Since 2002, daily Florida political news and commentary


UPDATE: Every morning we review and individually digest Florida political news articles, editorials and punditry. Our sister site, FLA Politics was selected by Campaigns & Elections as one of only ten state blogs in the nation
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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, December 04, 2011

Romney's Florida staffers trashed Rubio during his Senate run

    Adam C. Smith: "Florida Republicans eager to put their best foot forward for the 2012 Republican National Convention in Tampa in August may have to put up with an ugly side story: the trial of former state party chairman Jim Greer, who is accused of organized fraud, theft and money laundering."
    The full saga, including obscene consulting contracts and the spending of party funds by top Republican leaders, makes almost nobody look good in the state GOP leadership, and the trial is scheduled to conclude just two weeks before the national convention kicks off.
    "Whether the trial goes forward — charges could well be dropped or a plea deal made — is no sure thing. Party leaders may prefer the whole issue just quietly disappear, particularly if Marco Rubio winds up on a ticket with Mitt Romney."
    That would invite another side story: how several of Romney's presidential campaign staffers, notably senior adviser Stuart Stevens, worked for Charlie Crist in 2009 and 2010, and did all they could to trash Rubio as he challenged Crist for the GOP Senate nomination.
    "Greer trial may hang over Republican National Convention".

    "A daunting task"

    "Gray Swoope faces a daunting task: Attract more business to Florida while keeping existing employers from leaving. His history may give a clue what to expect." "Can Rick Scott’s jobs czar bring business to Florida?".

    "In some cases, profit is the worst possible motive"

    Randy Schultz writes that Scott's "business fixation" is "Scott's biggest weakness. A dozen times during his recent one-hour meeting with The Palm Beach Post Editorial Board, the governor compared being CEO of a state to being CEO of a company. From issue to issue, Gov. Scott said, "It's no different than what you do in business" or "It's exactly what business has to do" or "We see the exact same thing in business."

    In other words, government is like a business. Right? No."

    dozen times during his recent one-hour meeting with The Palm Beach Post Editorial Board, the governor compared being CEO of a state to being CEO of a company. From issue to issue, Gov. Scott said, "It's no different than what you do in business" or "It's exactly what business has to do" or "We see the exact same thing in business."

    In other words, government is like a business. Right? No.

    Business exists to make a profit. Government exists to provide services. Government should deliver those services as effectively and efficiently as possible, and phase out those that aren't working, but profit isn't the motive. Does anyone expect the Pentagon to turn a profit? In some cases, profit is the worst possible motive when it comes to public policy.
    "Great Scott! Government isn't always like a business".

    "All in 50 words or fewer"

    Scott Maxwell: "Rick Scott, universities and more: All in 50 words or fewer".

    Lost sales taxes

    Thomas Tryon: "[S]tate and local sales taxes were not collected on a large but difficult to quantify number of the purchases made from online-only sellers — such as industry giant Amazon. In most cases, buyers in states such as Florida are supposed to eventually pay the taxes themselves but credible studies suggest few do so."

    "Florida forgoes an estimated $450 million in state sales taxes because of the lack of collections and payments. That amount could rise to nearly $1 billion annually by 2020; based on the growth in holiday sales figures, huge increases seem certain." "Level the sales-tax playing field".

    Sorry Rick, but that government stuff is hard

    According to the Daytona Beach News Journal editorial board, Rick Scott says "the state is gaining about $1 billion in revenues over the last year."

    The bad news is that 100 percent of that increase will be eaten up by new Medicaid expenses.

    So even with the new $1 billion in tax revenues, the state still faces a budget shortfall for fiscal year 2013, which some estimates put at $2 billion.

    Meeting this latest budget shortfall will be a difficult process for the governor, the Legislature and the citizens.
    "Scott, state lawmakers face another lean year".

    "Hays' performance was sickening"

    Lauren Ritchie says Republican state senator, Alan Hays of Umatilla "surrendered any thin pretense of representing Lake taxpayers during a meeting last week at the Mount Dora Community Building. His public display of ignorance about health care for the indigent and his enthusiasm to sell out his constituents was especially disturbing in contrast to the steady, classy statesmanship displayed by state Rep. Larry Metz, R-Yalaha."

    During the meeting last week, Hays tried to sabotage Metz's very reasonable compromise with an amendment that would have rendered it meaningless and essentially kept the current system — but added a little cream to sweeten the deal for the hospitals. Hey, they've had to fight all these pesky taxpayers for months now. They deserve a smooch, don't they?

    Hays had help from state Rep. Stephen Precourt, R-Orlando, who doesn't represent a single soul paying that tax. Shame on Precourt.

    But the real disgrace goes to Hays, R-Umatilla, who shamelessly acted as if he were on the hospital payroll. The senator proposed continuing to give tax money to the hospitals for at least another decade. He went so far as to add a provision to make those private companies eligible for even more money, apparently in case they couldn't prove that they were spending it all on indigent people without insurance of any kind. He specifically said the money shouldn't go to any provider but the hospitals.

    Hays' performance was sickening. Several times he accused Metz of creating more bureaucracy in his bill, and he demanded an explanation of specific portions. Metz calmly replied each time that the requirements Hays questioned were part of the law governing the current taxing district — he hadn't added them. Clearly, the senator hadn't bothered to learn even the basics of the issue.
    "State Sen. Alan Hays wrong to support hospital tax".

    "Term limits loom"

    "For Sarasota County leaders, term limits loom". Related: "Voters will decide in March whether West Palm Beach commissioners should have term limits".

