U.S: The Florida Legislature – where geniuses are at work — By Mohamed Hamaludin

U.S. — The Florida Legislature – a place where geniuses are at work — By Mohamed Hamaludin

On April 20, 1999, two students of Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo., shot and killed 12 other students and one teacher and wounded 23 others before shooting each other dead. On Dec. 14. 2012, a 20-year-old man shot and killed 20 students and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. On Feb. 14, 2018, a former student at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Broward County, shot and killed 17 students and staff and wounded 17 others.

It is highly debatable whether any of these mass murders would have been prevented if teachers had been armed. Still, the geniuses who dominate Florida’s government believe that they should be and they are passing a law to that effect, over the objections of students at Douglas High and others. Arming teachers serves only to increase the sale of guns and boost the profits of firearms manufacturers. There are roughly 175,000 teachers in just over 4,200 public schools. The average cost of a handgun is about $350. That works out to about $61 million.

Of course, the teachers would probably have to get upgrades and the obsolete weapons could be sold to the public at generous discounts because, it is said, the more guns around, the safer the people, and would end up mostly in the African American community. With the complex logistics involved, the state education department would have to create a weapons agency which could also be charged with coming up with additional ideas to keep school children safe. Those ideas could be to abandon handguns in favor of assault rifles which teachers could keep discreetly under trench coats and to station tanks or at least armored personnel carriers outside school entrances.

Meanwhile, far-off India, the world’s largest democracy, has been holding elections in which about 900 million people are eligible to vote. In one case, The Washington Post reported, election workers traveled 300 miles, over four days, to set up a polling place — for one voter. Yet, again, the geniuses in Tallahassee, instead of expanding the pool of voters, have instead been restricting the right to vote.

The latest instance is their disregard for the clear mandate of constitutional Amendment 4 approved last November giving the franchise to former felons who have served their sentences. The legislators are requiring these now eligible voters to pay all forms of monies related to their sentences before they may register to vote, a poll tax, as Democratic Presidential candidate Cory Booker, senator from New Jersey, correctly termed it.

The racism is obvious. Of the 1.4 million ex-felons affected, 418,000 are African Americans, thanks to a criminal justice system which continues the bondage of slaves on their descendants. The geniuses did not embrace the chance to correct the historical injustice; it took an act of the people to make happen, by a 65 percent majority.

There is more. The Legislature is poised, at the time of writing, to approve a law that will divert taxpayer money from the 67 public schools to private school vouchers, a measure sponsored by Senator Manny Diaz Jr. of Hialeah, one of the poorest cities in the country, where public schools can use all the funding they can get. Some $130 million will be siphoned off to pay for 18,000 additional private school vouchers.

Then there is a bill that will force local governments to cooperate with immigration officials and forbid them from offering shelter to undocumented immigrants who are arrested – the so-called “sanctuary cities.” Florida does not have any and the local jurisdiction which came close to it was Miami-Dade County but in January 2017 Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez ordered that jails must detain such immigrants. Gimenez was born in Havana, more than 100,000 refugees fled to the county from Cuba in 1980, 67 percent of Miami-Dade’s population of 2.7 million are Latinos and 60 percent of the population was born overseas. But now Miami-Dade is no refugee haven.

Who knows what the next stroke of genius could be. Probably an emergency declaration for Cape Kennedy to prevent aliens — from Mars, perhaps — from using the spaceport to come in illegally and seek sanctuary. Since that would probably take place in the summer, when arrivals in the Sunshine State are at peak levels, probably the thousands of armed teachers, who do not have to be in classrooms then, would be deployed to keep the Martians away and certainly not allow them to vote.

But then a case could probably be made that aliens already landed, more than a decade ago, and stealthily took over the minds of Florida lawmakers, along the lines of the movie “Invasion of the Body Snatchers,” and infused them with the sort of intergalactic savvy on display in the Legislature since then.

So watch out for the next bold move of the geniuses. They could very well be contemplating filling in the Florida Everglades to allow for hundreds of thousands of houses to be built, if not millions, and continue the real estate boom that will lay the foundation for the arrival of yet another alien horde, this time with mothers and infant children.

Mohamed Hamaludin is a Guyana-born journalist who worked for several years at The Chronicle in the 1970s and on publications in the Cayman Islands and Turks and Caicos Islands before emigrating to the United States in 1984 where he worked at The Miami Times, the Miami Herald and the South Florida Times. Though now retired, he writes a commentary every week or two for The South Florida Times (sfltimes.com) in which the above column first appeared. He may be reached at hamal1942@gmail.com.

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