Opinions Archives - Page 4 of 235 - Florida Politics

Joe Henderson: Newest strategy in war on drugs could look a lot like the old strategy

A story in Sunday’s Washington Post focused on a new strategy that is being put in play by Attorney General Jeff Sessions in the fight against drug abuse. It sounds like a return to the old strategy that was discarded because it was costly and largely ineffective, but the current administration likes to play hardball in all things.

So, welcome to the newest war on drugs.

Such a development is always going to be of interest here in Florida, where illegal drugs have long been a major problem. According to the Post, Sessions has elevated Steven H. Cook to one of the top posts in the U.S. Department of Justice.

His mandate is to undo most of the changes enacted during the Obama administration that reduced lengthy mandatory prison sentences for nonviolent drug offenders. Cook, a former police officer and federal prosecutor, believes the harsher the drug penalty, the better.

Perhaps it’s just a coincidence that the while the Post story was making news, Lake County Sheriff Peyton Grinnell posted a Facebook video that is getting lots of attention.

Flanked by four deputies wearing face masks and Kevlar vests, Grinnell warned, “To the (heroin) dealers, I have a message for you: we’re coming for you. Enjoy looking over your shoulders, and constantly wondering if today’s the day.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control, in 2015 opioid-related deaths surpassed gun deaths for the first time. Much of that is attributed to people who become addicted to powerful painkillers like OxyContin, a prescription drug that has been described as essentially synthesized heroin. The demand for that and similar drugs helped create the so-called pill mills fueled addiction. Interstate 95 in Florida was considered part of the drug transportation superhighway as traffickers moved the product up and down the coastline.

Obviously, it’s a significant problem. Would a return to tougher law enforcement help?

Prisons are already bulging with drug offenders. There are about 81,000 inmates serving federal terms for drug violations, representing 46 percent of the total prison population. That includes more than 12,000 inmates incarcerated in Florida.

On the state level, drug offenders account for about 14.5 percent of Florida’s prison population. That’s compared to 55 percent who are locked up for violent crimes.

The state estimates it costs $19,577 per year to house an inmate, and Florida law requires that inmates serve 85 percent of their sentences.

For those who think locking up violators for decades will solve the problem, consider the case of Ronnie Music, Jr. of Waycross, Ga., who won $3 million in the Georgia lottery in 2015.

This month he was sentenced to 21 years in the federal pen for his role in a multistate methamphetamine trafficking ring that was being financed partly by his lottery winnings and was being run out of a Georgia prison.

Music got a few years shaved off his sentence because he dropped a dime on another inmate who was running a meth ring out of a California prison.

I guess sending more inmates to prison doesn’t curb the problem either. From the look of things though, the new administration is ready to put that theory to the test.

Dave Aronberg takes a number and gets in line

Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg added his name last week to the list of public officials begging Gov Rick Scott to recognize the opioid epidemic for the public health emergency that it is, or at least have the guts to look them in the eye and tell them why he won’t.

America’s opioid problem is so “yuge” that Scott’s pal, President Donald Trump. has added it to son-in-law Jared Kushner‘s portfolio of priorities. Maybe Aronberg can get an audience with Kushner next time he’s in residence in the Winter Palace at Mar-a-Lago. Better still for Kushner to cross the bridge and see for himself the suffering occasioned by the “proliferation of fraud and abuse in Florida’s addiction treatment industry.” The pain and misery visited upon addicts and the people who love them is incalcuable. The body count and hard dollar cost to taxpayers are much more easily measured. In Palm Beach County, with its plethora of shady “sober homes,” the numbers are staggering.

Since 2012, the number of opiod overdoses has doubled once and doubled again. Nearly 600 people overdosed-to-death in 2016, according to The Palm Beach Post. The newspaper has been crunching the data and telling the stories of the dead, and the ones left behind, for months. It makes for excruciating reading, but Scott and his “leadership team” are unmoved.

