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 Friday, March 23, 2012

"A second and final redistricting plan"

    "Using a historic court ruling as its road map, the Florida Senate voted 31-6 Thursday for a second and final redistricting plan that leaders said would create an unprecedented number of minority senators and a more politically competitive chamber."
    It is now up to the Florida House, which will meet for three days next week, to sign off on the plan. If this second attempt fails to follow the state’s new anti-gerrymandering standards, the Florida Supreme Court will step in to draw the lines that will determine the Senate boundaries for the next decade. ...

    Democrats warned that despite three grueling days of debate this week, the map designed by Gaetz continues to violate the new constitutional requirements. They predict the courts will reject the proposal again. ...

    A Herald/Times analysis of the new plan shows Republicans would retain a majority in the Senate, though it would give Democrats one more seat than their original plan.
    "Based on voting data from the 2008 and 2010 general elections, the map would allow for the election of 23 solid Republican Senate seats, two competitive seats and 15 solid Democratic seats — compared to the current composition of 28 Republicans to 12 Democrats. It also creates five districts designed to favor black candidates and seven districts that favor Hispanics. One Orlando-based Hispanic seat would be dominated by Democrats."
    Republicans argue that the map not only abides by the court directives, it exceeds them. The original numbering system, for example, was rejected by the court because it was unfairly biased in favor of incumbents but senators attempted to avoid that this time by choosing new district numbers through a lottery.
    "Senate revamps redistricting map; critics say it remains flawed". See also "Florida Senate sends new redistricting plan to House on 31-6 vote", "Florida Senate passes redistricting plan; critics cry foul again" and "Senate approves redrawn maps after making changes" (unusual group of Senators help approve last-minute changes).

    But "a last-minute tweak to a couple of Central Florida districts in the redrawn Senate redistricting map could jeopardize the effort when it goes back before the state Supreme Court." "Tweaked Senate Map Has Trip to House Before Heading Back to Supreme Court".

    Sink "sharp and passionate" at Tiger Bay Club

    "Not being a candidate apparently agrees with Alex Sink. Florida's former chief financial officer came before the Suncoast Tiger Bay Club on Thursday sounding sharper and more passionate than she ever did running for governor two years ago."

    Known for caution and always measuring her words on the campaign trail, Sink instead blasted the Legislature for slashing $300 million from the higher education system while creating "an incredibly expensive and duplicative" 12th university. She called for far more focus on promoting existing Florida businesses than recruiting companies from out of state. She nearly choked up when talking about the killing of unarmed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin by a neighborhood watch volunteer in Sanford. ...

    Many Democrats expect Sink to take on Scott again in 2014, having lost by just 1 percentage point two years ago, but she said she won't make any decision for at least a year. Asked what she'd learned from the loss, Sink said she faced a Republican "tsunami," was outspent at least 2-to-1, and ultimately fell 61,000 votes short.

    "I am so sorry," she said apologetically.

    The Democrats have plenty of up-and-coming leaders who could be future gubernatorial candidates, she said, specifically naming Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jack Seiler.

    Her focus now is her nonprofit charitable think tank, Florida Next, which aims to promote entrepreneurship and small businesses.
    "Alex Sink sharp, passionate at Tiger Bay in St. Petersburg". See also "Sink blasts Scott over handling of Trayvon Martin case".

    The best they could do?

    "One of the county's top Republican Party leaders has a new regular gig: weekly political contributor for Fox News. At noon every Tuesday, Blaise Ingoglia will be paired up with a Democrat and debate national issues of the day." "Hernando Republican Party leader lands Fox News gig".

    "The conundrum for Scott"

    The Tampa Bay Times editorial board: "Scott needs to reject the Legislature's unfair scheme to withhold counties' share of state revenue if they don't blindly pay disputed Medicaid bills. The governor should veto HB 5301 and tell lawmakers to try again."

    The conundrum for Scott, of course, is that this bill contains more than one policy change. The legislation has a potpourri of health care issues tied to next year's state budget. (The budget, a separate bill, has not yet made it to the governor's desk.) ...

    But the most egregious scheme in the bill would undercut counties' ability to challenge whether they owe the state money for a specific Medicaid patient's bill. Under state law, counties are required to chip in when one of their residents who qualifies for Medicaid stays more than 10 days in a hospital or moves into a nursing home.
    "Scott should reject bill that punishes counties on Medicaid".

    "Stand your Ground" bill signed into law by Jeb Bush

    FlaDems (many of whom voted for the bill) point out that the "Stand your Ground" bill "was signed into law by Gov. Jeb Bush."

    "For a House that talks about the culture of life, it's ironic that we would be devaluing life in this bill, which is exactly what we're doing," said Rep. Dan Gelber, a former federal prosecutor from Miami Beach who later was elected to the Senate.

