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 Tuesday, May 01, 2012

"Rubio's past issues could hang over him"

    "The widespread attention paid to an $8,000 election fine levied against U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio's campaign underscores heightened scrutiny the star politician is receiving and renewed past issues that could hang over him as he's considered as a vice presidential candidate."
    Rubio, who turns 41 later this month, has become one of the most talked about politicians in Washington, even more so now that he's considered as a potential running mate to presumed GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney.

    Where it could hurt Rubio — who insists he's not seeking the VP slot — is by drawing attention to past financial issues at a time when some say he's too inexperienced to be steps away from the presidency.

    As a ranking state legislator, Rubio routinely charged personal expenses to his party-issued credit card from 2006 to 2008. Rubio also acknowledged double-billing state taxpayers and the party for eight plane fares to Tallahassee, calling it a mistake. He said he reimbursed personal expenses on the credit card and repaid the party for the flights.

    Those issues, first reported by the Times/Herald, were part of a citizen ethics complaint during the 2010 Senate race that Rubio was using political funds to "subsidize his lifestyle."

    Before becoming speaker, Rubio started two political committees to support other candidates and raised about $600,000. He failed to disclose tens of thousands of dollars in expenses and concealed others by lumping them in credit card charges.

    Rubio this year asked that Florida Ethics Commission to close out its investigation into the matter, contending it would be used against him by Democrats.
    "Election fine was not Rubio's first".

    Back to court

    "The legislation, sponsored by Sen. Rene Garcia of Hialeah and Rep. Michael Bileca of Miami, appears aimed at Odebrecht, the Brazilian giant whose Coral Gables-based, U.S. subsidiary has worked on some of South Florida’s biggest projects, including the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, the American Airlines Arena and the North Terminal at Miami International Airport. A separate subsidiary in Cuba is performing major improvements to the Port of Mariel."

    Fourteen laws passed by the Republican-controlled Legislature in the past year have ended up in court, and several others appear headed that way, including the Cuba measure.
    "Gov. Rick Scott to sign bill banning governments from hiring companies tied to Cuba".

    "Scott thought that was too generous"

    Beth Kassab: "If Florida really wants to help struggling homeowners, the state might as well direct its bureaucrats to stand along I-4 and I-95 and hand out wads of cash during rush-hour traffic jams."

    That might be more effective than the Hardest-Hit Fund program, which was supposed to dispense $1 billion to help people avoid foreclosure.

    And it would certainly get the money into the hands it's intended for faster.

    But don't expect any windfalls next time you're stuck in a bottleneck on your way home.

    Instead, Florida is embarking on Hardest-Hit 2.0 — the latest incarnation of a program that, one year after its start, has accomplished very little.

    More than 90 percent of the $1 billion in federal funds sits unused while the clock ticks on homeowners who grow closer to losing their homes every day.

    This was supposed to be the Average Joe's chance at some TARP money. You know, the bailout dollars that helped the banks when they were down and out.

    No such luck for Joe and company.

    The program is designed to work in two ways: Help people catch up on their mortgages after they fall behind because they are unemployed or underemployed. And help cover monthly mortgage payments while the homeowner looks for new, or better-paying, work.

    The Hardest Hit Fund's requirements are so restrictive that just 5,500 people have qualified so far. The state originally projected the program would help some 40,000 people.

    Blame politics — and greed.

    Last week, the board of the Florida Housing Finance Corp., which oversees the program, voted to overhaul the rules to get more help to more people.

    For example, the program paid for a maximum of six months of mortgage payments, up to a total of $12,000, while a homeowner looked for work. Administrators of the fund originally had asked for nine months, but Gov. Rick Scott thought that was too generous.
    "Blame Hardest Hit Fund failure on greed". See also "State housing agency wants to loosen requirements for federal mortgage help program".

    "They are not perfect"

    The Saint Petersburg Times editorial board: "They are not perfect, but the new state Senate districts approved by the Florida Supreme Court are a substantial improvement over both the existing districts and the Legislature's first attempt that was rejected by the court. Credit goes to Florida voters who amended the state Constitution in 2010 to change the redistricting rules, and to the court for defining those rules and forcing the state Senate to redraw the districts. The result should be more competitive districts and a Senate that better represents the state after the November elections."

    For now, the new congressional and legislative districts for the 2012 elections appear to be set. The Florida Supreme Court has signed off on the legislative districts. The U.S. Department of Justice on Monday also precleared both the congressional and legislative maps under the Voting Rights Act, finding no concerns in Hillsborough and four other counties with a history of voter discrimination. That is a credit to the Legislature, and it enables candidates and voters to begin focusing on the coming elections.
    "Senate map honors voters' wishes". See also "Judge, U.S. Justice Department OK Florida redistricting plans", "Authorities approve redrawn maps for state and congressional districts", "Feds sign off on all three redistricting plans" and "Supervisors OK'd to Use New Maps as Feds Uphold Congressional Lines".

    The Sarasota Herald Tribune editorial board: "A justice's helpful opinion" ("Supreme Court Justice Barbara Pariente did Floridians a favor Friday by clearly explaining the shortcomings of well-intended changes to the state's redistricting regimen.")

