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, September 18, 2011

Perry looks to win Florida's GOP poll

    "Florida's most experienced political professionals are closely divided on whether Rick Perry or Mitt Romney will win Florida's Republican presidential primary, but overwhelmingly they see Romney as the stronger candidate to beat President Barack Obama in Florida."
    More than 100 of Florida's sharpest political minds — including campaign consultants, lobbyists, politicians — participated in the latest St. Petersburg Times Florida Insider Poll, and the results were striking: Two-thirds of Democrats and two-thirds of Republicans pegged Romney as the stronger general election candidate, though Democrats were considerably more confident than Republicans that Perry would win Florida's crucial presidential primary early next year.

    Half of the Republicans predicted Romney would win the primary, and 41 percent predicted Perry. Among Democrats, 56 percent expect Perry to win the primary, and 37 percent said Romney.
    "Rick Perry front-runner heading into Florida straw poll".

    "A judicial spanking"

    Scott Maxwell: "It's been said before that the Florida House is more like "Animal House": a bunch of immature party boys playing games with your rights and money. Last week, a 22-page court ruling helped confirm that comparison — specifically, that freshman state Rep. Jason Brodeur, R-Sanford, has been trying to do to the U.S. Constitution what John Belushi did all over the frat house's front yard."

    She essentially told Brodeur, legislators and Gov. Rick Scott that they didn't do their homework, didn't understand the issues and were trying to violate the U.S. Constitution.

    Basically, she gave these boys a judicial spanking that would've splintered Delta Tau Chi's wooden paddle.
    "Tallahassee is now Animal House, with party boys trampling your rights".

    Sink stayin' in the mix

    "Former Democratic Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink barely lost the gubernatorial race to Rick Scott last year, but said in a Political Connections interview airing today on Bay News 9 that there's little about her campaign she second-guesses."

    "I keep going back to two things: One is a guy who put up $75 million of his own money and outspent us probably two- or three-to-one. And the second very important thing, as you've reported on, is just the environment of the nation — a very anti-incumbent, anti-Washington, anti-the president (mood)," Sink said in the interview airing today at 11 a.m. and 8 p.m.

    She has launched a new public policy foundation, FloridaNext.org, to focus on boosting small businesses in Florida. What would have been her first steps to get Florida back to work as governor?
    "Sink means business".

    "Time for the state's GOP to thumb its nose at RNC"

    Aaron Deslatte: "Florida wants to play a lead role in the Republican presidential beauty pageant with the P5 straw poll, a nationally televised candidate debate and a gathering of conservative celebrities in Orlando this week. And if party leaders have their way, the mega-state won't be giving up the microphone."

    Clearly, it's the perfect time for the state's GOP leadership to thumb its nose at the Republican National Committee and set an early date for its 2012 primary.

    Gov. Rick Scott, Senate President Mike Haridopolos and House Speaker Dean Cannon have agreed to a mid-February date -- moving Florida into the fifth spot after Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina and ahead of Arizona, which broke with the national party's calendar and set its primary for Feb. 28.
    "Early presidential primary date is a done deal".

    Logical fallacy of faulty generalization

    In the never ending channeling of League of City and Chamber of Commerce talking points by Florida's newspaper companies, we are yet again presented with an example of the logical fallacy of faulty generalization, this time by alleged journalists working for the Miami Herald company: "Municipal pensions a bonanza for employees, a burden for cities".

    Say what?

    Adam C. Smith writes that Al Cardenas, the chairman of the American Conservative Union and former Florida GOP chairman has put together a political blockbuster for Friday in Orlando."

    Smith continues: Cardenas is

    making the Florida GOP look good, holding the conference during the party's three-day Presidency 5 gathering. CPAC-FL will feature every major presidential candidate as well as conservative stars ranging from Marco Rubio to Ann Coulter and the National Rifle Association's Wayne LaPierre.
    Say what? Marco Rubio, Ann Coulter and the National Rifle Association's Wayne LaPierre "mak[e] the Florida GOP look good"? We wonder, then, what could possibly make the Florida Republican Party look bad?

    GOPers holding up Florida's FEMA money

    "While billions of dollars of losses mount from an extraordinary year of natural disasters, the federal relief fund designed to help stricken communities has dwindled to $307 million as of Friday. Reimbursements to help Florida and other states recover from past disasters — and prepare for future hurricanes, floods and tornadoes — have been put on hold while Congress grapples with how to replenish the aid fund overseen by the Federal Emergency Management Agency."

