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 Wednesday, April 25, 2012

"Prospects of a Vice President Marco Rubio?"

    Daniel Ruth asks: "What are the prospects of a Vice President Marco Rubio? About the same as Mister Ed winning the Triple Crown, Roger Clemens making a comeback and Larry the Cable Guy claiming an Oscar for best actor. "
    From all the swooning and fawning among Republicans over who would be the ideal running mate for Mitt Romney, you would think young master Rubio was a political hybrid of Marc Anthony meets Ronald Reagan meets José Martí.
    "Even though gaga Republicans regard Rubio as the political equivalent of an Enrique Iglesias concert — minus the tossed bloomers on stage — this isn't the senator's time."
    Let us count the ways.

    First, history. Before Rubio starts humming the vice presidential anthem, which happens to be I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry, the senator should know that with one exception — Franklin Roosevelt in 1920 — no vice presidential candidate on a losing ticket has later been elected president. ...

    Being the second banana on a losing presidential campaign has proven to be a career Bermuda Triangle. And Marco Rubio is no FDR.

    Second, age and experience. The knock on Barack Obama in 2008 was that he was too inexperienced to be president and indeed only used his Senate seat to position himself to run for the White House. Probably so.

    But Obama at least had served in the Senate for four years. The 40-year-old Rubio has served in the Senate for less than two years and already he is being touted by the same people critical of Obama's ambition as possessing heartbeat away material.

    Vice president? Jeepers, this chap is still trying to find the Senate men's room.

    Third, the Hispanic thing. Some myopic Mr. Magoo Republicans are acting as if Rubio's Hispanic surname on the ballot will result in one big fat Cinco de Mayo love-in from the Latin community.

    In fact, Rubio is hardly wildly popular among the diverse Hispanic voters across the country who oppose his conservative views on immigration. Rubio's Dream Act 2.0 is a feckless effort to appeal to Hispanic voters by creating a second-class form of residency while denying a path to citizenship. There's a winning issue for you among Hispanics in Florida, Arizona and California. This would be like assuming an Irish candidate who opposed drinking and Catholicism would ride a shamrock wave into office.

    Then there is that little problem with Univision, the leading Spanish-language television network in the country, which has been feuding with the senator for years. Think of this as a pol getting crossways with a Hispanic version of Rupert Murdoch. No good will come from this.

    Fourth, Jim Greer — oops. The trial of former Florida Republican Party chairman Greer on fraud, money laundering and grand theft charges is set to begin on the eve of the Republican National Convention in Tampa. Testimony is sure to include the former Florida House speaker's financial relationship with Greer, which will hardly help burnish the senator's squeaky-clean Boy Scout image.
    "It's the wrong time for Rubio as veep".

    Meanwhile, The Daytona Beach News-Journal editorial board points out that "veteran political observers noted that Rubio didn't close the door quite as firmly as Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman did in the 1880s when he said he wouldn't seek the presidency. 'If nominated, I will not run. If elected, I will not serve,' Sherman famously said." "Rubio could make history if chosen for national ticket".

    More Rubio: Threat against Sen. Marco Rubio under investigation, his office says.

    Bondi goes Arizona-style, drags Florida with her

    "Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi is standing firmly behind Arizona as the state heads to the U.S. Supreme Court over its controversial immigration law."

    The ACLU of Florida was quick to criticize Bondi’s stance

    “By adding her name to the Supreme Court brief, Attorney General Bondi has symbolically given the blessing of all Floridians to laws that threaten people’s rights and make law enforcement more difficult," Howard Simon, executive director of ACLU Florida, stated in a release.

    “Focusing on race or national origin in policing sends a chilling message to certain groups -- in this case, Latino and Hispanic families -- that they are under increased suspicion.”
    "Pam Bondi Backs Strong Arizona Immigration Law Under Challenge".

    Scott expects Florida Republicans to buy this time

    "Scott said Tuesday that not only will he seek a second term in 2014 — as most everyone expected — but he predicted that he won't have to reach into his own pocket to pay for a re-election campaign like he did the first time. Scott, who spent more than $73 million of his own money to win in 2010, made the announcement in a matter-of-fact way during a 25-minute question-and-answer session with reporters in his office." "Gov. Rick Scott won't dump his fortune into re-election". See also: "Rick Scott on Re-election: 'We’ll Have the Money to Win'".

    Publicity stunt

    "With the General Services Administration under fire for a costly event held at the M Resort in Las Vegas back in 2010 on the taxpayers’ dime, a congressman from Florida introduced a measure on Tuesday to slash federal travel funds." "In Aftermath of GSA's Vegas Event, Dennis Ross Looks to Rein in Federal Travel Costs".


