Sunday, April 22, 2018
Opinion

Ruth: Corcoran transforms from insider to reformer

If Rick Scott has demonstrated anything, it is that just about anybody can get to be governor of Florida.

The people elected a hologram with little warmth. Then they did it a second time.

Little wonder all manner of aspirants are maneuvering to follow the C-3PO of Tallahassee into the Governor's Mansion. It's probably only a matter of time before Florida's swamp ape starts humming "Hail to the Governor."

Conventional wisdom argues Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam is the presumptive favorite to be the Republican nominee. As a former member of the Florida House, former member of the U.S. House and now agriculture commissioner, the Opie of Apalachee Parkway has experience, name recognition and plenty of money to be a competitive candidate.

That hasn't dimmed the ambitions of House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O'Lakes. When he isn't feuding with Scott, he has been flitting about the state in what appears to be an effort to lay the groundwork for a governor's race in 2018.

And here's where things begin to get more hypocritical.

As speaker, Corcoran has attempted to rebrand himself as a Don Quixote-like figure of reform, roaming the moors of Tallahassee ferreting out corruption, cronyism and cash from the wicked hallways of government. Feel free to start chortling.

This is Tallahassee, which is an old Seminole word for "Tammany Hall with a tan."

Corcoran has pledged to bring greater transparency and openness to government — unless that conflicts with doing stuff he doesn't want anyone to know about. He has bemoaned the pernicious influence of money awash in Tallahassee's bordello of baksheesh, even while his own rise to power was largely dependent on rolling over like a beagle begging for a Snausage from the capital's financially gifted special interests.

The speaker's bogeyman du jour is Enterprise Florida and its incentive program designed to attract business investment in the state. Corcoran believes the agency is a waste of time and taxpayer money. And he might be right. What Fortune 500 company wouldn't want to move to a state with a lousy public school system, terrible public transportation and myriad laws making it easier for residents to shoot each other with abandon and very little consequence?

This has put Corcoran on a collision course with Scott, who believes Enterprise Florida is practically the Marshall Plan of the subtropics.

Scott is now airing ads aimed against Corcoran and his minions, noting: "Politicians in Tallahassee don't get it. They don't understand how jobs are created." But legislators, especially Corcoran, certainly do understand how their jobs are created by exploiting dubious flaps with a sitting governor to boost their bona fides as guardians of the public exchequer.

Corcoran has milked his populist cow to the fullest, attacking Enterprise Florida and Visit Florida as the Bonnie and Clyde of government waste that appease "all the insiders." One might think he was some poor waif walking down the street when he was dragooned off to Tallahassee and forced at gunpoint to become one of the state's most powerful political figures.

But Corcoran ought to know an insider when he sees one. The speaker has been the ultimate Tallahassee insider, spending a better part of his adult life in a host of insider political jobs.

Perhaps Corcoran's greatest achievement in positioning himself as the great man of the people was a measure passed by the House that would ban former members from becoming dreaded lobbyists for at least six years after they leave public service, which sort of defies the whole reason for running for office in the first place.

It's just a guess, but what are the odds that during the six-year no-lobbying hiatus Tallahassee will see a dramatic increase in former members of the House promoting themselves as "strategic consultants"?

One man's drained swamp is another's Jacuzzi.

Comments
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: 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: 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
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
Editorial: Why single-member districts would be bad for Hillsborough commission

Editorial: Why single-member districts would be bad for Hillsborough commission

Anyone looking to make Hillsborough County government bigger, costlier, more dysfunctional and less of a regional force should love the idea that Commissioner Sandy Murman rolled out this week. She proposes enlarging the seven-member board to nine, e...
Published: 04/19/18
Updated: 04/20/18
Editorial: Improving foster care in Hillsborough

Editorial: Improving foster care in Hillsborough

A new foster care provider in Hillsborough County is poised to take over operations in May, only months after its predecessor was fired for what was alleged to be a pattern of failing to supervise at-risk children in its care. Many of the case manage...
Published: 04/18/18

Another voice: Back to postal reform

President Donald Trump is angry at Amazon for, in his tweeted words, "costing the United States Post Office massive amounts of money for being their Delivery Boy." Yet in more recent days, Trump has at least channeled his feelings in what could prove...
Published: 04/17/18
Updated: 04/18/18
Editorial: Congress should protect independence of special counsel

Editorial: Congress should protect independence of special counsel

A bipartisan Senate bill clarifying that only the attorney general or a high-ranking designee could remove a special prosecutor would send an important message amid President Donald Trump’s attacks on the investigation into Russia’s inter...
Published: 04/16/18
Updated: 04/17/18