    "The governor's less than stalwart study habits"

    The Sun Sentinel editorial board is concerned about "the governor's less than stalwart study habits. When it comes to talking up higher education reforms, we don't think the governor has sufficiently done his homework." "Hit the books, governor".

    "Big reforms haven't yet produced big results"

    "After two years of hammering away on a K-12 education agenda designed by conservative think tanks, legislators have checked off a number of goals: merit pay, heightened graduation standards and an expanded voucher program."

    But even as they wait for these changes to take full effect, lawmakers are confronted by student standardized-test scores that seem to have hit a wall after a decade of improvement[*] and yet another budget shortfall of close to $2 billion next year. Critics say the schools won't get better without more money — and are pressing a court case that would require higher funding for education.
    "Education: Big reforms haven't yet produced big results".

    A more accurate headline might have been: "No evidence that Bush's changes have produced any results"

    - - - - - - - - - -
    *Florida "journalists" routinely parrot the right-wing line that Jeb Bush's education "reforms" have somehow produced an "improvement" to Florida's public school system.

    A little research discloses that, outside of right wing echo chambers, there is little agreement that Jebbie's "reforms" have produced anything of value. For example, William J. Mathis, the managing director of the National Education Policy Center at the University of Colorado at Boulder, has something quite different to say about Jeb Bush's "reforms":
    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".

    Palm Beach County's new government watchdog agency

    The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "The latest battle over Palm Beach County's new government watchdog agency comes down to this: the residents of every city want their municipalities to support the county's inspector general, but many city governments don't. Upon this fault line, 15 cities are building their shaky case that compelling them to pay for the agency's services is illegal." "Why the cities will lose".

    Fasano agin' Nugent?

    "Two new political maps released last week by the Florida Senate increase the likelihood that Pasco could have a pair of marquee political races next fall."

    The maps would open the door for a Pasco challenger to incumbent U.S. Rep. Richard Nugent, R-Brooksville, and also pit two well-funded candidates against each other in an open state Senate contest. ...

    Consider Florida's 5th Congressional District.

    The sprawling seat that stretched from central and east Pasco to the Villages to Levy County was the most overpopulated in the state and had to shed 233,000 people. The Senate's proposed district is much more compact, covering all of Hernando and Pasco counties, plus a small corner of Polk.

    Most important, the map adds highly populated west Pasco, now in another district. If such a district becomes law, about two-thirds of its voters would live in Pasco. ...

    U.S. Rep. Richard Nugent, R-Brooksville, who was Hernando's sheriff for 10 years, qualified to run for the seat last year in a "unique maneuver" with former U.S. Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite of Brooksville. Last year, the Republican congresswoman announced her retirement only minutes after the candidate qualifying deadline passed. Many observers said that effectively prevented other credible challengers from running. ...

    Hernando GOP chairman Blaise Ingoglia acknowledged that the proposed district puts Nugent at a disadvantage because it favors a Pasco County candidate. But, he said, "the bottom line is Rich Nugent is going to be very tough to beat because he's done a very good job."

    What has been a reliably Republican seat since 2002 might also be slightly less so. The current district voted for John McCain in 2008 by 13 points; in the area encompassed by the proposed district, McCain would have enjoyed just a 4-point margin. Still, had the proposed district been in place in last fall's race for governor, Rick Scott would have garnered 51 percent of the vote over Alex Sink's 42 percent.

    And although the GOP would lose some of its voter registration advantage, the proposed district still gives Republicans a nearly 10,000-voter edge.

    So far, only Nugent and two candidates without party affiliation have filed for the seat. But if you ask local politicos who might run, speculation quickly centers on one name: state Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey. The 18-year lawmaker will retire from the Florida Senate next year because of term limits. ...

    Fasano has been more than willing to buck his party on issues like property insurance and could find favor with Democrats and independent voters.

    "I think he's been a lot more independent and a lot more populist," said Hernando Democratic Party chairman Steve Zeledon. "Nugent's just been a cog in the machinery."
    "Redrawing Florida's 5th Congressional District puts west Pasco at an advantage".

    Feds investigating Miami ballpark deal

    "Federal authorities have opened a wide-ranging investigation into the Miami Marlins' controversial ballpark deal with Miami-Dade County and the city of Miami, demanding financial information underpinning nearly $500 million in bond sales as well as records of campaign contributions from the Marlins to local and state elected leaders." "Feds open probe into Miami Marlins stadium deal".

    "Violation of the Florida Government-in-the-Sunshine Law"?

    "In July, then-[Manatee] School Board Chairman Bob Gause wanted legal advice on how, and what it would cost, to fire the board's attorney, John Bowen."

    But Gause did not want that discussion to take place in public.

    So he instructed Superintendent Tim McGonegal to hire a private attorney. And one by one, Gause and other board members secretly contacted the attorney.

    Experts say those meetings and phone discussions could be a violation of the Florida Government-in-the-Sunshine Law that requires board members conduct district business in public meetings.

    Invoices obtained by the Herald-Tribune show that board members in July individually met or talked by phone with Bradenton attorney Cliff Walters about Bowen's future and contract.

    Two board members even negotiated directly with Bowen to buy him out of his contract worth $250,000 per year. Bowen was allowed to stay on after board members learned he would not accept less than the $450,000 severance his contract guarantees.

    But none of that happened in the open.

    Although the board did not meet collectively with Walters — which would have been clearly illegal — Florida courts have previously ruled that board members meeting individually with a third party in quick succession on a single issue can be construed as a "de facto meeting" that should be held in public.
    "Manatee School Board's secret meetings may have broken law".

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