The Worst

     What’s the worst state in the nation?
     There’s so much to choose from in the more than 1 million lawsuits Courthouse has to choose from every year.
     Four of the past seven governors of my old home state of Illinois have gone to prison.
     But a body count of indictments shows New York is more corrupt at every level.
     Police in Los Angeles are surely the most brutal and violent in the nation. (See Courthouse News’ top story today.)
     Sheriff’s departments in Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia are nearly as bad, though, and they abuse people with less staffing and lower pay.
     Delaware is our leading whore to corporations.
     But the Pennsylvania Legislature outwhored Delaware by making it illegal for doctors to talk about the effects of fracking on public health. That’s right: Pennsylvania passed a bill declaring fracking a “trade secret.” That sort of institutional corruption does more damage more efficiently than paying cops to whomp on people’s heads.
     But Arkansas has state Sen. Mark Bell, who tweeted during the manhunt after the Boston Marathon murders: “I wonder how many Boston liberals spent the night cowering in their homes wishing they had an AR-15 with a hi-capacity magazine?” What a classy guy. When people around the country tore him a new one for it, he replied, in effect, not that he loved Boston less, but that he loves guns more.
     Arizona leads the nation in organized hate, thanks to the strenuous efforts of its governor, Jan Brewer, and to the morons who re-elected the loathsome Joe Arpaio to his fifth term as sheriff.
     Oklahoma cops are just as racist, though, against black folks and Latinos.
     Texas Gov. Rick Perry is surely the stupidest big-state governor in the nation, and the most willfully ignorant.
     But I’m going with Florida as the worst state, and I’ll tell you why.
     First, because it has more employment class actions than any three other states combined. Florida state government doesn’t give a good goddamn about poor working people. If it did, it might enforce labor laws, oh, say once a year. But it doesn’t, so they have to sue.
     But the cappers are the new bills in the Florida House and Senate that would – are you ready for this? – make it easier and faster for banks to foreclose on homeowners. Florida government feels so bad for the poor bankers that it’s trying to enact laws that would apply retroactively to homeowners who might otherwise be able to hold onto their houses.
     But don’t take my word for it – read the April 15 issue of The Florida Bar News, in which 28 Florida attorneys signed a long letter analyzing Florida’s HB 87 and SB 1666, and objecting to them.
     Florida is one of the states hardest hit by fraudulent foreclosures. More than 30,000 Florida foreclosures were dismissed in 2012 alone for incomplete or fraudulent documentation, according to the 28 attorneys.
     That’s more than 120 foreclosure dismissals every working day: one every 4 minutes all year during work hours.
     “The proposed legislation would effectively undo 250 years of American jurisprudence, returning us to a legal dark age,” the attorneys wrote. “Furthermore, certain proposed amendments would apply retroactively, creating ex post facto provisions which violate both our state and federal constitutions.”
     The “expedited” procedures and “Finality of Foreclosure” provisions would “prevent homeowners from ever getting their home back even after a foreclosure is overturned,” the 28 attorneys say: “the homeowner would be entitled to economic damages only. No matter how blatant the fraud, no matter how obvious the forgery, no matter what errors are committed, once a judgment is entered, the wronged homeowner could never get that property back again.”
     Isn’t that fine? Isn’t it medieval?
     This is the state from which I expect our next Republican presidential nominee will come. Here’s a hint for reporters: Start boning up on Jeb Bush’s relationship with the corrupt Florida hospital and health care industry during his eight years as governor.
     Just a suggestion.

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