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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 Thursday, March 08, 2012

So much for Scott's bragging about "business expansion and job creation"

    "When Redpine Healthcare Technologies decided last summer it was moving its headquarters from Spokane, Wash., to Panama City, Florida economic development officials boasted the project would generate up to 410 high-paying jobs."
    Gov. Rick Scott bragged in a press release he was "nurturing a business climate that encourages business expansion and job creation."
    "Five months later, after pocketing $750,000 in state and local tax incentives, the start-up abruptly closed its doors."
    Last fall, the Orlando Sentinel reviewed data indicating that more than 1,600 job-creation deals had been signed with companies that promised to generate more than 224,000 new jobs in exchange for $1.7 billion in tax credits, rebates and other incentives. But only about 80,000 jobs were created, and $738 million paid out. ...

    Redpine, code-named "Project Soften," is one of 123 incentive deals awarded since Scott took office last year that are still considered confidential under the exemption. Details of the project were released only because the state went to court to try to get its money back.

    The state paid the company $400,000 last year, and Bay County kicked in $350,000, convinced to invest based on the state's recommendation and an investor list that included a founder of Bowflex, the fitness company.
    "But within five months, the company owner claimed an investor had pulled out and closed its doors."
    While most of the dollars the state pays out are after-the-fact tax credits that reimburse companies after they hire people, the money paid to all seven companies that have failed to live up to their contracts comes from something called the "Quick Action Closing Fund," that gives companies up-front cash to encourage them to set up shop.

    Lawmakers have historically limited how much of the total pot of state incentive money can be awarded through that fund. But the $86.2 million in new incentive cash the Florida Legislature is prepared to appropriate this week would allow Scott to give it all out up-front if he wants.
    "Florida gave $750,000 tax deal to company that went bankrupt". See also "" and "".

    Jebbie's latest privatization scheme having problems in the Senate

    "A proposal that could let parents decide the fate of failing public schools is sparking fierce debate as it heads to a final vote in the Florida Senate this week."

    The "parent trigger" bill has prompted an outcry from critics, who view it as a way to snatch power from local school boards and convince parents to turn public campuses over to private companies.

    Its supporters, including former Gov. Jeb Bush, call the criticism misleading. They argue the bill would simply help parents push for change at chronically struggling campuses.

    Though it passed the House easily, the trigger bill's fate in the Senate isn't clear, and it has been the subject of intense lobbying as a vote nears.

    "Thousands of parents are speaking. They don't want this bill," said Sen. Evelyn Lynn, R-Ormond Beach, one of two Republican senators to announce they would not support it.
    The bill's
    opponents fear widespread fallout from a "cynical" effort to close public schools and then transfer their students — and the tax dollars they bring — to corporate-managed, for-profit charter schools.

    "When we see a group of highly paid lobbyists running all over Tallahassee pushing this bill, we have to ask who is going to profit from this?" said Kathleen Oropeza, of Fund Education Now, an Orlando based parent group.
    "'Parent trigger' bill sparks fierce debate as Florida Senate vote nears".

    "The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a group that promotes 'free markets, limited government, federalism, and individual liberty, through a nonpartisan public-private partnership of America’s state legislators, members of the private sector, and the federal government,' wrote a model Parent Trigger bill, which includes language promoting parent empowerment, turnaround models or options for failing public schools. Florida’s version of the 'Parent Trigger bill,' filed by Sen. Lisbeth Benacquisto, R-Ft. Myers, is similar, and would introduce statewide statutes to regulate parent empowerment and turnaround options in Florida." "Education bill with ties to pro-business organization slated for Florida Senate Thursday".

    "Vice President Joe Biden has been assigned Florida"

    "Vice President Joe Biden slipped into Tampa Bay for a fundraiser Wednesday, where he cheered for the spirited Republican presidential primary to continue for as long as possible." "Biden drops into St. Petersburg to raise big bucks for Obama re-election campaign".

    "Failure of the executive and legislative branches to recognize their limits"

    The Tampa Bay Times editors: "The definition of insanity, the adage goes, is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. Yet Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida Legislature are at it again, embracing legislation that ignores constitutional limits on their authority, forcing costly taxpayer-financed litigation and resorting to name-calling and threats to the judiciary when the courts rule against them."

    Tuesday's ruling that cutting public employee salaries to help pay for pensions is unconstitutional is not the result of an activist judge as some Republicans complain. It reflects the failure of the executive and legislative branches to recognize their limits and the role of an independent judicial branch. ...

    Every time elected leaders make bad law, taxpayers pay the legal bills. The legal tab in the pension case already is $800,000 and rising. This isn't a question of judicial activism but of arrogance by Republicans who hold the Governor's Mansion and a super-majority in the Legislature — and have little regard for constitutional protections or the courts.
    "Legislative overreach in overdrive".

