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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, May 17, 2012

Detzner denies voter purge is politically motivated

    "County elections supervisors are questioning a controversial list of non-citizens who Florida officials want scrubbed from voter rolls before the presidential election this fall."
    Supervisors at their summer meeting Wednesday peppered state Division of Elections officials with questions about the credibility of a list of up to 180,000 potentially ineligible voters identified by matching voter registration data with driver's license records.

    Included on the list were people who were born in the U.S. and immigrants who have become naturalized citizens, as well as many who registered to vote believing it was part of the process required to get a driver's license, the supervisors said.
    "The potential purge list includes names of individuals who have been registered to vote up to five decades."
    "We don't have confidence in the validity of the information," St. Lucie County Supervisor of Elections Gertrude Walker said. "I'm concerned about the voters' confidence with these constant headlines about deaths and non-citizens. It just doesn't build confidence."

    The current non-citizen purge effort raised the specter of the 2000 felon voter list, in which thousands of eligible voters were erroneously removed from the rolls in an extremely close presidential race after being misidentified by the state. And the state scrapped a similar effort prior to the 2004 election when it became clear the list was error-riddled.
    "Some supervisors questioned the purging of the non-citizen voters in a crucial presidential election year in which illegal immigration is a hot-button issue for conservative Republican voters."
    Pasco County Elections Supervisor Brian Corley said he was frustrated that elections officials waited until just months before the November election to release the non-citizen lists. The Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles and the state Division of Elections had been working on the issue for at least a year, Corley said.

    "It's not about laying blame but we're the ones dealing with angry voters and the perception of being partisan and racist," said Corley. Two of the 13 voters on Corley's list were born in the U.S. One was misidentified by a clerical error.

    But Detzner insisted the purge effort was not politically motivated.
    Keep in mind that
    Rick Scott appointed Detzner to the post in January. Detzner, who spent much of his Tallahassee career as a lobbyist, briefly served as Secretary of State after working as the agency's chief of staff under Jim Smith in 2003. Smith took over after Katherine Harris, who presided over the 2000 presidential recount debacle, resigned to run for Congress.
    "County elections officials question Florida's list of non-citizen voters".

    The headline shrieks "53,000 dead people on voting rolls in Florida". No evidence that any of them voted subsequent to expiration.

    So much for vaunted GOPer "accountability"

    Beth Kassab: "The problem we need to understand is how Florida can be so gung-ho for accountability, but quickly pivot to 'never mind' at the first sign of trouble. When the state released the writing scores, which were graded under a tougher set of standards, educators spun themselves into a frenzy faster than the Tasmanian Devil. The state Board of Education responded by lowering the score schools will be graded on." "FCAT standards need to be higher if we want kids to improve".

    Tom Lyons: "It's as if the Department of Education's idea was to give teachers a poke in the eye, and didn't much care that kids would also feel the punch." "Scoring for FCAT writing test misses mark".

    Fred Grimm: "Proficiency under pressure — that’s what we test for. Right?"

    Yet the state superintendent, the state board of education and NCS Pearson, the giant testing corporation with a four-year, $254 million contract to administer the state’s standardized test regime, seem to suffer no such accountability. Their competence, their proficiency under pressure has been tested this school year. They flunked and flunked spectacularly.
    "Florida, not kids, flunked FCAT testing".

    The testing dead enders can't give it up: Kenric Ward thinks "School districts attempting to blame the state Department of Education for their dismal performance on the FCAT writing exam are lamely reaching for a 'dog-ate-my-homework' cop-out." "Anatomy of FCAT Failure: School Districts Didn't Read or Heed Writing on the Wall".

    Mittens off to the Country Club in north Tampa

    "After his morning speech in St. Petersburg,"

    Romney headed to the Avila Golf & Country Club in north Tampa, where some 200 supporters gathered, including Attorney General Pam Bondi, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, and incoming Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford.

    Guests paid as much as $50,000 to attend the fundraiser. Ambassador Mel Sembler of St. Petersburg said Romney's two-day fundraising swing through Florida, including stops in Miami Wednesday evening and Jacksonville and Boca Raton today, should bring in about $10 million.

    Romney on Wednesday also weighed in for the first time on efforts by the state GOP to ensure that they can send as many activists as possible to the Republican National Convention at the Tampa Bay Times Forum Aug. 27-30. The national party cut the state's delegation in half to 50 as punishment for scheduling an earlier-than-allowed primary, and Florida Republican leaders want Romney to step in so that the biggest battleground state and host of the convention receives some leniency.

    "I don't have an announcement today, but you can imagine given the big boost that I got from the people of Florida, the Florida delegation has a very warm spot in my heart, so I'll work with the Republican National Committee, which ultimately sets the rules, and you'll know which way I'm pulling," Romney said in the interview. "There's no question I have a very warm spot in my heart for the Florida delegation."
    "Mitt Romney criticizes president at St. Petersburg campaign stop". See also "Romney calls Obama presidency 'disappointment' in Tampa visit" and "Romney keeps media at bay as he sticks to script". Meanwhile, "As Mitt Romney hits Florida, Democrats attack Bain Capital’s history of profits and layoffs".

