Federal Appeals Court Rules in Favor of Reform Prosecutor Removed from Office by Ron DeSantis

“A federal appeals court has reinstated a First Amendment lawsuit filed by former Tampa-area reform prosecutor Andrew Warren against Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, and now the DeSantis administration will have to argue that Warren’s job performance, not his ideology, was the controlling factor behind Warren’s removal from office.”

https://reason.com/2024/01/10/federal-appeals-court-rules-in-favor-of-reform-prosecutor-removed-from-office-by-ron-desantis/

Haley and DeSantis Pander to Iowans by Praising Ethanol Mandate

“In practice, though, ethanol is actually worse for the environment than traditional gasoline. And while ethanol is cheaper than gasoline, it also contains less energy by volume. Depending on the age of your vehicle, it can also be bad for your engine.

One thing ethanol is good for, though, is corn farmers. A 2021 report by Taxpayers for Common Sense called the Renewable Fuel Standard “the largest current subsidy for corn ethanol.” A 2022 study found, as Reuters put it, that “as a result of the mandate, corn cultivation grew 8.7% and expanded into 6.9 million additional acres of land between 2008 and 2016.”

It therefore makes perfect sense for two candidates desperate for votes in Iowa—the state that produces more corn than any other—to pledge fealty to a federal mandate that requires more people to buy corn-based ethanol. But just because something makes political sense doesn’t make it good policy.”

https://reason.com/2024/01/10/haley-and-desantis-pander-to-iowans-by-praising-ethanol-mandate/

Ron DeSantis Could Have Run on a Message of Freedom

“it’s been impossible to escape the feeling that DeSantis’ notion of freedom extended only as far as the preferences of his political tribe.
DeSantis could have been something different. Indeed, he once was a quite different politician. As a backbench congressman during the Obama years, DeSantis was part of the so-called “tea party” movement that pushed for smaller government, less spending, and, yes, more freedom. In his first political book, Dreams From Our Founding Fathers, DeSantis argued for the merits of constitutionally limited government. During his three terms in Congress, DeSantis backed plans to balance the budget and reform entitlement programs, and he spoke of the need to restrain Washington’s “put it on the credit card mentality.” As governor of Florida, he was relatively restrained in imposing COVID controls—and stood by that approach when large swaths of the media denounced him for it.

“But as governor, DeSantis also earned a reputation for tax-funded political stunts and for expanding government with little regard for civil liberties.

Remnants of the earlier DeSantis were still evident during his governorship and his failed bid for the presidency. The two halves of DeSantis’ personality sat awkwardly alongside one another, and that’s surely part of the reason why he struggled to connect with voters. His message of freedom was fundamentally incongruous with much of what he’d bragged about accomplishing in office.”

https://reason.com/2024/01/21/ron-desantis-could-have-run-on-a-message-of-freedom/

DeSantis vs. Disney: Florida’s Fight Over Private Governance

“On April 22, 2022, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill dissolving the Reedy Creek Improvement District, ending perhaps the most successful experiment in private governance in U.S. history. The bill ended an arrangement that turned a swamp on the edges of Orlando into the home of Walt Disney World, one of the busiest tourist destinations on Earth. The governor’s victory is not yet final—while the district was formally dissolved earlier this year, Disney attorneys quickly outfoxed DeSantis, delegating many of the district’s powers back to the company. The company is now suing to reverse the change altogether.”

“DeSantis’ attempt to dissolve the district is a blatant effort to bully a private company because he disapproved of its constitutionally protected speech. At best, it reveals DeSantis as a culture warrior rather than a small-government conservative. At worst, it exposes DeSantis as a politician willing to toss out the rule of law and free markets to score cheap political points, in the lead-up to a Republican presidential primary in which he’s struggling to meet expectations.”

“Looking back over the past half-century, it’s safe to say that the Reedy Creek Improvement District has been a remarkably successful experiment in private governance. If Disney World isn’t technically a city, it may as well be. On a typical day, the district hosts 160,000 visitors and 77,000 employees, which would put it among the top 100 U.S. cities, well above Walt’s vision of 20,000 EPCOT residents. Approximately 32,000 hotel rooms house tens of thousands of temporary—and nonvoting—residents each night.
The district had been a laboratory for public services, running instructive experiments in everything from mosquito abatement to green energy—though it never built that nuclear power plant. The district’s boutique EPCOT Building Code, a nod to Walt’s original ambitions for the project, optimizes safety and innovation better than the typical U.S. building code does. The district is still, for the most part, ringed by a carefully managed greenbelt, and the Disney World monorail is the ninth-busiest rapid transit system in the country.”

