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 10, 2011

Scott puts Teabagger on the gub'ment payroll

    "Scott has hired a tea party activist as part of an eight-person team tasked with doing advance work for the governor's public events and acting as community liaisons. Robin Stublen, founder of the Punta Gorda Tea Party, started his $70,000-a-year job as 'deputy public liaison director' on Aug. 1."
    Democrats were quick to criticize Scott's latest hire, which comes amid a reshuffle in Scott's inner office and a new media strategy aimed at thawing relations with newspaper and editorial boards.

    "After slashing jobs for teachers, public employees, firefighters and policeman it's unconscionable the governor would offer his tea party cronies lavish government jobs. I guess the governor only believes in less government when it means cutting critical services for Floridians," said Florida Democratic Party spokeswoman Brannon Jordan.
    "Florida Gov. Scott hires tea party activist to public liaison team".

    "Scott said he didn't hire Stublen because he was a tea party activist. ... Stublen, of Punta Gorda, owns a pest control and lawn business and has long been active in Charlotte County politics. He is the founder and editor of the website Hot Tea News[*] and has run unsuccessfully for the Charlotte County Commission. ... Scott got several questions from reporters on Tuesday on the new hires, and his staff eventually pulled him away." "Rick Scott Defends Hire, Special Assistant Jobs". See also "Scottt hires former tea party leader to help reach out to public", "Scott picks campaign vets, activists as 'liaisons'" and "Scott hires Punta Gorda Tea Party activist as 'liaison'".

    - - - - - - - - - -
    *The website is a straightforward Rick Scott-Teabagger luv fest.

    "Lowering property taxes may cause trouble"

    "A public policy research group [The Collins Institute] has released a report stating that restricting property taxes may make it harder for Florida counties to deal with the ongoing recession. According to the latest report [.pdf] by the LeRoy Collins Institute, The Double Whammy Facing Florida’s Counties, recent property tax legislation coupled with the economic downturn particularly related to the housing crisis has counties making up for lost revenue by cutting spending."

    From 2008 to 2009, public safety spending was most affected and dropped 40 percent.
    "[T]he recession along with property tax cuts caused county revenues to fall an average of $60 to $1,226 per capita in 2008, and caused the range in county revenues to widen."
    In 1976, the range of revenues across counties was between $80 and $704. However in 2009, the range was $633 to $2,988, which shows that the ability to fully fund services for citizens deviates significantly among counties.

    According to [Carol Weissert, Florida State University political science professor and LCI director], recent property tax legislation is partly to blame for the lack of county revenue. In 2008, voters approved Amendment 1, which doubled the homestead exemption and put a cap on tax assessment. These measures greatly affected property taxes, which are the most relied upon for revenue in the state of Florida. In 2009, 55 percent of the average county’s revenue was dependent on property taxes.

    Wiessert believes legislation on the upcoming 2012 ballot may be even more detrimental toward counties in the future. Amendment 4, which extends a cap on assessments to non-homestead properties and gives a large tax break to first-time home buyers, will cause another drop in property tax revenue which will affect local counties and school districts.
    "Report says lowering property taxes may cause trouble for Florida counties". The report in .pdf: "The Double Whammy Facing Florida's Counties - Full Report".Bits and Pieces

    Kevin Derby's "Political Bits and Pieces".

    Charter madness

    "Charter-school requests booming in Central Florida".

    Routine parts of election law approved

    "Parts of Florida's new election law win U.S. Justice Department approval but a federal court will have to decide on four hotly contested provisions." "Justice Department approves routine parts of new election law".

    "The most controversial provisions of the new law are still unresolved but the U.S. Department of Justice on Tuesday gave the go-ahead to dozens of changes that the Republican-controlled Legislature made to the state’s election laws this year." "Department of Justice signs off on parts of new election law". See also "" and "".

    Stearns bars environmentalists from "public" hearings

    "Appearing at a congressional hearing conducted by U.S. Rep. Cliff Stearns, R-Ocala, a cavalcade of water experts disputed the EPA's tactics and questioned its motives."

    Before convening Tuesday's hearing at the University of Central Florida, Rep. Stearns, who chairs the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, said:

    “Although the EPA originally accepted the standards set by Florida, under outside pressure the EPA decided to impose its own standards. Numerous studies in Florida indicate that the Washington-imposed standards will have a devastating impact on Florida’s job creation, economy and certain agencies."

    Stearns, in turn, was criticized by environmentalists who were angered at being omitted from Tuesday's list of speakers.

    “If Stearns wants to hear from his constituents, he should make room to hear from business owners and residents who have endured the public health threat posed by toxic algae outbreaks and fish kills at dozens of cold-water springs, at Sanibel Island, Naples, Daytona, and other tourist beaches, and along the St. Lucie, Indian, St. Johns and Caloosahatchee rivers,” said Earthjustice attorney David Guest.

    A lawsuit by Earthjustice spawned the EPA's proposed numeric nutrient criteria.
    "Florida Officials: EPA is Putting State Through Water Torture".

