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 Thursday, April 26, 2012

The new helotry

    The Miami Herald editorial board: "The i’s aren’t dotted and the t’s aren’t crossed but Sen. Marco Rubio is offering his Republican Party a version of the Dream Act that would provide relief for young adults brought to the United States illegally as children by their immigrant parents."
    The GOP should embrace this ermeging plan. It’s a stop-gap, to be sure, but it would lift hundreds of thousands — as many as one million — young people from the shadows of immigration law, particularly if they pursue college or want to enroll in the U.S. military.
    "Embrace new Dream Act".

    More accurately, Rubio's plan would lift hundreds of thousands of young people from the shadows of immigration law into the status of helotry

    More: "Senator Harry Reid blasts Senator Marco Rubio’s 'DREAM Act' to keep youth to permanent underclass" and "Don’t keep ‘Dreamers’ waiting" ("Republican plan to relegate hundreds of thousands of young people to a permanent underclass is unprecedented in American law or history"). Background: "Florida’s Rubio Supports SB 1070, Not Children of Undocumented" ("After a week of flip-flopping on the issue, Florida Republican Senate Candidate Marco Rubio has come out in favor of Arizona’s SB 1070.")

    FlaDem push?

    "Is Buchanan worried about push by Democrats?".

    Rubio's grandfather ordered deported

    "Another chapter in Sen. Marco Rubio’s family history publicly unfolded Wednesday when reporters unearthed the story of his grandfather’s flight from Castro’s Cuba and his near-deportation from the United States."

    The reports from the Associated Press, Politico and the Washington Post underscored the intense national scrutiny of the potential Republican vice-presidential candidate.
    Of course, "Rubio didn’t know the particulars of his grandfather’s story until they were reported Wednesday."
    In a rush to tell his story before others do this election year, Rubio is writing an autobiography, “An American Son: A Memoir.” It’s scheduled to be published in June. About the same time, Washington Post writer Manuel Roig-Franzia publishes “The Rise of Marco Rubio,” an unauthorized biography of Rubio.

    On Wednesday, Roig-Franzia had excerpts of his book published in Politico that mentioned the plight of Rubio’s maternal grandfather, Pedro Victor García. Simultaneously, the Associated Press chronicled parts of García’s story.

    García immigrated to the United States three years before Fidel Castro took power Jan. 1, 1959. Two weeks later, García returned to Cuba hoping the island had changed for the better. It hadn’t. It replaced one dictator with another.

    By the summer of 1962, he fled the country for the United States. García was allowed entry even though an immigration officer signed a form that said “you do not appear to me to be clearly and beyond a doubt entitled to enter the United States,” Roig-Franzia reported.

    The Associated Press reported that an Aug. 31, 1962 interagency immigration memo said that García "returned to the U.S. only because his family is here, no family in Cuba." That admission, the AP said, suggested Garcia was not seeking political asylum.

    Just what happened to García is unclear — records are incomplete — but on Oct. 4, 1962 an immigration hearing officer ordered the Rubio’s grandfather “be excluded and deported from the United States.”

    But he wasn’t because, by then, the United States had a de facto policy of not returning people to Communist dictators, according to Cuban and immigration experts.

    The Washington Post writer says that García’s travails then are similar to those experienced now by immigrants from Mexican and other Latin American countries.
    "Rubio’s grandfather’s near deportation from U.S. prompts more media scrutiny". See also "Marco Rubio biography says grandfather was ordered deported" and "Rubio camp issues statement on book excerpts".

    "The law can be daunting"

    "Since passage last year of a new Republican-sponsored election-law rewrite, fierce debate has raged over whether new rules make it tougher for people to register and vote this election year. Among other changes, new law requires groups and individuals to turn in voter forms within 48 hours – they previously had 10 days – or face fines of $50 per late application, up to a maximum of $1,000 per organization per year."

    The debate has a partisan tone. Republicans say the changes, which include other new regulations such as using tracking numbers to tie voter applications to the organizations responsible for generating them, are reasonable attempts to curb fraud. Democrats call them "voter suppression," contending they are intended to curb registration and voting, especially by traditionally Democratic minority, disabled and poor residents.

    The changes are also opposed by several nonprofit groups that conduct high-profile voter-registration drives. The League of Women Voters, Rock the Vote and others sued in federal court in Tallahassee to overturn the new law, which took effect last July 1; a ruling is expected soon. Meanwhile, they halted their registration drives.

    "We've made such important and remarkable progress since the year 2000 which helped restore voter confidence," said Deirdre Macnab, president of the League of Women Voters of Florida. "So to see the Legislature take these backward, regressive steps … is appalling."

    The law can be daunting. Case in point: LaVon Bracy, a longtime voter-registration volunteer, wife of the Rev. Randolph Bracy Jr., pastor of New Covenant Baptist Church in Orlando, said she felt the pressure when she collected about 15 applications at church on Easter Sunday and then had to go to Gainesville the next day. She hustled back to Orlando that afternoon.

    "I had to come by the church, pick up the voter registrations and get to the voter registration office before 5. I mean, ooooh, it was a rush," she said.

    Still, the Florida Secretary of State's Office reports that 269 groups -- ranging from minority-rights organizations such as La Raza and the NAACP to the Christian group Florida Family Action, to the state Democratic and Republican parties -- are signed up to register voters. There are no comparable numbers from past elections, because groups were not required to register.

    But most of them are inactive, according to state Division of Elections data. The five busiest groups – including both political parties – are responsible for more than 90 percent of the 56,529 applications turned in.
    "'It's a big risk': 3rd-party groups register voters – very carefully".

