Out here in the fields ...
"It took 29 minutes for a judge to approve a settlement Wednesday that will provide a lifetime of care for 3-year-old Carlitos Candelario, born without arms and legs to parents who picked tomatoes in fields sprayed with pesticides."
Herrera and the boy's father, Abraham Candelario, filed a lawsuit in 2006 against Ag-Mart, grower of SantaSweet and Ugly Ripe tomatoes, alleging that the pesticides used while Herrera worked in the company's fields during her pregnancy caused their son's birth defects."Ag-Mart to pay for limbless child's needs".
The lawsuit claimed that at least three of the chemicals used in the fields were mutagenic, meaning that they caused deformities in lab animals at high doses. Investigations by health officials in Florida and North Carolina did not connect the birth defects to the pesticides.
Last month Ag-Mart agreed to settle the lawsuit after an expert said in a deposition that Carlitos' mother was "heavily exposed" to a "witch's brew" of pesticides during the first trimester of her pregnancy.
Carlitos fussed briefly in court Wednesday but quickly fell asleep on his mother's shoulder while photographers snapped his picture.
If you haven't seen excerpts from the U.S. Senate hearings on Florida's shame, see the "HELP Committee Hearing - Immokalee Tomato Farmers -- 04/15/2008". Don't seem to recall similar hearings over this issue in the Florida Legislature.
Believe it or not, Florida farmworkers, whom like all agricultural workers are specifically exempted from NLRA coverage, possess a state fundamental constitutional right to unionize and bargain collectively.
In the late '60s, in connection with public employees, the Florida Supreme Court determined that this constitutional right to unionize was not self-executing (which means that it is an empty right absent implementing legislation). Three decades ago, the IAM (one of those icky unions) filed suit for an injunction to request bargaining for a group of farmworkers. The appellate court (without opinion) affirmed the trial court's dismissal of the lawsuit; however, in a concurrence to the dismissal, Judge (now Justice of the Florida Supreme Court) Anstead wrote:
ANSTEAD, Judge, specially concurring:District Lodge 57 of Intern. Ass'n of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, AFL-CIO v. Talisman Sugar, 352 So.2d 62 (Fla.4th DCA. 1977). All this raises the question of what the hell has the Florida legislature been doing in the 30 years since Talisman Sugar to implement the Constitutional rights of farmworkers to unionize and bargain. Except for an unsuccessful attempt many years ago by a Democratic Legislator named Steve Pajcic (we discuss him in a separate post) to pass an agricultural workers collective bargaining act, the Legislature has sat on its hands.
Article I, Section 6, of the Florida Constitution provides:
“The right of employees, by and through a labor organization, to bargain collectively shall not be denied or abridged.”
For the most part, the federal government has exclusive jurisdiction over collective bargaining involving private employees. But the National Labor Relations Act, 29 U.S.C. 151, specifically excludes agricultural workers from its provisions. Therefore, the National Labor Relations Board is without jurisdiction to resolve disputes between agricultural workers and their employers. And while there is Florida legislation governing collective bargaining by public employees, there is no such legislation in the private sector.
The appellant, District Lodge 57 of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, AFL-CIO, claims that the agricultural workers of this state are being deprived of their right to collective bargaining by virtue of the lack of specific legislation nationally or in this state, spelling out and enforcing their rights of collective bargaining as guaranteed by Article I, Section 6, Florida Constitution. Judicial implementation, including a mandatory injunction to compel the employer to bargain, of the right to collective bargaining was sought and property denied in the court below. However, the point raised is not without merit.
The appellee employer, Talisman Sugar Corporation, raises three grounds for denial of relief to the appellant. The first ground asserted is that Section 6 gives no right to collective bargaining to any group.[FN1] This assertion appears contrary to our Supreme Court's statement describing the right to collective bargaining:
“It is a constitutionally protected right which may be enforced by the courts, if not protected by other agencies of government.” [FN2]
The Supreme Court was referring to the right of collective bargaining of public employees before legislation was enacted establishing guidelines for the enforcement of the right. But there can be little doubt the court found there were definite rights involved when the Legislature was challenged:
“The Legislature, having thus entered the field, we have confidence that within a reasonable time it will extend its time and study into this field and, therefore, judicial implementation of the rights in question would be premature at this time. If not, this court will, in an appropriate case, have no choice but to fashion such guidelines by judicial decree in such manner as may seem to the court best adapted to meet the requirements of the constitution, and comply with our responsibility.” [FN3]
The right to collective bargaining by agricultural workers is granted by the same Section 6 as relied on by the public employees.
