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Gov. Rick Scott is straining so far to get his arms around Tallahassee

In business, you carry out the company's mission or else you'll soon find yourself looking for a job.

Government is different. Power is scattered, the way the Founding Fathers intended. This is one of hundreds of ways Gov. Rick Scott will see how hard it is to run government "like a business," as he often said on the campaign trail.

Scott is focused, fiercely disciplined and inner-directed. He'll need it to deal with the many obstacles sure to be hurled in his path from every direction, and as he comes to grips with the reality that the office of governor is not as all-powerful as it may seem.

The Legislature, which detests being slighted or cut out of decisions, is not convinced Scott can mothball the state aircraft by himself as he has proposed.

The Senate president, Mike Haridopolos, said this week that cutting property and business taxes as Scott has promised is not on the Senate's agenda (this from an ardent fiscal conservative who's running for the U.S. Senate, but who is staring at a $3.5-billion budget shortfall).

The press is restless, too. Last weekend, Scott invited several reporters to the Governor's Mansion for a friendly, off-the-record, get-acquainted dinner, but the era of good feeling didn't last long.

The capital press corps asked for a meeting with Scott's communications director, Brian Burgess, this week.

In the governor's conference room, reporters complained about access-restricting "pool" coverage of news events that past governors allowed all reporters to attend, and bristled at the administration's desire to hand-pick which reporters pool events for others. Burgess listened closely, but the two sides' differences remained unresolved.

The new state agriculture commissioner, Republican Adam Putnam, this week came out against an Arizona-style anti-immigration law, the kind Scott endorsed as a candidate. Putnam's jurisdiction touches on farms that employ lots of undocumented immigrants, but he spoke of how immigration can spawn a "mecca of human capital" in America.

The former congressman from Bartow said immigration is a national, not a state, concern, and that copying Arizona's model would be a mistake that could threaten Florida's image as a "welcoming" place to tourists and immigrants.

"Arizona is a border state," Putnam said. "I don't think we ought to cut and paste the Arizona law for Florida."

Then there's Scott's targeting of bureaucratic rules.

He tried to get agencies not under his control to abide by his executive order freezing most new rules and regulations.

Uh-oh. All three newly-elected Cabinet officers, Republicans who campaigned alongside Scott enthusiastically last fall, said no to the idea.

The three are independent officeholders who will convene with Scott publicly for the first time next Wednesday, the first gathering of the new-look Cabinet.

All in all, Scott's first two weeks in office are a case study in how governing can be disorderly and messy at times.

That's just the way democracy is.

Steve Bousquet can be reached at or (850) 224-7263.

Gov. Rick Scott is straining so far to get his arms around Tallahassee 01/14/11 [Last modified: Friday, January 14, 2011 9:17pm]
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