    Industry lapdogs need only apply

    "Commissioners agreed Tuesday to individually interview applicants by Aug. 22 to replace Timothy Devlin, who was pushed out after 35 years with the agency. At an Aug. 23 meeting, commissioners will cast vote sheets to determine which two or three candidates they want brought back for more interviews." "PSC to interview 15 to replace ousted executive director".

    Following Kathy Castor's lead

    The Palm Beach Post editors: "We are pleased to report that bipartisanship did break out before Congress blew town, and this pleasant change from Washington's regular programming could benefit Florida. Seven Republican and two Democratic senators - including Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio of Florida - from the five gulf states that the BP oil spill fouled last year are sponsoring legislation that would dedicate 80 percent of the damage fines to restoring the coastal ecosystems and economies of Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas."

    The legislation, which is similar to what Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Tampa, has proposed in the House, would create the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council to administer and dole out the money, based on a formula.
    "Fix state's coast, not budget".

    Six in the Morning

    Travis Pillow's "Six in the Morning: A six-pack of infobits you might have missed".

    Mica's allows his union hating to cloud his vision

    Dana Milbank: "Mica overreached."

    Letting his anti-labor ideology take over, he tried to use the FAA bill to overturn a decision by the National Mediation Board to rescind an old rule that had made it unusually difficult for airline workers to organize. Delta Air Lines furiously lobbied Congress to intervene.

    Mica knew Senate Democrats would resist, so he tried to create a bargaining chit: He drafted plans to cut funds for small airports in the home states of Reid (Nevada) and Jay Rockefeller (West Virginia), chairman of the Senate transportation panel.

    The Floridian publicly admitted his ruse. "It's just a tool to try to motivate some action" on the labor rule, he told a group of airport executives last month, according to Aviation Daily. "I didn't plan it to be this national issue," he told me.

    Senate Democrats, seizing on Mica's admission that the bill was a "tool," refused to deal. They let the shutdown happen and railed against Mica after lawmakers left for recess.
    "John Mica's pilot error". See also "Rep. John Mica Defends His Shot at 'Air Rockefeller'".

    "Proposals to punish rogue operators quashed"

    The Miami Herald editors write that, "instead of looking out for the powerless residents, lawmakers have focused on relaxing the rules and shackling regulators, stripping enforcement authority from the state and leaving those inside to fend for themselves. Many proposals targeted the Residents Bill of Rights and strong regulations in place since the 1980s."

    Among the truly appalling changes promulgated in Tallahassee are laws undermining transparency — rolling back a requirement to report abuses and deaths to the Legislature — and blocking efforts to increase supervision and visits to homes with a bad record. State inspectors can no longer call doctors to remove residents who may have been abused. Proposals to punish rogue operators were quashed.

    In all, lawmakers have promoted some three dozen bills to weaken regulatory oversight since 2007, giving operators of the facilities what they want instead of the protection that residents need and have a right to expect. The pattern of mistreatment, abuse and dangerous practices discovered by Neglected to Death is linked to gaps in state enforcement made wider by changes in the law sought by assisted living facilities ["ALF"] operators.

    Sometimes lawmakers seemed so eager to comply with demands from the Florida Assisted Living Association that they introduced bills without fully understanding the content. One proposal pushed by FALA was handled by Hialeah Sen. Rene Garcia, who chairs the health committee. He told Herald reporters that he was unaware that a key provision weakened the state’s authority to revoke the licenses of repeat offender homes.

    Another bill co-sponsored by Rep. Daphne Campbell, a Miami-Dade Democrat, would have denied public access to the list of troubled ALFs. Fortunately, it was vetoed by Gov. Scott.
    "ALFs need more, not less, regulation". See also: "Task Force Tackles Assisted Living Facility Regulations".

    Related: "Lawmakers pushed to cut oversight of assisted living facilities" and "State lawmaker criticizes assisted-living facility owners". More: "As ALF task force meets today, some suggest it may get derailed".

    KidCare push

    "State Agencies Push KidCare Program Enrollment".

    Teabagger leads Florida GOP U.S. Senate field

    "Rick Scott proved an outsider who spends more than $70 million of his own money can get elected in Florida. Mike McCalister is testing whether an outsider without Scott's personal fortune can win."

    "I'm not a politician and if that's what you're looking for, I'm not your guy," McCalister told a tea party audience of about 100 west of Boca Raton on Monday night.

    On Tuesday, he introduced himself to a different tea party crowd of about 80 as a "God-fearing, America-loving, flag-waving, gun-owning businessman who's running for U.S. Senate."

    McCalister's campaign raised a meager $12,171 through June 30. But he emerged last week as the surprise leader among 2012 Republican Senate candidates in a Quinnipiac University poll.
    "Surprise leader in Florida GOP race for U.S. Senate speaks to Palm Beach County tea partiers".

    Redistricting update

    "Redistricting hearings heading to Southeast Florida".

    Recommended reading

    "Recommended reading for Wednesday, August 10".

    'Glades restoration

    "U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and leaders from Florida government, agriculture and conservation will visit the 548-acre Winding Waters Wetland Preserve in suburban West Palm Beach Thursday to announce several major Everglades restoration projects, the USDA said today." "U.S. agriculture secretary, state officials to tour Winding Waters, announce Everglades restoration".

