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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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Older posts [back to 2002]

Previous Articles by Derek Newton: Ten Things Fox on Line 1 Stem Cells are Intelligent Design Katrina Spin No Can't Win Perhaps the Most Important Race Senate Outlook The Nelson Thing Deep, Dark Secret Smart Boy Bringing Guns to a Knife Fight Playing to our Strength  

The Blog for Sunday, October 11, 2015

Florida GOPers want the old time religion

    Carl Hiaasen: "It’s a strange American phenomenon. No matter how low they get in the polls, politicians start becoming more popular the minute they leave office."
    Which brings us to . . . Jeb, whose popularity has been creeping in the wrong direction ever since he announced his candidacy for president.

    A mind-bending new Quinnipiac University poll shows Jeb running fourth among Republicans in Florida, behind Donald Trump, Ben Carson and Marco Rubio.

    "His entire presidential campaign has been crafted around his self-buffed legacy as Florida’s chief executive, touting it in every stump speech and in every debate. Yet now, only 13 months before election day, he’s mired in fourth place in the one state where it was supposed to be a slam dunk. How is this possible?"
    Sure, the former governor didn’t show much fire during the two televised debates. He’s also had some stumbles of his own, including that appalling “stuff happens” remark about the Oregon killings.

    But stacked up beside the insult-belching Trump and the spacey Carson, Jeb should be looking like Winston Churchill.

    Imagine if you were one of the wealthy donors who wrote a six- or even a seven-figure check to the Bush Super PAC early this year, thinking you were betting on a sure winner. Now you’re looking at the headlines and lunging for the bourbon.

    "They love you when you’re gone."

    Hiaasen may be over-simplifying things.

    According to the Q Poll's Release Detail, "The generally more energized Republican party members, who backed former Gov. Bush and Sen. Rubio when they ran for office in the Sunshine State, are deserting the establishment candidates for the outsiders - specifically Trump and Carson." Is Bush being abandoned because he is not an "outdifrt," or is it something else? Recall that Bush is being abandoned by the same Republican party members who recently flocked to the polls to elect Rick Scott, whose extremist politics are no secret.

    Perhaps there is a different explanation for Jeb's fall in Florida: that is, if Florida GOPers have a choice, they will go for the bona fide extremist - like Trump or Carson, and Bush or Rubio during their Florida days. Now that Bush and Rubio are trying to re-position themselves as "moderates" to appeal to a national audience (including the MSM), Florida GOPers want none of it; they want the old time religion, not pols who apologize for the occasional parapraxis. Stated plainly, Florida GOPers - at least most of them - will go for the wingnut every time.

    This is the Florida we have made

    Why is anyone - anyone - surprised at this?

    The Tampa Trib editors: "A bill that would allow the 1.4 million people in Florida with concealed firearms permits to openly carry their weapons has cleared a committee and is headed for more debate. Incredibly, the sheriff in Brevard County says he supports the measure, and the Florida Chamber of Commerce is considering its support provided the measure is tweaked to protect private businesses." "Bill to allow open carry of firearms would be bad for Florida."

    Rubio's Achilles Heel with Hispanics: Cubans receive privileged immigration status

    "As Rubio campaigns to become the nation's first Hispanic president, the Republican must try to figure out how to win over the largest swing demographic in the country: Latinos, who lean Democratic and in some cases aren't sure the conservative Rubio is really one of them just because his surname ends in a vowel."

    Rubio, like most other politicians, doesn't want to talk about divisions among Hispanics of different descent — even if those contrasts are reflected in public-opinion polls and political consultants devise unique approaches for each group. Candidates seek to unite, not divide. . . .

    The differences between Cubans and non-Cubans in the United States aren't just over immigration. Hispanics routinely list their top issues as the economy, education and health care; on all those issues, Cubans tend to be more conservative.

    But immigration underscores the split. The United States has given Cubans special immigration status since 1966. That's after Rubio's parents left the island, but the legacy of the Cuban Adjustment Act does not go unnoticed.

    "His story resonated with me, but why is it his family can stay here and mine can't?" 26-year-old Erika Castro, who was brought into the United States from Mexico illegally by her parents when she was 3, said Thursday after listening to Rubio in the wealthy Las Vegas suburb of Summerlin. "When you're Cuban you get here and you're basically a citizen. I feel that's something he doesn't understand. He's privileged."

    Outside a happy-hour campaign rally at a Cuban restaurant Friday night, immigration activists awaited Rubio with a papier-mâché replica of his face and torso. "We need a path to citizenship!" they yelled. "No huyas, Rubio." Don't run away. . . .

    Style may overpower substance, but only to a point, countered Sergio García-Ríos, an assistant professor of government and Latino studies at Cornell University whose research is devoted to Latino identities and voter turnout in the United States. As Hispanic voters have gotten more involved in politics, they have also gotten more sophisticated, picking candidates based not just on their last name or shared history.

    "Whether a Cuban-American will be able to win over (non-Cuban) Latinos, the answer is yes. Look at Bob Menendez," García-Ríos said, referring to the Democratic senator from New Jersey. "The problem with Marco Rubio is not that he's Cuban American but that he's endorsed Republican positions that Latinos oppose."

