Legislative tricks starve the courts
It is obvious that the Florida Legislature has great disdain for our state court system. Each year it seems to do everything in its power to starve our judicial system, despite being a separate, co-equal, branch of government.
What is most shocking to me as a member of the legal profession is that when I first moved to Florida in 1993, divorce filing fees were $138.50 and included a counter-claim. These fees today are $408 for a divorce petition and $403 for a counter-petition and do not include various junk fees, such as a $10 summons fee. This represents a 585 percent increase in the past 18 years. This rate of increase is outrageous.
The sales pitch by the Florida Legislature was that additional fees were supposed to enhance the quality of services provided by the clerk's office and allow the court system to pay for itself. Nothing could be further from the truth. No sooner did we see skyrocketing filing fees, when we also started seeing poorer service, followed by employee lay-offs. The Florida Legislature continued to starve the judicial system by taking this additional revenue and spending it elsewhere.
With all of this additional fee revenue, there should not have to be employee layoffs or decline in services. The Florida Legislature made it appear as though funds were for the courts when instead the fees became part of the general revenue fund subject to reallocation elsewhere in the state budget.
Contrast this with our local Penny for Pasco sales tax initiative where funds were earmarked for a specific purpose and then used for that purpose (infrastructure and education improvements). The Pasco Penny sales tax warrants renewal because the county has fulfilled its promise to the voters.
The Florida Legislature warrants harsh criticism for raising court filing fees, which price gouge the average citizen for accessing our justice system, and then using those fees for non-judicial purposes.
Chuck Kalogianis, Trinity
Krewe of Chasco is disrespectful
Some time in the near future, people of good conscience will look back on the infamous Krewe of Chasco in the same way that we now look upon the genocide of millions of American Indians, the enslavement of Africans, the Jim Crow laws that perpetuated economic slavery into our lifetimes, and the vilification of migrant workers for all our present ills. We will wonder how we allowed such un-American behavior.
For white business and civic leaders to dress in authentic (and sacred) American Indian regalia as others dress like pirates, or cowboys, is to add insult to the injury and deaths of American Indians, and now besmirching their culture and spirituality. To applaud the Krewe of Chasco and its participation in local regional parades like the Chasco Fiesta parade on March 24 is to act toward our first Americans as we once acted toward African Americans with colored minstrel shows.
So how does the Krewe of Chasco honor Florida Indians as their charter with the state requires? By using American Indian culture and spirituality to party hearty. Look closely when the Krewe of Chasco float and its followers go by, and look deeper than their stolen culture and spirituality of American Indians. See if you can find one decent, human soul with compassion and true respect for others.
Daniel Callaghan, New Port Richey