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 Sunday, July 03, 2011

Rubio drags his knuckles 'til they bleed

    Florida's junior Senator embarrasses himself:
    Rubio tells [the National Review Online] that he will respond to Obama’s recent press conference, where the president reveled in class-warfare bluster. "Quite frankly, I am both disappointed for our country and shocked at some of the rhetoric," he says. "It was rhetoric, I thought, that was more appropriate for some left-wing strong man than for the president of the United States."

    "Talking about corporate jets and oil companies," Rubio says, missed the point.

    "Everybody here agrees that our tax code is broken," he says, and he is open to discussing tax reform. "But don’t go around telling people that the reason you are not doing well is because some rich guy is in a corporate jet or some oil company is making too much money."

    Watching Obama brandish such talking points made Rubio wince. "Three years into his presidency, he is a failed president," he says. "He just has not done a good job. Life in America today, by every measure, is worse than it was when he took over."

    "When does it start to get better?" Rubio asks. "When does the magic of this president start to happen?"
    "Rubio rips Obama’s ‘class warfare’ and ‘left-wing strongman’ rhetoric".

    Candidates lining up for 2012

    "Next year's voting cycle promises to be a wide-open affair. Because of the redistricting that's required after a census, many terms that are normally four years were limited to just two years in the 2010 elections." "With districts yet to be redrawn, candidates still lining up for 2012" (Volusia County).

    Property owner relief

    The Miami Herald editors: "As South Florida cities, counties and school boards brace for another tough budget year with foreclosures continuing to drag down property values, and thus, tax revenues, there’s one fair measure that Gov. Rick Scott signed into law recently that should bring relief."

    Proposed by Miami Republicans, state Rep. Ana Rivas Logan and Sen. Rene Garcia, the new law requires that property owners challenging their tax must pay at least 75 percent of that tax amount or make a “good-faith effort” to do so by April 1 — while the claims are under appeal before a county’s Value Adjustment Board. (Any homestead exemption and or other discounts could be taken into account in the partial payment.)

    Previously, property owners could appeal without paying one cent into public coffers.
    "New law fair to all Florida taxpayers".

    "The allocation of the immaculate conception"

    Fred Grimm: "Call it the allocation of the immaculate conception — an unrequested $1.5 million surreptitiously folded into legislation even while $3.8 billion was being ripped from the state budget with brutal cuts in education and infrastructure and state worker pensions and programs for the poor, elderly and disabled."

    Amid all that wreckage, a mysterious $1.5 million was tucked into House Bill 251: "For the purpose of funding Lauren’s Kids, a nonprofit organization ... to educate adults and children about sexual abuse topics through an in-school curriculum and maintain a 24-hour Crisis Hotline."

    In 2011, this amounted to a miracle of biblical proportions. For starters, as The Herald’s Mary Ellen Klas reported, Lauren’s Kids hadn’t requested state money to fund a hotline or in-school curriculum. Broward County’s Lauren Book had wanted $3 million for her relocation program to help victims of sexual abuse escape a threatening home environment. That request went nowhere. But some anonymous legislator – maybe it was the hand of God – conjured up $1.5 million for something Lauren didn’t know was coming. ...

    Of course, state budget turkeys aren’t the obvious affront to good government they used to be, before the Tea Party ethic ruled Florida. When Gov. Rick Scott went on his veto frenzy last month, cutting $615 million, one line item after another, he bragged that he was stomping out "shortsighted, frivolous, wasteful spending ." Except the shortsighted, frivolous, wasteful projects, on closer examination, didn’t look so very boondoggly. They hardly gobbled.

    Scott cut $12 million for homeless veterans and another $3.25 million for the Wounded Warrior Project and $500,000 for a rural health clinic in Apopka and $4.7 million from public broadcasting and $1.9 million to screen newborns for immunodeficiency disease and $569,000 for an outreach program for compulsive gamblers and $750,000 to divert non-violent prisoners out of jail and into treatment programs.