    Latinos like the Affordable Care Act, worry about climate change and favor a higher minimum wage. Rubio wants to repeal and replace Obamacare, questions climate-change science and is against a mandated wage hike.

    "To become first Latino president, Marco Rubio may have to bridge Hispanic divisions."

    Florida's Shame

    "Florida lags behind other states in using federal mortgage assistance money to help desperate homeowners facing foreclosure, and Florida has only drawn on half of the $1 billion available, according to a critical report released this week."

    The report by the Special Inspector General for Troubled Asset Relief Program said only 22,400 homeowners have been helped by the Hardest Hit Fund in Florida, even though almost 110,000 homeowners have applied to the program. The U.S. Treasury Department had a goal of helping 106,000 Florida homeowners under the Hardest Hit Fund but that target has been reduced to 39,000 households when the program ends in December 2017, the report said.

    Of the 19 participating states, Florida had the lowest rate of admission to the program and the highest rate of withdrawn applications. In other states, the average rate of providing assistance to homeowners who applied was almost 50 percent, compared to Florida's 20 percent rate, even though Florida had the nation's highest foreclosure rate as recently as last year, the report said.

    "HHF Florida has not been as effective in reaching homeowners as other states," the report said.

    The report said federal officials had been too deferential to Florida housing officials, who needed prodding to be more effective. Federal officials tried to get state officials to increase the number of homeowners getting assistance to 750 households a month, the report said, but the federal officials didn't hold state officials to that goal. Florida housing officials also weren't ready for a flood of applications in 2013 and they stopped accepting application for eight months.

    "Federal report: Florida lags in disbursing foreclosure aid."

    Another fine Floridian

    Adam C. Smith identifies the "Loser of the week":

    Ben Carson. The retired surgeon and West Palm Beach resident had a busy week of head-scratching interviews, sounding baffled about the debt ceiling and tossing out some doozies about the college massacre in Oregon. "I would not just stand there and let him shoot me," he said one day, and the next recalled how he once directed an armed robber to point his gun at a Popeye's restaurant clerk, rather than at Carson.
    "Loser of the week".

    "And Jeb was supposed to be the smart one?"

    Daniel Ruth is on fire in this column: "Do you have an inkling that whatever might be left of Jeb Bush's political ambitions is circling the drain of oblivion when somebody in the former Florida governor's camp comes up with the brilliant idea of schlepping out his big brother to campaign for him?"

    About the only thing that might be an even more intensely stupid idea would be to call on Dick Cheney to vouch for Jeb Bush's keen foreign policy acumen.

    But with Jeb's polling numbers gasping for air somewhere between Hardy-Har-Har and "You are … ?", Bush campaign apparatchiks floated the notion of enlisting George W. Bush to hit the hustings in South Carolina to help out his foundering sibling. Cue the forehead slap.

    I have a theory that successful politicians have what I would define as a resident moron guy as part of the inner circle of confidants who — regardless of title — has the freedom to take the boss aside at any given time and inform him that he is a complete horse's patootie.

    Abraham Lincoln had an entire Cabinet of moron guys. Franklin Roosevelt had Louie Howe and Harry Hopkins to remind him he had just done, or was about to do, something loopy. Poppy had James Baker. In the first term, at least Barack Obama had Rahm Emanuel and David Axelrod.

    And Jeb? Mirrors don't count.

    If Jeb had put a greater emphasis on surrounding himself with an able moron guy, instead of gamboling around the country posing for holy pictures, the specter of W. smirking and shrugging his way across South Carolina would have been quickly dismissed as one of the worst political gambits since Gerald Ford jaw-droppingly insisted at the height of the Cold War that Poland was not under Soviet domination.

    "Talk about fear and loathing on the campaign trail. What would make you believe that having a former president who led the nation into a phony Iraq war resulting in nearly 4,500 American deaths and more than 32,000 casualties all the while slouching the country to the brink of the worst economic depression since 1929 would be a big boost to the younger brother's campaign?"
    Since he entered the race to pursue the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, in an effort to tamp down the impression of a Bush presidential dynasty, not to mention his brother's abject failings, Jeb offered up the jibber-jabber no one really believed anyway that he was going to be his own man on the hustings. His own 62-year-old man?

    And Jeb was supposed to be the smart one? Oh dear.

    If Jeb Bush had a moron guy in his organization, he would have been told bringing Mr. "Mission Accomplished" anywhere near the campaign will: (a) only underscore the whole "presidency as the family business" thing and (b) once more remind voters of the gormless towel-snapper who sat in the Oval Office for eight years while Baghdad burned and the economy imploded. . . .

    Dredging up the hapless W. isn't a political ploy. It's a de facto concession speech.

    Just read it: "W. to the rescue?"

The Blog for Saturday, October 10, 2015

The real "Jeb!" emerges

    "Politico has posted a fifty-one-second compilation video of what it calls “unfortunate comments” by Jeb Bush — “stuff happens,” “free stuff,” “anchor babies,” “I’m not sure we need to spend half a billion dollars for women’s-health issues,” and so on."

