Tuesday, May 22, 2018
Opinion

Ruth: Please appoint me to the wildlife commission, governor. Please?

Dear Gov. Rick Scott,

Please consider this missive as a formal request to be appointed to fill the next opening that might arise on the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Given some of your recent choices to serve on the commission, it would appear that I am just as uniquely unqualified to oversee our great state’s natural resources.

About the only thing one of your selections, Gary Lester, has going for him is he worked as the community relations director for the Villages, Florida’s answer to The Stepford Wives of conservatism. Just how tapping someone associated with a massive real estate development will help preserve the state’s natural habitat eludes me. Perhaps Lester took a walk in the woods once to shore up his wildlife bona fides. I have taken a walk in the woods. But not very far. Who wants to run the risk of being attacked by a beaver?

You also appointed Gary Nicklaus, son of the legendary golfing great, Jack Nicklaus. Nicklaus the younger did have a cup of coffee on the PGA tour, where he was exposed to stuff like trees and grass. I think it’s fair to say in my golf life, I have spent more time in sand and water than Gary Nicklaus. That should give me a leg up on appreciating Florida’s diverse environment.

You also named Sonya Rood to the commission. She is the wife of John Rood, a former ambassador to the Bahamas and a GOP sugar daddy who is a former chief financial officer for the Republican Party of Florida. Rood noted her expertise consisted of killing birds and managing her family’s plantation. I acknowledge I don’t own a plantation.

Still, I believe I would be a welcome addition to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, bringing some special talents to the post.

As a lad growing up in Ohio, I served a stint in the Boy Scouts. I learned to smoke cigarettes and drink liquor, valuable skills for later in life. To this day, I remember how to tie a square knot. I also honed my survival instincts, since it either rained or snowed on every camping outing. It was there, fighting for my life, that I learned how to eat lukewarm Dinty Moore beef stew out of a can. Ah, nature!

I still have a noticeable scar on my right knee from my last days in the woods back in 1962, when I tripped over a rope and landed on a tent stake. Stitches ensued. Okay, if you want to be picky about it, this wasn’t exactly The Revenant.

It is true, I suppose, that after eons of rising from the muck and mire, there are still human beings who inexplicably like to return to their roots by spending time sleeping on dirt and running the risk of being eaten by an alligator or fatally bitten by a humorless snake. How nice for them.

I must confess that my idea of roughing it is checking into a J.W. Marriott Hotel where I have to go down a floor to find the ice machine.

If it makes a difference, I have been fishing. Once. I was assigned to spend a day out in the Gulf of Mexico hunting down tarpon. It was there, out in the loneliness of the water, where I engaged in a titanic struggle — man against nature — to reel in a giant tangled ball of filament. You can read all about it in my forthcoming novel, The Old Man and the String.

Alas, I have never shot an animal. I recognize I can’t compete with you, governor, since during your first term you attended a lobbyist-infested hunting holiday at the King Ranch in Texas.

Just what a governor who subsists on a "plant-based" diet was doing blasting away at animals he would never eat remains a mystery. But I suspect you did haul in a safari-sized collection of campaign contributions.

So as you can easily see from my impeccable resume of cluelessness about Florida fish and wildlife and all that other nature fiddle-faddle, I would be the ideal complement to our other appointees and offer myself for public service.

One question, though. I won’t actually have to commune with any fish or wildlife in this job, will I? The closest I want to get to any of these critters is a leather chair.

I am hoping all I would have to do is read the latest edition of National Geographic.

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