28 May 2011

Rick Scott: Florida's Number One Dictator!

This article in the St. Petersburg Times was interesting: Gov. Rick Scott's Office - We didn't kick anyone out of budget signing.

Turns out, according to the article, that Florida's Chief Crook Executive has ways to deal with dissenters. During a budget signing ceremony in The Villages, a community located next to Leesburg east of Interstate 75 and the northern terminus of the Florida Turnpike, several residents who were opposed to Rick Scott's budget and leadership were chased away by the Sumter County Sheriff's Office on the orders of Rick Scott. After all, according to the Constitution of the State of Florida the governor is the chief law enforcement officer of the state.

What is going on here? Sick law enforcement on people exercising their constitutional right to peacefully assemble and protest and at the same time threaten these people with arrest for trespassing? This goes on to show you that Rick Scott is way out of touch with the people of Florida and that Rick Scott will do anything to accomplish an objective, including the turning of law enforcement against the people and threatening the people with arrest and even incarceration on trumped-up charges of trespassing, among other things.

This is not new. Back when George W. Bush - our former Star Spangled War Loving President - was in office he went to major extremes to make sure that lawful protesters were effectively excluded from areas where he traveled. Now this is happening again - this time, here in Florida with a governor who is out of touch with the people.

I have mentioned this in the reader comments area in the St. Petersburg Times, and I'll mention it again:

Rick Scott = Adolf Hitler.

The Republican Party of Florida and the Florida Chamber of Commerce = The Nazi Party.

Law enforcement commanded by Rick Scott (after all, the governor is the state's chief law enforcement officer per the Florida Constitution as I mentioned earlier) to deal with and threaten dissenters with criminal charges such as trespass = the Nazi SS Troops.

Ask yourself: Do we even live in the United States of America anymore as far as the State of Florida is concerned? Or do we live in a totaltarian state such as Cuba, China, Myanmar (Burma) or even Belarus where dissenters are routinely jailed, often times without charges?

Hey, if we were living in a country where human rights and civil liberties are suppressed, we would not be singing The Star-Spangled Banner as part of Rays pre-game ceremonies at Tropicana Field. Imagine this for a moment the next time you go to a Rays game and you get there early enough for the pre-game ceremonies:


Rays public address announcer: Ladies and gentlemen, please rise and remove your caps for the presentation of our nation's colors, which are this evening presented by a high school JROTC color guard. And at this time, please join so-and-so, a student from a local high school, in the singing of our national anthem. Performing tonight's national anthem in sign language is so-and-so from some organization that you probably know or don't know of.

Here goes the singer singing the national anthem - this time, you don't hear The Star-Spangled Banner. Instead, you hear the national anthem of a country whose human rights and civil liberties are suppressed, let's say My Belarusy (We Belarusians), the national anthem of Belarus.

Now you're thinking, why Belarus? Belarus is an eastern European country whose leader, Alexander Lukashenko, suppresses any and all forms of dissent by not only turning soldiers and law enforcement against the people, the people are routinely jailed oftentimes on no charges being filed. Almost a modern day version when the people of Germany feared Adolf Hitler and his SS troops during World War II.

In other words, instead of hearing O'er say can you see, by the dawn's early light, you hear My Belarusy, mirnyja ludzi, sercam addanyja rodnaj ziamli echoing through Tropicana Field. You say to yourself, what is going on here? This is America, the land of the free and the home of the brave, not the land of the afraid and the home of the oppressed!


Unfortunately, Florida is slipping slowly into O the land of the afraid, and the home of the oppressed. That's what probably went through the mind of the people of The Villages peacefully protesting Rick Scott's budget who were chased out on the orders of the Sumter County Sheriff's Office. As long as Rick Scott is in power at the helm of the highest office of the State of Florida, Rick Scott will do anything at his disposal to take care of dissenters, even if it includes turning law enforcement against the people.

I urge you to read my other blog entry on recalling Rick Scott NOW! There is a website also in operation called recallrickscott.net and we Floridians need to get the ball rolling on a citizen initiative to place the ability to recall the governor and high ranking Florida officials into the Florida Constitution on the 2012 ballot, and if this passes to get Rick Scott recalled from office.

We Floridians need to take back our State of Florida - before it's too late!

