Mostly Cloudy78° FULL FORECASTMostly Cloudy78° FULL FORECAST
Make us your home page

Steve Bousquet, Times/Herald Tallahassee Bureau

Steve Bousquet

Steve Bousquet is the Tampa Bay Times' Tallahassee bureau chief. He joined the Times in 2001 after 17 years at the Miami Herald, where he held a variety of positions including Tallahassee bureau chief, and he previously was a reporter at TV stations in Miami and Providence, R.I. He has a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Rhode Island and a master's in history from Florida State University.

Bousquet was a contributor to two editions of The Almanac of Florida Politics and to The Miami Herald Report: Democracy Held Hostage, an account of the 2000 presidential recount in Florida.

Phone: (850) 224-7263


Twitter: @SteveBousquet

  1. Walton County votes to replace one Confederate flag with another

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Bucking a national trend, a defiant Walton County voted Tuesday after an emotional hearing to replace one Confederate flag with another one at its courthouse in the Florida Panhandle.

    Under intense pressure from a deeply divided citizenry, county commissioners agreed to remove the controversial flag with the X-shaped Southern Cross design that has flown at the courthouse in DeFuniak Springs since 1964, the year President Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act....

  2. Walton County votes to replace Confederate flag with another


    After two hours of sharply divided emotional debate by residents of the Panhandle, the Walton County Commission voted Tuesday to remove its Confederate flag that has flown on the lawn of the county courthouse for 51 years and replace it with a version known as the stars and bars.

    As commissioners voted 4-0 to replace the rebel flag with a version that depicts 13 white stars on a blue background and red and white horizontal bars, a burst of applause broke out in the hearing room. But flag opponents were angry at the result, and an NAACP leader, Dale Landry, raised the possibility of economic boycotts in South Walton County, a resort community that's a magnet for business conferences....

  3. Detzner tells counties that updated voter database 'ready to go'


    Secretary of State Ken Detzner's office is telling Florida's 67 election supervisors that updated hardware on the state voter database is "ready to go live." An alert from Division of Elections Director Maria Matthews went out Monday evening after details emerged of a critical state audit of the agency's management of the Florida Voter Registration System (FVRS). In addition, county election supervisors, who have repeatedly criticized Detzner for a lack of communication, called the audit findings "troubling."...

  4. Auditor general's report critical of how Florida handles voter information

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — A highly critical state audit casts new doubt on whether Florida is ready to count votes in the 2016 presidential election and puts added pressure on Gov. Rick Scott's top elections official to show improvement.

    The report by the state auditor general, an independent officer hired by the Legislature, criticizes the Department of State for its handling of the voter registration database in the nation's biggest electoral battleground, a state with nearly 12 million voters and a long history of controversy involving voting....

    Secretary of State Ken Detzner has clashed with county supervisors of elections.
  5. Breakdowns, lax security cited in audit of state voter database


    With planning for the 2016 presidential election underway, a new auditor general's report sharply criticizes Gov. Rick Scott's administration for its handling of the backbone of democracy in Florida: the electronic system that holds vital data on 12 million voters in the nation's biggest battleground state.

    The audit found that internal security controls need improvement; a disaster recovery plan has not been tested since 2011; 14 state employees had "inappropriate and unnecessary access privileges" to the database; no mechanism exists to ensure that production changes are "properly authorized, tested and approved'; security training for employees hired during the past year were not done on a timely basis; and measures to protect confidential and exempt voter information need improvement....

  6. Confederate flag battle in Panhandle pits North against South

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — For more than 50 years, a Confederate flag has fluttered outside the Walton County Courthouse in Florida's Panhandle.

    It's said to be the last rebel flag outside a Florida courthouse, and its days may be numbered.

    Inside, flag supporters and opponents will square off today in a pitched emotional battle featuring an ironic North-South twist: Residents in the county's rural northern tier have a stronger sense of local history and are more fond of the flag than newcomers living in beach communities in the south. ...

  7. Confederate flag battle in Panhandle pits North against South


    Supporters and opponents of the Confederate flag will square off again on Tuesday, this time in a Florida Panhandle community with a geographic twist as "northerners" may be more supportive of the flag than people in the South. The place is Walton County, sandwiched between Panama City and Destin in northwest Florida. Founded in 1824, it's one of the oldest counties in Florida and perhaps best known as the home of Seaside, the photogenic New Urbanism beachfront community used as the setting for the Jim Carrey film "The Truman Show."...

