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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.

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The Blog for Thursday, December 20, 2012

Union Hating "Journalist" Needs Civics Lesson

    Orlando Sentinel "journalist" Beth Kassab embarrasses herself with this column today. Kassab begins by courageously penning that "Teachers get dumped on a lot."

    She continues with these deep insights: "Politicians heap on regulations and, after robbing teachers of time, look for new ways to measure their classroom performance. Parents ignore their kids' academic needs then demand academic miracles."

    Kassab then moves to this striking observation, which is sure to make her boss man* happy:

    Union-whining gives the impression teachers don't expect much from themselves.
    "Union whining?" Ms. Kassab apparently believes them dastardly teachers unions are giving teachers a bad name by . . . 'ya know . . . all that "union-whining".

    It seems Ms. Kassab needs a civics lesson: teachers unions and teachers are not different things. Rather (and this is a very basic principle of Florida law) teachers unions do not drop in from the planet Mars and engage in unsolicited "whining" under the assumed name of Florida's teachers: on the contrary, teachers' unions exist only because teachers vote to unionize; and (this may make Kassab's head explode), teachers unions are actually run by teachers elected by fellow teachers. Stated differently, and forgive the difficult concept Ms. Kassab: teachers unions are teachers.

    Perhaps Kassab missed the column by fellow Sentinel columnist, Scott Maxwell, who once found it necessary to point out that union hating is simply a plank of the Republican Party, and that Republicans (which presumably would include Ms. Kassab) actually find teachers contemptible.

    That's right — teachers.

    Sure, they'll try to tell you they just hate the unions. But who do you think comprises the union? It's your son's math instructor, your daughter's music teacher — and their soccer coach.

    Underpaid educators have become the enemy.

    In fact, the overall demonization of the working class is one of corporate America's most successful coups within the GOP — a party that once championed the rights of the common man.

    Nowadays, union-bashing isn't simply a plank in the GOP platform; it's the foundation."

    "For teacher pay, unions and union-haters should compromise".

    Returning to Kassab's column, wherein she claims a desire to learn what it is "like to teach public school in Florida in 2012?" And, to find out, she "spent a day with Betty Westhelle, an algebra teacher at Oviedo High."

    Kassab for some reason wants her readers to know that Ms. Westhelle is

    not a union member and is a true believer in testing.
    Curious that Kassab wanted to avoid the 6,000 voluntary members of the Orange County Teachers Union and instead found someone who enjoys the negotiated wages and benefits and other contract protections paid for by the voluntary dues of her fellow teachers, but not the dues of Ms. Westhelle who has exercised her right to work right to be a free rider.

    I wonder if Ms. Westhelle will return to her employer the proceeds of the teachers union lawsuit (funded by the voluntary dues of her fellow teachers) pending before the Florida Supreme Court? "Court hears arguments over 3 percent cut to employee retirement" (The lawsuit was filed by the Florida Education Association after Republican lawmakers passed and Gov. Rick Scott signed a law that imposed a 3 percent levy on teacher salaries to offset the state’s investment into the Florida Retirement System. A lower court judge ordered the state to halt the practice and reimburse workers with interest because the pension changes were an unconstitutional impairment of the contractual rights of employees.)

    To top it off, Kassab's column includes the following typographical error in the print version of her column:

    I met her before dawn one morning earlier Tthis [sic] month.
    I'm sure Kassab will find a union to blame for that too.

    - - - - - - - -

    *The last we looked, the Sentinel was owned by the Tribune Company, which in turn was fumbling around in bankruptcy. The Tribune Company is a notorious right-wing cesspool, most recently headed up by this creep. See also "Listen To Sam Zell, And You'll Finally Understand Mitt Romney's Economic Plan" ("never seen a guest get quite so red-in-the-eyes and angry as Zell was this morning, as he railed on the politics of 'class warfare' and 'the politics of envy' and the various benefits for the poor, which in his mind are disincentivizing success.")

    You can watch him in action here, at a meeting with Orlando Sentinel employees.

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