Know the Issues

Supreme Court has consistently ruled with what is clear in the Constitution, “fundamental premise that all political power flows from the people,”

 

Florida Freedom Legal Fund recognizes the powerful impact of our local governing. Our local community members who are elected to represent us in our local government in the areas of County Leadership, Law Enforcement, City Governing, School Districts, Tax Collection, and Soil & Water Conservation have a far-reaching impact on our daily lives. They make decisions which impact every aspect of our local community.

 

Ask yourself, are you unhappy with congestion, car crash rates, or car insurance rates?  Does your street have potholes that need fixing? Are your schools overcrowded, understaffed, or inexplicably losing millions of dollars annually? Is there a balance in small business development, housing development, and balanced planning to ensure infrastructure with available resources to properly support the community? All these issues are handled at the local governing level such as city, county, and school board.

 

In a Republic we vote for community members to represent the constituents in the governing of our nation. Representation requires those elected public officials to ask the community, you the constituent, how you would like to be represented.

 

Freedom requires the governing of the people, by the people, for the people to be inclusive of all the people. When those who are elected to represent the people ignore the laws of the land, the voices of the people, and attempt to rule without the participation of the people it endangers the Republic.

 

Florida Freedom Legal Fund is dedicated in supporting every legal action through public education, advocacy, and litigation in the areas of justice as a community-based organization to empower the Floridian constituency to be active, informed participatory members in their local community government and ensure governing of our community is of the people, by the people, for the people.

Current Cause

Florida Freedom Legal Fund will be addressing the violations of Florida Sunshine Law and the Constitutional rights of local constituents in the Reapportionment of the constituents' voting districts for local county School Board representation of the 7th largest school district in the nation, 2nd largest employer in Hillsborough County, Florida, and the $3.3 billion public community asset.

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In a Republic we vote for community members to represent the constituents. Representation requires that the Hillsborough County school board members ensure public participation in the development of the constituents new voting districts to elect their School Board Representative. Hillsborough County School Board did not operate in the Sunshine nor ensure the local constituents were provided due notice in accordance with the law to participate in public meetings regarding their voting districts. Denying the public opportunity to participate in governing, express their viewpoints to be represented, governing out of the Sunshine is equal to Dictation, not Representation.

 

Timeline of Events:

October 19, 2021
A school board member presented a motion to proceed with the reapportionment of the constituents' voting districts, an item not placed on the Agenda or announced to the public prior to the meeting. The Hillsborough County School Board voted by majority to proceed with the reapportionment of the constituents’ voting districts for the School Board Representation. All other large counties in Florida began reapportionment of voting districts with at least a 4 to 6 months timeline with inclusive community engagement on the development of the maps.

 

October 22, 2021

A Special School Board meeting scheduled for Thursday, October 28, 2021, was announced in a HCPS press release, grouped in with other Press Releases on School District website. Published to the website only on Friday, October 22, 2021. The meeting was scheduled for Thursday, October 28, 2021, 11:30 a.m. The published press release was six days prior to the meeting. Two of the days were non-working days. 

 

October 28, 2021

The Special School Board Meeting scheduled for this date, Thursday, October 28, 2021, at 11:30 a.m., was cancelled. The cancellation occurred one hour prior to the meeting.

 

October 28, 2021

Press release for Special School Board Meeting scheduled for Tuesday, November 02, 2021, at 9 a.m. The press released was published on the district website four days prior to the meeting, two of the days were a weekend. 

 

November 02, 2021

The majority of HCPS School Board passed a vote to reapportion the constituents voting districts to elect school board representatives on a timeline of 6  weeks and only a 24 hour timeline to submit proposed maps of your new Voting District for Electing your School Board Representative.

 

The timeline did not provide you with ample notice so you can participate. Florida Sunshine Law requires the public is give due notice. All of the Maps were created Out of the Sunshine with ZERO public participation or oversight. Maps created out of the Sunshine were the presented to the public.

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Why is this issue so important?

School boards have a massive direct effect on local economies throughout the state of Florida. Public schools drive small business as well as real estate markets. In every county in Florida, the district school board is one of the top ten largest employers and is the largest employer in 46 counties and the second largest in 15 counties. Hillsborough County School District is the 2nd largest employer in Hillsborough County the current reapportionment actions by the school board disenfranchises constituents’ equal representation.

 

The 14th Amendment

 

When you are denied equal representation,
you are denied equal protection.

 

Equal Protection

Equal Protection refers to the idea that a governmental body may not deny people equal protection of its governing laws. The governing body must treat an individual in the same manner as others in similar conditions and circumstances.

 

The Equal Protection Clause is part of the first section of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. The clause, which took effect in 1868, provides "nor shall any State ... deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws".

 

One person, one vote - equal protection

 

Excerpt from a separate opinion by Justice Clarence Thomas,

"The elegantly simple idea that those elected to legislatures across the nation actually “represent people, not trees” is not a part of the written text of the Constitution, but for the past 52 years, it has been a part of the basic understanding that each person who casts a vote is equal to every other voter. It is essential to the core theory of a democracy, that the people rule, and do so with equal political authority.

 

The current reapportionment of your voting district to elect your school board Representation denies a significant portion of Hillsborough County constituents the right to vote with equal political authority.

 

From 2010 to 2020 Hillsborough County grew nearly 20% from 1,229,226 people to 1,417,968. Eastern and Southern Hillsborough, primarily all the areas east of Interstate 75 including Ruskin, Sun City Center, and Apollo Beach had nearly a 34% growth rate. The majority of growth took place in East & South County the current maps deny equal representation reflective of that growth.
 

  • Eastern and Southern Hillsborough County now represents 34% of the total population of the county or in other words 1 out of every 3 people live east of Interstate 75.

  • The actions of reapportionment were conducted with Special School Board Meetings and denied the public due notice as required by Florida Sunshine Law.

  • Public involvement allowed AFTER the maps are submitted is not representation. The public was dictated maps created out of the sunshine. This denied the constituents what the Supreme Court deemed essential to core theory of democracy and the Constitution that the people rule, and do so with equal political authority.

  • Population numbers and representation from the community should reflect in our representation. Growth in South & East Hillsborough County should be reflected in representation from the community. This growth clearly indicates a need for an additional School Board Representative for the constituency to be appropriately represented and equally protected under the law.

The current approved map denies many of our constituents the right to vote for representation of the school board member who is designated for local schools their children attend.