Pinellas citizens continue to challenge corrupt commissioners

The following is courtesy of the Florida Term Limits blog:

According to a 2012 study, Florida is the most corrupt state in the United States based on the number of state officials convicted on federal public corruption charges.

“Florida faces a corruption crisis that threatens the state’s reputation, its economy and its ability to attract new jobs and capital,” wrote study authors Dan Krassner and Ben Wilcox.

This should come as no surprise to Pinellas County residents, who are governed by four county commissioners in defiance of the county’s voter-approved 8-year term limits law. After the term limits amendment was approved by 73% of voters in 1996, commissioners refused to insert the amendment into the county charter even after it was validated by a district court in 1999 and the state Supreme Court in 2012.

That it was their duty to do so is beyond question. Per charter Article VI Sec. 6-02 (3): “If approved by a majority of those electors voting on the amendment at the general election, the amendment shall become effective on the date specified in the amendment, or, if not so specified, on January 1 of the succeeding year.” While a court has the power to invalidate an amendment, there is no leeway here for commissioners alone to refuse to accept the vote of the people.

After a commissioner-friendly local court refused to grant relief, Pinellas citizens are now appealing to the Second District Court of Appeals to have their votes finally counted. On Sept. 30, appellants H. Patrick Wheeler and Maria Scruggs filed their Initial Brief to the Lakeland court.

The filing is against Susan Latvala, John Morroni, Kenneth Welch and Karen Seel, the four commissioners who cling to their power and paychecks in defiance of law. Among other things, the brief documents their ill-gotten gains, including annual salaries of close to $100,000 when including expenses. It also points out the commissioners are using taxpayer money to invalidate the clearly expressed will of those same taxpayers.

Backlash for 3 Sarasota commissioners on Stand Your Ground Vote

Frances Rice, a Sarasota resident, is outraged at three Sarasota City Commissioners who voted to pass a resolution which calls for the repeal of Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” self-defense law.

“This will result in the denial of our Second Amendment right under the U.S. Constitution,” states retired Army Lt. Colonel Frances Rice, who is pursuing avenues for initiating a petition to recall Sarasota City Vice Mayor Willie Shaw, Commissioner At-Large Suzanne Atwell and Commissioner At-Large Susan Chapman (see photos and contact information at the end of this column).

“I was inspired by the successful recall of Colorado Senate President John Morse and state Sen. Angela Giron,” Colonel Rice said.  “They were ousted from office after they abridged the Second Amendment right of the citizens of Colorado with a draconian and unconstitutional gun-control law.”  She went on to say that “it is unconscionable that Vice Mayor Shaw and Commissioners Atwell and Chapman are now using their elected office as a vehicle for abridging the Second Amendment rights of the citizens of Sarasota.”

Colonel Rice further stated that Vice Mayor Shaw and Commissioners Atwell and Chapman have “misrepresented Florida’s Stand Your Ground self-defense law as a gun law when it is not.  This law contains absolutely no references to guns or shooting.”  According to Rice the self-defense, self-protection law has four key components:

1.    It establishes that law-abiding residents and visitors may legally presume there is a threat of bodily harm or death from anyone who breaks into a residence or occupied vehicle.  Law-abiding citizens and visitors may, in these circumstances, use defensive force, including deadly force, against the intruder.

2.    In any other place where the law-abiding resident or visitor “has a right to be,” that person has “no duty to retreat” if attacked.   The law-abiding resident or visitor may “meet force with force, including deadly force if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another, or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.”

3.    In either case, a law-abiding resident or visitor using the force permitted by the law is immune from criminal prosecution or civil action.  The law-abiding resident or visitor cannot be arrested, unless a law enforcement agency determines there is probable cause that the force used was unlawful.

4.    If a civil action is brought and the court finds the law-abiding resident or visitor (the defendant) to be immune based on the parameters of the law, the law-abiding resident or visitor (the defendant) will be awarded all costs of defense.

Rice points to two articles which address how African Americans are affected by Florida’s Stand Your Ground self-defense law:  “How Black Leaders Exploit Their People for Political and Financial Gain” by Gary DeMar and “Five Myths of the ‘Racist’ Criminal Justice System” by Larry Elder.

“Neither Vice Mayor Shaw nor Commissioners Atwell and Chapman called for a repeal of Florida’s self-defense law when a white man in Tampa, David James, was killed by a black man, Trevor Dooley, and Trevor Dooley invoked the self-defense law in his defense.  An article is posted on the Internet which provides additional analysis is entitled “George Zimmerman & Trevor Dooley: Stand Your Ground Hypocrisy?” by Lee Stranahan,” notes Rice.

Rice states, “Not one word was said by Vice Mayor Shaw or Commissioners Atwell and Chapman when, in Jacksonville, the NAACP advocated the use of Florida’s self-defense law in support of a black woman, Marissa Danielle Alexander, who claimed self-defense against an abusive husband.  The details about this case can be found in an article entitled ‘NAACP weighs in on what they say is a ‘Stand Your Ground’ case against Jacksonville woman‘ by Charles Broward.”

