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 Sunday, February 19, 2012

Scott "still thinking like a venal CEO"

    Stephen Goldstein: "Under the Constitution, must elected state officials follow the law, or can they get away with 'going rogue' and fattening the bottom lines of Big Business, the public be damned?"
    Since 2010, The Affordable Care Act, derisively branded Obamacare, has been the law of the land — but not effectively in Florida. In the fine tradition of free-market thievery that always puts profit above people, the Party of No-dominated Legislature and CEO/tea party Gov. Rick Scott continue to do everything in their power to block implementation of the law at the state level, no matter how doing so may hurt "the 99 percent."
    "Florida is falling behind the rest of the country for taking the lead against ACA."
    Using taxpayer dollars to kill the law, former Attorney General "Bill" McCollum began the state's assault on ACA by spearheading a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the "individual mandate" that requires every American to have health insurance. Allegedly, Gov. Scott won't implement ACA because the U.S. Supreme Court hasn't ruled on it. But as [Greg Mellowe at the Florida Center for Fiscal and Economic Policy] points out, "even other states that participated in the legal challenge to the ACA recognize that the likelihood that the entire law will be struck down . . . is low, and that their inaction therefore threatens access to much-needed ACA benefits for resident families and businesses for which their federal tax dollars are paying."

    Even after Scott has been in office for more than a year, it appears that he still hasn't made the transition from thinking like a venal CEO to acting like a public servant — and likely never will. He insists that he knows a "better way" to deliver healthcare, but doesn't have a plan. He and tea party/Republican members of the Florida Legislature appear to have signed a pledge to do everything possible to shape public policy for corporate gain. "Let 'the free market' reform healthcare," they proclaim. If you're wondering whose pockets they want to line. Pssst! They ain't yours.

    So, if your insurance company gouges you, your coverage goes down, or you lose it, you now know whom to blame — yourself, for letting Rick Scott and the tea party/GOP trample the Constitution and "go rogue" for corporate fat cats at your expense.
    "No, Floridians miss out big by rejecting health care reform".

    Tally "talk is cheap. Sometimes it's worthless"

    The Orlando Sentinel editorial board: "Republican leaders in Florida's Legislature promised the most-transparent process ever to redraw congressional and legislative districts after voters amended the constitution to make the once-a-decade undertaking fairer and non-partisan."

    But as anyone familiar with business-as-usual in the state Capitol knows, talk is cheap. Sometimes it's worthless.

    Last week a House panel passed a bill that was breathtaking in its brazenness. It would shield lawmakers and their staffs from having to testify or turn over documents about their legislative actions if they get sued.

    So much for transparency.
    "Redistricting veil would erode open government".

    The Miami Herald editorial board: "Absolute privilege? Absolutely NOT" ("GOP legislators use backdoor attempt to deny Floridians due process in redistricting matters").

    Puffing JD

    "State Sen. JD Alexander has his own political style. He fights for what he wants. He doesn’t ask nicely. He doesn’t schmooze." "JD Alexander: respected, feared and despised".


    "As state lawmakers began their legislative session last month, they heard a crescendo of cautionary cries from a growing chorus of fiscal hawks. Their message: A major hurricane could wreak unprecedented havoc on Florida's fragile economy. Six weeks later, there has been little political will to pass large-scale reforms and prepare Citizens for another Andrew, or a Katrina." "Little political will to reform state-run Citizens Property".


    Randy Schultz: "It would be madness for Florida to mass privatize the state prison system. It also would be madness if Florida didn't change the state prison system, and the legal system that feeds it." "Private or public, prison system can't be a profit center".

    "It’s not just tone, dude, it’s substance"

    Myriam Marquez: "It was more than a long shot. It was a pipe dream that burst into a thousand tears in Tallahassee. The tears of smart, go-getter college students who were once again snubbed because they are undocumented or their parents are."

    How could children born in the U.S.A. be treated like pariahs?

    It’s not only un-American, it’s likely unconstitutional.

