Friday, May 25, 2018

Ruth: Don’t run government like Rick Scott ran his business

Itís probably the curse of age, but whenever Iím exposed to one of Gov. Rick Scottís dubious campaign ads the mind tends to recall the routine by the late comedy team of Bob & Ray involving the proudly preening corrupt mayor of Skunkhaven, N.J.

Perhaps youíve seen a recent Scott ad in which the governor faux earnestly bemoans what a sad state of affairs it is that government isnít run more like a business. And yes, you could be forgiven for that nasty spit-take of coffee across the breakfast table.

Scott holding himself up as a paragon of savvy business acumen is a bit like Sonny Corleone claiming to be an expert in anger management. It was Scott who was forced out as CEO from his own company, Columbia/HCA, before it was fined $1.7 billion by the federal government for what was at the time the largest case of Medicare fraud in the nationís history.

It was also Scott who claimed his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination 75 times during a deposition in an unrelated legal matter.

And now this chap is lecturing voters about running government more like a business? What business is he referring to? Enron?

Perhaps when the guy running against incumbent Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson yearns to run government more like a business, what he really means is he would like to see the halls of Washington more closely resemble Tammany Hall.

For while Scott was declaring he wants to drive lay-about, do nothing paper-pushers from public service, in Tallahassee his administration was sure looking like a Medici family reunion.

As the Times/Herald Tallahassee Bureauís Mary Ellen Klas has reported, key employees at the Department of Revenue have been purged and replaced with political cronies from the governorís office with little to no experience in tax administration.

For example, Brandi Gunder, 32, a former budget coordinator for Scott with zero tax expertise, was named director of the Office of Property Tax Oversight, replacing Maurice Gregory, who had 30 years of experience.

Tom "TJ" Adams, 31, who also has no tax experience, was appointed Gunderís deputy, succeeding Timisha Brooks, a lawyer, who had been working her way up through the agency for the past eight years.

Shelby Cecil, 24, with ó ditto ó no tax experience, was given the job of budget manager for the PTO office.

And Patricia Knight, 49, was named compliance manager for the PTO, a position that requires the employee to have a law degree, which Knight does not have.

On their meteoric rise up the bureaucratic chain, none of these new employees even filled out applications. They simply were hired as if by magic. They all shared one vital entry on their resumes ó unswervingly loyal apparatchiks in the service of the governor.

But wait! Thereís more. Letís head on down to the accounting department at Gov. Rick Scott Inc.

In addition to the Scott commercial calling for government to be run more like a business, he has begun running another commercial suggesting Nelson has been spending decades as the Maynard G. Krebs of the Senate.

With great indignation, the ad produced by the Scott-controlled New Republican PAC notes that Nelson has spent 44 years in elected office glomming onto $4.5 million in taxpayer funded paychecks.

That sure sounds like a great deal of money. But apparently Scott assumes those saps in the public donít have access to a calculator. Because if you merely do some simple math, that multi-million dollar windfall Nelson has supposedly collected comes out to about $102,272.27-a-year for the past 44 years. A nice number to be sure, but weíre hardly in Sultan of Brunei financial territory here.

By contrast, Scott was ushered out the door with a $10 million severance package and $300 million worth of Columbia/HCA stock ó and that was just for being at the helm of the company when it royally ó ahem ó bungled things up.

Maybe what all this campaign jibber-jabber really suggests is there is no business like Rick Scottís business.

Editorial: Welcome Bayshore changes still canít stop bad judgment

Editorial: Welcome Bayshore changes still canít stop bad judgment

Itís human nature in following any tragedy to imagine: How could this have been prevented? On that score, the city of Tampa responded appropriately to the deaths this week of a mother and her toddler whom police say were hit by a teenage driver racin...
Updated: 15 minutes ago
Editorial: Filling Rocky Point lagoon to build townhomes is an empty-headed idea

Editorial: Filling Rocky Point lagoon to build townhomes is an empty-headed idea

One of the worst ideas in a long time in the field of urban planning received a blessing this month when the Hillsborough County City-County Planning Commission approved a land-use change for a project that calls for filling three acres of water insi...
Published: 05/25/18
Editorial: Searching for the real Adam Putnam

Editorial: Searching for the real Adam Putnam

Send out an Amber Alert for Adam Putnam. The red-haired, affable fellow who has served capably as a state legislator, member of Congress and agriculture commissioner is missing. In his place is a far-right caricature who has branded himself as a prou...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Editorial: A strong economic case for restoring voting rights for felons

Editorial: A strong economic case for restoring voting rights for felons

Floridians are paying a steep price for a system that makes it as difficult as possible for people who leave prison to reintegrate into civic life. Gov. Rick Scottís clemency process isnít just archaic and cruel ó it also wastes enormous public resou...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Editorial: Trump right to cancel North Korea talks on nuclear weapons

Editorial: Trump right to cancel North Korea talks on nuclear weapons

Regardless of the reason, the cancellation of the U.S.-North Korea summit to address Pyonyangís nuclear program is hardly the worst possible outcome of this high-stakes diplomatic gamble. President Donald Trump was unprepared, North Koreaís Kim Jong ...
Published: 05/24/18
Updated: 05/25/18

NFL kneels before the altar of profits

The owners of the 32 National Football League teams sent a wrongheaded and, frankly, un-American message to their players Wednesday: Expressing your opinion during the national anthem is no longer permitted."A club will be fined by the League if its ...
Published: 05/24/18

Editorial: A positive first step in ensuring student access at USFSP

As a task force sorts out countless details involved in folding the University of South Florida St. Petersburg back into the major research university based in Tampa, ensuring access for good Pinellas students remains a concern. An enhanced cooperati...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Editorial: Banks still need watching after easing Dodd-Frank rules

Editorial: Banks still need watching after easing Dodd-Frank rules

Legislation that waters down the 2010 Dodd-Frank law and was sent to President Donald Trump this week is a mixed bag at best. Some provisions recognize that Congress may have gone too far in some areas in the wake of the Great Recession to place new ...
Published: 05/23/18
Updated: 05/24/18
Editorial: Honoring our fallen soldiers on Memorial Day

Editorial: Honoring our fallen soldiers on Memorial Day

The rising tensions with Iran, the resurgence of violence in the Mideast and the uncertainty over a nuclear disarmament deal with North Korea combine to create an unsettling time this Memorial Day. These grave threats to peace are another reminder of...
Updated: 5 hours ago

Another voice: The chutzpah of these men

A new phase of the #MeToo movement may be upon us. Call it the "not so fast" era: Powerful men who plotted career comebacks mere months after being taken down by accusations of sexual misconduct now face even more alarming claims.Mario Batali, the ce...
Published: 05/22/18
Updated: 05/23/18