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Today on Context Florida: Corruption, Sarah Palin endorsement, fracking and understanding Trump

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Today on Context Florida:

Jac VerSteeg worked for decades in Palm Beach County – “Corruption County,” we called it in the heyday of watching elected officials troop off to prison. So you’d think he would have a handle on what “corruption” is. Yet, because of current events, VerSteeg doesn’t quite understand. Those events include Florida’s abrupt decision to scrap standards for pediatric cardiac care units and the U.S. Supreme Court’s surprising decision to hear former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell’s appeal of his corruption conviction and sentence. As reported by CNN, Florida’s Department of Health scrapped rules governing cardiac units after the for-profit Tenet hospital chain donated $100,000 to Gov. Rick Scott and another $100,000 to the Republican Party. A Tenet hospital in West Palm Beach had closed its pediatric cardiac care unit earlier in 2015 after a CNN story reported it had an unacceptably high mortality rate. Now, the standards used to underpin that story are being abolished after being in place for 38 years.

In many respects, Sarah Palin and Donald Trump have little in common. However, Darryl Paulson points out some commonalities between the two. Trump and Palin both share a bombastic political style with frequent use of clichés. Palin’s endorsement strengthens Trump’s outsider appeal, and makes it OK for Republicans to support a New Yorker, always suspect among Republican voters. Palin may also comfort evangelical voters who are concerned about Trump’s religious bona fides. As Ralph Reed, Chair of the Faith and Freedom Coalition, notes, “Palin’s brand among evangelicals is as gold as the faucets in Trump tower.” Finally, the Palin endorsement will dominate news for days, denying other Republican candidates from getting the media exposure they need.

Jennifer Hecker says that only two years ago, the first hydraulic fracturing (aka “fracking”) operation occurred in Florida without state authorization. The state was unable to stop the driller from using the technique, obtain and disclose critical information, or hold the driller financially responsible, made it evident that Florida’s laws and regulations are inadequate. With lawmakers weighing several oil bills, Hecker believes it is important to address the misleading claims of industry groups that are trying to thwart meaningful legislation. For example, she says the Associated Industries of Florida (AIF) is supporting a set of flawed oil bills and asserted in a recent op-ed that hydraulic fracturing increases property values based on three examples in other states.

The media and a substantial number of people in this country do not seem to understand Donald Trump, claiming he is crude, racist, greedy, and worse. Tim Bryce shows that in reality, they really do not understand such a person.  In his 40 years of travel through the corporate world, Bryce has met my fair share of Donald Trumps, be it here in North America or overseas.  He is certainly not unique. In psychological parlance, people such as Trump possess a “Type A” personality. Occasionally they are wrong, but they are smart enough to know how to back out of a deal as opposed to continuing uninterrupted to disaster.

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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