Gov. Scott at last passes hearing test

For a while there, it seemed like Gov. Rick Scott's first term in office was going to be like watching him take a hearing test at the doctor's office and fail it repeatedly.

He would be the guy in the headphones waiting to raise his hand when he heard something, and We the People would be on the other side, steadily cranking up the dial.

Would the grousing about his treatment of state employees reach his ears? Would he hear the outrage over turning his nose up at federal money for rail and the jobs that came with it?

Nope, don't hear a thing so far …

Okay, then how about people who protested a blatant move to make it harder for folks to vote?

Still nada.

What about rock-bottom poll numbers making him one of the least popular governors in the land?

Anyone got a magazine? This is getting boring …

So it would go, for four long years, till the citizens had the volume about equal to pressing your ear to an amp at a Motley Crue concert, the governor buffing his nails and stifling a yawn.

Until Honeymoon Island. Until people rose up righteous to object to a moneymaking plan to add campsites and RV spaces, plus all the necessary roads, hookups and such, at the lovely, unspoiled state park.

What does it mean that Scott finally heeded what the people were saying? That when he runs again, he wants to win by more than a whisker? That someone savvy now has enough of his ear to convince him that this was really not one he wanted to bulldoze through?

Because it turns out people really like our preserved pieces of Real Florida, places where hawks circle and tortoises lumber, nary a strip mall in sight. And many of those people do not want this changed. And, by the way, they vote.

Scott saw a distressing (or heartening, depending on where you sit) lack of falling-in-line even with some in his own party. We Floridians may spar over everything from health care to the death penalty, but a whole lot of us agree our parks are worth saving the way they are.

Maybe for Scott the deal was sealed on late-night cable, when Stephen Colbert took a poke at a prewritten letter on Scott's website that supporters were supposed to sign and send to newspapers extolling the many virtues of … well, Scott.

When a rock star of a comedian always hungry for daily political absurdity rates you his current favorite governor, this is a not good thing.

Let's consider how governors past might have handled this one.

Jeb Bush would have quickly grasped the political punch of the opposition and perhaps tabled the plan for further study. Charlie Crist would have been in populist heaven and killed it immediately, with a big shiny sword if possible.

So who would have guessed Scott would go all What Would Charlie Crist Do on us, talking of "national treasures" that belong to taxpayers and how it would be "unfair to proceed with a plan that so many Floridians are so adamantly opposed to."

For a minute there, he shook off the tone deafness that has marked his tenure so far. He raised his hand and he heard. Whatever his reasons, those of us who see the value in saving places like Honeymoon Island will take it, and watch with interest for what's next.

Gov. Scott at last passes hearing test 07/12/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, July 12, 2011 9:47pm]

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