Rice notes, “Yet, Vice Mayor Shaw and Commissioners Atwell and Chapman have now roused themselves and passed a resolution to repeal Florida’s Stand Your Ground self-defense law when their action will have no effect other than to deny the citizens of Sarasota their Second Amendment rights.”

Mayor Shannon Snyder and Commissioner District 2 Paul Caragiulo voted against the resolution. Mayor Snyder spoke in full support of Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” self-defense law and the duty of elected officials to protect the Second Amendment right of the citizens of Sarasota.

Colonel Rice opined that “Vice Mayor Shaw and Commissioners Atwell and Chapman should be held accountable for their blatant abuse of power and malfeasance by being recalled from office.”

Two City Commissioners are already backtracking on their vote to repeal Stand Your Ground. Susan Chapman said,”We didn’t vote to repeal Stand Your Ground. We voted to revisit it.” Suzanne Atwell said her support for the vice-mayor’s plan should be seen as agreeing to have “a conversation about a highly charged issue.” The repeal was listed in the City Commission’s document titled Revised Final 2014 Legislative Priorities. The revised priorities state, “The City Commission requests that the State Legislature repeal the Stand Your Ground statute and establish a more civil approach to governance than afforded under the current statute.” [Emphasis added]

To view the results of this survey as a pie chart click here.

UPDATE: According to the National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA), “Yesterday, the Sarasota City Commission met with the Sarasota County Legislative Delegation to present the city’s list of legislative priorities.  One of those priorities requested the legislative delegation to work to repeal Florida’s ‘Stand your Ground’ statute. Fortunately, the four legislators attending this meeting disagreed with the city commission and oppose repealing the ‘Stand your Ground’ statute.”

EDITORS NOTE: The City of Sarasota is governed by a “Commission – Manager” form of government. There are five City Commissioners, two are elected at-large and three are elected from single-member districts. All elections are nonpartisan.

Mayor Shannon Snyder

Mayor Shannon Snyder
District Three
1565 1st Street, Room 101
Sarasota, FL 34236
Phone: (941) 954-4115
Email: Shannon.Snyder@sarasotagov.com

Commissioner Willie Shaw

Vice-Mayor Willie Shaw
District One
1565 1st Street, Room 101
Sarasota, FL 34236
Phone: (941) 954-4115
Email: Willie.Shaw@sarasotagov.com

Commissioner Suzanne Atwell

Commissioner Suzanne Atwell
At-Large
1565 1st Street, Room 101
Sarasota, FL 34236
Phone: (941) 954-4115
Email: Suzanne.Atwell@sarasotagov.com

Commissioner Paul Caragiulo

Commissioner Paul Caragiulo
District Two
1565 1st Street, Room 101
Sarasota, FL 34236
Phone: (941) 954-4115
Email: Paul.Caragiulo@sarasotagov.com

Commissioner Susan Chapman

Commissioner Susan Chapman
At-Large
1565 1st Street, Room 101
Sarasota, FL 34236
Phone: (941) 954-4115
Email: Susan.Chapman@sarasotagov.com

Online Survey: City of Sarasota, FL wants to repeal Stand Your Ground – do you agree?

The City of Sarasota, FL has experienced a 34% decrease in the City’s taxable property since 2008, which has affected the City’s operating revenues and levels of services. The Unfunded Actuarial Accrued Liability (UAAL) for the City’s three defined benefit plans and Other Post Employment Benefit (OPEB) plan was $296 million as of September 30, 2012. The City has a investment in capital assets net of related debt of $161,031,693 in 2012, up $4.91 million from 2011. The City has unrestricted net assets of $64,273,514. (NOTE: Although the City’s investment in its capital assets is reported net of related debt, it should still be noted that the resources needed to repay this debt must be provided from other sources, since the capital assets themselves cannot be used to liquidate these liabilities.)

At the end of the current fiscal year, the City had a total bonded debt outstanding of $142,008,656. Of this amount, $42,909,043 comprises debt backed by the full faith and credit of the City. The City’s interest on long-term debt in 2012 was $4,519,066. The City of Sarasota is on a path to become a mini-Detroit.

So what is top of mind with the City Commissioners? Repeal of Florida’s Stand Your Ground (SYG) statute.

Please take the Online Survey at the end of the column.

According to Allison Neilson from Sunshine State News, “When outlining the major legislative priorities for its 2014 agenda, the Sarasota City Commission voted to support a repeal of Florida’s Stand Your Ground laws. The repeal was listed in the City Commission’s document titled Revised Final 2014 Legislative Priorities.”

The City Commission vote was taken on September 7th, just days before the September 10th recall vote in Colorado where two Democrat legislators were ousted for their support of gun control.

The ball is now in the court of the Sarasota Legislative Delegation headed by FL Senator Nancy Detert (R). Delegation members include: FL Representatives Jim Boyd (R), Ray Pilon (R), Darryl Rouson (D), Greg Steube (R) and Doug Holder (R).

