Floridians are fired up!
In the past few weeks, I've received hundreds of calls and emails from readers who want to fight back against politicians who waste their money, fight their votes and coddle the special interests.
Well, amen, brothers and sisters. That's why today's column preaches the gospel of empowerment.
Whether you're worked up about shady dealings at the attorney general's office or legislators trying to monkey with your votes, I've got plenty of ways to speak up — including one today right here in Orlando.
We start with Attorney General Pam Bondi, who made jaws drop when it was revealed that her office ousted two of its top investigators.
In case you missed the story, assistant attorneys general Theresa Edwards and June Clarkson were making national news uncovering foreclosure fraud when Bondi's office forced them out.
At first, Bondi's office refused to say why. But after public outcry intensified, Bondi's deputies claimed Clarkson and Edwards were guilty of "poor performance."
It was an interesting claim for two people who had recently helped net a $2 million settlement. Also for two people with stellar job reviews.
Most damning, however, was the office's claim that Edwards had been a poor performer for "several months" — even though a supervisor's review from just four weeks earlier concluded: "I cannot overstate the degree to which I respect Ms. Edwards and her work with this unit."
If this doesn't stink, you need your schnoz checked.
So what can you do?
Well, you can tell Bondi what you think. Call her office at 850-414-3300. Or fill out her office's "contact form" at myfloridalegal.com/contact.
You can also press state legislators — who fund the AG's office — to seek answers.
Sure, most politicians would rather insist that a black widow crawl down their pants than insist their peers act ethically. (It's the unstated I-won't-tell-if-you-won't-tell mentality that plagues both political parties in Tallahassee and Washington.)
But occasionally, they do the right thing. And you can reach your senator or House member by calling the legislative switchboard (during work hours) at 850-488-4371 or by visiting leg.state.fl.us.
I can think of plenty of reasons why politicians wouldn't want to get to the bottom of this story … but none of them are any good.
Today also brings your chance to speak up about Florida's long and sordid history of gerrymandering.
Legislators bring their "listening tour" toOrlando today. That means you can speak truth to power — right to power's face.
Many Floridians are most ticked about House Speaker Dean Cannon's decision to spend millions of tax dollars trying to overturn their Fair Districts vote.
Using public money to fight the public's vote is something you'd expect from a third-world dictator … not an American public servant.
Alas, Cannon's office said Tuesday that he probably won't show up for his hometown hearings.
A spokeswoman said Cannon will watch video from afar and that he didn't want his appearance "to diminish the opportunity for public input by shifting the focus of the meeting from his constituents to himself."
OK. As long as it's not because he's a coward.
Most of Central Florida's other legislators have said they'll show up to listen. Good for them.
At other hearings around the state, residents have been pretty consistent in their thoughts:
Stop gerrymandering … Stop trying to stack the decks… Stop splitting communities in two … or three … or four …
Congressional districts shouldn't snake through nine different counties.
Don't insult our intelligence by telling us that you haven't been gerrymandering — not after a year like 2004, when not a single legislative or congressional incumbent in the entire state lost a bid for re-election.
Stop spending our money trying to throw out our vote.
The greater good is more important than your own rear end.
Try acting more like a statesman than a politician.
If you'd like to add your voice to the mix, today's hearings take place at the Bob Carr Performing Arts Center in downtown Orlando. There are two sets of hearings — from 2-4 p.m. and 6-8 p.m.
You can get more info at floridaredistricting.org.
And if you're ever trying to decide whether to speak up — about any issue that troubles you — consider the words commonly attributed to philosopher Edmund Burke: "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."
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