The Post shamed Scott into a throwing citizens, taxpayers and grieving survivors a small bone last month when the Governor grudgingly allowed he was “still reviewing” public officials’ pleas to take Florida’s opioid crisis seriously.

Then, he returned to his regularly scheduled talking points.

Aronberg will be harder to ignore than “the liberal media,” and the first responders and emergency room staffs who are staggering under the weight of an impossible workload and wondering why Scott is more worried about ISIS than the crisis they deal with daily. Aronberg served as Attorney General Pam Bondi’s pill mill point man.

Bondi, a reliable Scott supporter, loves to talk about her leadership in shutting down pill mills, and now serves on Trump’s task force on opiod and other drug abuse.

A public health emergency delcalarion is overdue, and an idea whose time has surely come. If Scott continues to stonewall, there will be more deaths, and more public officials bearing pleas and petitions. The line forms to Aronberg’s right.

Florence Snyder: Prayers over the public-address system are a Florida fixture

In the 1960s, “morning announcements” at Miami Crestview Elementary School were served up with a side order of morning Scriptures.  The daily Bible readings skewed heavily New Testament, and the Jewish kids always dreaded spring, with its Easter ham-handed swipes at “Christ-killers.”

It was confusing, unsettling and sometimes downright scary. Somehow, we managed to weather it without help from the American Civil Liberties Union.

We got all the help we needed from our teachers. Whatever the administration might be pushing on the public-address system, the faculty had time, in those days, to pay attention to the children in front of them. There were fewer Test Police and Helicopter Parents. Teachers knew by the end of the first week of school what they could and could not expect of us. They had the flexibility to peel off children teetering on the brink of boredom and throw them into a “resource group,” where they learned about Malthus and Marx. Karl, not Groucho. They gave extra time to those who needed extra support.

At Easter, and all year long, the Jewish kids — along with the children of Christians and atheists — had help from parents, as well. We learned how to go into other people’s homes and houses of worship for simple meals and special occasions and join hands and bow our heads as our hosts gave voice to their traditions.

These lessons in respect served us as we outgrew Miami and our circles expanded to include Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Mormons, and others whose beliefs were not represented in north Dade County in the years before Joe Robbie brought football to town and a stadium to our neighborhood.

Respect for those who invite you into their lives is always pleasing to any God with whom anyone has ever had a personal relationship. Grabbing the microphone in the principal’s office to proselytize to a captive audience of elementary school children is just abusive showing off.

Last week, a self-described “constitutional conservative” used her public-address system at the Constitution Revision Commission — a microphone that belongs to 20 million Floridians — to pray to her god, her way.  It’s not very respectful thing to do, but it’s probably an excellent indication of where this Commission is coming from, and where it’s planning to go.

Martin Dyckman: Who needs strong, independent courts? We do.

It’s a paradox in America’s ongoing experiment with self-government that we depend on the weakest branch of government to defend us from the more powerful ones.

The Founders gave a lot of thought and ink to this. Writing in the Federalist, Alexander Hamilton pointed out that the judiciary would always be “least dangerous” to the public’s freedoms because it would be “least in a capacity to annoy or injure them.”

The courts have no police or troops of their own, no power to make laws but only to review them, no control over even their own budgets.

It would be their job, though, to protect against abuses of power by the president or the Congress.

When you see one of those branches going after the courts, like the hotheads in the Florida Legislature at the moment, consider whose ox they’re really trying to gore: yours.

Three pending acts reek of political revenge against the Supreme Court for its decisions to enforce the “Fair Districts” initiatives that voters approved, overwhelmingly, in 2010.

You voted to put a stop to political gerrymandering. You wanted to choose your legislators rather than have them choose you.

The Legislature largely ignored you, to put it politely, and tried to hide the evidence of its skullduggery by hiding behind such phony excuses as “legislative privilege” and “trade secrets.” All that took time, nearly three years in fact, but the court eventually, and rightly, ordered up new maps for the state Senate and the congressional districts.

