So far, early in this Florida legislative session, I am fairly happy with what I am hearing out of the Florida House. Speaker Richard Corcoran has the high ground in his very public battle with Governor Rick Scott over Visit Florida and Enterprise Florida. That has been well documented here. I don‘t want to see the Speaker lose that high ground status. To that end there is a movement in Tallahassee that he needs to grab and control. House members (as yet not indentified in stories I have been able to find) have proposed cutting the Orange/Osceola State’s Attorney office budget by $1 million and cutting some 21jobs from her staff. This would be a huge mistake.
Had there been budgetary abuse by the new State Attorney or her predecessor it would have been one thing. But, no, this move is simply because the prosecutor stated she would not seek the death penalty in any murder case, ever. While that is a sad statement coming from the State Attorney’s Office in a state where the death penalty is sanctioned, it is within the State Attorney’s discretion to seek such penalty in cases wherein the prosecutor believes it to be warranted. She is the duly elected representative of the district in these matters. She is just as duly elected as the House members are from their own districts.
If the voters of the district are upset with her decision, they have the option of removing her by electing a pro-death penalty prosecutor next time out. This is hard for me to advocate. After all, I was a career cop before getting into radio and I believe cop killers should be executed (and I am not very particular about the method). But, elections do have consequences. One of them in this case is that full justice would not have been seen had the governor not replaced Aramis Ayala with a pro-death penalty prosecutor. By the way, the replacement prosecutor has not yet stated if the death penalty will be sought in this case, and it’s Ayala’s budget that will be used in this prosecution.
But back to the legislature, it’s bad enough that the governor is interfering in the justice system as he did in the Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman case. For the legislature to strip the Orange/Osceola State Attorney’s office of that kind of money and personnel for political reasons sends a bad message to one of America’s top tourist destinations (with our without Visit Florida money in play). The Orlando region has enough crime and enough violent crime at that. The message from the legislature, should this bad idea pass, is that protecting visitors to Florida attractions is not important. I think we can all agree that is simply not true.
Cooler heads need to prevail and political causes should not be pursued at the expense of the safety of Florida’s communities. While the State Attorney is playing politics with a horrendous situation, the people are not better served if the legislature plays the budgetary retaliation game. Instead, work for her removal at the earliest possible time and support the governor in the political realm in replacing her, but don’t penalize the people further by making their bad electoral decision even worse.