As a second ground for denying the appellant relief the appellee appropriately relies on the Supreme Court's decision in Dade County Classroom Teachers' Ass'n., Inc. v. Legislature, quoted above, where a similar petition on behalf of public employees was denied by the court. The court ruled that the problem presented was one for legislative attention and not one for the courts.
And the third ground raised by the appellee also has merit. That is the claim that the Supreme Court has specifically held that no right to act as the exclusive bargaining agent is granted the appellant under Section 6.[FN4]
On the basis of the latter two points, the petition was properly dismissed in the court below, and the arguments of the appellant should be directed to the appropriate legislative body, not the courts.
FN1. In this proposition appellant relies on Miami Water Works, Local No. 654 v. City of Miami, 157 Fla. 445, 26 So.2d 194 (1946) which has been “explicitly disaffirmed” by the Florida Supreme Court in Cannery, C., D., W. & A. Emp. v. Winter Haven Hosp., Inc., 279 So.2d 23 (Fla.1973) at page 25. Another case relied on by appellant, Sax Enterprises v. Hotel Union, 80 So.2d 602 (Fla.1955), recognized a duty on the part of private employees to “afford to the employer a fair opportunity to engage in negotiations.” Surely, if the employees had a duty to bargain with the employer, the reciprocal duty would rest with the employer to bargain with the employees.
FN2. Dade County Classroom Teachers' Ass'n., Inc. v. Legislature, 269 So.2d 684 (Fla.1972).
FN3. Dade County Classroom Teachers' Ass'n., Inc. v. Legislature, cited above.
FN4. Dade County Classroom Teachers' Ass'n., Inc. v. Ryan, 225 So.2d 903 (Fla.1969).
It might be interesting to hear someone, anyone, ask (1) whether farmworkers have the fundamental constitutional right to bargain if Florida [which they of course do], and (2) what the Legislature has done to implement this fundamental right [which is of course nothing]. Yet another example of the Legislature's subservience to the agricultural lobby.
"Florida wasted little time in seeking to get executions back on track after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that Kentucky can continue using lethal injection to carry out the death penalty.""Court upholds lethal injection".
Billy boy is a droolin': "Attorney General Bill McCollum asked the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday to allow Florida to proceed with the execution of child killer Mark Dean Schwab, shortly after the high court ruled that lethal injection is not cruel and unusual punishment."
And chain-gang Charlie is looking to burnish his tuff guy bona fides: "Meanwhile, Gov. Charlie Crist asked for a 'very short list' of the worst death-row inmates so he can sign his next death warrant." "McCollum seeks go-ahead on Schwab execution". See also "State seeks executions after U.S. court ruling" and "Florida to resume lethal injections".
DThe Daytona Beach News-Journal editorial board: "Support for the death penalty has become so knee-jerk that it's rare to find a candidate for any public office in Florida willing to voice opposition to capital punishment." "The death penalty question".
It is so obvious ...
... even a RPOFER can see it:
"It's easy to find. You can fly over it and see all the treated effluent bubbling to the surface because that water is less dense and warmer … and rises quickly to the surface," said Sen. Burt Saunders, R-Naples, chairman of the Senate's Environmental Preservation and Conservation Committee. "This sewage is treated to the lowest possible standard under Florida law. It's a practice that just isn't proper.""The Florida Senate on Wednesday voted unanimously to end the use of sewage outfall pipes by 2025, and the House is expected to follow suit before the legislative session adjourns May 2. Six pipelines from Broward, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade counties dump 300 million gallons of sewage a day about two miles offshore, much of it onto reefs that attract recreational divers and anglers." "Florida Legislature set to bar dumping of treated sewage into ocean".