    Republican contest to take on Nelson in 2012 heating up

    "Though the primary is more than a year away, the Republican contest to take on U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson in 2012 shows signs of heating up. On Monday one candidate scored a major endorsement, another went on the attack."

    Former U.S. Sen. George LeMieux, who is running in the Republican primary, unveiled the support of Gov. Haley Barbour of Mississippi. ...

    LeMieux found himself under fire on Monday from one of his Republican rivals, former state House Majority Leader Adam Hasner.

    Hasner and his team took aim at LeMieux for backing the Task Force For Responsible Fiscal Action which, they argue, is much like the joint committee that was set up after the recent debt-ceiling deal to make recommendations on how to cut spending.
    "With Endorsements and Attacks, Republican Senate Primary Intensifies".

    "Unfair and anachronistic policy enacted solely to keep African Americans from exercising their right to vote"

    The Miami Herald editorial board: "If Gov. Rick Scott and the Cabinet went strictly by the numbers, then they would make it easier for ex-felons to regain their civil rights — particularly to vote — after serving their time in prison. But instead, they made it harder."

    If the governor and Cabinet were compelled by a sense of fairness, they would be satisfied that each ex-felon already paid a debt to society. Instead, these elected officials continue to punish people long after they have left prison behind.

    And if they really were concerned with the safety of Floridians at large, then they would ensure that ex-felons have a chance to rejoin civil society more intent on living law-abiding lives. Instead, their decisions put everyone at risk of being victimized by an ex-felon who sees no other way out than to reoffend.

    Floridians should be troubled that the Republican governor and Cabinet seem motivated by something else: politics, rooted in the concern that many ex-felons in this state make up a demographic that is more likely to vote for “the other party.”

    Shame on them. They have willfully rolled back the progress made by former Gov. Charlie Crist, a Republican, too, at the time, who recognized an unfair and anachronistic policy when he saw it — one enacted in the 19th century solely to keep African Americans from exercising their hard-won right to vote.

    Worse, the officials’ uncalled-for action goes hand-in-hand with legislative initiatives governing early-voting and provisional ballots that are guaranteed to further suppress minorities’ access to the polls.
    "Restore ex-felons’ right sooner".

    The Saint Petersburg Times editors: "A new Florida Parole Commission study suggests that felons who quickly have their civil rights restored are more likely to become contributing members of society and are far less likely to reoffend. That flies in the face of antiquated assumptions that prompted Gov. Rick Scott, Attorney General Pam Bondi and the rest of the Florida Cabinet in March to return Florida to an outdated scheme for restoring civil rights. Armed with new evidence, the state officials should reconsider their actions, which have left tens of thousands of former prison inmates in a limbo of second-class citizenship." "Don't delay rights restortation".

    FDLE investigtating Miami Mayor

    "Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado is under investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement for contributions made to his 2009 campaign." "FDLE opens probe into Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado’s campaign finances".

    "Nuclear power bills sure are piling up"

    "For an energy source once touted as too cheap to meter, nuclear power bills sure are piling up. U.S. taxpayers are on the hook for a growing, multibillion-dollar tab to dispose of tons of radioactive waste and Florida's two biggest utilities are seeking another round of rate increases to help pay for new reactors." "Nuclear Power Boosts Bills and Piles On Radioactive Waste".

    "Praying for political payoff"

    Another irresistible Daniel Ruth column: "Blessed are the theological political prevaricators, for they shall inherit one heck of a mass mailing list of campaign contributors." "Fervently praying for political payoff".

    PBC's portfolio loses AAA rating

    "Palm Beach County's $1.8 billion investment portfolio lost its top AAA rating on Monday as a result of the first downgrade of the U.S. government's debt, the county clerk and comptroller said. Standard and Poor's downgraded the county's portfolio to an AA rating, since its largest portion of money is invested in government securities. The announcement came just days after S&P lowered the U.S. credit score from a AAA to AA+ rating." "Clerk says Palm Beach County won't suffer from portfolio downgrade to AA".

    Miami police to start a recall effort against Mayor

    "As Miami commissioners met behind closed doors to iron out final details on sought-after union concessions, city police voted overwhelmingly to start a recall effort against the mayor." "Miami closer to forcing cuts in union contracts to balance 2012 budget".

    Rubio overlooks Florida pork

    Mike Thomas: "Senators Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio want to move a nuclear aircraft carrier from Norfolk, Va., to Jacksonville. This would cost as much as $500 billion in upfront money, followed by the ongoing cost of duplicating services at the two ports."

    The rationale is that all the East Coast carriers are bunched up at Norfolk, making them more vulnerable to natural disasters and sneak attack.

    Actually, the real threat to these uber-expensive and vulnerable weapons systems is from future budget cutters. So the Navy is sending one of them to Florida, along with a flotilla of federal bucks, to create a massive jobs program and spread out political support for the fleet.

    We now move on to some Tampa pork. This air base should have been shut down years ago. It is poorly situated in a dense urban area, next to major civilian airports. But local congressional support and heavy lobbying have kept it open.
    Much more "Florida pork" here: "Killing Florida pork could seriously help federal budget".

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