    "The implication is that it’s a mystery why a sixty-two-year-old third-generation politician, the grandson of a senator and the son and brother of Presidents (his own son George P. Bush, an office-holder in Texas, is fourth-generation), would be capable of making stupid mistakes in a campaign that he has to have been thinking about for decades."

    For a very long time, Presidential politics have been stuck in a dynamic in which Republicans attack “government” without getting too specific about which of the government’s activities they have in mind, and Democrats defend popular programs but not the over-all idea of the welfare state. Bill Clinton’s typically centrist attempt to address the larger issue was to say, in his second inaugural address, that government was not the problem but neither was it the solution. Who can argue with that?

    Anyone who has found this situation frustrating ought to be happy with the way this campaign season is going. The legacy of the financial crisis and the rise of Bernie Sanders have pushed Hillary Clinton to be more open about offering government as a corrective to the excesses of the market than either Bill Clinton or Barack Obama has generally been. And Jeb Bush is one of several Republican candidates—one of whom isn’t Trump—to make specific, non-consensus proposals.

    It seems possible that, in a year, we might have two candidates who openly disagree, both about the proper role of government in theory and about many specific programs in practice. That would be wonderful, because voters would have an unusually clear sense of the choice they are making. Let’s keep those unfortunate comments coming.

    "The Real Value of Jeb’s 'Unfortunate Comments'." Prepare to cringe: "A look at some of Bush’s most ill-worded comments."

    Related: "6 cringeworthy moments in Jeb Bush’s foreign policy speech."

    Jeb has a long history of this, on and off (he thinks) the record, and Floridians are familiar with it: see, e.g., "'Devious plans' -- how Jeb Bush's words continue to haunt him" and "When Jeb Bush speaks, people cringe" ("The governor's lesbian joke . . . is the latest example of his mean sense of humor -- when he thinks the media isn't listening.")

    Confederate Flag on Florida's Senate Seal

    "Florida Might Remove Confederate Flag From State Senate Seal."

    Tally Judge hands Legislature "a stinging defeat"

    "A Tallahassee circuit judge handed the Legislature a stinging defeat Friday, recommending that the Florida Supreme Court adopt a congressional map drawn by plaintiffs challenging the state’s current political lines." "Judge sides with plaintiffs' maps, handing lawmakers stinging defeat." See also "Circuit Court Judge Recommends Plaintiffs' Congressional Maps" and "Judge wants Webster's district redrawn."

    One supposes that any press is good press

    Marc Caputo writes that out that, "If anything, these kinds of attacks helped Obama and could help Rubio, said Bill Burton, Obama’s spokesman who defended his candidate’s voting record in a November 2007 CNN story."

    “It’s a massive mistake to attack him over something most people don’t care about. All it does is elevate Rubio into the discussion with Trump and Bush,” Burton told POLITICO. “The fact that we have President Barack Obama helps prove my point.”
    "Rubio opponents criticize missed votes, to debatable effect."

    Because he's Pierre Tristam

    Pierre Tristam: "A Hillary Clinton Playground at Old Kings Elementary: What’s the School Board Smoking?"

    For background, see "A Ben Carson Reading Room at Old Kings Elementary: What’s the School Board Smoking?"

    Speaker Webster?

    Kevin Derby: "Dan Webster Optimistic as Kevin McCarthy Drops Out of House Speaker Race."

    "First Speaker of the House From Florida? Rep. Dan Webster Considered Dark-Horse Candidate." More: "While Jolly backs Webster’s bid, he nudges Ryan to run" and "Ted Yoho, David Jolly Go to Bat for Dan Webster."

    Meanwhile, "Webster is rallying votes to become House speaker, but his chances of keeping his seat next year were dealt a severe blow Friday by a Leon circuit judge, who sided with plaintiffs in Florida's congressional-redistricting case . . . ." "Judge wants Webster's district redrawn."

    What's wrong with Hillsborough?

    "Sam Rashid, a conservative activist who last month called a Tampa businesswoman a “slut” on Facebook, has resigned his position on the Hillsborough County Aviation Authority." "Activist Rashid resigns from aviation board after ‘slut’ comment."

    "What's hot, crazy or shady about politics in the Sunshine State"

    Marc Caputo: "POLITICO Florida Playbook."

    Jeb opposes VRA "as is"

    "Two leading Republican presidential candidates expressed divergent views on the Voting Rights Act on Thursday, setting up a split within a party that has been accused of seeking to suppress minority voter turnout in the name of combating fraud at the polls."

    Asked about the law at a forum in Des Moines, Mr. Bush said he was uncomfortable placing “regulations on top of states as though we’re living in 1960.”

    “There’s been dramatic improvement in access to voting,” he said, adding, “I don’t think there’s a role for the federal government in play in most places — there could be some — but in most places where they did have a constructive role in the ′60s.”

    He did not detail any changes he might prefer at the state level, but concerning the 1965 federal act, he said he did not support “reauthorizing it as is.”

    "Jeb Bush and Ben Carson Split on Voting Rights Act." See also "Exclusive: Jeb Bush Explains Why He Opposes Voting Rights Act Provision."

