Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

How will Florida's new 'chief executive' fare?

And now, for something completely different …

Rick Scott becomes Florida's 45th governor today.

Our state's new chief executive officer is — whaddya know? An actual chief executive officer, and not a "career politician."

He did not serve in the Legislature, the Cabinet or Congress.

He did not mortgage himself for campaign money. He famously (or infamously) spent his own fortune.

He did not kiss up to interest groups to win. True, he is totally probusiness, but he came that way out of the box — they're kissing up to him.

He does not seem to care about offending, or how he looks in the media (which he largely ignores), or the critics. This is a good thing, since he starts with a 43 percent unfavorable rating.

Here was an interesting and revealing episode: One of Scott's early decisions was to dump the special drug control outfit in the Governor's Office.

Good grief! Doesn't he know that politicians are required to be double-plus against drugs? The more bureaucracy, the better?

No. He figured that there are plenty of law enforcement agencies for these things. It was a business decision. And his spokesman's statement was refreshingly politically incorrect: "I don't think we're going to have cocaine bales stacking up on the docks of Miami if we close this office."

Then there's the $2 billion-plus that the feds are trying to pour into Florida for high-speed rail between Orlando and Tampa. Instead of grabbing the money, Scott's answer so far is, more or less: "Yeah, let me think about whether that makes sense."

Scott's interview in Monday's paper about the state pension fund was impressive — but then, the topic was a slow pitch right in his strike zone. He thinks the fund's growth projections are unrealistic. Unlike the last bunch in Tallahassee, he is determined to be an active overseer. That would be a really welcome change.

These things are just for starters. There's something for everybody not to like. He would radically change public education in Florida. He seems likely to propose something just as radical toward the privatization of Medicaid and state prisons. If he is serious about how we all need to be paying higher electric rates so corporations can pay less, people are going to start noticing.

But Question No. 1 is how much his platform of creating jobs and cutting "red tape" will conflict with Florida's environmental and growth laws. At best, he will balance the two; at worst, he will be willing to sacrifice the second for the first — with a Legislature eager to help.

As soon as he gets started, Scott has to figure out how he would close a gap in next year's state budget that is growing toward $4 billion. It will be interesting to see his "business" approach.

Frankly, history is against him — the outsider-reformer usually disappoints. Look at Arnold Schwarzenegger in California, a state that proved to be ungovernable. (On the other hand, Arnold never built and ran a multibillion-dollar corporation. So maybe we do have something brand new.)

Let's hope Scott, the chief executive, does not fulfill Harry Truman's prediction about his successor Dwight Eisenhower: "He'll sit here and he'll say, 'Do this! Do that!' And nothing will happen. Poor Ike! It won't be a bit like the Army. He'll find it very frustrating."

How will Florida's new 'chief executive' fare? 01/03/11 [Last modified: Monday, January 3, 2011 6:40pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Tampa Chamber of Commerce announces small business winners

    Business

    TAMPA — The Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce selected the winners of the 2017 Small Business of the Year Awards at a ceremony Wednesday night at the David A. Straz, Jr. Center for the Performing Arts. More than 600 attendees celebrated the accomplishments of Tampa Bay's small business community.

    Vincent Cassidy, president and CEO of Majesty Title Services, was named Outstanding Small Business Leader of the Year by the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce.

  2. UF president Kent Fuchs: 'Charlottesville changed everything' (w/video)

    K12

    GAINESVILLE — Wednesday evening, hazy rumors of an impending Neo-Nazi march reached some wary protesters. A few quickly rallied to denounce the marchers in downtown Gainesville, only to find plazas empty but for police.

    University of Florida President W. Kent Fuchs talks with reporters Wednesday about white nationalist Richard Spencer's planned speech on Thursday. He said of Spencer: "In a small way, he is causing us to redouble our focus on supporting actions that are the opposite of what he wants." [WILL VRAGOVIC   |   Times]
  3. Kenya vote chief says 'difficult' to have credible election

    World

    NAIROBI, Kenya — It is "difficult to guarantee a free, fair and credible election" in Kenya's fresh presidential vote just eight days away despite "full technical preparedness," the head of the election commission said Wednesday as another wave of uncertainty swept through East Africa's largest economy.

  4. International array of artists chosen as finalists for Pier project

    Local Government

    ST. PETERSBURG — A diverse group of six artists will compete for a chance to install their work at the city's multimillion-dollar Pier District, expected to open in early 2019.

  5. Former Jabil executive's fate in hands of murder trial jury

    Criminal

    LARGO — For a second time, Patrick Evans' future is in the hands of a jury.

    Patrick Evans talks with Allison Miller, one of his three public defenders, before jury selection this w eek. Evans, a former Jabil executive charged with killing his estranged wife and her friend almost 10 years ago, is back in court for a second trial after his original death sentence conviction was overturned by the Florida Supreme Court. JIM DAMASKE   |   Times