    The Democratic-controlled Senate last week overcame Republican filibusters and passed a bill to add nearly $7 billion to the disaster-relief fund. But the Republican-run House plans to push through a bill this week that would provide about half that amount — $3.7 billion — and require that at least part of it be carved from elsewhere in the budget to avoid adding to the national debt.

    The immediate result is an interruption in the flow of aid to reimburse recovery costs from past disasters.

    Florida officials will have to wait for federal reimbursements to pay for some of the cleanup work after a batch of hurricanes that swept through the state in 2004 and 2005.

    That includes $1.68 million — already delayed — for work in the wake of hurricanes Charley, Frances, Ivan, Jeanne, Dennis and Katrina in 2004-05. An additional $11.28 million for restoration work is in the pipeline and could be delayed.

    Reimbursements of $4.25 million could also be delayed for disasters since 2005: Hurricane Gustav, severe storms, flooding and tornadoes.
    "Congress squabbles as FEMA disaster fund dwindles".

    Florida "economy remains anemic"

    Travis Pillow points out that "economic forecasts released by the Office of Economic and Demographic Research predict unemployment will stay above 10 percent into 2013."

    The leisure and hospitality sector remained one of the largest sources of job gains. Propelled by a recovery in tourism and steady hiring at food and drinking establishments, the sector added 46,400 jobs between August 2010 and August 2011. Florida's economy as a whole added 46,100 jobs during the same period, according to Friday's jobs report.
    "Leisure and hospitality drive job gains as state unemployment remains flat".

    The Saint Petersburg Times editorial board: "Tampa Bay residents don't need another academic study to know the local economy remains anemic. But an analysis by the Brookings Institution has put it into perspective: The area's turnaround since the recession bottomed out in early 2010 is the third-weakest among 100 major metropolitan areas. Only the residents of Fort Myers and Sacramento, Calif., have it worse." "Pull out of slump — together".

    Sorry Myriam, Dems "enjoy a massive edge" with Hispanic voters

    Myriam Marquez is beside herself about how ... "5,000 Latinos will descend on Miami and Miami Beach for the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce’s 32nd annual convention."

    She's particularly enthusiastic that

    the co-chair of the event will be Florida’s former U.S. Sen. Mel Martinez, now chairman of financial services giant JPMorgan Chase, overseeing Florida, Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean [and that the] opening ceremony at the Freedom Tower, where so many Cuban refugees were first welcomed to their new home, will be highlighted by U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio’s remarks on international trade.
    "U.S. Hispanic chamber means business".

    Sorry Myriam, few Hispanics (aside from the ever-shrinking number of Batista era dead enders, as well as the usual business types (represented by the Chamber hacks who will be attending the conference)) share your excitement about the right-wing sentiments of extremists like Rubio and Martinez. See e.g., "Republicans trying AGAIN to court Latinos". Here are the numbers:
    America's Hispanic population is growing swiftly, and Hispanics' electoral significance is growing along with it. Hispanics make up 16 percent of the U.S. population, according to the 2010 Census. Between 2006 and 2010, the number of eligible Hispanic voters grew by 23 percent, the Pew Hispanic Center reports, increasing from 17.3 million to 21.3 million nationwide.

    Most of those votes went to Democrats, who enjoy a massive edge: Another Pew study, published a month before Election Day 2010, showed that 65 percent of registered Latino voters preferred Democrats, while 22 percent preferred Republicans.
    "Perry and the Hispanic Vote: Why He Might Be the GOP's Best Shot in 2012".

    "If last week's debate in Tampa is any guide"

    "Texas Gov. Rick Perry so far has successfully positioned himself as the conservative alternative to establishmentarian Mitt Romney in the Republican presidential race. But if last week's debate in Tampa is any guide, front-runner Perry can expect flak from the right on illegal immigration, a Texas vaccination policy and perhaps Afghanistan when he and the rest of the GOP field return to Florida this week." "Rick Perry can expect flak from left and right as GOP hopefuls return to Florida".

    "Americans scrimp, Congress travels"

    And so it goes: "South Florida U.S. Reps. Allen West and Frederica Wilson were among 81 members of the House of Representatives who traveled to Israel in August, flying business class and staying in luxury hotels for a week of meetings and sightseeing paid for by the charitable arm of a pro-Israel lobby. In June, Wilson spent two days at a beachfront resort in the Bahamas, courtesy of the Bethune-Cookman University alumni association." "Americans scrimp while Congress travels, gives staff bonuses".

