FLORIDA POLITICS
Since 2002, daily Florida political news and commentary

 

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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 Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Enforcement of pollution laws has dropped significantly under Scott Administration

    "Florida’s enforcement of pollution laws has dropped significantly during the administration of Gov. Rick Scott, according to a report released Wednesday by an environmental group."
    The declines during Scott’s first year in office were across the board, from the number of major cases opened to the size of penalties collected, according to an analysis by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility.
    "Jennifer Diaz, a spokeswoman for the Florida DEP, criticized the report as misleading and 'irresponsible,' saying it failed to account for the agency’s proactive efforts. The department’s strategy, she said, includes 'compliance assistance' outreach efforts with industry, businesses and government agencies intended to reduce violations."
    The report by PEER, a national nonprofit whose members include state and federal workers whose names are kept confidential, compared enforcement statistics in 2011 with the previous year. It found:

    • The total number of enforcement cases dropped by 28 percent.

    • Pollution penalties dropped by 29 percent, with the number of fines topping $100,000 dropping by half.

    • Enforcement with mandatory follow-ups to check compliance fell by 62 percent.
    "Report: Pollution enforcement drops under Scott".


    Another voter purge suit filed

    "Voter groups and two Miami-Dade naturalized citizens who were wrongly targeted in the state's noncitizen-voter purge sued the state Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Miami. ... The lawsuit contented that 87 percent of the names on the list are of blacks or Hispanics." "Another suit filed to block Florida voter purge". See also "Florida: Keeping Noncitizens from Voting a 'Year-Round Obligation'" and "Suit: Minorities illegally targeted".


    "Congress pandering to anti-immigrant sentiment"

    The Miami Herald's Fabiola Santiago: "Politically motivated or not, once again, as was the case with his endorsement of gay marriage, it’s good to see the president we elected take action on an issue that should have been resolved permanently by Congress in 2010 with the passage of the Dream Act, which Obama supported. It failed because this Congress, pandering to anti-immigrant sentiment, was intent on torpedoing everything supported by this president." "Next big step for Dreamers: citizenship".


    "Florida awash in wink-winking ethical shenanigans"

    Daniel Ruth: "Let's review. Florida is governed by an assemblage of politicians who can be bought off for the price of a Slurpee. Ethics? In Florida? This is a bit like trying to find a liquor store in Saudi Arabia."

    But that didn't stop Gov. Rick Scott from tapping the Florida Commission on Ethics, which has all the juice of a World Wrestling referee, to make sure he could record a greeting for visitors at Tampa International Airport.

    Say, that's just what we need — a welcome from a public figure who is not even popular with his own constituents. Oh governor? We're trying to lure visitors here, not convince them to book the next flight back to Duluth.

    Perhaps the governor believed this was going to be the only way he would be allowed to speak to the Republican National Convention delegates.

    At issue was whether Scott's howdy violated the ban on gifts or expenditures from lobbyists. Thus, legions of ethics commission factotums burned away the midnight oil to determine whether the governor, whose popularity ratings drift barely above Florida's skunk ape, could record the TIA greeting.

    You will not be surprised to learn the ethics commission determined Scott was free to bother people on the TIA's trams because a recording of the governor's voice has absolutely no monetary value whatsoever. Zilch.
    "Florida is awash in wink-winking ethical shenanigans,"
    including state Sen. JD Alexander's wheeling and dealing to bring an unaccredited polytechnic university to Lakeland that virtually nobody wanted and academic experts inveighed against.

    Consider Florida's now infamous "stand your ground'' law that everyone from law enforcement to prosecutors opposed on the theory it was unnecessary and would lead to chaos in the courts — which it has. But Tallahassee, more fearful of the National Rifle Association's ire than concerned about public safety, passed it anyway.

    But suddenly Scott is concerned whether a inane public service announcement violates a toothless ethics law?

    While the governor was pretending to be the Simon Pure of Tallahassee by giving literal lip-service to the Florida Commission on Ethics, Scott still found plenty of time earlier this month to play spin-the-checkbook with Las Vegas mogul Sheldon Adelson, who gave $250,000 to his Let's Get to Work (Greasing the Skids) political action committee.

    The governor had no qualms accepting $250,000 from a gambling kingpin who wants to open casinos in Florida. No reticence either in taking another $250,000 from Florida Power & Light, which is technically regulated by the state. And that $100,000 from a group that wants changes to Florida's no-fault care insurance law? No problem. No conflict of interest here.
    "In ethical swamp, Scott swats a gnat".


