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Weatherford announces session but warns of disrupting election with new districts

In an email to House members and staff late Sunday, House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, acknowledged that he and Senate President Don Gaetz have called members into session starting Thursday, Aug. 7 "for the sole and exclusive purpose of reapportioning Florida's Congressional Districts" but he warned of the problems of applying the changes to this year's elections. 

Leon County Circuit Judge Terry Lewis on Friday ordered lawmakers to revise their congressional redistricting map to fix two districts he had previously ordered unconstitutional — those held by U.S. Reps. Corrine Brown, D-Jacksonville, and Dan Webster, R-Winter Garden.

Lewis gave the Legislature until Aug. 15 to fix the map and said he was considering calling a special election after the Nov. 4 general election for the affected districts. He called for an Aug. 20 hearing to allow lawyers for the plaintiffs in the case, a group of voting organizations, and the defendants, the GOP-led Legislature, to present their arguments on what the court should decide.

"We continue to maintain our strong objection to any attempt to disrupt the current election process. Florida’s Supervisors of Elections have raised serious concerns over changing the elections process at this late date,'' Weatherford wrote.

"The NAACP also pointed out in their response to Judge Lewis that, “In a special election, get-out-the-vote infrastructure simply does not exist. Voters who face challenges to political participation – be it financial, job scheduling, transportation, or other impediments – will be irreparably harmed by conducting the election at a time where that infrastructure does not exist.”

Here's Weatherford's email: 

From: Will.Weatherford@myfloridahouse.gov
Sent: Sunday, August 03, 2014 9:07 PM
To: Will.Weatherford@myfloridahouse.gov
Subject: Special Session - Redistricting
 

Dear Members:

In response to the rulings issued by Judge Lewis on July 10, 2014 and August 1, 2014, the Florida Legislature has decided to produce a Congressional map to address the Court’s limited concerns.  Accordingly, the House and Senate have agreed to call ourselves into special session on Thursday, August 7 for the sole and exclusive purpose of reapportioning Florida’s Congressional Districts.

We continue to maintain our strong objection to any attempt to disrupt the current election process. Florida’s Supervisors of Elections have raised serious concerns over changing the elections process at this late date. The NAACP also pointed out in their response to Judge Lewis that, “In a special election, get-out-the-vote infrastructure simply does not exist. Voters who face challenges to political participation – be it financial, job scheduling, transportation, or other impediments – will be irreparably harmed by conducting the election at a time where that infrastructure does not exist.”

Tens of thousands of our service men and women overseas have received their ballots, and over one million absentee ballots have been mailed to Floridians. Members, we intend to vigorously defend the integrity and validity of Floridians’ votes that have already been and will be cast in the upcoming election.

I understand that calling a special session at this late date will require you to rearrange your schedules. I have directed staff to provide you with detailed information tomorrow to assist you with your travel arrangements.

 

Comments

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ed jenkins

The citizens want this most horrible lewis removed as a judge who attempts to overstep his job and throw elections into chaos. They gave the power to the legislature for mundane administrative procedure to their legislature and they want this nonsense to end despite the wishes of a small group of cartographers and a group that claims to represent one sex of voters who have too much time on their hands and need to be entertained.

Doug Watson

More insightful comments from the GOP's mouthpiece. Wow, talking about people with too much time on their hands!!

James Mejuto

What a LIAR you are, Jenkins. "The citizens" have not said anything, except Republicans, about Judge Lewis. He's not an activist judge, just one who's concerned about fair elections. Stop gerrymandering, idiot!

