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 Friday, June 08, 2012

Florida's Supervisors of Election Block Purge

    Due to an extraordinary display of spine by Florida's independently elected (on a County-by-County basis) Supervisors of Election, "Florida’s noncitizen voter purge looks like it’s all but over."
    The 67 county elections supervisors — who have final say over voter purges —are not moving forward with the purge for now because nearly all of them don’t trust the accuracy of a list of nearly 2,700 potential noncitizens identified by the state’s elections office. The U.S. Department of Justice has ordered the state to stop the purge.
    "Meantime, conservative tea party groups have started to support Gov. Rick Scott’s administration and Detzner. Some are starting to visit local elections supervisors to make sure the noncitizen checks continue or restart. 'We’re going to keep the pressure on, all over the state,' said Billie Tucker, co-founder of the First Coast Tea Party in Jacksonville."

    The Scott-Detzner whine about the Homeland Security not giving Florida access to its database appears to be just another red herring:
    The Department of Justice last week said the state’s purge came too late. Under a federal law commonly known called “motor voter,” state purges must end 90 days before a federal election — May 16 this year. (The Florida state primary is Aug. 14.)

    DOJ also said the Voting Rights Act of 1965 required the state to get permission for the purge.

    But Detzner [see "Beer lobbyist knows little about voting"] disagreed.
    "Election supervisors say they won't restart hunt for non-U.S. citizens".


    NeoVoucher Madness

    "Kevin Welner, a professor of education at the University of Colorado, wrote a book on the tax-credit scholarship programs, now operating in eight states including Florida and Georgia, in which he described them as 'neovouchers' -- distinguishing them from traditional voucher programs that directly provide public funding for private schools and that consequently have run into legal trouble because of the constitutional prohibition on public funding for religious education."

    The American Federation for Children ("AFC") is "a national organization that promotes privatization of public schools and has played a key role in the creation of neovoucher programs".

    The chair of AFC is Betsy DeVos, billionaire wife of Amway founder Richard DeVos and former chair of the Michigan Republican Party. Betsy DeVos' younger brother is Erik Prince, founder of the North Carolina-based private security firm previously known as Blackwater; their father was the wealthy founder of an auto parts company noted for his right-wing politics. The DeVoses have spent tens of millions of dollars to support school privatization efforts.

    Betsy DeVos has been upfront about her belief that wealthy families like her own should be allowed to have outsized influence on government, writing in a 1997 op-ed for the Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call:
    "[M]y family is the largest single contributor of soft money to the national Republican party…. I have decided, however, to stop taking offense at the suggestion that we are buying influence. Now, I simply concede the point. We expect to foster a conservative governing philosophy consisting of limited government and respect for traditional American virtues. We expect a return on our investment; we expect a good and honest government. Furthermore, we expect the Republican party to use the money to promote these policies, and yes, to win elections."
    "Billionaire privatization activists pushing 'neovouchers' for North Carolina".


    "Scott overstating the health of Florida’s economy"

    "Economists taking a fresh look at the state’s unemployment rate report findings that support workers’ organizations that say the state’s job picture may be improving because thousands of jobless Floridians are leaving the workforce."

    The Legislature’s Office of Economic and Demographic Research this week released its latest economic overview for the state, which says that as much as 75 percent of the state’s 1.2 percent drop in unemployment since last December is attributed to Floridians leaving the workforce.

    If the same number of Floridians were in the labor force, April’s 8.7 percent unemployment rate — a three-year low– would have seen 9.6 percent of workers in the state unemployed, the office concluded. Those disappearing from the workforce could have abandoned their job search, returned to school, left the state or retired.

    Critics say that Scott is overstating the health of Florida’s economy when he claims the unemployment drop is proof the state is on what he called the “path to recovery.”

    Even at 8.7 percent unemployment, Florida’s rate remains above the nationwide 8.1 percent level. Only seven states have higher unemployment rates than Florida, which was tied in April with Mississippi and Illinois, the Office of Economic and Demographic Research found.
    "Florida’s shrinking workforce is helping Scott reduce jobless rate, report says".


    They hate unions, don't they?

    "Public employees under scrutiny after recent elections".


    "Voter fraud simply hasn't been a problem "

    "Gov. Rick Scott and his Department of State have been talking about voter fraud in Florida since 2011, shortly after Scott took office. ... But notwithstanding the concerns of Scott and Republican legislators, state records show that voter fraud simply hasn't been a problem for the past decade." "Statistics show voter fraud is a rare occurrence in Florida".


