Category Archives: Florida

Florida Finds Lawsuits It Likes

Florida is notorious for reducing the ability of citizens to complain about governmental actions.  The Florida Administrative Procedure Act deviates in many ways from its federal counterpart and many of those deviations are designed to make it difficult — or impossible — for citizens to object to regulations or other government actions.  Tort law too is heavily constrained, so businesses and rich people and insurance companies don’t need to worry as much about lawsuits either.

Well, Florida has finally found a species of citizen suit it likes.  As part of Governor DeSantis’s opportunistic revival of his anti-BLM-demonstration bill, resurrected in light of the sacking of the US Capitol, the Governor proposes to let anyone complain to hm if a locality has the temerity to cut a police budget:

The 51-page bill would also take an aggressive approach to budgeting of local police departments. Under the initial language, a local government that cuts its police budget could be subject to an appeal by any person. That appeal would be subject to a budget hearing held by the governor’s office, and later a ruling by a separate commission that includes the governor. If that commission decides police cuts were unneeded, they could restore the funding and the decision would be final.

But that’s not all! While it remains hard for citizens to get recompense if shot by police, the governor thinks we should give localities a financial incentive to make the police even more trigger happy at demonstrations:

Beyond budgeting, the proposals would also make it easier to sue government bodies, which generally share wide-ranging lawsuit protections known as sovereign immunity. Those protections would be lifted and governments could be sued under the bill for “damages caused during a riot,” or if a government is found to interfere with “reasonable law enforcement action” during a riot.”

Leaving aside that this is only the latest example of the Florida state government’s callous disregard for the civil rights of Floridians (and especially the minorities disproportionately likely to be victims of police violence), and ignoring the assault on the power of localities to spend their own money and make their own rules, this naked pandering to police and reflexive law-and-order voters flies in the face of evidence that crime is down ….

and police spending is only going up and up….

Posted in Civil Liberties, Florida | Leave a comment

Your Smart Doorbell Could Get You Killed

These things are DANGEROUS.

Amazon Ring Doorbell Hacked in Florida Swatting Incident:

In a Florida suburb Friday afternoon, local law enforcement received a call from a man confessing to hoarding explosives and killing his wife after seeing her cheat on him. Seemingly distraught, he gave them a play-by-play of the chaos unraveling. However, the crime didn’t happen. The call was made by someone who hacked into his Ring surveillance camera.

When authorities arrived at Courtney’s home, they found her unharmed and couldn’t decipher who the incognito caller was. Then the Ring camera started calling them names. It had been hacked and then used in a version of a swatting prank …

No one was hurt this time, but SWATting incidents can result in fatalities.

Posted in Florida, Law: Criminal Law, Sufficiently Advanced Technology | Leave a comment

We’re In Trouble

And it was all so predictable.

NYT has details.

Posted in COVID-19, Florida | 47 Comments

Florida Governor Outdoes Himself

Ron DeSantis began his term in a way that suggested smarts and a desire to gesture enough to the center to build the sort of happy governing coalition that propels a large-state Governor into Presidential candidate conversations.

Then something happened. Some people snark that his wife, the real brains of the outfit, had another baby and was distracted with motherhood. Or maybe DeSantis, like other Republican pols, fell under they hypnotic effect of Trump’s GOP poll numbers. In any event, when the COVID crisis came along, DeSantis appeared out of his depth, clinging to one idea: Do Whatever Trump Says. The state unemployment system — designed by the evil Rick Scott to be as hard to use as possible — totally failed under the onslaught of claims and has yet to recover. Meanwhile Florida re-opened quickly, and the Governor opposed mask rules.

It has not worked out well: Florida now has one of the leading rates of infection in the nation, and it’s growing quickly.

Today’s news, however, suggests something even weirder than Trump idolatry. In the midst of a rapidly growing pandemic, Governor DeSantis just vetoed all the money the state appropriates for distance education:

With a stroke of his veto pen, Gov. Ron DeSantis wiped out the entire $29.4 million budget for a suite of online education services that have become critical to students and faculty during the Covid-19 outbreak.

The move, barring action before midnight Tuesday, will kill the Complete Florida Plus Program, an array of technology systems that faculty, staff and students throughout Florida rely on, never more so than now, in the midst of a pandemic that has amplified reliance on distance learning. The cuts include a database of online courses and an online library service that provides 17 million books to 1.3 million students, faculty and staff.

At least 2,000 adult learners could be cut off from their scholarships and school accreditation could even be at risk without the resources housed under Complete Florida, which are used by students at high schools, state colleges and universities. Some 150 employees in Tallahassee, Gainesville and Pensacola stand to lose their jobs.

You really have to wonder whether this is malevolence or incompetence. Or is the theory that all will be wine and roses by late August, the schools will reopen as normal, so who needs distance learning? If so, it’s likely madness.

Posted in COVID-19, Florida | 2 Comments

The Evil that is Rick Scott

…continues to bedevil Florida even after he bought his Senate seat: Rick Scott’s $78 million unemployment website was designed to fail, but that’s not the worst of it.

Posted in Florida | Leave a comment

Florida’s Evil Policies Become More Visible

I hate to quote Politico, which I tend to think is both biased and given to the worst horse-race journalism, but when they’re right they’re right: ‘It’s a sh– sandwich’: Republicans rage as Florida becomes a nightmare for Trump:

Already anxious about Trump’s chances in the nation’s biggest swing state, Republicans now are dealing with thousands of unemployed workers unable to navigate the Florida system to apply for help. And the blowback is directed straight at Trump’s top allies in the state, Gov. Ron DeSantis and Sen. Rick Scott.

Privately, Republicans admit that the $77.9 million system that is now failing Florida workers is doing exactly what Scott designed it to do — lower the state’s reported number of jobless claims after the great recession.

“It’s a sh– sandwich, and it was designed that way by Scott,” said one DeSantis advisor. “It wasn’t about saving money. It was about making it harder for people to get benefits or keep benefits so that the unemployment numbers were low to give the governor something to brag about.”

Republican Party of Florida chairman Joe Gruters was more succinct: “$77 million? Someone should go to jail over that.”

With hundreds of thousands of Floridians out of work, the state’s overwhelmed system is making it nearly impossible for many people to even get in line for benefits.

The new online system was part of a series of changes designed to limit benefits. The ultimate goal — which it delivered on — was to lower unemployment taxes paid by Florida businesses. A 2011 analysis done by the Florida Legislature estimated that the changes pushed by Scott would save businesses more than $2.3 billion between 2011 and 2020.

Now, as thousands of people try to get help, the system crashes or denies them access. Nearly 400,000 people have managed to file claims in the last two and half weeks. It’s not known how many have tried and failed.

Most of those who do submit applications won’t qualify for aid, and the benefits that are paid out are among the most meager in the country — a maximum of $275 a week.

Posted in Econ & Money, Florida | 2 Comments