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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, October 09, 2011

"Republicans' simplistic view of Spanish and Latin Americans"

    Bill Maxwell: "Either it's ignorance or plain old stupidity. I don't know what else to call Republicans' simplistic view of people of Spanish and Latin American origins in the United States. But it will spell trouble for Republicans as they try to win over the country's fastest-growing minority."
    A few days ago, Rush Limbaugh got into the act, suggesting on his radio show that Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, son of Cuban exiles, is the man to retake the White House in 2012.

    Limbaugh's rationale: "Rubio would win in a walkover. He's conservative. He's articulate. He's good-looking. He's Hispanic and sounds very smart. How can he possibly lose? If this were the Democrat[ic] Party, the party father would probably tell Obama to step aside and let Rubio run, if Rubio were a Democrat. There are more Hispanic voters now than there are blacks."

    Like so many other conservatives, Limbaugh talks as though people of Spanish and Latin American origins are all the same. In this case, the suggestion is that they automatically will turn out en masse to support Rubio because of his surname.

    Limbaugh and other Republicans have a lot to learn about the people in this coveted population. They aren't all the same.
    For example, Rubio "has flip-flopped on several key issues and legislation, including the Dream Act and tuition breaks for children of undocumented workers. By becoming a hard-liner on immigration reform, he has endeared himself to party leaders, the rank and file and the tea party crowd."
    And he has not lost many friends among Cuban-Americans, who reside mostly in Miami-Dade County and who consider him one of their own. Like them, Rubio and his family enjoy the privileges handed to Cuban immigrants who, upon arriving to U.S. shores by boat or raft, are allowed to become resident aliens and, within five years, can apply for their citizenship documents.

    No other Hispanic group has it so easy with the U.S. State Department. For that reason, many Hispanics in states such as California, Texas, Arizona, Alabama and Georgia — where immigration reform is a hot issue and where many immigrants come from Mexico and Central and South America — see Rubio as a smooth-talking Judas.

    It will take more than a surname to persuade many Hispanics outside Florida who are not Cuban to support the GOP and Rubio.
    "Rubio's name alone won't get it done".

    Related: "For all the Buzz about Marco Rubio for vice president, a poll released last week by the Democratic-leaning Public Policy Polling firm found the Miami Republican would not help deliver Florida for Republicans." "Poll: Rubio wouldn't deliver Florida win".

    Misunderstandings about Scott's math skills or his memory

    Myriam Marquez takes down the Rickster; after all "The poor man is misunderstood. People, particularly the media (yes, we’re people too) are out to get him. Only Fox understands his zeal for freedom."

    You see, this all started when a thin guy with a shaved head popped in between our favorite TV shows, showed his pearly whites and introduced himself. “I’m Rick Scott. Let’s get to work!”

    He promised to ignite the economy and attract 700,000 jobs to Florida in seven years. At the time economists pointed out the state would likely have one million more jobs in seven years’ time without doing much of anything.

    But Scott campaigned on corporate tax cuts to spur job growth, and again he delivered for freedom’s sake. Now there seems to be a misunderstanding about his math skills or his memory. At least twice cameras captured him saying the 700,000 were on top of one million. Then he told the Herald/Times bureau in Tallahassee that the one million wasn’t part of the deal.

    Not a flip-flop, of course. He couldn’t even remember who made the claim about 1.7 million jobs, he told the Associated Press. Then his memory seemed to kick in (even as his transition emails have disappeared) and by Friday he was setting the record straight, for freedom’s sake:

    “Instead of focusing on hypotheticals, I’m focused on what I know will be accomplished through my 7-7-7 plan — the creation of 700,000 jobs over seven years regardless of what the economy might otherwise gain or lose,” Scott said. “Floridians will judge me not on what an economist in Tallahassee predicts, but on actual job growth each month.”
    "Here’s what we know so far: "
    The state’s unemployment rate has dipped, though that began happening without any new laws or tax cuts. Since Scott took office in January, Florida has 71,000 more jobs. So we’re on our way, if slowly, to somewhere, with corporate interests in the driver’s seat.

    Let freedom ring!
    Much more here: "No lie: Florida’s governor is just misunderstood".

