Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Temper tantrums in Tallahassee

At least once a month, I have a conversation with my 8-year-old that sounds something like this:

"Stop that.''


"Stop that.''

"How come?''


I imagine this is going on behind closed doors in Tallahassee, too. Because it seems like our governor and the Legislature want to fool around in things that judges and the federal government keep telling them to stay away from.

Privatizing prisons without actually enacting a law?

You can't do that.

Drug-testing state workers and welfare recipients?

It's unconstitutional.

Making it harder to vote in an election year?


This voter crusade is just the latest example of our state's leaders believing they know better than anyone else. And by anyone else, I might include the Founding Fathers.

Just in the past year, the governor was told by the Florida Supreme Court that he "overstepped his constitutional authority'' and "violated the separation of powers'' when he decided no one could pass any new rules without his authority.

He's also been sued by doctors and schoolteachers and state workers. Word is, King Juan Carlos of Spain would love a shot at a deposition, too.

Just to be clear, this isn't about liberals fighting conservatives, or the right sticking it to the left. This is about coloring inside the lines. This is about following rules and laws and the Constitution.

If Republicans are in power, they have the advantage in pushing their agenda. Ditto for Democrats. But that doesn't mean you get to trample on laws already in place.

Seventeen months into his tenure, maybe Rick Scott is frustrated that a governor does not have the same powers as a CEO. Sorry, but that's how it works.

Those rules make governing ponderous and sometimes inefficient, but they also make it the greatest and most equitable government in the land.

Take the voting issue, for example. There's absolutely nothing wrong with the state's intention to remove noncitizens from the rolls. And if minorities and Democrats are disproportionately represented, so be it.

But you would hope somebody in the administration would have realized that the deadline for purging the voter rolls had already passed for the 2012 election cycle.

And you would hope the Legislature would have known better than to discourage voter registration with unnecessary and unfair rules that were eventually struck down last week by a U.S. district judge.

In the end, it doesn't matter whether you agree or disagree with drug testing. It doesn't matter whether there are 2,000 or 200,000 noncitizens registered to vote. And it doesn't matter if the governor thinks of himself as the boss of bosses.

The bottom line is no one gets to ignore the law.

It's like the line in A Few Good Men when Tom Cruise is telling Demi Moore that an attorney's opinion is irrelevant. It doesn't matter what he believes, he says, only what he can prove.

Around here, we like to ordain first and read the Constitution later.

It makes our politicians look decisive and righteous.

It also makes our state look foolish and backward.

So please, for the last time, stop that.

Temper tantrums in Tallahassee 06/02/12 [Last modified: Saturday, June 2, 2012 11:17pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Review: Arcade Fire open hearts, play with passion at the USF Sun Dome in Tampa


    Gloves off, hearts open and disco balls glittering, Arcade Fire scaled the stage for the first time ever in Tampa, pouncing and flailing and performing with all the passion that’s made them one of the world’s most celebrated rock bands this century.

    Arcade Fire performed at the USF Sun Dome in Tampa on Sept. 22, 2017.
  2. Lightning's Steven Stamkos looks close to top form in first game since November

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — The wait felt like forever for Lightning captain Steven Stamkos, having gone 10 months without playing in a game.

    A scramble in front of the Lightning goal has Matthew Peca, far left, and Erik Cernak, middle, helping out goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy during the third period of a 3-1 win against the Predators. Vasilevskiy, who made 29 saves, was “exceptional,” coach Jon Cooper says.
  3. Rays journal: Alex Cobb may have pitched last game in Rays uniform (w/video)

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — RHP Alex Cobb pitched well enough to lead the Rays to an 8-3 win over the Orioles on Friday.

    Wilson Ramos gives thanks after hitting a grand slam during the second inning, putting the Rays up 4-0.
  4. Steven Souza Jr. vindicating big trade for Rays

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — There was a time when the three-team, 11-player transaction the Rays orchestrated to get Steven Souza Jr. from the Nationals looked liked a bad deal.

    The Rays’ Steven Souza Jr. has 30 home runs this season while improving his defense and baserunning but wants to improve on his .236 batting average.
  5. Fennelly: Lightning's Manon Rheaume made history 25 years ago Saturday

    Lightning Strikes

    The name is part of Lightning history, hockey history, sports history.

    Lightning goalie Manon Rheaume became the first woman to play in an NHL game 25 years ago today.