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 Wednesday, February 29, 2012

"Public trust in the Legislature's intentions is running low"

    The Tampa Bay Times editors: "Voters sent a clear message when they approved constitutional amendments to prevent the Legislature from drawing districts designed to protect incumbents or political parties. The Florida Supreme Court hears arguments today on lawmakers' attempt to meet the new standards, and there is a compelling argument that the new maps fall short."
    The Legislature has fought the new standards every step of the way, from trying to keep the amendments off the 2010 ballot to proposing its own changes. The House joined a federal lawsuit over identical standards for congressional districts and lost. Just weeks ago, a House committee approved legislation that would have shielded lawmakers from testifying in court about redistricting, but House leaders abandoned it after a public outcry. So public trust in the Legislature's intentions is running low.
    "Fortunately, a court majority signaled it intends to be diligent."
    In a 4-3 order, the court asked for the addresses of incumbent legislators. It's logical that knowing where lawmakers live is key to determining whether the districts improperly favor incumbents.

    The new state Senate districts appear the least defensible. In the new map for the 120-member House, more than three dozen members find themselves sharing a new district. But in the 40-member Senate, the League of Women Voters and Common Cause say, no incumbents who could seek re-election are in the same district. It's hard to believe that is a coincidence. It's harder to believe it's an accident that those same incumbents are in new districts where they already represent more than two of every three residents.
    "New districts need court scrutiny". See also "Florida High Court to Hear Redistricting Case Wednesday" and "Redistricting is creating rifts in the state’s non-partisan high court" ("Several normally tepid procedural rulings have sparked a flurry of divided opinions as the Florida Supreme Court prepares to hear oral arguments over redistricting maps.")

    "Impasse over budget negotiations resolved"

    "With an impasse over budget negotiations resolved, the Florida Legislature appears on schedule to wrap up their 60-day session on March 9." "Budget negotiations resume after brief standoff". See also "Early sparring aside, Florida House and Senate appear closer on narrowing their budget gap" and "Budget Talks Advance on Senate Cuts from Higher Education".

    Personhood Florida push

    "The head of anti-abortion group Personhood Florida says that his group is continuing its push for an amendment on the state’s 2014 ballot, despite receiving little help from state legislators or pro-life groups." "Personhood Florida continuing push for 2014 amendment".

    From the "values" crowd

    "Florida government slow to right wrongs on claims bills".

    "With a total of three minutes of deliberation"

    "Ignoring about 50 people who wanted to testify – and with a total of three minutes of deliberation – a Senate panel Tuesday slammed through a measure that both Muslims and Jews say is discriminatory and would prohibit them from freely practicing their religion. The 5-2 vote by the Senate Criminal and Civil Justice Subcommittee approved legislation, SB 1360, that would ban any court or legal authority from using any sort of religious or foreign law as part of a legal decision or contract." "Senate panel rams bill Muslims, Jews call discriminatory".

    But they were wearing red suspenders ...

    "Former GOP Chairman Jim Greer has filed lawsuits against two Tallahassee law firms seeking damages for advice he says he got before he lost his job as head of the state party."

    Damon Chase, a Lake Mary lawyer, filed the suits in Leon County Circuit Court against Ausley & McMullen, the law firm where Republican Party of Florida lawyer Jason Gonzalez works and Gray Robinson, an Orlando law firm that drew up the paperwork for Victory Strategies, a political consulting company Greer formed with a subordinate.

    Greer, now facing criminal charges in connection with money the party paid to Victory Strategies, has already filed a civil suit against the Republican Party, Senate President Mike Haridopolos and Senate Rules Chairman John Thrasher. GOP lawyers will be in court in Seminole County Wednesday seeking a change of venue that would move the case to Tallahassee.

    The new lawsuits seek damages in excess of $15,000 from each law firm. Greer accuses the Ausley firm and Gonzalez of misleading him during negotiations over a severance agreement that was supposed to pay him $124,000 in return for his resignation.

    Greer says he was advised by Ausley lawyers to remove any mention of Victory Strategies from the agreement and urged by the firm to destroy copies of it after it was signed by party leaders. Greer claims that lawyers from the firm later lied when asked about the existence of the agreement and urged him to remain silent about it. Ken Hart, managing partner at the Ausley firm, declined to comment.

    Greer was later indicted by a statewide grand jury for shifting more than $300,000 from party accounts to Victory Strategies. He faces trial July 30 in Orlando. Now he accuses the firm of “severely and irreparably damaging’’ his reputation.

    His lawsuit against the party is an attempt to collect the $124,000 party leaders promised him.

    The lawsuit against Gray Robinson accuses the firm of improperly disclosing documents relating to the formation of Victory Strategies and a contract the business had with the party.
    "Jim Greer sues two law firms over Republican Party of Florida ouster, consulting contract". See also "Greer sues former party attorney over severance deal".

    "Casinos only a matter of time"

    "Destination casinos only a matter of time, analysts say".

    Orchestra will skip Miami

    "In its first U.S. tour since Fidel Castro took power in 1959, the National Symphony Orchestra of Cuba will perform in the Tampa Bay area in November, including a chamber music concert at the Cuban Club in Ybor City."

    The Cuban orchestra may play elsewhere in Florida, but tour producer Leonid Fleishaker of New York-based World Touring Entertainment said that contracts have not been finalized. The orchestra will not play in Miami.
    "Cuban national symphony to perform in Tampa Bay area".

    Moderate GOPer retiring

    "Republican Sen. Dennis Jones bucked his party on abortion, Terri Schiavo, private school vouchers and prison privatization. Now that the moderate from Seminole is retiring, is anyone left to follow his lead?" "A moderate influence".

    "Tax breaks are in the works for industries"

    Zac Anderson: "Special tax breaks are in the works for industries ranging from airplane manufacturers to fruit packers and broad reductions are planned for corporations throughout the state under a $124 million tax cutting plan nearing final passage in the Legislature." "Legislature set to pass $124 million in tax cuts".

    Senate Budget Committee votes to keep perk

    "Sen. Joe Negron wants Florida legislators to pay as much for health insurance as state employees do. But a majority of his colleagues on the Senate Budget Committee voted Tuesday to keep the perk."

    The Stuart Republican filed an amendment that would have increased lawmakers' monthly premiums from $8.34 to $50 a month for individuals and from $30 to $180 a month for families. The change would have brought lawmakers' health insurance costs in line with that of state workers, who've gone for six years without a pay raise.

    "To me there's just no rationale for it," Negron argued. "We should all be treated equally. Legislators shouldn't have richer benefits than the people that we work with."

    But Republicans and Democrats on the committee questioned the amendment, saying the cheap health care is a perk for an otherwise demanding job that pays less than $30,000 although it takes up so much time that some lawmakers have no other employment.
    "Florida lawmakers defeat proposed increase in their health insurance rates".

    Starting pay for a Florida State Trooper is $33,977.04, less $180 a month for health insurance of course.

    Miami-Dade mayor pushes changes

    "Eight months since a special election and six months ahead of the next vote, an optimistic Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez plans to push job creation and government reform in his first state-of-the county address." "Miami-Dade mayor to push commission term limits, more reforms".

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