    Occupy Wall Street fervor growing in Florida

    "Despite the stormy weather, hundreds of people showed up at Bryant Park in Lake Worth and Stranahan Park in Fort Lauderdale on Saturday to add their voices to the grass-roots chorus echoing from protesters in the Occupy Wall Street movement in recent weeks. ... Participants said they plan to hold similar gatherings every week across South Florida." "Occupy Wall Street fervor growing in S. Florida". See also "Occupy Fort Lauderdale draws hundreds of protesters". Related: "Protesters Occupy Tampa; a Tune-Up for GOP Convention?".

    Flabaggers set up shop in Senate Office Building

    "Florida tea party leaders Thursday proudly announced the grand opening of their 'Tallahassee headquarters' for the upcoming legislative session."

    The location: Room 227 of the Senate Office Building.

    The Tea Party Network — a group of 70 Florida tea party and 9/12 groups — used the conference room to educate new volunteers about their movement’s talking points and to meet with elected officials who stopped by.

    They say keeping a space at the Capitol will help them during the hectic days of session, when they need to react with speed to lawmakers’ surprise amendments and unfavorable votes.
    "Tea party activists allowed to use space in Senate building". See also "Tea Party Vows to Stay at Senate Office Building" and "Tea party group sets up shop in Senate Office Building" ("The group has designs on staying put, but lengthy room reservations are unusual in the prime political real estate spot.")

    Weekly Roundup

    "Weekly Roundup: Betting on Budget Cuts. And Slots". See also "The Week in Review for Oct. 3 to Oct.7".


    "In the races at the top of Florida's 2012 ballot, non-traditional 'outsider' candidates are challenging or leading in the Republican primaries: Herman Cain for president and Mike McCalister for the Senate. After Cain's dramatic upset win in the Florida Republican Party's Presidency 5 straw poll two weeks ago, some national polls now show him leading or tied for first; McCalister, a military retiree and Plant City tree farmer, leads in some U.S. Senate primary polls." "Outsiders playing lead role in GOP races for Senate, president".

    "$1.2 billion education shortfall"

    "A slump in property tax revenue, combined with the end of federal stimulus and increasing enrollments, pose a major challenge for lawmakers just to keep funding even with this year's reduced budget." "Florida faces $1.2 billion education shortfall".

    Potential for "tectonic shift in the state's gaming business"

    "From Tallahassee to coastal South Florida, there have been increasingly strong tremors of late that may signal a tectonic shift in the state's gaming business. The shift could affect where people can gamble and which communities reap a jobs bonanza — as well as the headaches of hosting giant Las Vegas-caliber casinos."

    There is movement on multiple fronts. Two South Florida lawmakers are putting the finishing touches on proposed legislation to bring three huge gambling resorts to Broward and Miami-Dade counties. Existing "racinos" like Gulfstream Race Track and Calder Casino and Race Course are struggling to defend their home turf.

    And the Seminole tribe, for the moment the uncrowned king of Florida's gambling business, is evaluating whether its complex relationship with Florida, which guarantees the state millions of dollars in revenue each year, should continue.

    It's a game with well-financed, powerful players — all vying for the ear of lawmakers who could make or break their financial futures.
    "Major shift under way in Florida's gaming business". Related: "First DCA Ruling May Open Gaming Doors".

    Cuban surge

    "Number of Cubans entering US surges".

    "A gaggle of yahoos beholden to the tea party"

    The Saint Petersburg Times editorial board on the Pinellas County Commission's fight against "the socialist plot to induce fluoride into the water supply":

    One of the arguments advanced by the tea party-influenced fluoride foes is that adding the chemical to the water supply sure looks like a Nazi/Moscow/Ho Chi Minh City axis of oral domination that could also lead to lowering the IQ of Americans yearning to chew free. ...

    Fluoride as a U.N./black helicopter/SPECTRE coven to enslave Americans has been around since the 1950s. So it is rather vexing that Roche, Morroni, Bostock and Brickfield would be so blithely willing to succumb to their worst political impulses to pander to a tiny — but nonetheless vocal — sect of willfully ill-informed tea party whiners who see a Trotskyite hiding behind every public policy. ...

    This has nothing to do with principled political conservatism. The vote by the four toothless county commissioners fearful of offending their political patrons is more a reflection of a growing movement that is antiscience, antischolarship, anti-intellectual rigor and antireality in the public discourse.

