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, July 11, 2011

"Florida in no position to turn down health care help"

    The Sun Sentinel editorial board observes that "Democrats were in charge last year when Congress passed President Obama's health care overhaul."
    Republican legislators in Florida have been waging a partisan war on it ever since, not caring about the collateral damage.

    The latest victims are senior citizens and people with disabilities in Florida who are covered under Medicaid.

    Last month, a joint legislative panel turned down a $2.1 million federal grant that would have made Florida eligible for an additional $35 million to move Medicaid patients from nursing homes into assisted living facilities or their own homes. A majority on the panel, all Republicans, wanted nothing to do with the money because it was provided under the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act — what critics call Obamacare.
    "Florida has taken the lead among 26 states in a lawsuit challenging the act as unconstitutional."
    But Florida legislators already have left on the table at least $54 million — by rejecting grants, returning them or not applying for them — simply because the programs are part of the Affordable Care Act.

    Florida is in no position to be turning down health care help. More than one in five residents is without insurance, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. And legislators cut funding for Medicaid and other health care programs by more than $1 billion in the budget they approved.

    The federal funds legislators have shunned would have gone to a wide range of worthy causes. Wellness programs for people with chronic diseases. Construction of community health centers. Help on Medicare premiums and prescription-drug costs for low-income seniors. Hospice care for children.
    "GOP hurting most needy with war on health care".

    The Orlando Sentinel editors have precisely the same editorial: "Florida lawmakers' war on reform has cost patients and taxpayers dearly".

    RPOF-Baggers battle for control

    Kenric Ward writes that "the arrival of the tea party movement -- which burst onto the scene after the 2008 elections -- brings a whole new dynamic to P5", the Republican Party of Florida's Presidency summit set for Sept. 22-24 at the Orange County Convention Center. Ward continues:

    "From what I have been hearing, there are a lot of tea party members who were chosen to be delegates to P5," said Robin Stublen, a tea party leader from Charlotte County. Other counties report that top tea activists have entered local lotteries for delegate credentials.

    "I believe it is going to have an impact on the outcome. There is no doubt going to be a strong showing for Ron Paul," Stublen said.

    If so, that's a far cry from P4, when Rudy Giuliani was seen by many as winning the summit debate and John McCain's forces were able to quash a planned straw poll.
    like others in the tea party/patriot movement, Stublen reserves a healthy dose of skepticism about the conservative credentials of party operatives at P5.

    "Let's face it, if everyone who attends were a conservative and voted for conservative candidates, Romney and Jon Huntsman would not have enough votes to field a football team on Sunday," he said.

    "As we know, that is not the case. A lot of people are CINO -- Conservative In Name Only."

    Doug Guetzloe, a former consultant to the breakaway Florida TEA (Taxed Enough Already) Party, believes that the generic tea movement has lost steam.

    "The movement has declined dramatically. They showed no presence at the caucuses and they have no real numbers. A few got in by lottery, but they are leaderless," said Guetzloe, a lifelong Republican and a delegate to all five Presidency summits.

    [GOP strategist Brett] Doster disputes any notion that Florida Republicans' conservative credentials have gone wobbly.

    "The party has always been conservative. Crist ran as a conservative and governed left of center. That is one big reason why he is no longer the titular head of the party," Doster said.

    Noting that the tea party is "largely made up of Republicans who had felt disenfranchised by weak Republican leadership," Doster predicted, "they will be at P5 in force to try to hold Republicans accountable to their campaign promises."
    Much more here: "Four Years On, Presidency Summit Is Infused by Tea Party".

    Stearns fronts attack on Planned Parenthood

    "Rep. Cliff Stearns, R-Ocala, is mulling over the possibility of launching an investigation into Planned Parenthood at the request of an anti-abortion group that has written a report hoping to get Planned Parenthood defunded." "Stearns considering launching investigation into Planned Parenthood".

    "Gotcha all covered"

    Nancy Smith writes that "Pat Rooney, Liz Benacquisto, Herschel Vinyard, Gov. Rick Scott: Gotcha all covered" "Campground Decision, Yes! Funeral Bill, Oh, No!".

    Poll of Florida Republicans to be released this week

    "In conjunction with Voter Survey Service (VSS) of Harrisburg, Pa., [right wing] Sunshine State News will release the results and analyses of its first three Florida polls of the year on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. ... [T]he Sunshine State News Poll was conducted as an automated poll; the 1,000 Floridians surveyed come from a list of Republicans with a solid vote history in either the 2006 or 2008 primaries." "Sunshine to Release Voter Survey on Barack Obama, Rick Scott, Bill Nelson, Others" ("VSS is the same firm that in 2010 conducted some of the most accurate polls taken of races in the Florida primary and general election.")

