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Gov. Rick Scott hears chorus of boos at Rays opener

ST. PETERSBURG — The line of protesters leading to the Trop was about 125 strong Friday, and they had one sentiment for Gov. Rick Scott.

BOOOO!!!

If Scott missed them as he made his way into the stadium, it's unlikely he missed the chorus of hecklers who serenaded his ceremonial first pitch at 6:45 p.m.

"I heard it through thick glass windows," said Perry Banse, 53, of Largo, who was inside the Everglades BBQ Smokehouse restaurant in the centerfield concession area.

Banse didn't boo — he's giving Scott more time before passing judgment. And some fans did cheer the governor.

But it seemed like more than half of the stadium booed. Their jeer was a continuous drone that lasted for most of the time Scott was on the mound.

The protesters organized on Facebook, where nearly 1,200 people had signed up to "Boo Rick Scott on Opening Day" before the game.

Outside the stadium, the protesters were mostly public school teachers and group home employees.

They said they were upset about Scott taking aim at teacher pay and tenure and funding for adult mental health and substance abuse programs. They held signs and encouraged those entering the stadium to boo the governor.

"We pretty much lost so much funding that it's going to prohibit these people from having a productive day," said Zachary Kuhn, 27, of St. Petersburg, an assistant manager at a facility for adults with developmental disabilities.

Faye Cook, 59, a teacher at Wilson Elementary School in Plant City, held a sign and jeered Scott. She couldn't get inside to boo because she couldn't afford a ticket.

"And he wants to give us a 5 percent pay cut," she said. "The children in Florida are in jeopardy."

At the press level, Kayla Jimenez, 12, hoisted a neon green anti-Scott poster long after Scott slipped away to the owner's suite behind home plate. Her mom, Amanda Jimenez, 30, is a teacher at Ridgecrest Elementary in Largo.

Kayla's sign read: "We love you Rick Scott — April Fool's!"

Gov. Rick Scott hears chorus of boos at Rays opener 04/01/11 [Last modified: Friday, April 1, 2011 11:47pm]

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