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, August 17, 2011

APerry works Florida, Bachmann nowhere to be found

    "How do you start from nothing and quickly rev up a serious presidential campaign in a state as big as Florida?"
    We're about to see Rick Perry try. ... But as the focus of the contest soon shifts to Florida, Perry and Bachmann are invisible in the state while Romney has an expansive political network still in place since his campaign here four years ago.
    "Grass roots activists and veteran political consultants say they see no sign of Bachmann trying to organize a campaign in Florida, though on Aug. 27 she plans to attend a tea party rally in The Villages and then a Florida Family Policy Council dinner in Orlando. And the campaign told the St. Petersburg Times on Tuesday night that it has no plans to compete in a mock election planned by the state GOP next month."
    It's a different story with Perry, who formally jumped into the race Saturday.

    Perry campaign officials are talking to some of the top Republican strategists, including former George W. Bush Florida 2004 chief Brett Doster and the Tallahassee team of Randy Enwright, Jim Rimes and Rich Heffley. The late entry into the contest has also contacted many of the state's top money-raisers and found some keen interest.

    "You will see quite a number of top fundraisers come on board for Perry. I've talked to many of my Republican friends in Florida, and there is a tremendous amount of enthusiasm for Perry," said St. Petersburg doctor Akshay "A.K." Desai, a top GOP fundraiser helping host Perry's first Florida fundraiser, tentatively planned for Sept. 13 somewhere in the Tampa Bay area. "Some of the people who signed up with other candidates, I think you will see moving to Perry."

    Local party leaders in Florida say they struggle to communicate with anyone in the Bachmann campaign but Perry's people are talking about a vigorous Florida effort.

    If they want to seriously compete, it better happen soon.
    "The rise of Rick Perry". See also "Iowa Winner Michele Bachmann Will Skip Florida Straw Poll" and "".

    King Scott loses a big one

    The Saint Petersburg Times editorial board this morning: "Scott overstepped his constitutional authority and undermined the Legislature's power in his effort to unilaterally take control of rulemaking by state agencies. That was the logical ruling of the Florida Supreme Court on Tuesday, and it is a basic lesson that the former private hospital CEO and an acquiescent state Legislature should take to heart. Being the governor of Florida comes with extraordinary power, but the constitutional limits on that power are consequential."

    "In a different era, it wouldn't have taken a blind woman dependent on public assistance to challenge Florida's micromanaging governor. Republican legislative leaders were too busy kowtowing to their new governor in January to protect the lines of authority. They should have been first in line to force Scott to step back, ideally by suggestion and then by stronger language." "Scott gets lesson on power's limit". See also "Florida Supreme Court: Rick Scott overstepped his authority".

    The wingers are in a dither:

    Chief Justice Charles Canady and Justice Ricky Polston disagreed with the majority.

    Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fort Walton Beach, a Scott supporter, described the court's opinion as "bizarre," questioning why justices would decline to quash the executive order but expect the governor to not implement it.

    "It proves how outcome driven the opinion is," he said. "The court doesn't like the governor's policies."

    He also warned that the Legislature might give the governor more rulemaking authority.
    "Florida Supreme Court rules against Gov. Rick Scott in rulemaking case". See also "Supreme Court says Scott overstepped his authority".

    Citizens appointments

    "Atwater announces appointments to Citizens board".

    "Miami headed down a precarious path"

    The Miami Herald editors: Miami,

    if not in trouble with a capital T, is headed down a precarious path. This is the second year in a row that a state of “financial urgency” has been declared, the second time unions will have to give back or have commissioners take what they need to fill the budget gap. Last year, they cut about $80 million out of the union contracts. The city can only dip into this well so many times. It’s not the right solution for a chronic problem.

    Looking over his shoulder at former Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Alvarez’s fate — booted from office — Mr. Regalado decreased the tax rate at a cost of $3 million to the city. This politically expedient move might cost the city more in the long run. (Already the police and fire unions are rattling those sabers, talking recall.)

    Take the reins, Mr. Mayor. Miami’s residents need a leader.
    "Getting Miami on the right track".

    Jackie Bueno Sousa asks: "Come on, is the city of Miami even worth keeping?"

    Medicaid waiver "stumbling block"

    "Florida officials meet face to face this week with federal authorities to discuss pending Medicaid waiver. AHCA Assistant Deputy Secretary or Medicaid Finance Phil Williams says there's a 'short list' of differences but chief among them is a medical loss ratio requirement." "Medical loss ratios are stumbling block in Medicaid negotiations". Related: "Florida's Medicaid director leaving her job".

    DEP hires

    "Secretary Herschel Vinyard announced the hiring of two new employees responsible for helping with water policy and working with water management districts. Gov. Rick Scott has complained that the districts have strayed too far from their 'core mission.'" "Department of Environmental Protection announces key hires".

    Teacher layoffs

    "The Florida Education Association is shopping an unsubstantiated story that 'thousands of teachers and support staff' will be laid off at public schools this fall. FEA President Andy Ford made the claim to Florida News Network Tuesday, but offered no specific numbers to back it up."

