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 04, 2011

Public school children are collateral damage

    "Jeb!" lapdog Mike Thomas worries that "the rise of Rick Perry poses an interesting dilemma for Jeb Bush."

    Although that may be true, Thomas loses anyone with a middle school diploma reading his column with this remark:
    On education, Bush is wonkish, bipartisan and driven by testing data.
    "Jeb may flunk Rick Perry for ripping his education reforms".

    To be sure, one of Obama's failures is Arne Duncan's regular insertion of his nose into Jebbie's ample derriere, but Thomas' assertion that anything about "Jeb!" is "bipartisan", particularly his failed* education "policy", is absurd. Jebbie, Rick Scott, Michelle Rhee, the Waiting for Superman crowd, and the rest of them are all about taking down public school education - not because they want to rebuild it - but rather because they see it as a bastion of public sector unionism and, in turn, a significant pillar of the Democratic Party.

    To these people, public school children are collateral damage.

    - - - - - - - - - -
    *The National Education Policy Center's recently reviewed Jebbie's self-serving claims of "reform", here's a summary:
    Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and the Foundation for Excellence in Education have embarked on a well-funded campaign to spread selected Florida education reforms to other states. These reforms include assigning letter grades to schools, high-stakes testing, promotion and graduation requirements, bonus pay, a wide variety of alternative teacher credentialing policies, and various types of school choice mechanisms. This policy potpourri was recently presented by Gov. Bush in Michigan, and the documents used allow for a concrete consideration and review.

    Regrettably, Bush’s Michigan speech relies on a selective misrepresentation of test score data. Further, he offers no evidence that the purported test score gains were caused by the recommended reforms. Other viable explanations, such as a major investment in class-size reduction and a statewide reading program, receive no or little attention.

    Moreover, the presentation ignores less favorable findings, while evidence showing limited or negative effects of the proposed strategies is omitted. Considering the overwhelming evidence that retention is ineffective (if not harmful), it is troubling to see Mr. Bush endorse such an approach. Finally, Florida’s real problems of inequitable and inadequate education remain unaddressed.
    "Review of Florida Formula for Student Achievement: Lessons for the Nation".

    Obama's Florida smile

    When all the chatter is about the crucial Hispanic vote in 2012, it no doubt makes Obama smile to read that, "with Rick Perry proving to be a serious threat to Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign, the former Massachusetts governor swung through Tampa on Friday to exploit what some Republicans see as Perry’s Achilles’ heel: immigration."

    “We must stop providing the incentives that promote illegal immigration,’’ Romney told more than 100 people attending a Republican Hispanic conference. “As governor, I vetoed legislation that would have provided in-state tuition rates to illegal immigrants and I strengthened the authority our state troopers had to enforce existing immigration laws.”

    Romney, 64, never mentioned by name the Texas governor, who leads Romney in most national polls as well as in early primary and caucus states. But immigration is a new issue of focus for Romney this election cycle, and his campaign knows Perry, 61, is already facing criticism from conservatives for not taking a hard-enough line.

    For instance, in 2001 Perry signed a version of the DREAM Act that made Texas the first state to allow in-state tuition to undocumented immigrants — much like the bill Romney boasted of killing in Massachusetts.

    Last year, Perry said he had no interest in passing a tough Arizona-style immigration law for his border state. He also has questioned the effectiveness of building a massive border fence, something Romney said Friday should be a priority.

    Illegal immigration remains a hot-button issue among Republican activists, but leaders in Texas — where 38 percent of the population is Hispanic — have tended to take a more moderate approach to the issue.
    "Romney takes tough line on immigration".

    Watch GOPer Hispanic support - sans a few remaining old line Cubans who blame Dems for Playa Girón - head into the cellar as the Republican nomination process drags on.

    Jennifer who?

    "Jennifer Carroll: Rick Scott Still Favors Tolled Jax Beltway".

    "Like the back of the hand"

    The Saint Petersburg Times editorial board writes: "When candidate Rick Scott parked his campaign bus plastered with 'Let's Get to Work' slogans at Tampa Steel & Supply in Ybor City last year, he brought the promise of job creation. But rather than a helping hand for Tampa Steel, Scott's policies as governor have been more like the back of the hand."

    There have been no new jobs at Tampa Steel since Scott made that appearance in July 2010 with legions of TV cameras and reporters in tow, as WUSF's Bobbie O'Brien reported last week. In fact, the small, recession-battered metal supply business has lost an additional employee to layoffs — it's now down to 10 workers from a high of 14.