    Incredibly, Florida requires students who are U.S. citizens to pay as if they are out-of-state students to attend a taxpayer-funded university if their parents can’t produce papers to show they are here legally. Unless the students live on their own and are not “dependants” of their parents, these students have nothing they can do but wait until they can live on their own to apply again for in-state tuition rates.

    Odds are many will have lost that opportunity by then, been stuck in dead-end jobs just to survive. Considering the gulf between a college graduate’s lifetime pay and those without a degree — and what that means to the economy and to government revenues in the long term — closing the door on these students can’t get any dumber.
    "U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, who has sambaed around this immigration issue since he ran with tea party support last year, got his due when the 'birther' wing of the GOP decided to question Rubio’s legal status to ever be on a presidential ticket. All because he was born when his parents, here legally, were not yet U.S. citizens."
    You would think Rubio would want to help his party figure out this immigration issue as Hispanics are the largest minority in this country and are fast fleeing the GOP. (Not that President Obama has been great on this issue. In fact, he squandered his first year in office with a Democratic majority when this legislation had a chance of passing.)

    You would think Rubio would want to show real leadership beyond questioning the tone of some presidential candidate’s political stand on immigration.

    It’s not just tone, dude, it’s substance. If the DREAM Act, which passed the House last year but tanked in the Senate (it received a majority 55 votes but a filibuster required 60 votes to pass), wasn’t good enough for Rubio, then what would he propose?

    I asked him about the DREAM Act during his campaign. First, he gave the scripted GOP response: seal the borders first, then deal with immigrants who are here. Pressed, he said he thought the grace period for the DREAM Act, which would allow young people to legalize their status if they go to college or into the U.S. military, went back too many years and the paperwork required to show proof was rather murky.

    So how would you get it done instead? Oh, there are bigger problems right now, he answered. And so it went. He said it in a very nice tone, though. So much for leadership.
    "Who expected Florida Legislature to give immigrant students a break?"

    "Blasting away for funsies in populated areas"

    "During last year's smooch-fest with the powerful National Rifle Association, members [of the Florida Legislature] passed a law with one of those pesky unintended consequences that happen when folks fire first, then aim."

    The new law created penalties of up to $100,000 for local governments that impose gun laws more restrictive than Florida's. Counties and cities rushed to repeal their ordinances, causing an uproar over where people with permits could carry concealed weapons.

    During the hurry, local governments also quietly rescinded ordinances that made it illegal to whip out the AK-47 and blast away for funsies in populated areas.
    "NRA-friendly gun laws are annoying, and dangerous". Meanwhile, "Pastor's daughter dies after accidental church shooting".

    "Democrats are irrelevant in Tallahassee"

    "Democrats are irrelevant in Tallahassee, so what passes for the loyal opposition these days is a few Republican legislators occasionally willing to buck their leadership. Tampa Bay has long produced legislators with strong backbones and independent streaks — Sens. Paula Dockery, R-Lakeland, Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, Dennis Jones, R-Seminole, Ronda Storms, R-Valrico — come to mind in the Senate, but these days they look like an endangered breed." "Renegade legislators seem to be a dying breed".

    "An ideological clash also might be looming"

    "Martin County Sheriff Robert Crowder says his challenge of U.S. Rep. Allen West in a Republican primary is about giving voters a hometown alternative "

    to a Broward County "outsider" in a newly drawn Treasure Coast-Palm Beach County congressional district.

    But Crowder's criticism of the GOP's "ultra-right wing" suggests an ideological clash also might be looming as he takes on an outspoken celebrity of the right with a national following of conservatives and tea party members.
    "Martin County Sheriff Robert Crowder says political run not about Allen West".

    "Property rights"?

    "Although Debra Sales has not paid a $9,000 fine for destroying wetlands during two mud-­bogging events on her property last year, the South Florida Water Management District allowed Sales to host another mud-bogging event this weekend with hundreds of monster trucks, mud buggies and all-terrain vehicles plowing through the same wetlands." "Environmentalists see Okeechobee Mudfest as down and dirty".

