Since 2002, daily Florida political news and commentary


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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 Sunday, July 01, 2012

Rubio's suit is "painfully" empty

    Scott Maxwell: "Florida's freshman senator is sharing his life story with Sean Hannity, playing coy about his vice-presidential prospects with David Gregory, even venturing into the dark abyss that is Charlie Rose's all-black set on PBS."

    After a year in the U.S. Senate, the 41-year-old decided to publish his memoirs — and launch a 24-stop book-signing tour that next heads to Georgia and the Carolinas.

    He's got the hype.

    Now what he needs is the heft.

    This has always been Marco's problem.
    Maxwell points out that, "when the rubber meets the road — with specific solutions to problems he talks about the most — he is M.I.A."
    Take his recent exchange with Charlie Rose, for example.

    Rubio had been waxing eloquently about the need for bipartisan solutions to immigration. He words sounded pretty. But Charlie wanted to know the specifics.

    "Well, I don't have an answer to that right now," Rubio said. "I mean … it's not easy to deal with it."

    This from a man who had ordained himself a leader on this very topic — and who promised two years ago that, if voters would just send him to Washington, he would find a solution. So Rose followed up.

    "Why shouldn't we expect more from you?" the host asked, "…Why shouldn't you have an answer? Why shouldn't a man who began to speak out because he is on foreign affairs and other committees, intelligence committee speak out on this very important issue?"

    "Because," Rubio responded, "it's a complicated issue."

    He had a more painful exchange with Gregory on NBC.

    Gregory played a clip from one of Rubio's previous visits on the show — one where Rubio emphatically vowed that he would not be considered as Mitt Romney's running mate. "I won't consider it," Rubio vowed in the clip. "Under no circumstances."

    Flash forward to this month when Romney declared: "Marco Rubio is being thoroughly vetted."

    When Gregory asked Rubio to explain, he declined.
    Maxwell continues:
    It's one thing to slink past Florida's local-yokel press. The national media spotlight burns brighter. And with Rubio, there is a lot of baggage to highlight.

    There was the unadvertised teaching gig he snagged at Florida International University after he steered money to the school as state House speaker.

    And the tax money he spent renovating the legislative dining room and on sky-high salaries for his staffers — including a chief of staff who made more than then-Gov. Jeb Bush.

    Most damning, though, were revelations of the $100,000 worth of charges that Rubio and his aides racked up on the state GOP's special-interest-funded credit cards — everything from plane trips to $1,800 limousine rides. At least once, he was caught double-billing things to both the party and taxpayers. When caught, he repaid the party.

    He was a man who benefited from largesse while railing against it.
    "Rubio brings hype, but where's his heft?".

    "An embarrassment to the Republican Party"

    "Usually lawmakers designated as future leaders get all but a free pass in election years."

    But [Rep. Chris Dorworth] Dorworth has proved a political lightning rod – drawing the wrath of his opponents, who also have begun shading his candidacy with dark moments from recent Florida GOP history.

    “He’s an embarrassment to the Republican Party,” said John Moffitt, treasurer of the Seminole County GOP, who is challenging the two-term incumbent. “His personal life also is a train wreck. We don’t need someone like this again.”

    Moffitt and fellow Republican challenger Jeffrey Onest say Dorworth helped then-Gov. Charlie Crist install former Jim Greer on the Seminole County Republican Executive Committee, shortly before Greer was elected Florida Republican Party chairman in 2007. Greer faces trial July 30 in Orlando, charged with money laundering, grand theft and fraud for steering $200,000 of party money to a fundraising firm he formed with a top aide, keeping his control of the company a secret.

    Dorworth’s critics even say his finances pose enough potential trouble that they draw comparisons with former House Speaker Ray Sansom, a Destin Republican who resigned two months after his election. Sansom was engulfed in scandal and faced criminal charges, later dropped, that accused him of steering state money to a college which gave him a six-figure job.

    Dorworth dismisses such attacks. He acknowledges being a Seminole GOP committee member when Greer was named – but denies playing a role in the disgraced Greer’s ascension. Dorworth also shrugs off his challengers as little more than pawns of local political rivals, driven by intra-party bad blood.

    A former vice-chairman of the Seminole REC, Jim Bomford, is a steady Dorworth critic who is prodding his opponents to attack, the incumbent said.

    “I enjoy a whole lot of support in Seminole County, and I don’t think you’ll find one member of the Republican caucus in the Legislature who is against me,” Dorworth said. “Aside from local gadflies, I don’t think you’ll find anyone who doesn’t think I’m going to become speaker.”
    "Prospective Florida House Speaker Dorworth fends off fire from GOP rivals".

