Tampa Bay Times by John Romano
August 16, 2018
Decorum matters, and so the attorney’s language was appropriately measured.
In seeking to have a constitutional amendment thrown off the ballot, a motion filed in Leon County used words such as “misleading’’ and “ambiguity’’ and “wordsmithing.’’
That’s the polite and lawyerly way to go.
If, on the other hand, you explained this case to a roomful of everyday voters, I’m guessing they would have used words such as “dishonest’’ and “shady’’ and “bogus.’’
Welcome to the ballot initiative known as Amendment 8, or A Scam That Could Make A Street Hustler Blush. And (insert shocked face) it was sponsored, planned and perpetrated by the folks running this fine state.
Now, the legitimacy of this proposed constitutional amendment will be debated in the 2nd Judicial District on Friday, but that’s a legal distinction. Here in the real world, there is no doubt.
This was a plan to shift oversight of charter schools from local districts and hand it over to the charter-loving, and often charter-profiting, politicians in Tallahassee.
And here’s what they called their proposed amendment:
School Board Term Limits and Duties; Public Schools.
Hmm, doesn’t that seem ridiculously sneaky?
A lot of people think so, including the former chief of the state Supreme Court who has asked the court to consider throwing out a half-dozen similarly deceptive amendments. The League of Women Voters was also disgusted by this charade and filed the motion that will be heard on Friday.
This was all brought on by the Constitution Revision Commission, a clown show of epic dimensions, which was responsible for eight, mostly duplicitous, amendments on the November ballot.
Usually proposed amendments must follow very strict guidelines about using plain language and being limited to a single topic. The CRC, which meets every 20 years, gets a little more leeway.
And in this case, they abused it horribly. In two different ways.
First, they took a couple of ideas they thought would be popular with voters — term limits for school board members and making civics class a requirement in schools — and bundled them with the charter plan. The court motion even quotes CRC commissioner Don Gaetz saying his civics proposal “will help some of those other education issues pass’’ if they were bundled together.