    Desperate

    "Mitt Romney Calls on Jeb, Marco, Florida Republicans for Boost with Hispanics".


    It must be the Pollster

    The Sunshine State News blames the pollster: "Bill Nelson With Solid Lead in Dem-Leaning Poll".


    "Trio of mini-sagas"

    "A trio of mini-sagas has been concluded as state senators Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, Steve Oelrich, R-Gainesville, and Jim Norman, R-Tampa, all filed their qualifying paperwork." "Latvala, Oelrich, Norman Are In as Qualifying Reaches Final Day".


    "Florida is one of five states where earnings remain below pre-recession levels"

    Bad news for Mr. Scott: "Florida’s economy grew last year, but at a slower pace than the previous year and slower than most states."

    The unemployment rate has dropped significantly, but not primarily because of job creation. Housing sales and prices are rebounding, but problems with foreclosures and underwater properties continue to be a drag on the real estate market.

    The mixed bag of results is derived from a report released Wednesday by the state Office of Economic and Demographic Research.

    Overall, Florida’s economy grew at a rate of 0.5 percent in 2011, slower than the 0.9 percent growth rate in 2010 and the 37th highest rate among states. Per capita personal income grew 3.5 percent, but that was the fifth-lowest rate among states. The national average increase in per capita personal income for last year was 4.3 percent. Florida is one of five states where earnings remain below pre-recession levels.

    Gov. Rick Scott has touted the decline in the unemployment rate since he took office in January 2011, but the drop in recent months has been mostly because of workers leaving the workforce, not finding jobs. Florida’s unemployment rate for April is 8.7 percent. That’s down from 9.9 percent in December, but 75 percent of that decrease comes from a shrinking workforce rather than new employment.

    Since December, the number of people in the workforce has shrunk by 48,000 to a total of 9,255,000 workers, even though the working age population has grown by 67,000 to a total of 15,384,000 people.

    The report states that because the state will add 2,600 people of prime working age (25 to 54) every month, it will take many more new jobs than Scott’s pledge of 750,000 to reach pre-recession levels.
    "Economic report shows signs of hope for Florida, but fundamental problems remain".


    Dirty water

    "Industry groups are backing the state's proposed rules to replace federal rules that industry calls too expensive and difficult to meet. Environmental groups challenged the state rules as weak and unenforceable, but Administrative Law Judge Bram D.E. Canter ruled against them." "State judge sides with DEP in water quality rules challenge".


    "Reckless comparison"?

    Nancy Smith believes the "Tampa Bay Times has a political statement to make, OK, I get it. But their editors used a reckless comparison to make it, and I can't let that go without comment."

    Comparing George Wallace in Alabama 49 years ago to Rick Scott in Florida today is so wild and crazy, so unthinkably off the mark, it's like nails on a blackboard to those of us who were in Tuscaloosa on June 11, 1963.

    I just can't believe that the folks at the Times responsible for today's editorial, "Governor, halt the voter purge," are proud of what they've done here.
    "I Didn't Think the Tampa Bay Times Could Stoop This Low".


    "Common Core standards"

    "Florida's implementation of "Common Core standards" for math and English Language Arts could cost taxpayers as much as $780 million -- could, but shouldn't, says a national education think tank." "Cost of Common Core: Boon or Boondoggle for Schools?".


    Sorry, Ricky

    "Bank of America to lay off 675 workers in Fort Lauderdale". Meanwhile, "Court clerks expect 11 percent statewide staff cuts" ("clerks will eliminate about 900 positions statewide in the coming months, a reduction of more than 11 percent. Employment in clerks' offices has fallen from 9,600 in 2009 to 7,900 this year.")


    Here it comes ...

    Florida's conservative editorial boards are all over the Wisconsin vote. The Orlando Sentinel editors: "Sure, you can criticize Walker for being a poor communicator."

    You can disagree, as we do, with how far he went in pursuing reforms by curtailing employees' collective bargaining rights. The 900,000 people who signed the recall petition forcing Tuesday's election would certainly concur.

    But the majority of Wisconsin voters who turned out to make sure Walker completes his four-year term nonetheless backed his efforts to restore some fiscal balance to government. And that majority is what counts most right now. That's the message.

    Wisconsin isn't an isolated case. Look at what happened just last September in a South Florida city, Hollywood, where voters backed controversial ballot items to reform city pensions.

