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 13, 2012

Romney struggles with the truth in Orlando

    "Mitt Romney is one of the wealthiest presidential candidates in U.S. history, a man who made his fortune at a prominent private equity firm."
    But returning to Florida for a campaign stop in Orlando on Tuesday, the Republican nominee pressed the case that he, not President Barack Obama, best understands the needs of average Americans and small businesses. ...

    But much of Romney’s visit ran counter to his man-of-the-people message.

    After the mid-morning speech at Con-Air, Romney attended a $2,500-per-person fundraiser at Isleworth Country Club in suburban Orlando, where he picked up again on his theme that Obama is out of touch with middle-income Americans. Afterward, those who donated at least $50,000 joined Romney for a private lunch at an undisclosed home in Isleworth, exclusive community of Orlando’s rich and famous.
    Romney also continued to struggle with the truth:
    In his speech, Romney repeated many statements that have been deemed inaccurate.

    In an anecdote about a furniture store owner in Las Vegas, he said she struggled after Obama told people “don’t come to Las Vegas for your company meetings.”

    PolitiFact, the Tampa Bay Times’ fact-checking website, checked that claim and found Obama is on record for saying no such thing. Instead, he has said heads of corporations shouldn’t use taxpayer money for Vegas trips.

    Romney also repeated a claim that Obama’s health care plan “would cut $500 billion from Medicare.”

    Yet that’s not true, either. PolitiFact points out that Obama’s health care plan doesn’t reduce the Medicare budget but, rather, tries to slow growth (the size of the program will increase dollar-wise), curtailing about $500 billion in projected spending increases over the next decade.
    "Romney attacks Obama in Florida". See also "Romney, in Florida, calls Obama out-of-touch; Obama ads respond in kind". Related: "Obama, Mitt Romney Air It Out in Barrage of Attack Ads".


    Bragging about gutting police pensions over Piña Coladas

    "200 mayors visit Orlando to swap ideas and have fun".


    That collective bargaining thing

    "The unions contend legislators in 2011 violated the state Constitution, which requires contract changes to be negotiated through collective bargaining." "Florida Disputes Judge Jackie Fulford’s ‘Meat-Cleaver’ Pension Ruling". See also "Scott: Force Florida workers to contribute to pensions" and "State pushes back against lower court ruling on pensions".


    Bondi opposes $100 million in rebates for Floridians

    The Tampa Bay Times editorial board: "Despite the legal assault on President Barack Obama's health care reform law by Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, one provision of the law is about to pay huge dividends to Florida consumers."

    Estimates are that health insurers in the state will owe Floridians more than $100 million in rebates this summer under what is known as the medical loss ratio rule. The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to rule shortly on the effort by Florida and other states to overturn the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, and if the entire law goes away, so does this significant consumer protection. ...

    The law is doing precisely what it was designed to do: force insurers to use premiums to pay for medical care or reduce rates. But leaders in Tallahassee have been hostile from the start. Florida Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty asked for and was properly denied an exemption to the rule for the state's insurers. He told the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that without an exemption Florida's individual health insurance market would be destabilized. But that chaotic scenario has not happened.

    The Supreme Court is expected to rule on the challenge to the Affordable Care Act any time now. McCarty's office says there is every possibility that insurers will not owe the rebate if the law is struck down. If this valuable benefit for Floridians goes away, people should know who is to blame — and they can look toward Tallahassee.
    "Health rebates on tap if reform law stands".


    Millions in Medicaid fraud? No problem

    The Miami Herald editors: "A well-connected healthcare firm is poised to get the kind of second chance to prove itself that Florida routinely denies for people who have run afoul of the law. WellCare Health Plans, which provides healthcare and treatment to poor and disabled Floridians, is bidding to re-up its contract with the state. The contract is worth billions, a major piece of the state’s Medicaid reform efforts. The state is pushing more than one million Medicaid patients into privately run HMOs, and WellCare wants to remain a player."

    However, WellCare has a troubled past in Florida. Healthcare advocates have every reason to look askance at how the company will conduct business in the future. After all, WellCare agreed to pay a $137.5 million fraud settlement in light of accusations that that company scammed Florida’s Medicaid and Healthy Kids programs and also routinely kicked patients with expensive treatment needs to the curb. That settlement with the federal government is less than half of the estimated $400 million to $600 million the company allegedly skimmed.

    Is there reason to be skeptical? You bet. This state has seen more than its share of fraud and waste at taxpayers’ expense, and the state needs to make clear that its priority is protecting vulnerable patients and taxpayers’ money.
    "Reason for skepticism".


    PurgeGate: How it all began

    "Florida’s noncitizen voter purge began after a small chat between Gov. Rick Scott and the secretary of state. Then it blew up into a major controversy after no one had the ‘Spidey sense’ to delay the effort."

    Now, more than a year later, the effort that stemmed from that chat has produced three federal lawsuits, widespread suspicion and bitter partisanship, echoing the recriminations of Florida’s controversial 2000 elections that still haunt the state today.
    "How Rick Scott’s noncitizen voter purge started small and then blew up".


