Bipartisan Guide to Ridiculous Legislation

Bipartisan Guide to Ridiculous Legislation: Florida Gov. Rick Scott rejects high speed rail funding

In a move that has astounded politicians of both parties throughout Florida, Gov. Rick Scott has passed on $2 billion in federal funding for a high speed rail system linking Orlando and Tampa.

Although this is not technically a piece of legislation, and there questions about the Republican governor’s constitutional authority to unilaterally reject the funding, I can’t think of a single Florida politician who has proposed an idea that is more ridiculous than this.

Florida’s unemployment rate has risen to 12 percent; it’s been higher than 10 percent for at least two years now. Florida has some of the highest mortgage and credit card delinquency rates in the country. There are few states with a higher foreclosure rate. The state’s economy, which has relied on construction, agriculture and tourism, is in shambles.

According to a recent Miami Herald/St. Petersburg Times/Bay News 9 poll, 43 percent of Floridians feel their economic situation has worsened over the last two years.

And yet Gov. Rick Scott, who campaigned on bringing jobs to the state, has refused a project estimated to bring up to 23,000 jobs, with thousands more created indirectly. He’s ignoring that the installation of the first high speed rail line in the United States could also bring Florida to the attention of large businesses wishing to move to a mass transit-friendly area. He’s neglecting the possible adverse effects that heavy traffic along the I-4 corridor have to the economy.

The economic growth caused by connecting two of the Florida’s biggest cities is hard to calculate but easy to imagine.

Plus, Scott seems to be deaf, even to his own party.

Dispatches from the Sunshine State

St. Pete Second Meanest City in the Country (toward the homeless)

In a distinction our fair city probably doesn’t want, the National Coalition of the Homeless named St. Petersburg the second meanest city in the country toward homeless people.

No surprises here. As the 200-page report from the NCH says, St. Pete has passed numerous laws outlawing basic activities like sitting on the sidewalk and carrying a shopping cart full of stuff. I’m sure the recent lawsuit initiated by some local homeless didn’t help.

Here’s a snippet from the report:

Since early 2007, St. Petersburg has passed 6 new ordinances that target homeless people. These include ordinances that outlaw panhandling throughout most of downtown, prohibit the storage of personal belongings on public property, and make it unlawful to sleep outside at various locations. In January 2007, the Pinellas-Pasco Public Defender announced that he would no longer represent indigent people arrested for violating municipal ordinances to protest what he called excessive arrests of homeless individuals by the City of St. Petersburg. According to numbers compiled by the public defender’s office, the vast majority of people booked into the Pinellas County Jail on municipal ordinances were homeless individuals from St. Petersburg.

St. Pete joins three other Florida cities: Gainesville, Bradenton and Orlando. The fact we beat Orlando is amazing considering their ridiculous, mean-spirited campaign against bums. Man, we lose to The Mouse Trap every time.

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Behind the News, Dispatches from the Sunshine State

Florida crime is down, but three cities land on Forbes’ ‘Most Dangerous Cities’ list

The United States’ crime rate has been on a downward slope for a couple years now. (Who knows if the recession will change that.) Florida’s crime rate has not been as lucky. Our state’s crime rate has increased during the same period, albeit in small percentages. For example, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Florida’s index crime rate rose 0.1 percent in 2008 over 2007.

But coincidentally another piece of info hit my inbox today: Forbes annual America’s Most Dangerous Cities. How does Florida stack up?

The Miami metro area earned a No. 3 designation as one of only three major U.S. cities with more than 950 violent crimes committed per 100,000 people.

Orlando made the top 10 at No. 6. And West Palm Beach hit No. 13.

Props to Tampa, who once made these lists but is now enjoying a huge drop in crime.