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Today on Context Florida: Clinton’s speaking fees, forfeiture laws, fixing prisons and technical skills

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Today on Context Florida:

Madeline Albright and Gloria Steinem need to stop obsessing about young women who won’t vote for Hillary Clinton, says Martin Dyckman. There’s a better use for their time and energy if they want her to be elected president. That’s to take Clinton by the shoulders, shake her until her teeth rattle, and scream into her ear, “Who do you think you are? Marie Antoinette?” But here’s what Clinton did say when asked why she took $675,000 from Goldman Sachs for just three speeches. “That’s what they offered.” The poor lady just couldn’t say no. It didn’t occur to her how that would sound to the average American, who earns less over five whole years than Clinton’s $225,000 for a one-hour speech.

Unlike Florida’s stagnant civil forfeiture laws, Justin Pearson notes that other states have worked to address the problem. Florida would be well served to abolish civil forfeiture altogether and replace it with criminal forfeiture (which already exists in Florida) like the reform signed into law in April by Gov. Susana Martinez, R-New Mexico. Although this does not appear likely, there is some good news. The 2016 legislative session has provided new opportunities for meaningful reform, with two potential improvements working their way through the House and Senate. The first would only allow seizures if someone is actually arrested, and it would also require the property to be returned to the owner if there is no conviction. The second creates increased transparency through reporting requirements.

Bill Day’s latest:


Chris Timmons points out that fixing Florida’s prisons will take money and determination. The Legislature has demanded greater transparency, oversight, and accountability from the DOC brass. That starts with Julie Jones, the new secretary of DOC, who has not been exactly willing to concede that DOC has a “culture” problem. In legislative hearings, she has attempted to explain away what is obvious to everyone: DOC cannot police itself. Real reform will require leadership and honesty. The Legislature is right to demand an oversight body for Florida’s prison system. It must continue to insist that Jones embrace reforms that will repair the damage, not of roofs only, but to the broken lives within those 13-by-8 cells.

Shannon Nickinson asks if Pensacola has the skills to pay the bills. Signs may be turning toward yes. The announcement that Pensacola State will host the state conference for one of the leading career and technical education conferences from 2018 to 2020 may be a sign that we’re getting there. PSC will host SkillsUSA Florida State Leadership and Skills Conference and Worlds of Possibilities Career Expo. The events bring thousands of people to town, and exposes hundreds of students to the options that career and technical education can offer them for the future.

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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