Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Romano: With voter purge, Rick Scott has become what he campaigned against

He was right, you know.

The governor was dead-on when it came to illegal voters and a government crackdown.

It was all justifiable, and completely defensible. Gov. Rick Scott even sounded admirable when he urged officials to go after noncitizens on the state's voter rolls.

That lasted about 10 minutes.

The admirable part, that is.

Since then, Scott has fallen farther and farther down the rabbit hole. His fixation on an imaginary epidemic has made him look silly, vindictive and shamelessly partisan.

In the process, he has become that which he once mocked.

If you do not agree, spend a few minutes thinking about gubernatorial candidate Rick Scott. He was the businessman who was not going to play political games.

He talked about not wasting a single taxpayer dollar. He talked about not continuing to do something over and over when it has been proved ineffective.

He talked about tort reform, reducing the government's reach and bringing accountability to Tallahassee. If you don't recall, it's all there in the campaign sound bites.

So why is Scott now wasting taxpayer dollars on lawsuits? Why he is on a crusade that looks flawed, unconstitutional and comically insignificant?

Why is he obsessed with an issue that may sound legitimate but has proved to be more of a bogeyman than a serious threat?

This state still has serious problems. Scott hasn't come through on his job creation boasts, no matter how many 7-Eleven openings he attends. Education funding is a problem. Health care is an issue. Tax reform is on the agenda.

And yet Scott is wasting valuable time pushing a voter purge that is statistically inconsequential compared to just about every other problem on the state To-Do list.

Now Scott swears this is not a partisan issue. And I would honestly like to believe that, but it looks more and more suspicious when a Republican-controlled Legislature attacks voter registration at the same time Scott refuses to ease off on the purge.

And the sad part of all of this? Scott could have put the onus on Democrats if he had just taken the high ground.

If he had simply introduced the idea of the noncitizen purge, and then hammered away at Homeland Security for refusing to share its database, then it would have looked like the Obama administration was the one playing games in an election year.

Instead, by going on offense, refusing to give up on a flawed plan and defying federal laws, Scott has opened himself up to charges of partisan shenanigans.

And for what?

A few dozen illegal ballots in a state with more than 11 million registered voters?

Yes, in theory, we should pursue every illegally registered voter in the state. That's absolutely accurate. No argument necessary.

But we should not be strong-arming local election supervisors who have been strongly opposed to this government intrusion. And we should not be wasting an abundance of money forcing legitimate U.S. citizens to prove they have the right to vote.

Because all of that is diametrically opposed to Scott's professed philosophy.

Which means our governor is failing to follow through on his promise of a more efficient, less politically motivated administration.

Now that sounds like voter fraud.

Editorial: As USFSP consolidation task force meets, openness and collaboration are key

Editorial: As USFSP consolidation task force meets, openness and collaboration are key

Writing a new law that phases out separate accreditation for the University of South Florida St. Petersburg and folds it back into the major research university was the easy part. The hard work starts today when a new consolidation task force holds i...
Updated: 7 hours ago


CorrectionCircuit Judge John Stargel of Lakeland is a member of the Florida Constitution Revision Commission who voted against a proposed amendment that would have stopped write-in candidates from closing primary elections. An editorial Saturday inco...
Published: 04/23/18
Editorial: Pruitt sets new low for ethics at EPA

Editorial: Pruitt sets new low for ethics at EPA

Not too many people took then-candidate Donald Trump seriously when he famously campaigned to "drain the swamp" as president. But that shouldn’t give this administration a free pass to excuse the behavior of Scott Pruitt, the administrator of the Env...
Published: 04/22/18
Updated: 04/23/18
Editorial: Allegiant Air still has safety issues

Editorial: Allegiant Air still has safety issues

Allegiant Air’s safety record remains troubling, and the Federal Aviation Administration’s reluctance to talk about it is no more encouraging. Those are the key takeaways from a 60 Minutes report on the low-cost carrier’s high rate of mid-flight brea...
Published: 04/21/18

Editorial: Women’s work undervalued in bay area

Even a strong economy and low unemployment cannot overcome the persistent pay gap affecting full-time working women in Florida. A new report shows women in Florida earned 12.5 percent less on average than their male counterparts, and the disparities ...
Published: 04/21/18
Editorial: Florida’s death penalty fading away on its own

Editorial: Florida’s death penalty fading away on its own

Florida lawmakers may never take the death penalty off the books, but stronger forces are steadily eroding this inhumane, outdated tool of injustice. Court rulings, subsequent changes to law and waning public support have significantly suppressed the...
Published: 04/20/18
Updated: 04/24/18

Editorial: A missed chance for open primary elections

The Florida Constitution Revision Commission did a lot of things wrong this week by combining unrelated or unpalatable provisions into single amendments that will appear on the November ballot. It also wasted an opportunity to do one thing right. The...
Published: 04/20/18
Updated: 04/23/18
Editorial: New Cuba president is chance for new start

Editorial: New Cuba president is chance for new start

For all the symbolism, Raul Castro’s handoff of the Cuban presidency this week amounts to less than meets the eye even if his handpicked successor, the Communist Party functionary Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez, is the first person not named Castro to le...
Published: 04/20/18
Editorial: When they visit Nature’s Classroom, kids are right where they belong

Editorial: When they visit Nature’s Classroom, kids are right where they belong

The Hillsborough school district planted a fruitful seed with the opening of Nature’s Classroom five decades ago on the cypress-lined banks of the Hillsborough River northeast of Tampa. • The lessons taught there to some 17,000 sixth graders each yea...
Published: 04/20/18

Editorial: Equality pays off on Southwest Flight 1380

The passengers of Southwest Flight 1380 can be thankful that, 33 years ago, the U.S. Navy took the lead on equal opportunity.Capt. Tammie Jo Shults was piloting the flight from New York to Dallas on Tuesday when an engine exploded, blowing out a wind...
Published: 04/19/18
Updated: 04/20/18