    The Tampa Bay Times editorial board: "The scapegoating of illegal immigrants by state legislatures in Florida and elsewhere would be quieted if the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Arizona's controversial immigration law intrudes on federal authority."

    The Florida Legislature was more focused on redistricting this session, but in 2011 it grappled with Arizona-style bills before dropping the issue for the time being. Gov. Rick Scott made a campaign pledge to bring an anti-immigration law like Arizona's to Florida, and the issue is a centerpiece cause for tea party activists. Whether the pernicious issue will reappear with added momentum depends on what happens in Arizona vs. United States. The challenge focuses on key parts of the 2010 Arizona law, which transforms local law enforcement into immigration police to scare illegal immigrants into leaving the state.
    "Immigration isn't a state issue".

    "Pandering to the suckers — while taking orders from their donors"

    Scott Maxwell: when running for office, "Rick was a full of tough talk and big promises. He wanted to be the new sheriff in town, rooting out illegal immigrants and anyone who harbored them."

    Rick simply amped up the immigration rhetoric and beat Bill McCollum senseless with planks from the border fence he wanted to build.

    If you thought Arizona's law was tough on immigrants and employers, just wait until Sheriff Rick took office.

    "Rick Scott backs Arizona's law. He'll bring it to Florida …" boasted one ad.

    "Rick will require all Florida employers to use the free E-Verify system to ensure that their workers are legal," said another.

    Now for the reality check: He has done neither of those things. ...

    cheap and illegal labor is good for the bottom line. So Big Business has mounted a vigorous campaign against mandatory E-Verify, predicting all sorts of doomsday scenarios if forced to use it.

    Their complaints are largely malarkey. A growing number of states — including neighboring states of Alabama and Georgia — have already passed laws to require employers to use the system.

    Old Rick promised to do the same in Florida. Yet it has not happened.

    New Rick blames this on the Legislature, which is run my members of his own party who also claim to support E-Verify.

    Essentially, Florida is a state run by politicians who claim to want E-Verify, but refuse to make it happen.

    They want it both ways — demagoguing the issue for the immigrant-obsessed crowds while also sating the business execs who fill their campaign coffers.

    I recently had lunch with a fellow pushing serious reform efforts who predicted Scott wouldn't be able to dodge this issue forever — that his red-meat base would force him to take action.

    Hogwash, I responded. Where else are they going to go? Besides, some like the fist-pounding more than serious reform. It won't matter if Scott fails to deliver. As long as he screams about immigrants in the next election, they'll be right back beside him.

    The politicians will keep pandering to the suckers — while taking orders from their donors.
    "Rick Scott's tough immigration talk vanished".

    "Throwing money at business interests"

    The Orlando Sentinel editorial board: "Florida has fared poorly in a new Pew Center on the States study, 'Evidence Counts,' which ranks how well states evaluate and account for their economic development tax incentives. In fact, Florida placed in the bottom tier of states for not reviewing all major tax incentives or failing to use key data to make informed policy choices. The poor ranking at best undermines Florida's efforts to promote corporate recruitment as an antidote for anemic job growth. At worst, Florida's lax accountability ought to raise suspicion the state is wasting tax revenues by throwing money at business interests without following up to make sure what was promised was indeed delivered." "For taxpayers' sake keep eye on business breaks".

    Ink by the barrel

    "Palm Beach billionaire Jeff Greene’s libel suit against Times Publishing Co., publisher of the Tampa Bay Times, was dismissed by a judge on Monday."

    Greene, who lost the 2010 Democratic primary for the U.S. Senate, filed suit against the Times, then known as the St. Petersburg Times, and the Miami Herald.

    He alleged that three articles written by Times reporters that also appeared in the Herald cost him the primary and defamed his reputation. But Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Valerie Manno-Schurr decided otherwise in Monday’s ruling. ...

    Greene sued over an Aug. 8, 2010, article and Aug. 9 editorial about his role in the 2006 sale of La Mirage, a 300-unit condominium complex fashioned from old military housing in the Mohave Desert.

    The deal involved inflated sales prices to straw buyers that cost banks and taxpayers millions, according to the Times. Greene’s company sold the units to a man who was later indicted by a federal grand jury for fraud and money laundering in connection with La Mirage and other real estate transactions.

    An Aug. 13 story in the Times detailed reports of partying on Greene’s 145-foot yacht, the Summerwind.

    Not only did Greene fail to “properly allege” that the Times was “reckless,” according to the judge, but “the plaintiff is asking the Court to engage in a post election analysis and to award damages against the defendants for a lost election.”