    "Event Zone" follies

    "The Tampa City Council will take its second and final vote today on Mayor Bob Buckhorn's proposed 'event zone' ordinance aimed at controlling protests during the Republican National Convention." "City Council to vote on RNC 'event zone' rules".

    What's wrong with Hillsborough?

    "Citing an increase in early and mail-in voting, the Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections Office plans to reduce the number of polls and precincts for November's election. The number of polling locations will be reduced from 285 to 270 and the number of precincts will drop from 383 to 347. The reductions will save the county about $105,000 this year. The Hillsborough County Commission has approved the proposal; the changes also must be reviewed and approved by the Department of Justice before they can go into effect." "Hillsborough to reduce number of polls, precincts".

    "Appetite for Gaming in Florida Growing"

    "As Florida legislators continue to side with gambling's opponents, including the Florida Chamber of Commerce, to hold off efforts from national and international casino operators seeking to expand their gaming options, more than $1 million went to lobbyists during the first quarter of 2012, as the regular legislative session was under way and an extremely high-profile bill to create a gaming commission was debated and eventually left for dead on the House floor." "Appetite for Gaming in Florida Growing and Clearly Palpable".


    "How 'tea party' are Florida's freshmen members of Congress? That's the question the Club For Growth asks in a voting survey that 'evaluates lawmakers based upon their commitment to limited government and pro-growth policies.'" "Tea thermometer".

    Mitt and Mini-Mack

    "U.S. Rep. Connie Mack got a boost for his bid to challenge Democrat incumbent U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson in November when he won heavy praise from former Gov. Mitt Romney, the presumptive Republican presidential candidate -- but another Republican could be entering the contest soon." "Mitt Romney Backs Connie Mack in Senate Race Even as Dave Weldon Looms". See also "Romney holds first Florida rally since primary" and "Romney, Obama camps exchange jabs as Romney starts Florida swing, endorses Mack".

    Scott's fifth junket

    Lloyd Dunkelberger: "Scott heads to Spain this week on his fifth foreign-trade mission to help boost his jobs agenda." "Scott's job-growth travels take him to troubled Spain".

    Luvin' their Rick

    "The Republican Party of Florida is airing a new TV ad that praises Gov. Rick Scott and the Legislature for reforming the no-fault car insurance system. Jacksonville Sheriff John Rutherford stars alongside Scott in the 30-second video." "Florida GOP ad touts Scott on car insurance reform".

    Entrepreneurs in action

    "The cost of increasing the capacity at Florida Power & Light Co.'s four nuclear reactors has escalated to $3 billion, a jump of roughly $600 million since the company's estimate last year." "FPL adds $600 million to cost of nuclear reactors' project".

    Winding up the Stepford Voters

    Kevin Derby: "While Republicans control every state Cabinet office and hold veto-proof majorities in both chambers of the Legislature, Barack Obama carried Florida in the 2008 elections, and on Wednesday the GOP put the Democrat[ic] incumbent on notice that they intend to take the Sunshine State back in November."

    But Romney faced heavy fire from Obama’s allies on Wednesday. Staff from the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank closely allied with the Obama administration, slammed Romney for holding a fundraiser hosted by Dr. Phil Frost, the chairman of the board of Teva Pharmaceuticals which creates Plan B pills and other forms of contraception.

    Florida Democrats also came out to bash Romney. State Rep. Rick Kriseman, D-St. Petersburg, held a media appearance outside of Romney’s event in St. Petersburg and tore into the Republican candidate.

    While polls have shown that the Sunshine State will be up for grabs -- yet again -- in November, Romney is receiving some air support in Florida and other key states from a super-PAC that has helped Republicans across the country.

    On Wednesday, Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies (Crossroads GPS), a conservative political group affiliated with Republican strategist Karl Rove, unveiled a new ad that will run in Florida and nine other battleground states that hammers Obama’s record on economic issues.

    Crossroads GPS has sunk $25 million -- including $1.5 million in the Sunshine State -- on the ad, which will start airing on Thursday and will run until the end of May. The ad is also being run in nine other states that Obama carried in 2008 which Republicans hope to carry in November -- Colorado, Iowa, Michigan, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia.
    "Republicans Start The Push to Beat Obama in Florida".

    "Summer of higher education task forces"

    "This could be the summer of higher education task forces. In a move signaled earlier this month, Board of Governors Chairman Dean Colson announced a new panel that will help craft a strategy for growing the number of bachelor's degrees issued by Florida institutions." "Board of Governors creates another study group for state universities".

