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.
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The Blog for Tuesday, February 07, 2012
Florida wingers flock to CPAC
"Several big names in Florida are scheduled to make an appearance at one of the country’s biggest conservative conferences — set to begin this Thursday."
According to a preliminary schedule (.pdf) for the 39th annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), Sen. Marco Rubio, Gov. Rick Scott, and Reps. Allen West, Mario Diaz-Balart, David Rivera and Connie Mack will all make an appearance at the conference. ...
West, who has a penchant for controversy, will be taking the stage with well-known anti-Islamic activist Pamela Geller. The pair, along with others, will be part of a discussion about Sharia called “Islamic Law in America: How the Obama Justice Department Is Selling Us Out.” Geller is best known for her blog Atlas Shrugs, which has been described by The New York Times as a “site that attacks Islam with a rhetoric venomous enough that PayPal at one point branded it a hate site.”
"Substantial reason to believe that Buchanan violated House rules, standards of conduct, and federal law"
"The details of an ethics investigation into discrepancies on the 2008-2011 financial disclosures of Sarasota Republican Vern Buchanan were made public [yesterday]. According to its report, the board of the Office of Congressional Ethics recommended that the Committee on Ethics further review the allegations after finding 'substantial reason to believe that Representative Buchanan violated House rules, standards of conduct, and federal law' during the course of its investigation." "The Florida Independent". See also "House Ethics Committee continues Buchanan investigation".
"In the wake of the fractious Florida Republican primary, some disgruntled conservatives are thinking about sitting out the general election or turning to a third-party candidate."
One option is former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson, who will stump in Florida this week and make his case at the state Libertarian Party convention in Orlando. Other independent or third-party candidates may jump into the race, but the choices in November will not include casino/real estate magnate Donald Trump, who last week disappointed some tea party activists by endorsing Romney.
"The charter school movement flexed its legislative muscle Monday, taking a big step toward winning more funding from the state. After an hour of intense debate, the Senate Education Committee approved a controversial bill requiring local school districts to share their construction and maintenance money with charter schools."
Under current law, only traditional public schools can levy property taxes for building and maintenance. Charter schools — which receive tax dollars, but are run by independent governing boards — cannot.
Florida school districts fought hard to defeat the bill, saying it would all but kill their ability to pay down debt on existing construction projects. Parent groups chimed in too, saying public dollars should not go to charter school facilities, which are often owned by private companies and are not part of the public domain.
"As state lawmakers consider prison privatization, it's difficult to calculate any savings. The state’s own analysts warn against comparing cost. Privatization has polarized the Legislature: One side sees outsourcing as a way to cut costs; the other views it as a risky undertaking." "It's hard to calculate savings".
The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "How fitting that dissent among the Florida Senate's rank-and-file Republicans is threatening to head off the push to privatize 26 South Florida prisons and work camps. After all, the groundswell is due in part to legislative leaders' attempts to ram this massive privatization through their colleagues with as little debate or study as possible." "Critics right: No evidence to support privatizing state prisons".
The Miami Herald editorial board: "Faced with a political hot potato in the form of legislation allowing Las Vegas-style casinos in Florida, lawmakers in Tallahassee did what they usually do when confronting a tough issue: They punted."
What happened in the Legislature fell far short of a rigorous, honest debate on whether casino gambling is good for Florida, or even whether this is what Florida’s residents want. Instead, a badly needed discussion that Florida must have sooner or later over gambling was cut short because traditional interest groups with clout in Tallahassee lined up to oppose casino gambling.
That’s too bad. Opponents may be right about keeping casinos out of Florida. Certainly, the grandiose plan proposed by Genting’s Resorts World Miami, which bought The Miami Herald’s downtown property, raised a lot of eyebrows for its size and questions of compatibility.
That plan needed more study, more preparation, and more questions answered. But on the larger issue of gambling in this state , lawmakers ignore reality at the state’s peril. A failure to provide a full public airing of the issues does not serve the voters well and ensures that pro-gambling interests will be back to try again next year.
What makes this urgent is that Florida remains among the top states in the nation for gambling, minus full-scale casinos, but it lacks an appropriate regulatory structure. Gambling has been allowed to creep into the state by stealth, using laws such as the one creating the state lottery and other seemingly unrelated measures to cover their tracks and expand other forms of gaming.
Daniel Ruth: "Here's what you have to swallow if you want to believe that state Sen. Jim Norman, R-Will Work for Gratuities, isn't dirtier than a Florida swamp ape."
You have to con yourself into accepting that when the late Hillsborough County tycoon Ralph Hughes gave Norman's wife, Mearline, $500,000 it was merely a gift because the magnate thought the commissioner's spouse was the cat's pajamas.
You have to delude yourself into accepting the notion that Norman never bothered to ask his little apple blossom why Hughes gave her the money without so much as a shred of paperwork.
And most of all, you have to believe that when Norman claims (wink, wink, nod, nod) he did ask Hughes about the money, he was told to shut up and look the other way. And thus the commissioner blindly followed instructions and went about his business as a professional potted plant.
Is anybody dense enough to accept any of this?
Norman, R-Blue Light Special, was preening the other day over a decision by the Florida Commission on Ethics that he should be prosecuted for failing to disclose Hughes' $500,000 door prize when he ran for the Senate. The senator argued the ruling had cleared him of wrongdoing.
Only in Florida would a scruple-challenged politician regard it as a resume builder that an ethics commission wanted to prosecute him for a lack of ethics.
"The Florida Senate is proposing a nearly $1.2 billion increase in state spending on schools. A Senate panel on Tuesday rolled out its initial school budget that includes the proposed increase. The Senate proposal to boost state support for schools would increase per-student funding by 3.1 percent." "Fla. Senate boosts schools by more than $1 billion".
"A growing nationwide trend toward toll roads could see more of them rolling out in Florida. ... Scott hailed the extension of toll lanes on I-95 into Broward County last year, saying the move benefits all motorists." "More Toll Roads Coming, With a Fight Over the Money".
The Tampa Bay Times editorial board: "Lawmakers need to heed Gov. Rick Scott’s call and shut down the state’s unregulated Internet cafe industry. The gambling parlors offer all the allure and pitfalls of South Florida parimutuels’ slot machines but none of the regulation." "Ban online gambling parlors".