    "Modern-day version of the ugly Southern governor"

    Fabiola Santiago: "It goes without saying that only U.S. citizens should vote."

    But Scott’s voter purge seems politically motivated, not to mention flawed in process and execution, and unfairly targeted at the poor and minorities.

    The governor cares not that practically every supervisor of elections in the state, whose job is to safeguard the legitimacy of the voter rolls, has refused to follow his mandate to proceed with the purge using a citizenship status list from the Florida driver license database. The list has so far yielded about 140 noncitizens on the rolls, and of those, about 50 voted.

    The letter demanding proof of citizenship to those 2,700 people, however, has upset legitimate voters, one of them a decorated war veteran who called to task the Republican governor.

    The governor cares not that he’s spending taxpayer dollars in a legal fight with the federal government, which has stepped in to stop him from violating the people’s right to vote, first with a letter to cease the purge, and then with a lawsuit.

    The federal government is right to challenge Scott. ...

    What many of us see in the voter purge is a modern-day version of the ugly Southern governor who stands in the way of people’s rights, this one using the favorite Republican chant of “Fraud!” (a favorite target always being poor-immigrant fraud; it’s seldom white-collar fraud.) This is demagoguery of the worst kind, the kind we’re likely to see more of in elections.
    "Political season brings storms of different kind".


    "Soft punchin' over a catered luncheon"

    Scott Maxwell: "In the much-ballyhooed debate between John Mica and Sandy Adams Tuesday, no one delivered a knockout. Instead, the two incumbent Republican members delivered a constant barrage of jabs before the Tiger Bay political club at the downtown Sheraton." "Mica vs. Adams: Non-answers reveal a lot".


    Norman takes his ball and goes home

    "Jim Norman has spent 20 years playing the blood sport of Florida politics, earning a reputation as an advocate for athletics, lower taxes and less regulation. ... On Tuesday, Norman took his ball and went home." "Jim Norman has withdrawn from his state Senate race".

    The Tampa Tribune editorial board: "Jim Norman's sad departure". See also "Pasco GOP eyes more seats after Norman quits". See also "Sen. Norman ends his re-election bid" and "Jim Norman Ends Bid for Another Term in State Senate".


    RNC blues

    "RNC traffic, security concerns may empty downtown Tampa".


    Dubious distinction is toxic to public trust

    The Orlando Sentinel editorial board: "On his first day as governor, Rick Scott issued an order stating 'a commitment to ethics and integrity in government is essential to maintaining a public trust.' ... Last week, a nonprofit government watchdog, Integrity Florida, reported that the Sunshine State led the nation between 2000 and 2010 in federal court convictions for corruption, with 781. This dubious distinction is not only toxic to public trust; it's bad for business." "State ethics cops need strong reform agenda".


    MackBaggers

    "FreedomWorks, a national tea party organization, is wading into Florida's U.S. Senate race with a strong call to support U.S. Rep. Connie Mack's bid to knock off Democrat Bill Nelson." "FreedomWorks' Tea Party Stirs Senate Race for Connie Mack".


    Scott hits airwaves

    "Governor Rick Scott remained on the offensive Tuesday in his effort to purge noncitizens from Florida’s voter registration rolls. Scott appeared on six morning news programs, including cable news networks, national radio programs and a Tampa morning television program." "Scott defends voter purge on national media".


    The woman from Thonotosasa

    "Lacking the money and the political juice of her primary opponent, state Rep. Rachel Burgin figures she has one advantage in her bid for state Senate: family."

    "There are four generations of Burgins in Florida, and they all live in the district," the 29-year-old lawmaker says proudly.

    The third of seven children -- all of whom live in the eastern Hillsborough County region -- the Thonotosasa-born Burgin feels right at home in the newly drawn Senate District 24.

    Likening herself philosophically to the area's current senator, Ronda Storms, Burgin says she fits in well with the conservative blue-collar and agricultural roots of the region. ...

    With Storms leaving early to run for Hillsborough County property appraiser, SD 24 voters will have a distinct choice between Tom Lee, a former Senate president and consummate insider, and Burgin, who has yet to chair a major committee.

    But Burgin is not apologetic about her relative inexperience.
    "Rachel Burgin Taps Grassroots, Family Ties for Senate Seat".


    Scott should be worried

    The Sarasota Herald Tribune editorial board: "Gov. Rick Scott and Florida's legislative leaders have frequently sounded alarms over the potential insolvency of the state-run Citizens Property Insurance Corp."

    If a catastrophic hurricane hits, they warn, Citizens' reserves will be insufficient to pay the claims and, by law, it will have to assess insurance policies statewide to make up the difference.

    We hope that Scott and the Legislature are just as worried -- if not more so -- about a state agency's report that inadequately capitalized private insurers in Florida are more likely than Citizens to fail and force post-hurricane assessments.
    "Insurers at risk".


    Number of public school children expected to decline

    "Even though Florida is expected to add an additional 3 million residents by 2020, the number of public school children is expected to start declining this fall." "Education conference expects decline in public school enrollment".


    "Scott's Koch Connection"

    From Daily Kos: "Rick Scott's Koch Connection".


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