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, August 21, 2011

Republican U.S. Senate debaters grub for teabags

    "The candidates at Saturday’s U.S. Senate debate in Orlando spent most of the time agreeing with each other. The four Republicans are all opposed to abortion (with some nuances), and they all believe taxes should be lower, the federal government should be smaller, the United Nations undermines America’s sovereignty and states’ rights should be paramount."
    former Florida House Majority Leader Adam Hasner. “These federal regulatory agencies are out of control,” he thundered. “They are stifling economic growth here in our country.”

    He pointed to the National Labor Relations Board. “What they’re doing to Boeing in South Carolina is not only anti-competitive, it’s anti-American,” he said. (Background on that issue can be found here and here.) The EPA, meanwhile, is trying “to pass cap and trade around the back door,” and “singling out the state of Florida” with water quality standards.

    “These agencies are out of control, and Republicans in Washington need to be more agressive, because it doesn’t just happen under Democrat administrations. It happens under Republican administrations,” he added. Hasner seemed to have glossed over the part about “specific legislation.”

    “I’d repeal ObamaCare. That’s the first thing we should do,” offered former U.S. Sen. George LeMieux, to thunderous applause.

    LeMieux noted that he opposed the federal health care reform law, and that it wasn’t long after its passage that “the American people woke up” and started electing more Republicans.

    He said he’s also like to get rid of the Dodd-Frank financial reform package, which he also opposed during his short stint on Capitol Hill. He also noted that he fought the EPA’s water quality standards by helping to delay their implementation and passed legislation to curb Medicare fraud.
    "Senate debate: How would candidates rein in federal regulations?".

    "At the request of the organizers, the Florida Family Policy Council and the Central Florida Tea Party, the debate provided no fireworks between candidates — not even between LeMieux and Hasner, who've been vigorously attacking each others' conservative credentials in recent weeks."
    During the first half of the forum, which focused on social issues, all four spoke out strongly against abortion, gay marriage, civil unions, embryonic stem cell research, hate-crime laws, workplace laws protecting gays from discrimination, and judges who cite international laws.

    During the second portion, dealing with fiscal and regulatory matters, differences arose on such issues as the extent they would push for states' rights, abolition and replacement of income tax and how to cut federal regulations. ...

    All four agreed on issues ranging from strong suspicion of the United Nations as a threat to American sovereignty — Hasner called it "a corrupt organization" — to opposition to the federal debt limit ceiling deal approved earlier this month.

    Miller, 61, a Winter Park resident who is a retired president of the Ruth's Chris Steakhouse company, said he would advocate an immediate 25-percent, across-the-board cut in funding to all regulatory agencies. ...

    The candidates were asked if they would be willing to abolish the federal income tax, and then, instead of replacing it with a flat tax, have the U.S. government simply bill states for all federal services. ...

    Hasner, 41, of Boca Raton, and LeMieux, 42, of Lighthouse Point, argued for targeted cuts, notably at the National Labor Relations Board and the Environmental Protection Agency. ...

    McCalister and Hasner endorsed abolishing the IRS and replacing it with some sort of consumption tax, possibly a national sales tax.

    LeMieux called for a flatter, fairer income tax developed by closing loopholes and exceptions, and by leveling tax rates.
    "Orlando U.S. Senate debate shows GOP candidates agree".

    Scott's "moderate, not tea-party, rhetoric ... Don't believe a word of it"

    Stephen Goldstein warns that "Florida's uber-unpopular tea-party governor, Rick Scott, wants to be loved, after all. He knows the political winds are shifting."

    So, he's trying to look like a moderate, even "making nice" at newspaper editorial boards — for the first time.

    Elected by the slimmest majority, he nonetheless pursued a draconian, extremist agenda favoring corporate profits and shafting average Floridians. If voters could have recalled him, he would have been dumped faster than you could say Medicare fraud. Expect moderate, not tea-party, rhetoric, from Scott — unless he runs for re-election. But the leopard doesn't change its spots. Don't believe a word of it.
    "Winds of change: Moderation swirls across America".

    "Crazy? Or just crazy enough to work!?"

    Adam C. Smith: "If you like politics and you like conspiracy theories, you'll enjoy this: speculation that the George LeMieux and Mike McCalister campaigns are working hand in hand to take down former state House Majority Leader Adam Hasner. Crazy? Or just crazy enough to work!?" Smith gives "the facts" here: "Evidence builds of coordinated effort against Florida Speaker Adam Hasner".

