Sunday, November 11, 2018
Business

To help his image, Rick Scott hands out hardware to 'great' Floridians

TALLAHASSEE — When Gov. Rick Scott honored former Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow as a "Great Floridian" recently, he was just getting warmed up.

Scott sees greatness everywhere.

For a governor hobbled by chronically low poll numbers, sharing the spotlight with Tebow and his radiant smile this month brought Scott the kind of exposure he couldn't buy. Scott needs to find a good vibe wherever he can, so he will replicate the Tebow award, over and over again.

This week, he'll name 22 other people "Great Floridians" for their contributions to the state, a third as many people who received the honor since the Legislature created it in 1981 to recognize people "who have made significant contributions to the progress and welfare of this state."

Scott single-handedly chose most of the latest group, including athletes, politicians, business and military leaders, and even the University of Florida researcher who created Gatorade. They are Democrat and Republican, living and dead, men and women, but mostly men (19 of 23).

The honorees include former Miami Dolphins coach Don Shula, former Gators football player and coach Steve Spurrier, 2012 Masters golf champion Bubba Watson Jr., former Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice Richard Irvin, and Dr. Pedro Jose Greer Jr., an advocate for homeless and disadvantaged people in Miami.

Others include Betty Sembler of St. Petersburg, who has championed drug treatment efforts; former Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Tony Dungy; the late Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf, who led U.S. forces in the Persian Gulf War; former state Agriculture Commissioner Charles Bronson; and former state Treasurer Bill Gunter.

Some historians wonder whether the greatness may be getting out of hand.

"There are plenty of great people in the state of Florida," said Rivers Buford III, who until this year was the Senate appointee who nominated award recipients. "But I don't think there's a wall big enough in the state of Florida for all the plaques that are being awarded."

Walt Disney will be recognized. So will novelist Patrick Smith, agricultural leader Ruth Springer Wentworth, former Bucs linebacker Derrick Brooks, Hall of Fame running back Emmitt Smith, former Florida Supreme Court Justice Alto Lee Adams, Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon, retired Gen. Craig McKinley, clothing designer Lilly Pulitzer and entrepreneur H. Wayne Huizenga, who has given $450,000 to Scott's political committee.

Scott's thirst for greatness prompted him to include Dr. James Robert Cade, who led a team of UF researchers that created Gatorade in 1965.

"It's just trying to find people that have done something significant in our state," Scott said Tuesday. "It's a good thing that we have such great people all around our state. One of the great things about the 19.2 million people living in our state is you can be proud of a lot of them."

Scott chose nine great Floridians in 2011 and eight last year. Previous governors didn't see as much greatness around them as only 49 people were honored between 1991 and 2010.

The first "Great Floridian" was former Gov. LeRoy Collins in 1981. Other notable recipients have included industrialist Henry Flagler, former Sen. Claude Pepper, citrus baron Ben Hill Griffin Jr., Miami pioneer Julia Tuttle, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings and Dr. John Gorrie, the inventor of air conditioning.

Scott loves to hand out awards of all kinds, as Tuesday's Cabinet meeting illustrated. The awards can help him make connections, meet new friends, or help advance his political agenda.

He distributed six more "Shine" awards to six regional teachers of the year, as he did at another Cabinet meeting earlier this month. Both times, an appreciative teacher thanked Scott for championing a $2,500 across-the-board pay raise for Florida teachers.

Scott then gave out colorful ribbons and medals to three winners of Governor's Business Ambassador Awards. (Not to be confused with the Governor's Innovators in Business Award or the Governor's Sterling Award & Sustained Excellence Award.)

One of them was Craig Tomeo, manager of the Anheuser-Busch brewery in Jacksonville, which he said is the company's fourth-largest maker of Budweiser beer and other products.

Tomeo proudly told Scott that the Jacksonville brewery produced 2.7 billion cans of beer last year — enough Bud Light to stretch around the Earth seven times.

"Most of those cans stay in the Florida market, too," Tomeo told the governor.

"We're a very happy state," Scott replied. "We've got a lot of things to celebrate."

Contact Steve Bousquet at [email protected] or (850) 224-7263.