    Scott, holding a red veto pen inscribed with “promises made, promises kept,” killed $750,000 for a program to ship surplus commodities into food pantries and $1.7 million for a program to keep kids out of gangs. Water projects, a mobile health clinic, diabetes research, the Florida Forever land acquisition program, an emergency operations center, a legal assistance program, a vaccination project, Everglades clean-up, citrus disease research. He slashed $167.5 million from college building programs, even vetoing the last $4.5 million needed to finish a $23 million health professions education building at Florida Gulf Coast University.

    All that and more: vetoed.
    "Yet last week, the most obdurate wielder of the veto pen in Florida history signed the bill with the allocation of the immaculate conception. He had coldly killed program after program to feed the elderly and treat the poor and salvage lost souls and fight disease and educate kids yet granted Lauren’s Kids its unrequested $1.5 million."
    The miracle seems less miraculous knowing that Lauren Book is the daughter of Ron Book, Florida’s self-described super lobbyist. In a state essentially run by special interests through their hired guns, this particular lobbyist has evolved into Florida’s master of the universe. Governors come and go, but Ron Book rules forever. That $1.5 million happened to fall out of the sky into a non-profit run by Super Book’s daughter becomes less mysterious than why the earmark was only $1.5 million and not the $3 million Lauren originally wanted. ...

    When Scott went on his $615 million rampage, the poor lobbyists couldn’t save their clients’ projects. But when the super lobbyist roamed the capitol halls as super dad, he conjured up a $1.5 million tax-payer-funded immaculate-conception-of-an allocation. In a time of such dismal, slice-and-dice economics, Daddy Book’s magic earmark might be the close thing Tallahassee has to a heart-warming story.
    Much more here: "Scott cuts money for vets, kids — but not lobbyist".

    On SunRail

    The Daytona Beach News Journal editors: "State and local governments will pay for half of the $615 million needed to buy trains, new tracks, etc. According to SunRail, the state will then pay for all operations and maintenance costs for the first seven years. Local governments then assume those costs."

    It should be noted, however, that no major commuter rail system in the United States recovers its costs via the farebox. The goal is to expand transportation options and make back some of the costs via fares. Subsidies cover the rest.

    Public transportation saves about 4.2 billion gallons of gasoline per year, with households living near public transportation putting 4,400 fewer miles on their cars per year, according to the American Public Transportation Association.

    That's a strong point in SunRail's favor. Nevertheless, local taxpayers won't be thrilled about the project if they end up heavily subsidizing the route.

    SunRail could be an integral part of a growth management plan for Central Florida. We hope it attracts many riders and keeps the burden on taxpayers light. If it doesn't, residents of Central Florida will be comparing it to other notable transportation boondoggles -- not the Eisenhower interstate system.
    "Benefits and big questions with SunRail". See also this Tampa Trib editorial: "Scott leading from caboose". Related: "RickRailed: Why did Scott approve SunRail?".

    Florida for sale

    "A push for privately developed and operated campgrounds in Florida state parks, a concept that worries some environmentalists and lawmakers, shifts this week from bureaucratic offices to local public meetings that will consider the fate of De Leon Springs, Honeymoon Island and two other sites." "Halt privatized campsites at Florida parks, some state senators urge".

    We don' need no stinkin' reger'lations

    "The Duval County Department of Health is slated to issue a fish-consumption advisory on July 5, notifying residents of elevated levels of potentially harmful chemicals found in two tributaries near Jacksonville’s downtown urban core: Hogan’s Creek and Longbranch." "Fish found in Jacksonville contain high levels of mercury, PCBs".

    Entrepreneurs in action

    The Orlando Sentinel editorial board: "Business at for-profit colleges in Florida and across the nation is booming, bolstered by enrollment from nontraditional students — often older and lower income — who are anxious for a ticket to a successful career in a tough economy. But reports of high-pressure and deceptive recruiting practices, high tuitions and high loan-default rates at some of these colleges cry out for federal and state authorities to wake up. The students are at risk, and so are taxpayers who back their loans." "Aggressive recruiting and loan defaults at for-profit schools demand more oversight".