    Florida Chamber blames Dems for July's job losses

    "Remember that net of 85,000 new jobs Florida has amassed over the first six months of this year? Looks like somebody threw that economic rebound into reverse."

    Florida's unemployment rate inched back up to 10.7 percent in July, the state Agency for Workforce Innovation announced on Friday. Technically, the agency had revised its June figure from 10.6 percent to 10.7 percent -- so the labor force was flat-lined for July rather than losing ground.

    But now state economists say Florida employers have added just 64,300 jobs for the year, instead of the rosier 85,500 figure previously announced. And the figures have immediate political ramifications. The 22,000 fewer jobs in July translates into fewer jobs that Gov. Rick Scott has available to count toward his 700,000 campaign promise.
    In the meantime, the Rickster and his Chamber cronies are spining on their heads:
    While Scott has been more than eager to claim credit for Florida's job gains this year, the Florida Chamber of Commerce released a statement Friday blaming Washington Democats for July's job losses. So which is it? Who's to blame?
    "July was a bad one for Florida jobs. Who's to blame?" See also "New numbers show darker employment picture".

    "Slowly, sloppily"

    Michael Mayo: "FEMA seeks repayment from some Wilma victims – slowly, sloppily".

    That was fast

    "Less than two months since becoming Miami-Dade County mayor, Carlos Gimenez is already fundraising for his next election." "Gimenez begins fundraising for re-election".

    "It looks like legislators are stalling"

    The Sun Sentinel editors: "Talk about having a mandate. Last November, voters approved two state constitutional amendments requiring Florida lawmakers to redraw legislative and congressional districts in a balanced and competitive manner. Amendment 5, which focused on legislative lines, got 62 percent of the vote. Amendment 6, which focused on congressional districts, also got 62 percent of the vote."

    By contrast, no statewide elected Florida official polled more than 60 percent. Logic dictates that if our elected leaders can claim a mandate to govern based on last year's vote, then voters can also claim a clear and compelling mandate demanding them to uphold and enforce the constitutional amendments.

    If that wasn't clear enough following last fall's vote counting, hundreds of people attended public hearings in South Florida this past Tuesday to demand that state officials uphold the spirit and intent of the amendments. It's not a lot to ask, given that these amendments were approved by voters, overwhelmingly, nine months ago. Plus, redistricting and reapportionment follow every decennial census, the last one being done in 2010.

    So it's not like the redistricting process is new. Nor that passage of the amendments surprised anyone.

    State Sen. Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, and state Rep. Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, insist the Senate and House are going about redrawing lines in an earnest fashion.

    Not everyone is convinced, and understandably so.

    Simply put, the two lawmakers erred by not showing up to the public hearings with drafts of maps or visual aids in hand to show where new lines might be drawn. Citizens also have a right to complain that redrawing districts may not be complete until just days before candidates are supposed to decide on which posts to seek in 2012.

    Neither does the fact that the House, which Rep. Weatherford is supposed to lead as speaker if the GOP holds on to its majority in 2012, supports a lawsuit challenging one of the Fair Districts amendments approved last year.

    Ever since the amendments were approved, there's been significant skepticism that lawmakers — who are sworn to uphold the Florida Constitution — would be serious about implementing them. This week's hearings in South Florida failed to dispel those suspicions.
    "Lawmakers' hearings on redrawing district lines raise more doubts than hopes".

    The Miami Herald editorial board: "It’s hard to take the process seriously when the very people who get to decide are the ones with a vested interest in the outcome — the ones who sued to stop voters’ will. It is difficult to have faith in the process when the Florida House has spent nearly $1 million to fight the amendments they now promise to abide by."

    "It looks more like Florida legislators are deliberately stalling, which the committee’s own attorney said will create chaos in the 2012 elections. The Florida League of Women Voters, the NAACP, Democracia USA and Common Cause have asked the committee to pick up its pace, and legislators should listen. Our democratic system is at stake." "Speed up redistricting". The Sarasota Herald-Tribune editorial board: "Speak up for fair voting districts".