Comments
Dear Penny: I need a will, but I’ll have nothing left after attorney fees

Dear Penny: I need a will, but I’ll have nothing left after attorney fees

Dear Penny,My wife and I just had twins and have realized that we need to get a will put in place. We started searching for a lawyer and found that it could cost anywhere from $1,000, up to as much as $5,000, to get a will created. We won’t have anyt...
Published: 11/12/18
HSN’s revenue slumps 5 percent, but parent company still posts higher sales

HSN’s revenue slumps 5 percent, but parent company still posts higher sales

St. Petersburg-based HSN has seen quarterly revenues drop 5 percent compared to a year ago, according to the parent company that laid off hundreds of Tampa Bay employees last month, Qurate Retail Group. Pennsylvania-based Qurate Retail came out with...
Published: 11/09/18
Updated: 11/10/18
Look inside the new Target: six stores have been overhauled in Tampa Bay

Look inside the new Target: six stores have been overhauled in Tampa Bay

• Six Tampa Bay Targets have been overhauled this year•1,000 will be remodeled by the end of 2020• A new handheld tool allows employees to cash shoppers out anywhere in the store• The new toy department will remind you of Toys R Us, and the beauty se...
Published: 11/09/18
Honeywell Aerospace moving a handful of jobs to Clearwater from Albuquerque plant to be closed

Honeywell Aerospace moving a handful of jobs to Clearwater from Albuquerque plant to be closed

CLEARWATER — Honeywell Aerospace is closing its plant in Albuquerque, N.M., and a small number of those jobs are headed to its facility in Clearwater, the company said Friday."Honeywell has decided to move manufacturing and engineering operations fro...
Published: 11/09/18
Safety tips for Realtors: forget the taser and spike heels, always follow, never lead a client

Safety tips for Realtors: forget the taser and spike heels, always follow, never lead a client

ST. PETERSBURG — Chips Wells, crime prevention specialist for the St. Petersburg Department, has daughter who’s a Realtor. Among the advice he gave her: Forget the spike heels when showing a house to a stranger. "I want you to wear shoes...
Published: 11/09/18
Hotel developer closes on block next to Tampa City Hall for Hyatt project

Hotel developer closes on block next to Tampa City Hall for Hyatt project

TAMPA — HRI Properties has closed on its $7.6 million purchase of a city-owned block next to Tampa’s City Hall and says it plans to start construction later this month on a dual-branded Hyatt Place and Hyatt House hotel project.In 2016, Tampa put out...
Published: 11/09/18
What the Florida midterms tell us about paying for our economic priorities

What the Florida midterms tell us about paying for our economic priorities

There’s a lot to unpack from the midterms.Will the recounts change the outcome of any of the statewide races?Can polling find a better model, one that predicts the actual winners?Will felons who have served their sentences really get their voting rig...
Published: 11/09/18
One year later, owners bringing order to the party on Beer Can Island

One year later, owners bringing order to the party on Beer Can Island

TAMPA — Weeks after four friends finalized a deal to buy 11-acre Pine Key, known by locals as Beer Can Island, a boater approached them on shore. He said he represented a Tampa Bay Buccaneers player, their story goes, willing to pay $1.5 milli...
Published: 11/09/18
Courtyard by Marriott Tampa Downtown completes renovations

Courtyard by Marriott Tampa Downtown completes renovations

The Courtyard by Marriott Tampa Downtown held a grand-reopening this week after completing extensive renovations. The hotel now has updated guest rooms, bathrooms and public spaces, according to the hotel’s management company, McKibbon Hospitality.Re...
Published: 11/09/18
Why are we suddenly hearing about hepatitis A outbreaks? Experts blame the opioid crisis.

Why are we suddenly hearing about hepatitis A outbreaks? Experts blame the opioid crisis.

In just the last two weeks, one restaurant in Tampa Bay has shut down and another closed temporarily after outbreaks of hepatitis A. Health officials in Hillsborough and Pinellas counties say reports of the virus are way up, and they worry that more ...
Published: 11/08/18
Updated: 11/09/18