    "Purchased for $50,000 a pop"

    "A state organization that funnels millions of dollars in taxpayer money to private businesses has a high risk for corruption due to a lack of transparency, according to a new report from a good governance group."

    Enterprise Florida, a public-private partnership tasked with engaging the private sector to create jobs, conducts much of its business using exemptions from Florida's open government Sunshine Law, concluded the Integrity Florida report released Wednesday.

    Highlighting the importance of confidentiality in the competitive business arena, Enterprise Florida has lobbied for continued secrecy, and has already given out more than $1.5 million in incentives awards for companies that sit on its board.

    Those board seats — many occupied by the state's largest companies — can be purchased for $50,000 a pop, said Dan Krassner, executive director of Integrity Florida.

    "Enterprise Florida is most likely scaring off (out-of-state) capital and jobs by giving incentives to their board members," he said, adding that companies like Publix and Lockheed Martin have benefited from large incentive packages while sitting on the organization's 61-member board. ...

    Enterprise Florida received $16 million for next year's budget, beginning July 1, and has doled out hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars for business incentives since it was created in 1996.

    Those incentives go to companies looking to relocate to or expand in Florida. Incentives come in the form of tax breaks, infrastructure money or cash grants that can run into the millions of dollars.
    "Report accuses Enterprise Florida of conflicts, secrecy".

    Rubio flubs audition for new job

    "It was a 30-minute, detailed speech that cast a hawkish but bipartisan tone. Rubio praised and criticized President Barack Obama, and distanced himself from the growing isolationist streak in his own party." He closed by revealing

    he had misplaced the final page of his speech [which he was blithley reading], grinning awkwardly as he looked for help, the crowd laughing.
    "Even before Rubio began, the Democratic National Committee issued a "pre-buttal" accusing Rubio of distorting Obama's record as he auditioned 'for a new job' as Romney's VP pick."
    There were subtler signs. Rubio is receiving police protection in Washington and home in Miami after being subject to a threat. U.S. Capitol police confirmed an investigation but did not comment further.
    Rubio gas been interested in foreign policy for almost two whole years:
    Rubio has pursued an interest in foreign policy since being elected in 2010, and he told the audience he had been heavily influenced by a new book, The World America Made, by neoconservative historian Robert Kagan. Rubio met Kagan a few months ago and said he wanted to give a speech expanding on his views, and Kagan, a senior fellow at the Brookings think tank, helped arrange one.
    "As a potential vice presidential candidate, Sen. Marco Rubio draws lots of attention for foreign policy speech".

    The less than impressive 30 minute "speech" - which you can see here - is basically taken from Kagan's predictable book the book is reviewed here and here. Kagan is a foreign-policy adviser to the Romney campaign, which makes one wonder how much of the speech was actually written by Kagan, rather than Rubio.

    Ex-GOP fundraiser loses appeal

    "Alan Mendelsohn, the Hollywood physician and ex-GOP fundraiser imprisoned for four years on a tax-related fraud conviction, has lost his federal appeal to reduce his sentence." "Broward doctor Mendelsohn loses appeal to reduce four-year prison sentence".

    Romney's Florida spending knocks Gingrich out

    George Bennett: "Florida and its rogue early primary did not clinch the Republican presidential nomination for Mitt Romney. But the Sunshine State probably dealt the decisive blow to Newt Gingrich's chances."

    [I]n the first nominating contest where expensive media buys really mattered, Romney bombarded Gingrich with negative ads highlighting his ties to failed mortgage giant Freddie Mac.

    Romney won the Florida primary by 14.5 percentage points.

    After Gingrich's Sunshine State swoon, Rick Santorum emerged as the leading contender to Romney, before ending his campaign this month. Gingrich didn't win another primary except for a March 6 contest in his home state of Georgia.
    "Gingrich, hobbled by Florida loss, experts say, calls it quits".

    Tampa struggles with that first amendment thing

    The Tampa Bay Times editorial board: "Tampa's revised approach for handling protests and assemblies at this summer's Republican National Convention offers significant improvements over an earlier draft."

    The proposal relaxes a number of over-the-top security precautions, and it makes it easier and cheaper for groups to gather and march on public property. The measure still needs work; the security perimeter is still too large and law enforcement would still have too much latitude to make arrests in questionable circumstances. But this is a reasonable starting point for the Tampa City Council, which takes up the ordinance on May 3.
    "An improved convention ordinance".

    "Textbook example of a bad bill"

    The Tampa Tribune editorial board: "The Legislature's attempt to force a few companies to stop doing business in Cuba is a textbook example of a bad bill. Gov. Rick Scott should veto it." "Don't hit Cuba with city hall".

    "Hey, whomever, you’re a liberal"

    The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "Connie Mack's Senate campaign is so obsessed with 'liberals' that the definition extends to any Republican who doesn't love Connie Mack." "Mack's problem isn't liberals". Like father, like son. Remember how mini Mack's daddy won in 1988 with the help of an ad charging, "Hey, Buddy, you’re a liberal".

    "Concerns about environmental permitting bill"

    "HB 503 prohibits state and local permitting agencies from requiring that other local, state or federal permits be issued first. Also Wednesday, groups who filed a legal challenge against the port of Miami dredging permit announced they had reached a settlement agreement. A bill signed by Gov. Rick Scott last week provided for an expedited hearing process in the legal challenge." "U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service joins FEMA in raising concerns about environmental permitting bill".


    "Under a new proposal to be considered Thursday, new Citizens policyholders could be charged initial rates far more than similar customers who have already been in the pool." "Citizens Insurance board to weigh higher rates for new policies". See also "Insurance forces poised to clash again over Citizens' plan to exceed rate hike cap for new business".

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