    "Designed to score political points"

    Michael Mayo "hope[s] a federal judge soon pulls the plug on Florida's drug-testing program for some welfare applicants, which began July 1. After trying to sort out contradictory numbers and conclusions about whether the effort is worth it, one thing seems clear to me: The program is better designed to score political points than to prevent the squandering of taxpayer money on drugs." "Florida's welfare drug-testing is mean – and so far, meaningless".

    "Florida has largely abandoned growth management battlefield"

    Goodness gracious, even the Tampa Tribune editorial board recognizes that "it is unfortunate the state now has largely abandoned the growth management battlefield." "A better state? It's up to you".

    "Vengeance putting on airs of justice"

    Leonard Pitts Jr. writes that "It was a chilling moment, but also a clarifying one in that it validated the grimmest suspicions about at least some of those who support capital punishment. That support, after all, is often framed in terms of high morality, the argument being that only in taking an offender’s life can a society truly express its revulsion over certain heinous crimes."

    But when the audience at a recent GOP presidential debate cheered the observation that Texas Gov. Rick Perry has overseen a record 234 executions, that fig leaf was swept away. You knew this was not about some profound question for philosophers and august men. No, this was downturned thumbs in a Roman arena, vengeance putting on airs of justice, the need to see someone die.

    People dress that need up in rags of righteousness and ethicality, but occasionally, the disguise slips and it shows itself for what it is: the atavistic impulse of those for whom justice is synonymous with blood. If people really meant the arguments of high morality, you’d expect them to regard the death penalty with reverent sobriety. You would not expect them to cheer.
    "The Roman arena of the death penalty".

    Another run by Young "all but confirmed"

    "In comments to a gathering of local Republicans Saturday, U.S. Rep. C.W. Bill Young and his political allies all but confirmed, without saying so directly, that Young will run for re-election next year. ... Young, 80, himself remained cagey, as he typically is about his re-election intentions until the beginning of the election year." "Bill Young, allies, imply he'll run for re-election".

    As cops and firemen risk their lives, their pensions are gutted ...

    ... and the politicians who are fomenting attacks on firemen and cop benefits - with the excited compliance of their allies in the media - are cashing in.

    "In Hialeah, where taxpayer pension obligations have multiplied seven-fold during the past decade, the two men who oversaw the city’s finances have racked up six-figure pensions — through a system they created."

    In 1998, the Hialeah City Council voted to establish a new pension fund solely for elected officials. Councilman Julio Robaina voted in favor. Mayor Raul Martinez signed off on the new law.

    Martinez retired in 2005 with a $188,000 pension. Robaina, who became mayor after Martinez left office, stepped down this year after accruing a $110,000 pension that becomes available when he turns 55 in 2020.

    Martinez is running to get his old job back. If he wins, he’ll get a $190,000 compensation package in addition to his pension. ...

    [Miami Beach] Mayor Matti Herrera Bower, who approved of the 2006 pension change, also jumped into the retirement plan at that time and took advantage of a perk that allows employees to buy extra service years if they previously worked for the military, another government entity, or "in the private sector performing the same or very similar duties" to their current job.
    When top officials help selves cash in ("a retired official with the National Conference of Public Employee Systems, questioned Bower’s two-year service add-on, saying "that would be like a firefighter trying to buy two years’ experience because they worked as a Wal-Mart greeter for two years.")

    In that connection, "Miami Beach voters won’t decide whether Mayor Matti Herrera Bower should stay for a third term until November’s elections. ... wannabe mayor Steve Berke ... stopped by City Hall to demand that Bower resign because she successfully applied in 2007 to increase her municipal pension based on years she worked as a dental assistant. He then introduced [prankster saxophonist Sergio] Flores, who serenaded commissioners with George Michael’s Careless Whisper before gracefully leaving." "Miami Beach mayor serenaded with George Michael song".

    Meanwhile, it was just another day at the office for Florida's finest: "A Marion County Fire Rescue firefighter was injured Saturday afternoon while fighting a house fire ... While battling the blaze, a portion of the ceiling and roof fell on the neck and back of the firefighter, agency spokesman Nick Fortuna said." "Firefighter injured battling house blaze". See also "Miami apartment fire, blast in Wynwood neighborhood injures six".

    Related: "America is in the midst of a retirement crisis. Over the last decade, we've witnessed the wholesale gutting of pension and retiree healthcare in this country. Hundreds of companies have slashed and burned their way through their employees' benefits, leaving former workers either on Social Security or destitute -- and taxpayers with a huge burden that, as the baby boomer generation edges towards retirement, is likely to grow. It's a problem that is already affecting over a million people -- and the most shocking part is, none of this needed to happen." "The theft of the American pension".

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