    Greene’s attorney, Atlanta lawyer L. Lin Wood, released this statement to the Times: “The order ignores established First Amendment law and either ignores or contradicts the facts. To validate the false accusations made by these newspapers against Jeff Greene, threatens not only the reputations of candidates for political office, but also places the reputation of every citizen of the State of Florida at risk. Rich or poor, or somewhere in between, every person’s reputation is invaluable. We will appeal.”
    "Libel suit against Tampa Bay Times, Miami Herald dismissed by judge".

    MacNamara's "horse trading"

    "Scott has sacked two people from state boards with close ties to a Pinellas County senator who antagonized Scott and his top aide on a key issue in the recent legislative session. ... Sen. Jones, the current dean of the Legislature and in the last year of a 28-year career, was a vocal critic of privatizing South Florida prisons, a project Scott supported."

    When [Scott’s chief of staff, Steve] MacNamara summoned Jones to the governor’s office to hear Scott’s pitch, Jones refused.

    Jones had earlier asked the governor to reappoint his son and Burke to their voluntary posts, and MacNamara has said he hoped Jones would be open to “horse trading.”
    "Scott won’t reappoint 2 tied to critic". See also "Of hundreds left in limbo, 10 Scott appointees not renewed" and "Rick Scott Drops 10 from Advisory Panel Posts; Political Payback Charged".

    "Wasserman Schultz Challengers Fight Over War Chests"

    "Two GOP candidates vying to take on Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fort Lauderdale, are taking potshots at each other's war chests while the national Republican Party has them both 'on the radar.'" "Debbie Wasserman Schultz Challengers Fight Over War Chests as GOP Tracks Race".

    The best they can do?

    "The two leading Republicans aiming to challenge Democrat incumbent U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson in November looked to advance their campaigns on Tuesday in very different ways."

    Congressman Connie Mack, whose father held the Senate seat for 12 years before stepping down in 2000 when Nelson won it, released a radio ad on Tuesday that will run across the Sunshine State.

    In the ad, Mack takes aim at President Barack Obama and Nelson on gas prices, slamming the two Democrats for opposing the Keystone XL Pipeline which would bring oil into America from Canada. ...

    Also on Tuesday, Mack’s chief primary rival, former U.S. Sen. George LeMieux, trotted out a different tactic. While Mack is hitting the airwaves, LeMieux is looking to hone his ground game. LeMieux, who served 16 months in the Senate after being appointed to it by then-Gov. Charlie Crist before he left the GOP to run for the Senate seat with no party affiliation, unveiled his grassroots team with leaders named for all 67 counties in the Sunshine State.
    "GOP Senate Hopefuls Follow Different Game Plans".

    Florida's consumer confidence falls again

    "Floridians' consumer confidence fell again in April, marking three straight months of decline, according to a monthly University of Florida survey." "Infographic: Florida consumer confidence continues slide".

    Don't you dare call it a "tax"

    "Tolls set to rise by on central Florida expressway".

    Wildfire risk

    "The governor and Cabinet included a Florida Forever interim work plan with 14 projects, some of them providing buffers around military bases. The Cabinet also was told that more acres have burned in wildfires this year than at the same time last year." "Cabinet approves work plan for purchasing state lands, hears about wildfire risk".

    "Legislature has aroused a sleeping giant"

    "By passing a bill that could hit some consumers’ pocketbooks and potentially run afoul of the state’s Constitution, the Florida Legislature has aroused a sleeping giant: Florida’s fed-up homeowners associations."

    The bill, sponsored by Rep. Frank Artiles, R-Miami, stems from an ongoing court case in which a Central Florida homeowners’ association is suing a developer for the neighborhood’s poorly built drainage pipes and pothole-ridden roads.

    The case is before the Florida Supreme Court, and the homeowners are trying to recover more than $600,000 for repairs. The decision is expected to have a major impact on homeowners, developers and neighborhood associations.

    The case centers on the concept of “implied warranty,” which protects homeowners who buy a property and later find out that it was poorly constructed. Lower courts disagreed about whether that warranty extends beyond the four walls of a structure to include things like driveways, and the court is set to make a landmark, precedent-setting decision soon.

    But before the court could make the potentially groundbreaking ruling, the Legislature stepped in with HB 1013, which clearly states that implied warranty does not apply to “offsite improvements.”

    Artiles, the Miami lawmaker, claimed his bill — which passed with bipartisan support — was a response to “activist judges,” and would prevent trial lawyers from exploiting home builders.
    "Homeowners want Scott to veto bill that forces them — not developer — to pay neighborhood repairs".


    "Eric Eikenberg, chief of staff to former Gov. Charlie Crist and a seasoned Republican strategist, has landed one of the state’s most influential environmental advocacy jobs. The Everglades Foundation, a Palmetto Bay-based group whose membership boasts deep pockets and political clout, will announce Wednesday that Eikenberg will become its new chief executive." "Former Charlie Crist aide lands Everglades job".

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