Stayed, delayed, displayed, well-paid

Four topics:

(1) Drop that floor plan and put your hands up! In December I wrote about a law that makes it illegal in Florida to call yourself an "interior designer," or to act as one, without a state license.

The state has stepped up enforcement in recent years, such as citing office-furniture stores for helping customers decide how many desks and chairs they might need.

Critics call the law silly and unnecessary. Designers say that it protects the public, for instance by avoiding fire hazards and ensuring the use of proper materials.

Naturally, somebody filed a lawsuit. On Aug. 7, a federal judge signed a preliminary injunction — agreed to by both sides — that stops enforcement for now, at least against people who call themselves residential designers.

The order found a First Amendment right "to advertise those services using terms that accurately describe themselves and the services they lawfully provide."

The injunction is preliminary; the lawsuit plugs along.

(2) Charlie says yes, yes, yes — but his guy says no, no, no. Remember that Gov. Charlie Crist signed Senate Bill 360, which rolls back some of Florida's controls on growth.

Yet Crist's own secretary of the Department of Community Affairs disagrees with the Legislature over exactly what the bill does. This resulted in a recent exchange of letters with some veiled testiness.

The secretary, Tom Pelham, says that the law only repealed the state's requirements for building new roads and such to handle growth — but it did not automatically repeal the local rules still on the books.

Two leaders of the Legislature wrote a letter to Pelham on June 24 that said, more or less: No, honest, we repealed those local rules. We should know; we wrote the law.

A month later, Pelham got around to a reply that said: No, you're wrong. I went to all your meetings, and I never heard y'all say any such thing.

I still think it's too bad Pelham didn't squawk loud enough to get Crist to veto the bill in the first place. I dislike the law, but am not sure how much department secretaries ought to get to thumb their nose at the Legislature.

(3) How about "pd. pol. adv."? Our law rightly requires political ads to be fully labeled as such. But the strict requirement was written by folks who, at the time, had never heard of Google.

One of the candidates for mayor of St. Petersburg, Scott Wagman, is the subject of a complaint for buying a sponsored link on Google that didn't have room for the full disclaimer.

No blood, no foul, says me. The law is intended to prevent candidates from deceiving voters. A "sponsored link" on Google is clearly an ad; the link took users to a Wagman site with the full disclaimer.

I'd drag out the case until the Legislature fixes the law and then excuse him, as the lawyers like to say, ex post facto.

(4) Make 'em say if they want others to pay. Progress Energy Florida, like Florida Power & Light, is fighting an effort at the Public Service Commission to make public the salaries of its top-paid employees.

Fork it over. Progress is a regulated monopoly trying to use government to stick the customers for an extra $500 million a year. I imagine these salaries will be (a) big and (b) embarrassing. But you know, if they don't want the privilege of having the state set their allowed profit, they should go work in the real private sector.

Stayed, delayed, displayed, well-paid 08/12/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, August 18, 2009 5:24pm]

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