    The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "Judicial activism is when a judge ignores the law. This isn't it. Political activism becomes illegal when the governor and Legislature ignore the constitution. Judge Fulford makes a good case that did happen here." "Budget trick didn't fool judge".

    Related: "Cannon, Haridopolos: Budget Process Safe from Disputed Pension Ruling".

    Meanwhile, "State Files Appeal of Judge Jackie Fulford's Pension Fund Ruling".

    Growth management suit

    "Bill would resolve Fla. growth management suit".

    "Sophomoric power games"

    Beth Kassab says, "Enough with the sophomoric power games that Tallahassee is playing with our universities."

    Too much time is spent focusing on political sport. Such as how Sen. JD Alexander is creating his own pet university — Florida's 12th — even as the state is cutting higher-education dollars and raising tuition at record rates.

    Let's take a break from the analysis of how lawmakers are raiding universities' cash reserves like piggy banks. ...

    University administrators and politicians say Florida tuition rates are so far below the national average that students — and we parents saving for a future student's education — can only expect prices to rise.

    The problem is that the cutting is so severe that it's tough for any of them to argue with a straight face that we will be getting more for our money.

    Classes are bigger. Academic programs are getting cut. And this year's raiding of universities' cash reserves means UCF will be out about $52 million that could have been used to recruit faculty, enhance programs and even pay for building repairs in case a major hurricane blows through.

    That's going to mean big trouble when it comes to wooing and keeping faculty and top students — students who might have stayed in Florida when it was a bargain, but now are looking elsewhere.

    Florida needs all the brain power it can get. Universities are one of the best ways to attract the brightest minds. It's good for business and helps an ailing economy.
    "Tuition hikes mean students work more, take fewer classes".

    New Citizens' head

    "Florida’s Commissioner of the Office of Financial Regulation, Tom Grady, is resigning to become interim president of Citizens Property Insurance Corp." "Citizens Insurance gets interim president". See also "Tom Grady Quits OFR, Will Take Over as Interim President of Citizens". Related: "Citizens Reform Dies in the House, with Republican help".

    "Protests from clergy"

    "A bill that passed the House banning courts or other legal authorities from using religious or foreign law as a part of a legal decision or contract drew protests from clergy. The bill is pending in the Senate." "Religious leaders condemn ‘anti-Sharia’ bill". See also "Citing 'Demonizing' Fliers, Muslims Want 'Anti-Sharia' Bill Pulled".

    Entrepreneurs in action

    "Store owner pulled gun on customer who complained about bedbugs in furniture".

    Puffing Marco

    "Many Republicans are worried about the presidential primary dragging on for weeks or more, a battle that has already inflicted wounds. Not U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio." "Marco Rubio says no worries about long GOP primary, he won't be VP and Syria is not Libya".

    Jobs, jobs, jobs

    Frank Cerabino: "Gov. Rick Scott needs to be on the next plane to Los Angeles. There are jobs, jobs, jobs for the taking." "California porn regulations open door for move to Florida".

    Scott and the Legislature have unified labor movement

    "A series of bills attacking public sector unions, along with a judge’s favorable ruling on pensions, has coalesced the once desperate group."

    "The expected Senate vote on Thursday over giving parents the right to order turn-around programs at their struggling schools is less about parents and more about undercutting the role of Florida’s powerful teacher’s unions, say labor organizers."

    After numerous assaults on them last year, they have banded together this year in a united front to persuade legislators — mainly the fragile majority in the Senate — to stop efforts to undercut the unions.

    The vote count on the so-called parent trigger bill appeared too close for its sponsors to call late Wednesday. But the alliance in opposition to it was clear.

    Unions, which previously had worked independently to pursue their agendas, have locked arms in an election-year strategy to reward their friends and penalize enemies on a handful of union-breaking proposals this year.

    "Gov. Scott and the Florida Legislature have done more to unify the Florida labor movement in the state of Florida than anybody else could have ever done,’’ said Andy Ford, president of the Florida Education Association, which represents school teachers.

    The alliance extends to police, fire, nurses and other public safety workers, said Robert Suarez of Miami, vice president of the Florida Professional Firefighters.

    “We jeopardize a lot of the security that we typically have among our supporters by building these coalitions,’’ Suarez said. “But we’re much stronger in representing the working class people if labor unions coordinate more together."
    "Fight over parent empowerment bill becomes latest litmus".

    Nancy Smith Begs to Differ

    Nancy Smith: "Watch your wallet Thursday when the Senate is due to take up SB 2094, Adam Putnam's hard-fought-for energy bill." "Sneak Attack Alert! Watch Out, Energy Bill!".

    "Jeb!" in the wings

    "Jeb Bush Could Be the One for the GOP".