    Weekly Roundup

    "Weekly Roundup: Firearms, Religious Freedom and the Rebel Flag."

    Who owns Marco?

    "Campaign finance reform advocate-turned-presidential candidate Lawrence Lessig has dropped his first campaign ad, which skips right over his Democratic primary opponents to jab Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio."

    The 15-second spot opens with the question, “Who owns Marco Rubio?” before showing a picture of the Florida senator adorned with logos of big-money contributors including Wells Fargo, Honeywell, Goldman Sachs and other financial services companies.
    "Who Owns Marco Rubio?"

    Panther still needs protection

    The Palm Beach Post editors: "Panther needs protection."

    "Thank you, Bwana Jeb"

    A well-known columnist let's Jeb! have it:

    Nothing is more refreshing or endearing to African-Americans than when a rich, privileged, white politician born into a political dynasty who never had nor ever will have to worry about money for the rest of his life, lectures us on what we want and how we think. Thank you, Bwana Jeb. If only Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X had been so eloquent and insightful, we could have gotten off the “free stuff” cold turkey (unless the free stuff included a turkey).
    Much more here: "Jeb Bush Just Doesn’t Get It."

    "Tallahassee's trick on taxpayers"

    The Sun Sentinel editors: "Tallahassee wants to provide 'historic' school spending next year by continuing to play Tallahassee's trick on taxpayers." "State prepares school tax trick — again."

    Is Jeb! "Freaking Out Right Now?"

    FiveThirtyEight’s political team asks "Should Jeb Bush Be Freaking Out Right Now?"

    Arrest somebody

    "Jeb Bush Mixes Up Campaign and ‘Super PAC’."

    Except for the part that they were both born to wealth

    "Donald Trump and Jeb Bush aren't on the same planet."

The Blog for Thursday, October 08, 2015

Q Poll shows Grayson leading all comers

    So much for that "Grayson is unelectable" meme:
    In Florida's 2016 U.S. Senate race, Democratic U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy leads Republican Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera 37 - 29 percent and tops U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis 37 - 30 percent. Democratic U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson gets 35 percent to Lopez-Cantera's 32 percent and leads DeSantis 37 - 31 percent.
    October 8, 2015 Q Poll Here's the Poll Detail. See also "Race to Replace Marco Rubio Still Unsettled With Independents Up for Grabs."

    Jeb's "cash-flush tangle of entities created to boost his bid."

    "Super PACs are supposed to be both transparent and independent from the politicians they are supporting."

    But it’s not clear that Right to Rise USA, the super PAC formed by Republican Jeb Bush prior to his presidential bid, is either.

    The super PAC’s biggest single vendor this year through June is a mysterious limited liability company, LKJ, LLC, whose owners are hidden behind the state of Delaware’s opaque registration laws. The company doesn’t appear to have a website or a physical office.

    "It’s only known address: a Washington, D.C., post office box — one it shares with a company run by Heather Larrison, the national finance director for Bush’s official presidential campaign."
    The company’s Delaware origin makes it impossible to determine whether a chief Bush lieutenant is embedded in — and profiting from — the cash-flush tangle of entities created to boost his bid.

    The arrangement is also a prime example, in the post-Citizens United era of politics, of how the borders separating presidential campaigns and super PACs can be simultaneously porous and difficult to penetrate.

    Right to Rise USA, the Bush campaign and Larrison all refused to answer, or did not respond to, questions from the Center for Public Integrity.

    "Is pro-Bush super PAC obscuring spending?"

    Is Obama appointing a Jeb Hack?

    "“Obama’s pick for education secretary worked with Jeb Bush foundation,” by POLITICO Florida’s Jessica Bakeman: Shortly before he was named by President Barack Obama to replace Arne Duncan as U.S. education secretary, John King appeared in a video produced by Jeb Bush's education reform foundation." "From Jeb to Obama."

    "Fear is a powerful unifier"

    Nancy Smith: "To my knowledge, nobody has threatened a single Florida clergyman. But never mind that. Fear is a powerful unifier. And now legislators in each chamber are plowing ahead with bills to protect the religious freedoms of lawsuit-fearing clergy in case the U.S. Constitution doesn't." "Sad Day if Our Constitution Needs Another Layer of Protection for Religious Freedom."

    Senate Dem lawyer shut out of redistricting process

    "Tensions mounted Wednesday more than a week before the special session on Senate redistricting is set to begin as House and Senate leaders acknowledged that staff had begun drafting maps using guidelines agreed to exclusively by the leaders and their lawyers, but the lawyer hired to represent Senate Democrats would not be allowed to take part in the process."

    Senate Redistricting Chairman Bill Galvano acknowledged that the drawing of Senate districts is well underway by House and Senate staff for the three-week special session that begins Oct. 19. They are working in a sequestered space in the Senate redistricting suite and are being advised by the lawyers hired by the GOP-led Senate and House but, he said, the Senate Democrats will not have a separate lawyer at the table.

    Senate Democrat Leader Arthenia Joyner told the Herald/Times she has hired Tallahassee attorney Mark Herron to represent Senate Democrats in the redistricting process, using funds from the Florida Democratic Party, after Senate President Andy Gardiner twice rejected her request to allow the Democratic caucus to have its own lawyer advise them during the drawing of the Senate redistricting map.