The National Rifle Association Institute for Legal Action (NRA-ILA) has already weighed in on this City initiative. The NRA-ILA sent out an email to members asking them to contact the Sarasota Legislative Delegation members and ask them to oppose the City’s priority to repeal SYG. The NRA-ILA states, “The ‘Stand your Ground’ statute gives back rights that have been eroded or taken away by a judicial system that, at times, appears to give preferential treatment to criminals.”

“The City Commission can’t expect a victim to wait before taking action to protect himself and his family and say, ‘excuse me, Mr. Criminal, are you here breaking into my home to rape and kill me or are you just here to beat me up and steal my TV set? And by the way what kind of weapon do you have?'”, asks the NRA-ILA.

WDW has asked Sarasota Legislative Delegation members for a statement on the City’s priority to repeal SYG. No replies have been received as of the publication of this column.

The NRA-ILA notes, “A law-abiding citizen should not have to worry about being arrested or prosecuted if you use force to defend yourself or your family. You should be able to presume that anyone who unlawfully intrudes is there to harm you.”

To view the results of this survey as a pie chart click here.

RELATED:

Total Recall: Colorado Lawmakers Ousted in Historic Vote

Florida Second Amendment Protection Act Goes LIVE!

VIDEO: Miami-Dade citizens harassed for making a “public records request”

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bhmO0g7mc0M[/youtube]

Hat tip to Jack Furnari from BizPac Review for this report. Furnari states, “In the [below] video, a group of political gadflies walk into Hialeah City Hall and make a simple public records request while filming themselves, and they are harassed every step of the way, in violation of state law.”

Florida statute 119.07, Inspection and copying of records, reads, “Every person who has custody of a public record shall permit the record to be inspected and copied by any person desiring to do so, at any reasonable time, under reasonable conditions, and under supervision by the custodian of the public records.”

PINAC logo.

Carlos Miller, who was part of the group making the public records request, writes on PINAC, ” Florida has perhaps the most liberal public records laws in the United States, but you wouldn’t know that by making simple requests to the government officials in charge of those records. And you especially wouldn’t know that in Hialeah, a Miami-Dade municipality that has a long history of corruption, despite its ‘City of Progress’ nickname.”

“That’s where we ended up getting detained by police on Tuesday because, in their words, we had ‘invaded’ the city clerk’s office and ‘attacked’ them with our cameras, putting them ‘under threat’ and causing them to feel ‘intimidated’,” reports Miller.

Furnari notes, “The most outrageous part of this video happens when the gadflies leave the building and the police detain them, demanding their identification without any probable cause that a crime has been committed.”

RELATED: We Were Detained by Hialeah Police for Making a Public Records Request at City Hall

FL Human Rights Organizations defeat Miami-Dade “Transsexual” Ordinance

Recently, the Christian Family Coalition (CFC), a Florida based human rights and social justice advocacy organization, with seventeen other civil and human rights organizations held a press conference at Miami-Dade County Hall to permanently defeat the discriminatory “Transsexual” ordinance.

Miami-Dade County Commissioner Bruno Barreiro

The ordinance was sponsored by Miami-Dade Commissioners Audrey Edmonson and Bruno Barreiro. The “Transsexual” ordinance would allow men dressed up as women or pretending to be women to use women’s bathrooms, dressing rooms, locker rooms, and showers. Furthermore, in the area of employment, it would legalize the firing of anyone disagreeing with this policy simply because of who they are and what they believe.

“We must make sure that this discriminatory ‘Transsexual’ ordinance never returns,” said Nathaniel J. Wilcox, Director of  People United to Lead the Struggle for Equality (PULSE), a South Florida civil rights organization.

CFC notes, “Even though the ordinance was never approved, it claimed its first victim when Commission Vice-Chair Lynda Bell was threatened and dehumanized by the extremists pushing the ordinance.”

“I am truly grateful to Miami-Dade Commission Vice Chair Lynda Bell for doing her duty as a public servant and voting against a proposed ordinance on its first reading,” Teresita “Tessie” Miglio said at Monday’s press conference. “Unfortunately, she became a victim of discrimination and hate by the very group that was trying to force this discriminatory law on every Miami-Dade County resident. Commissioner Bell, please know that there are numerous human rights organizations that proudly stand by you.”

“Today, we are calling on Commissioners, Edmonson, Barreiro, Jordan and Heyman to sign the CFC Anti-Discrimination Challenge to make sure this discriminatory ordinance never returns to Miami-Dade County,” stated Anthon Verdugo, CFC Founder and Executive Director.

CFC protest against Transgender ordinance. For a larger view click on the photo.

The “transsexual” proposal, passed 11-1 on first reading. Commission Vice Chairwoman Lynda Bell casting the lone vote against it. The proposal then went to the commission’s Health and Social Services Committee, comprised of chairwoman Edmonson, Bell, Commissioners Jose “Pepe” Diaz, Jean Monestime and Javier D. Souto.

After intense lobbying by the CFC and a broad coalition of human rights organizations, ordinance co-sponsors withdrew it on Aug. 13, when they realized they did not have the votes to pass it in committee.

