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Today on Context Florida: Legislative dysfunction, Jeb & race, public shaming, shrinkage and affordable housing

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Today on Context Florida:

The Florida Senate and several communities hoping to receive state money for local projects or programs are unhappy, says Bob Sparks. The public food fight between legislative chambers and the governor was an embarrassment that could have serious ramifications. Florida Republicans are giving the Democratic National Committee a layup of an opportunity to portray both legislative chambers and executive leadership as dysfunctional. All they need are news clips from the past four months.

So Jeb! didn’t know. Chris Timmons notes that Mr. Wonky, details-oriented, well-briefed, bureaucratic slayer of 500-page white papers just didn’t know. Jeb Bush, told the news media he didn’t quite know if Dylann Roof was making a racial terrorist attack, or had any racial animus whatsoever. It may have been religion driven for all we know, says Bush, who didn’t himself know. Timmons points out that this is typical Jeb Bush tone-deafness on race — which is, by the way, legendary.

Thanks to social media, a 24-hour news cycle, reality television and millions upon millions of people who’d rather feel than think, Catherine Durkin Robinson says that public shaming is a growth industry. Instead of contemplating the trade deal our president is supporting, the Patriot Act and how Rand Paul is getting it right for once, or maybe even considering the severe lack of water in certain parts of the planet, this month we are obsessed with a white woman who self-identifies as black. Meanwhile, Donald Trump walks the streets of New York with little or no ramifications.

Now the Special Session is finally over and the Legislature finally finished the budget they worked on long into the night. They handed it to the governor so he could have his way with it and put his pen to paper, signing it into law with one hand and slashing it with his veto pen line item by line item with the other. In the meantime, Scott took his victory tour. At least he called it his tax cut victory tour. Gary Stein calls it his shrinkage tour.

As you read this, Jaimie Ross of the Florida Housing Coalition says property values, home prices and apartment rental rates are on the rise and, in some areas, starting to skyrocket. While this is good news for Florida’s economy, as well as the housing market, which has been limping toward recovery since the housing bubble burst in 2007, it’s a bad omen for those looking for affordable housing.

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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