    “I had no choice,” Joyner said. “There is an inherent conflict because they drew the maps to favor Republicans. These same lawyers defended the maps and then admitted they violated the Constitution. Now, these lawyers are giving advice ... Either fire them and get new lawyers, or hire us our own lawyers.”

    Joyner "said the Senate’s current lawyers, former Supreme Court Justice Raoul Cantero and Jason Zakia, were the Senate’s lead lawyers defending the existing maps in the protracted legal battle over the congressional and Senate redistricting maps first adopted by lawmakers in 2012.

    "Cantero’s signature was on the stipulated settlement agreement admitting that the Senate map violated the state constitution’s Fair Districts standards." "Tension mounts over which lawyers get access to Florida Senate redistricting maps."

    As an aside, Cantero is former Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista's grandson, who during his brief career as a lawyer before being promoted to the Florida Supreme Court by Jeb Bush, helped defend Orlando Bosch, an anti-Castro extremist who was labeled a terrorist by the U.S. government for his purported ties to bombing raids on Cuba.

    Florida voters support legalizing MJ

    "Florida voters support legalizing personal marijuana use 51 - 45 percent. Men support it 57 - 41 percent, with women narrowly opposed 49 - 46 percent. Support is 66 - 30 percent among voters 18 to 34 years old, 52 - 44 percent among voters 35 to 49 years old and 55 - 43 percent among voters 50 to 64 years old. Voters over 65 are opposed 56 - 39 percent. But 65 percent of voters say they would "definitely not" use marijuana if it were legalized. " "October 8, 2015 - Florida, Ohio Back Personal Pot; Pennsylvania Split, Quinnipiac University Swing State Poll Finds."

    "Bush family’s War on English continues"

    The Miami Herald editors: "And the Bush family’s War on English continues."

    You are, by now, familiar with the astonishingly tone-deaf response by Jeb Bush, the nation’s would-be 45th president, to last week’s shooting at a community college in Oregon in which a gunman killed nine people. “Look,” said Bush, “stuff happens.” . . .

    When a reporter asked about the wording afterward — perhaps trying to spare Bush some grief — the former Florida governor turned attitudinal. “No, it wasn’t a mistake,” he said. “I said exactly what I said. Explain to me what I said wrong.”

    “You said, ‘stuff happens,’ ” said the reporter.

    Whereupon, Bush hunkered deeper into his snit. “ ‘Things’ happen all the time,” he said. “ ‘Things.’ Is that better?”

    Um . . . no.

    And the pasting that followed was entirely predictable. Bush was slammed by Hillary Clinton and President Obama. In Mother Jones, the liberal magazine, his words were called “callous.” In Salon, they were dubbed “tactless, graceless and ham-handed.”

    But let’s not miss what’s truly offensive here.

    "Bush’s latest misfire on guns."

    Latvala takes Scott shill to the woodshed for his "arrogance" toward union rep

    "Gov. Rick Scott's jobs guru, Jesse Panuccio, never got a chance Wednesday to make his pitch for $3.5 million to fight benefits fraud in the Department of Economic Opportunity. Instead, Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, took the DEO chief to the woodshed, criticizing his "arrogance" toward a union lobbyist and telling Panuccio, a Scott favorite: "I frankly don't like your attitude.""

    It's the latest sign of open hostility between the Senate and Scott, and it's clear Panuccio could have problems winning Senate confirmation next session. If Panuccio is not confirmed, he'll lose his $141,000-a-year job -- a decision the jobs chief says is "out of my hands."
    "Panuccio, testifying before Latvala's Senate budget subcommittee, hit his usual points: The economy is improving, the number of jobs is growing, unemployment is declining -- and fewer Floridians are filing for unemployment benefits."
    That was the opening senators were waiting for. They cited persistent complaints from constituents who can't file for unemployment because of problems with Connect, DEO's troubled online system for filing claims. Sen. Maria Sachs, D-Delray Beach, said of the unemployed: "They don't get paid, therefore the statistics look good. You can't get anybody on the phone. I just want the system to work."

    AFL-CIO lobbyist Rich Templin cited statistics on the unemployed that Panuccio called "invalid" and suggested the left-leaning labor organization had a political agenda for refusing to acknowledge that Scott's policies have improved the economy. At that point, Latvala defended the AFL-CIO lobbyist for his "courage" and tore into Panuccio.

    "Latvala blasts Scott aide's 'arrogance,' defends union lobbyist."

The Blog for Friday, October 02, 2015

"Brazen hypocrisy from a son of political royalty"

    "The most recent example [of 'brazen hypocrisy'] arrived last week, as Mr. Bush told a crowd in South Carolina that Republicans should not appeal to African-Americans with promises of 'free stuff.'"
    “Our message is one that is uplifting,” Mr. Bush said then, “that says you can achieve earned success.”

    Opponents saw in the Sept. 24 comments a brazen hypocrisy from a son of political royalty — the latest stumble for a candidate who has cast himself as a bridge to new voters, with experience leading a diverse state and a unique perspective among Republican presidential candidates as the bilingual husband of a woman born in Mexico.

