Tax collector is a political post we don't need

If it wasn't enough that Florida has a shameful record when it comes to wrongful convictions, now comes the maddening news that Florida isn't doing what it's supposed to by compensating those who lost decades of their lives.

Excuses about tough financial times aren't good enough. After all, no one asked guys like Brevard County resident Bill Dillon whether it was a good time for him to be locked up for 27 years for a crime that courts later said he never committed.

In the past, I have joined justice advocates in heaping praise upon state Sen. Mike Haridopolos and others who have championed the cause of these often voiceless victims — $30,000 a year in restitution in Dillon's case, for instance.

But then the last session closed without Haridopolos getting Dillon's compensation bill passed.

Now Haridopolos is senate president. He could get the legislature to make Laffy Taffy the official state entrée if he wanted.

We'll soon see just how hard he is fighting for these disenfranchised and deserving souls.

Respecting our elders

And finally, Gov. Rick Scott has proposed so many cuts that a potentially serious one been largely overlooked and under-reported — the ousting of Florida's top advocate for elderly people.

The man, long-term care ombudsman Brian Lee, was a thorn in the side of nursing homes that neglected their residents.

And, according to the Miami Herald, Scott ousted Lee shortly after Lee asked the state's 677 nursing homes to reveal more detailed information about their ownership stakes as part of a federal push for greater transparency and accountability.

Scott's office wouldn't offer more of an explanation or discuss plans for this office's future. That's unsettling.

This office is primarily staffed with hundreds of volunteer watchdogs who believe the state's oldest, most vulnerable residents are worth protecting. They are right. And our elected leaders should realize that.

smaxwell@tribune.com or 407-420-6141

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