According to CFC, “Now, Miami-Dade residents and human rights activists are asking all four ordinance sponsors to lead by example by signing the ‘NO to Discrimination Challenge‘.”

State Senator Nancy Detert is one of those behind an effort to recognize domestic partnerships (a.k.a gay marriage) in Florida. Many believe Detert would support transgender ordinances like the one defeated in Miami-Dade County. According to the Florida Family Policy Council (FFPC), “On February 20, 2013 at approximately 3:25 p.m. in the Florida Senate Children and Families committee (which Detert is a member), a deceptive and highly controversial bill died. The bill, SB 196, was labeled as a domestic partnership but actually attempted to create a full blown civil union and a form of homosexual marriage in direct violation of the Florida Marriage Protection Amendment passed by Floridians in 2008 by 62%.”

Miami-Dade Commission Transgender Ordinance video:

RELATED:

Firsthand Report on B4U-ACT Conference for ‘Minor-Attracted Persons’ — Aims at Normalizing Pedophilia

Atheist Richard Dawkins makes shocking claim about pedophilia – The Daily Caller

Christian conservatives rally at Miami-Dade County Hall against gender identity non-discrimination law

Smoking gun: Pinellas commissioners conceded on term limits in 2000

Philip Blumel from Florida Term Limits Blog reports:

A smoking gun has been uncovered in the Pinellas term limits case and the defendant’s’ fingerprints are all over it.

You may recall that Pinellas County Commission and constitutional officer term limits passed with 73 percent of the vote in 1996, but the county refused to insert the amendment into their charter as clearly required by the law due to its alleged constitutional ambiguity.

The county commission and the five constitutional officers sued the voters to get the amendment overturned. The district court denied them, upholding the constitutionality of the term limits.

The constitutional officers continued their suit and requested authorization to add the Pinellas County Commission to the appeal. However, the minutes of the 5/30/00 county commission meeting — uncovered via a FOIA request on behalf of plaintiffs in the ongoing case to force commissioners to comply with the law — clearly show that the Pinellas County Commission chose not to participate.

According to the above document, County Attorney Susan H. Churuti advised the commission of their options and the process of becoming appellants. But, the document says, “following discussion, Commissioner [and current defendant Karen] Seel moved, seconded by Commissioner Parks and carried, that the county commission do nothing and let the ruling stand.”

The constitutional officers went all the way to the Supreme Court, alone. This is why only constitutional officer term limits were reviewed in the split 2002 Cook decision that declared constitutional officer limits to be unconstitutional. The Florida Supreme Court never tackled the issue of county commission term limits until 2012 when it unanimously declared them to be constitutional. For good measure, the Supremes overturned Cook at the same time, declaring without ambiguity that charter county voters have the right to impose term limits on their public servants.

Since then, 10 of the 11 charter counties with county commission term limits are obeying the law. Most of them always did. Only Pinellas — after losing at the district level and then at the Florida Supreme Court — continues to defy the voters and the law.

ABOUT FLORIDA TERM LIMITS BLOG

Philip Blumel is president of U.S. Term Limits, a single-issue advocacy group based in Fairfax, VA, and a certified financial planner working out of downtown West Palm Beach, FL.

Florida Churches changing bylaws after gay marriage ruling

Prophecy News Watch reports:

Worried they could be sued by gay couples, some churches are changing their bylaws to reflect their view that the Bible allows only marriage between one man and one woman.

Although there have been lawsuits against wedding industry businesses that refuse to serve gay couples, attorneys promoting the bylaw changes say they don’t know of any lawsuits against churches.

Critics say the changes are unnecessary, but some churches fear that it’s only a matter of time before one of them is sued.

“I thought marriage was always between one man and one woman, but the Supreme Court in a 5-4 decision said no,” said Gregory S. Erwin, an attorney for the Louisiana Baptist Convention, an association of Southern Baptist churches and one several groups advising churches to change their bylaws. “I think it’s better to be prepared because the law is changing. America is changing.”

In a June decision, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a provision of the federal Defense of Marriage Act that defined marriage as between a man and a woman for purposes of federal law. A second decision was more technical but essentially ushered in legal gay marriage in California.

Kevin Snider is an attorney with the Pacific Justice Institute, a nonprofit legal defense group that specializes in conservative Christian issues. His organization released a model marriage policy a few years ago in response to a statewide gay marriage fight in California. Snider said some religious leaders have been threatened with lawsuits for declining to perform same-sex wedding ceremonies.

Dean Inserra, head pastor of the 1,000-member City Church Tallahassee, based in Florida, said he does not want to be alarmist, but his church is looking into how best to address the issue.

Inserra said he already has had to say no to gay friends who wanted him to perform a wedding ceremony.

“We have some gay couples that attend our church. What happens when they ask us to do their wedding?” Inserra said. “What happens when we say no? Is it going to be treated like a civil rights thing?”

Critics, including some gay Christian leaders, argue that the changes amount to a solution looking for a problem.