    Map courtesy Almanac of Florida Politics
  8. Term limits? For many ex-lawmakers, it's a path to a second career


    It has been more than two decades since Florida voters embedded term limits in the state Constitution when they declared "eight is enough" for most members of the Legislature. 

    But while term limits broke the grip that career politicians held on the state Capitol, it created a wealth of political opportunities for them at the local level to be county commissioners or constitutional officers -- well-paying jobs that in many cases don't come with term limits....

  9. Lawmakers dodge term limits and land big pensions through local politics

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Florida legislators keep finding ways to dodge the career-ending trap of term limits, often with richly rewarding results — paid for by taxpayers.

    It has been more than two decades since voters emphatically declared that eight years in an office was enough as they broke the grip that career politicians had on the state Capitol.

    Since then, dozens of lawmakers who were forced out by term limits soon resurfaced in local elected offices. Their new jobs, which often paid six-figure salaries, have not only prolonged their political careers but also fattened their retirement accounts. ...

    Hillsborough Circuit Court Clerk Pat Frank, right, officiating at a wedding, was also a state senator and a county commissioner.
  10. State citrus agency names new leader after boss' sudden exit


    From the News Service of Florida:

    Shannon Shepp was named interim executive director of the Florida Department of Citrus Wednesday. She replaces Doug Ackerman, who resigned Monday following his arrest last week on a misdemeanor drunken driving charge. Shepp has been the department's deputy director since August 2013.

    "Her appointment today was without controversy," Citrus Commission Chairman Marty McKenna said in a statement. "She has served our industry well for many years, and she will continue to do so now in this interim role. We aren't hitting a 'pause button.' It's still full speed ahead."...

  11. Governing magazine's take on the Florida redistricting battle


    Governing magazine offers its take on the upcoming special session in Tallahassee to redraw Florida's congressional map, in addition to a special session on redistricting in Virginia. The story can be found here

  12. Guess who's coming to dinner (with Gov. Scott at the Mansion)?


    Gov. Rick Scott and First Lady Ann Scott are holding another of their community leaders dinners at the Governor's Mansion in Tallahassee on Wednesday evening. Like similar events, they include a mix of public officials, political appointees, community leaders and personal friends of the first family. (Mrs. Scott will not attend this dinner).

    Among the more notable names on this list are Belinda Keiser, vice chancellor of Keiser University, a Scott appointee to the board of Enterprise Florida and a possible Republican candidate for Congress in 2016; Matt Carlucci, a Scott appointee to the Commission on Ethics; Scott Thomas, a Scott appointee who chairs the Florida Elections Commission; Lakeland Mayor Howard Wiggs; John Browning of the Florida Transportation Commission, a Palatka businessman and long-time donor to the Republican Party and its candidates; Citrus County Superintendent of Schools Sandra Himmel; and the sheriffs of Columbia and Sumter County, Mark Hunter and Bill Farmer....

  13. Citrus Commission chief resigns after DUI arrest in Lakeland


    The Florida Citrus Commission is scheduled to meet Wednesday and accept the resignation of executive director Doug Ackerman of the Department of Citrus, who was charged with driving under the influence and four driving infractions last week after a car crash in Polk County. Ackerman, 45, was paid $191,000 a year at the agency responsible for promoting Florida citrus. The Ledger of Lakeland has more here....

  14. Gov. Scott to visit Guard as more states debate arming recruiters


    On the heels of his order closing storefront National Guard recruiting centers and authorizing recruiters to carry guns, Gov. Rick Scott will visit the Guard's 125th Fighter Wing in Jacksonville at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday where he will meet with an estimated 100 Guard members.

    Two of the shuttered Guard storefronts are in Jacksonville and nearby Orange Park. The others are in Brandon, Temple Terrace, Orlando and Miami....

  15. Steve Bousquet: Bush and Scott budget vetoes: A tale of two governors


    When Jeb Bush used his line-item veto powers as governor, he was being "Veto Corleone," a principled steward of tax dollars and a man deserving of respect.

    When Gov. Rick Scott used his line-item veto pen, he was petty, vindictive and arbitrary.

    A man to be loathed.

    That's the version of events being pushed by two prominent pro-Bush Republican state senators who are showcased in a new Bush presidential campaign video, defending his record on the subject of line-item vetoes. This remains a hot-button issue in Tallahassee because of Scott's meat-ax approach to vetoes....