    Longtime supporters heard something else: an echo of one of the most turbulent episodes of his governorship.

    Mr. Bush had not planned on a fight upon entering office, at least not on this count. Chastened by a narrow election loss in 1994 — he campaigned for governor as a tough-on-crime conservative who glibly predicted he would do “probably nothing” for blacks if elected — Mr. Bush had since moved to expand his outreach to new constituencies.

    "Jeb Bush’s Remarks About Blacks Echo a Firestorm He Faced as Governor".

    What? Me a wingnut?

    "Gov. Rick Scott is heading for his second political fight in recent months with a group prepared to mobilize against him over Planned Parenthood funding. John Stemberger, an attorney and head of the Florida Family Planning Council, says his organization is preparing a campaign to pressure Scott to cancel Planned Parenthood's Medicaid contracts with the state and do what he can to shut down its federal health care subcontracts." "Scott clashes again with social conservative group."

    Med MJ

    "Medical Marijuana Petition Inches Closer to 2016 Ballot."

    HD 3

    "Santa Rosa County Commissioner Jayer Williamson, the scion of a family with deep roots in local politics, announced on Thursday that he will not run for a second term and will make a second bid for the Florida House." "Jayer Williamson Decides to Run for Florida House in 2018 Instead of Second Term in Santa Rosa County."

    "Without a competitive race"

    "More than two-thirds of Florida’s legislators were elected without a competitive race." "How many votes does it take to elect a Florida legislator?"

    "What's hot, crazy or shady about politics in the Sunshine State"

    Marc Caputo: "Bush-backing tracker BUSTED at Rubio event – LIBERTARIAN DRAMA: goat mutilation, eugenics & a resignation – How Cuba fleeces FL – Clinton’s South Florida foray – FL bear hunt to continue." "Florida Playbook."

    "An injustice that has never been corrected"

    Leonard Pitts Jr.: "'Groveland,' an injustice that has never been corrected."

    Yee haw!

    "Licensed Floridians will still be able to bag a bear in Florida later this month after a state judge Thursday refused to stop the planned hunt. "The methodology that [Florida Fish and Wildlife officials] used in coming up with a rule is rational," according to the Judge. "Judge won't stop Florida bear hunt."

    "Alternative ideas for healthcare reform"

    "A pair of Republican state legislators who are also doctors are pushing an alternate plan to reform healthcare that runs counter to the proposed overhaul laid out by their party leaders." "Lawmaker doctors propose alternative ideas for healthcare reform."

    "Things getting hairy for JEB!

    "Things are getting a little hairy out there for John Ellis Bush."

    The guy who once positioned himself as the unstoppable juggernaut of the 2016 Republican primary has seen his poll numbers sag into the mid-single digits as conservative voters flock to the bizarre spectacle of the Trump/Carson/Fiorina insurgency.

    He’s put together a couple of passable, forgettable debate performances, and Bush donors are starting to feel icy needles of panic migrate up their spines as they watch their candidate struggle to gain traction. When not actively gaffing, Jeb is busy cleaning up gaffes.

    And when he’s not doing that, he’s defending George W. Bush’s bad wars and accidentally highlighting how many people his brother failed to keep safe.

    "Jeb Bush vs. Marco Rubio gets ugly: Florida man attacks friend during job interview."

The Blog for Thursday, October 01, 2015

"Common Core emerging as major issue"

    "Voters’ anger over education issues could drive the political debate in some state legislative districts — particularly where there are Republican primaries or open seats, lawmakers and political observers said." "Common Core emerging as major issue in local 2016 elections."

    Florida's Medicaid floppery

    "Feds grant Florida another extension for Medicaid program."

    School superintendents sound the alarm, Tallahassee isn't listening

    The Tampa Trib editors: "Once again the state’s school superintendents have sounded an alarm, and once again it appears the top education bureaucrats and lawmakers in Tallahassee aren’t listening."

    In a unified statement of protest, the superintendents say they have “lost confidence” in the education accountability systems in place and asked that the results of the new Florida Standards Assessments test given in the spring not be applied to students, teachers and schools when calculating grades and evaluating performance.
    "Review Florida’s high-stakes school accountability system."

    Grubbing for wingnuts

    "Dr. Ben Carson should replace U.S. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio? A Florida congressman with his eyes on a U.S. Senate seat is open to the idea." "Ron DeSantis Open to Backing Ben Carson for Speaker."

    Jeb "a banal, gaffe-prone candidate"

    "Jeb Bush should not have run for president."

    He’s a banal, gaffe-prone candidate with a sullied name, seeking to lead a party whose recalcitrant base despises everything he represents.
    "Jeb! for president never made any sense: Why his precipitous collapse is far from surprising."

    The New York Times: "Jeb Bush: Crying Out Loud" and Salon: "Jeb Bush, as dumb as his idiot brother: His latest nonsense should have you running scared."

    Sugar farmers run wild

    Nancy Smith: "What are you going to do with Florida sugar farmers? First they insist on keeping the land they own. How selfish is that? Then they go and meet annual Everglades pollution reduction requirements when everybody knows they're poisoning the planet."