palmettoexile

Weatherford and Gaetz are both in the catbird seat; Weatherford's statement that they will indeed, call a special session in order to follow the laws that they previously ignored. Weatherford is APOLOGIZING to these people who are essentially criminals-they willingly and with intent broke the law. He is not repentant of the act, he's sorry they must return to do their jobs-after all, the Legislators no doubt, have summer 'plans' and schedules that will be interrupted. This, for people who work 3 months out of the year! I wonder if the 'help' offered in rearranging their schedules and travel plans will be at taxpayer expense. If such is the case, not only Weatherford, but every one of these Members-millionaires all- should be fired immediately.
Had the Republicans done their job correctly, the redistricting process would currently not be in such disarray. However,they did not; as Lewis stated, they conspired to deceive the public at all stages of the process.
For Weatherford and others to now attempt to carry out an election based on illegally drawn districts is bad enough; for them to use the ballots mailed out to 'our servicemen/women is atrocious in the most blatant sense of self-preservation. The chaos that a delay will cause is of the Republican leadership's making. They intentionally and deliberately skewed the district lines and then, compounding that disastrous and illegal decision, deleted all correspondence, emails, etc.-knowing that appeals would be filed. The Republicans do not feel it incumbent upon themselves to adhere to their own laws of transparency and ethical behavior. The 'citizens" of Florida are sufficiently intelligent enough to be able to ascertain when their Representatives have been caught in illegal acts.
The Republicans at the top of the food chain in Tally made a mockery of the ethics and transparency laws -those very laws they are constantly trumpeting as their modus operandi. In this case, they offered the national media a ready-made news bite that should embarrass every citizen in this State-and those politicians who committed such fraud.
And Weatherford is complaining about the "upsetting these peoples' travel plans"??
Insofar as the charges that changing the election (dates) will possibly disenfranchise a section of voters in this State-that the "... infrastructure doesn't exist.." to allow a minority group to vote due to problems with travel, work, or other impediments-well, the Republicans themselves ,under Scott, are the creators of this problem. Lest any forget, Scott was responsible for the voter suppression laws enacted shortly after he bought the office. They now are attempting to place blame on others?? How stupid do they think the citizens are??
The entire redistricting process, as conducted, was illegal. The Repubs, however, believe that we the citizens, should accept their illegally drawn maps and vote in what essentially is a fraudulent election?
I would like to see them appeal Lewis' ruling; if so, they would be forced to admit guilt-which, if any noted, they have not. They merely said they would, "of course," accept the judge's decision while neither denying nor admitting culpability or wrongdoing. Florida politicians are, if nothing else, Masters of Hyperbole; they lie using word salad, hoping that none are aware of the deception. As Lewis said, they conspired to deceive the voters ; while he said he was unable to prove "intent" at this juncture, he suspected as much (well, DUH!)by the deliberate deletion of all correspondence associated the process while knowing appeals would be filed.
With people such as these in power and making the laws, Florida truly deserves the moniker of 'corruption'. This is the norm in Tallahassee; it should not and must not be acceptable to the voters.
(@ James-ed jenkins isn't worth your time or effort-he continuously mistakes this section of the paper for the comics. At times, his comments ARE quite comical. I think he has a file where he copies his 'comment" of the day and then pastes it-lol )

palmettoexile

Just for "... and grins", I'll post the email that went out from Gaetz the deputy counsel to all members-

"Accordingly, I draw your attention to the record retention policies set forth in the House Rules. House Rule 14.2 governing legislative business records dictates that records that are required to be created by the House Rules or that are of vital, permanent, or archival value shall be maintained, provided they are of sufficient administrative, legal, or fiscal significance to warrant their retention.

"Accordingly, you should keep and do not delete any and all records related to redistricting, including copies of unfiled draft maps, unfiled draft bills and amendments, correspondence, emails, texts and other electronic communications, whether sent or received on official House accounts or devices or personal email accounts or devices."
The previous is their OWN rules-which they ignored. Perhaps they needed a 'refresher course" in the laws of the State?

palmettoexile

Just for "... and grins", I'll post the email that went out from Gaetz and the deputy counsel to all members-

"Accordingly, I draw your attention to the record retention policies set forth in the House Rules. House Rule 14.2 governing legislative business records dictates that records that are required to be created by the House Rules or that are of vital, permanent, or archival value shall be maintained, provided they are of sufficient administrative, legal, or fiscal significance to warrant their retention.

"Accordingly, you should keep and do not delete any and all records related to redistricting, including copies of unfiled draft maps, unfiled draft bills and amendments, correspondence, emails, texts and other electronic communications, whether sent or received on official House accounts or devices or personal email accounts or devices."
The previous quotes are their OWN rules-which they ignored. Perhaps they needed a 'refresher course' in the laws of the State?

palmettoexile

My apologies to all-for some reason, my last comment posted twice. Have no idea why. Mayhaps I have gremlins in my computer's innards..or something. Sorry.

James Mejuto

It's interesting and unbelievable at the same time that only one political party,Republicans,redrew the electoral maps. I remember well, the mock public hearings Republicans carried off, convincing us the voters actually had a say in this sham exercise,the Republicans carried off. Why is there not a law requiring both major parties to participate in redistricting? Anyway, please tell me what was wrong with the districts the way they were represented? I guess,not enough Republicans in charge!

Bill Thompson

It is good to see that the legislature is taking the constitution amendments regarding voter re-districting more seriously and starting to comply with the law that passed with bi-partisan voter approval.

palmettoexile

"Starting to comply"-is correct, Bill. Whether they'll actually DO it or not-that's the question. The Repubs are already setting the stage for their NON-compliance. Ready made excuses-chaos, ballots already sent-and received, not to mention the disruption of our Republican legislator's summer schedules.. Ah, I forgot-all the military servicemen/women who already cast their votes-wonder if THEY know this was going to another rigged election ? Weatherford, Gaetz, and friends seem to think that one more illegal election won't make any measurable difference in outcome.

Bill Thompson

If the GOP controlled legislature does not comply with the judge's ruling, he should hold them in contempt of court and have them arrested.

palmettoexile

Bill Thompson, I agree. If they decide not to comply, I can't wait for the decisions/comments the Federal court will render. Frankly, since we know they already defied several laws, they should be arrested now;were an ordinary business/person to do likewise, arrest would occur immediately.

"D"-the least YOU could do is avail yourself of a dictionary. For one who harbors such animosity towards another, your obvious lack of writing/spelling/grammar skills reveal you to be extremely ignorant,to be kind. I suspect most merely ignore your rants and skip to the next.

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