“They seem to be under the impression that there is this huge movement with the goal of forcing them to perform ceremonies that violate their freedom of religion,” said Justin Lee, executive director of the Gay Christian Network, a nonprofit that provides support for gay Christians and their friends and families and encourages churches to be more welcoming.

“If anyone tried to force a church to perform a ceremony against their will, I would be the first person to stand up in that church’s defense.”

Thirteen states and the District of Columbia now recognize gay marriage.

Some Christian denominations, such as the United Church of Christ, accept gay marriage. The Episcopal Church recently approved a blessing for same-sex couples, but each bishop must decide whether to allow the ceremony in his or her local diocese.

Read more.

BREAKING: “Impeach Obama” ad to appear in Washington Times

The Florida based National Black Republican Association has sent Articles of Impeachment to the Judiciary Committee in the US House of Representatives. The NBRA has decided to publish an advertisement in the Washington Times and provide a copy of the ad to every member of Congress as they return to work on Tuesday.

Frances Rice, Chair of NBRA stated, “Anyone may download and use the ad, which is camera ready, and pay for it to be in their local newspaper or magazine. The PDF was created by the Washington Times for their use in publishing it in their paper.”

To view and download the full size ad click here.

Congress is dealing with multiple scandals (IRS, NSA, DOJ, Benghazi, Extortion 17, etc.) that raise questions about Executive Branch overreach. Congress will also be debating going to war with Syria over its use of chemical weapons against its own citizen. The ad states, “Congress: Wake up and do your job!”

Below is the Impeach Obama ad that will appear in the Washington Times and be delivered to each Senator and Representative this week.

impeach obama ad

To read the Articles of Impeachment please click here.

Anti-Stand Your Ground video misleading at best

NOTE: What this graphic does not say is that since 2006 concealed carry permits and gun ownership across America and in Florida has skyrocketed. More people are defending themselves. Graphic courtesy of the International Business Times. For a larger view click on the image.

The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence (CSGV) has released a video (below) about Stand Your Ground laws. The video is misleading on at least two counts.

Amanda Terkel from the Huffington Post reports that CSGV Communications Director Ladd Everitt stated, “‘Stand Your Ground’ laws have essentially legalized murder. With this PSA, we hope to add to the nationwide push to repeal these immoral laws.” There is no evidence that Florida’s Stand Your Ground law has “legalized murder” unless one defines “murder” as self-defense. George Zimmerman was accused of murder in the second degree. During the trial Circuit Judge Debra Nelson allowed the jury to consider the lesser charge of manslaughter. Zimmerman was acquitted on both charges.

The CSGV video begins with a man, apparently Zimmerman, on a cell phone watching another man in a hoodie across the street. In the video the man while on the cell phone after talking with the police (actual 911 audio of Zimmerman used), reaches inside his jacket apparently to pull a gun. This scene is factually incorrect. Nothing in the Zimmerman trial shows this scenario happened. What the evidence did show is that Zimmerman did not draw his weapon until after he was on the ground with Trayvon Martin on top punching him. One shot was fired, killing Martin in self-defence.

The premise of the video is misleading because Florida’s Stand Your Ground (SYG) law was never used in the defense of George Zimmerman. Zimmerman was tried and found not guilty on all charges because he acted in self-defense.

The Tampa Bay Times reviewed all the cases in Florida where SYG was used as a legal defense. The research found that Blacks are more likely to be protected by SYG than whites. The Times review found no indication those using SYG as a defense “got away with murder”.

The Huffington Post’s article by Terkel on the video is also misleading.

Terkel states, “Zimmerman cited Florida’s Stand Your Ground law as justification for killing Martin and authorities initially refused to arrest him.” The Zimmerman defense team waived the use of SYG at the beginning of the trial. According to the CFS New 13 Zimmerman trial timeline, “Feb. 29, 2012 – Sanford police say George Zimmerman was ‘serving in the role of neighborhood watch’ when the shooting happened.” Zimmerman was not arrested because during the review by law enforcement officials (the details of which came out during the trial) showed he committed no crime but acted in self defense.

The Sheriff did not refuse to arrest Zimmerman. In fact the opposite is true. Eliott C. McLaughlin from CNN reported:

The George Zimmerman investigation was hijacked “in a number of ways” by outside forces, said the former police chief of Sanford, Florida.

Bill Lee, who testified Monday in Zimmerman’s second-degree murder trial, told CNN’s George Howell in an exclusive interview that he felt pressure from city officials to arrest Zimmerman to placate the public rather than as a matter of justice.

“It was (relayed) to me that they just wanted an arrest. They didn’t care if it got dismissed later,” he said. “You don’t do that.”

The French classical liberal theorist Claude Frédéric Bastiat wrote, “Finally, is not liberty the restricting of the law only to its rational sphere of organizing the right of the individual to lawful self-defense; of punishing injustice?” In reality the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence is actually anti-self defense.

Self defense is a lawful act of liberty to act against violence and injustice. Those against self-defense are restricting liberty.