    Nationwide, the fluoride-as-a-tool-of-Marx has made the Pinellas County Commission look like a gaggle of yahoos more beholden to the tea party than to the people who elected them to look after their best interests.
    "Yes, there's something in the water: delusions".

    Fitzgerald sidesteps corruption allegations against Buchanan

    "Former state Rep. Keith Fitzgerald is attempting to unseat a three-term incumbent in his bid for Florida’s 13th congressional district seat."

    Buchanan, a magnet for controversy, has been accused numerous times of pressuring employees to donate to his various congressional campaigns, and then reimbursing them with funds from his many car dealerships. The allegations have resulted in no less than 14 lawsuits from former employees (none of which have gone to trial), an FEC lawsuit against a former business partner and calls for the FBI to investigate him for corruption.

    But Fitzgerald has no plans to go after Buchanan over anything other than politics, and says that he would rather focus on systematic corruption than his opponent’s personal problems.
    "Keith Fitzgerald on congressional bid: ‘I couldn’t not run’".

    Florida Renewal Project’s Pastors’ Policy Briefing

    "The Florida Renewal Project’s Pastors’ Policy Briefing, an event aimed at getting churches and religious leaders involved in elections, will be taking place on Oct. 20 and 21 in Orlando. The forum will feature some big names in the Christian right, including presidential candidates Gov. Rick Perry and Newt Gingrich." "Florida Renewal Project to feature Perry, Gingrich and David Barton".

    Scott denies he's a liar

    "Florida Gov. Rick Scott is rebuking claims that he flip-flopped on details of his centerpiece campaign promise to create 700,000 private-sector jobs in seven years." "Scott clarifies jobs math, kind of".

    Jebbie's dead hand

    "After four years as Florida’s top health insurance regulator Mary Beth Senkewicz abruptly resigned this week to 'pursue other opportunities,' according to a release from the Office of Insurance Regulation. Her Monday resignation came days after remarks she made in Orlando at the Florida Association of Health Plans annual conference awards banquet that featured former Gov. Jeb Bush as the keynote speaker."

    Bush was invited to the conference to share “his reflection on the health care changes that have occurred at the national and state level over the past five years as well as his unique perspective and insights on how he envisions Florida's future,” according to the conference program.

    During a question-and-answer session after his speech, Senkewicz approached a microphone and told Bush he was wrong about the number of health insurance mandates in the state.

    Sources who attended the conference said that when Bush tried to explain it was information that had been provided to him, she interrupted the former governor and told him “you are wrong.”

    She then left the dinner, sources said.
    "Top insurance regulator abruptly resigns after clash with former Gov. Jeb Bush".

    "2012 presidential nominating calendar coming into focus"

    "The 2012 presidential nominating calendar, upended by Florida's decision to buck the national party's rules and schedule a Jan. 31 primary, is starting to come into focus."

    The Iowa GOP has tentatively set its caucuses for Jan. 3, and Nevada has scheduled its caucuses for Jan. 14. New Hampshire's first-in-the-nation primary will presumably come between those dates.

    Tuesday, Jan. 10 would be a logical date, except New Hampshire law requires that its primary be at least seven days earlier than the next contest. Nevada's Jan. 14 caucuses are a problem.

    Meanwhile, South Carolina is set for Jan. 21, followed by Florida on Jan. 31. Florida Republicans may still be the first ones casting ballots, however. Under Florida law, absentee ballots will go out just after Christmas and overseas military ballots would be sent Dec. 17.
    "Primary calendar getting clearer".

    Kingsley Guy: "You may have heard North Korea and Iran called 'rogue nations,' but did you know Florida is a 'rogue state'?"
    At least that's how South Carolina Republican Party Chairman Chad Connelly describes Florida. It's not because Florida is developing a nuclear arsenal, or anything like that. Instead, its rogue status is due to the decision by state political leaders to set the Florida presidential preference primary for Jan. 31, thereby moving it ahead of the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada primaries.

