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Today on Context Florida: Death penalty sentencing, education & society, bad ideas never die and changing party affiliation

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Today on Context Florida:

Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Florida’s death penalty sentencing system, declaring that it violates defendants’ Sixth Amendment Rights to trial by jury. Hurst v. Florida is expected to prompt death penalty litigation by many death row inmates who were sentenced under the unconstitutional procedure. About 80 percent of the state’s death row inmates were sentenced to be executed after split, majority-only juries recommended that the trial judges impose the death penalty. The Supreme Court said that the Constitution requires juries, not judges, to make the factual findings necessary to send a convicted murderer to death row. Julie Delegal says the Hurst ruling is good news and bad news for Darlene Farah, whose daughter, Shelby, was murdered at a Metro PCS store on Jacksonville’s north side in 2013.

When we die, Barry Jason Mauer notes that knowledge stored in our brains disappear. But through education, he says each generation of people can pass their knowledge to the next via spoken language, books, and other media, and this knowledge can accumulate through the ages. Much of our valuable knowledge will live on in the brains of the next generation and external forms, such as libraries and museums. Without education, we would be unable to reproduce any of our vital institutions — medicine, architecture, journalism, engineering and art — and civilization would collapse. That’s why you should pay your good, hard-earned money to maintain our system of education, even if you have no kids. Education benefits the entire society; of which you are a part.

Bill Day’s latest:


Some bad ideas don’t die, says Sally Swartz. They simply lie dormant until a politician tries to resurrect them. So it is with the controversial $1.6 million Customs facility at Witham Field, Martin County’s Airport. Martin commissioners considered the proposal eight times before they finally rejected it last March by a 3-2 vote, with Commissioners Doug Smith and John Haddox in favor. The facility would have let aircraft and boat owners pay to clear customs at Martin’s airport instead of checking in for free at federal facilities in West Palm Beach or Fort Pierce. Last week, Smith, running again for the commission in District 1, invited business representatives and residents to a cocktail reception at Stuart Jet Center to kick off his campaign and “display your continued support for our customs facility finally being built at Witham Field.” His upbeat email is headlined “Let Martin Thrive, Keep Customs Alive!”

Last month, Tim Bryce attended an Art Festival in the downtown area of Palm Harbor. This is a typical small town affair attracting no more than a couple of thousand people. The downtown street was closed to traffic so vendors could erect tents and displays for their wares. Bryce volunteered to assist in the registration of voters for the 2016 election. It was a party-neutral activity to help anyone with their registration needs, regardless of party affiliation. As they sat there, they would cheerfully ask passers-by if they were registered to vote. Bryce says he was pleasantly surprised to find most of the people were already registered. He also ran into some people who growled they had no interest in voting whatsoever. A few dozen were new to the area and wanted to register, but most wanted to change their address or party affiliation. Bryce was particularly surprised by the latter.

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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