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Today on Context Florida: John Roberts, educational uniformity, Martin Shkreli’s mother, civil forfeiture and voter enthusiasm

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Today on Context Florida:

Martin Dyckman says U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts has hurt minorities, consumers, and democracy. His reputation as a harsh critic of the Voting Rights Act and an advocate for corporations preceded Roberts to his confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee in September 2005. As chief justice, he said, he would be like a baseball umpire impartially calling balls and strikes. “Umpires don’t make the rules. They apply them,” he testified. ” … I come before the committee with no agenda. I have no platform.” It turned out, though, that this “umpire” was wearing his old team colors under his new black robe.

What would you think if your neighbors decided one Christmas that instead of getting their daughter a much-wanted hula hoop and their son a long-prized model airplane (that loops the loop), fairness demands that they give their children carbon copies of the same toy? If you’re like William Mattox, you’d probably think, “Surely, it must be possible to give each child a unique gift without showing favoritism toward one or the other.” But if you work in the legalistic bowels of Florida’s educational system, you’d probably affirm the “uniformity” of your neighbors’ Christmas gift-giving.

Linda Cunningham pities Martin Shkreli’s mother. Don’t you know she just wants to snatch that boy bald? Shkreli is the 33-year-old brat-turned-hedge-fund-fraudster who bought a cheap generic drug and raised its price to the stratosphere and then rolled his eyes at a congressional committee this week. Martin’s mom has to be beside herself right now. We mothers are supposed to love our kids, be there for them and generally be the ones who say things like “he was such a sweet boy. I can’t imagine his being so rude.”

Justin Pearson calls civil forfeiture Florida’s embarrassing failure to protect property rights. Unlike criminal forfeiture, where the government keeps property after the owner is convicted of a crime, civil forfeiture allows law enforcement to transfer ownership of cash, cars, and other property to the government without ever charging or convicting anyone of any crime at all. Worse still, Pearson adds that Florida’s laws allow the law enforcement agency that seizes property to keep or sell it, incentivizing this abuse of power.

Steve Vancore applies the salt shaker test to the Florida Southern College poll. Can a poll have flawed methodologies and still be relatively “accurate,” he asks. Of course it can, much in the same way a dart can be close to its intended target even if the player throwing the dart does not use good form.

If someone could catch the New Hampshire voter enthusiasm, bottle it and release it in the rest of our states, Ed Moore says we might be able to solve the voter apathy and negativity that have seemingly handed us one of the most squirrelly primary campaigns in my memory. This year there is more than one candidate in contention for Least Liked, yet somehow liked by at least a segment of the spectators. Donald Trump wins first place for Most Obnoxious and Caustic, hands down, yet he is loved by somewhere between 25 and 30 percent of the Republican voters.

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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