Monday, May 28, 2018
Politics

Romano: Buying a House (of Representatives) for fun and profit

MEMO

To: Producers of the A&E show Flip This House

From: Talent Scout

RE: Possible show topic

First of all, love your show!

This idea of watching someone purchase a house and then "flipping'' it for a profit is pure genius. It's ruthless, risky, and it feels so darned American.

In that same spirit, I'm bringing this unique idea to you today.

A house was recently purchased in Florida, and the buyers stand to make hundreds of millions in profits on this very old and exclusive property.

The hook is that it is no ordinary house.

It is the House.

Yes, a few utility companies have pooled their money and bought Florida's House of Representatives. Because the purchase was made in increments, the final price is still being figured out, but I can tell you it wasn't cheap.

Just in the first three months of this year Duke/Progress Energy spent $300,000 in campaign money on the state Republican Party. The company also contributed $100,000 for the Republican governor, offered about $25,000 in private airplane rides, and spent $5,000 on a gratuitous Democratic Party upgrade.

But, as your viewers will learn, that just scratches the surface. Last year, Progress Energy spent $1.5 million between the two political parties, committees and various candidates. Florida Power & Light spent a little bit more.

So what did the utilities get for their campaign donations?

Subservience. Lackeys. Men without scruples and women lacking spines.

Mostly, they got these representatives to gut legislation that would have kept the utility companies from ripping off customers for fictitious nuclear power plants.

And here's the part your narrator should emphasize:

For the few million dollars invested in House politicians, Progress Energy has already reaped $1.5 billion in this nuclear cost recovery fee.

And the fee was essentially preserved for a future generation of executive bonuses when the House passed a watered-down bill to monitor nuclear costs on Wednesday.

House members had a chance to repeal the fee, but declined. They had a chance to require greater accountability on the part of utility companies, but declined.

These politicians-for-hire could have created a provision to simply make utility companies specify on electric bills how much consumers were being charged for non-existent nuclear power plants. And even that was declined.

Now I realize your show does not survive solely on purchases, profits and prices. You need personalities, too. Trust me, the House has what you need.

Rep. Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, is young, good-looking and charismatic.

The House speaker is practically a game show host, minus the empathy.

In contrast, there is Rep. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, who oozes compassion from every pore for ratepayers in his district, and Rep. Dwight Dudley, D-St. Petersburg, who was nearly apoplectic after Republicans gutted the legislation this week.

Finally, for comic relief, there is Rep. Dana Young, R-Tampa. Apparently, her entire reason for existence as majority whip is to gesticulate wildly with a thumbs-down motion whenever a bill or amendment by a Democratic representative is voted on.

Now I understand this isn't the typical scenario for Flip This House. In this case, a house was purchased but wasn't exactly resold.

But you could promote it as something unique. Ordinary houses are bought to one day be resold, but this is a House with a perpetual For Sale sign.

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