Wednesday, May 23, 2018
Opinion

Daniel Ruth: There is evil afoot in Tallahassee

If you enjoyed our first heart-pounding thriller, Trumpzilla Eats Washington, then please stick around for the second half of our blood-curdling double feature, The Creatures of the Black Florida Lagoonature. You'll laugh. You'll cry. You'll cringe in fear. But mostly you'll cry.

Our story begins in the dark shadows of the state capitol, where Richard Corcoran, the phantom of Tallahassee's soap opera of open palms, dwells in the Florida House speaker's chambers. Cue the pipe organ.

Corcoran is a cunning chap. In recent weeks, the speaker attempted to pass himself off as the St. Francis of the Apalachee Parkway by calling for a host of reforms. It would seem the speaker would require a size 7½ halo. Gregorian chant optional.

Corcoran urged greater civility among members, promised enhanced transparency, inveighed against sleazy backroom wheeling and dealing and promised to clamp down on the pernicious influence of the money-changing lobbyists who haunt the Florida Capitol.

And then he blessed everyone's Irish setters.

You could be forgiven if you were lulled into a false sense of confusing the coming Florida legislative session with the Enlightenment. Imagine, a House speaker suggesting it might be a good idea to impose some responsible governance. But this is Florida after all. This is Tallahassee, where hypocrisy is a treasured virtue.

For no sooner had Corcoran nailed his high-minded manifesto of political reform to the doors of Clyde's & Costello's, where many members of the Florida Legislature seek to be re-anointed during nightly services, did the speaker quickly turn into the Mr. Hyde of Land O'Lakes.

The speaker wasted no time casting aside those annoying olive branches to engage in some good old-fashioned demagoguery, lashing out at the state's largest teachers' group as "downright evil."

It seems the Florida Education Association got sideways with him when they opposed the speaker's support of the dubiously titled Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program, which diverts would-be public tax dollars from public education to a voucher program to allow low-income, mostly minority students to attend private (and largely unaccountable) schools. Or think of this plot as a corporate/private school welfare plan. How … Republican.

There is certainly plenty of evil in this world. Terrorists. Con artists preying on the elderly. Child molesters. Racists.

But a group dedicated to improving the lot of the state's teachers by advocating for better working conditions, better pay to do their jobs and protecting the funding of public schools, rather than forking over public money to the private educational/profit motive complex hardly rises to the level of suggesting the Florida Education Association is a subsidiary of SPECTRE.

Alas, this is Tallahassee, where sober judgment goes to die.

Or consider this disconnect from reality.

The speaker of the Florida House, the second most powerful figure in Florida government, has castigated a group of professional educators as the ISIS of the three R's merely because they reasonably have opposed him on a public policy issue protecting public school funding.

You may not realize this, but do you suspect there is a secret law in the state that requires one of the first bills to be filed for any legislative session must be a measure to turn Florida into Mad Max meets The Wild Bunch?

That brings us to HB 6001, filed by Rep. Jake Raburn, which would allow concealed weapon permit holders to freely carry their guns in airport terminals, perhaps one of the most high-profile soft target opportunities for bad guys to do bad things. And now Raburn wants to make an already stressful environment for law enforcement even more anxiety-ridden.

Raburn's insane bill already has found a happy-happy-joy-joy cheerleader in Florida's upper chamber in the form of state Sen. Greg Steube, a staunch hot walker for the National Rifle Association.

Speaker Corcoran fumes that those Commies over at the Florida Education Association want public money to be spent on public schools. Oh the malevolence of it all. But more guns in airports? More guns everywhere? What a bully idea!

The speaker is right about one thing. There certainly is evil afoot in Tallahassee.

Comments
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 ...
Updated: 9 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...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Editorial: Candor key step to restoring trust at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Heart Institute

Editorial: Candor key step to restoring trust at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Heart Institute

Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital has begun the important work of rebuilding trust with its patients and the community following revelations of medical errors and other problems at its Heart Institute. CEO Dr. Jonathan Ellen candidly acknowledges...
Published: 05/22/18
Updated: 05/23/18
Editorial: Tampa Bay House members fail to stand up to Big Sugar

Editorial: Tampa Bay House members fail to stand up to Big Sugar

Big Sugar remains king in Florida. Just three of the state’s 27 House members voted for an amendment to the farm bill late Thursday that would have started unwinding the needless government supports for sugar that gouge taxpayers. Predictably, the am...
Published: 05/18/18
Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s lawsuit against the nation’s largest drug makers and distributors marks a moment of awakening in the state’s battle to recover from the opioid crisis. In blunt, forceful language, Bondi accuses these companies of ...
Published: 05/18/18
Editorial: A sweet note for the Florida Orchestra’s violin program for at-risk kids

Editorial: A sweet note for the Florida Orchestra’s violin program for at-risk kids

This is music to the ears. Members of the Florida Orchestra will introduce at-risk students to the violin this summer at some Hillsborough recreation centers. For free.An $80,000 grant to the University Area Community Development Corp. will pay for s...
Published: 05/17/18
Updated: 05/18/18
Trump backs off China tariff threat as China pumps money into a Trump family project

Trump backs off China tariff threat as China pumps money into a Trump family project

In barely six weeks, President Donald Trump has gone from threatening to impose $150 billion in tariffs on Chinese goods to extending a lifeline to ZTE, a Chinese cell phone company that violated U.S. sanctions by doing business with Iran and North K...
Published: 05/17/18
Editorial: Activism as seniors helps put Hillsborough graduates on the right path

Editorial: Activism as seniors helps put Hillsborough graduates on the right path

Lots of teenagers are walking together this week in Hillsborough County, a practice they’ve grown accustomed to during this remarkable school year.We can only hope they keep walking for the rest of their lives.Tens of thousands of them this week are ...
Published: 05/17/18
Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s lawsuit against the nation’s largest drug makers and distributors marks a moment of awakening in the state’s battle to recover from the opioid crisis. In blunt, forceful language, Bondi accuses these companies of ...
Published: 05/16/18
Updated: 05/18/18
Editorial: Johns Hopkins All Children’s should be more open about mistakes

Editorial: Johns Hopkins All Children’s should be more open about mistakes

A state investigation raises even more concern about medical errors at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital and the venerable St. Petersburg institution’s lack of candor to the community. Regulators have determined the hospital broke Florida law by ...
Published: 05/16/18
Updated: 05/17/18