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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 Tuesday, October 04, 2011

RPOFers take on Spanish-language media

    Marc Caputo: "Three top Florida Hispanic Republicans are calling on the national GOP and their party's presidential candidates to boycott a proposed Univision debate amid allegations that the Spanish-language television network tried to 'extort' Sen. Marco Rubio."

    And who might these "top Florida Hispanic Republicans" be?
    In a letter Monday to the Republican National Committee, U.S. Rep. David Rivera[*] and state Reps. Carlos Lopez-Cantera and Erik Fresen also demanded that Univision apologize and fire its news president, Isaac Lee.
    "Republicans want presidential candidates to boycott TV station they say tried to 'extort' Marco Rubio". Background: "The inside story: Univision’s war with Rubio over immigration, drug report".

    No wonder the GOPers are in an uproar: "Spanish-language media closely tracking Republicans, tea party on immigration".

    - - - - - - - - - -
    That would be the same Rivera who "'Multiple agencies on both the state and federal level are actively investigating ... for a whole host of shady schemes that have lined his personal pockets, enriched his friends and family, and shown a total disregard for the truth.'" "David Rivera, Vern Buchanan Among 2011's 'Most Corrupt Members of Congress'". Background: "David Rivera's Office Tries and Fails to Remove Scandals from Wikipedia".

    Hasner's ethnic attack

    Steve Bousquet:

    When John Kerry ran for president a few years ago, Republicans said he “looks French.”

    When France abandoned its support for America by opposing the war in Iraq, some members of Congress told restaurants to remove all references to “french fries” from their menus in favor of “freedom fries.”

    Sacre bleu!

    That’s nothing compared to what’s happening right now here in Florida.

    In the Republican primary for U.S. Senate, Adam Hasner and George LeMieux are doing what candidates do in primaries: tearing each other’s character to shreds.

    The latest is Hasner’s gem, “LeMieux: It’s French for Crist.” If you send a check to Hasner’s Senate campaign, you’ll get a bumper strip with the slogan on it.
    "Sacre bleu! LeMieux's heritage becomes an issue". Meanwhile, "GOP Senate Hopefuls Clash Over Conservative Credentials" and "LeMieux launches website calling Hasner a ‘phony conservative’".

    Education deform a comin'

    "Changes are coming aimed at improving Florida's higher education system to ensure students are graduating with skills needed in the state. But what those changes will be and how they will impact faculty, students, universities and colleges may not be known until next year. " "Higher education reforms on the way for Florida".

    On the cheap

    "Florida officials have long complained that they get cheated on their share of federal highway funding, which favors vast states with small populations."

    But a major reason for the low rate of return is that Florida puts up relatively little money to match federal grants, leaving a lot of potential dollars to be divided among other states.

    The rate of return may remain low in fiscal 2011, partly because of Gov. Rick Scott's controversial decision to refuse some federal aid, including $2.4 billion of federal high-speed rail money as well as millions of dollars to implement the new health-care law and other projects. ...

    "We constantly leave money on the table," said Karen Woodall, interim director of The Florida Center for Fiscal and Economic Policy. "These are our tax dollars in Washington, and we don't bring them back to Florida. People scream that we don't get our fair share, but we are in control of much of that. Decisions have been made that prevent us from pulling down those dollars." ...

    The low rate of aid stems in part from the state's limited tax revenue -- notably the absence of a state income tax, a low corporate tax rate and many exemptions designed to help businesses. That gives the state less money to spend to lure federal dollars, some of which get divvied up elsewhere. States like New York and Massachusetts that spend more generously on their residents consequently draw more federal money for such things as Medicaid and unemployment benefits.
    "Florida ranks 48th in aid from feds per person".

    Fasano wants subpoena

    "When Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, asked the State Board of Administration this year for documents related to a $125 million investment, he was given a bill for more than $10,000. Instead of paying, Fasano sent a letter Monday to Senate President Mike Haridopolos, R-Melbourne, asking him to subpoena the SBA for the records, or otherwise force the agency tasked with handling state investment funds to present the requested documents at a committee meeting." "Feisty Sen. Mike Fasano calls for subpoena of SBA records". See also "Senator pushes to subpoena Florida pension fund instead of paying $11k for public records".

    "Buzz about a potential Romney-Rubio ticket"

    "Florida freshman Sen. Marco has no plans to endorse anyone in the GOP primary, but inside his Senate office and political operations, his ties to Mitt Romney run deep."

    At least six past and current Rubio Senate aides, including chief of staff Cesar Conda and his deputy, Terry Sullivan, worked for Romney's 2008 presidential bid, establishing a direct link and a line of communication between the front-runner for the 2012 GOP nomination and the front-runner in the Republican veepstakes. There's also a trail of fundraisers, donors and consultants who have overlapping relationships with Rubio and Romney. ...