Mike Haridopolos, the Indialantic Republican, "Hypocritical pig at the trough", and all-round wingnut (he's "'shocked' that the panel appointed by Gov. Charlie Crist and legislative leaders wasn't "a more fiscally conservative group"), was stumping across the state 18 months ago telling crowds at town-hall forums that Florida needed radical property-tax reform." Now he's flip-flopped
Now he has become the fiercest public critic of a sweeping constitutional amendment that a tax-reform commission could put before voters in November. If approved, it would eliminate $9.5 billion in property taxes now collected by schools, and require that the money be replaced by a package of other consumption-based taxes."Haridopolos sees no relief in tax-swap plan".
That puts Haridopolos in an awkward position.
Slated to become Senate president in two years, the politically tough job of proposing tax increases to offset the cuts would fall mostly to him. And he doesn't like it.
"At a time when Floridians are raging about unfairness of the property tax system, lawmakers attempted to root out one apparent and overlooked conflict of interest: county property appraisers appraising their own homes. But a measure that would have required state officials or appraisers who reside elsewhere to do the job has joined a long list of bills to get whacked of much of their substance because of state budget woes." "Appraisal legislation meets the budget ax".
Another deep thought from Mr. Happy Face
"Gov. Crist suggests cutting Florida's gas tax for summer". See also "Crist: Cut Gas Tax Temporarily".
Actually it ain't Charlie's "idea", he is simply "echoing the calls for a national gas-tax holiday by Republican presidential candidate John McCain". "Crist wants to slash state's gas tax".
Our Legislature at work
Republican "Sen. Carey Baker's bid to ban what he termed an "obscene" -- but increasingly popular -- attachment usually seen on pickups was run off the road Wednesday. Baker, R-Eustis, wanted to allow law enforcement to fine motorists $60 for displaying decorations resembling male genitalia -- commonly dubbed "truck nutz" -- that attach to a trailer hitch." "Senate panel says nuts to 'truck nutz' proposal". See also "Legislature briefs: Flags can fly year-round under Senate bill".
When Florida's traditional media demands action ...
... the Legislature folds like a cheap suit: "A bill that would eliminate triple-dipping and place new restrictions on public employees who try to double-dip won approval Wednesday from the House Council on Governmental Efficiency and Accountability." "Public trough may shrink".
Here's an idea ... why not home school everyone?
"No more field trips. Smaller summer school and sports programs. Fewer art and music teachers. Pricier school lunches. Less busing for students in magnet and choice programs." "On chopping block for schools: field trips, summer programs".
Will the house stand tall against government regulation?
"Animals could be safer under a bill being passed by a Senate committee that would punish people who sexually abuse them" "Senate panel passes bestiality bill".
Our earlier report: "Can't we at least agree on this?". "Sen. Nan Rich, Weston Democrat 'took up this bill because she believes animal abusers eventually hurt other people ... But Rich has not been to get the bill before a committee. She has asked [Republican]* Sen. Paula Dockery, chairwoman of the criminal justice committee, to take it up. Dockery could not be reached for comment.' There appears to be 'backlash' from a certain part of the State:"
Dee Thompson-Poirrier, director of animal control for Okaloosa County, understands the uneasiness. She said there was a lot of backlash in the community when she investigated the goat case last year in nearby Walton County**."'Bestiality bill finds slim support". Perhaps this tender part of Florida believes animal rape is a personal matter that should be handled within the goat's family, without wasteful government intrusion - after all, panhandlers believe there's already too much government regulation already? And ... hey, maybe goat stuff like that is perceived in the panhandle as part of the maturing process (of goats, that is. [Correction: 'pregnant' goats]).
When Thompson-Poirrier pushed to have a rape kit done, she said she heard: "It's just a goat lady, get a grip. A lot of people said you're wasting your money. You're wasting the court's time."
- - - - - - - - - -
*For some reason, Dockery's political party (unlike Rich's) wasn't mentioned in the article. Dockery is of course a Republican.
** It is no secret that, 'in the Florida Panhandle, with its stereotype of a Republican bloc-vote of retired military officers, the Christian right and unreconstructed Good Ol' Boys ... there isn't much of a presidential race ... [in 2000' Bush won the region with roughly 70 percent of the vote ... The issue's unspoken subtext is whether the region has become a Capital of Dumb and Nasty in the United States.' 'The Redneck Riviera, where Bush can't lose'".
