FLORIDA POLITICS
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 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 31, 2012

It’s all over if Romney loses Florida

    "The national polls are fascinating, but what really matters is what’s happening in the critical battleground states:"
    Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Iowa and Colorado.

    Look at that map, and current polling, and it’s clear Obama has far more room for error than Romney.

    How so? Obama could lose both mega-battleground states of Florida and Ohio (combined 47 electoral votes) and still have multiple paths to the 270 electoral votes needed to win. And if Romney loses Florida, where polls currently show a dead heat, it’s all over.

    Romney, meanwhile, needs to win back three states that Obama won in 2008 and George W. Bush won in 2004: Indiana (which looks safe for Romney), North Carolina (a dead heat) and Virginia (Obama leading slightly). On top of that, he would have to pick off a state in the industrial belt, say Ohio or Pennsylvania. Even then Romney needs to win another state won by Obama four years ago — perhaps New Hampshire or Colorado.

    The battleground map is sure to change. But as things stand, the map strongly favors Obama.
    "Five things to watch in the 2012 presidential campaign".


    "Florida leads the nation in government corruption"

    "An upcoming study by the new Integrity Florida watchdog group says Florida leads the nation in government corruption."

    The study, to be released in about a week, will show that Florida had 781 federal corruption convictions from 2000 to 2010, the most of any state, executive director Dan Krassner told the Tampa Tribune editorial board.

    In five of the last 12 years, the study shows, Florida led all states in at least one category: It had the most criminal convictions among people in government. ... The study looked at convictions won by the Public Integrity section of the U.S. Department of Justice, a data source that allows for state-by-state comparisons.
    "Study ranks Florida No. 1 in government corruption".


    DEP Secretary under siege

    "Some environmentalists are grumbling after the Tampa Bay Times reported that wetlands expert Connie Bersok was suspended with pay after she said her boss was trying to bend the rules to issue a permit for construction in wetlands. And the federal EPA is requesting more information following DEP's denial of accusations that Vinyard isn't qualified under federal law because of his previous employment with a shipyard subsidiary in Jacksonville." "Governor praises DEP Secretary Herschel Vinyard amid controversies, criticism".


    Teacher merit pay challenged

    "The state's largest teachers union argued before an administrative law judge Wednesday that the state Department of Education has exceeded its authority with the rule it set for how school districts should evaluate teachers for merit pay." "Teachers' challenge of rule implementing Florida merit-pay law goes to judge". See also "Teachers' union spars with state over merit pay rule".


    Romney's strategy to win over Latino voters flops

    Andres Oppenheimer: "If presumptive Republican candidate Mitt Romney’s first major speech to a Hispanic audience in this campaign was an indication of his strategy to win over Latino voters, he is in big trouble."

    During his May 23 speech to the Latino Coalition, a group of Hispanic small businesses owners, Romney didn’t mention even once the word “immigration,” according to his prepared remarks published by The Washington Post’s website. Instead, he devoted his entire speech to his plans to revive the U.S. economy and improve U.S. education standards.

    After the speech, Democratic strategists noted that Romney — who clinched the Republican presidential nomination Tuesday after winning the Texas primary — is trying to sidestep the hard-line immigration stands that he took during the primaries. In his quest for conservative Republican votes, Romney alienated many Hispanics by enthusiastically backing Arizona’s draconian immigration law, and by calling for the “self-deportation” of illegal immigrants.” Many Latinos interpret that as making the life of undocumented Hispanic immigrants impossible until they leave the country on their own, which some fear could lead to harassment of all Hispanics regardless of their legal status.

    In addition, Romney has opposed the Dream Act, an Obama administration-backed bill that would give a path to large numbers of undocumented college students who were brought to the country as infants by their parents, and who grew up as Americans.

    According to a new national NBC/Wall Street Journal/Telemundo poll of Latino voters, 61 percent of Hispanics plan to vote for Obama in November, while only 27 percent plan to vote for Romney. By comparison, former Republican candidate Sen. John McCain won 31 percent of the Hispanic vote in the 2008 election, and former President George W. Bush won 40 percent in 2004.

    Most Romney advisers seem to believe that Romney can win in November by sticking to his anti-immigration rhetoric when speaking to conservative audiences, and focusing on the economy and education when speaking to Latino audiences.
    "Romney’s pitch to Hispanics won’t work".


    "Just another Rivera money mystery"

    Fred Grimm: "It seems almost impolite to bring up David Rivera’s orphaned $50,000 — money we’re not sure from where, spent on we’re not sure for what — given the extent of the Miami congressman’s financial shenanigans."

    Another 50 grand of peculiar origins on Rivera’s account sheets was like finding loose change under the sofa cushions for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, whose investigators spent 18 months sorting through strange consulting contracts, dummy shell companies, undeclared loans, peculiar campaign expenditures and confounding financial-disclosure declarations.

    The FDLE, for example, had to trace some $500,000 back through a “company” that basically consisted of Rivera’s mother, who received the money from a Miami dog track that had hired Rivera in 2008, at the time a state senator, to run its pro-slot machine campaign. The money went to Momma, who, apparently would make David the occasional loan. The FDLE reported that her do-nothing company, Millennium Marketing, once lent him $132,000, a transaction that slipped his mind when the candidate filled out his financial declaration forms.

    Before he was elected to Congress, state Sen. Rivera’s haphazard bookkeeping suggested he seemed to live off his campaign contributions, as if his very existence was no more than a perpetual campaign. State law doesn’t seem to endorse such behavior, but state law — lucky for Rivera — has a two-year statute of limitations for prosecuting campaign contributions.