    Romney is also tapping into Rubio's network in delegate-rich Florida. Jay Demetree, Rubio's former finance chairman, serves in a similar fundraising role for Romney in Florida, while Bertica Cabrera-Morris, Rubio's 2010 Central Florida campaign chairwoman, is a senior adviser to the Romney campaign.

    "There is a synergy," Cabrera-Morris, an Orlando-based consultant and lobbyist, told POLITICO. "The people who were with Marco who are now with Romney (believe that) Marco and Romney have most of the same ideals. A lot of us made the decision based on that."

    As for Rubio's team, she added, "The cream of the crop of Romney now work for Marco Rubio."

    The Rubio-Romney staff connection also highlights a key trait the two men share: They're establishment favorites who are running extremely disciplined operations — one on the presidential stage, the other in the Senate — that stay on message and don't veer wildly from one strategy to the next.

    The overlap between Romney and Rubio staffers could only fuel party buzz about a potential Romney-Rubio ticket.

    In Michigan's recent Mackinac straw poll, Romney nabbed the top spot with 51 percent, while Rubio was the runaway favorite for vice president. Two polls released last week show Romney narrowly leading the pack in Florida, which announced Friday it was moving up its primary to Jan. 31 to be more influential in the nominating process.

    Is Romney-Rubio the dream ticket?
    "What the Romney-Rubio ties could mean".

    Scott for sale

    "Scott is working again when it comes to raising money. Scott's political organization - called Let's Get to Work - had been largely dormant in the months since he took office. But the group's own website shows that in late July a political committee associated with the Florida Optometric Association donated $100,000 to the group."

    Scott last year used the organization, also known as a 527 committee, to help his maverick campaign for governor. Let's Get to Work raised more than $17 million, although nearly $13 million came from a Scott family trust. The group used the money primarily for television ads.

    Scott, a millionaire businessman, spent more than $70 million of his own money for his campaign.

    John French, the coordinator for Let's Get to Work, said the governor kept open the fundraising account in case he needs it before he mounts a re-election effort for 2014.

    "We saw no reason to shut it down," French said. "It's just sitting there for when we need it."

    French said right now there is no "concrete plan" on how to spend to money.
    "Florida Gov. has kept open fundraising account".

    Anti-Tea Party group heads for Florida

    "Frustrated by Wall Street bailouts and inspired by seemingly spontaneous demonstrations in New York City, protesters plan to take to the streets in Florida this week. 'Occupy' groups in Tampa, Fort Lauderdale and Jacksonville say they are joining a populist movement that's spreading to cities across America. [They're] organizing via Facebook and Twitter (#OccupyWallStreet)".

    Occupy Tampa is planning an all-day demonstration Thursday at Lykes Gaslight Park, beginning at 9 a.m.

    Liberal and progressive groups, including St. Pete for Peace, said they will march on Tampa's financial district.

    On Saturday, demonstrations are planned in Jacksonville (noon at Hemming Plaza) and Fort Lauderdale (5 p.m. at 100 S. Andrews Ave.).

    The action moves to Gainesville and Ocala next week, with protests scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 12, at Bo Diddley Plaza in Gainesville and Saturday, Oct. 15, in downtown Ocala.

    Franco Ripple, a progressive activist in South Florida, said, "In the last few years we've seen the tea party lay claim to the populist idea that they are speaking for 'the majority of Americans' or 'the American people' with calls for dramatic cuts and absolutely no tax increases of any kind, regardless of income.

    "The tea party misguidedly believes the government is screwing us through so-called 'wealth redistribution,' while the Occupy protesters believe that corporate/financial kleptocracy is screwing us," said Ripple, who said he is not involved in the Occupy movement.
    "'Occupy Wall Street' Heads for Florida as the Anti-Tea Party". See also "Anti-Wall Street protests spread to South Florida".

    "Cruel, hard, cold facts"

    Daniel Ruth: "Considering that the current Republican presidential field is increasingly starting to look more dysfunctional than the Gadhafi family, it is perfectly understandable why New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is being nudged to jump into the race."

    As a ruminating Christie walks the moors of Hackensack humming Hail to the Chief, there are some cruel, hard, cold facts about pursuing the White House. ...

    As of now he has no national political organization — no teams of volunteers and operatives in places like Iowa, New Hampshire, Florida, California, Pennsylvania, Texas — and well, the rest of the country.
    "Christie's yet to run into political reality".

    Perry, Cain heat up in Florida

    "Two of the leading candidates for the Republican presidential nomination continued to gain the support of prominent Floridians as the stakes get higher in the Florida primary, which will be held early in the election cycle." "Rick Perry and Herman Cain Continue to Get Support in Florida".

    Another casino resort on drawing board

    "The Las Vegas Sands operators are discussing buying a large tract of land near downtown Miami to build a casino resort, which would compete with a plan by Genting group to do the same on The Miami Herald’s site." "Vegas company looking to build Miami gambling resort".