    Those four states, with populations only a fraction of Florida's 19 million, have been anointed by the powers-that-be in the national Democratic and Republican parties as the only states allowed to select delegates to the presidential nominating conventions prior to March 6. As a result of the Florida decision, the four states will move their caucus or primary dates ahead of Florida's so they can remain at the head of the pack.
    "Florida a rogue state? That's just fine".

    Tom Tryon: "Change Electoral College and primary systems"

    Nelson stands tall, wingers whine

    Kenric Ward whines that although "President Obama's $445 billion jobs package has virtually no chance for passage, Florida Sen. Bill Nelson is warming to the idea now that a 5.6 percent tax on millionaires and billionaires has been tacked onto the bill. Moderate Democratic senators, skittish about voting for tax increases, are abandoning the bill. But Nelson, a self-proclaimed moderate who is up for re-election in 2012, appears to be standing with the White House and Majority Leader Harry Reid, who proposed the added tax." "With Millionaire Tax, Bill Nelson Warms Up to Barack Obama's Jobs Bill".

    Follow the money

    "Almost two years into a federal probe of the city’s finances, Miami has spent $1.4 million defending itself and recently budgeted $2 million more. ... Defending the city has been costly. City records show that four outside law firms have been paid more than $1.4 million over the past two years at rates ranging from $315 to $450 an hour. The law firm Morgan Lewis & Bockus has been paid the most, at $1.1 million. Next is White & Case at $285,328, then attorney Kenny Nachwalter at $58,106, and finally Broad & Cassel at $24,708." "City of Miami spending big bucks to defend against SEC probe".

    Now they ask

    "Merit-pay puzzle: How do you grade art, theater teachers?".

    RPOFers coming back to Mittens

    "They had been with Mitt Romney four years ago, and for awhile this year flirted with other presidential candidates, particularly former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty. But more and more of the Florida GOP establishment — much of it former Gov. Jeb Bush's network — is drafting back to Romney as the 2012 election approaches." "Romney's camp adding familiar faces".

    Daddy's lil' boy

    "State Rep. Greg Steube called the office of his father, Manatee County Sheriff Brad Steube, the morning of May 20 to report that armed intruders had broken into his Parrish home and raped the mother of his child." "Rep. Steube, Sheriff Steube in awkward spotlight".

    Empty suit to get more scrutiny

    "Stearns long pursued an effort to have the Ten Commandments prominently displayed in the Capitol. In 2005, he succeeded in getting a bill enacted that gave immunity to firearms makers when their weapons are used in crimes. By and large, though, he has not distinguished himself."

    Stearns says the United States should provide incentives for companies to exploit technological advantages, but not subsidize industries, such as solar, when China can use cheap labor, easy access to raw materials and little regulation to win the price war.

    "We should not be picking winners and losers, which is a fundamental flaw in his stimulus scheme," Stearns said after Obama's news conference.

    But Stearns has also supported so-called green energy projects. A Jacksonville company that makes lithium batteries received a $95 million stimulus grant.

    "If a company comes into my district and creates jobs, I support it," he said, stressing he played no role in the grant.

    As he continues to push against Obama, Stearns can expect more scrutiny. After more than 20 years in office, he has a lengthy record to exploit.
    "Cliff Stearns, from obscure Florida congressman, to leading Solyndra investigation".

    Omnibus anti-choice bill

    "State Rep. Rachel Burgin, R-Riverview, this week introduced an anti-abortion bill that aims to further restrict third-trimester abortions and to place new restrictions on women’s health clinics. The bill has already been introduced in the state Senate. Opponents of the bill are describing the legislation as an 'omnibus anti-choice bill.'" "‘Omnibus anti-choice bill’ picks up state House sponsor".

    Jindal parties with Scott

    "Scott to raise cash for La. governor".

    "The startling answer"

    The Tampa Tribune editorial board: "State Sen. Mike Fasano had a simple request for the director of the state pension fund: Show why he authorized the state to make a $125 million investment in a particular investment fund. The startling answer from Ash Williams, director of the State Board of Administration, was that the explanation would cost $10,750, or maybe more. Apparently gathering all the documents and clearing them for public release would take weeks of work. The bill may not seem like much to someone in high finance, but it's more than a third of Fasano's annual salary as a state senator." "No public investment should escape review".