An open letter and blog entry to Mr. Toddy Hardy, Event Manager for the Tampa Bay Rays

NOTE: This blog entry was originally planned to be posted when the Rays entered the postseason going on to win the AL East title. Unfortunately, the Rays lost to the Texas Rangers in the ALCS. As another season of Rays baseball is now underway (and hopefully another chance at the postseason!), I have waited to post this blog entry until the time was right.

And the time is now. The Rays began their regular season on Friday, 1 April 2011 against the Baltimore Orioles at Tropicana Field, with our very unpopular and out of touch with the people governor, Rick Scott, throwing out the first pitch. Just recently an article in the St. Petersburg Times regarding a person who was escorted from Tropicana Field for a minor infraction of the Tropicana Field Code of Fan Conduct - an offensive T-shirt similar to the incident last year involving a Manatee County Sheriff Deputy. After all, I don't condone the content on these T-shirts because Tropicana Field is a family friendly venue; instead, it is based on how the incidents were handled.


As you may have heard in the news recently, a Manatee County Sheriff Deputy off duty was permanently banned from Tropicana Field for life over a T-shirt the off duty deputy was wearing. According to reports from Bay News 9 as well as WTSP 10 News, Rays security officers advised the deputy that he had an offensive T-shirt on and that he would have to turn it inside out. The deputy complied but turned his shirt back in protest. When security confronted the deputy again about the shirt the deputy was escorted to a security office somewhere in Tropicana Field; during the confrontation the deputy flashed his badge to the security officers as well as St. Petersburg Police working off duty security as is the case at all Rays games at Tropicana Field.

Normally something like this would lead to an arrest and charges of disorderly conduct. However, because of the deputy’s status as a law enforcement officer he was not arrested. But that’s not the end of the story.

The incident was referred to the Internal Affairs Division within the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office, as is all incidents related to the conduct of personnel working for any law enforcement agency in Florida are investigated by Internal Affairs. As a result of the investigation, the deputy received a 96-hour suspension for what happened when he was at Tropicana Field.

But that’s not all. On the orders of Toddy Hardy, who is the event manager for the Tampa Bay Rays, the deputy was declared a second class citizen by having him banned for life from Tropicana Field. You got that right, banned for life – without due process and trial. Even if the deputy completes any counseling that may be ordered as part of his punishment the ban is permanent.

Unfortunately, Florida’s draconian trespassing laws allow for anyone in authority – such as a store manager or a security guard – to ban anyone from the premises for life. Neither reason nor rationale is needed. Before I go on further, I urge you to read my white paper on Florida’s trespassing laws located in the Topics area of EdwardRingwald.com.

With this in mind, here is an open letter - as well as an open blog entry - to Mr. Toddy Hardy, Event Manager of the Tampa Bay Rays:


Mr. Hardy, if you are reading this blog I have some questions for you related to how fans are treated when they attend Rays games at Tropicana Field, especially treatment by your Rays security officers. I have attended so many Rays games over the years including the championship games in 2008 where we won the American League East division title and we had a chance to play in the World Series, only to lose to the Philadelphia Phillies. As you probably know already, we won the American League East division title last year and we went back to the playoffs in the hope that we go to the World Series for a second attempt, only to have this attempt stifled by the Texas Rangers.

Despite a great 2009 and 2010 season for the Rays, attendance numbers have not been promising. The only time you have sold out games is when the New York Yankees as well as the Boston Red Sox are in town, not to mention the 25,000 tickets that were given away at the Rays’ last home game of the 2010 season against the Baltimore Orioles after Evan Longoria went public about the low attendance numbers at another game the day before. I can understand, however, that weekday attendance is low due to the fact that people have to work the next day and that a majority of Rays fans live in Tampa. Are you trying to use trespass warnings against people to arbitrarily deflate the attendance numbers in order to justify leaving Tropicana Field before 2027?

I have heard a lot of reports from various sources including comments to media outlets such as Bay News 9 that your security officers mistreat fans, including making up excuses to have fans banned for life. Since the events of 11 September 2001 and the changes that had to be made as far as ballpark security is concerned, I have seen the attitude of many of your security officers as an “us against the fans” attitude. This has been an issue when Vincent Naimoli was the original owner of the Rays and is still an issue now that the Rays are under the ownership of Stuart Sternberg. Are your security officers instructed to be courteous and professional or to be rude and abusive when dealing with fans?