    Foreign affairs, Florida style

    "With its 29 electoral votes, Florida is seen by many as the grand prize of all the swing states, and its diverse population means both Republicans and Democrats have opportunities and obstacles to overcome in the state."

    President Barack Obama started to shore up Hispanic support early on, visiting Puerto Rico last month in an effort to boost his support among the 847,500 voters who have flocked to Florida from the island. Many of them have sought out jobs in Central Florida along the “Interstate 4 corridor,” a haven of swing voters perennially targeted by national campaigns.

    Meanwhile, Republicans are jumping on perceived chinks in Obama’s foreign policy that are apt to upset key demographics in Florida -- Cubans and Jewish voters.

    A Gallup poll released this week showed Obama’s support among Jewish voters remained strong at 60 percent in June, but was a decline of 8 points from May.

    Some observers pointed to Obama’s May 19 speech -- urging Israel to withdraw to its 1967 borders, including some land swaps, as a way to generate a two-state solution to the protracted conflict with Palestine -- as the reason for the slide. Republicans blasted the speech and are hoping that it could dent Obama’s support among Florida’s 614,000 Jewish population.

    Republican National Committee spokesperson Ryan Tronovitch said that that, along with Obama’s controversial policies toward Cuba, “could prove to be critical in a close race in Florida”.
    "Parties Focus on Florida Demographics Ahead of 2012".

    "The trouble with privatization"

    Bill Cotterell points out that "the trouble with privatization, not just in prisons but everywhere [is that] employees providing the services owe allegiance to the company paying their salaries, not to the taxpayers who fund state contracts with those corporations." "Profits and prisons aren't a perfect pair".

    Whistle blower accuses Scott of "lying and cheating"

    "The sale of the Solantic urgent care chain to a New York private equity group this month marks Florida Gov. Rick Scott's exit from health industry management."

    While critics blamed Scott's bottom-line, bonus-focused management for encouraging a culture of cheating at his first health venture, Columbia/HCA, a close look at Scott's subsequent ventures shows the same pressures at work.

    Executives who have worked under Scott described his style as incentive-based, to a fault: Top performers received top rewards, so long as they continued to meet their numbers.

    Bottom performers had to improve or leave. As a result, some ex-employees and consultants allege, Scott's managers occasionally took extreme steps.
    "Scott's business hero, colleagues said, was General Electric's Jack Welch, who slashed payroll and then boosted earnings by using tactics like his "stretch" strategy. It took reasonable performance goals for managers and then "stretched" them to extremes."
    Solantic appeared to employ "stretching" even as its sale to Welsh, Carson, Anderson & Stowe was announced in April.

    Change of ownership paperwork with the state Agency for Healthcare Administration includes two years of financial data. Solantic's accountants provided the same set of start-up numbers for multiple clinics and characterized the projections as conservative.

    At Solantic's Tamarac clinic on West Commercial Boulevard in Broward County, the paperwork projected Solantic would see 6,500 patients in 2012. A year later, accountants boosted that projection to 10,600 patients.

    That would require a 37 percent increase in patient visits in a single year, without an increase in staff. With overhead of more than $1 million, that was the volume required to convert a new clinic's anticipated first-year net loss of more than $365,000 into a net profit of just over $23,000 in year two, the records showed.

    "It's terribly simplistic, and it gets you into trouble," said Jerre Frazier, an attorney and accountant, of managing by picking desired financial results and working backward to the point of care. But that was how Scott operated, he said.
    "Ex-Solantic doctor tells of intense pressure on staff to reap revenue".

    Environmentalists and mining companies polarized over 'Glades

    "For years the Palm Beach County Commission has hosted summits, workshops and studies on rock mining in the Everglades Agricultural Area in the hope environmentalists and mining companies could reach some agreement on how, when and where mining should be allowed." "Firms, environmentalists polarized on Everglades mining as moratorium expires".

    Florida's "mancession"

    "Nationally, the mancession seems to have eased. Unemployment for men fell to 9.7 percent last month, while the jobless rate for women rose to 8.6 percent. But in Florida, the mancession lives on. In 2010, the jobless rate for men in Florida was 12.3 percent, compared with only 9.7 percent for women." "Florida can't escape 'mancession' as women face easier job search".

    Scott and the GOPers intent on putting Floridians out of work

    Rhonda Swan, for The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "Despite rhetoric to the contrary, Gov. Scott and the Legislature seem intent on putting Floridians out of work."