    "Jobs governor says he gets it"

    The Saint Petersburg Times editorial board: "The self-described jobs governor says he gets it:"

    Florida's antiquated sales tax policy leaves the state's retailers at a competitive disadvantage and costs local jobs in favor of Internet businesses based elsewhere. Now Gov. Rick Scott's obligation — as the state's unemployment continues to hover in the double digits — is to do more than commiserate. Scott should join with other independent-minded Republicans in the Legislature and the business community to level the playing field for Florida businesses.
    "Bring sales tax policy into 21st century".

    And we should attack cops for working OT?

    "Understaffed Miami Police Dept. spending big on overtime".

    Never mind the numbers

    "Scott says that the state is doing the right things to create jobs despite an employment report showing 22,100 jobs were lost in July, the first monthly job loss since he took office in January." "Rick Scott: State doing right things to create jobs".

    "Rhetoric — not sound policy analysis — dictates the state's direction"

    With respect to prison privatization, the Saint Petersburg Times editors observe that "the Republican leadership in Tallahassee has chosen to hand off a major function of public safety to a politically active, for-profit enterprise without fully vetting the details in public. The same recklessness isn't limited to lawmakers.

    Public policy isn't easily conveyed in a campaign sound bite. But too often in modern Tallahassee, it's such rhetoric — not sound policy analysis — that dictates the state's direction. Taxpayers deserve better, and the $25 million they may end up giving to laid-off corrections workers for a new private prison system that may not save money is just one more piece of evidence.
    "The high price of rash policymaking".

    Stoopid is ...

    ... as stoopid does: "The state's new teacher merit pay law kicks in this school year and the idea behind it sounds simple: the better students perform, the more teachers can earn."

    But in areas such as art, music and physical education, it's raising more questions than answers. The law mandates up to half of a teacher's raise be based on how well students do on standardized tests, but there is no state criteria to evaluate specialty teachers. Districts will have to come up with that this year.

    Another complicating factor, says Boynton Beach High School Principal Karen Whetsell, is that a student's FCAT success can't be attributed to just one teacher. "The art teacher, the drama teacher, the music teacher give kids some purpose to come to school…We all work together. How do you evaluate one over the other?"
    "Merit pay law raises questions for Florida's specialty teachers".

    "Government does create jobs"

    Thomas Tryon: "Government doesn't create jobs."

    Government doesn't create jobs. Government doesn't create jobs.

    Say it again, y'all. Government. Doesn't. Create. Jobs.

    Say it so many times, with certainty, that people won't even challenge the assertion.

    Such was the case during a [Sarasota] Tiger Bay forum on the local economy. The "government does not create jobs" mantra was repeated over and over, yet no one in the audience of 300 — including local government leaders — stood up and said: Huh?

    Say it so many times that people — including Democrats, Republicans and independents — accept the statement at face value. ...

    Government does create jobs — both directly and indirectly.

    Want evidence?
    "Yes, government does create jobs".

    "Brainlessly bashing whatever government does"

    Carl Hiaasen reminds us that Ricky Scott's hero, Texas Governor and wannabe preznit Rick "Perry refuses to accept that global warming is real. He launched a lawsuit to stop the EPA from enacting rules to limit greenhouse gasses from oil refineries, power plants and other industrial sources."

    Perry likes to whine that “EPA regulations are killing jobs all across America,” a statement that draws more cheers in his native state than in the rest of the country. In fact, polls show that a large majority of Americans are worried about air and water pollution, and hold a positive view of the EPA. ...

    To win Republican primaries — the theory goes — a candidate must fire up the Wingnut Right. The easiest way to do that is to brainlessly bash whatever government does.

    Perry specializes in this, even though almost half of Texas’ vaunted employment growth has been in the public sector — government jobs, in other words. You won’t hear the governor complain about the $200 billion that U.S. taxpayers pump into his state’s economy annually for military bases and related industries.
    "GOP attacks on EPA ignore the probem".

    Another fine Jebacy

    Scott Maxwell: "http://www.orlandosentinel.com/business/os-scott-maxwell-workforce-central-fl20110820,0,7214811.column": "Time for jobs agency to remember job".

    Has McCalister padded his resume?

    "For a U.S. Senate candidate campaigning against truth-stretching politicians, Republican Mike McCalister is facing questions about whether he padded his resume and misrepresented his military service." "Vets raise questions about Senate candidate Mike McCalister's military record".

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