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 Sunday, June 17, 2012

"Scott's 'bumblefest'"

    Carl Hiaasen points out that "it’s not really a purge."
    Purges are organized, thorough and ruthlessly efficient.

    Bumble-fest is a more precise term for Gov. Rick Scott’s effort to cull non-citizens from the voter rolls.

    Things are so confused that only two counties in Florida are fully participating in the governor’s plan. The others are holding back because officials don’t trust the accuracy of the list of suspected non-citizen voters.

    It’s no wonder why. The first list had 182,000 names and was wildly flawed. A second list, revised by the elections division, targeted almost 25,000 possible voters.

    Kurt Browning, a former Pasco County elections supervisor who was Florida’s secretary of state, had zero confidence in the second list. Browning is now gone from office, but a third list of suspected non-citizens endures. This one includes about 2,700 persons — a molecule in a bucket, considering that Florida has 11.3 million registered voters.

    Yet the state still can’t get it right.
    "Florida being a key state — possibly the key state in the presidential race — the GOP dreads a repeat of 2008, when an enthusiastic turnout of black and Hispanic voters helped Barack Obama win."
    So nobody was terribly shocked when The Miami Herald reported that 87 percent of those on the state’s purge list are minorities.

    That’s the whole idea!

    The governor says no, that it’s all about maintaining the integrity of Florida’s elections. (Please stop laughing right now.)

    Almost everyone agrees that only Americans should vote in American elections, but there’s no evidence that waves of unnaturalized immigrants are swamping the polls. Election scandals in Florida traditionally involve dubious absentee ballots, or (as we all remember from 2000) dubious counting. ...

    Meanwhile the state is suing the federal government, the feds are suing the state and Scott is defending his poll-cleansing plan at Tea Party venues, where he’s safe from scorn.

    The governor won’t be on the ballot in November, which is a shame, but two more years leaves plenty of time for thousands of prospective citizens to get naturalized and register to vote. It would be only fitting.
    "Voter rolls and Scott’s 'bumblefest'". See also "" and "".


    Connected company muscles state agency

    "The company that won the contract to map the gaps in broadband Internet use in Florida got state lawmakers to remove the agency in charge and to expand its own role." "Connected company muscled state agency out of Internet contract".


    Purge has "generated intense blowback"

    "Scott's effort to purge the state's voter rolls of noncitizens has bogged down in the quicksand of dueling court battles, generated intense blowback from Democrats, and proven once again — if we needed a reminder — that Florida is the most contested state in the presidential election." "Scott's voter roll purge wins fans, energizes opponents".


    RNC 101

    "RNC 101, part of an introductory course for all University of Tampa freshmen when classes are in session again, will teach students everything from the history of political conventions to a rundown of daily happenings at the August convention here." "Class at UT to cover RNC, history of political conventions". Related: "Ron Paul backers seek influence at GOP convention".


    Mitt has painted himself into a corner

    "President Obama issued an executive order decreeing that undocumented young people who would have been covered by failed legislation known as the Dream Act will be allowed to stay in the U.S. for the next two years without having to worry about deportation. That permission will be renewable and they can also apply for work permits."

    The Dream Act –which offers legal status to individuals who were brought to the U.S. before age 16, have lived here five years and who fit several other criteria—has never won enough votes in Congress despite several tries, the last in 2010. President Obama had been under heavy pressure from Latino political leaders to provide legal relief for “Dreamers,” who immigrant advocates say could number from 800,000 to 1 million.

    The change in policy is expected to help the president with the Latino vote in November. Meanwhile, Republicans and organizations espousing strict enforcement of immigration laws attacked the move as a political ploy that sidestepped the Congress and weakened the country’s control of illegal immigration.
    "Deportation change eases fears, opens college doors, but seen as politics by opponents".

    The Tampa Bay Times editorial board: "The positive changes will affect an estimated 800,000 immigrants, including many in Florida who were brought here by their parents, educated in public schools and call the Sunshine State their home." "Progress for immigrants".

    Meanwhile, poor Mitt has painted himself into a corner, particularly in Florida: "Romney won't say he will overturn immigration order".