    More entrepreneurs in action

    The Saint Pete Times editorial board: "Legislators need to shut an opening that allows investors to get title to properties for pennies on the dollar by satisfying outstanding homeowners association dues, then exploit those properties and profit until a bank forecloses." "Fix foreclosure loophole".

    A million here a million there

    "As a candidate, Scott reported assets of $218.6 million on Dec. 31, 2009."

    In forms filed with the state's Ethics Commission, Scott claimed assets on Dec. 31, 2010, of $103.1 million. The slashed assets included a $47.8 million drop in value for his controversial ownership in Solantic Corp., a chain of urgent-care clinics the governor sold last week for an undisclosed sum.

    Candidate Scott spent $73 million of his own money to become Gov. Scott.
    "Gov. Scott's wealth declines 53 percent".

    The Batista crowd in the doldrums

    Myriam Marquez: "One of the first things Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez did after his election was to go on Spanish-language radio stations to clear the air after a nasty mayoral campaign against Hialeah’s charismatic former mayor, Julio Robaina, that included charges that Gimenez wasn’t Cuban enough, an arrepentido."

    Of course, Gimenez was born in Cuba. Robaina was born in New Jersey. But don’t let that stop the conspiracy theories.

    If all politics is local, as former U.S. House Speaker Tip O’Neill used to say, then in Miami all local politics carries a foreign-policy litmus test.

    "I am not a communist!" Gimenez told Miami’s popular Radio Mambí during Wednesday morning drive time. ...

    The insinuations against Gimenez had been crackling for a while. Because Gimenez was running in a nonpartisan race, diehard Republicans would call radio stations to ask why certain Democrats who support lax U.S. policy toward communist Cuba were supporting the former county commissioner for mayor. Hmmm, must mean Gimenez is a commie.
    "'Commie conspiracies’ in Miami-Dade’s mayoral race?"

    Not so bright

    The Sun-Sentinel editors: "FSU study of Bright Futures scholarships welcome".

    Scott foolishly opens the door to drilling

    The Saint Pete Times editors: "Scott and state Senate President Mike Haridopolos have short memories. They have forgotten about last year's BP oil spill. They have forgotten about the millions of gallons of oil that spewed into the gulf, the dead wildlife and the soiled Panhandle beaches. They have forgotten about the financial strain it placed on residents and businesses hundreds of miles from any oil. Floridians need to remind the governor and the Senate president of the devastating impact of the nation's greatest environmental disaster as the two foolishly open the door again to offshore drilling." "Remember the oil spill governor".

    Vern sells some car dealerships

    "Recently filed financial disclosure reports in Congress show that Rep. Vern Buchanan, a Longboat Key Republican, sold three of his six remaining car dealerships — all of which played a central role in a series of lawsuits filed by former employees — last year." "Buchanan down to three auto dealerships".

    Not a guy who cares what others think

    Tom Tryon: "Gov. Rick Scott said it. I believe it. 'It,' in this case, is Scott's recent response to reporters, who asked the governor about the latest decline in his public-approval rating. 'I don't think about it,' he said."

    Tryon believes "Scott's assertion that he doesn't think about 'it' because he:"

    *Is a kajillionaire who oversaw the creation of America's largest private-sector health care company by orchestrating takeovers, buyouts, mergers — closing facilities and cutting jobs and slashing costs along the way (sound familiar, state workers?).

    People who perform those tasks — and, like Scott, appear to revel in doing them — don't spend a lot of time worrying about their popularity.

    *Ran a successful campaign for governor, largely with his own money, against Bill McCollum, the Republican establishment's candidate, and the political leaders in Tallahassee, who also happen to be Republicans.

    This strategy helped Scott win not only the primary but the general election (albeit barely, with less than a majority of votes). It also allowed Scott to deliberately cast himself as the rich guy whose success doesn't depend on whether he wins any high school popularity contests.