    From the "values" crowd

    "Funding for state homeless coalitions in jeopardy".

    PIP deform

    "Late-Night Negotiations Expected over Salvaging PIP Reform".

    Senate blocking "red-meat Republican measures"

    "With just two days left in the legislative session, at least two high-priority -- and contentious -- measures remain unresolved and at least one poses a potentially embarrassing loss for Senate President Mike Haridopolos."

    Haridopolos, R-Merritt Island, and other Senate GOP leaders -- including Rules Chairman John Thrasher and Majority Leader Andy Gardiner -- are backing a controversial "parent trigger" school choice measure (SB 1718) that will come up for debate today and get a vote on Friday.

    Despite it being a priority for the GOP leaders as well as former Gov. Jeb Bush, Haridopolos may not have the votes to pass it.

    That would be just another loss for Haridopolos, as he prepares to leave office because of term limits. Bipartisan coalitions have formed to block at least three other red-meat Republican measures, including a top priority of Gov. Rick Scott's, from passage or getting to the floor.
    "Florida Senate leader struggles to keep GOP 'soldiers' in lock-step".

    Dems working hard to screw up Rivera challenge

    "The national Democratic Party’s decision to recruit former Miami-Dade Mayor Alex Penelas to run against Congressman David Rivera looks like it could backfire."

    First off, Penelas said he’s not sold on pursuing the seat — despite the fact he was urged to run by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s chairman, Steve Israel, and the Democratic National Committee’s chairwoman, U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

    Secondly, the Democrat already running against Rivera, state Rep. Luis Garcia, is blasting both Penelas and the national Democrats.

    “At the very least, I was handled disrespectfully — maybe a little bit dishonestly,” said Garcia, who was first recruited to run against Rivera by Israel.

    “Alex said that he had been called by Debbie Wasserman Schultz and that Steve Israel had come down to meet with him, all behind my back,” Garcia said. “I placed a call to Steve Israel. He hasn’t returned my call. I’m not very happy about that.”

    Garcia said he was dropped by the DCCC because he couldn’t raise enough money, even though he pulled in $100,000 last summer. He said he would have pulled in more, but Wasserman Schultz didn’t help him with some major donors.
    "Garcia slams Penelas and national Democrats".

    "Bill to give Scott more power stalls"

    "A proposal to give Gov. Rick Scott more power over the courts appeared dead Wednesday amid a disagreement whether Scott should have the power to fire people appointed by former-Gov. Charlie Crist to a panel that helps select judges." "Bill to give Rick Scott more power to pick judges stalls".

    Water management district budgets

    "Last year, SB 2142 cut water management district property tax revenues by $210 million, prompting an outcry from environmentalists. SB 1986 compromise language would lift the budget caps and provides that the Legislature may annually review preliminary water management district budgets." "House, Senate budget chairmen agree on water management districts' budgeting bill".

    Wage theft

    "The author of Miami-Dade county’s wage theft ordinance has joined community, religious, business and labor leaders in opposing a GOP-sponsored House bill that would end the county’s wage theft program. The bill - filed by state Rep. Tom Goodson, R-Titusville, and passed by House members last week – prohibits counties and municipalities from maintaining laws that create regulations addressing wage theft, the practice of employers stiffing workers out of the wages they are owed." "Author of Miami-Dade wage theft ordinance calls on state Senate to stop preemption bill".

    "DEP played a game with polluters"?

    "A National Research Council study says a federal agency underestimated the costs of proposed federal water quality rules in Florida."

    But the report, released Tuesday, implies the Florida Department of Environmental Protection added to public misconceptions and controversy about the federal cost estimates. That has prompted criticism from the Sierra Club, which says DEP played a game with polluters to create the uproar and undermine the proposed federal rules.
    "Study report implies state contributed to misconceptions over proposed federal water quality rules".

    Pregnant prisoners

    "The Florida House today passed a bill that would set uniform and humane rules for the shackling and restraint of pregnant women who are incarcerated. The bill already passed in the state Senate and is now headed to Gov. Rick Scott’s desk." "Bill protecting incarcerated pregnant women heads to governor’s desk".

    Senate kills early voting reform

    "A last-ditch effort to expand early voting before Florida’s legislative session ends this week failed in the state Senate yesterday." "Attempt to expand early voting fails in Florida Senate".

    State budget slashes Medicaid

    "As the state aims to balance the budget in the face of a $2 billion shortfall, Medicaid recipients might see their doctor’s visits slashed. Florida’s $70 billion budget, which was released yesterday and is set to be voted on Friday, drastically cuts visits to emergency rooms and primary care doctors for Floridians enrolled in the state’s Medicaid program." "State budget slashes primary care visits for Medicaid recipients".

    Dyer in a fight

    "Challengers take aim at Dyer in mayoral".

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