"The now-infamous Coconut Road interchange" earmark
"The Senate is likely to call for some sort of investigation Wednesday into Rep. Don Young's 2005 earmark for the now-infamous Coconut Road interchange in southwest Florida. At issue: Who set aside $10 million in a 2005 transportation bill, after it had already won final House of Representatives and Senate passage, to study the interchange?" "$10 million earmark to be probed".
"Public school students would take the FCAT later in the year and social studies would be included in the test for the first time under an overhaul of state education standards tentatively approved Wednesday by the Florida House."
The rewrite of the public school curriculum is a priority for House Speaker Marco Rubio, R-West Miami, who has dubbed the bill "world-class education standards." The House is expected to take a formal vote on the bill today."Curriculum overhaul endorsed".
Your tax dollars in action: "Orange County has set aside $1 million to fight a legal war with the South Florida Water Management District over access to water." "Orlando area's water wars are draining us of common sense".
Maybe it is the insurance companies ...
... and not the big, bad trial lawyers, after all? The South Florida Sun-Sentinel editorial board: "The situation is just the latest evidence that Florida continues to have a medical crisis on its hands, even if the debate over malpractice reforms has quieted in Tallahassee. Four years ago, voters approved three malpractice-related constitutional amendments, including one that limited the amount of money attorneys can collect from jury awards, but it obviously didn't fix the problem." "Malpractice insurance costs must be addressed" "".
A little history
Remember Steve Pajcic?
Pajcic was raised in Northwest Jacksonville. He attended Annie R. Morgan Elementary School, Paxon Middle School, and Paxon High School. At Paxon High, he was valedictorian and student body class president. Pajcic then attended Princeton, where he played on the basketball team with future NBA player and Democratic presidential candidate, Bill Bradley. After graduating magna cum laude from Princeton, Pajcic attended Harvard Law School, graduating with honors.Bio via Wikipedia. More here.
In 1974, Pajcic was elected to the first of six terms to the Florida House of Representatives, where he showed particular interest in educational issues. In 1986 he ran for the Democratic nomination for governor of Florida. In the primary election Pajcic slightly led the second-place finisher, state Attorney General Jim Smith; but, as neither had received 50%, per Florida law, a runoff primary was held. During the brief campaign before the run-off, Smith's rhetoric was seen by many as unprecedented in its vitriol for an intraparty contest. In a televised debate, the candidates were asked if, should they fail to win the nomination, would they endorse their runoff opponent in the general election against the Republican nominee. Both Smith and Pajcic answered in the affirmative. However, when Pajcic emerged victorious, Smith evaded the issue of an endorsement for several days. Eventually, Smith came out and openly endorsed the Republican candidate, Tampa mayor Bob Martinez. This split in Democratic ranks was a major contributor to the election of Martinez as only the second Republican governor in Florida history, as even Martinez himself acknowledged in later years.
"A national environmental group today named the St. Johns River one of the 10 most-endangered rivers in America because of Central Florida's growing thirst for drinking water. Though some take exception to the designation, the American Rivers organization says it is alarmed over plans to take millions of gallons of water from the scenic river that meanders 310 miles past Orlando north through Jacksonville." "Plan to tap St. Johns River alarms eco-activists; water district downplays fears".
Rein 'em in
"The Florida Senate approved a bill Wednesday that imposes a host of new mandates on Florida's property insurers, including new standards for setting rates and paying claims." "Senate Bill Reins In Insurers".
Unfunded mandate proclaims that ...
... Gangs are bad things: "Florida House passes bill to crack down on gangs, but funding lacking".
Don't hold your breath for the media apologies
"Sen. Gary Siplin jubilant after high court dismisses ethics complaint".
"A group of Republican senators who helped kill legislation in 2005 to intervene in the Terri Schiavo case may stand with Democrats again this year to oppose a controversial abortion bill." "There's Bipartisan Opposition To Abortion Ultrasound Bill".
Castor kicks derrière
"The author of a plan to allow drilling as close as 25 miles off Florida withdrew it Wednesday but plans to bring it up again soon. Florida lawmakers, this time led by U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, have blocked drilling that close to Florida, saying it could harm the state's environment and tourism."
Castor, a Tampa Democrat on the House Rules Committee, blocked the amendment Wednesday by threatening to have it declared non-germane to the bill being debated, which would tighten regulations on beach water-quality monitoring."Offshore drilling plan for Florida withdrawn for now".