Fans are reminded of the rules of conduct within Tropicana Field before even entering the security check. As for that Manatee Sheriff’s deputy that you banned for life for not obeying instructions to turn out the offensive T-shirt, would your security staff have intercepted it at the outside security check before entering Tropicana Field? If your security staff cannot effectively intercept prohibited items being brought into Tropicana Field (including fans wearing T-shirts that contain offensive messages) then why have the security checks in the first place?

While we’re on the subject of the Manatee Sheriff’s deputy that you banned from Tropicana Field for life, when you found out that the offender was a law enforcement officer why did you not let it go when the Internal Affairs Division of the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office did an investigation into the deputy’s off-duty conduct? The punishment that the deputy received was relevant to the infraction as far as the sheriff’s office is concerned. However, I believe your banning the deputy for life was very extreme.

In the statement that you gave to the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office Internal Affairs Division, a copy that was publicly made available by Bay News 9, you mentioned that you have a few people banned from Tropicana Field for life. In another incident where a 19 year old man was caught going onto the field during play, you more than likely banned this person for life as well. Is that statement as to how many people you ban from Tropicana Field for life that you made to Internal Affairs true or did you hide the facts by hiding the actual numbers?

On the subject of Tropicana Field, it is not owned by the Tampa Bay Rays – instead, it is owned by the City of St. Petersburg and the Tampa Bay Rays have a lease that commits the Rays to Tropicana Field until 2027. In other words, the Tampa Bay Rays do not own Tropicana Field, period. Instead, Tropicana Field is leased to the Rays and your relationship with the City of St. Petersburg is that of a landlord and tenant, much like when someone rents an apartment the owner of the complex is the landlord and the renter is the tenant. Does your status as a lessee give you the right to ban anyone for life from Tropicana Field just like if the Rays owned Tropicana Field? My understanding is that lessees enjoy the right of quiet enjoyment of the leased premises, subject to certain reasonable restrictions that may be imposed by the landlord from time to time.

Overall, why do you or your security staff like banning people from Tropicana Field for life, even for minor transgressions of your fan rules of conduct that is prominently posted on the premises, announced as part of pre-game ceremonies, and posted on your website? Do your security personnel evenhandedly enforce the fan rules of conduct, meaning that it applies to everyone attending a Rays game at Tropicana Field?

Anyone who has been banned for life will have a document that you or your security staff direct the St. Petersburg Police Department – working in an off duty capacity as Tropicana Field security with the power of arrest as law enforcement officers – called a trespass warning. People that have been issued trespass warnings are often humiliated as they are akin to being booked into the Pinellas County Jail. In Florida, a trespass warning is equivalent to a conviction for trespassing without the benefit of due process and trial in that a record akin to a criminal record is created on the person. Why do I say this? A police officer can find out by way of the laptop computer or via radio within a few seconds whether a person has had a trespass warning issued against the person or not.

Finally, Mr. Hardy, if you want to ban someone from Tropicana Field for a minor transgression of the ballpark rules of fan conduct, I believe it should not exceed the remainder of the season in question as well as the next season if the incident occurs close to the end of the regular season. To be honest and frank with you, banning a person for life is like sentencing a person to life in Florida State Prison for disorderly conduct as well as trespassing after warning.

I await your response to my open letter to you which I have posted on my blog as well as on my website.


A PDF version of this letter can also be found on my Florida Trespassing Laws topic page at EdwardRingwald.com. Stay tuned.

10 May 2011

New Guardianship Topic at EdwardRingwald.com

Back in August 2009 I wrote a blog entry about the legalized exploitation of the elderly and disabled thanks to Florida's guardianship laws, which need a major overhaul. That blog entry received a few comments and I have replied to them.

I have decided to take the issue of guardianship in Florida a step further. I have created a topic over at EdwardRingwald.com that deals with guardianship in Florida and the rampant abuse of Florida's guardianship laws. I have also created a white paper (which you can access right from the topic page) that goes into a little more detail, as I did not want to write a long web page.

You can easily get on over to my new topic on guardianship in Florida simply by clicking on this link. There you will find a brief run-down of what guardianship in Florida is, plus a link to the white paper I made as well as links to other sources on the web that deal with guardianship abuse.

After all, Florida needs to desperately reform its guardianship laws and provide for the dignity of the person who is incapacitated. A part of this reform should be enhanced criminal penalties for any guardian - personal or professional - who commits any act of exploitation of the elderly or disabled as well as veterans of our United States Armed Forces who proudly served our country. The same enhanced criminal penalties (especially for perjury related to a guardianship) should also apply to anyone who willfully fraudulently petitions the courts to determine a person's capacity; this is rampant in cases of when these emergency petitions for guardianship are filed based on my research of the subject.