    In addition to the 1,600 state employees laid off this month, an estimated 3,000 to 3,500 nurses could lose their jobs because of Medicaid cuts.

    So much for this year's legislative session being about adding jobs.

    Shortsighted lawmakers lowered the minimum staffing standard for nursing homes by about 8 percent to help them deal with a $187 million cut in Medicaid reimbursements. What's worse, they did it in secret, inserting the measure into a budget conforming bill the night before the session ended. No debate, no public input. No one to say, "bad idea."

    As The Post's Stacey Singer reported, the lower standard means 70,000 nursing home residents may get less time with a registered nurse, licensed practical nurse or certified nursing assistant. The result will be more health problems.

    And adding thousands more to Florida's ranks of unemployed does little to help the economy.
    "Stealth nursing home cuts".

    Another wannabe

    "Central Florida restaurateur Craig S. Miller plans to enter the Florida Republican U.S. Senate primary next week. Miller will join an already crowded primary field including Mike Haridopolos, Adam Hasner, George LeMieux, Mike McCalister and others." "New candidate entering Republican U.S. Senate primary".

    "Foolishly short-sighted measure"

    The Tampa Tribune editorial board: "In Florida, the Dry Tortuga National Park was first protected by President Franklin Roosevelt through the Antiquities Act. The law also originally preserved Biscayne National Park."

    The act has not been used to simply tie up land but to preserve tracts of exceptional value to the American people.

    And the president's authority is not unchecked. As the Wilderness Society points out, Congress can diminish — or expand — the size of a monument and can designate a monument as well.

    But the law does give the president a chance to keep national wonders from being forever lost due to short-sighted political concerns.

    This week the House Appropriations Committee, which includes St. Petersburg's Rep. Bill Young, is likely to address the proposal [to gut the Antiquities Act and the president's ability to designate national monuments].
    "Don't erode nation's national monuments".

    "Items that may have fallen through the cracks"

    Travis Pillow's "six-pack of news items that may have fallen through the cracks over the weekend." "Six in the morning: Monday catch-up".

    Webster squeaks

    "The latest news from the negotiations between President Barack Obama and federal lawmakers over the federal debt limit is hardly encouraging, and while there’s still time, legislation offered by one Central Florida lawmaker offers a contingency plan for a worst-case scenario. ... Fellow Florida Republicans Bill Posey, Richard Nugent and Dennis Ross have signed on as cosponsors." "Dan Webster’s just-in-case debt limit legislation".

    "Peek into finances of members of Congress"

    "Citizens can peek into the personal finances of the members of Congress thanks to annual financial disclosures required by federal law. The law, written by the people who are subject to its provisions, doesn't require many details." "South Florida members of Congress disclose finances".

    "Bo's Bridge"

    "Even in a state known for political boondoggles like a Taj Mahal courthouse and an unneeded aircraft hangar, the Garcon Point Bridge stands out."

    Nicknamed "Bo's Bridge" for its biggest backer, former House Speaker Bolley "Bo" Johnson [a Milton Democrat], the bridge over eastern Pensacola Bay was built using bogus traffic projections, faulty financing and shoddy construction practices. The day it opened in 1999, it had already incurred hefty fines for environmental destruction. Now Bo's Bridge is broke, and the taxpayers are likely to be stuck with millions of dollars in debt. ...

    Bo's Bridge would have never been built if not for Johnson, a real estate wheeler-dealer who grew up amid the rough-and-tumble of Panhandle politics. His father, a former Santa Rosa County commissioner, was once accused of trying to hire a hit man to rub out someone who'd crossed him. ...

    The week the bridge opened, Johnson was convicted in an unrelated case of taking "consulting fees" from road builders, casinos and other companies while speaker and not reporting it on his taxes. He spent two years in federal prison.
    "How a bridge went broke".

    Good luck with that

    "The Elton John AIDS Foundation delivered a second letter to Florida Gov. Rick Scott today, expressing the foundation’s concern over the Scott administration’s continued consideration over reducing eligibility for Florida’s AIDS Drug Assistance Program." "Elton John AIDS Foundation once again urges Scott not to cut AIDS Drug Assistance eligibility".

    From the home of Medicare fraud

    "Medicare anti-fraud system launched".

    "Secret deportation list"

    Jackie Bueno Sousa: "What is it about secret lists of names that immediately instill uneasiness? That’s the feeling I get when I think of the U.S. government’s undisclosed list of almost 1,000 Cubans eligible for immediate deportation to Cuba — and with our secretive approach in general to the deportation of criminal immigrants." "Our secret deportation list: It may be legal, but...".

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