Recent editorials from Florida newspapers:

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Feb. 5

Miami Herald on the Dolphins hiring New England defensive play-caller Brian Flores as head coach:

A new era — a successful one, we hope — begins for the Miami Dolphins with the official hiring and introduction of new head coach Brian Flores on Monday.

Thank goodness, because when it comes to the Dolphins, this town needs a hero — pronto.

Team owner Stephen Ross is putting his money on the franchise's 13th coach (let's hope that's not a jinx) that he'll be a modern-day version of Don Shula, Like Flores, Shula was also hired in February — of 1970. Fingers crossed.

Flores arrives fresh from the Super Bowl victory on Sunday of his now-former team, the New England Patriots. At the game, Flores was the defensive playcaller and the assistant linebackers' coach who helped engineer a near shutout of the Los Angeles Rams. If the game was low scoring and boring, it's probably his fault.

Still, greater Miami is hoping that Flores brings that winning gold dust with him.

Flores, the son of Honduran immigrants who settled in Brooklyn, becomes the teams' first Hispanic coach — and joins University of Miami coach Manny Diaz with the same distinction.

There is a downside, though. Flores, 37, has no experience as a head coach. But he has been coaching next to one of the greatest coaches of all time, Bill Belichick, and the greatest quarterback, Tom Brady. So, in addition to the talent that he does bring, he's also highly qualified through osmosis.

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Flores comes with the most needed qualification: He knows how to win. As he said at his news conference, he'll have a team full of "selfless players" who believe the team comes first.

Ross and General Manager Chris Grier, who knew Flores from when they both worked with the Patriots, said the front office is looking for a lasting fix to the Dolphins' doldrums.

"We want to build this right," Grier said. "We don't want to go to the playoffs one year and sit back and everyone thinks, 'Oh, they're back.' And then you keep trying to just survive." Boy, Miami fans know well that heartbreaking roller coaster.

As a leader, Flores knows how to win consistently. That's what the Dolphins have been desperately needing. If Flores can't fix the Dolphins, Ross might be motivated to just walk away. But it shouldn't come to that. He must be praised for trying everything, which he has.

... Flores will have to create winners, not just babysit them. For the fans' sake, that's what he must do.

Next year, Super Bowl 54 will be played at the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens. Wouldn't it be great if we were doing more than just hosting the thing?

Online: https://www.miamiherald.com/

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Feb. 4

South Florida Sun Sentinel on the Electoral College:

When it seemed Mitt Romney might win the popular vote in 2012 but lose the Electoral College, Donald Trump called the system "a disaster for a democracy."

He was right about that. The election four years later confirmed it.

He is the fifth president to have won only on account of an archaic mechanism designed by elites who didn't believe the American people were sufficiently intelligent to choose their chief executive.

George Washington was scarcely back at Mount Vernon before the electors became mere functionaries for a mechanism stacked against the popular vote. It was designed in part to protect slavery.

Public confidence, the lifeblood of a democracy, is drained whenever a loser snatches victory from the person who earned it.

The Colorado Senate recently took a big step toward bringing presidential selection out of the 18th century into the 21st. It voted to join the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, binding Colorado's electors to vote for the candidate who wins the most votes nationwide. If the House approves, as it has before, Colorado would join 11 other pledged states and the District of Columbia, putting the Compact only 89 electoral votes shy of 270, the magic number to put it into effect.

Legislatures have the power to do this. It's the practical alternative to eliminating the Electoral College by constitutional amendment, an uphill climb requiring a two-thirds vote in both houses of Congress and ratification by 38 states. The smallest states, which have excess weight in the Electoral College, would block it. The Compact, on the other hand, needs no approval from Congress and the participation of only a few more states.

Florida should be one of them. Our 29 electors would give the vitally important reform a significant boost. But the only proposal before the Legislature, SB 552 by Sen. Kevin J. Rader, D-Boca Raton, goes in the wrong direction. It would award one elector to the winner in each congressional district with two electors going to the statewide popular vote winner.

Maine and Nebraska do this now. If every state did, Barack Obama would have lost the presidency to Mitt Romney in 2012 despite a 5 million vote lead nationwide.

In 2008, Republicans considered trying to impose districting on deep-blue California through its easily manipulated initiative system. That would have made it difficult for any Democrat to win the presidency in the foreseeable future.

Voting by districts has an inherent Republican bias, owing to the fact that Democrats tend to concentrate in urban areas, while Republican voters are distributed more evenly throughout the country. That's without gerrymandering in the mix. Moving to choose electors by district would encourage even more of it. Presidential races would be predetermined like most seats in the House of Representatives. Last year's blue wave was an exception.

It may be a challenge to persuade Republican politicians to endorse reform. They have won every electoral dysfunction since the birth of their party. But that isn't guaranteed. A shift of just 60,000 votes in Ohio would have elected John Kerry in 2004 despite President George W. Bush having more votes nationwide.

It isn't difficult to imagine a future election, if not next year, in which a moderate Republican almost wins California and New York and has a popular majority but loses the electoral vote.

What's wrong with the present system goes deeper than party. That's true also of voting by districts, which is not a fair or reliable substitute for the national popular vote.

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Another major liability is that the present system treats most voters — those living everywhere but in 10 or so "battleground" states — as unworthy of attention. There is no incentive for a Republican to troll for votes in California or New York, or for a Democrat to appeal to Texas. In 2016, thirty-eight states saw practically no campaign activity. It took place almost entirely in the 12 "battleground" states. Fewer voters went to the polls where their votes were taken for granted.

Voting by districts would do little to change that because so few of them are competitive. The Interstate Compact, on the other hand, is designed to compel candidates to appeal for votes everywhere. It puts the whole nation into play.

Rader should amend his bill to put Florida into the Interstate Popular Vote Compact. It would behoove the Legislature's Republican leaders to take to heart what their president himself once said: The Electoral College is a disaster for a democracy.

Online: https://www.sun-sentinel.com/

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Feb. 5

Orlando Sentinel on raising the threshold for voters to approve state constitutional amendments:

About a dozen years ago lawmakers decided it was too easy for the public to change the constitution, so in 2006 it asked voters to change the threshold for approval from 50 percent to 60 percent.

The ballot question passed with 57.8 percent of the voters saying yes. (Alert readers will note that the question did not get the 60 percent it takes to pass an amendment today.)

But never mind that. Now some lawmakers want to raise the standard even higher — to two thirds, or 66.7 percent of the vote.

Let's take a look at some of the many amendments that passed in recent years, even with the 60 percent requirement, but would have lost if the two-thirds requirement had been in place:

Last year's Amendment 4, which restores the rights of ex-felons to vote once they've paid their debt to society.

Amendments 2, 9 and 11 in 2012, which offered tax breaks to disabled veterans, spouses of service members killed while on duty, and low-income seniors.

Amendments 5 and 6 in 2010 — collectively known as "fair districts," which were designed to stop state lawmakers from drawing legislative and congressional district maps for political purposes.

Amendment 3 in 2008, exempted from property taxes improvements designed to harden homes against storms and conserve energy.

Curiously, while the bills proposed in the House and Senate would force two-thirds of voters to approve amendments, it preserves the 60 percent level of votes needed in the Legislature to put amendments on the ballot.

To summarize, lawmakers want to make it harder for you to change the constitution, but not for them to put amendments on the ballot.

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Online: https://www.orlandosentinel.com/

Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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