    Great work if you can get it

    "Citizens Property Insurance interim president chalks up almost $10,000 in travel expenses in two months".


    "Scott's Job Approval Still Very Low"

    "With wide partisan and racial division, and a small gender gap, Florida voters support 60 - 35 percent Gov. Rick Scott's effort to purge non-citizens from the state's voter rolls, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today."

    There are similar partisan and racial divisions, and a wider gender gap, as Sunshine State voters support 56 - 37 percent the state's "Stand Your Ground" law, the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University poll finds.

    Gov. Scott, however, is still unpopular with the state's electorate, who disapprove 49 - 39 percent of the job he is doing, compared to a 46 - 41 percent disapproval May 24, Scott's best score in his 18 months in office.

    Support for the attempted voter purges is 90 - 8 percent among Republicans and 59 - 37 percent among independent voters, while Democrats are opposed 60 - 33 percent.
    That latter result is no surprise when you see how the purge question is phrased, including the failure to use the word "purge". Here is the precise question that was asked in the poll:
    As you may know, there has been an effort by Governor Scott to remove people from the state's voter rolls who are suspected of not being U.S. citizens. Some people say this effort is needed to prevent voter fraud. Others say this effort is intended to suppress turnout by low-income people and minorities. Do you support or oppose Governor Scott's effort to remove potential non-citizens from the registered voter rolls?[*]
    "June 20, 2012 - Florida Voters Back Voter Purge, Stand Your Ground, Quinnipiac University Poll Finds; Gov. Scott's Job Approval Still Very Low". See also "Poll: Majority of Florida voters support purge".

    - - - - - - - - - -

    *Few people would not support an "effort" to remove non-citizens from voter rolls. A more accurate question would include the fact that the sloppy "effort", more familiarly a "purge", is also impacting citizens.


    Travel to Cuba litigation

    "The U.S. Supreme Court could decide this week whether to hear a challenge to a 2006 Florida law that blocks funding for university professors to travel to Cuba or other countries designated as state sponsors of terrorism. The Florida International University faculty senate and individual professors challenged the law, contending that it improperly infringes on the federal government's power to make decisions about foreign policy." "Professors' Challenge to Cuba Travel Law Could Go to High Court".


    "Anonymous advisers" dis Rubio

    "Mitt Romney spent his entire Tuesday letting anonymous advisers dismiss Sen. Marco Rubio as a possible vice-presidential pick before flatly saying the reports are false."

    That didn’t sound like news — until anonymous Republicans cast doubt on the situation Tuesday, throwing Romney’s campaign into a messaging tailspin that took an entire day to clean up.

    And it was Romney who had to do the mop-up work after ABC, the Washington Post and the New York Times quoted advisers of Romney saying the Florida senator wasn’t under serious consideration as a vice-presidential running mate.

    “This story was entirely false,” Romney told reporters. “Marco Rubio is being thoroughly vetted as part of our process.”

    But by the time Romney made his comments — about 6 p.m. — the damage was done.

    Republicans and conservatives, particularly those in must-win Florida, felt Romney’s advisers had disrespected Rubio. Democrats had a field day.
    "Dis of Marco Rubio by anonymous advisers derails Mitt Romney for a day". See also "Romney says Rubio being 'thoroughly vetted' as VP". Related: "Sources: Rubio a long shot for Romney VP slot".


    Florida GOP afraid of United Nations world government takeover

    "Expect a bill that shelters private property in Florida from takeover by a United Nations-led world government effort, Senate President-designate Don Gaetz said Tuesday. And expect that bill to receive favorable support." "Don Gaetz: Expect Anti-U.N. Agenda 21 in 2013".


    Rubio's bad dream

    "Obama's Immigration Move Disrupts Rubio's Dream".


    "Dorworth a magnet for intra- and inter-party political heat"

    Aaron Deslatte: "Usually, Florida legislators who have been anointed by their brethren to become presiding officers don't draw serious re-election challengers. But Rep. Chris Dorworth, a Lake Mary Republican chosen by his fellow legislators to become House speaker in 2014, seems to be the exception to the rule – a legislative leader who has been a magnet for intra- and inter-party political heat."