    2.5 million gallons of raw sewage

    "More than 2.5 million gallons of raw sewage spewed into South Florida's neighborhoods and waterways last year as aging pipes burst in increasing numbers. The sewage killed fish, forced the shutdown of drinking water wells to prevent illness and resulted in at least three beach closures in the past two years. State environmentalists blame most of the breaks on failure to maintain and replace old pipes, installed in some places before World War I."

    The pathogens in sewage can cause illness if people drink contaminated water or allow it to come into contact with their skin. These include Hepatitis A, a disease normally rare in industrialized countries, and various gastrointestinal illnesses. To prevent that, authorities shut down wells in the vicinity of spills.

    There is no way to know how many people have gotten sick. The state does not keep records, and people who experience gastrointestinal distress for a few days may never learn the source, particularly if sewage breaks are not publicized. ...

    Linda Young, director of the Florida Clean Water Network, said the lack of maintenance standards imperils the environment and reflects a philosophy that emphasizes the production of water for population growth.

    "There's very little interest on the part of policy makers and decision makers on where the water goes after it's been used," she said. "What we tend to do in this state is have a sewage plant and it's covering a small area in the beginning. As cities grow, they put more pipes in the ground and hook them up to the old pipes and the old pipes have a lot more pressure on them and they just deteriorate."
    "Sewage overflow incidents on rise as aging pipes break".

    "The vindictive shenanigans of JD Alexander"

    The Tampa Tribune editorial board: "The Florida Senate's effort to demolish the University of South Florida's budget is more than an attack on the school; it's an attack on the region's economic development."

    This "effort to demolish" is of course courtesy of

    the vindictive shenanigans of Polk Sen. JD Alexander and his mousy cohorts in the Senate.

    Alexander has cut $6 million for the school, though the money already had been directed to the program, and its continuation is dependent upon it.

    He is punishing USF because it resisted his ludicrous scheme to make USF Polytechnic in Lakeland an independent university at a time when the state cannot adequately fund its existing 11 universities.
    "A dangerous prescription".

    "Cash-register-ringing visions of poured concrete"

    The Tampa Bay Times editorial board: "Florida always has been a developer's dream, so much so that nary a wetland or open space is safe from cash-register-ringing visions of poured concrete and strip malls."

    But surely the state of Florida can just say no when a developer seeks pristine government conservation land to build a multipurpose complex of shops, hotels, condos and — for good measure — a questionable marine mammal rescue center atop the fragile ecosystem at the southern end of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge. Florida needs more jobs, but not the kind that require its citizens to hand over irreplaceable, shared natural resources for a scheme of dubious potential.
    "Skyway land swap bad deal for state".

    Moise files to challenge Frederica Wilson

    "Rudy Moise, the Haitian-American entrepreneur who lost the 2010 Democratic primary for Congressional District 24 to Frederica Wilson, is going to try for the newly redrawn seat again." "Rudy Moise files to challenge Frederica Wilson for Congress".

    PIP plans

    The Tampa Bay Times editors: "The Senate has a far more reasonable plan than the Florida House's plan to significantly reform the personal injury protection coverage system. It's approach is a better plan than one that would create a whole host of other consumer problems." "Senate plan best bet for fixing PIP".

    "Lawmakers stubbornly refuse to raise taxes"

    The Orlando Sentinel editors: "Seeking to get a $2 billion deficit monkey off Florida's back, lawmakers are again looking to help solve the problem by kicking a good habit — paying for substance-abuse treatment."

    The Senate this week passed a reckless budget plan would hack state spending on adult substance-abuse programs by about $26 million. Talk about déjà vu. Last year, Gov. Rick Scott helped slap down a Senate plan to drop a 15 percent ax on drug treatment, backing the House budget plan.

    Further cuts to substance-abuse treatment were a bad idea then — and they're a bad idea now.

    Since lawmakers stubbornly refuse to raise taxes, or even accept revenue they're already supposed to be collecting, like online sales taxes, we know the money has to come from somewhere.

    In the cross hairs are the usual suspects: programs that support children, the disabled, and the elderly.
    "Drug treatment cuts costly in the long run".

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