    Black unemployment higher

    "Black unemployment higher in Miami metro area than national rate".

    Judges required to lecture women seeking judicial bypass for abortion

    "The new restrictions require that young women seeking a bypass have access only to the circuit court in which they reside. Before, young women could appeal to any circuit court in the state. Many argued the restriction could present a violation of privacy —especially for young women living in small towns. (Currently, this strict provision is only law in North Dakota.) Sen. Arthenia Joyner, D-Tampa, explained during debate over the bill that 'in small judicial circuits, the judge knows the parent and the kid.'"

    "The American Civil Liberties Union of Florida pointed out that the bill added new language requiring judges to lecture women seeking a bypass." "New restrictions on judicial bypass for parental notification of abortion now in effect".

    "Don't blame anyone in a black robe"

    The Orlando Sentinel editors: "Florida's court system is down and out — again. What a disgrace. Just six months after it needed Gov. Rick Scott to approve a $19.5 million emergency loan, the system is facing another monetary meltdown. Periodic courthouse closures, delays in civil trials and employee furloughs could be in the offing. What a sorry predicament for one of the three branches of government. The constitutional guarantee that the courts will deliver justice without delay is at risk."

    But don't blame anyone in a black robe.

    The culprit is the same one that took the system to the brink in April: a budget scheme from lawmakers that relies on a trust fund largely bankrolled by foreclosure fees. ...

    For the long term, leading lawmakers need to shift their focus from strong-arming the courts to ensuring that this branch of government gets enough resources to keep from withering.

    It wouldn't be a favor to judges; it would be fulfilling an obligation to every citizen and business that counts on the courts to uphold and interpret the law, protect freedoms, and peacefully settle disputes.
    "End chronic budget woes in state courts".

    Florida voters to have outsized role in nominating GOP candidate

    "Four years after giving Sen. John McCain’s (R-Ariz.) campaign a huge boost and ending the campaign of former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Florida’s GOP has again moved up the date of its primary to late January to try to give state voters an outsize role in nominating the GOP candidate for president." "Florida positioned as 2012 kingmaker". See also "Republicans bicker over new presidential primary date".

    "Floridians in poverty surpassed 3 million in 2010"

    "While the number of Floridians in poverty surpassed 3 million in 2010, the Florida Legislature cut state programs aimed at helping those facing unemployment and poverty, a new report finds." "Report: Legislature cut ‘safety nets’ in Florida as poverty soared".

    "Outlook grim for higher education"

    "Forecasts for their main funding source were revised downward by nearly two-thirds on Monday as taxes levied on electrical utilities and wired telecommunications plummet. Those taxes are a major source of revenue to cover building costs at colleges and universities." "Capital outlay forecasts take dive; outlook grim for higher education".

    Say what?

    "Broward's schools chief to get $268K salary and perks".

    "Florida Chamber should send a thank-you note to California"

    The Saint Petersburg Times editorial board: "The Florida Chamber of Commerce, Florida Retail Association and the Associated Industries of Florida should send a thank-you note to California. Legislators in the Golden State, in negotiating a deal that requires Amazon.com to lobby Congress to pursue a national sales tax collection system, have provided the best chance yet to create a level playing field in Florida and elsewhere for bricks-and-mortar retailers."

    Never mind that Florida Gov. Rick Scott and Senate President Mike Haridopolos, in recent weeks, have both conceded that Florida's current sales tax policy is unfair and outdated; both men have followed the lead of their predecessors and done nothing to change it.
    "Step toward sales tax fairness".

    Good luck with that

    "One GOP lawmaker’s push for a moratorium on commercial water permits".

    There's money in managed care

    "Florida has renewed a contract to manage its Medicaid Information Management System for three years and $172 million. ... Florida, though, is still awaiting approval of a federal waiver to implement statewide managed care." "Florida awards $172 million Medicaid data contract".

    Expect a whitewash

    "A Florida Senate committee is investigating allegations that the state's Department of Elder Affairs illegally interfered with a watchdog program that is supposed to protect the rights of residents in nursing homes and assisted-living facilities."

    The Senate Committee on Children, Families and Elder Affairs has scheduled a hearing Tuesday to question the elder affairs staff following a highly critical report from the federal government a month ago that showed repeated violations.

    The report, from the Administration on Aging, cited numerous problems with the department's oversight of the state's Long Term Care Ombudsman Program.

    It criticized the Department of Elder Affairs for what it described as muzzling the ombudsman program's communication with the media and restricting its ability to lobby the Legislature on behalf of nursing-home residents.

    The report also faulted the department's selection and firing of volunteers who make up the bulk of the watchdog program's work force, saying that "it must be clear to the volunteers that they work for and are answerable only to the Long Term Care Ombudsman."
    "Senate probes 'interference' into nursing home watchdog program".

    Romney tries The Villages

    "Mitt Romney to hold town hall meeting at The Villages today". See also "Romney to meet with voters in Central Florida".

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