    The company's co-owner, Bruce Goldman, says that he was happy to host the Scott campaign event and hear what the candidate had to say. But Goldman soured on Scott after the governor rejected high-speed rail between Tampa and Orlando and the $2.4 billion in federal money it would have brought to Florida. ...

    As to Scott's idea that one of the keys to job creation is eliminating regulation? Don't tell that to Tampa Steel's general manager, who told WUSF categorically that there are "no regulations that limit our growth." Rather, the problem is the lack of big construction projects such as high-speed rail that create spending and help grow small businesses.

    Tampa Steel's experience is mirrored in the abysmal numbers. Florida is down 23,000 construction jobs from a year ago, a 6.5 percent decrease. Since 2006, the state has lost 52 percent of its construction jobs, hurting small businesses all along the supply chain. Slogans on campaign buses might make good photo-ops, but they don't get people hired. For that, the state sure could have used high-speed rail.
    "Scott derailed a Florida jobs express".

    Charters push innovation "to da limmit"

    Fred Grimm takes on the recent Charters run wild scandal, and who can blame him:

    Strip away the bureaucratic constraints suffered by conventional public schools.

    Strip away most of the clothes.

    And then, as they say down at the Balere Language Academy charter school, “push it to da limmit.”

    Balere has certainly pushed the notion of charter schools beyond the usual limits. It requires no more than a cursory examination of material promoting Labor Day doings at the Cutler Ridge kindergarten-through-middle charter to realize no conventional public school would dare attempt this novel, after hours approach to education.

    But a brave innovator associated with Balere, with help from those noted educational think tanks Hygh Lyfe Entertainment and Snake Eye Promotions, has created a kind of night school, reaching out to a segment of the community long ignored by traditional educators. “All hustlers, ballers and divas roll out.” (College students get in for half-price. Women are admitted free “B4 12.”)
    "It just shows how charter schools, freed up from all those nitpicking regulations prohibiting booze and raunchy dancing and misogynistic themes and all-night parties and near-naked women busting out from their teensy swim wear, can turn a stodgy school house into a veritable laboratory for innovative thinking. Conventional public schools are reduced to debating whether soft drink machines ought to be allowed on campus, while Balere features ice buckets jammed with champagne bottles."
    Earlier, this year Rick Scott adviser and charter school champion Michelle Rhee had said, “We have to be putting policies and laws in place that don’t hamstring charters.” At Balere, policy has become less about hamstring and more about g-strings.

    Officials at the Miami-Dade Schools, never much enthused about district money going to barely regulated charters, fired off a predictable disapproving letter to Balere complaining about ads depicting the “promotion of alcoholic beverages in addition to inappropriate images for school-age children.” ...

    After the school district sent its letter and the Miami-Herald’s Kathleen McGrory inquired about Balere’s nighttime activities (McGrory reported that parents at the school have complained about empty beer bottles littering the school and the smell of cigarette smoke in the hallways), party promoters suddenly found a new venue for “Push It To Da Limmit. Flossin Edition.” (Flossin, according the Urban Dictionary, is defined as “showing off.” Such as, “Look at homeboy flossin his ice wanksta.” After all, Balere is a language academy.) Balere officials, apparently developing amnesia about the previous gathering at 10875 Quail Roost Dr., claimed that it had all been a case of a wrong address. ...

    This is exactly what Foundation for Florida’s Future meant when it stated that charters, unlike conventional schools, can “foster innovation” in education. The Balere charter not only fostered innovation, it pushed it to da limmit.
    "Balere Charter Academy of Party Science?".

    "Florida's growth law"

    "Florida's growth law: What changed?".

    "Nickel-and-dime budget cuts"

    "Central Florida's smaller cities look for nickel-and-dime budget cuts".

    "Florida isn't meeting this country's basic standards ..."

    Scott Maxwell: "Cases of neglect, abuse — even death — are on the rise. And Florida politicians are making things even worse, muzzling the watchdogs who report abuse and making it easier for profit-making facilities to skimp on care."

    Many of you have expressed outrage.

    Well, now the feds are getting involved.

    Last week, the U.S. Administration on Aging released an investigative report that determined Florida was "non-compliant" in several elements of Florida's Long-Term Care Ombudsman program.

    In layman's terms, that means Florida isn't meeting this country's basic standards for protecting and caring for elderly residents.

    That's disgraceful.

