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, March 25, 2012

Jeb Bush's "common sense" manifested itself in Sanford

    Frank Cerabino, is perhaps the only Florida journalist to point the finger at Jeb Bush in the Trayvon tragedy. Cerabino writes that "Jeb Bush had this to say seven years ago when he signed a sweeping new Florida gun law:"
    "It's common sense to allow people to defend themselves. When you're in a position where you're being threatened to have to retreat and put yourself in a very precarious position defies common sense."

    Who could be against common sense?

    That common sense manifested itself in Sanford last month in the death of Trayvon Martin, 17, who made the fatal mistake of walking through a gated community while appearing to be "up to no good," according to an armed and zealous community-watch volunteer.

    Common sense told George Zimmerman, 28, that the black teenager was trouble.
    "Nothing more would have come from all this common sense if Martin's family and friends hadn't screamed bloody murder to a nation that heard their cries."
    And Florida, that bastion of common sense, looks bad.

    So bad that even the NRA-enamored Gov. Rick Scott has taken time out from his urine-­farming initiatives to call for further investigation of the stand-your-ground shooting law that has kept Zimmerman a free man.

    I guess it makes common sense for Florida lawmakers to run for cover now that it's clear they've been cheerleading a law that gives legal cover to untrained lethal hotheads who use racial stereotyping to guide their own common sense.
    Much more here: "Florida's 'common-sense' gun law paves way for Trayvon Martin's senseless death".

    "Florida loses most construction jobs of any state in the nation"

    "Employment in Florida's construction industry has been bad, but last year it got worse."

    The state lost the most construction jobs, 20,700, of any state in the nation, bringing industry jobs in Florida down to 307,800 in January, according to an Associated General Contractors of America report. The peak was 687,200 in June 2006.

    "We're probably close to the bottom, if we haven't reached it," said Ken Simonson, the association's chief economist.
    "Florida construction jobs nearly at bottom, economist says".

    Well, there's always 7-Eleven.

    Scott signs controversial proposal authorizing school prayer

    "The burden is now on school districts to decide whether to allow students to pray or deliver 'inspirational messages' during public events. Gov. Rick Scott signed into law Friday a controversial proposal authorizing school prayer." "Scott signs school prayer bill".

    "Travesties of the 'Stand Your Ground' kind keep adding up"

    The Miami Heralds's Fred Grimm: "Stand Your Ground, the way the law has been interpreted, has proven to be a wild misnomer. Like Trayvon Martin, Pedro Roteta was pursued down a city street by his killer."

    On Jan. 25, Roteta had apparently been trying to steal the radio from a truck owned by Greyston Garcia, parked outside his apartment in southwest Miami. Truck burglary’s a crime of course, but not a capital case. Not before 2005.

    Garcia grabbed a large knife and chased the 26-year-old Roteta down the block. He caught up with Roteta, who was unarmed except for an unopened pocketknife in his pocket, and stabbed him to death. The confrontation was captured on a surveillance video.

    Miami police were not nearly as cautious as the cops in Sanford. Garcia was arrested and charged with second-degree murder. But under the peculiarities of the stand-your-ground statute, the case never went to trial. Judge Bloom decided Wednesday that Garcia was immune from prosecution. ...

    The Florida Supreme Court, trying to sort out the ineptly written law (a piece of boilerplate legislation contrived by the NRA [and pushed by ALEC (funded by big corporations such as Walmart and Koch Industries]) ruled that the immunity conferred by stand-your-ground was for a judge, not a jury, to decide. Judge Bloom decided, under the squishy language of the statute, that Garcia “reasonably believed it is necessary” to use deadly force “to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.”
    There's more, as "travesties of the Stand Your Ground kind keep adding up."
    At mid-afternoon on Aug. 11, 2009, a black Maxima chased a beige Infiniti at harrowing speeds down Old Cutler Road. Other cars veered off the road. One innocent motorist was sideswiped before the Infiniti crashed into a clump of bushes, the rear window blasted out, bullet holes in the trunk, spent cartridges littering the interior.

    The driver of the Infiniti, Sujaye E. Henry, 26, was killed, slumped over the steering wheel, two bullet wounds in the shoulder, a third through his left eye socket. Here was a homicide brought on by reckless gunfire on a city street, spawned by a dispute over a drug deal. There was a time when Anthony Gonzalez Jr., 31, aka “White Boy,” a passenger in the pursing Maxima and the gunman who fired the fatal shot, might have faced harsh consequences.

    The case never went to trial. Gonzalez, after all, as he fired away from the passenger seat, was acting under the permissive parameters of the Stand Your Ground doctrine.

    Stand Your Ground preempted any thought of prosecuting a former Broward County deputy sheriff who pumped four rounds into an aggressive panhandler outside a Miami Lakes ice cream parlor in January. The month before, Broward Circuit Judge Ilona Holmes bypassed a jury and acquitted Nour Badi Jarkas, 54, of Plantation, who had shot his estranged wife’s boyfriend four times inside her house in 2009. Judge Holmes cited Stand Your Ground, saying, “nothing was presented ... to rebut the reasonableness of the fear that [Jarkas] testified that he had.”