Now look what’s happening:

— HJR 1, Speaker Richard Corcoran‘s top priority, would impose 12-year term limits on Supreme Court justices and judges of the district courts of appeal. Nearly everyone who doesn’t have a grudge against the courts thinks that’s a bad idea and unnecessary as well, The House passed this with one vote to spare. The Senate appears to be holding on to it as a bargaining chip.

— HB 301, also now in the Senate, nitpicks at the court by calling on it to submit annual reports detailing how many cases are awaiting decision and for how long. That’s a blatant invasion of the court’s constitutional power to make its own rules.

— S for SB 352, a transparent erosion of the “Fair Districts” initiatives, provides for challenged districts to go on the ballot if the cases are still pending in court by the campaign filing deadlines. In the event a map is found unconstitutional afterward, the remedial districts would not go on the ballot until the subsequent election.

In practical terms, it’s impossible to complete any complicated case in the few months between a legislative session and the filing deadlines. What if the politicians whose seats are at stake might again be the culprits behind prolonging the litigation? That would not matter.

This particular act of legislative arrogance also tries to tell the court how to conduct its hearings, although it couches this as encouragement rather than a command. And it cheekily maintains that none of this is meant to “supersede or impair” the Fair Districts amendments. There’s an “alternative fact” for you.

Lord Acton‘s famous maxim that “power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely” is on almost daily display in Congress and the state legislatures. The perks and emoluments—doorkeepers, pages and messengers, reserved parking places, and, not least, the fawning lobbyists—are intoxicating. One can quickly forget to whom that House or Senate seat actually belongs.

Without the courts—the federal courts, in this instance—the people of Florida might still be the servants of a legislature so malapportioned that fewer than 15 percent of the people, residents of the smallest counties, could elect a majority in both houses.

It was that Legislature, in 1957, which had passed an “interposition” resolution declaring that U.S. Supreme Court desegregation decisions were null and void in Florida. But of course they were not null or void, and the same fate awaits the present legislation that attempts to tell the Florida Supreme Court how to do its business.

Some other incidents are worth recall.

In 1982, the Legislature put on the ballot a constitutional amendment purporting to require financial disclosure by former legislators and Cabinet members who intended to lobby. The title and summary neglected to mention that this would nullify an absolute two-year cooling-off period, directly subverting former Gov. Reubin Askew‘s ethics in government initiative of 1976.

Askew sued, and the Florida Supreme Court threw the deceptive amendment off the ballot. The Legislature did not like that.

In 2000, the court invalidated a constitutional amendment after it had been approved in an election because it had been misrepresented as preserving the death penalty when the intended result was actually to have more executions. Again, the Legislature was unhappy.

In 2010, it bounced two legislatively proposed amendments for misleading language: one dealing with health care, and another that could have weakened the pending “Fair Districts” initiatives.

As for term limits, the way they have dumbed down the Legislature since they took effect there in 2000 hardly makes a case for doing the same to the appellate courts.

Florida needs nothing less than to discourage lawyers in mid-career from devoting themselves to their profession’s highest calling.

It was four such young lawyers who redeemed the Supreme Court from a slough of ethical scandals in the 1970s. Of the four, Ben Overton was the only one who stayed longer than seven years. Arthur J. England and Alan C. Sundberg returned voluntarily to private practice. Joseph Hatchett was appointed to a federal appeals court. Among 22 justices who came and went after 1968, the typical tenure was approximately 10 years. Overton’s, at 24, was the longest.

Florida already requires judges to retire upon reaching 70 or soon after, and that is enough.

Remember who needs strong, independent courts. You do.

___

Martin Dyckman is a retired associate editor of the Tampa Bay Times. He lives in Asheville, North Carolina.

Blake Dowling: Making a good first (or millionth) impression on Twitter

Twitter is an interesting beast, created in 2006 by Jack Dorsey, Noah Glass and others.

