Today on Context Florida: Immigration, Dick Cheney, solar rebates and charter schools

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Today on Context Florida:

Christian Ulvert, Political Director of the Florida Democratic Party, notes that new polling in several key races by StPetePolls shows that Tampa Bay voters know who is on their side. Although our Democratic candidates will be out-raised by the special interest fueled GOP money machine, they are raising the funds it takes to compete. The people of Tampa Bay will decide these elections. No amount of money can hide that the Florida GOP’s policies are hurting working Floridians.

The debate about our failed immigration policies is back in full force in the American consciousness with the recent news of tens of thousands of “children” trekking to our southern border dominating the headlines. Steven Kurlander writes that it is known as a “humanitarian” disaster, further evidence of a failed immigration policy that for years has not been properly addressed by Congress.

Dick Cheney’s crowd of neoconservative con artists, unrepentant and audacious, would have us throw more lives and treasure into that black hole of Iraq, like gamblers wagering good money after bad. Martin Dyckman says that they are not accountable for what they have already cost us.

If you wonder whether utility solar rebate programs for homeowners and businesses were popular, Bruce Ritchie suggests looking at how quickly the rebates were snapped up. Florida Power & Light Co. paid $16.5 million in rebates between 2011 and 2013. Each time the program issued its maximum amount on the same day that applications opened, a utility spokesperson said.

According to Julie Delegal, Florida taxpayers are paying for charter schools dearly — not only in terms of student failure, but also in terms of diffused resources. Test-based accountability is a little too high-stakes in regions such as Jacksonville as compared to the nearest-peer district, Hillsborough. Privatization is draining precious dollars from traditional schools, whose scale operational costs remain roughly the same despite losing students.

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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.