St. Augustine Record Editorial
October 9, 2017
Florida’s Constitution Revision Commission is touring the state, ostensibly taking input from citizens as to what changes they’d like to see made in the state constitution.
They’ve been at it for months, and if you haven’t heard much about the group, there’s a good reason. The dog & pony show has accomplished nothing. The commission meets every 20 years.
The website tells us: “The people of Florida play a critical role in the Constitution Commission. Citizens are involved in the appointment of commissioners by suggesting appointees and monitoring the process to ensure there are qualified, bipartisan and forward-thinking individuals selected to serve in this important role.”
Thirty-six of the 37 members are named by Gov. Rick Scott, Senate President Joe Negron, House Speaker Richard Corcoran and Supreme Court Justice Jorge Labarga. Attorney General Pam Bondi gets the last spot.
Sound non-partisan to you?
Then there’s “forward-thinking.” You may remember during the 2016 campaign tough-guy Carlos Beruff made a bid for a Senate seat. Here in St. Johns County he gave a speech in which he referred to President Barack Obama as an “animal.”
He was all bluster, in his largely self-financed campaign, taking a tip from Donald Trump, running as the outsider. He huffed and he puffed all along the campaign trail. When he exited our county an editorial followed titled “Who’s afraid of big, bad Beruff?”
This is the guy Gov. Scott appointed to chair the commission. Kumbaya. Beruff has also been a gubernatorial appointee to the Sarasota-Bradenton Airport Authority, the Southwest Florida Water Management Board and the State College of Florida board. It’s probably coincidental that Beruff gave Scott’s campaign a $100,000 contribution in 2016.
So we’ve got a stacked commission with marching orders from the Republican-led legislature.
You can bet that the commission will come up with constitutional amendments aimed at muzzling the Supreme Court, which took the lawmakers to the woodshed several times over the past few years for its gerrymandering efforts, along with other political shenanigans.
The shame of it is, this is supposed to be a citizen-driven effort. But as is, it really only gives legislators another way to accomplish what they don’t have the cover to attempt out in an open vote on the House or Senate floor — “We didn’t do it, it was that Constitution Commission.”
The only amendment idea that is both citizen-driven and widely popular is one that would end the electoral farce of write-in candidates closing primaries and depriving 2.9 million non-affiliated registered voters of a say — fully a fourth of Florida’s 12 million registered voters.
But it’s a good bet political powers that be are just fine with the existing arrangement. We’ll wager the commission will be as well. [READ MORE]