Within six years, 100 million users were on the platform — cranking out 300 plus million tweets a day.

I joined the Twitter Army in May 2009 and 3,881 tweets later, I am still at it. It is a great way to launch our company Newsletter, POLITICO factoids, Crucial Gator Madness, Tech Industry news, Rando Band/Music info and the columns that I write.

I had a column retweeted from the maker of a personal delivery device that was featured in the column, Starship Technology. They were at the Florida State Capital this week displaying for lawmakers in attendance their artificially charged delivery machines, which could transform the way delivery services work. (CS/HB 601: Personal Delivery Devices)

You can also check out my February 2017 column showcasing that kind of tech.

@StarshipRobots has about the same ballpark number of followers that I do, so the retweet doubles the number of impressions.

If I really wanted to get stir crazy I could launch a paid Twitter campaign via the “Tweet Activity” function in Twitter.

However, I have no Pryor and Wilder feelings today so I will leave it at that.

I recently wrote a column about Russian hackers and wove my college acquaintance, present day comedian @BertKreischer into the mix (see the Machine story).

Because he has 200K followers, the number of impressions on that tweet were high. That tweet was not only featuring my company brand but the brand of FloridaPolitics.com and a lot of new folks were exposed to the site, in theory. Pretty cool.

Same with the band @SisterHazel, I tweeted about their Memphis show (which they retweeted) and quite a few folks saw it, as they have close to a million followers.

Blake Dowling @AegisSales: “A guy I knew in college named @bertkreischer is a comedian. He is in my new column @Fla_Pol on Russia. Enjoy http://floridapolitics.com/archives/231563-blake-dowling-russian-hackers-coming” (Impressions: 15,556 times people saw this tweet on Twitter).

I certainly am not claiming to be a Twitter master; not by any stretch of the imagination.

If I were, however, I would be like Logan Paul, hauling in six-figure afternoons with my crazy videos and other content that his 7 million followers slurp up like nickel beer night at the Palace Saloon.

According to 60 Minutes, Logan was indeed paid almost $200k for one day’s work for Dunkin’ Donuts.

He got their message out to just as many people as a prime-time TV ad with nowhere close to the cost.

If you are not using Twitter, take the plunge.

It can give you some interesting branding opportunities, and there is more to it than getting celebs to retweet your stuff click here for a guide on how to get started.

if you are in the middle like me don’t forget to use hashtags to tighten up your messaging, follow those that you want to engage and keep your content SFW, no matter if you work at the White House or McDonald’s.

If you are past beginner status, let’s close with some tips.

— Pin a compelling tweet at the top of your profile.

— Add a period or exclamation point to your mentions and that will send them as tweets to all your followers.

That’s it for today, cache you ousside, tweet about that.

___

Did you hear that this person is getting a TV show, it could be a sign of the apocalypse.

Blake Dowling is CEO for Aegis Business Technologies and is CEO for Aegis Business Technologies. He can be reached at dowlingb@aegisbiztech.com.

Pat Neal: Business rent tax stifles Florida’s economic future

The business rent tax is the only state-sanctioned sales tax on commercial leases in the entire country and Florida is the not-so-proud holder of that title. Not even tax-happy havens like California and New York impose this state tax on its businesses. Due to this burdensome tax, Florida businesses shell out more than $1.7 billion every year to the state. As a result, our state economy dramatically suffers in the form of suppressed job growth and economic activity.

Luckily, Gov. Rick Scott is committed to cutting this tax on hardworking small-business owners and budding entrepreneurs. The governor has repeatedly made cutting or abolishing this tax one of his top priorities for numerous years as part of his commitment to creating jobs for Florida families. Recently, he has hit the road advocating for a 25 percent cut in the tax –  a move that could save Florida businesses more than $400 million per year and reduce prices for Florida consumers.

The business rent tax places a disproportionate burden on small businesses and startups that do not have the capital to purchase bigger office space, hire new employees or expand to other locations. All of this creates a chilling effect on many of Florida’s more than 2 million small businesses.

