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 Friday, October 14, 2011

Scott claims he could meet job pledge without actually creating "any jobs"

    "Gov. Rick Scott faced more questions Thursday morning about his shifting position on a campaign promise to create 700,000 jobs on top of projected growth (which, at the time, was 1 million jobs)."
    This time the questions came on conservative talk radio where hosts usually refrain from pushing Scott for answers.

    Bud Hedinger on 540-AM in Maitland referred to Times/Herald video and asked Scott about his promise and his position now, which is to question the validity of the state’s economic forecasting. "It doesn’t seem to square, sir," Hedinger said.
    And here is where the rubber hits the road: Scott actually implied that he fooled Florida's voters with his jobs pledge because, as he puts it:
    "I could argue that I don’t have to create any jobs," Scott told Hedinger. "I just have to make sure we don’t lose jobs.
    "Florida Gov. Rick Scott: ‘I could argue that I don’t have to create any jobs’".

    Florida Forever

    "The invitation-only gathering of about 50 included presentations by Republican Sens. Jack Latvala, Thad Altman and Paula Dockery. 'We need a better message, and we need to stop a lot of the bad stuff that is happening now,' Dockery said afterward." "Florida Forever supporters, Senate allies huddle in Orlando".

    Funny how that works

    "Weatherford Top 3Q Fundraiser in House".

    "Unintended consequence for Republicans"

    "A fledgling state health insurance program could have an unintended consequence for Republicans who created it: helping President Barack Obama implement his controversial health care law in Florida."

    Florida Health Choices is scheduled to open in early 2012, nearly four years after lawmakers first approved the plan and two years after Congress passed their own law.

    U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio helped create the program when he was state House speaker. An expansion approved this year by lawmakers was applauded by Gov. Rick Scott. Both Florida Republicans want to repeal "Obamacare."

    But before the state program can get on its feet, it might be consumed by the federal health care law.

    At the center of the federal law are state insurance exchanges, web-based programs where businesses and individuals can search, compare and buy health coverage.

    At its most basic, that is Florida Health Choices.

    Unlike the federal law, Florida's program is not open to individuals, does not offer any new tax breaks for businesses and does not require insurers to offer minimum health benefits.

    But if the federal law is upheld in court, some say Florida Health Choices could become the basis of an insurance exchange envisioned in the federal law.
    "New state health exchange could become precursor to implement federal health care law".

    "It just shows a lack of understanding"

    "Justin Shiver came away from a year in Iraq with one overriding thought: We need more anthropologists."

    They are the ones really making a difference over there, said Shiver, who worked as a combat medic. They help soldiers and locals work together. They are the reason Americans haven't been rejected as enemies. More than anyone with a gun, Shiver says, anthropologists save lives.

    That's why the 26-year-old University of South Florida student, who's studying to become an anthropologist himself, was so confused by Gov. Rick Scott's comments this week.

    While promoting his jobs plan, Scott said the state doesn't need a whole lot more anthropologists. Rather, Florida should prioritize degrees in science, technology, engineering and math (known as STEM fields), the governor said.

    "It just shows a lack of understanding," Shiver said. Anthropology is a science. The study of people and the way they interact among cultures is important to a number of professions, he said.
    "Students to Scott: We matter". Related: "Anthropology holds keys to success".

    Working for unemployment compensation?

    "Among the items in Gov. Rick Scott's legislative priorities for the coming session is a message for people receiving unemployment compensation in Florida: you’ll have to work for it." "Scott to jobless: You'll work for benefits".

    Will Central Florida follow suit on gambling?

    "Fissures are beginning to appear in Central Florida's $28 billion tourism industry over whether to embrace high-stakes gambling, something most industry leaders have long considered incompatible with the region's carefully cultivated reputation for family-friendly entertainment."

    With casino executives aggressively lobbying the Florida Legislature to build Las Vegas-style casino resorts in South Florida, some local tourism leaders say Central Florida must consider following suit — or risk losing convention business to Miami-Dade and Broward counties.
    "South Florida casino gambling divides Orlando tourism industry". See also "Small odds Florida Chamber of Commerce will support casino expansion".