    The development consultant has drawn two GOP primary challengers and a serious Democratic opponent in the newly drawn House District 29 in Seminole County. Republicans John Moffitt and Jeffrey Onest have qualified to take on Dorworth, with Moffitt – the treasurer of the Republican Party of Seminole County -- claiming he was doing so as a result of Dorworth's tangled finances and questions about his income.

    Democrat Michael Clelland of Lake Mary, a lawyer and retired firefighter, has also filed to run, although he reserves his barbs for the ruling Republicans' policies in Tallahassee. ...

    He is a career firefighter for the Longwood fire department who rose to the rank of battalion chief before retiring in 2008. By then, he had earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Central Florida and a law degree from Florida A&M University. He has since opened his own firm, specializing in helping injured first-responders win compensation.

    Clelland's brother, Steve, is president of the Orlando firefighter's union, and he himself is a longtime union representative. He says he expects that to be used against him in the GOP-leaning district.

    Clelland says the Republicans' super-majority in the Legislature has "gone too far to the right" and undermined public education to the detriment of job-creation.

    "Giving corporate tax breaks and creating tax loopholes in order to get jobs is not the way I would do it," he said. "Jobs and the public education system are inextricably intertwined … They've done absolutely the opposite, absolutely gutting the funding for public schools."

    Clelland had raised $27,980 by the end of March, and conceded he would face a huge financial disadvantage, assuming Dorworth is his GOP opponent this fall.
    "Florida House District 29: It's Chris Dorworth against his critics".


    Romney doesn't want to see vanquished foes at Tampa convention

    "Mitt Romney does not want to see the likes of Rick Santorum and Herman Cain at the Republican convention in Tampa focusing on the Iowa and New Hampshire delegates." "Mitt Romney Doesn't Want to See Too Much of Defeated Foes in Tampa".


    "Blame Jeb"

    The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "Patricia Levesque [has] disingenuously blamed local school districts for all the standardized tests in Florida that are angering parents and frustrating students. Ms. Levesque, who as an adviser to former Gov. Jeb Bush saluted every 'bold' education scheme from FCAT-based school grades to vouchers for religious schools, wrote, 'Many districts require two to three times more tests than are required by the state.'"

    In fact, local districts have little or no choice. They know that everybody suffers if students do poorly on the late-spring FCAT. So they give at least two pre-FCAT tests, one in the fall and one in the winter, to identify areas where individual students need more help. ...

    Ms. Levesque is now executive director of the Foundation for Florida’s Future. Jeb Bush is the chairman, and it’s his way of continuing to influence education since leaving office in 2007. ...

    Ms. Levesque doesn’t warn parents that another shoe is about to drop. Actually, it’s an Imelda Marcos closetful. The Legislature and Gov. Scott have required school districts to develop and administer standardized end-of-course exams in every class. Students won’t have to pass all of them to graduate, but some will be graduation requirements. Teacher pay will be pegged to student scores.

    Ms. Levesque doesn’t want to admit it, but in large part because of policies she advocated, the state — not local school districts — is smothering Florida students in standardized tests.
    "Swamped by standardized tests? Blame Jeb".


    Teabaggers all in for Mack

    "On Tuesday, FreedomWorks, a prominent national conservative organization with ties to the tea party movement, announced that its PAC was backing Mack for the Republican nomination to challenge U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla." "Connie Mack Keeps Adding Support for Senate Bid".


    "Neglect and erratic leadership"

    Bill Cotterell: "Daniel Parker, operations manager in the Division of Environmental Public Health, last week sent an email to hundreds of colleagues, including some DOH managers and public-health workers across the state. He had intended to take leave to run for Tallahassee City Commission, and had been notified of his impending layoff, but his 2,900-word broadside precipitated his immediate departure."

    Parker, who has worked in public health for most of his 17-year career, wrote in the email that "it has been difficult to watch a once-proud agency succumb fairly quickly to neglect and erratic leadership." He said internal problems of DOH started under former-Gov. Charlie Crist and "accelerated" under Scott, because of "the misguided belief that public service is not necessary and people are as interchangeable as parts."
    "Public health official leaves DOH with a parting shot".


    "Insurance War"

    "Frustrated but not surprised about a lack of progress on property insurance issues during an election year, a pair of key legislators on Tuesday began preparing for another push once the dust settles in November." "Lawmakers Fire Salvo in Insurance War".


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