Life and politics from the Sunshine State's best city

Today on Context Florida: Military power, needle exchange, Pledge of Allegiance and Autism Lab

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Today on Context Florida:

Jac Wilder VerSteeg asks what to Hillary Clinton, Jeb Bush and some Florida lawmakers have in common. They’ve all said some pretty disturbing things recently about the use of military power. VerSteeg notes we should add Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio to the list.

Dr. Hansel Tookes notes that Florida has the highest rate of new HIV infections of any state in America. In addition, Miami-Dade and Broward counties are ranked first and second, respectively, among U.S. counties for that same, ugly, statistic. Tookes is working with Sen. Oscar Braynon on legislation to create a first-of-its-kind syringe-exchange program with the University of Miami since 2013. This session, the bill first introduced three years ago, the “Miami-Dade Infectious Disease Elimination Act” (“IDEA”), looks like it is on track to become law because of Braynon’s tireless work and the efforts of Rep. Katie Edwards, sponsor of a companion House bill.

Bill Day’s latest:


Catherine Durkin Robinson reminds readers that it’s illegal to force students to recite the Pledge of Allegiance. The Supreme Court ruled in 1943 that students didn’t have to say the Pledge of Allegiance if they brought in a signed letter from their parents. Not everyone is aware of the law and misguided teachers still occasionally force students to stand and say the Pledge. Enter the ACLU and a few nonconformists. Recently, some schools decided to post a disclaimer in classrooms, informing students (and teachers) that they had the right not to stand. In Panhandle schools, these signs are in every room, under every flag.

Last Tuesday night, Julie Delegal reports that the Duval County School Board voted unanimously to build a laboratory school on Jacksonville’s west side for children with autism. Parent reaction to the Oak Hill Autism Lab School proposal has ranged from skepticism to outrage. That’s no surprise, given Duval’s record in serving students with disabilities. Even in schools where administrators and teachers understand best practices and want to implement them, they often can’t because they don’t have the resources.

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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