    "Now guess what they're doing? You probably heard: Those sons-of-a-seabiscuit are poisoning the air as well. They audaciously told the media Wednesday they're going to control-burn their crops -- even though the Sierra Club told them not to." "Damn Sugar Farmers Just Won't Do What They're Told."

    A fine start

    "Mayor Bob Buckhorn upset civic groups including the NAACP and American Civil Liberties Union when he dismissed critics of his new police review board as “fringe groups” who want to 'tear down our community.' On Wednesday, Buckhorn said he sees no need to meet with those groups as called for by City Council Chairman Frank Reddick." "Buckhorn: No need to see NAACP, ACLU about police review board."

    Can Atwater avoid ‘bloody’ Senate primary?

    "Some donors hoping Atwater can help GOP avoid ‘bloody’ Senate primary."

    Yee Haw!

    "State senators are scheduled next week to begin considering whether to keep the Confederate flag on the Senate's official seal, another sign of a growing national tide against icons of the South's rebellion in the 1860s." "Senate Could Drop Confederate Flag from Seal."

The Blog for Tuesday, September 29, 2015

"This is the "smart" Bush? Please"

    From Salon: "One of the most entertaining spectacles of this election cycle is watching Jeb! Bush try to marry his genial, moderate patrician demeanor to the kind of sneering, condescending Tea Party dialogue that, having incubated for years in right-wing media, has now burst out of the host Republican Party’s abdominal cavity to spray acid in the eyes of anyone who dares get near it."

    "It’s the same awkward fusion Mitt Romney attempted four years ago, though no one really noticed until the general. Jeb has the decency to do it during the primaries so we’ll all have more time to enjoy watching him flail."

    Bush followed up his recent “hey black people, no more free stuff for you!” moment by sitting for an interview with John Harwood on CNBC, and hoo boy, does the former Florida governor sound like a man so far down the rabbit hole he might emerge on the other side of the planet. Over the course of just a few minutes, he manages to twist himself into so many knots trying to rescue his brother’s legacy while simultaneously suggesting that President Obama is several steps to the left of Vladimir Lenin, by the end you could salt him and sell him from a Times Square pretzel cart.
    "Jeb Bush, as dumb as his idiot brother: His latest nonsense should have you running scared ." See also "Jeb goes full Mitt Romney: Man of inherited wealth and power says African-Americans want “free stuff” " and "Hillary Clinton knocks Jeb Bush over 'free stuff' remark."

    State BOE shills for charters

    "The Palm Beach County School Board is challenging the state's approval process for charter schools after the state Board of Education overturned the denial of an operator's application." "PBC school board challenges charter school approval process."

    Criser: unions ain't the problem

    "Criser: Unions, tenure don’t hinder innovation."

    Jeb! gets oily

    "Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush says ending the ban on U.S. oil exports and easing restrictions on natural gas exports will unleash the nation’s economy." "Jeb Bush: U.S. should open overseas markets to U.S. oil, gas."

    Eisnaugle proposes to cut Speaker's power

    "Read Eisnaugle's proposals to devolve House Speaker power."

    What's "hot, crazy or shady" about Florida politics

    Marc Caputo: "Al Gore bashes Gov. Scott on climate change – RAW RACIAL POLITICS: redistricting trial closes -- Eisnaugle strikes back – Common Core controversy – H.S. teen called out for Confederate belt buckle – of monkey mayhem and turtle ‘molestation’" "Florida Playbook."

    Florida’s school superintendents voice a lack of confidence

    "In the wake of a rocky rollout last spring of Florida’s newest standardized tests, the state’s superintendents have banned [sic] together to voice a lack of confidence in the accountability system and ask for all scores to be ignored." "Florida stands by flawed test scores despite local concerns."

    Map trial ends

    "Closing arguments focused on South Florida’s black, Hispanic voters." "Final day of map trial highlights Miami-Dade race politics."

    Ross wants to whip

    "With U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., the GOP whip in Congress, now running to be House majority leader in the shakeup after U.S. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, announced he was going to give up his seat at the end of October, a Florida congressman is looking to move up the leadership ladder."

    "Dennis Ross Aims for GOP Whip Post in Aftermath of John Boehner Stepping Down."

    Scott flip-flops

    "Rick Scott, Who Made Millions as Hospital CEO, Now Faults Hospital Costs."

    Establishment Dems flock to Murphy

    "Five Democrats in the Florida House--Reps. Reggie Fulwood and Mia Jones of Jacksonville, Amanda Murphy of New Port Richey, Cynthia Stafford of Miami and Richard Stark of Weston--announced on Monday they were backing U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Fla., in the 2016 U.S. Senate race." "Patrick Murphy Reels in Endorsements from State Representatives."

    Oh Pleeez . . .

    "Florida lawmakers plan to live on minimum wage for a week."

    Rubio strides world stage

    "From his perch as chairman of the U.S. Senate Western Hemisphere Subcommittee, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., sent President Barack Obama a letter on Tuesday, urging him to oppose a measure in the United Nations against the embargo on Cuba. Obama is scheduled to meet Cuban strongman Raul Castro at the UN on Tuesday." "Marco Rubio Urges Obama to Oppose UN Measure Against Cuban Embargo."

