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Commentary, sarcasm and snide remarks from a Florida resident of over thirty years. Being a glutton for punishment is a requirement for residency here. Who am I? I've been called a moonbat by Michelle Malkin, a Right Wing Nut by Daily Kos, and middle of the road by Florida blog State of Sunshine. Tell me what you think.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

No taxpayer money for trips to Cuba

Yesterday Governor Bush signed a new law that will take effect beginning July 1st.

Colleges and universities in Florida now are banned from using state money to travel to such countries as Cuba under a law Gov. Jeb Bush signed Tuesday.

The Travel to Terrorist States Act also prohibits a state-paid school from spending any money -- state or private -- on any aspect of organizing a trip to any of the five nations listed by the U.S. State Department as a state sponsor of terror.

Miami Republican Rep. David Rivera, who has sponsored a number of Cuba-crackdown bills, said the law was designed to stop his constituents' tax money from underwriting Fidel Castro's regime.


Though the bill sailed unanimously out of the Legislature, some academics opposed it, saying it ultimately will lead to closed minds, as well as closed borders. Florida International University Professor Lisandro Perez said the law reflects ''all-around demagoguery'' and would be challenged in court.

''The public opinion battle is over,'' he said. 'The `I'll see you in court' round has just begun.''

Sorry I don't see what the fuss is. Why should taxpayer money go to funding trips to these places? It shouldn't, and that's what is at issue here. If a professor wants to travel to Cuba, he can. Just don't expect the people of Florida to foot the bill.

The ACLU isn't happy with this stance.

TALLAHASSEE - (AP) -- A civil rights group criticized a new law, signed Tuesday by Gov. Jeb Bush, that restricts colleges and universities from using state funds for travel to countries classified as terrorist states by the U.S. government.

''This will be another embarrassing mark on Florida's reputation,'' said Howard Simon, executive director of the Florida American Civil Liberties Union.

The law will stifle research in countries that Americans need to know about in order to improve security, Simon said. He said it also could get in the way of academic and humanitarian projects.
Guess who's side the Palm Beach Post took?

Consider the source, and it's obvious that the legislation that would prohibit state education-affiliated travel to "terrorist countries" is all about Cuba.

Rep. David Rivera, R-Miami, the bill's sponsor, called the communist country a haven of "killers, terrorists and drug traffickers." He also noted that it is the country with the most travel activity organized by Florida's universities and colleges.

Such pandering by the Cuban-American lawmaker is counterproductive. Outside of U.S. intelligence agencies, no institutions should be more expert on Cuba than Florida colleges and universities. Opposing the legislation are the state Board of Governors, the university system chancellor and the American Association of University Professors.

It's bad enough that the federal government continues to restrict travel to Cuba by people who want to visit their relatives. It would add to the problem if scholars and researchers couldn't visit. How prepared would Florida be if there is a change in government and an opening to the state and nation? "We are on the doorstep of Cuba, and if anyone should be trying to figure it out, it should be Florida schools," Florida Atlantic University Professor Robert Watson told The Post. "The hallmark of academia is scholarly freedom and free thought."

The Cuban government doesn't regard those as virtues, so why would Florida want to emulate Fidel Castro? It all goes back to the Legislature, which is trying to run rather than finance the universities while injecting ideology in the name of countering ideology.

It's one thing for Rep. Rivera and other lawmakers to play to their base. It's another for the Legislature to underwrite it at the expense of scholarship. Gov. Bush should veto this bill that, economically and educationally, would hurt Florida.
Only the Post or other liberals sees saving taxpayer money as hurting the state of Florida. I agree Rivera is probably pandering to constituents. It's I am sick of taxpayer money going to waste and subsidizing trips to Cuba a country hostile to US interests is a waste of money. I'm sure the Post has other favorite causes this money could be better spent on. You'll just never hear them admit it.

Stop the ACLU is also blogging on this.
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