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 Thursday, July 28, 2011

Calls are building for Bondi investigation

    "Calls are building for an investigation into the forced resignations by Attorney General Pam Bondi of two lawyers investigating foreclosure fraud."
    A state lawmaker on Wednesday requested all documents related to the resignations, while a liberal public interest group has been circulating a petition asking for the state inspector general to investigate.
    "At issue are the departures of lawyers June Clarkson and Theresa Edwards, who led foreclosure fraud investigations under former Attorney General Bill McCollum. Clarkson and Edwards were forced to resign in late March from their posts in the Fort Lauderdale economic crimes bureau."
    "As a member who represents an area ravaged by foreclosure fraud, these terminations present an overwhelming public concern," said Rep. Darren Soto, D-Orlando, in a letter to Bondi.

    Progress Florida, a St. Petersburg advocacy group, is asking for an investigation into Bondi's actions.

    "We think the big banks and the financial industry have leveraged their enormous political power to have these attorneys removed," said Mark Ferrulo, executive director for Progress Florida.

    Bondi said that such suggestions are "unfounded and offensive."
    Clarkson said that after Bondi took office, she and Edwards were questioned intensely about their ongoing cases by Richard Lawson, appointed by Bondi as head of the Economic Crimes Division.

    In particular, he asked about Jacksonville-based Lender Processing Services and Tampa-based ProVest, Clarkson said.

    "We were under fire like you have no idea," Clarkson said. "It was like our home team was against us."

    Lender Processing Services donated more than $40,000 to campaigns in the 2010 election, largely to Republican candidates, including Bondi. The company donated $36,500 to the Republican Party of Florida, according to campaign finance records.
    "Scrutiny over resignations". See also "" and "".

    "Nelson zigzags"

    "Sen. Bill Nelson zigzags on debt ceiling votes".

    Haridopolos disses Hasner

    "If there was any doubt that there was no love lost between Florida state Senate President Mike Haridopolos and former state House Majority Leader Adam Hasner during the Senate race earlier this year, Haridopolos has cleared it up by indicating where his loyalties (don't) lie, now that he has dropped out the Senate race." "Haridopolos: I Won't Be Backing Hasner".

    Political insults

    Bill Cotterell: "The art of the political insult is long lost in Washington, but maybe U.S. Rep. Allen West can revive it." "The art of the political insult".

    This and that

    "New deputy chief for Haridopolos, DJJ reforms, prison privatization, and redistricting".

    GOPers trying to hide Scott

    "Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said Wednesday that neither Gov. Rick Scott's low approval rating nor the immigration debate will hurt the GOP as it tries to carry crucial Florida in next year's presidential election."

    Scott's approval rating has dipped below 30 percent, which has Democrats citing the governor as a reason not to support the GOP. But Priebus said voters won't care.

    "He's not on the ballot and I don't think that a governor that's been there for two years is going to affect what people think about the direction of our country and who sits in the White House," Priebus said during a conference call with reporters to discuss Florida's role in 2012.

    But he did say another politician who will have only been in office for two years and who also may not be on the ballot could play a role in helping Republicans: Sen. Marco Rubio.

    Rubio, who some speculate could be a potential vice presidential pick, is among several Republican Hispanic politicians Priebus said could excite Latino voters.
    "In 2012, factor out Gov. Scott -- it's all Rubio, RNC says".

    Blame the unemployed

    "Florida's jobless workers are facing additional hurdles to qualify for state unemployment compensation. Several new requirements go into effect Monday under a law passed this year to help reduce unemployment taxes paid by businesses." "Florida jobless facing new compensation hurdles".

    Redistricting round-up

    "Round-up of media coverage of redistricting for 7/28". See also "Candidate for state office takes stab at resketching districts" and "Gaetz: Legislature will vote early on new maps".

    RPOFer plans "hit a snag"

    "It didn't take long for Florida's plans for a premier presidential primary spot to hit a snag. The snag: Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer wants to move her state's primary up to Jan. 31." "Early Arizona primary date could upset Florida's hopes".


    "Citizens' Insurance board okays 'staggering' sinkhole rate increases".

    West volunteers to drive

    "A movie clip used to fire up Republicans during a showdown over deficit-reduction sparked an outcry on Wednesday from Debbie Wasserman Schultz and other Democrats."

    Congressman Allen West, a Republican from Plantation, scoffed at her objections.

    "Tell them to get a life," West said in an interview. "We can’t even look at a clip of a movie? Tell them to come up with a plan about this debt ceiling instead of worrying about us looking at the clip of a movie."

    The segment from “The Town” depicts a couple of bank robbers preparing to beat up another character.

    “I need your help,” one robber says. “I can’t tell you what it is, you can never ask me about it later. And we’re going to hurt some people.”

    “Whose car are we gonna take,” the other character replies.

    West stood up at the Republican meeting and said, “I’m ready to drive the car.”
    "Wasserman Schultz decries GOP use of movie clip".

    "Something here does not add up"

    The Saint Petersburg Times editorial board: "Was it leaving or not? That’s the question Hillsborough County needs to answer about a deal to give taxpayer money to a global financial services firm in exchange for keeping its jobs in Tampa. Something here does not add up." "Secrecy, subsidies and spin".

    Killing them softly

    "The Florida Department of Corrections signed off last month on using pentobarbital, a barbiturate, as part of the state’s cocktail of three lethal drugs. The pentobarbital is intended to knock condemned inmates unconscious before a second drug paralyzes them and a third stops their heart. The state previously used sodium thiopental, a different barbiturate, to sedate the inmates. The corrections department had to change its protocol after the Illinois pharmaceutical company that sold it the sodium thiopental discontinued its production of the drug earlier this year. The company did not want the drug to be used in executions."

