Separate stories about cuts to probation officer visits and job fair at casino illuminate the state we’re in

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Two seemingly disparate stories I read this morning, when connected, truly illuminate the state we’re in.

The first, a report that, buckling under the weight of a $79 million deficit, Florida’s prison system is cutting back on the visits that probation officers have with offenders. A spokesperson for prison employees warns that “gives violent offenders (just) one meeting a month.”

The second story, the rah-rah news that the Hard Rock casino has scheduled a job fair to hire more than 400 people as part of its previously announced $75 million expansion.

“The Hard Rock is looking for chefs, cooks, servers, bartenders, cashiers, Player’s Club reps and technicians. Other openings are in security, maintenance and housekeeping,” the story reads.

This post isn’t a criticism of the cuts to the Department of Corrections or, for that matter, a harangue against gambling (I actually very much enjoy visiting the Hard Rock casino).  No, this is just a post connecting the dots between two stories which I bel

On one hand, there aren’t enough tax dollars to pay the already-overworked probation officers tasked with keeping tabs on those in the gray area of the criminal justice system.

On the other hand, the few new jobs being created to generate more tax dollars to pay for things like an effective criminal justice system are low-skill, low-wage positions in the gambling, err, gaming industry — which is probably as responsible as any industry for leading people into the criminal justice system.

So, yes, let’s cut that budget.  That way we can continue not being honest about the state’s broken, unequal tax system.  And let’s create the illusion that there are jobs available (“Let’s get to work,” the government officials will proclaim), while not being truthful about the nature of those jobs.

In other words, let’s not connect the dots.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.