    Thanks to Scott, "Clemency backlog is getting bigger again"

    "Mark Heidrich is a full-fledged citizen of Florida again, and he couldn't be happier. Heidrich, 57, of New Port Richey made a serious mistake more than a decade ago and served his time. But he has been paying for it ever since he walked out of prison."

    He left prison in 1998, has stayed out of trouble, and has been trying for seven years to get his civil rights restored. He works six days a week as a chef at a Beef 'O' Brady's in Port Richey (his drug conviction cost him his license as a funeral director).

    Heidrich's one-man struggle for redemption illuminates the cumbersome, time-consuming and highly secretive clemency system in Florida.

    Bespectacled and dressed in a dark pinstripe suit, he's the human face of the monstrous backlog of petitions from people who broke the law and paid the price, only to discover they are barred from full citizenship by law for years later.

    The backlog is getting bigger again, for two reasons: a series of cuts to the Parole Commission's budget, and the decision by Scott and the Cabinet last March to eliminate a streamlined civil rights restoration process. In most cases, ex-offenders seeking full citizenship have to wait for a public hearing. ...

    "Case No. 40, Mark L. Heidrich. Mr. Heidrich is here," the clerk announced, and Heidrich nervously stepped to the lectern in the basement Cabinet room of the state Capitol.

    "I made some really bad decisions in my lifetime," he began.

    Scott and Attorney General Pam Bondi [who apparently has no problem being soft with fraudsters] at first appeared skeptical that Heidrich was rehabilitated.

    "Governor, I would just point out that this is trafficking in cocaine and LSD, and he's only been released since '98," said Bondi, who suggested Heidrich wait a few years and reapply for citizenship.

    Bondi noted that Heidrich has had two speeding tickets in the past decade.

    The clemency staff told Scott that with the backlog, Heidrich's case might not come up for five more years. Inexplicably, the mood changed and Bondi extended mercy.
    "13 years after leaving prison, Pasco County man regains right to vote".

    Little Marco strides world stage

    "Sen. Marco Rubio is telling Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that the United States should review and revise $53 million weapons sale to Bahrain to make sure none of the items can be used to disrupt or restrict anti-government protests." "Rubio to Clinton: Review, revise Bahrain arms sale".

    "Mister Chips of the pocket protector set"

    Daniel Ruth: "If Gov. Rick Scott has his way, Florida university students like myself, who have all the aptitude of Sasquatch when it comes to arithmetic-related disciplines, would be reduced to second-class academic citizens."

    Over the past few days, the Mister Chips of the pocket protector set has disparaged liberal arts degrees, especially calling out anthropology as having less economic value than the University of Miami's basket-weaving department for the football team.

    The governor argues that students who prefer to major in science, technology, engineering and math, otherwise known as STEM disciplines, should receive larger state education subsidies than those who might want to explore history, psychology or perhaps the use of ironic imagery in the works of Shakespeare as English literature scholars. ...

    Instead of treating history majors as if they were preparing themselves for a career as a street mime, the Dumbledore of computer science would be performing a far greater service to higher education by embracing the notion that a university experience should be one of exploration, intellectual curiosity, trial and error along with the occasional keg or two.

    Do we need more engineers, scientists, math whizzes and tech geeks? You betcha. But we also need dedicated historians and political scientists and anthropologists and sociologists and English majors pondering the Bronte sisters.
    "Gov. Rick Scott's crazy calculus".

    Banks want to foreclose without the bother of judges and all that

    The Daytona Beach News-Journal editorial board: "Bankers and many state officials, including Scott, believe an adjustment in state law can help speed up the process and correct the market, a key improvement if Florida's economy is to return to normal health. Thus, lawmakers are considering moving at least some foreclosures out of the courts. Florida is one of 26 states that require foreclosures to go through the courts."

    While the idea has some merit, lawmakers should proceed with considerable caution. The state has a duty to protect the due process rights of its citizens. Banks often rushed mortgages out the door and even homebuyers who lacked adequate financial resources were encouraged to buy. In short, many homeowners who are living in houses they no longer make payments on are not entirely to blame.

    While no specific proposals have surfaced in Tallahassee, it is possible that all new foreclosures will not go through court unless the homeowner challenges the bank. This could mean more legal costs for the homeowner.

    The Florida Bankers Association notes that the average duration of foreclosure, from default notice to repossession, is about 200 days longer in Florida than the national average. Estimates vary, but the time it takes a bank to get the home in its possession ranges from 728 days to 757 days.