    Scott gets a "D" in Con Law

    "Scott says Florida will not begin implementing the federal health care law because he believes it is bad policy and too costly. Scott told Fox News he believes the law should be repealed, hopefully by a new president elected in November. But even if that doesn’t happen, he said, Florida will not set up a health-insurance exchange or participate in an expansion of Medicaid." "Scott vows he won’t implement Affordable Care Act".

    The Miami Herald editorial board: "Scott should read the handwriting on the wall. The Affordable Care Act is the law of the land. It’s far better for the state to set up its own exchange than to allow the feds to do it. Ultimately, the expansion will have a cost, but for the first three years the federal government would pick up 100 percent of the additional outlays. Expanding Medicaid to the working poor is a matter of fairness." "The law of the land".

    "Ideology ain’t cheap"

    Fred Grimm: "The current regime in Tallahassee, for example, has been spending a considerable chunk of taxpayer money on loser lawsuits of the ideological kind."

    Of course, there have been costs beyond all those appellate lawyers. Gov. Rick Scott refused to accept $106 million in federal grants tied to the health care act — a rather pricey bit of quixotic politics in a state so strapped for money. But the legal fees Florida has run up in this particular lawsuit? Just a piddling amount compared to the bucks we’ve spent in court on behalf of other constitutionally questionable causes.
    "Over the last year, the state has frittered away hundreds of thousands of our dollars defending challenges to laws inspired by Tallahassee’s strident new agenda. State lawyers have been in court defending, without much success, the privatization of prisons, drug testing of welfare recipients, drug testing of state workers (though not state legislators or the governor), and the shifting of pension costs onto state workers. Plus, of course, that peculiar NRA-inspired law that severely limited what doctors — even pediatricians and psychiatrists — could discuss with their patients about firearms."
    Any teenager, after a few hours in a high school American government class, would know enough about the First Amendment to knock down Docs versus Glocks in federal court. U.S. District Judge Marcia Cooke, of course, sided with the docs in September. But the gang in Tallahassee, who see themselves as the elected representatives of the National Rifle Association, decided to appeal. Daniel Vice, an attorney for the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, told reporters that the state, defending such an obviously unconstitutional loser of a law, would also be stuck with the plaintiff attorneys’ fees. The final bill for Docs Versus Glocks, he predicted, would be in the millions.
    "The Orlando Sentinel reported that an Atlanta law firm representing the state has billed taxpayers $484,672 on the way to losing a challenge against the new pension law, which sought to circumvent union contracts and levy a three percent charge onto the pay of state workers. Not to worry, though. The state has set aside another half million for appeals".
    The state also hired outside help to defend radical changes to the state voter laws. The hired guns were of no help in fighting off the challenge to the sharp new restrictions on voter registration. U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle blocked enforcement of the law, calling it “harsh and impractical.”

    Judge Hinkle did side with Gov. Scott last week, refusing to issue an injunction before the federal challenge to his voter purge goes to trial — though the judge warned that if state officials try to revive the purge using inaccurate information, “I’m still here.”

    And so, too, are our lawyers.

    The state spent about $39,000 in legal fees last fall unsuccessfully fending off a challenge to another new state law — supposed to be a big money saver — that required recipients of welfare to undergo drug tests. No luck.
    "State’s loser lawsuits waste taxpayer money".

    Campaign Roundup

    "Campaign Roundup: Campaigns hope health care decision means cash".

    Briefs are in

    "The lawyer leading a lawsuit challenging a 2011 retirement law says in court papers that a budget shortfall does not necessarily justify reducing cost-of-living increases for public pensions or requiring employees to contribute a portion of their salaries to their retirement." "Attorneys: Budget shortfall not enough justify changes to retirement benefits".

    Weekly Roundup

    Michael Peltier: "Weekly Roundup: Roberts' Rules of Order".

    "Rubio faces Latino dilemma"

    William March: "Treading the path between tea party-style Republicans and the Florida Hispanic community has forced Rubio into awkward positions before, when he was in the state Legislature. Now he faces the same conflict on the national stage." "Rubio faces Latino dilemma with his immigation stance".

    "Dark time for the environmental movement in Florida"

    The Orlando Sentinel editorial board: "These are perilous times for public land in Florida."

    This is an age of ideas that would turn state parks into golf courses, post advertisements on nature trails and purposely introduce a noxious weed like hydrilla into Lake Apopka. ...

    About a year ago the Department of Environmental Protection, at Gov. Rick Scott's behest, ordered Florida's water districts to evaluate their holdings for land that does "not meet your agency's core functions."

    Sounds reasonable. It's hard to argue against good financial stewardship. Maybe there are instances where a hard-nosed seller cornered the district into buying a small parcel of little value as part of a larger purchase.

    But as we mentioned at the start, this assessment comes at a dark time for the environmental movement in Florida.