Coalition to Stop Gun Violence video:

RELATED: Firearms Freedom Act coming to Florida?

Firearms Freedom Act coming to Florida?

The SWFL Citizens Alliance has been working to get Florida to be one of the next states to pass a Second Amendment Protection and Firearms Freedom Act. This is happening while Democrats are trying to repeal Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law.

A Firearms Freedom Act passed in Kansas this year. Proponents see it is a strong statement of “State Sovereignty” based on both the Commerce Clause and the 2nd, 9th and 10th Amendments of the US Constitution.

Map of states that have passed, introduced or are considering a Firearms Freedom Act. For a larger view click on the map.

In an email the SWFL Citizens Alliance states, “We have met with and have the support of 7 of our 8 FL House and Senate delegation from Southwest Florida. Rep Matt Hudson submitted the Kansas bill to Florida House Bill writing team and we have a Florida Draft of the bill – see attachedRep. Dane Eagle volunteered to sponsor this bill and our SWFL delegation strongly supports him to sponsor the House version of this bill.”

“We have had lengthy conference calls with the Kansas Sponsor of their bill, Rep. John Rubin and the NRA Affiliate, Patricia Stoneking, who was co-author of their KS Bill,” notes the Alliance.

The Alliance had a booth at the Florida Sheriffs Association (FSA) Summer Conference. Collier County Sheriff Kevin Rambosk introduced the Florida draft legislation during the conference. The sheriffs agreed by consensus to ask their Legislative Committee to consider including this in their 2014 Legislative Agenda. The FSA Legislative Committee meets on August 30th.

The Alliance is seeking a Senate sponsor, with “several Senators contacted who are reviewing the draft legislation”.

September 23, 2013 is the first Florida Committee week in Tallahassee. The Alliance hopes to get teams from 8-10 counties to meet with various Committee heads to insure the Second Amendment Protection and Firearms Freedom Act is a priority for both House and Senate in the 2014 cycle.

Read the SWFL Citizens Alliance mission and vision statement here.

Florida’s drone wars strikes the City of Key West

Legislation has been passed in Florida, Tennessee, Idaho, Montana, Texas and Oregon to limit the use of drones. The Freedom from Unwarranted Surveillance Act, Senate Bill 92, was passed by the Florida legislature and signed into law by Governor Rick Scott in April.

The Associated Press reports, “Since 2006, the Federal Aviation Administration has approved more than 1,400 requests for drone use from government agencies and public universities wanting to operate the unmanned aircraft for purposes including research and public safety. Since 2008, approval had been granted to at least 80 law enforcement agencies.”

The Tenth Amendment Center reported:

Florida state and local law enforcement agencies utilizing drones will now do so under carefully prescribed limits. On Thursday [April 25th, 2013], Gov. Rick Scott signed The Freedom from Unwarranted Surveillance Act into law.

“I like privacy,” he said.

SB92 prohibits any state or local law enforcement agency from using unmanned drones to gather evidence or other information without a warrant except  “to counter a high risk of a terrorist attack by a specific individual or organization if the United States Secretary of Homeland Security determines that credible intelligence indicates that there is such a risk,” or if “swift action is needed to prevent imminent danger to life or serious damage to property, to forestall the imminent escape of a suspect or the destruction of evidence, or to achieve purposes including, but not limited to, facilitating the search for a missing person.”

The law also opens the door for any person whose privacy is violated by a drone to take civil action and would also make any evidence gathered in violation of the act inadmissible in court.

Read more.

“This is something all Floridians should be proud of,” Scott said. “We shouldn’t have unreasonable surveillance of ourselves.”

But wait, not so fast. You are not protected if you are a mosquito in Key West.

According to Jordan Valinsky from The Observer, “Hey, it looks like we found something useful to do with drones besides serving lukewarm sushi to unsuspecting customers. City officials in Florida Keys are testing using the unmanned aerial vehicles to track down and take out the flying devils, a.k.a mosquitoes. In case you’re imagining drones shooting lasers, the flying robots will be equipped with infrared cameras to locate areas where mosquitoes like to socialize, such as shallow-water pools. Once those places are targeted a ground team will swoop in to obliterate the mosquitoes with poison.”

But what if you are in an area where the City of Key West is hunting for mosquitoes? What if the shallow-water pool is in your backyard?

Valinsky has a solution, “Make sure someone sprays some Off! on the drones.”

RELATED: Drone industry to journalists: Don’t use the word ‘drones’ – Washington Times

Impeachable Offenses: The case for removing Barack Obama from office

New York Times best selling authors Aaron Klein and Brenda J. Elliott will release their latest book Impeachable Offences: The case for removing Barack Obama from office on August 27, 2013. In their book Klein and Elliott document authoritatively the case for impeaching President Obama. WDW – FL received an advanced copy of the book.

Article 2, Section 4 of the US Constitution states:

The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.