    "Mud is flying"

    Matt Towery: "Connie Mack IV is facing a candidate who ironically has already served in the U.S. Senate, having been appointed to an open seat by then-Gov. Charlie Crist. Former Sen. George LeMieux served a relatively short time in the Senate, keeping his promise not to run for re-election, and thus opening the door for the GOP's rising superstar, Sen. Marco Rubio."

    Mud is flying in this overlooked contest, and as has been my policy over the years, I do not get into the mud. Both candidates, as to their voting records and positions, seem perfectly acceptable to the GOP electorate. But LeMieux suffers from less name identification and the unfair shadow of former Gov. Crist, once a hero to Republicans in the state and now a pariah.

    But LeMieux in fact built quite a conservative resume for himself in his short stint in the U.S. Senate. He voted against Obamacare and against raising the debt ceiling on more than one occasion, and opposed thousands of earmarks.

    In straw polls that have taken place recently among Republican and conservative groups where both candidates have appeared, LeMieux has emerged the winner. He touts the fact that during his short time of service he proposed more spending cuts than all but one of the members of the Senate. He notes that he voted to cut federal spending by $900 billion and voted to terminate TARP and use any remaining finds to reduce the deficit.

    That record helps him shake any doubts about having worked for, and being appointed by, Crist. And it is winning him the support of some major tea party-backed political names, such as former presidential candidate Herman Cain.

    But LeMieux faces one significant challenge: Both he and his opponent have relatively little cash on hand to fight it out in Florida's numerous and expensive major media markets.
    "A Cash-strapped Battle for Florida's Senate Seat".

    At the trough

    "In the first three months of 2012, legislative lobbyists in Florida may have posted their highest single-quarter earnings since record keeping began. The increase was fueled in part by increased spending by gaming and transportation interests." "Legislative lobbyists may have had their most lucrative session ever".

    Greer, Crist and Saunders mix it up

    "The message to former Gov. Charlie Crist from good friend and confidante Jim Greer was ominous-sounding:"

    "Listen, I just wanted to call and tell you something as a man, not like these other people that have put knives in your back and never had the courtesy to call you directly or talk to you."

    Just about a year after Greer was indicted on felony charges of organized fraud, theft and money laundering, Crist found on his cellphone the voicemail and a text message from the former chairman of the Republican Party of Florida.

    To Crist, it sounded as if Greer was attempting to extort money from him, and Crist called the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to report the messages.
    "Greer denied any attempt to extort money from Crist."
    "Absolutely not,'' Greer said. "I didn't even know Crist said that until seven or eight months later. There was nothing in that voicemail that would imply anything like that whatsoever.''

    Later in an email, Greer wrote: "I was simply telling him man-to-man that our friendship was over, that I could not understand why he lied about the fundraising and the fact that I had done everything he directed me to do as Chairman of the Party, which now has cost me dearly. . . . One thing people used to tell me about Charlie that I never believed until the end is that loyalty is not a part of his makeup once he no longer has a use for you, something my family and I sure found out the hard way."

    Greer is in Seminole County awaiting trial. He was able to hang onto his house with some help from the bank.

    "It's been pretty tough, but my lawyers tell me some day there will be a big check coming my way,'' Greer added.

    Greer's wife, Lisa, was much more outspoken. Writing on her Facebook page, she said the messages were left after Crist's "minions'' kept calling Greer and begging him to leave information about Crist out of the book he is writing.

    "I once loved and trusted Charlie Crist," she wrote. "I now know he would whore himself out to anyone that will put him in power again. I am sick of the games and lies, I have a family to protect and a precious baby girl on the way, the truth must come out to clear Jim's name."
    Much more here: "'I gave everything for you'". See also "Records show Crist thought Greer tried to extort him; Greer calls claim ridiculous".

    "Family-tourism capital ground zero in the fight for worker benefits"

    "Nearly half the workforce in Orlando receives no paid sick time, forcing them to choose between going to work sick or losing a day's wages, workers-rights groups say. So on Wednesday, a coalition of activists launched a ballot initiative that would require Orlando businesses to provide paid sick time, making the nation's family-tourism capital ground zero in the fight for worker benefits." "Activists launch drive to require paid sick time in Orlando" ("A restaurant workers' group is pushing a paid sick time ordinance in Miami-Dade County but hopes to have it approved by county commissioners.")

    Scott encourages "discriminating pricing scheme"

    The Tampa Bay Times editorial board: "The discriminating pricing scheme being considered by Citizens Property Insurance Corp. with the encouragement of Gov. Rick Scott would not be tolerated from private insurers. Yet the state-run insurer's bad idea to jack up the price of policies for new customers by up to 30 percent will get another hearing today by a Citizens Board of Governors committee. That should be its last stop. Such a scheme has no place in a government-backed insurer either." "Citizens Property Insurance floats a terrible pricing idea". Background: "Citizens' Committee to Review Dramatic Rate Hikes" and "Citizens again to review plan to raise rates for new customers".

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