    “By the calendar year 2011, the statute of limitations had eliminated the possibility of charging the subject with any violation....” the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s office concluded. “The overwhelming majority of the possible transactions available for prosecution as misdemeanors were barred because of the statute of limitations.”
    "Given all that, another inexplicable $50,000 might not seem worth mentioning."
    Except this relatively piddling bit of accounting perfectly illustrated Rivera’s pattern of obscure, downright byzantine financial reporting. Herald reporters Patricia Mazzei and Scott Hiaasen noticed that on the very same day in 2006, a little known organization called Republican National Hispanic Assembly (either the central Florida version or the Miami chapter — it’s hard to tell) paid Rivera’s mother’s company $25,000. Same day again, his very, very close political consultant gets another $25,000. All this on the same day that the Republican Party of Florida transfers $50,000 to an organization called the Republican National Hispanic Assembly. Except the Republican National Hispanic Assembly has no record of receiving the money.

    Rivera told Mazzei and Hiaasen that the money financed a voter outreach program in the 2006 elections. He produced some records indicating absentee ballot materials had been mailed to Miami voters. Who knows? Voter outreach, Miami style, doesn’t generate so many receipts.
    "Rivera’s money mysteries pile up". Background: "David Rivera investigation left behind $50,000 mystery".


    Charter madness

    "SCF trustees want charter school to pay back millions".


    "Heavy political clout of investor-owned utilities"

    The Sarasota Herald Tribune editorial board hopes "the PSC sides with consumers; it is the Public Service Commission, after all. But a customer-friendly outcome is far from assured, given the heavy political clout of investor-owned utilities, of which FPL is the state's largest." "Keep the 'public' in PSC".


    A booming industry with rogue operators

    The Orlando Sentinel editors: "Another legislative session has come and gone. And ... still — somehow — nothing was done to beef up safeguards for the more than 80,000 Floridians residing in assisted-living facilities."

    Unbelievable.

    Well, not really, considering the state's historically poor track record for protecting its most vulnerable citizens. And an equally sorry score card for reacting with all deliberate speed to remedy problems that come to light.

    When it comes to strengthening protections for senior citizens from abuse, neglect and sickening or dangerous conditions in the facilities to which families entrust their care, what's it going to take?

    Couldn't be that lawmakers are ignorant of the atrocities. The Miami Herald revealed that over the past decade at least 70 assisted-living residents have died as a result of neglect or abuse.

    And both a Miami-Dade grand jury and Gov. Rick Scott's Assisted-Living Facilities task force concluded that the state must do a better job overseeing a booming industry in which rogue operators manage their elderly clients with illegal restraints, powerful sedatives and violence.

    Yet, after the Senate crafted and overwhelmingly passed a strong plan with regulatory bite and sensible standards for upgrading safety and staff training in assisted-living facilities, the House recklessly let the plan gather dust.
    "Apathy over protecting seniors has gotten old".


    What's next, fluoride?

    "Recent efforts by Congress to eliminate a lengthy U.S. census survey — which some lawmakers view as costly and intrusive — have distressed a wide range of Florida researchers who see the comprehensive questionnaire as essential to their work." "Webster's effort to abolish annual census survey draws flak".


    The best he could do?

    "State Attorney Angela Corey, now in the national spotlight for her role in the Trayvon Martin case, announced that she is backing former U.S. Sen. George LeMieux for the Republican nomination to challenge Nelson." "GOP Senate Candidates Unveil Major Endorsements".


    "Rewarding value – good outcomes, cost-effective practices"

    "Critics of the Affordable Care Act have focused on the “individual mandate” to buy health coverage. But industry leaders say the most far-reaching and incendiary part of the health law could be its shift in the way Americans pay for health care."

    Rewarding value – good outcomes, cost-effective practices – is likely to have the most potential long-term impact, say experts meeting in Orlando this week.

    Digital technology will make it possible to track performance and report it to both the payers and the public. Woe be unto those health-care providers who do either too little or too much—their pay will get dinged.

    “This is a revolution, not reform,” consultant Michael Millenson said at Tuesday’s opening of the 2012 Florida Health Care Symposium. “This is a complicated future, not an easy one. But it is better for all of us – patients, payers and for our country.”

    Because it involves a shift of power and money away from specialists and toward primary-care groups, it will generate a huge backlash and lobbying effort. But those entrenched interests will run into an equally powerful force: the desperate need to cut health-care spending.

    "There's only one group bigger and more powerful than the health-care industry," said consultant Brian Klepper of Atlantic Beach. "That's everybody who's not in the health-care industry."
    "Experts see health-care cost control as main effect of Affordable Care Act".


    FCAT follies

    "The School Board unanimously passed a resolution Wednesday opposing standardized testing as the primary means for evaluating schools, students and teachers. They say there is so much focus on students doing well on the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test that it's thwarting teacher creativity and hindering students' ability to learn." "Broward school board passes anti-FCAT resolution".


    Welcome to Tampa

    "Scott wants a state ethics panel to say it's OK for him to greet visitors with recorded messages at Tampa International Airport." "Gov. Scott seeking OK to greet Tampa airport visitors by tape".


    GOPer scramble

    Kevin Derby: "With Storms choosing to offer a primary challenge to Hillsborough County Property Appraiser Rob Turner, two prominent Republicans moved quickly to enter the race, while a third is expected to make an announcement later in the week." "GOP Hopefuls Scramble to Run for Ronda Storms' Senate Seat".


    Blue Ribbon yawner

    "The Blue Ribbon Task Force on Higher Education held its first meeting by telephone Wednesday. The group is charged with suggesting changes to improve the governance and efficiency of the state university system." "Funding a factor as Scott's higher education panel gets to work".


    Entrepreneur in action

    "A retired Florida businessman has pleaded guilty to filing a false U.S. tax return in a case involving millions of dollars in secret Swiss bank accounts." "Fla. man guilty in tax case with secret accounts".


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