    Anarchists to hit Tampa

    "Interspersed among the 15,000 protesters expected at the Republican National Convention in August will be the anarchists. It's a contingent that strikes fear and loathing in the hearts of police, Republican organizers and delegates, and, perhaps, even fellow protesters." "Anarchists' game plan for Tampa RNC unclear".


    "Communicating through stilted resolutions"

    The Sarasota Herald Tribune editorial board: "School boards and the state Department of Education are not having a healthy conversation about Florida's student-testing regime."

    The boards and the department are communicating -- through stilted resolutions by the Florida School Board Association and defensive statements by the education commissioner -- but they are not engaged in productive dialogue. That is not good for students, teachers, parents or the state.

    Education Commissioner Gerard Robinson is on the record as stating that Florida's stakeholders in education "need to have a very healthy conversation about why assessments matter."

    Yet on Thursday, Robinson criticized school boards and their associations for questioning the state's policies, including a heavy reliance on the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Tests and other exams.

    In response to a resolution adopted by the association during its meeting in Tampa, Robinson erroneously contended that school boards "question the need for educational assessments," contradicting his own assertion by noting that school districts require students to take more tests than the state mandates. He also said the boards are "short on providing hope to schoolchildren" and continued to refer to the FCAT as a "so-called high-stakes assessment."
    "FCAT impasse".


    Commercials coming early and often in Florida and other hotly contested states

    "In Tampa, Fla.,"

    a commercial in the middle of "Dateline NBC" shows a woman fretting about the national debt under President Barack Obama and saying: "He spent like our country's credit card had no limit." In an ad seen during evening newscasts, the Obama campaign trashes Romney for "the worst economic record in the country" when he was governor of Massachusetts.

    The political pitches are coming early and often in Virginia, Florida and other hotly contested states that are expected to determine the outcome of the White House contest. So far they're mostly jammed around local newscasts and current affairs shows along with an occasional appearance on shows like "The Price is Right" on CBS and ABC's "General Hospital."
    "Heavy focus on news shows in White House race ads".


    "'Right to work' workplaces define our Florida culture"

    Steven Kurlander points out that "the non partisan Economic Policy Institute published a study last year which found that"

    the claim that Right to Work states allows more economic growth is false and that "the simple reality is that RTW laws undermine the resources that help workers bargain for better wages and benefits."

    The study concluded that that "right to work" laws are associated with significantly lower wages and reduced chances of receiving employer-sponsored health insurance and pensions.

    Like eating out, "right to work" workplaces define our Florida culture that condones and even encouraging subsistence living for a good segment of those employed in major industries like the hospitality industry.
    "Right to work, poor job market squeeze wage workers".


    Nonexistent "problem of excessive retirement benefits"

    Kingsley Guy explains why he and his friends at the country club resent police, firefighters and teachers:

    The problem of excessive retirement benefits isn't as enormous here as in many states. Under Democratic and Republican leadership alike, Florida has been a better steward of pubic dollars than states such as California.

    The Florida Retirement System Pension Fund, however, is only about 87 percent funded. That's not disastrous, but it is a concern in today's low-interest rate environment. The FRS operates on the assumption of a 7.75 percent return on investment, as do many public pension funds. That assumption may work in a booming economy, but not in a stagnant one. Taxpayers eventually must make up any shortfall.

    Floridians deserve a high-quality public workforce, and compensation should be competitive with that paid by quality firms in the private sector. But private companies have all but eliminated defined benefit pension plans in favor of defined-contribution, 401(k)-style plans. Florida offers one, but as a voluntary option.

    It's long past time that the state and local governments adopted defined contribution plans for all employees, including those elected to office. Taxpayers decades from now shouldn't be forced to pay for benefits granted by today's power-hungry politicians, many of whom are incapable of thinking beyond the next election.
    "Stubborn liberals simply don't get it".


    "A handful of gimme and a mouthful of much obliged"

    "A contractors group says defense spending dropped by $800 million in Florida last year. The Florida League of Defense Contractors reported on Friday that federal spending on military bases and with defense businesses in the state dropped from $14.1 billion the previous year to $13.3 billion in 2011." "Defense spending dropped $800M in Fla. last year".

