse Jackson was in his element. The longtime civil rights leader spoke to nearly 500 people at 34th Street Church of God on Tuesday afternoon, stumping against Florida's controversial new election law." "Jackson rails against election law". See also "Jesse Jackson blasts gerrymandering, but won’t touch Fair Districts lawsuit" and "Jesse Jackson, in Tampa, urges DOJ to reject new election law".

    Never mind the sinkholes

    "The state-run property insurer took a step toward imposing massive rate hikes for sinkhole insurance Tuesday, tentatively approving new premiums that would force many policy holders to either pay thousands of dollars more next year or drop coverage altogether." "Proposed sinkhole insurance rates likely will force people to drop coverage".

    The Saint Petersburg Times editorial board: "The quickest way to squash the anemic economic recovery in Florida is for Citizens Property Insurance Corp. to approve absurd increases in premiums for sinkhole coverage. " "A formula to sink the economy".

    "Taj Mahal" update

    The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "Judge Hawkes, who allegedly bullied court employees who challenged him, has spent so much time complaining of mistreatment that he has yet to answer the charges. Judge Backman noted that failure as he scheduled a trial for early November. If the six-member hearing panel that Judge Backman chairs upholds the charges, the Florida Supreme Court can reprimand Judge Hawkes or remove him. The courthouse, unfortunately, stays either way." "Public is victim, not judge".

    Mica hoofs it to Bunnell

    "Mica meets with Bunnell officials, business leaders".

    Some call it "bunk"

    The Orlando Sentinel editorial board: "When the Florida Supreme Court delayed a condemned cop killer's execution this week, it seemed to bolster an argument [by Republicans] heard in the state Capitol this year that the justices are to blame for a pileup of prisoners on death row."

    But the evidence doesn't support that argument. And state House Speaker Dean Cannon's plan to radically restructure the high court to speed up its handling of death-penalty cases remains unjustified and unworthy of revisiting. ...

    Earlier this year, state House Republican leaders pointed to the backlog of inmates on death row in calling for the seven-member Supreme Court to be expanded by three justices, then split into five-member criminal and civil divisions. The House Office of Public Information cited "current processing delays created by the existing Supreme Court structure."

    Lawyers might call this a specious argument. We'd call it bunk.
    "Don't blame Florida Supreme Court for the backlog of inmates on state's death row". Back at the ranch, "Bondi asks U.S. Supreme Court to re-order execution".

    The rich are different

    "Bottle of white wine sets world-record price".

    West's pusillanimity

    "Allen West is one of Congress's, um, special people."

    The freshman tea partier and former Army colonel has criticized President Obama for traveling to Afghanistan in the middle of the night because it wasn't life-threatening enough. He has claimed that Muslim congressman Keith Ellison "represent[s] the antithesis of the principles upon which this country was established." He has warned that those "Coexist" bumper stickers will lead to the downfall of America. During his 2010 campaign for Congress, he told his followers to "make [Democratic congressman Ron Klein] scared to come out of his house." He was fined by the military for intimidating an Iraqi policeman he suspected of terrorist ties by firing a gun next to his head and threatening to kill him. You would think that, as fond as he is of doling out baseless accusations and physical threats, West could handle a little criticism from a Democratic colleague.

    But he can't ...
    "Insane Florida Congressman Allen West Wildly Overreacts to Criticism".

    Now, if it were Saint Mica

    The Orlando Sentinel's endless attack on Gary Siplin continues today with this: "The Florida Senate has picked up the $109,000 tab for state Sen. Gary Siplin's [successful] four-year legal battle over an ethics complaint lodged by a former Orange County sheriff's deputy." "Florida Senate pays $109K for Siplin's legal bills".

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