    In 2009, after two FPL workers, in their blue shirts and pith helmets, approached Ernesto Che Vino’s mobile home in Northwest Miami-Dade to shut off the juice, Vino came storming out of the house with his rifle, cuffing one of the workers on the head then firing shots as the two ran for their truck. Miami-Dade Circuit Judge John W. Thornton, “following the dictates of Stand Your Ground,” decided that Vino’s claim that he feared for his life was not unreasonable. He tossed two counts of armed assault and one count of improper exhibition of a firearm.
    "Stand-your-ground law had a sad history before Trayvon".

    "Perhaps Florida will fix its Frankenstein"

    Beth Kassab: "Florida is a laboratory for the NRA. The place where it tests the formula for a gun-toting utopia."

    The "stand your ground" law that has come under attack in the weeks since Trayvon Martin's death is a National Rifle Association experiment gone awry.

    It's Florida's Frankenstein.

    But this monster of a law has already invaded more than 20 other states since it was invented here nearly seven years ago.

    NRA leaders were so sure that they had a breakthrough in their quest to promote gun rights that they quickly convinced their friends at the American Legislative Exchange Council to take up the cause.

    The so-called model legislation pushed by the conservative group of legislators known as ALEC (funded by big corporations such as Walmart and Koch Industries) matches Florida's law nearly word for word.

    The success of the national push calls attention not only to the NRA's long-held political power, but also its ties to ALEC, an organization known as a filter for business-backed legislation that is preapproved by corporate lobbyists.

    And it also shows the danger of passing legislation that is so unilaterally supported — it passed Florida's Senate unanimously and passed 94-20 in the House — before it is properly vetted.

    Prosecutors and law enforcement were vehemently opposed to the change. ...

    if lawmakers are going to weaken the law, they'll have to pry the change from Marion Hammer's cold, dead hands.

    Hammer has been the lead scientist in the NRA's Florida laboratory for the past 25 years.

    And she is known in both pro- and anti-gun circles for not backing down.

    Hammer, 72, was the first female president of the NRA and now serves as its Florida lobbyist. ...

    But, for once, it seems fewer and fewer people are agreeing with her, now that the law is being blamed for the injustice that has followed Trayvon's death.

    Perhaps Florida will fix its Frankenstein.
    "Florida was test case for NRA-created 'stand your ground'".

    Sue Carlton: "The worst of 'stand your ground'". Scott Maxwell: "Sharpton, other black leaders spoke up when white leaders didn't".

    FlaDem chair cosponsored "stand your ground"

    "Plenty of Florida Democrats are saying "We told you so" and calling for repeal of the 'stand your ground' law in the wake of the Trayvon Martin shooting, but not Florida Democratic Party Chairman Rod Smith. Smith, a former prosecutor, cosponsored the bill as a state senator in 2005." "Florida Democratic chief backs 'stand your ground'".

    Florida, home of the wingnut

    "Larry Klayman, the conservative legal activist from Miami who ran unsuccessfully for U.S. Senate in 2004, has filed a lawsuit against the state over Barack Obama's eligibility to be on the general election ballot. Klayman wants to require Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner to confirm the eligibility of Obama before placing his name on the ballot." "Lawsuit filed against Obama's eligibility".


    The Daytona Beach News-Journal editors are all atwitter about Jebbie's struggle to keep himself relevant. See "Bush endorsement shifts GOP primary to end game".


    The Sarasota Herald-Tribune editorial board: "The state Supreme Court will eventually determine whether adjusted boundaries and randomly selected numbers for Senate districts meet the requirements of Florida's constitution." "Better Senate districts".

    "Another highly political case from Florida"

    The Tampa Bay Times editors: "The oral argument beginning today in the legal challenge to the nation's landmark health care reform law is also a test for the U.S. Supreme Court. In 2000, the high court issued what was widely viewed as a political decision in Bush vs. Gore, where the court split along ideological lines to prematurely end the presidential recount in Florida. The health care law challenge is another highly political case from Florida, with momentous consequences for the nation. This is an opportunity for the Roberts court to demonstrate that following the law is more important than serving an ideological agenda."

    Florida filed its challenge to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act within minutes of the act being signed by President Barack Obama in 2010. It is joined by 25 Republican-controlled states. The crux of the claim is that the Affordable Care Act violates the U.S. Constitution by overstepping federal authority and infringing on states' rights. But the real motivation is to strike down the centerpiece legislative achievement of a Democratic president and dismantle a national system of medical security for virtually every American.
    "High court must eschew politics on Affordable Care Act".

    "Miami-Dade mayor’s race going Hollywood"

    "Actor Andy Garcia and his wife, Marivi, will be special guests Tuesday at a fundraiser for Mayor Carlos Gimenez’s reelection campaign." "Actor Andy Garcia to appear at fundraiser for Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez".

    Train between Miami and Orlando

    "New passenger train between Miami and Orlando would include a West Palm Beach stop".

    The Tampa Bay Times editorial board: "There have been attempts in the past to replace Florida's confusing, inequitable, politicized claims process. Lawmakers tried in 2008 to streamline the process, for example, for prisoners exonerated of their crimes. But that still left Dillon walking the halls of the Capitol to plead his case. It's time to try again. Broken bodies and hearts already victimized once by government should not have to bear a second indignity of legislative foot-dragging." "Do right by victims of government incompetence, neglect".

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