The Blog for Tuesday, September 22, 2015

"Florida has one of the least fair tax systems in the nation"

    "Florida politicians, including Gov. Rick Scott, often tout the absence of a state income tax and a host of business-friendly exemptions in hailing the state’s allure."
    But WalletHub, the online personal finance resource, says Florida has one of the least fair tax systems in the nation, ranking 45th overall; is No. 3 among states where the top 1 percent in income are most undertaxed; and is No. 4 among states where the poor are overtaxed.
    "Florida nice to rich, mean to poor, tax survey says." See also "" and "".


    "Yoho: No government shutdown likely, but Boehner must go."

    Feel free to stay

    "Gov. Rick Scott will fly to Kentucky early Tuesday for two days of private meetings in Lexington and Louisville with unidentified business owners about moving or expanding to Florida." "Rick Scott to Begin Two-Day Recruiting Trip to Kentucky."

    Hot, crazy or shady about politics in the Sunshine State

    Marc Caputo: "‘BLACK LIVES’ & WHITE COLLAR DEFENSE for Grayson – A TWO (CUBAN-AMERICAN)-MAN GOP primary? – CLIMATE CHANGE: FL ad blitz timed for Pope’s visit – SEAQUARIUM SUIT ENDS, protesters get space – ‘LIVING WAGE’ fight starts in Osceola." "Florida Playbook."

    Now, let's gut their pensions

    "Colorado Springs Fire Captain Steven Oswald said that the Florida firefighters' quick action probably saved her life." "Fort Lauderdale firefighters save Colorado snakebite victim."

    A "consultant," no less

    "U.S. Rep. John Mica has once again drawn a Republican primary opponent, consultant and Army veteran John Morning of Orlando. Morning has filed to run against Mica in Florida's 7th Congressional District, where Mica is seeking re-election to a 13th term in 2016. As with previous Republican challengers, Morning portrays Mica as someone who has been in office far too long and has become part of the Washington-business-as-usual issues." "Mica draws primary opponent, Army veteran John Morning".

    "Corcoran parties with privileged insiders."

    "On the eve of a fiery speech in which he urged members to “build an absolute firewall between our private lives and the influence of special interests,” House Speaker-designate Richard Corcoran held a party at a posh Capital City hotel bar for upward of 400 lobbyists, legislators and Citrus County supporters." "After declaring war on privileged insiders, Corcoran parties with them."

    More: "With stinging critique of Florida House, Corcoran faces pushback" and "No Offense, Richard Corcoran, but Ethics Again?"

    State of Florida turned its back on the River of Grass

    "Guess it’s up to Congress to come through for the Everglades. Goodness knows the state of Florida turned its back on at least one big boost the life-sustaining River of Grass needed this year." "Congress to the Everglades’ rescue"

    "Flawed assessment"

    The Daytona Beach News Journal editors: "Schools and teachers should not be judged with a flawed process." "No grades for flawed assessment."

    Apparently these federal dollars are acceptable to FLAbaggers

    "[PBC] kitchens served nearly 50,000 meals, paid for by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and administered by the state’s Department of Health’s Bureau of Child Care Food Programs." "Twenty PBC schools now serving free meals after school too."

    Attacks Fly in SoFla

    "Even with congressional redistricting up in the air until the state judiciary making a final ruling on new maps, the contest is heading up between U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo, R-Fla., and former Miami-Dade Democratic Party Chairwoman Annette Taddeo." "Attacks Continue to Fly in S. Florida Even Before Congressional Redistricting Finalized."

    Please, Florida jokes

    "Video: Rand Paul aide says Marco Rubio aide punched him in face."

    Rubio playin' hooky

    Joe Henderson: "Marco Rubio received 2.6 million votes from Floridians in the 2010 race for the U.S. Senate. That was 49 percent of the ballots cast in a three-way race, an overwhelming victory any way you want to look at it."

    Voters sent Rubio to Washington because they believed he would do the best job of representing their interests and values. He draws a pretty good paycheck, too — $174,000 a year, plus benefits that include eligibility for a government pension after serving five years.

    Being a senator is demanding, and they should be compensated accordingly, but that comes with a caveat that the person actually should do the job. People have been on Rubio’s case lately — rightly so — about the time he is spending away from the job he was hired to do.

    "Um, Sen. Rubio? The people of Florida hired you to do a job."

    One trick pony

    "Bush says too many regulations are hurting US economy."

    DWS draws fire

    "U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), is drawing fire as activists want more debates between the candidates running for the party’s presidential nomination."

    So far, there are only six debates scheduled, prompting some of the dark horse candidates to demand more of them. In the 2008 cycle, when Barack Obama beat Hillary Clinton, there were more than 20 debates held. Wasserman Schultz backed Clinton who is running again after losing to Obama last time out.
    "Debbie Wasserman Schultz Pummeled by Fellow Democrats on Presidential Debates."

    FlaBaggers shill for FlaGOP

    "Civility is Just Another Talking Point for Democrats, Hillary Clinton, Alan Grayson."