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Today on Context Florida: Antonin Scalia, education improvement, computer coding, volunteerism and John Armstrong & AIDS

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Today on Context Florida:

Mitch McConnell couldn’t even wait until Justice Antonin Scalia’s corpse was cold before exploiting his death for partisan politics, says Martin Dyckman. The oleaginous majority leader means to keep the seat empty, no matter the likelihood of that paralyzing the sharply divided Supreme Court for a year, on the chance that voters might elect a Republican president to appoint Scalia’s replacement. The people, he said, “should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court justice.” As Elizabeth Warren promptly reminded him, voters had that choice when they elected President Barack Obama and re-elected him four years ago with a winning margin of nearly 5 million votes. They have trusted Obama with that responsibility. Twice.

The Florida Chamber of Commerce Foundation had a story to tell last week about education improvement. Like politicians, Joanne McCall points out that they don’t let facts get in the way when making their case. In its new “From Excuses to Excellence” report, the Chamber urges businesses to stick with education reforms that it says have led to “extraordinary accomplishments” in Florida education. It congratulates itself for much of the progress of the last two decades: “The Florida story of education improvement begins here,” it says, referring to a 1994 Chamber Foundation report.

Bill Day’s latest:


The passing of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has created an opportunity for both the executive and legislative branches to work together. If they can’t, Darryl Paulson says American politics will face a crisis of enormous magnitude. That is how serious the situation has become. Although the stakes are high; Paulson says, as of now, the outcome is indeterminate.

If the Florida Legislature adopts a forward-looking proposal now under consideration, William Mattox says students will soon enjoy the opportunity to learn a computer code that may help them earn a handsome living someday. To be sure, traditionalists are right to say that being conversant in more than just English is important to many Floridians in our global economy. And the hope should be that many of the students who opt to take computer-coding courses will also pick up a foreign language like Hindi (so that they can one day provide computer tech support to people in India!).

The opportunity to volunteer presented itself to Traci Evison last year — and it turned out to be an educational lesson about patience and communications. She had been wanting to volunteer some place, and purposely chose teaching Sunday school with kids 3 to 5 years old because it was completely different than anything Evison had done in the past. Children are inherently fast learners, she says, but they are wonderfully — and thankfully — still children. By that, Evison means they love to learn, laugh, and are open and engaged with their surroundings.

The Florida Senate Health Policy Committee decided Dr. John Armstrong’s fate as a group of bipartisan senators confront Florida’s surgeon general with tough questions that include his absent leadership on HIV/AIDS. Florida leads the nation with the highest rate of new HIV infections, notes Michael Emanuel Rajner, who urged the Florida Senate Health Policy Committee to reject Armstrong as surgeon general.

Visit Context Florida to dig in.

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.

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