Klein and Elliott explain the term “high crimes and misdemeanors” is derived from the English Parliament circa 1386. The Founding Fathers understood the term well. Officials accused of high crimes and misdemeanors “were charged with offences as varied as misappropriating government funds, appointing unfit subordinates, not prosecuting cases, not spending money allocated by Parliament, promoting themselves ahead of deserving candidates, threatening a grand jury, disobeying an order from Parliament, granting warrants without cause and bribery.”

“In Federalist No. 65 [Alexander] Hamilton explained the concept of impeachment. He defined impeachable offences as ‘those offences which proceed from the misconduct of public men, or in other words from the abuse and violation of some public trust. They are of a nature which may with peculiar propriety be denominated political, as they relate chiefly to injuries done immediately to the society itself’,” write Klein and Elliot.

Klein and Elliott note, “[I]mpeachment is not the final step in removing a high official from office; rather it is the beginning of that process by bringing formal charges, i.e. an indictment.”

For the President to be impeached, clearly he must be accused of “injuries done immediately to society itself”.

impeachable offences book coverExaminer.com reports, “Overpasses for Obama’s Impeachment announced today “The Patriot Wave,” as Americans in cities from coast to coast will rally for Barack Hussein Obama be removed from the office of the President. James Neighbors, National Coordinator and Founder of the movement, said today, as they have done at previous overpasses rallies this summer, participants will hold up signs with slogans like “honk if you want Obama impeached” or “impeach Obama” and other to inspire public support and ultimately pressure Congress to take up consideration of impeachment.

This new national movement is holding demonstrations across Florida.

Cheryl Carpenter Klimek from BizPac Review reports, “The grassroots organization, Overpasses for Obama’s Impeachment, has attracted similar volunteer efforts all over the country, according to their website. The Florida contingency held sign-waving events on overpasses across the state on Tuesday, Kilinksi said. At last count, the cities visited included Boca Raton, Ocala, Port St. Lucie, Naples, West Palm Beach, Orange City, Spring Hill, Kissimmee, Jacksonville and the Tampa/Clearwater/Sarasota area. Orlando had multiple events. Overpasses for Obama’s Impeachment, with Facebook pages for chapters in all 50 states and Washington, D.C., gained national attention after a rally in Southern California snagged traffic in early June.”

On Saturday, August 17th, ten days before the release of the Klein and Elliott book, there will be a National Wave Impeach Obama event in Sarasota, Florida. The demonstrations are held on overpasses to gain the maximum impact as citizen driving on major highways see the demonstrators with their signs. The demonstration in Sarasota will take place on an overpass along Interstate 75. There is even an online petition calling for the President’s impeachment.

The Impeach Obama website states:

Overpasses for Obama’s Impeachment has a simple goal. The removal of the corrupt and criminal President of the United States of America, Barack Hussein Obama.

His actions go unimpeded, our pleas through petitions unanswered. Our calls and letters to Congress are left ignored and unopened.

Our only peaceful recourse is to take to the streets and overpasses of America and DEMAND that our nation be returned to We the People, and that Barack Hussein Obama be Impeached, removed from office, and held accountable for his actions while serving as President.

The impeachment process begins in the Judiciary Committee of the US House of Representatives. “The House Judiciary Committee considers evidence of wrongdoing and votes whether to pass the matter along to the entire body. After articles of impeachment are drawn up, the House then votes on the matter and, if a majority of the members affirm, passes the matter to the Senate,” state Klein and Elliott.

If Republicans maintain their majority in the House and regain the majority in the Senate in 2014 could we see this process begin? We will wait and see.

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Impeachable Offenses: The case for removing Barack Obama from office

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FL Senate President: No special committee on “Stand Your Ground” law

Willie Lawson from Florida Dash reports:

Florida Senate President Don Gaetz (R) refused Minority Leader Chris Smith’s request to form a select committee on Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law.  Gaetz informed Smith by letter that such a select committee would be a duplication of efforts. Governor Rick Scott formed the “Citizen’s Safety and Protection Task Force” last year. The task force was charged with studying all of  Florida’s self-protection laws. Gaetz also reminded Smith that select committees by Senate rules are not allowed to vote on Florida law.

Read more here. To read the Citizens Safety and Protection Task Force report and findings click here.

Senator Smith in a letter to President Gaetz stated, “It is well documented that the problems and the misuse of Florida’s ‘Stand Your Ground’ law did not start, nor did they end, with the killing of 17-year old Trayvon Martin. There has been ample evidence collected since its passage in 2005 of its abuse throughout our state – too often by someone to escape prosecution after he or she provoked the confrontation that turned deadly. This needs to change.”

NOTE: Florida’s stand your ground law was not used in the trial of George Zimmerman. The case was based on self-defense.

For a larger view click on the map.

Joe Angioni,  in a WDW – FL Editorial noted, “[I]n Florida, approximately one third of the state’s stand-your-ground claims in fatal cases have been made by black defendants, and they have used the defense successfully 55 percent of the time, and at a higher rate than white defendants. This is according to a Daily Caller analysis of a database maintained by the Tampa Bay Times.  African Americans used Stand-Your-Ground defenses at nearly twice the rate of their presence in the Florida population, listed at 16.6 percent in 2012.”

