Sunday, May 03, 2015

What Would Happen If Florida Had a Meltdown And No One Cared

That's pretty much what happened last week.

Our Florida government pretty much collapsed, with the Senate and House branches at each others' collective throats and Governor Rick "No Ethics" Scott cheering the radicals in the House towards blowing everything up... as metaphor first.  By the end of June, those radicals will be blowing everything up for reals...

And the overall response of the Florida citizenry?

We were probably too busy worrying about Jameis Winston getting drafted first overall to the Tampa Bay Bucs (I wasn't.  I was pining for Marcus Mariota).

The apathy was so palpable the Tampa Bay Times wrote about it:

But last week's legislative meltdown in Tallahassee, dramatic and dysfunctional as it was, doesn't appear to threaten the political future of Republicans who control both chambers of state government — or of anyone else in their party running for office in 2016.
Most GOP state lawmakers remain in safe, conservative-leaning districts. Democrats have only a thin bench to challenge the ones who don't. And there's little indication that many Floridians are aware that their state Legislature, an institution followed far less closely than Congress, is gridlocked.
"I always use my parents, who live in Orlando, as a measure — and it's fair to say the average Floridian isn't paying a lot of attention compared to the rest of us living in the bubble of Tallahassee," said David Hart, executive president of the Florida Chamber of Commerce.

Even the legal recourse open to us - the courts - seems unable to force the self-serving House leadership to answer to their oaths of office:

Senate Democrats sued the House, asking the court Thursday to bring representatives back to finish their work. On Friday, the Florida Supreme Court ruled the House had violated the state Constitution — but, with the midnight deadline of the regular session approaching, it was too late to call anyone back to Tallahassee.

The House HAS violated the state Constitution... but the courts said "eh, time's up" and moved on.

No accountability applied to the bastards.  No voters will turn on them because they've gerrymandered themselves into safe seats.  (where the hell are the court trials trying to break these gerrymanders under the Fair Districts amendments?)  There's only so much the media can highlight, there's only so much the courts can do to intervene.  Whatever checks and balances are in place to impose service to the law, that's all broken in this rigged game.

Serious question: What penalties can be applied here? What's the felony count on on state legislator who violates the state Constitution?  What do the Statutes say on this?

So far I'm finding nothing linking legislators to any oath of office other than an oath while filing for elections.  I need to do a little more research.

I've skipped over to the Criminal statutes - Title 46 or XLVI - to see if I can browse for anything covering misconduct of elected officials.  The only thing I'm finding relates to Bribery.  I am not seeing anything related to misconduct.  Not yet.  Other than Conspiracy or Fraudulent Practices, the Legislature apparently planned ahead and made certain there would be no repercussions for being a-holes in office.

If there are any legal experts on Florida law, please leave a comment.  If there's a law that can punish the legislators themselves for their insubordination, their refusal to do the job they were elected (and paid, damn them) to do, we need to charge them right here right now.

'Cause the next meltdown will be a doozy: failure next time means 800,000 state residents lose their health care.  And while that may wake the state, while that may make Floridians sit up and take notice that their corrupt Republican overlords are sadistic self-serving sociopaths, by then it will be too late.

1 comment:

dinthebeast said...

I don't know that there's a lot that can be done that will actually make them work.
In California, we had a thing called proposition 13, which I think since 1973 has required a 2/3 majority in both chambers to raise taxes. So that was never gonna happen. Factor in inflation and an expanding population, and by the time we shot ourselves in the foot and elected Arnie, it was basically impossible to fund the state. The state budget is due in June, and for years none was passed, and they squabbled all damn summer (and fall, usually) to pass temporary funding measures, instead of a proper budget. I can't remember which year it was, 2005 maybe? They passed a law making it a crime for the state legislature to fail to have a budget in place by the June deadline. The very next year? October. Then, in 2011, we tried something different, that kind of worked, but they still tried to weasel out of it: a statute that says that if there is no budget on the governor's desk by June 15, no state legislator gets paid until such time as one is in place. That worked a little better, but what really helped was that we finally overturned the 2/3 rule, and Jerry Brown got two ballot initiatives passed that raised enough taxes to fund the schools.
All this in a state run by Democrats, who unlike the Republicans, aren't batshit crazy, merely corrupt.
So I guess, good luck?

-Doug in Oakland