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 Tuesday, March 06, 2012

FRS decision today

    "Leon County Circuit Court Judge Jackie Fulford announced Monday that she will announce her decision in the union lawsuit against the state over state worker pensions at a special hearing in her courtroom today. Depending on how Fulford rules, legislators could face a $2 billion budget hole or dodge a bullet." "Judge's decision could carve hole in Florida budget".

    Budget means state workers won't get pay raise for sixth straight year

    "Legislative leaders struck a nearly $70 billion budget deal Monday marked by the creation of a new state polytechnic university in Lakeland, fulfilling the vision of a single lawmaker who wanted the school to grow independently from the University of South Florida."

    The creation of Florida Polytechnic University, a priority of the departing Sen. JD Alexander, ensures that lawmakers will be able to pass a budget before the 2012 session is scheduled to end Friday.

    Negotiations tipped when lawmakers agreed to cover most of the costs associated with splitting the Lakeland campus from USF.

    Resolving the USF controversy was a linchpin in budget talks. Lawmakers put the final touches on the nearly $70 billion spending plan Monday afternoon with dozens of community projects in members’ districts ....

    Some projects surfaced for the first time. The projects, subject to a veto by Gov. Rick Scott, were funded through state workers not receiving a pay raise for the sixth straight year.
    "Lawmakers reach deal on nearly $70 billion state budget". Related: "Final budget deal includes new state university" and "In last-minute deal, House eases costs in USF Poly split".

    See also "Budget adds university, cuts from colleges", "Budget deal includes $8 million for conservation land-buying, Alexander says" and "Legislative leaders gobble 'turkeys' for their districts".

    Energy bill

    "House OKs energy bill despite simmering objections from large power users".

    Redistricting special session

    "Senate President Mike Haridopolos all but admitted defeat Monday in the first round of court reviews over the Legislature's redistricting map and predicted lawmakers would be back in a special session to revamp their maps." "Special session on maps looks likely".

    MacNamara too clever by half

    Steve MacNamara, Ricky Scott's chief of staff, is "'smart as hell - a really smart guy'". Apparently not too smart to get played.

    Steve Bousquet: "Scott is not a professional politician, so the idea of horse-trading with state legislators is awkward for him, especially when it involves groveling for votes from fellow Republicans."

    So Scott hired a skilled horse-trader, Steve MacNamara, as his chief of staff. But when MacNamara tried a game of give-and-take with the Senate on prison privatization, it failed miserably with the dean of the Legislature, Republican Sen. Dennis Jones of Seminole. The result left MacNamara angry at Jones, a politician he has known for decades.

    Jones wanted a couple of favors from the governor, and Scott said sure.

    The senator wanted his son Rod reappointed to the state Board of Chiropractic Medicine, and Scott did it. Jones also wanted some people reappointed to the board of trustees for St. Petersburg College, where he works, and Scott chose two of the four people Jones favored, Deveron Gibbons and Ken Burke.

    Now it was Scott’s turn to ask Jones for help. The governor and MacNamara desperately needed Jones’ vote for one of Scott’s legislative priorities: SB 2038, privatizing dozens of prisons in South Florida.

    Jones was a big opponent of privatization — he called it “a kick in the teeth” to state workers who haven’t had a pay raise in five years — but MacNamara also knew that Scott had done favors for Jones.

    “That’s the reason I went to Dennis Jones, because Dennis Jones had come to us,” MacNamara says. “The governor was, ’Gosh, we did him a favor, maybe he’ll do us a favor.’ ”

    It was horse-trading time, but Jones was not about to play political games with privatizing Florida’s prisons. He cast his vote as part of a bipartisan majority that killed privatization on a 21-19 Senate floor vote on Feb. 14.

    Jones said he was upset that MacNamara wanted him to come to the governor’s office an hour before the privatization bill was to be debated on the Senate floor. He said it would be a waste of time to hear the pitch.
    Much more here: "Gov. Scott's top aide blasts senator's 'one-way street'".

    "Delicate task of public prayer"

    Thomas Tryon: "Students shouldn't have delicate task of public prayer".

    "Just another gimmick"

    The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "Never trust a bill that gets slammed through the Legislature without proper debate. The "parent-trigger" bill is one."

    This proposal would allow 51 percent of parents whose children attend a failing public school to dictate the state-required turnaround plan. Supporters tried to move the bill, which the House has passed, to the Senate floor last week for a vote. They failed, because many Republicans oppose it, even though GOP legislators usually love anything that Jeb Bush calls "education reform."

    After failing to bring the bill straight to the floor, supporters scheduled a rare Senate Budget Committee meeting for Saturday morning, then cut off opponents. Chairman J.D. Alexander, R-Lake Wales, got all huffy when Sen. Nan Rich, D-Sunrise, asked a man speaking for the bill where he worked. He had identified himself as a former teacher. His current job: He works as a part-time intern at Jeb Bush's Foundation for Florida's Future, which has been lobbying for the bill. Ironically, one major concern about the legislation is that parents can manipulate the process to "trigger" a takeover.

    A for-profit charter school could take over the public school by obtaining the signatures of 51 percent of parents. Parents could replace staff or move students to other schools. The bill's sponsor, Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto, R-Fort Myers, claims that if 51 percent of parents sign a petition, that must be a sign of deep parental involvement and support for a turnaround plan. Actual experience with this kind of law refutes that.
    "Sham reform, sham politics".

    The Tampa Bay Times editors: "The Florida Legislature is still trying to shed its responsibility for the state’s struggling public schools. The latest scheme, enabling a majority of parents at a public school to force a conversion to a charter school, is not the answer."
    This bill (SB 1718) is the latest policy pushed by former Gov. Jeb Bush's Foundation for Florida's Future under the guise that the threat of competition from the private sector will improve public education. But there is also an incentive for the private sector, given that more public schools are expected to be deemed failing in coming years due to pending changes in the state's grading formula. This parent trigger bill would allow a small cadre of parents to influence how millions of taxpayer dollars will be spent. Those groups would be more susceptible to a for-profit charter operator's pitch than the seasoned public education professionals who decide under current law. ...

    Republican sponsors claim their goal is to empower parents, but it's really just another gimmick distracting from lawmakers' continued indifference to investing in public schools. Even with the restoration of $1 billion next year to cover most of this year's cut in public education spending, Florida still ranks among the lowest in the nation in per pupil spending.
    "Charter scheme not the answer".


    "Federal environmental regulators said Monday that they will hold off on imposing controversial water pollution standards on Florida lakes, rivers and streams to give the state more time to crafts its own rules." "EPA delays water pollution rules".

    "Last-minute advocates"

    "Last-minute advocates have mixed record".

    The best we could do?

    "Scott may soon be stepping in to help settle the debate over Florida’s new school grading formula." "Scott to help settle school grades debate".

    "Florida Legislature has returned to the culture wars"

    The Tampa Bay Times editorial board: "It must be an election year, because the Florida Legislature has returned to the culture wars. The House in particular has spent time in recent days passing legislation regarding abortion restrictions, school prayer and other issues important to social conservatives. The emphasis may appeal to some voters, but it will not paper over the Legislature's larger failures to invest in higher education, protect the environment or provide social services."

    Bills to erode church-state separation, interfere with a woman's right to an abortion and banish Islamic law may be politically popular with some conservative voters. But they do not reflect the daily concerns or mainstream values of most Floridians. The sooner the Legislature wraps up the state budget and adjourns, the better.
    "Legislature puts on culture war sideshow".

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