Life and politics from the Sunshine State's best city

Today on Context Florida: Sleaziness & sunshine, to-do lists, lobbyists and Montclair Elementary

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Today on Context Florida:

Legislators in Tallahassee do not think you should trouble your pretty little heads over what they’re doing with your money, says Diane Roberts. The governor agrees. On Tuesday, he held a secret confab with his “Dumb and Dumber” co-star, former Texas Governor Rick Perry, now lobbying for a dubious dental corporation. Perry didn’t register as a lobbyist — a violation of ethics law, Roberts says — until nearly four hours after the fact, and the meeting did not appear on Scott’s Jan. 12 schedule. Scott’s staff claim they “forgot” … Just like Scott “forgot” he shouldn’t be using a private email account to conduct state business. That cost you, the taxpayer, well over $1 million. He breaks the law; you pay and sleaziness clouds government in the sunshine.

On Tuesday night, the U.S. House and Senate gathered in a joint session to hear President Obama deliver his final State of the Union address. And Tuesday morning, Bob Sparks noted that the Florida House and Senate also convened in joint session for Gov. Rick Scott’s State of the State remarks. Typically, these speeches would offer a road map for the vision for the coming year and beyond. They should also provide a “to do” list for Congress and the Legislature. But right before Scott entered the House Chamber, the U.S. Supreme Court added a significant item to the Legislature’s “to do” list. And Sparks says it had absolutely nothing to do with jobs.

Oh, it’s not looking good for the residents of Florida, writes Chris Timmons. The Florida Legislature is back in session, and nothing is likely to get done. But don’t take his word for it. Go to the state’s Capitol building in Tallahassee, specifically, on the fourth floor, pull up a camping chair, and talk with the fourth branch of state government: The men wearing tasseled Gucci loafers and women with Louis Vuitton handbags. Who? Duh, the Florida lobbying corps.

Montclair Elementary School is a long way from the Pensacola Bay Center. Shannon Nickinson says it’s light-years away from the spectacle that unfolded at the Pensacola landmark when Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump addressed a packed house Wednesday at the 10,000-person capacity arena. There were plenty of movers and shakers at the Trump event, as well as a lot of talk about how to make America “great again.” But for Nickinson, it’s the work going on at the 400-pupil school on Massachusetts Avenue on Pensacola’s west side that is worthy of some attention.

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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