    Kenric Ward whines that that can't be true because ... yah know ... the Rick Scott administration hasn't confirmed it: "The state Department of Education could not corroborate Ford's claim, saying it is too soon to make any calculations." "Union Claims 'Thousands' of School Layoffs, But Where?".

    Scott opens mouth inserts foot

    "As critical as Gov. Rick Scott has been of President Obama and Congress over their fiscal fight and credit downgrade, Florida political leaders have one of their own to contront. ... But Scott told reporters Tuesday he was confident Republican leaders acted responsibly when they limited property-tax authority for four of the state's five water districts." "Scott on water district credit downgrade: 'We did the right thing'". See also "Rick Scott on WMD's S&P Downgrade: 'It's Good' ".

    Bondi denies she's corrupt

    "Bondi says office is clean, despite former employee allegations".

    At the trough

    "Casino operators, utilities, health care companies and agricultural companies shelled out millions of dollars during the first half of the year to lobby the Florida Legislature, Gov. Rick Scott and other top state officials."

    Lobbyists were required to file new reports by Sunday that disclosed how much they were paid during the second quarter of 2011. The new totals show that legislative lobbyists earned as much as $64.8 million in the first six months of this year. That's an increase over 2010 when reports showed lobbyists were paid nearly $62.6 million.
    "One state business booming this year: lobbying".

    Wanna guess how this will turn out?

    "Consumer advocates urged state regulators on Tuesday to reduce Progress Energy Florida's customer charge for a planned nuclear power plant because the utility has not yet made a firm commitment to actually build the facility." "Fla. PSC focusing on Progress Energy nuclear costs".

    Meanwhile, the News Journal editorial board argues that "Florida should persevere on nuclear power plants".

    "Talk about selective principles"

    Scott Maxwell: "In recent months, Florida politicians have turned away millions of federal dollars meant for Floridians in need."

    There was money for the disabled.

    For the elderly who can't afford medicine.

    Even for dying children who need help from hospice.

    In each and every case, the money was there — paid in part by Florida taxpayers.

    But Florida Republicans turned it down, claiming they didn't want anything to do with "Obamacare."

    How very convenient for them and their subsidized health-care plans.

    When you're getting taxpayers to underwrite your $8-a-month insurance policy, the life-and-death woes of the commoners probably seem far removed.

    Turning down this money didn't save you a single cent.

    Other states were ready to take the money. Even other conservative leaders who opposed to the Affordable Care Act couldn't be so callous as to reject ready money for constituents in need.

    So Florida continues to send more money to Washington than it gets back … with the blessing of Gov. Rick Scott and House Speaker Dean Cannon.

    Except this story gets more interesting.

    Because it turns out, Florida didn't turn down all of the money authorized by the Affordable Care Act.

    While Florida Republicans turned down, gave back or refused to apply for more than $50 million in funds, they did accept $2 million …. to promote abstinence.

    Talk about selective principles.
    Much more: "Money for abstinence, but not dying kids?".

    Related: "Florida not out of the running for home visiting grants".

    "Not the acts of someone who values Florida's natural heritage"

    The Tampa Tribune editorial board: "Over the last 40 years, every governor, regardless of party or political views, has worked to safeguard Florida's natural riches."

    Scott, so far, has been the sad exception. Indeed, he appears determined to dismantle the admirable work of his predecessors.

    Deriding government safeguards as "job-killing regulations," he has all but declared war on natural Florida. He killed the state's growth management program, eliminated funding for the purchase of natural lands and approved legislation gutting water conservation efforts. He also has refused to rule out support for near-shore drilling.

    It would be one thing if Scott, who has only been a Florida resident eight years, had systematically sought to streamline requirements and jettison unnecessary regulations. But there has been no attempt at balance or any reflection on the abuse that initially made these regulations necessary.

    These are not the acts of someone who values the natural heritage that underpins the state's tourism industry and its appeal to residents and visitors alike.
    "Scott casts a line".

    Another "Jeb!" yawner

    "Jeb Bush tells 'Hannity': I don't anticipate 2012 run".

    When you lose Oppenheimer ...

    Andres Oppenheimer: "Despite the avalanche of bad news for President Barack Obama, he remains the most likely winner of the 2012 elections. That’s the conclusion I reached after watching the top Republican presidential hopefuls in recent weeks, as they started in earnest the race for their party’s nomination. They have taken such a hard line on issues that are dear to Latinos, that I don’t see how any of them can win the 40 percent of the Hispanic vote that pollsters say Republicans will need to win the White House."

    Several Republican Party leaders, including former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and former Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez, have recently launched a Hispanic Leadership Network to woo Latinos to the Republican Party. Last week, I asked Gutierrez how his party can improve its standing among Latinos with its current anti-immigration, anti-social programs rhetoric.

    Gutierrez, who supports former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, the Republican front-runner, and considers his candidate to be a “pragmatist,” conceded that Republicans will have a hard time winning with any candidate who Hispanics perceive as hostile to them.