Castor called it "ridiculous, not just ironic" that Peterson was trying to allow drilling as part of a beach water-quality bill, arguing it would harm marine life, beaches and the state's tourism.
Peterson's amendment would not have allowed drilling for oil but only for natural gas, which he said would not hurt the environment.
But most Florida lawmakers have opposed both types of energy production. U.S. Reps. John Mica, R-Winter Park, and Dave Weldon, R-Indialantic, are the only Floridians among the 167 co-sponsors of Peter- son's proposal.
"A unanimous nod from the Florida Senate on Wednesday brought Gov. Charlie Crist closer to his goal of offering health insurance to uninsured Floridians." "Florida Senate approves Crist health plan". More accurately, "health insurance to uninsured Floridians". See also "Senate OKs low-cost health insurance plan".
By these words, the media is giving the RPOFers undeserved credit for making it sound as if they actually are doing something meaningful about Florida's health insurance crisis.
Putting aside the merit, or lack thereof, of the plan, these headlines like this are highly misleading: The headlines might read "Senate approves Crist plan to permit insurers to sell cheap plans with paltry coverage" or "Senate OKs to drop health insurance minimum standards".
Aside from the headline, the latter article ("Senate OKs low-cost health insurance plan") is particularly informative as to how the insurance industry is using the dispute to try and escape regulation:
But insurance companies say there's little incentive for them. So the industry is working with House members to get something they have been seeking for years: less regulation and an end to mandates that policies cover specific illnesses and services, such as pregnancy or dermatology.More: "Florida Senate approves Crist health plan".
The House approach, opposed by Crist, would create a so-called "farmers' marketplace" of insurance options — with the industry setting coverage limits — that would be available to uninsured workers only through their employers.
House Healthcare Council Chairman Aaron Bean, R-Fernandina Beach, said Crist's plan creates a government-driven program rather than letting the free market take the lead in determining coverage.
Of course, all Charlie is doing here is attempting to paper over the incredibly embarrassing fact that "Florida has the third-highest percentage in the nation of residents without health insurance". "Crist's health plan sails through Senate".
Triple or nuthin'?
Your tax dollars at work: "The controversial terrorism prosecution of six South Florida men again ended in uncertainty Wednesday after the second jury selected to hear the case became so divided over the evidence it could not agree on any verdicts."
"Weary prosecutors gave no immediate indication whether the government would try the case a third time. Given the serious nature of the allegations, it could be difficult for the Justice Department, which has made fighting terrorism its No. 1 priority, to abandon charges the men sought to join forces with al-Qaida in attacks against the Chicago Sears Tower and Miami FBI headquarters, former prosecutors said." "Second mistrial declared in alleged Liberty City terror plot".
The Miami Herald editorial board says "enough is enough". "Terror-trial jurors have spoken -- again"
We're Looking forward to hearing Diaz-Balart's praising Raul's changes
The Orlando Sentinel editorial board: "There is a tale of two Castros going on in Cuba. Fidel, the old boss, was bombastic, full of fire. Raul, the new one, is low-key and pragmatic. It's obvious which Castro has the strongest influence in Cuba now. It is Raul's country, and he will run it as he sees fit. By slowly rolling out a series of reforms over the past few weeks, Raul has made it clear that incremental capitalism is welcome in Cuba." "Our position: New policies in Cuba are finally starting to amount to something significant".
"Citizens rate freeze"
"Citizens Property Insurance rates would be frozen for the third consecutive year, and private insurers would have to base premiums on state-approved hurricane predictions under a bill approved Wednesday by the Senate." "Senate solidly behind Citizens rate freeze".
"A sweeping energy bill that seeks to increase renewable energy production and reduce Florida's greenhouse-gas emissions is moving toward a vote in the Senate today with few remaining issues." "Energy bill moves toward vote in Senate".
From the "values" crowd
"Begun in 1979, the program reserves 0.05 percent of the construction cost of a state building — up to $100,000 — for publicly displayed works of art. The state has spent $11.5 million on the program over the last 29 years, or about $400,000 a year. Glorioso's [R-Plant City] proposal (HB 1331) would end the set-aside." "Bill would end Florida's Art in State Buildings program".