Since businesses must pay a 6 percent state sales tax on their rent, including added costs to that lease – such as property taxes, maintenance and the cost of insurance –  and local governments can add an additional 1.5 percent, your local retailer could be easily paying more than $100,000 yearly in taxes on their lease alone. Those costs are ultimately passed down to consumers in the form of higher prices. Floridians still trying to recover from the Great Recession cannot continue to afford these cost increases.

The business rent tax undoubtedly puts Florida at a distinct competitive disadvantage, one that is not shared by any other state in the country. It gives the impression that we are closed for business and makes our competitor states look more attractive. It doesn’t make sense for a company to move to Florida if they can get similar benefits in another state without paying a burdensome tax on their rent.

Florida TaxWatch’s research has shown that this rent tax presents an impediment to the success of the state’s businesses, and TaxWatch’s long-standing recommendation has been that Florida’s policymakers should take efforts toward reducing or eliminating this tax.

Unfortunately, despite the support of many lawmakers in the Legislature, this common-sense tax reform has repeatedly languished in the halls of the Capitol. Despite a tighter budget outlook this session, there is still enough money to consider a reduction in the business rent tax.

The fairness and competitiveness of our tax structure is paramount to Florida’s continued success. If we want to continue to be recognized as the top place in the country for business, we must promote incentive programs like Enterprise Florida and commit to reduce or eliminate the business rent tax. This is the one area where Florida cannot afford to be unique.

___

Pat Neal is a former state senator and former chair of the Christian Coalition of Florida. He currently serves as chairman-elect for the board of directors of Florida TaxWatch, the state’s independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit research institute and government watchdog, and is the president of Neal Communities.

‘We Dine Together’ is rare good news from Boca Raton

Boca Raton, the plastic surgery capital of the world and a nice place to be from, is doing something right with its kids.

Located in south Palm Beach County, just minutes away from Ground Zero in Florida’s opioid crisis, Boca Raton is America’s City Most Likely to Be Mispronounced by Late Night Comedians and Out of Town Reporters.  One of them, CBS News’ Steve Hartman, visited Boca Raton High School and introduced the nation to some millennials who just might save the world.

We Dine Together is their effort to reinvent the high school lunch period. Traditionally, lunch is the time when the popular kids cluster together and make themselves feel good by making the newcomers and odd ducks feel bad.  At Boca Raton High, about a hundred of the school’s most attractive, articulate and self-possessed kids fan out during the midday meal on a mission to make sure that no one feels ugly and unwanted. Watch the video to see how they do it, and why they do it. Have some Kleenex handy.

We Dine Together kids are wise beyond their years. They understand that everybody has something interesting to say to someone willing to listen.

Feeling ugly and unwanted is a one-way ticket to depression and despair. Kids can, and do, self-medicate with plastic surgery and pills and other forms of temporary relief, and too many of them will not survive.

History may well record millennials as The Smartest Generation. They know they aren’t going to get a lot of help from a governor, and a governing class, which can’t bring itself to admit that the opioid epidemic is a public health emergency. They may be starved for adult leadership, but they’re trying hard to see to it that none of their numbers are starved for company.

Joe Henderson: Lawmakers seizing chance to expand gun use under cover of “Stand Your Ground”

Numerous studies have shown Florida’s gun-totin’ “stand your ground” law doesn’t work.

The Journal of American Medical Association recently reported, “The removal of restrictions on when and where individuals can use lethal force was associated with a significant increase in homicide and homicide by firearm in Florida.”

By significant, it meant a 24.4 percent increase in homicides and a 31.6 percent jump in gun-related killings from 2005 through 2014.

Opponents have attacked the study as flawed.

Here is what’s really flawed.

Since this is Florida, a woman named Marissa Alexander, who obviously should have had the legal shield of “stand your ground” was initially sentenced to 20 years in prison in 2011 for firing a gun at her then-husband during a domestic dispute. It was not the first time the couple quarreled, and her attorney argued she had been the victim of abuse.