There are twenty-one states with some form of stand your ground laws. Florida was the first to pass and has the most comprehensive SYG law.

Currently there are over one million concealed carry permit holders in Florida. Angioni notes, “Permits to carry a concealed weapon have been issued in Florida since 1987.  It is one of 38 states that are “shall issue” states, in which the requirements for obtaining a concealed carry permit are laid down by law. If you meet the requirements, the state shall issue the permit. Your right to carry in these states cannot be infringed upon.”

Rep. Rich Nugent (R-FL) introduces national concealed carry reciprocity law

There are over one million Florida concealed carry permit holders. Many live in other states or travel across America conducting business, visiting family and friends or to vacation. Many bring along their firearm and their state issued concealed carry permit for personal protection when on the road in a strange place.

Currently not all states recognize Florida’s, or one anothers, concealed carry permits. Herein lies the problem for law abiding citizens. For a list of the 34 states that recognize a Florida concealed carry permit click here.

Florida Dash reports:

Few Americans are aware that just because they may have a concealed weapons license in the respective state they live in, concealed weapons license reciprocity does not exist throughout the United States, as it does for state issued driver’s licenses.

Former Sheriff and current Congressman Rich Nugent (R-FL) wants to change that, filing a bill in the U.S. House of Representatives that would recognized concealed weapons licenses across the country, and “create some common-sense capability for law-abiding citizens to move about a free country without a patchwork of conflicting statutes.” 

Following introduction of his legislation to provide reciprocity for individuals holding concealed-carry licenses, Rep. Rich Nugent (R-FL District 11) issued the following statement:

“If I have a driver’s license issued by the state of Florida and I drive all the way across the country to California, my driver’s license is valid the entire way. Even though the requirements for obtaining a driver’s license may vary from state to state, we have a system that recognizes the need for reciprocity.

Currently, that sort of reciprocity does not extend to concealed carry licenses for firearms.

If a lawful and duly licensed person travels from one state into another, whether accidentally or on purpose, they can be in violation of serious gun control laws. The goal with this legislation isn’t to tell states what their laws have to be. In fact, a concealed carry license holder from Florida is still required to obey the concealed carry laws of the particular state that he or she is entering.

The goal with this legislation is to create some common-sense capability for law-abiding citizens to move about a free country without a patchwork of conflicting statutes.

“The Second Amendment states that the right to keep and bear arms ‘shall not be infringed’. This legislation is a common sense measure that will ensure that as free Americans travel from one state to another, their Constitutional rights are not infringed. “I am proud to be the leader on this issue and this legislation. As a former law enforcement official with the proper credential, I am permitted to carry a firearm in all 50 states. I can certainly understand the practical frustration that many law-abiding gun owners feel with our current patchwork system.

The previous version of this legislation passed by an overwhelming bipartisan majority in 2011 and I look forward to seeing it pass again during this Congress.”

Florida ranks 41st among all fifty states in the fairness of its litigation environment

A national survey released in 2012 by the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform (ILR) finds that Florida’s lawsuit climate is among the worst in the country, coming in at number 41 out of 50.

Governor Scott during his inaugural address stated, “Florida has to offer the best chance for financial success. Not a guarantee – just the best chance. Three forces markedly reduce that chance for success—taxation… regulation… and litigation. Together those three form “The Axis of Unemployment”.” He went on to state, “Private sector jobs grow in places where public sector spending is kept within bounds.”

According to ILR:

The significance of a state’s legal climate on business expansion decisions has steadily increased over the last five years. Seven out of ten respondents say a state’s lawsuit environment is likely to impact important business decisions at their company, such as where to locate or expand their businesses, a 13 percent increase from the survey results just five years ago.

“As our economic downturn has continued, a growing percentage of business leaders have identified a state’s lawsuit climate as a significant factor in determining their growth and expansion plans, and the jobs that come along with them,” said Lisa A. Rickard, president of the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform. “That makes the consequences of this survey even more significant to the economic growth of Florida.”

According to the study Creating Conditions for Economic Growth: The Role of the Legal Environment, completed for ILR by NERA Economic Consulting in 2011, Florida could save $2.8 billion in tort costs and increase employment by between .73-1.98% by improving its legal climate.

“Florida’s litigation climate can be attributed in large part to its notorious reputation for exorbitant jury awards,” said Rickard.

Harris Interactive conducted the survey Lawsuit Climate 2012: Ranking the States by telephone and online between March and June 2012. The respondents—general counsels and senior attorneys or leaders in companies with annual revenues of at least $100 million—were asked to rank states for their overall treatment of tort, contract, and class action litigation. Among other elements, respondents also ranked states for the impartiality and competence of their judges and the fairness of their juries.

See the entire 50-state list and read a full copy of Lawsuit Climate 2012: Ranking the States online at: www.instituteforlegalreform.com/states

ABOUT ILR:

ILR seeks to promote civil justice reform through legislative, political, judicial, and educational activities at the national, state, and local levels.