    “The Republican nominee will have to be someone who is a moderate,” Gutierrez told me. “We have to embrace immigration: If we are the party of prosperity, we have to be the party of immigration.”

    My opinion: Republicans have a big problem with Hispanics. Granted, Obama is facing an economic slowdown that affects Hispanics more than most other Americans, and he has failed to meet his campaign promise to pass a comprehensive immigration reform that could benefit millions of Latinos.

    In addition, the Obama administration has deported nearly 1 million undocumented immigrants over the past three years — more than Bush in his eight years in office. But Republicans won’t be able to criticize Obama on any of these counts, because their presidential hopefuls are calling for deeper budget cuts without new taxes on the rich, and come across as supporting the massive deportation of all undocumented immigrants.

    Barring a shift to the center that would help Republicans win more Hispanic votes, or a worse-than-expected U.S. economic downturn that would drive Latino voters to stay at home on election day rather than voting for the president, Obama will be reelected in 2012.
    "Republicans’ big problem in 2012 — Hispanics".

    The best they can do?

    "Conservative Catholic blogger joins U.S. Senate race".

    Huckabee a Panhandler

    "In Ames, Iowa, for the GOP straw poll, Buzz caught up with a Floridian — Mike Huckabee. "Yep, I'm voting in Florida now," said the former Arkansas governor who last year moved to Miramar Beach in the Panhandle." "A new Floridian".

    FlaBagger frenzy

    "U.S. Rep. Allen West not only supported the debt ceiling deal, he actively tried to get others on board. Tea party and other supporters are incensed. Some are talking about recruiting a candidate to run against him in the Republican primary." "Rep. Allen West taking heat from backers for debt limit vote".

    Pure and simple ignorance

    "Before the Tiger Bay Club of Polk County Monday, Senate President Mike Haridopolos said 'every teacher should not have a guaranteed, lifetime job' and that comment has rattled the teachers' union president."

    Marianne Capoziello, president of the Polk Education Association who was not at Tiger's Bay monthly luncheon, said ...

    "It's the grand lie. Teachers have always been able to be fired. The principals just needed to do the paperwork to end somebody's career."

    In the collective bargaining agreement the teacher's union has with the Polk County School District, there are provisions for teacher dismissal.
    "Senate President: Teachers Don't Deserve Guaranteed, Lifetime Jobs".

    After soiling memory of defenders of Bastogne, West declares DEFCON 1

    "Declaring DEFCON 1, a return to maximum force, South Florida Congressman Allen West renewed his complaint on Tuesday about the "idle" congressional schedule during the August break." "Allen West urges Congress to return to duty".

    "Bowing to political influence of private prison operator"

    "The state of Florida will soon privatize 30 prisons to save money, but before that, taxpayers will be on the hook for a payout of up to $25 million. That's how much the Department of Corrections says it will cost to pay more than 4,000 displaced state corrections workers for their accumulated vacation time, sick leave and special compensatory time for working on holidays."

    Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, who chairs a budget panel overseeing prison spending and who has opposed the privatization from the start, said he plans to hold hearings this fall on the issue.

    Fasano accused top lawmakers of bowing to the political influence of a major private prison operator, the GEO Group, which is expected to bid on the regional privatization venture.

    "This is all about the almighty dollars for the GEOs of the world," he said. "It's all about political contributions that were made, and the taxpayers are going to pay the consequences."
    "Florida's private prison plan comes with unexpected $25 million cost to taxpayers".

    The Sun Sentinel editorial board: "In preparing a massive change to shave $22 million from its prison budget, the state is overlooking other reforms that could save plenty more money."

    The state Department of Corrections is readying to complete the largest prison privatization project in the country. On Jan. 1, if all goes according to schedule, 29 state prisons in 18 Florida counties, including South Florida's, will be operated by private companies.

    The operative word is scheduled. The process could be halted by a lawsuit filed by the Florida Police Benevolent Association on behalf of unionized prison guards.
    And, in what must be the understatement of the year, the editors concede that
    The Sun Sentinel Editorial Board hasn't been very supportive of state employee unions.
    Nevertheless, the editors continue:
    In this case, however, we wouldn't be disappointed if the lawsuit succeeds.
    "Sentencing reform could be a better route than prison privatization".

    Another federal handout

    What do the Teabaggers have to say about this? "Florida getting $97 million in federal funds for small business loans".

    Jobs agency now faces criminal probe

    "A U.S. Labor Department probe of Workforce Central Florida is focused on possible 'criminal conflict of interest' that may have tainted contracts awarded to companies owned by or tied to agency board members." "Jobs agency probe focuses on possible criminal conflict of interest".

    Fraud they say

    "Florida lawmakers have been frustrated trying to resolve insurance issues on many fronts in recent years. One of the most troublesome has been the growth of fraudulent claims for drivers who have personal injury protection insurance." "Cabinet, regulators want crackdown on PIP fraud". See also "Governor Scott: Legislature needs to tackle insurance fraud" and "Car crash fraud cases still rising, boosting insurance for all drivers, state says".

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