No school after Halloween? Florida bill would make it law
Jan. 08, 2020
We have lots of ground to cover today, starting with a new bill in the Legislature that would require all Florida schools to close the day after Halloween.
Sen. Annette Taddeo, D-Miami, said she was responding to online petitions from students in Miami-Dade and Orange counties who felt they shouldn’t be forced to endure the hardship of classes after a big night out.
I was curious to see the policy arguments posed by the young petition-signers.
Diddy P . in Miami said: “its (sic) hard to get wasted and have to go to school.”
How true, Diddy.
Up here in Orange, Gabe T . explained: “school is wack (sic) and ion (sic) coming to school tired from eating candy.”
Well stated, gentlemen.
To be fair, there were some more thoughtful observations — including some from teachers who described post-Halloween students as useless zombies.
But frankly, this all seems weak to me. I mean, kids have been celebrating Halloween and attending school throughout time without societal collapse.
I can respect students for getting active and elected officials responding to that activism. But these young petition-signers weren’t even asking for a new law. They wanted local school districts to make make local decisions — such as moving a teacher work day scheduled for Nov. 4 to Nov. 1. Fair enough. This doesn’t require statewide legislation.
Besides, grown-ups party hardy on work nights, too, on Halloween and the Super Bowl. And we don’t hear any of them whining about ... wait … what’s that you say? There’s a story I need to read?
Huh. Maybe Gabe’s and Diddy’s parents were surveyed. How wack.
The cost of wrongful conviction
Wednesday’s front page featured a story about a man suing Seminole County for mishandling the case where he spent 14 years behind bars after being wrongly convicted.
These cases are tough to win. And for good reason. But I completely understand the motivation.
Florida has been way too cavalier about trying to execute innocent people — we have more overturned death-penalty cases than any other state in America — and then refusing to compensate the people whose lives they wreck.
In this case, the state kept trying to kill Clemente Aguirre-Jarquin even after someone else confessed to the murders … on five different occasions.
Even the judge who originally sentenced Aguirre-Jarquin to death would later say: “This case is a perfect example of the police focusing on the target they think is guilty and ignoring other possibilities.”
Again, those are the words of the judge.
And while Florida law says the wrongfully convicted are entitled to $50,000 for every year stolen from them, there are gobs of hurdles and technicalities that prevent payment. In Aguirre-Jarquin’s case, a judge already ruled he was ineligible for compensation because he didn’t seek the money earlier … while he was still in prison being prosecuted.
Put simply: There is a lack of accountability. And I don’t blame those hosed by the system for seeking restitution — or for trying to apply some financial penalties on reckless behavior that can rob someone of life and liberty.
We’d like to think that basic morality is reason enough to avoid that. Apparently, it is not.
Late last year, President Donald Trump hired Florida’s former attorney general, Pam Bondi , to do PR on the impeachment case.
It was an odd choice.
First, because Bondi has an ethical stink to her, having been caught taking an illegal $25,000 campaign contribution from a Trump charity, making her a strange vessel for the trust-us message.
But the second reason it’s an odd choice is because Bondi’s just not that quick on her feet.
This was apparent this a few weekends ago when Fox News’ hardball interviewer Chris Wallace had Bondi on his Sunday show and asked her how the Senate could act as an impartial jury when Mitch McConnell had already declared that he was going “ to take my cues from the president’s lawyers .”
There might have been a decent answer somewhere. But Bondi didn’t seem to have a clue what it was. Instead, she tried to deflect the question by complaining about Democrats.
Wallace wasn’t having any of it.
“But, wait, wait, wait, Pam,” Wallace interrupted. “I’m just asking … about McConnell saying he’s taking his cues from the White House. Please answer the question.”
She did not.
Fox News then promoted the awkward exchange.
I’m not sure Trump’s fate really rests in the hands of Pam Bondi. But if it does, he’s in trouble.
Most fail. Yay.
Latest Scott Maxwell
And finally, the legislative session kicks off next week. It’s a scary time of year awash in bad ideas.
If there is a saving grace, it’s that most of these bad ideas fail.
In fact, Politico reminded us this week that about 90% of bills die. It’s like Garth Brooks once said: “Some of God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers.”