    Gelber said Floridians already had the right to defend themselves in their homes and offered an amendment that would restore a person's duty to retreat from a confrontation in public places. Rep. Eleanor Sobel, a South Florida Democrat who now serves in the Senate, said Gelber's amendment would reduce "chaos on the street."

    Republicans defeated Gelber's amendment on a voice vote. The bill's sponsor, Rep. Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala, called an obligation to retreat "a good way to get shot in the back."

    Members debated another unsuccessful amendment from Rep. Jack Seiler, a Democrat who is now mayor of Fort Lauderdale. Seiler's proposal would have allowed for rebuttal to a person's claim of self-defense.

    "We are going to give blanket immunity to criminals when they commit crime," Seiler said.

    Other voices from the hour-long debate:

    • "What would happen if I presumed that there was a threat when actually there was not a threat? I would hate to think that I would react and take someone's life, or do bodily harm to someone, who actually only looked a little different than I looked," said Rep. Priscilla Taylor, D-West Palm Beach.

    • "When you give a person the right to use deadly force anywhere they're lawfully supposed to be, then we open Pandora's Box, and inside the box will be death for some persons," Joyner said.

    • "In a few years, you will be back trying to fix this bill," said Rep. Ken Gottlieb, D-Hollywood.

    The House debate stands in contrast to the Senate.

    Sen. Steve Geller, D-Hallandale Beach, tried changing the bill before the vote so that it would not apply to public places. The Senate voted down his amendment in minutes. The vote to pass the bill was then unanimous, with Democrats, including Sen. Rod Smith, currently chair of the Florida Democratic Party, voting yes.
    "Democrats warned about 'stand your ground' in 2005".

    "Florida Muslims could be pivotal in 2012"

    "Muslims have the potential to play a pivotal role in the 2012 election as Islamophobia and immigration issues galvanize the minority group into a voting bloc, according to a forum Sunday at the University of Central Florida. Florida has an estimated 124,000 registered Muslim voters, and Orange and Osceola counties rank high in registered Muslim voters, said Daniel Hummel, a research associate with the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding, based in Washington, D.C. In the swing state of Florida, Muslims helped elect George Bush in 2000 and Barack Obama in 2008." "Florida Muslims could be pivotal in 2012 election". Related: "Muslim activists say Democratic party is taking their vote for granted".

    "Snuffed out like a switchman's lantern"

    Nancy Smith says "Nobody kept Alan Hays from voting for the "parent trigger" bill except Alan Hays. Pay no attention to the excuses."

    The bill designed to empower parents to take action on failing schools didn't fail because of Senate President Mike Haridopolos. It didn't fail because of workers' comp legislation. And it didn't fail because of some philosophical change of heart somewhere down the line. It failed because a co-sponsor of the "parent trigger" bill -- Sen. Alan Hays, R-Umatilla -- didn't vote for it.

    It's that simple.

    The senator who signed on to co-sponsor one of his party's highest priorities in the end snuffed it out like a switchman's lantern.
    "Sen. Alan Hays, Tell 'Em Back Home It Was You, You, You Who Killed 'Parent Trigger'".

    "Rep. John Mica, R-Micas to the Right, Micas to the Left"

    Daniel Ruth: "In all, some 82 members of the House on both sides of the aisle have paid family members through their congressional office, campaigns or political action committees. And 44 members have a family member who is either a lobbyist or works in government affairs, most notably Florida's Rep. John Mica, R-Micas to the Right, Micas to the Left."

    His son, two brothers, a nephew and a daughter all make their living in the schmoozing trade. ...

    [Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington] also takes note of the gene pool clout of Indian Shores Republican Rep. C.W. Bill Young. He directed nearly $45 million to local defense contractor Science Applications International Corp., which by amazing coincidence also hired his son Patrick, who at the time had barely stopped teething.

    The powerful congressman also directed $28.6 million in federal money to Forensic Science Technology Center in Largo, which by an equally amazing coincidence employed another son, Billy.

    "It's really old news, is my first reaction," Young said Thursday. And he's right, since much of the CREW chapter on his generosity was first reported by the Times in 2008. Old? Maybe to the Tampa Bay area, but not necessarily to the rest of the country.

    Young insisted he had absolutely nothing to do with the hiring of his sons. But he didn't have to. Does anyone doubt that the executives of these companies certainly had to know that hiring the sons of one of Washington's most clout-squared politicians, who has been in Congress so long he served with John Quincy Adams, would be a savvy move?

    Really now, if you were the president of Amalgamated Gizmos in Cincinnati and you had a chance to hire even a slack-jawed relative of House Speaker John Boehner, wouldn't you be thinking about creating a corner office for your new deputy assistant vice president for coffeemaking?

    Being singled out by the CREW report as part of the congressional nepotism caucus didn't seem particularly bothersome for Young. "I've been in this business most of my life," he said. "I'm used to it."

    And maybe in the end, that's sort of the issue.
    "House largesse? It’s all relative".

    New rules

    "State Considering New Rules on 'Public' Adjusters".

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