Since 2002, daily Florida political news and commentary


UPDATE: Every morning we review and individually digest Florida political news articles, editorials and punditry. Our sister site, FLA Politics was selected by Campaigns & Elections as one of only ten state blogs in the nation
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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 Monday, May 07, 2012

"The FlaDems couldn’t have picked a better chief of staff for Scott"

    Marc Caputo: "Rick Scott’s biggest failure as governor has a name: Steve MacNamara."
    An at-times ethically challenged Tallahassee insider, MacNamara was hired by the neophyte governor as his chief of staff to avoid the very type of major embarrassment Scott suffered last week.

    Last Tuesday at a Miami Freedom Tower event, Scott ceremonially signed a law cracking down on firms that do business in Cuba and Syria. But he then issued a letter that called the very law he signed unenforceable and unconstitutional because it infringes on foreign trade.

    The about-face transformed Scott from the Cuban exiles’ toast of the town into a suspected foe politically undermining their bill to help big business.

    The Cuban-American Republican lawmakers at Scott’s side were blindsided by his letter. They wondered whether his office was double-dealing. Even the team supporting Attorney General Pam Bondi — Scott’s most-powerful and helpful elected ally in the state — is suspicious.
    "So the governor lost face with big political allies. His poll numbers remain dangerously low. But MacNamara gets to keep his $189,000 annual salary to make Scott’s administration run smoothly."
    The Rick Scott of 2010 could have predicted as much when he campaigned against Tallahassee insiders. But after a few rookie missteps, Scott last year hired MacNamara from the office of the Senate President, who incidentally had one of the most politically embarrassing years under MacNamara’s watch.

    In the Senate, the Associated Press reported Friday, MacNamara “helped steer a no-bid consulting contract worth $360,000 to a friend who now leads a task force rooting out state government waste.”

    Questions about MacNamara’s integrity go back a decade. In between his stints as staff chief to the Florida House Speaker in 1999 and 2000, MacNamara secretly worked out a lobbying gig to help persuade the state to reverse course and permit a cement plant on the scenic Ichetucknee River. More than two years later, the Commission on Ethics cleared him after another lobbyist and MacNamara ally changed his story.

    Once on Scott’s team, MacNamara the insider got to work.

    MacNamara walled off the governor from others, played agency heads against each other, hired loyalists at six-figure salaries (paying them more than women in the same jobs), forced out his rivals and helped out his buddies, according to a Herald/Times story published Sunday. ...

    The Florida Democratic Party couldn’t have picked a better chief of staff for Scott.
    "Gov. Rick Scott’s biggest failure: his chief of staff".

    "Accusing lawyers of pandering to the court"

    The Sarasota Herald Tribune editors: "Three justices will be up for merit retention in the November general election; two of them face some organized opposition. The opponents also criticized the Florida Bar for its public-awareness campaign, accusing lawyers of pandering to the court." "Editorial: Judging on merit".

    "Republicans entering Florida with distinct disadvantage with the Hispanic community"

    "The presidential race could come down to this: "

    To win in November, President Barack Obama or Mitt Romney needs the biggest swing state: Florida. For that, either man needs Florida's critical swing area: the I-4 corridor. For that, he needs the corridor's swing counties: Orange and Osceola. For that, he needs the emerging Hispanic base.
    "Democrats appear to have a yearlong head start. Obama's campaign, Obama For America, opened offices all over Florida and began a bilingual campaign last spring, while the Republican National Committee is just now gearing up, and the Romney campaign has not yet returned since running a primary campaign in the fall and January."
    Exit polls showed that Obama won 57 percent of Florida's Hispanic vote in 2008 and 67 percent in the I-4 corridor, said Florida International University political scientist Dario V. Moreno.

    He narrows down this year's race even further than just the I-4 corridor, to voters within Florida's 9th Congressional District, which covers much of the Puerto Rican-heavy areas of south Orange, and all of Osceola. YaYa's is in that district.

    "I think it's going to be one of the 'ground zeros' of this presidential election," Moreno said.

    Since the 2008 election, he said, Republicans may have put themselves into an even deeper hole, through several partisan battles, most notably over the appointment of Sonia Sotomayor, the first Puerto Rican U.S. Supreme Court justice; strong state enforcement laws against illegal immigration in Arizona and Alabama; and the DREAM Act — Obama's proposal to create a path to citizenship for some illegal immigrants.

    A Jan. 24 Univision/ABC poll of 517 Hispanic voters in Florida showed 70 percent were more likely to support someone who supported the DREAM Act. Only 45 percent expressed confidence that Democrats could improve the economy, yet an even smaller percentage, 38 percent, expressed confidence in Republicans.

    "I think the Republicans are entering Florida with a real, distinct disadvantage with the Hispanic community," Moreno said.
    "Will Obama or Romney win over I-4 Hispanics?".

    "LeMieux insists that he's feeling the love"

    "Republican U.S. Senate candidate George LeMieux insists that he's feeling the love on the campaign trail — despite public-opinion polls and campaign fund-raising that suggest otherwise." "LeMieux struggles in Senate race against Mack — but won't give up".

    Surely firefighter pensions are to blame for this

    The Miami Herald editorial board: "When does cost-cutting become self-defeating, generating more loss than gain? The answer may well be found in the title of Broward County Independent Auditor Evan Lukic’s interim-report memo to county commissioners: Lack of Fundamental Control over County Disbursements."

    Mr. Lukic found that there is such weak oversight over the county’s payment system that he didn’t even wait to complete the audit, instead going straight to the commission a month ago. The situation wasn’t discussed in public, however, until the commission met on Tuesday. Mr. Lukic says that he told commissioners a month ago that, “this has to be remedied quickly, because basically you have little or no control right now.”

    What that lack of control means is that the county has paid out an unknown amount of money without proper documentation. Although Mr. Lukic thinks most bills were paid accurately, the situation is serious enough that in his memo, he used alarm-bell phrases such as “absence of management oversight” and “failure to adhere to established policy and procedures” and “duplicate and erroneous payments.”

    The problem stems, apparently, from the deep cuts in staff brought on in recent years by the drop in revenue during and after the Great Recession. When the number of employees in the county’s finance and administrative services department were reduced over the past several years, the remaining staff sometimes took shortcuts. Or there simply weren’t enough administrators left to provide adequate oversight. Or a staffer took a supervisor on his or her word, not on the hard numbers. Corners were cut, period. And that meant that checks were written without the paper trail to justify them.
    "Don’t lose track of the money".

    "Mostly True"

    From the very generous Politifact: "Scott's claim that 230,000 fewer people are receiving unemployment benefits than when he entered office is pretty close to the actual drop (216,684)."

    But the figure is not completely an indicator that the economy is improving, as Scott suggests, and is somewhat the result of a strict new state law. Also, the trend of jobless claims started falling in mid 2009, more than a year before Scott took office. That undercuts, to a point, the suggestion Scott should get the credit.

    Scott's statement is accurate but can use some additional information. That's our definition of Mostly True.
    "PolitiFact Florida on falling jobless claims and Gov. Rick Scott".


    The Tampa Bay Times editorial board: "The IRS will test a new program in Florida to make it easier for local law enforcement to prosecute income tax fraud. But the IRS cannot let another tax season go by without putting better locks on the federal Treasury and aggressively going after those who try to pick them." "IRS losing fight to scammers".

    Next chapter in U.S. space exploration begins

    "The next chapter in U.S. space exploration should begin in about a week when a California company becomes the first private firm to send a rocket to the International Space Station." "Florida’s new Space Coast prepares to launch".

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