    Young saddles up

    "U.S. Rep. C.W. Bill Young, R-Indian Shores, never says anything official this early. But he usually never starts raising money this early, either — a strong signal he's planning to run for a 22nd term." "Looks like Young is getting ready to run".

    "Scott sure has a lot of explaining to do"

    The Miami Herald editorial board: "For a governor who promised accountability as a candidate, Rick Scott sure has a lot of explaining to do." "Scott’s transparency problem".

    Florida Republican Party's secret settlement

    "The Republican Party of Florida is keeping secret a settlement it reached with a former employee who accused party leaders of improper spending." "Republican Party of Florida settles with whistleblower".

    Haridopolos has a tizzy

    "Haridopolos is defending the state’s prison privatization effort as being conducted openly in the sunshine, as a decision is expected soon whether the state will appeal a circuit judge [Jackie Fulford's] rejection of the jail maintenance plans."

    Fulford sided with union attorneys, who argued lawmakers should have put the potential privatization of 29 prisons in South Florida into a separate bill, rather than as a proviso to the budget.

    Haridopolos took his stand on the issue Thursday because he said media reports made it appear the proviso was slipped into the budget at the eleventh hour and because of comments from Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, that supported the judge’s ruling.

    “A judge has now interjected themselves into the legislative process – we’ll have to see where that ends up,” Haridopolos said.

    “Anyone implies we stuck this in in the middle of the night is factually inaccurate,” he added.

    Fasano’s spokesman Greg Giordano said the senator stands by his comments.

    “On this particular issue, however, he respectfully disagrees with the president’s position,” Giordano said.

    After Fulford’s ruling, Fasano issued a release stating, “The Florida Legislature should not be making major policy decisions by inserting last-minute proviso language into the budget, thus circumventing the committee process.”

    Haridopolos argued that the state has been using provisos for a decade to dictate how money allowed in the budget can be spent and he doesn’t plan to halt such a practice in the coming session.
    "Haridopolos Defends Prison Privatization Effort".

    "Politicians who continually say regulations are job-killers"

    An extraordinary indictment of the anti-regulation crowd by of all people The Tampa Tribune editors - they write that "politicians who continually say regulations are job-killers should talk to the business owners along the Panhandle beaches and the Louisiana coast who were ravaged by the spill. They would find weak regulations and lax oversight are job-killers as well." "Drilling down regulation debate".

    Scott wants to "recapture" pension savings from local governments

    "The counties, cities, sheriff's offices and school boards that saved millions this year because of state pension changes will not be rolling in that newfound money next year, if Gov. Rick Scott has his way. Gov. Scott says in his draft legislative priorities for 2012 that he wants to 'recapture' the savings from local governments." "Gov. Rick Scott wants the pension windfall back".


    "Gov. Rick Scott took Everglades restoration into his own hands this week, traveling to Washington and unveiling plans to build reservoirs, unblock flow ways, control seepage and expand man-made wetlands by 2022." "Gov. Scott unveils his version of Everglades restoration; reaction mixed". See also "Florida's Everglades strategy pushes back 2016 deadline, environmental groups worry".

    Nancy Smith predictably writes that "Rick Scott Deserves a Chance to Restart Everglades Restoration".

    That familiar logical fallacy

    Update: An identical editorial from the The Sun Sentinel editorial board. So much for editorial board independence. The corporate owners seem to be calling the shots here.

    The Orlando Sentinel editorial board courageously acknowledges that, as a result of Florida's recent pension changes, "state workers, who are now required to contribute into the system, it's equal to a 3 percent pay cut."

    Having to make such adjustments in a down economic climate isn't easy.
    Well, that was mighty big of them.

    The editors continue, writing that
    then again, it's a sacrifice their private-sector counterparts have long been making.

    "Taxpayers benefiting from pension reforms".

    Reducing this assertion to a logical expression, the editors are saying that, if private employees are receiving pension cuts, then public employees should receive pension cuts.

    In terms of logic, the phrase "Private employees are receiving pension cuts" is the antecedent; "then" is the conditional; and "Public employees should receive pension cuts" is the consequent.

    Surely the editors wouldn't argue such an obviously self-serving false equivalence: but of course they are, at least in this instance, because it suits them.

    This is another example of that familiar logical fallacy: too many business degrees in the editorial meeting.

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