PBA newsletter sends a profane message to the governor
Fed up with the closed-door treatment from Gov. Rick Scott, the Police Benevolent Association sent a nasty gram using a word game in its quarterly newsletter, Roll Call.
The sixth page of the March newsletter notes that the union that represents police departments, sheriffs and other law enforcement officers has repeatedly asked Gov. Rick Scott to submit a guest article to the newsletter as part of its practice offered to every statewide elected official.
"While we know he and/or his staff receives our e-mail requests, we have yet to receive any kind of response from him,'' the message said. It urged members to write and call the governor to urge him to write about how he feels about law enforcement officers then, it added: "If you would like to know what we really think of the Governor and the staff member who refuses our requests, go back to page four and write down the first letter of each paragraph."
A careful reading of Executive Director Matt Puckett's column provides the answer:
Reached Wednesday, Puckett had no apologies. "The governor's office and the governor, since he ran for that office, has closed the door to the PBA,'' he said. "We've reach out to him or his staff and we get no response. His policies have a very important effect on our membership and we get a closed door. Quite frankly, I'm tired of it."
Puckett, a mild-mannered fellow not prone to using cuss words, was also head of the organization when it ran a misleading campaign ad against Scott in the 2010 governor’s race, claiming that his budget plan would "release tens of thousands of prisoners early" including rapists and murderers. He admitted the message could offend.
"We want people to look at it and read it,'' he said. "The fact that it got some people’s attention that’s good and if it offended some people, so be it.''
He noted that Scott's fellow Republicans -- U.S. Marco Rubio, Attorney General Pam Bondi, Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam -- have regularly submitted columns in the quarterly newsletter. Not Scott.
Brian Burgess, the governor's communications director, said Wednesday he was not aware of the invitations but urged them to try again. "I invite them to call and ask for me or a member of my staff and I promise we'll get back to them,'' he said.
Ron Sachs, a Tallahassee public relations executive who worked for governor Reubin Askew and Lawton Chiles and whose clients include the Florida League of Cities, called the expletive "the height of immaturity and idiocy'' and predicted permanently soured relationships between the PBA and the governor.
"Not only is it disrespectful to Rick Scott as governor but to the institution of the office as well as to 19 million Floridians,'' Sachs said. "Behavior that disrepectful should not get rewarded...Strategically, it's the dumbest thing they could have possibly done."
Puckett disagrees. "I got more praise from members than a lot things,'' he said. "This is a governor who is not tuning in. He listens to an echo chamber of upper level managers who agree with him and not the other side."
He adds, however, that when it comes to a guest column, "I doubt he’ll ever write one now."