    Other states have since made the switch to pentobarbital, which is used to euthanize animals. But Valle would be the first Florida inmate to be executed under the new rules, and he raised questions about whether the drug in the amount prescribed by the state could cause him to suffer pain.

    A divided Supreme Court ruled 4-3 to grant him a hearing — and ordered the corrections department to provide documents from the drug’s manufacturer, Lundbeck, on the safety and efficacy of pentobarbital.

    The head of Lundbeck, a Danish company, has twice written Gov. Rick Scott urging him not to use the drug for capital punishment. Staffan Schüberg, president of Lundbeck, wrote to Scott in May and again in June after he said his letters to the corrections department went unanswered. It is unclear if Scott’s office has responded, either.

    "The use of pentobarbital outside the approved labeling has not been established," Schüberg wrote. "As such, Lundbeck cannot assure the associated safety and efficacy profiles in such instances. For this reason, we are concerned about its use in prison executions."
    "Judge to hold hearing on new use of drug in state’s lethal injection".

    Central Florida minority House District?

    "Central Florida's growth means greater congressional clout next year, and Hispanic and black leaders told lawmakers Wednesday they expect the region to be rewarded with at least one new U.S. House district likely to elect a minority candidate." "Leaders hear call for minority seat in Congress".

    "Political clout of charter school management companies"

    Fred Grimm: "The new governor made it clear on just his third day in office that the fix to Florida’s education woes could be found on the campus of an Opa-locka charter school."

    “We have to make sure our system does exactly what you are doing here at Florida International Academy,” Rick Scott said back in January.

    Six months later, his words took on unintended irony. Despite the considerable flexibility granted charter schools, Florida International Academy had flunked. The charter’s elementary school, based on student FCAT scores, was rated an “F” school, one of only five failing schools in Miami-Dade County.

    In March, when Scott signed a state law that swapped teacher tenure for a merit pay and retention system based on test scores, he used another charter school as a backdrop – the KIPP Impact Middle School, in Jacksonville. When the state ratings came out earlier this month, the Jacksonville Times-Union reported that the KIPP school scored the lowest FCAT results in the newspaper’s five-county circulation area.
    "Given the governor and Legislature’s devotion to high-stakes test results, it’s difficult to understand why they champion Florida’s underachieving charter schools."
    Unless all this has more to do with the political clout of charter school management companies than with actual student achievement.

    Hey, kids! A real civics lesson.
    "Charter schools aren’t measuring up".

    "Scott watchdog showing signs of loose dentures"

    The Tampa Tribune editors: "Florida's 1.9 million small businesses may have thought they had a friend in Tallahassee, but that ended in May, when Gov. Rick Scott abolished the state's Office of the Small Business Advocate. To fill the void, the governor established his own watchdog operation — one that is showing signs of loose dentures." "Small businesses lose big advocate".

    Boycott threatened

    "A business group's plan to host U.S. Rep. Allen West, R-Plantation, at a public meeting is drawing fire from the state Democratic Party's gay caucus. Michael Rajner, legislative director of the Florida Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Democratic Caucus, is demanding that the Wilton Manors Business Association President Celeste Ellich withdraw the invitation." "Gay group calls for business boycott over Allen West appearance".

    "RNC Thinks Obama is Weak in Florida"

    "The Republican National Committee on Wednesday unveiled a new ad running in Florida and other battleground states in the 2012 presidential election." "Thinking Obama's Weak in Florida, RNC Piles On in New Ads".

    Batista crowd in a dither

    "Cuba grants landing rights for Tampa flights".

    "The worst possible motives"

    Kenric Ward, apparently with a straight face, pens the following: "As if the job of redrawing 187 congressional and legislative districts weren't complicated enough, liberal groups are ascribing the worst possible motives to Florida lawmakers assigned to the task." "Liberals Behaving Badly: Florida Redistricting Hearings".

    The rich are different

    "Rooney: If default, don't pay Congress". See also "Florida Repubs: If Feds Default, Congress Shouldn't Get Paid".

    Voucher madness

    "Thanks to tinkering from the Florida Legislature, enrollment in Florida's corporate tax credit vouchers soared last year, with a 20 percent increase in students. The enrollment surge coincided with an apparent increase in demand for the voucher program. Step Up For Students, the administrator of the corporate tax credit scholarship, said Wednesday that it had to stop accepting applications in May when it hit 33,000 new students. Last year, the program cut off new applicants in September." "New Law Boosts Enrollment in Tax Credit Voucher".

    Teabaggers face tough questions

    "The suit was filed by a group of Sarasota and Charlotte County residents with ties to the tea party — Andrew Worley, Pat Wayman, John Scolaro and Robin Stublen — who claim the state's contribution requirements put an unconstitutional burden on their right to free speech."

    Hinkle peppered Paul Sherman, an Institute for Justice attorney representing the plaintiffs, with questions about their reliance on a U.S. Supreme Court ruling, known as Citizens United, that corporations can spend without limit on independent political broadcasts.

    Hinkle said that case was limited to a corporation spending its own money and questioned whether it could be applied to a group collecting contributions.

    "Doesn't the state have an interest in keeping contributions separate from personal accounts?" Hinkle said, pointing to laws that prohibit the commingling of business and personal accounts.

    Sherman, however, said there shouldn't be more burden on a grass-roots group than a corporation in a political debate.

    Plaintiffs are not challenging Florida's expenditure laws, which means political groups could be in the awkward position of reporting what they spend money but not disclosing the sources of that cash.

    Hinkle gave at least some credence to the plaintiff's argument, disputing that the state only asks for financial information groups already would keep.
    "Suit targets campaign disclosure requirements for issue groups". See also "Federal Court Hears Arguments in Ballot Campaign Disclosure Case" and "Sarasota group pushing to ax disclosure laws for issue campaigns".

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