    In states where the court systems do not handle foreclosures, it takes 550 days, according to Lender Processing Services.

    The change in Florida law, it seems, would save the banks about six months. It would still take more than a year to foreclose on an average Florida home. Further, the current backlog of foreclosures would not be affected by a change in state law.
    "Foreclosure proposal raises some thorny issues".

    Medicaid deform

    "The Agency for Health Care Administration has asked for another two-week extension of the waiver that allows the state to operate its Medicaid reform program in five counties." "State asks for 7th extension of Medicaid reform waiver".

    Yee haw!

    "The rural county in the heart of Florida had an uninsured rate of more than 36 percent the past two years, while St. Johns and Leon counties had the lowest percentage of uninsured." "Census data shows DeSoto County with highest rate of uninsured persons in Florida".

    Raw political courage

    "Three Republican state legislators advocated less regulation and taxes on businesses and less government in people’s lives in response to concerns from local insurance and financial advisers Thursday."

    State Sen. Steve Oelrich of Cross Creek and Reps. Keith Perry of Gainesville and Charles Van Zant of Keystone Heights fielded questions during the Gainesville chapter of the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisers’ legislative day at the Gainesville Country Club.
    "Florida legislators advocate less government intrusion".

    Empty suit holds a hearing

    "A committee chaired by U.S. Rep. Cliff Stearns, R-Fla., is holding [hearings] in Washington looking into emails and documents related to $535 million in government-backed loans given to a now bankrupt company. Stearns, who chairs the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, has been spearheading a probe into Solyndra, a solar panel company that received the federal loans before going belly up." "Rep. Cliff Stearns chairs probe into federal loan to bankrupt company Solyndra".

    Good luck with that

    "Florida’s Department of Health suggested cutting state funding to crisis pregnancy centers, among other services, to state legislators during a committee meeting last week. ... Crisis pregnancy centers (known as CPCs) are often religious centers created to persuade women to not have abortions. Florida is among a handful of states that provides public funding to CPCs. Compared to other state-funded groups that provide similar services, CPCs serve dramatically fewer patients and provide fewer services." "State health department suggests cutting taxpayer funding for crisis pregnancy centers".

    Never mind

    "Contradicting what he said a day earlier, Mayor Carlos Hernandez said he earned no interest on $180,000 in loans he made to convicted jeweler Luis Felipe Perez." "Students to Scott: We matter".

    Heritage Foundation whines about Nelson

    "Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson's highly paid spokesman crossed the line when he touted a political poll to a Florida newspaper, a Heritage Foundation fellow charged." "Bill Nelson's Spokesman Draws Heat over News Tip about Marco Rubio". Related: "US Sen. Nelson irks GOP with appearance in ads".

    Eying the Latino vote

    "Latino entrepreneurs, conservative policy groups and media outlets continue to closely track what GOP 2012 presidential candidates are saying about issues important to Hispanic voters." "Hispanic organizations, businesses, media evaluate GOP presidential candidates’ messages".

    PBA, Teamsters fight over corrections officers

    "Teamsters, PBA Battle Heats Up as Corrections Vote Showdown Looms". See also "Teamsters file wage-theft complaint on behalf of prison guards" ("union's action comes a week before unionized correctional system employees vote on whether to change their collective bargaining representation.")

    Fla-baggers raising Cain

    "A new poll of Florida Republicans found businessman Herman Cain leading the pack of GOP presidential candidates in Florida with the strong backing of supporters of the tea party movement. Florida Republicans who did not identify themselves as tea party supporters broke toward former Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts."

    A poll unveiled by the American Research Group (ARG) on Thursday found Cain, who won the Presidency 5 straw poll last month in Orlando, now led in Florida among likely primary voters with 34 percent followed by Romney, who placed second in the 2008 Florida presidential primary, with 28 percent. Former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich placed third with 11 percent.

    The rest of the field lagged behind in single digits.
    "Backed by Tea Party Support, Herman Cain Leads GOP Pack in Florida". See also "Cain jumps ahead of Romney in Florida poll".

    A Hialeah thing

    "Hialeah mayor: I got no interest on loans to Ponzi schemer".

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