    Elderly care and neglect isn't a partisan issue. It's a moral one.

    No patient should miss medication, dine among roaches or go unwashed. Yet we've seen all of that.
    "Even more troubling than Florida's existing problems is that some want to make things worse."
    The troubles that prompted federal officials to investigate started shortly after Rick Scott was sworn in as governor — and he ousted the state's elder-care ombudsman, Brian Lee. ...

    The problem for Lee was that the industries he regulated didn't care for him. He and his staff were too nosy and vigilant.

    Scott's administration ousted him.
    "Neglecting elderly isn't partisan issue — it's moral one".

    Red tape

    "At a Miami-Dade assisted living facility, a caretaker left a sick, 72-year-old stroke victim alone without air conditioning, locking the doors in the scorching heat so the man couldn’t escape the tiny home." "State clamps down on 17 ALFs". Related: "Neglected to Death: A Miami Herald investigation".

    A pizza on every table

    "Hoping to ride a tea-party groundswell to the top of the Republican presidential field, Herman Cain told Central Florida conservatives on Saturday what he believes sets his candidacy apart. ... 'I'm the only nonpolitician," said Cain, a former Pillsbury Co. executive and Godfather's Pizza CEO running on his business experience. "I'm proud of that.' ... he had plenty to say about Obama, whose administration he says has shown an inability to lead, particularly on economic issues. 'I'm a business person,' Cain said. 'I'm a job creator.'" "GOP's Cain tells Central Floridians: I'm no politician".

    "Partisanship may sink recovery"

    The Miami Herald editorial board: "Signs of job growth in South Florida are emerging but partisanship may sink a true recovery".

    Deficit reduction, as crucial as it is to this nation’s long-term economic health, has become a battle cry for tea party Republicans. But their solution does not allow for targeted, strategic investments in education, transportation and energy-saving technology to spur growth. They want ever more tax cuts, even for the richest Americans and even when there’s plenty of evidence that those tax breaks for the top 2 percent of earners during the Bush years did not result in job growth.
    The editors can't leave it at that, can they. They are genetically bound to blame ... of course ... labor unions!"
    Some union leaders, meanwhile, have staked their claim to few or no concessions in salaries and benefits, even if it means dwindling their ranks by forcing state and local governments to lay off ever more teachers, police and others. They point to Wall Street bailouts as the villain.
    America’s can-do attitude".

    "Jobs. Jobs. Jobs."

    "Jobs. Jobs. Jobs. Hundreds of South Floridians turned out to confront their congressional representatives at town hall meetings last week, and one theme reigned supreme: jobs." "South Florida members of Congress hear constituent concerns about jobs during town hall meetings".

    Credit checks

    "Most people know that bad credit can stop you from buying a car or a home. It can also stop you from getting a job. ... State Sen. Gary Siplin re-filed legislation this week that would prohibit such screenings in most cases." "Lawmaker: Credit checks stymie unemployed job seekers".

    "Florida's unprecedented starring role"

    Jeremy Wallace: "When Florida will vote in the 2012 GOP presidential primary remains anyone’s guess, but the state is already having a dramatic and early impact in determining who will challenge President Barack Obama. For most of the next four weeks, Florida will have an unprecedented starring role in the run-up to the primary, hosting two national debates within 10 days and attracting all the candidates to a pair of influential conferences in Orlando." "Florida having an early impact on GOP presidential race".

    "An Everglades Pandora's box"

    The Sun Sentinel editorial board: "Whether her presidential bid succeeds or not, Congresswoman Michele Bachmann has opened up an Everglades Pandora's box. Allow us to help put the lid back on that one, ASAP."

    The Minnesota Republican, who is seeking the GOP presidential nomination, last week called for America to, essentially, grasp for straws in searching for oil. She said, "Whether that is in the Everglades or whether that is in the eastern Gulf region or whether that's in North Dakota, we need to go where the energy is."

    Rep. Bachmann threw in the obligatory qualifier that such drilling had to be done "responsibly." And she even gave herself an exit, perhaps for when her campaign eventually faces critics in Florida, by saying that if the industry "can't responsibly access energy in the Everglades, then we shouldn't do it."

    The problem, of course, is that the whole point of Everglades restoration and preservation is to keep these lands as pristine as possible. Oil derricks, not to mention the roads, pipes and infrastructure to support them, would pretty much ruin the place no matter how "responsibly" the drilling were done.
    "No drilling in Everglades".

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