    "Florida will be sent to the convention’s version of Siberia"

    "The coveted hotel assignments for the 2012 Republican National Convention in Tampa are out, and Florida will be sent to the convention’s version of Siberia." "Fla. delegates put in hotels far from GOP convention site". See also "Florida Republicans get long commute to GOP convention".

    Daniel Ruth: "The bowler hats of the RNC announced on Monday that Florida's delegates will be staying at the Innisbrook Resort in north Pinellas County. To be sure, Innisbrook isn't exactly the Bates Motel. But it is still some distance away from the epicenter of political life that will be Tampa for a few short days in August. It will take at least 45 minutes to get from Innisbrook to the Forum — assuming U.S. 19 doesn't revert to its usual form as the roadway capital of the international hand gesture for ... have a nice day." "For Florida's GOP, a very humid Siberia".

    Joe Henderson: "With any luck, the governor will be assigned to stay with the delegates and share the joy of a drive thousands get to experience here every day." "RNC commute would make Scott support mass transit"

    "Will third time be a charm for Garcia?"

    "Will the third time be a charm for Joe Garcia? Garcia, a Democrat who has twice run for U.S. Congress and lost, said Monday that he will run again against Republican Rep. David Rivera. ... And following once-a-decade redistricting, the demographics of the district, which stretches from southwest Miami-Dade to Key West, are now slightly less favorable to Republicans. To face Rivera, Garcia would first have to defeat a fellow Democrat: Gloria Romero Roses, a Southwest Ranches businesswoman and first-time candidate." "Joe Garcia to jump into race against U.S. Rep. David Rivera".

    Who writes these headlines?

    "A visit from first lady Michelle Obama last week raised about $300,000 for her husband's reelection, according to a source close to the campaign. But just as importantly, local backers said it showed there is support for the president and for Democrats in majority-Republican Collier County." "Michelle Obama campaign stop rakes in $300,000, shows Democrat[ic] support in Collier".

    Who writes these headlines? It is "Democratic", not "Democrat"

    That took, what ... 30 seconds?

    "A federal judge in Miami ruled today that Gov. Rick Scott’s executive order mandating that all state workers be randomly drug tested violates the Fourth Amendment rights of people employed by the state." "Federal judge rules that drug testing state workers is unconstitutional".

    The Naples Daily News editors: "The federal judge almost effortlessly set aside the order, calling it close to a search without a search warrant for drugs in a home. You simply cannot mandate such an invasive procedure without reasonable cause. The office of the governor has enough other, more worthy work to do and policy to affect than to tempt trouble that ultimately backfires on overall effectiveness." "Use powers wisely for best results".


    "Scott honors director of rape crisis center after cutting her funding". See also "Scott cuts funding for rape crisis centers during Sexual Assault Awareness Month".

    Stand your stoopid

    "Lawmaker's panel urges restrictions on Florida's 'Stand Your Ground' self-defense law". See also "Smith's Task Force Seeks 'Stand Your Ground' Tweaks" and "Independent task force wants changes to 'stand your ground' law".

    Good riddance: "This House member won't change districts".

    Black and overweight need not apply

    This is rich: "A Fort Lauderdale company that hires crews for yachts is facing damages after an employee accidentally sent an email to an applicant saying she wasn't hired because she's black and overweight." "Fla. firm faces damages over discriminatory email".

    "More Tax-Dollar Disclosures from Enterprise Florida"

    "Integrity Florida Pushes for More Tax-Dollar Disclosures from Enterprise Florida".

    From abused teenage wife to raging Teabagger

    "In 2010, Adams used tea-party support to win a seat in Congress. Her first year saw her backing largely symbolic legislation — banning the use of foreign laws in U.S. courts; long detention for immigrant criminals who can't be deported. She since has become a key Republican voice [token?] in fights over contraception and domestic violence. In recent months, she has attacked Democrats over what she calls their 'faux war on women' as policymakers debated whether faith-based employers and their insurers should be required to provide contraception coverage under the 'Obamacare' health-care legislation." "U.S. Rep. Sandy Adams says her dramatic life story shapes her politics in quest for American dream".

    Florida GOPer: "Why do we still have apes if we came from them?"

    Fred Grimm reminds us that last year, the not so wise Florida Republican, "Stephen Wise of Jacksonville"

    attempted to push an anti-evolution bill through the Florida Legislature, saying, “Why do we still have apes if we came from them?” You can figure creationists will be reprising those Wise words next year. The religious crowd was able to pass the model school prayer bill this session, with language that alludes to student-led “inspirational messages.” The new law, though, makes school prayer a local option, leaving it up to individual school boards whether they want to pay a lawyer to fend off an inevitable constitutional challenge.

    The Legislature also added Amendment Eight, dubbed as the “Religious Freedom Amendment,” to the fall ballot, which, with obtuse language, removes the old state constitutional prohibition on giving tax dollars going to “any church, sect, or religious denomination.”

    That’s really about state money (think vouchers) going to religious schools, where teachers are already free to ignore Charlie Darwin and all that inconvenient monkey business.
    "Fighting evolution one monkey law at a time".

    "Byrd plots comeback"

    "Johnnie Byrd plots comeback, this time as a judge".

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