Friday, November 24, 2017
Opinion

Governor steps in it — all week

RECOMMENDED READING


As bad weeks go, you might argue John Edwards, on trial for being a louse in North Carolina, was practically tiptoeing through the tulips compared to Florida Gov. Rick Scott, who over the course of a few short days may have successfully managed to offend more people than crazy-as-a-loon Gainesville pastor Terry Jones contemplating a match and a Koran.

First Gov. Clouseau jetted off to Miami for a publicity stunt to sign a loopy bill that would prohibit state and local governments from hiring companies for contracts worth at least $1 million if they also do business with either Cuba and Syria. Obviously, Syria was glued onto the legislation only after the regime's leader, Bashar Assad, decided to turn his country into the Cambodia of the Mediterranean.

This was always little more than a feckless and unenforceable political bone tossed to the Miami Cuban community. All the governor had to do was fly in, sign this cooked-up legislation, say bad things about Fidel Castro, have a cup of cafe con leche and get out of town.

But nooooooooo! Scott had to commit the worst possible boo-boo in politics. He admitted it was all just theater. No good would come from this.

After putting his Gov. Le Petomane signature on the "Cuba — Bad!" bill, Scott then said, in effect, he was just kidding; that the legislation was really a federal issue. The Cuban exiles went ballistic and accused the governor of stabbing them in the back, which, of course, he had.

Good grief; who was handling Rick Scott's public relations strategy on this deal? Ozzie Guillen?

Fresh from alienating South Florida, Gov. Leghorn then turned his energies to irritating half the population by announcing he wants to redirect $31 million in funding for the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

With all the twisted reasoning of a viral email attacking Barack Obama's birth certificate, Scott argued it was inappropriate to target a specific private entity to receive state funds, a rationale one never hears from the governor when it comes to shoveling public voucher money into private schools.

Scott was also peeved the coalition's president, Tiffany Carr, was making $300,000, an awful lot of money, sure, but pretty much in line for salaries for CEOs of comparable nonprofit groups.

Still, in the end, the optics of a governor wanting to deny funds for a group that fights against domestic violence will hardly endear Scott to women. Who handled the PR on this doozy? Bobby Brown?

But Scott's lollapalooza of pandering policy was only hitting its stride, thanks to the tinhorns of Florida Legislature.

They prohibited cities from enacting gun-control laws, so Tampa faces the prospect of banning stuff like water pistols, urine-filled baggies, sticks and other toys of mischief in the downtown area during this summer's Republican National Convention. But not guns, which has pretty much made Tampa a national laughingstock.

Since Floridians seem to enjoy shooting each other whenever their feelings are hurt, Mayor Bob Buckhorn sensibly concluded banning water balloons, while still being able to walk around locked and loaded, made little sense and asked Scott to issue an executive order to also ban firearms during the four-day convention.

Scott, no surprise here, said no. Then he went off on a rant about protecting the Second Amendment for paranoid, law-abiding, itchy trigger-finger citizens. The governor also got it wrong when he wrote back to Buckhorn that the mayor was trying to ban firearms from all of downtown. He wasn't. Only the "Event Zone" set aside for protesters, parades and rallies would have been affected.

At least if things go badly because some goober gets riled up, Tampa will know who to blame. Brilliant. Who was the PR genius for this rootin'-tootin' decision? The NRA's Tugboat Annie of Ammo? Marion Hammer? You may all nod, now.

Finally, in his never-ending quest to find government programs that actually work so he can kill them off, once again Scott vetoed funding for the state's 11 regional planning councils, which help local governments develop all manner of programs from hurricane evacuation routes, luring business investment and affordable housing programs.

Why? Scott based his decision on the ramblings of the Cato Institute and one of its deep thinkers, Randal O'Toole, who sees a United Nations conspiracy to take over the world in Arbor Day proclamations. Scott complained the effectiveness of the planning councils can't be measured. But that's only because the governor abolished the agency that evaluates them. Insert "duh" here.

You may slap your forehead now. And it's only Friday.

Comments

Another voice: Wall isnít a lifesaver, itís a boondoggle

The first stage of President Donald Trumpís controversial border wall project ended last week, while the prospects for any more construction ó and even what type of wall ó remain uncertain.A Border Patrol agent was killed and his partner seriously wo...
Published: 11/21/17
Updated: 11/22/17

Another voice: Time for Republicans to denounce this tax nonsense

Mick Mulvaney, the phony deficit hawk President Donald Trump tapped to oversee the nationís budget, all but admitted on Sunday that the GOP tax plan currently before the Senate is built on fiction. Senators from whom the public should expect more ó s...
Published: 11/20/17
Updated: 11/21/17
Editorial: Florida should restore online access to nursing home inspections

Editorial: Florida should restore online access to nursing home inspections

In a state with the nationís highest portion of residents over 65 years old and more than 80,000 nursing home beds, public records about those facilities should be as accessible as possible. Yet once again, Florida is turning back the clock to the da...
Published: 11/20/17

Another voice: A time of reckoning on sexual misconduct

Stories about powerful men engaging in sexual misconduct are becoming so common that, as with mass shootings, the country is in danger of growing inured to them. But unlike the tragic news about that latest deranged, murderous gunman, the massive out...
Published: 11/20/17

Another voice: Trump does the right thing for elephants; he shouldnít back down now

There is bad timing, and then there is this. Last week, an apparent military coup placed Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe in custody, ushering in a new period of political uncertainty. A few days later, the Trump administration announced that Zimba...
Published: 11/19/17
Updated: 11/22/17
Editorial: Fighting the opioid crisis on many fronts

Editorial: Fighting the opioid crisis on many fronts

From birth to death, opioid addiction is ravaging the lives of thousands of Floridians. Drugmakers, doctors, state lawmakers and insurance companies all have a role to play in slowing the epidemic. Lately some more responsible answers, including mill...
Published: 11/17/17
Updated: 11/21/17

Editorial: Good for Tampa council member Frank Reddick to appeal for community help to solve Seminole Heights killings

As the sole black member of the Tampa City Council, Frank Reddick was moved Thursday to make a special appeal for help in solving four recent murders in the racially mixed neighborhood of Southeast Seminole Heights. "Iím pleading to my brothers. You ...
Published: 11/17/17
Editorial: Itís time to renew communityís commitment to Tampa Theatre

Editorial: Itís time to renew communityís commitment to Tampa Theatre

New attention to downtown Tampa as a place to live, work and play is transforming the area at a dizzying pace. Credit goes to recent projects, both public and private, such as the Tampa River Walk, new residential towers, a University of South Florid...
Published: 11/17/17
Editorial: A time for real thanksgiving

Editorial: A time for real thanksgiving

By now the guest list if not the table is all set, and the house will be warmed with the noise of loved ones and the smell of that dish with cream of mushroom soup. Tucked between the sugar rush of Halloween and the sparkle of Christmas, Thanksgiving...
Published: 11/16/17
Updated: 11/22/17
Editorial: Rays opening offer on stadium sounds too low

Editorial: Rays opening offer on stadium sounds too low

The Rays definitely like Ybor City, and Ybor City seems to like the Rays. So what could possibly come between this match made in baseball stadium heaven? Hundreds (and hundreds and hundreds) of millions of dollars. Rays owner Stu Sternberg told Times...
Published: 11/16/17
Updated: 11/17/17