    The current Legislature is either ambivalent or outright hostile to conservation causes, gleefully dismantling the state's growth management laws, dozing off while Florida's springs decline, and doing the bidding of their chamber of commerce masters.

    Gov. Rick Scott is no better. His environmental agenda so far has been pathetic, characterized primarily by a few outdoor photo ops. But he generally views environmental regulations as merely impediments to business.

    It's hard to swallow the notion that Scott's goal truly is an objective assessment of public lands. It wouldn't stretch the imagination to envision scenic tracts coveted by private interests being deemed as surplus and sold off.
    "Attacks on environment invite public suspicion".

    Harassing employees for contributions

    "Though state lawmakers have repeatedly rejected a push to bring large-scale resort casinos to Florida, the king of the state’s current gambling landscape — the Seminole Tribe — is bracing for another battle over the issue when the Legislature reconvenes next year. In fact, the tribe is calling in the reinforcements, asking its nearly 10,000 gaming employees to contribute to a recently formed political action committee that will push the tribe’s agenda in Tallahassee." "Seminoles ask employees to contribute to PAC".

    "Thomas Pynchon School of Campaigning"

    Daniel Ruth: "To capture the Republican nod for the U.S. Senate, one must merely call one's self Connie Mack IV (Roman numeral optional) and — poof! — as if by magic the nomination is assured. No muss. No fuss. How cool is that?"

    Being Connie Mack means that while all the other candidates race all over the state having to talk to those icky constituents, Connie Mack can spend less time on the hustings than Queen Elizabeth. ...

    Sorta makes you want to change your name to Connie Mack, too, doesn't it? But I have the homestead rights on the V. Get your own number.

    It is probably an unfortunate commentary that many people who believe Connie Mack is the cat's pajamas think they are supporting his father, who by a strange coincidence happens to be named former Florida Sen. Connie Mack III.

    But that was a whole Roman numeral ago.

    This probably explains why Connie Mack IV has avoided the stump, shunned debates with his opponents and only occasionally appeared in public on the odd double date with Mitt Romney.

    Why bother to leave California and actually go out on the campaign trail when you could possibly get elected to the Senate by voters who think they are casting a ballot for daddy?

    Imagine if Mack the lesser actually showed up at a political event? People might start to ask: "Wait a minute. Who's that guy?" This could get confusing.

    That's not to say Connie Mack IV, who represents the Fort Myers area in Congress when he has a few spare moments, is entirely absent from the political fray.

    Why, there was the disembodied voice of Mack IV Thursday on a conference call after the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act, calling the ruling "un-American" and a threat to our "freedoms and liberties."

    Who knew a Supreme Court decision on health care could be equated with the annexation of the Sudetenland?

    Thanks for clearing that up.

    Inspired by the younger Mack, who has adopted the Thomas Pynchon School of Campaigning, my plan is to change my name to Connie Mack V and immediately go into seclusion for the duration of the campaign unless I have to cash a check from Sheldon Adelson.

    Of course, from time to time I will emerge telephonically to accuse incumbent Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson of being in cahoots with Moscow Center and the rest of those Obamacare commies in the White House.
    "For Connie Mack, it's good to be the IV".

    "Tax deals going to companies that are already here"

    The Tampa Bay Times editorial board: "Oops. Gov. Rick Scott's administration late last month inadvertently gave Floridians a more complete picture of how their tax money is being given away to corporations in an expensive attempt to create jobs. It's not a pretty sight, and it raises more questions about corporate welfare, secrecy and whether the money would be better spent investing in the state."

    Here's a question: Why is the state handing out tax breaks to large companies such as Raymond James, Darden Restaurants, Publix Super Markets and Winn-Dixie that already have a large presence in Florida? While Scott has talked about calling CEOs himself and luring companies from out of state, an Orlando Sentinel analysis shows most of tax incentive deals under his administration are going to companies that are already here.
    "Peek into giveaways isn't pretty".

    All the way to Tampa

    "RNC host committee considers staging a public event". See also "Ron Paul Campaign and Supporters Ready for Dueling Events in Tampa".

    Gimenez names gambling lobbyist as campaign manager

    "Less than two months before the Miami-Dade mayoral election, Carlos Gimenez has finally named a reelection campaign manager. Jesse Manzano-Plaza, 35, assumed the role two weeks ago after stepping down as a lobbyist for Genting, the Malaysian company that plans to build a huge casino complex in Miami. Inside Gimenez’s campaign, some key advisers have privately expressed their discomfort with the choice, given the controversy caused by the Genting project." "Miami-Dade mayor names ex-Genting lobbyist as campaign manager".

    More Giminez: "Banners bash Miami-Dade mayor at Miami Heat parade".

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