    *Thinks he's right.

    It's not as though Scott has bared his soul to the public or media but, seriously, does he act like a guy who cares much about what others think?

    "Thinking about Scott's (un)popularity?".

    Ricky's big plans

    "Imagine you're Gov. Rick Scott. After spending $73 million of your own money to win office, you face protesters constantly, you have little privacy and you are America's most unpopular governor."

    Maybe you'd think of calling it quits after one term?

    No way.

    There is zero chance he won't run for a second term, Gov. Scott said in an exclusive Political Connections interview airing today on Bay News 9.
    "Florida Gov. Rick Scott: No way I'm not running for re-election".

    "Frequently wrong"

    As the frequently wrong "Politifact" takes a shot at "Florida under Gov. Rick Scott: Adding jobs, or destroying them?", let's recall that "for Scott to truly make his [700,000 job] 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".

    Shucks, 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."

    Let's hope the - desperately trying to appear "balanced" - Politifact acknowledges whenever that the real measuring stick is 1.7 million (not 700,000) jobs in 7 years.

    "Gimenez, Miami-Dade style"

    A must read: "The Gimenez strategy to box Robaina into his older, Hispanic base would allow Gimenez — who was born in Cuba but speaks less polished Spanish than his rival — to work on attracting black and non-Hispanic white voters."

    Yet the approach had its risks: If Robaina’s support among Hispanics was deep enough, he could still win, because older Hispanics make up the bulk of Miami-Dade’s so-called “super voters” — people who vote in practically every election.

    To prevent that from happening, Gimenez’s camp put up a fight for the Hispanic vote, airing frequent ads on Spanish-language radio — and going after absentee ballots often favored by older Cuban Americans.

    With little money or time to set up a high-manpower operation — because he jumped into the race so late —– Gimenez’s campaign eschewed sending campaign workers to voters’ doorsteps to urge them to fill out their ballots. Instead, in addition to the robocalls, the campaign targeted calls from workers in a campaign phone bank and mailed fliers to absentee voters. ...

    Their first order of business: courting the endorsement of Llorente, the third-place finisher whose youth and squeaky-clean image could help Robaina or Gimenez appeal to younger Hispanics.

    The two candidates called Llorente on Election Night, then again the following morning. He met with Gimenez over lunch at Novecento in Coral Gables, and with Robaina in the lobby of a hotel in Brickell.

    Llorente threw his support behind Gimenez. To those close to them, the pairing was unsurprising: Their family ties run deep. ...

    Llorente’s staff became part of Gimenez’s staff, a union both sides describe as seamless. The pairing gave the Gimenez team much-needed extra hands. Also joining the runoff team as a volunteer: Jose Mallea, who last year served as Rubio’s U.S. Senate campaign manager.

    In the days immediately following the first-round election, the campaign was bogged down by a robocall that went after Hialeah and its politics, offending many in the overwhelmingly Cuban city.

    Gimenez denied any connection to the smear. But he couldn’t escape questions about it in debates, and Robaina brought it up to try to poke holes in Gimenez’s message about honesty and integrity. The only possible silver lining Gimenez’s aides could hope for: that the continual reference to Hialeah would keep Robaina’s appeal from expanding outside of Hispanics.

    Another low point for Gimenez came when a former first-round rival, ex-rapper Luther Campbell, endorsed Robaina. Gimenez had sought Campbell’s support and thought he had it: Gimenez’s campaign scheduled a news conference to announce the endorsement.

    But the event was scuttled at the last minute, and Campbell instead backed Robaina.

    Gimenez’s camp had calculated that he needed to win the black vote — along with the non-Hispanic white vote — to counter Robaina’s popularity among Hispanics. Though Gimenez later secured the endorsement of former U.S. Rep. Carrie Meek, he was outgunned in the black community by Robaina, who courted pastors and on Sundays campaigned tirelessly in black churches.
    Much more here: "The making of Mayor Carlos Gimenez, Miami-Dade style".

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