WMNF’s daily digest of news headlines for Thursday, March 2nd, 2023

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DeSantis after new State Attorney

Gov. Ron DeSantis is taking aim at yet another democratic State Attorney – this time it’s Monique Worrell in Florida’s 9th Circuit Court. DeSantis has ordered an audit into the shootings in an Orlando suburb that killed a mother, a 9-year-old girl and a Spectrum news reporter last week. In a letter sent to Worrell, DeSantis said it was “galling” that suspect Keith Melvin Moses was allowed to remain on the streets after multiple arrests.

Prior to his arrest last Wednesday, the 19 yr. old had been taken into custody more than a dozen times on charges including domestic battery, burglary and drug possession. All but the marijuana arrest occurred prior to Worrell taking office.

DeSantis has given Worrell until March 14th to turn over copies of all documents related to the case, as well as information on cases that were NOT prosecuted by her office. When asked for her thoughts about DeSantis inserting himself into this case, Worrell said, “I don’t make decisions based on political reasons….and the fact that this tragedy has been politicized is shameful.”

DeSantis used a similar MO when he suspended – and ultimately fired – Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren after he signed a pledge not to prosecute women who received an abortion or their doctors, or families seeking treatment for transgender minors.

Death penalty proposal

Republican state lawmakers filed proposals Wed. that seek to allow the death penalty for people who commit sexual batteries on children under age 12. Senate Bill 1342 and House Bill 1297 conflict with longstanding decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court and the Florida Supreme Court that bar death sentences in such cases. Gov. DeSantis said he doesn’t think the current U.S. Supreme Court would uphold that ruling should it come before them now. Under the proposed bills, it would only take eight of the 12 jurors to recommend death sentences in sexual-battery cases.

Proposed bill takes aim at news media

A Florida bill introduced last week would make it easier to successfully sue news media for defamation, with several provisions that defy landmark Supreme Court rulings on First Amendment rights. The legislation, filed by Pensacola Republican Rep. Alex Andrade, comes weeks after Gov. Ron DeSantis held a roundtable discussion on what he described as the impact of defamatory reporting by news media companies. Andrade says his bill, House Bill 991 is trying to restore public discourse—not silence it.

Media organizations and first amendment groups worry Andrade’s plan could chill speech—political or not—due to its broadness. They also worry it is unconstitutional and could be a vehicle to set up a challenge to a U.S. Supreme Court’s decision that protects media from being sued over unintentional mistakes.

Commissioner suggests library break

The Tampa Bay Times is reporting that Hillsborough County commissioner Michael Owen is calling for the county’s 30-branch library system to drop its affiliation with the American Library Association. The widely respected non-profit organization began in 1876 and promotes libraries and library education internationally.

Owen told fellow commissioner yesterday that the association has “clearly gone radical,” morphing from a library resource to an activist organization. To prove his point, Owen read a statement to the commission written by the association’s incoming president Emily Drabinski, who said “The consequences of decades of unchecked climate change, class war, white supremacy and imperialism have led us here…. If we want a world that includes public goods like the library, we must organize our collective power and wield it.’ However, the Times notes Owen dropped the reference to “white supremacy.”

Dunedin community saves preserve

One Dunedin community banded together to save a historic preserve from destruction by a private developer.

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