“Even well beyond its official boundaries, it’s nearly impossible to ignore the transformative impact of the Reedy Creek Improvement District. Orlando has been among the fastest-growing cities in the U.S. every decade since 1970, and its metropolitan population has quadrupled from approximately 344,000 to 1.5 million residents. Today, Orlando—and Florida as a whole—is synonymous with tourism, an economic powerhouse that holds the undisputed title of “theme park capital of the world.””

“Far from being a failure, the Reedy Creek Improvement District has been a runaway economic development success, matched only by the free market economic zones that created Singapore and Hong Kong or turned China from a nation of peasant farmers into an industrialized nation in a single generation. The worst that can be said about it is that Florida didn’t create even more such districts, offering a level playing field to competitors such as Universal Studios. With new cities and charter cities once again in vogue, we should be discussing the district as a model rather than pondering its apparent death.”

https://reason.com/2023/12/16/desantis-vs-disney-floridas-fight-over-private-governance/

Ron DeSantis got the Republican Party wrong

“The DeSantis campaign was fundamentally a product of a certain class of the GOP’s elite: people who admired Donald Trump’s willingness to break the traditional norms of American politics but saw him as basically déclassé or ineffectual. These are the sorts of conservatives who look admiringly at Hungarian autocrat Viktor Orbán, seeing his use of legalistic arcana to crush liberal opposition as a model for how to fight a culture war and win.
Obviously, most Republican voters aren’t this hyper-ideological. But DeSantis and his allies theorized that the “Trump but competent” shtick would allow them to pull from all sides of the GOP electorate. By focusing on his “culture warrior” background — like his fights over Covid restrictions and Disney — DeSantis could win over a key portion of the Republican base. By seeming more competent and organized, he could scan as palatable to the traditional establishment.

Except it turned out that the kind of culture war politics DeSantis offered, an often-abstract assault on “wokeness,” paled in comparison to what Trump served up. The MAGA base wanted Trump and all his hard edges: the bigoted rhetoric and all-consuming post-2020 election anger. The rump establishment bloc preferred Nikki Haley, sticking DeSantis in no-man’s land. His campaign was appealing to a small niche of highly intellectual populist conservatives, but that proved to be just about it.

The MAGA faithful didn’t want a pseudo-Trump gussied up for the GOP’s elite. They wanted Trump and his “retribution.” DeSantis’s failure to recognize this doomed him from the start.”

https://www.vox.com/politics/24034491/iowa-caucus-results-polls-desantis-trump-haley-ramaswamy-republican-party

DeSantis Wants To Reduce Mass Shootings by Locking More People in Mental Hospitals

“”A 2017 task force report on the involuntary referrals of children under Florida’s Baker Act found that one-third of them were not necessary,” according to a recent article by Kaitlin Gibbs of the University of Florida Levin College of Law. “Many children are Baker Acted more than once, which shows the initial Baker Act may not have successfully treated children with mental illness. At least thirty percent of all children Baker Acted will have a repeat Baker Act within five years.”
Nor is throwing people into mental wards likely to reduce the number of mass shootings. As Ragy Girgis, a clinical psychiatrist at Columbia University, wrote in 2022, “Serious mental illness—specifically psychosis—is not a key factor in most mass shootings or other types of mass murder.” And while 25 percent of mass shootings “are associated with non-psychotic psychiatric or neurological illnesses, including depression,” he notes that “in most cases these conditions are incidental.”

In the case of last week’s murders in Maine, the shooter, 40-year-old Robert Card, was hospitalized during the summer. But officials say there is no evidence this hospitalization was involuntary. And Card’s history of mental illness makes him unusual among other mass murderers.”

“If DeSantis’ plan were enacted, the likely result would be a rapid increase in the unnecessary institutionalization of mentally ill individuals—and a negligible impact on criminal violence.”

https://reason.com/2023/10/30/desantis-wants-to-reduce-mass-shootings-by-locking-more-people-in-mental-hospitals/

Ron DeSantis Is Violating Pro-Palestinian Students’ Free Speech Rights

“Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a candidate for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination, has ordered pro-Palestinian student groups at Florida universities to shut themselves down. While the stated rationale is that these activists are providing “material support” for terrorism, the governor’s order is a direct violation of free speech principles, as well as the First Amendment.
State University System of Florida Chancellor Raymon Rodrigues announced the order on Tuesday, citing the on-campus activism of National Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), a student group that is active at both the University of Florida and the University of Southern Florida.”