"Florida's progress in lowering class sizes in public schools could be frozen in place for the next two years, under a measure that has attracted bipartisan support and even won the blessing of the state teachers union." "Deal made on class size".
Stop the madness
The Tallahassee Democrat editorial board: "CS/HB 1259, would require school districts to share their scarce and growing scarcer construction dollars with charter schools, as well as their money targeted for reducing class sizes. Charter schools already get state construction money after they've been open three years, and they currently get $7,126 per pupil in state funds." "Our Opinion: It's no year to underwrite nonpublic schools".
The Palm Beach Post editorial Board: "The real jaw-dropper, though, is not that the good workers got bonuses. It's that Gen. Milligan has not yet decided whether to award bonuses to top executives, including former Board of Administration Director Coleman Stipanovich. Under his leadership, panic nearly emptied the Local Government Investment Pool, which supposedly places money from cities, counties and school districts in safe, short-term investments." "After run on the bank, why a run on bonuses?".
Funny to see them librul' editors whine about rank-and-filers getting bonuses ("it's great that some public employees pitched in when needed under less-than-perfect conditions. But that is, or should be, the standard work ethic of any job.") One suspects they have no problem with the concept of "merit" pay for private sector employees.
"Yet another poll suggests presumptive Republican presidential nominee John McCain will fare better in Florida if he faces Democrat Barack Obama rather than Hillary Clinton in November. The Rasmussen poll of 500 likely Florida voters also suggests that picking Gov. Charlie Crist as McCain's running mate wouldn't have much impact in the state." "Poll likes McCain's odds over Obama in Florida".
Earth to Jupiter
The Palm Beach Post editorial Board: "Jupiter Island is the Martin County oceanfront enclave where even during the down real estate year of 2007 the median home sale price was $3.5 million. Cameras photograph cars entering the town, on public roads. Within Jupiter Island is a county beach, yet the town wants to decide when the beach that it doesn't own will be open."
That's elitism. Sen. Obama may have used the wrong words when he said that "bitter" voters "cling" to guns and religion, and resent illegal immigrants, but he wasn't wrong. In Pennsylvania, which holds its primary on Tuesday, and states like Ohio and Michigan where so many good jobs have disappeared, some voters indeed are disillusioned. The global market doesn't provide a steady income or health care."'Elitism' and hypocrisy".
But because Sen. Obama is a Democrat, and because he made the remark at a fund-raiser in the Democratic bastion of San Francisco, right-wing media led the surge to call him a member of the "liberal elite." The charge is especially amusing coming from Rush Limbaugh, whose humble Palm Beach digs have a market value of $36.5''million. But this isn't about honesty. Republicans want working-class Americans to associate "liberal" and "elite" the way they associate "child" and "molester." Then the GOP tries to woo "family-values" voters by condemning same-sex marriage while delivering little that helps a family's economics.
So Sen. McCain's pounce was predictable. His timing, though, was off. This week, The Huffington Post caught the McCain campaign plagiarizing recipes as Cindy McCain's family favorites. Hey, it happens. But two of the recipes were for Ahi Tuna with Napa Cabbage and Farfalle Pasta with Turkey Sausage. That's just what the average American dines on each night.
The Palm Beach Post editorial Board: "Marissa Amora had her day in state court three years ago. Today, finally, the 9-year-old will have her day at the state Capitol."
In considering a settlement, legislators should be mindful of the poor treatment Marissa has received from Medicaid and the Florida Agency for Persons with Disabilities. Although Marissa needs nearly $18,000 a month for daily nurses, Medicaid pays about $4,200 a month. Since 2004, Medicaid has not paid for Marissa to have needed physical therapy, occupational therapy or speech therapy. At times, Medicaid has refused to pay for her feeding formula, injected through a tube in her stomach. The disabilities agency last year spent $18,000 on unsafe modifications to Marissa's bathroom and an outdoor wheelchair ramp that was not pressure-treated. The agency refused to erect a railing on the wide front porch of her house."Marissa gets her day".
Everyone agrees that Marissa's case is a tragedy. But until now, legislators have been content to simply lament her plight. Marissa's medical needs are extensive, expensive and will be lifelong. She does not need pity. She needs the state to pay.
Believe it or not
The Palm Beach Post's Jac Wilder VerSteeg: "Cop, baby sitter and bus driver?".