    These, of course, are the same folks who "love to preach about fiscal responsibility and lower taxes, but they keep dipping their beak into the Federal trough. I believe the applicable Southern phrase is 'a handful of gimme and a mouthful of much obliged.'"


    "A vast decline in highway safety"

    The Miami Herald editorial board: "Twelve years after Florida’s motorcycle helmet law was repealed, most bikers have stopped wearing the protective gear, contributing to a vast decline in highway safety. Currently those above the age of 21 and with more than $10,000 in medical coverage can forgo wearing a helmet. Before July 1, 2000, every single rider had to wear one. Repeal proponents claimed the law infringed on their liberties and was paternalistic. Yet the law’s absence has led to a public health hazard." "Expensive bike rides".


    Greer's attorney's claim "irreconcilable differences"

    "Two high-profile attorneys for the former head of the Republican Party of Florida are asking to withdraw from his criminal case. Cheney Mason and Donald Lykkebak filed motions this week asking to step down. They cited 'irreconcilable differences' in the handling of this case." "Two of Jim Greer's attorneys withdraw from criminal case".


    "Election-law loophole disenfranchises thousands"

    The Orlando Sentinel editorial board wonders where the outrage is "over an election-law loophole that disenfranchises thousands of state voters every election cycle?"

    Here's how it happened: Florida voters amended the state constitution in 1998 to open primary contests to all voters, regardless of their party registration, if the winner had no opposition in the general election. The point was to let all voters — not just one party's — have a say. Good idea.

    But in 2000, the state Elections Division issued an boneheaded advisory opinion that undermined the amendment. The opinion said that a write-in candidate would be enough to limit a party's primary to its voters, since the nominee would technically face an opponent in the general election.

    Calling the typical write-in an opponent is like calling a rubber band a jump rope. It's a stretch.

    Write-ins don't have to pay a filing fee or collect signatures to jump into a race. Their names don't even show up on the ballot.

    When they do get in, as Kevin L. Gross has in Seminole County, they can change everything. Gross' candidacy in the District 3 County Commission race means only registered Republicans, roughly 40 percent of the county's 250,000 voters, will get to choose between incumbent Republican Dick Van Der Weide and four GOP challengers.

    The other registered voters — Democrats, independents and third-party members — won't have a chance to weigh in until the GOP nominee faces Gross.

    Gross is running a stealth campaign. Unlike the Republican candidates in District 3, he didn't submit a phone number or email address when filing. He pulled the same stunt in 2008, running as a write-in in District 3 and getting all of 602 votes against Van Der Weide in the general election — less than half a percent.

    And get this: Records show Gross has been a registered Republican since 1992. We'd have asked him if he's a party plant but couldn't reach him without a phone number or email address.

    Since the 2000 opinion, write-in candidates have regularly closed primaries across Florida. Party officials admit they've recruited write-ins for that very purpose.
    "Lawmakers need to stop write-in-candidate scam". Related: "Candidate booted from ballot means all voters now have say in Lake sheriff race" ("now that Thompson is out of the race — coupled with the absence of a Democrat or any other candidate on the ballot — the primary election will be opened to all voters in the county regardless of party affiliation. Borders and Carpenter now will have to reach out to all 195,000 registered Lake voters rather than just the 87,000 Republicans.")


    "Tallahassee has turned Florida into a national punch line"

    John Romano: "We like to talk tough in this state. We take hard lines and bold stands. We pass rigid laws that sound all red-white-and-blue to the mindless followers of talk radio and chain email."

    But the reality is never quite as infallible as the rhetoric. And one too many knee-jerk reactions in Tallahassee has turned Florida into a national punch line.
    "Florida's penchant for knee-jerk legislation hurts in the long run".


    Rubio 2.0

    Marc Caputo gives Rubio a pass in this "review" of Marco Rubio's latest version of his life: "‘American Son’ tells tale of 2 Marco Rubios". See also "Rubio book reveals surprises along political journey".


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