“Conservatives who claim to oppose censorship on college campuses—and call it out whenever right-leaning students and faculty are the victims and leftwing activists are the aggressors—are engaged in obvious hypocrisy if they do not criticize DeSantis for this. The answer to bad speech is more speech; it is not state action.”

https://reason.com/2023/10/25/ron-desantis-palestinian-students-censorship-free-speech-israel/

DeSantis Says He Would Use Justice Department To Bring Civil Rights Cases Against ‘Soros-Funded Prosecutors’

“A federal judge ruled in January that DeSantis violated the First Amendment and the Florida Constitution when he suspended Warren, although the judge also found that the court did not have the authority to reinstate the prosecutor.”

https://reason.com/2023/09/27/desantis-says-he-would-use-justice-department-to-bring-civil-rights-cases-against-soros-funded-prosecutors/

Florida’s restrictive sex ed rules are causing back-to-school mayhem

“Thanks to a vague law and even vaguer directions from Florida’s education department, some school district leaders remain unsure if the course is even legal to teach. It’s a situation that highlights how difficult — and confusing — it has become for schools to navigate the state’s increasingly restrictive education policies.”

“Florida, the College Board declared, had “effectively banned AP Psychology.””

“Díaz sent a letter to district leaders on August 4 to clear things up. “The Department of Education is not discouraging districts from teaching AP Psychology,” it read. When district leaders asked for further clarification, Díaz responded in a follow-up letter on August 9 — just a day before the school year was set to begin in much of the state — insisting, “It is the Department of Education’s stance that [the] learning target … can be taught consistent with Florida law.” Díaz again rejected the assertion that the state had banned the course.”

“Districts have had to do a frenzied dance to keep up with the quick changes. One day, Mike Burke, Palm Beach County’s school chief, apologetically announced that he was removing AP Psych, stating, “If there was a way we could teach this course and not have our teachers get arrested, we would do it in a second,” according to the Palm Beach Post — and he reversed that decision just days later.
Other districts aren’t adding back AP Psychology, having already ordered textbooks for alternate courses, while some are refusing to re-adopt the course because they’re fearful that teachers could still face legal consequences. Meanwhile, some districts were prepared to just ignore the state’s mixed messages all along. “I have communicated to our staff to respect the law and follow the law, but not to fear the law and do more than it requires,” Leon County Schools Superintendent Rocky Hanna said in a statement.

For many, however, the fear had already taken hold. Seven of the 11 districts with the largest enrollments in the course said they would make the switch to an alternative class, rushing to catch teachers up on the new material”

” A series of laws signed by Gov. DeSantis in the past two years have created significant challenges for educators. The laws, which critics call “classroom gag orders,” build on one another, creating a web of restrictions that educators must navigate to avoid legal consequences. The AP Psychology course could technically be considered illegal under three of the state’s restrictive education laws — the “Don’t Say Period” law, the “Don’t Say Gay” law, and the Stop WOKE Act, which bans schools and businesses from teaching anything that could make anyone feel “guilt, anguish or any form of psychological distress” because of their race, gender, sex, or national origin.”

https://www.vox.com/23835634/florida-ap-psychology-education-dont-say-gay

DeSantis voted against Sandy aid a decade ago. Now his state needs the help.

“Ron DeSantis had just been sworn in as a member of the House in 2013 when he voted against sending $9.7 billion in disaster relief to New York and New Jersey, two states still reeling from the damage of Hurricane Sandy.
“I sympathize with the victims,” the Florida Republican said at the time, but objected to what he called Congress’ “put it on the credit card mentality” when it came to government spending.

Now, a day after Hurricane Idalia pummeled Florida less than a year since Hurricane Ian’s destruction, DeSantis is not objecting to federal borrowing when it’ll help his disaster-stricken state. As Florida’s governor — and a 2024 White House contender — he is in regular contact with President Joe Biden as the state seeks dollars from Washington to rebuild from the storm wreckage, assist rescue efforts and aid displaced residents.”

” DeSantis’ vote a decade ago was based on his opposition to the Sandy package’s “additional pork spending,” a spokesperson for his presidential campaign said”

https://www.politico.com/news/2023/08/31/desantis-florida-gop-sandy-disaster-aid-00113627