    Or look at how Florida lawmakers in Tallahassee approved equally contentious legislation last year requiring employees to contribute to their own retirement plans. We supported that effort, pushed by Gov. Rick Scott. For now, it's held up in court.

    The heated and ugly politics isn't healthy, but the results are. The fallout from the Great Recession has forced many private sector employers to make painful decisions. It is forcing governments to take painful steps, too.
    All that is of course followed by a gratuitous air kiss to Florida's public employees:
    We don't take pleasure in the consequences. We appreciate the work that public employees do.
    "Wis. vote shows voters want fiscal balance back".

    The same editorial - funny that - from the Orlando Sentinel's twin sister, The Sun Sentinel editorial board: "Wisconsin recall vote sends message".


    Cost to taxpayers for arresting chalk protester: $196,363

    "Cost of a 15-pack of Crayola sidewalk chalk: $4. Cost to Orlando taxpayers for arresting chalk protester: $196,363. After losing a federal lawsuit filed by a man wrongly jailed for chalking protest messages in front of City Hall, Orlando has now settled all its legal bills and damages." "Chalk-protest arrest proves costly for Orlando taxpayers".


    "Category 5 shocker"

    The Palm Beach Post editors: "You could have knocked us over with a mild tropical storm last week when Gov. Scott called for a national disaster insurance plan. This call came from the famously free-market Rick Scott. The regulation-cutting Rick Scott. The get-government-out-of-the-way-and-let-business-work Rick Scott. If it wasn’t Saul on the road to Damascus, maybe it was Rick on the road to Miami, where he appeared at the National Hurricane Center." "Scott’s Category 5 shocker".


    'Glades

    The Orlando Sentinel editorial board: "Floridians can take heart that a bipartisan U.S. House majority acted this week to keep a federal commitment to restore the Everglades." "Committed to Everglades".


    "Paid-media bloodbath"

    "Central Florida can now officially gird itself for a campaign-season, paid-media bloodbath."

    Friday was the deadline for state and federal candidates to file their qualifying paperwork, and the Metro Orlando region is poised to host the most high-profile contests between majority-party Republicans with financial resource advantages, and minority-party Democrats buoyed by new district lines and stronger efforts to recruit candidates who can compete.

    Thanks to redistricting and term-limits, this year is shaping up to be the most competitive for congressional and legislative seats in at least a decade -- and likely longer.

    For Democrats, the new maps have given lift to hopes that they can chip away at the super-majorities held by Republicans in the state House and Senate.

    "We're competing everywhere," said incoming Senate Democratic Leader Chris Smith of Fort Lauderdale.

    "For too long the Democratic Party has not competed as vigorously as we should have."

    Two of the top three races where Democrats hope to gain Senate seats will play out in Central Florida.

    A new Hispanic-majority District 14 will pit Democratic state Rep. Darren Soto against GOP personal-injury lawyer William McBride, a son-in-law of wealthy Christian-radio-station owner Stu Epperson and a U.S. Senate candidate in 2006.

    The Orange/Osceola district is 50 percent Hispanic and leans heavily Democratic, but the largely Puerto Rican population of Central Florida has demonstrated an independent streak when Latino candidates are on the ballot.

    A second closely watched Senate race has Volusia Commission Chairman Frank Bruno squaring off against state Rep. Dorothy Hukill, R-Port Orange. The district that stretches from Daytona Beach to Ocala has a slight, 3.5-percentage-point Democratic registration edge but has flipped between Democrat Barack Obama in 2008 and Republican Rick Scott in 2010.
    "Competitive congressional, legislative races slated across Central Florida".


    Lawsuit challenging Florida's intrusion into foreign policy gets a court date

    "A June 25 hearing has been set for a Florida construction company's challenge to a state law banning governments from doing business with firms that have economic links to Cuba and Syria. ... The lawsuit claims the law is unconstitutional because foreign policy powers rest solely with the federal government." "Hearing set on Fla. firm's challenge to Cuba law".


    "One of the world's biggest corporations puts one over on Florida taxpayers"

    The Tampa Bay Times editorial board: "Never mind that there's already a Sam's Club rising from the ground on 34th Street N in St. Petersburg. The City Council — hiding behind the guise of job creation — was all too happy to help one of the world's biggest corporations put one over on the Florida taxpayer." "Wal-Mart puts one over on council".


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