But even though Alexander fired what essentially was a warning shot and she didn’t hit him, a judge ruled that she didn’t meet the burden of proof that her life was in danger. Her original sentence was over-turned on appeal and she has since been freed, but not until she spent nearly six years in custody.

Obviously, she never should have been sent to prison. She has a legitimate reason to lobby, as she has, for a change currently sailing through the Legislature. It essentially would reverse a state Supreme Court ruling that shooters have to prove they were in grave danger. Prosecutors would now have to prove a shooter didn’t feel threatened instead of the other way around.

Had that change been in place six years ago, Alexander likely would never have spent a day behind bars.

Beware of unintended consequences though.

Assuming this seismic shift in SYG becomes the law and survives court challenges, it opens the floodgates for others to shoot first and claim fear later. Shooters wouldn’t have to prove their life was in danger. They would just have say they thought it was.

What possibly could go wrong?

A judge in the highly publicized case of SYG recently ruled that retired police officer Curtis Reeves couldn’t prove lethal force was necessary when he shot and killed Chad Oulson during an argument at a movie theater.

Under this change, the judge probably would have had no choice but to side with Reeves. How would a prosecutor even try to prove that someone wasn’t afraid for their life?

As Jim Rosica of Florida Politics reported, Democrats are railing against the change. He quoted Rep. Kamia Brown, an Orlando Democrat, as saying domestic abusers might see this as a green light “to finish the job.”

She added, “Why not go all the way … there won’t be anyone around to dispute” that the shooter wasn’t standing their ground.

Instead of tweaking the law to cover situations like the one Alexander faced, lawmakers appear determined to seize the chance to expand gun use in Florida.

Surprised?

Didn’t think so.

Steve Bahmer: Senate must ask tough questions on Medicaid payment reform

Steve Bahmer, president & CEO of LeadingAge Florida

Medicaid payment reform for nursing homes is both necessary and complex. And done well, it should be the result of clear policy objectives, careful consideration, vigorous debate and detailed modeling. On behalf of our 250 members across Florida, we encourage the Senate Appropriations Committee to ask tough questions and thoroughly vet the new nursing home payment system it will consider.

In reforming the payment system, it isn’t enough to implement a system that is cosmetically pleasing for a year or two. We need to look two or three years ahead to ensure that the quality of care in Florida nursing homes, which has improved dramatically over the last 30 years, remains as high as residents and their families deserve it to be.

It’s important to be clear: LeadingAge Florida supports the transition to a Prospective Payment System for nursing homes. We simply can’t support the system that has been proposed. And that’s because we’re looking two or three years ahead.

It is easy, of course, to gloss over the many problems with the plan, and the sophisticated sales effort that is underway in support of it does just that. It simply asserts, for example, that the plan incentivizes quality. And it does, to a certain extent. Though, notably, it does so at a level that is $40 million below the Quality Incentive funding that was proposed in the plan that was shelved by a House committee last month.

It also asserts that the plan enhances accountability. The plan does no such thing. Rather, the plan does not contain any requirement that those homes which benefit from additional tax dollars have to spend a single one of those additional dollars on care. No requirement at all.

Proponents claim that 95 percent of Medicaid funding under the PPS plan would have to be spent on care. That is, flatly, untrue. Look under the hood and you’ll see that the 95 percent figure relates to how prices are calculated. It has nothing whatsoever to do with how those dollars are spent.

The plan also removes $44 million that would be spent on care to instead be spent on property. Although we disagree with this shift in funding away from care, this may or may not be a worthwhile change. But that sort of policy shift, among the many others proposed in the plan, ought to be thoroughly vetted and debated in the sunshine.

In the end, the result is a plan that, if fully funded, would prop up the highest quality nursing homes for up to three years by holding them harmless. Ironically, however, that is precisely the type of short-term thinking that supporters of the plan have argued against.