Unfortunately, given the current political climate in Tallahassee with a governor that does not care about the people of the State of Florida, I don't think guardianship reform will happen. And it won't happen for the forseeable future as I see it.

Just remember, if you are concerned about your loved one (such as your parents), remember this:


And by the way, I am dedicating my topic on Guardianship in Florida on my web site to those people in the great State of Florida that have been victimized by guardianship, especially Carol Kinnear of Clearwater who was wrongfully taken away by a professional guardian and was the subject of a St. Petersburg Times article written by Drew Harwell on 20 August 2009.

07 May 2011

Rick Scott trying to polish Florida's image? Not!

Just recently I had the honor of seeing my nephew graduate from Florida State University in Tallahassee. It was an excellent graduation ceremony.

While the graduation ceremony took place in Tallahassee (the nerve center of everything the State of Florida) I had to stay in Valdosta, across the state line in Georgia. After all, the closer you got to Tallahassee on graduation weekend you are faced with either sold out hotel rooms or if there were any hotel rooms left, be prepared to pay a hefty premium. In fact, when I planned my trip back in early January 2011 (right after I got word that my nephew would be graduating this year) the only hotel room I could find near Tallahassee was in Quincy. The asking price: $200 a night! I said to myself, try Valdosta - only 80 miles from Tallahassee.

And I proved myself right. I found a hotel room in Valdosta for $99 a night. At least it was a decent hotel priced just right for my wallet.

The day I left Valdosta for St. Petersburg, I decide on taking a longer way back home instead of reliable Interstate 75 which would take me on US 84 east to Waycross, then south on US 1 to the town of Folkston. After all, Folkston is where all rail traffic headed to Florida passes through including the two Amtrak trains that serve Florida, the only exception is trains that come from the west directly into Jacksonville.

After an hour of train watching in Folkston, it was time to head towards Interstate 95 south which would take me through Jacksonville and the eastern terminus of Interstate 4 in Daytona Beach, then west on Interstate 4 towards St. Petersburg through Orlando and Tampa. Once I crossed the St. Mary's River and over the state line into my home state of Florida, this is what I found:

What? Rick Scott plastering his name at the entrance to our great State of Florida?

I better verify that. Let me stop at the State of Florida Welcome Center on Interstate 95 south to confirm this:

No other Florida governor - Bob Graham, Bob Martinez, Lawton Chiles, Jeb Bush or even Charlie Crist - ever put their names below a Welcome to Florida sign at the state line. As a lifelong Floridian, I was extremely flabbergasted and disgusted as I think Rick Scott is trying to polish the image of the State of Florida to our visitors while at the same time Rick Scott is doing everything to destroy the State of Florida as we know it.

I went inside the Florida Welcome Center to pick up my obligatory sample of orange juice. After a few minutes, I got back onto Interstate 95 towards home. After all, Rick Scott threw approximately 25,000 potential jobs in the trash can when he rejected the federal money for high speed rail. If you want proof, take a ride on Interstate 4 between Tampa and Orlando and look at the wide median: That wide median is the spot where the high speed rail would have been located.

Besides, the State of Florida is slowly being taken away from the people of this great state. Rick Scott is proving this point by plastering his name at the principal entrances to the State of Florida. Rick Scott's "let's get to work" mantra is nothing:

To the family whose home value is underwater and struggling to pay the mortgage.
To the state employee (including law enforcement and teachers) who is thinking, will I have a job tomorrow?
To children who want a decent education rather than constant drill and practice for the annual FCAT test.
To people who are looking for work.
To people who are subjected to discrimination when looking for work.
To a homeowner having to pay steep homeowners insurance premiums, especially when the insurer is Citizens.
To the school administrator (including school principals) who has had more pressure added to his or her workload now that FCAT scores are tied to school performance.
And the list goes on and on...

We need to take back our State of Florida, before it is too late. Now that the 2011 Florida Legislature has adjourned for the year it appears that HJR 785 - the bill that would place a constitutional amendment on the 2012 ballot paving the way for the recall of Rick Scott - did not pass. However, what we can do as Florida residents is to get a citizen initiative going to get this important amendment into the Constitution of the State of Florida and hold our state leaders - including the governor and top cabinet officials - responsible and accountable to the people of this great state.

After all, California did it in 2003. Why can't Florida?