Today on Context Florida: court packing, Pope Francis, E-cigarettes and school choice

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Today on Context Florida:  In the search for members for judicial nominating panels, Gov. Rick Scott appears to be trying to load the courts with compliant judges, says Martin Dyckman. That means no Democrats. No trial lawyers. No one who might take a citizen’s side against a corporation or the state.

His Holiness, Pope Francis, may represent the hopes of the left, writes Cary McMullen, but as refreshingly open-minded as he is, it’s “too much to expect that he will remake the worldwide Catholic Church into one big hippie commune.”

E-cigarettes have come under fire lately, says Jaimie Miller, with groups like the World Health Organization wondering if they actually help people quit smoking. But Miller, whose wife is a smoker, believes they help people live a long, healthier life.

The Florida educational landscape is changing radically, writes Duval County School Board member Jason Fischer, and lawmakers face a challenge; to make sure all available options — including school choice, open enrollment, magnet schools, career academies, online courses, dual enrollment, and scholarships for disabled and low-income students — are helping students to succeed.

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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.