So, let’s look a bit further out — when the transition funding runs out, presumably after three years, 152 nursing homes with 4 and 5-Star ratings from CMS will lose funding, for a total of $39.7 million in losses among Florida’s highest quality nursing homes. And some of them lose big, with losses as high as 23 percent of their Medicaid funding. Meanwhile, 97 homes with 1 and 2-Star CMS ratings will gain funding, for a total of $29 million in gains among Florida’s lowest quality nursing homes.

Nevertheless, this isn’t about winners and losers. This is about state budgets as an expression of the state’s priorities, and about clearly defining what public policy objective could possibly be served by shifting resources from those that have invested in care to those that haven’t.

It is tempting not to look too far down the road. The longer view is the more difficult one. But payment policy isn’t, and can’t be, an annual exercise. Once in place, this system will establish the state’s approach to our frail elderly for years to come. Indeed, it’s been more than 30 years since the last change this dramatic in Medicaid payment policy.

Certainly, nursing homes will respond. The most significant cost driver in any nursing home is staff. So, it may take a year or two, but those high-quality homes that face 15 and 20 percent losses in Medicaid funding will eliminate jobs, cut back on programs, and reduce spending on true quality-of-life elements such as food and services.

We urge the Legislature to step back from this plan and continue working on it during the interim. The implications for our seniors are too important not to.

 ___

Steve Bahmer is president and CEO of LeadingAge Florida

 

Joe Henderson: Sen. Bracy’s heart might have been right, but his numbers were wrong

You can legitimately argue that the executive order by Gov. Rick Scott removing Orlando State Attorney Aramis Ayala from 21 more potential death penalty cases was blatant over-reach. For the record, I wouldn’t automatically agree but I can see that side of the argument.

We all know what a firestorm Ayala created when she decided not to seek the death penalty for alleged cop-killer Markeith Loyd. Scott came down on the side of outrage and in a stunning turn he ordered that the case go to another prosecutor. He doubled-down on that – well, 21nd down – with his most recent decree.

That prompted state Sen. Randolph Bracy, an Orlando Democrat, to blast Scott in an op-ed published in the New York Times. He was making strong arguments why the governor’s actions are wrong, at least up to the point where he wrote this paragraph:

“As a black man, I see the death penalty as a powerful symbol of injustice in which race often determines who lives and who dies, especially in Florida. The state has the second-largest number of death row inmates in the country, after California, and African-Americans are grossly over-represented on Florida’s death row.”

Fact check, please!

Actually, there are 143 black males on death row compared to 214 white males. And when it comes to the total number of executions carried out since the capital punishment was reinstated in 1976, Texas is the runaway leader with the number of people put to death with 576. Florida is fourth (behind Oklahoma and Virginia) with 92.

As for the butcher’s bill, those executed include 57 white males compared to 29 black males. Both women executed in the state also were white.

His heart might have been in the right place, but being so far off on the numbers totally undercuts Bracy’s argument.

Public sentiment is turning against the death penalty because it’s obviously not the deterrent its supporters claim. It’s strictly about society’s need for vengeance. If the state were to decide to do away with it in favor of locking murderers up and never letting them out, that would be fine by me.

I might make an exception for anyone who murders a police officer, but that’s about it.

Here’s the thing, though: It’s not my call. Florida has the death penalty and if there ever was a case where it should be in play, it’s the one involving Loyd. If the law is going to be changed, that is done in the Legislature. While I appreciate and maybe even agree with Ayala’s argument about the futility of capital punishment, it’s her job to prosecute crimes like the one Loyd allegedly committed to the full extent of the law.

Yes, a prosecutor can exercise judgment in deciding what to course of action to take. I believe she was wrong, though, by basically saying she won’t seek the death penalty because she doesn’t like it.  If that’s her heartfelt belief, she should consider a career change – maybe defending accused murderers instead of prosecuting them.

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