A (fake) conversation Friday morning at the governor's office in Tallahassee:
Aide: Sir, we have a bit of a problem.
Gov. Scott: Just tell Lt. Gov. Carroll the letter of recommendation is in the mail.
Aide: No sir, this is something else.
Gov. Scott: (Sighs.)
Aide: It seems the Arizona Legislature approved Medicaid expansion on Thursday.
Gov. Scott: That's it? That's today's crisis? How can that possibly be my problem?...
Whenever a group of progressives or pro-business lobbyists release their version of a report card for state legislators, it is understood they are grading on a rather biased curve.
And, naturally, the curve's shape depends on whether that group leans left or right.
Nothing wrong with that. It can be a handy shortcut to common interests. In other words, if you like this business group, then you'll probably love that senator....
“One thing that I think we all ought to do as Floridians is, we ought to brag more.''
— Gov. Rick Scott.
The governor is correct, of course.
In his campaign to snatch jobs from other states, Scott has become Florida's cheerleader-in-chief. He flirts, he bad-mouths the competition, he cruises around in his private jet.
Some might call it tawdry, but we prefer to think of it as confident....
06/08/13 Human Interest
By the time they arrived in the room downstairs, their worlds were already fractured.
Some had been abused, some had been neglected. All were young girls who had landed at Brookwood, gratefully or not, because they had nowhere else to go.
There, in a basement as out of place as they were, the girls gathered to write. Their participation fluctuated, and their moods did too, but their words felt unmistakably true....
Got a minute to take a multiple-choice test?
Just so you know, this is not a pass-or-fail situation. There isn't even a right-or-wrong consensus on the answers.
I'll tell you what those involved chose to do, and at the end of the column I'll tell you what I would have done. The rest is up to you to decide.
1. You are a veteran of the Florida Highway Patrol. You stop a car for speeding on the interstate outside of Tallahassee and discover the driver is a state legislator. You call your supervisor on the radio for guidance and discuss what you say is FHP's unofficial policy of leniency for lawmakers. Do you:...
Listen long enough, and you're sure to hear two familiar promises from your elected heroes in Tallahassee.
No. 1: They will fight would-be robber barons trying to pick our pockets.
No. 2: They won't let pencil-pushers in Washington tell us what's best for Florida.
To be fair, most state officials are probably sincere about both promises. Right up until the moment it becomes inconvenient, and then they sell you down the river....
06/01/13 Local Government
It is fair to say that history is on Bill Foster's side.
He is the incumbent, the establishment, the status quo. And if there is one trend in the recent history of St. Petersburg mayoral elections, it is an infatuation with the safe pick.
In a city where registered Republicans make up only 28 percent of the electorate, St. Pete elections still typically go the conservative, sensible, stay-the-course route....
05/29/13 Local Government
Bill Cosby used to do a routine about coin flips before historical conflicts.
He would imagine the choices given to George Custer and Sitting Bull, for instance. Another was the colonists and the British army during the Revolutionary War.
Cosby, as referee, would narrate the coin flip:
"The British call heads; it is tails. You lose the toss, British. What will you do, settlers?...
05/27/13 Local Government
Here's what I'm wondering:
Does anybody on the St. Petersburg City Council want to raise a stink about the residency controversy in the upcoming District 4 primary? Is anybody in the city attorney's office eager to weigh in? How about the mayor's staff?
My guess is no.
And maybe that's because they have all played a role in the creation of this mess, and they darn well know the process was incredibly unfair....
It is an amazing place, that capital of ours.
A city where campaign donations are forever chaste, and conflicts of interest can never be found. If money trades hands and a favorable decision follows, it's not considered shady at all.
In Tallahassee, that is what is known as a coincidence.
We were reminded of this Candyland innocence again this week when a St. Petersburg company got $52 million worth of business from the state-run Citizens Property Insurance Corp....
05/22/13 Economic Development
My, my, my. What is a body to do?
The Tampa Port Authority board just blew up the latest proposal to reimagine Channelside Bay Plaza, which means starting the whole process over again.
Yup, this sure is a pickle.
If only there was a wealthy financier around to help out.
If only this financier had an economic interest in the surrounding area.
If only this person had a track record in business, a reputation for philanthropy and a hockey team in a nearby arena....
You begin at the back of the line. That's practically a given.
When you're an advocate for the homeless, you learn to wait your turn and lower your expectations. You provide every answer, and avoid any assumptions.
And it is only in those rare moments when everything seems to be falling in place that you ponder the possibility of something special coming your way.
All of which explains why Monday was such a huge disappointment for Metropolitan Ministries in Pasco County....
When the bailiff proclaimed the session completed, the stampede began.
Nearly 100 drug offenders had been crammed in Courtroom 1 at the Criminal Justice Center in Clearwater for hours, and they were now scurrying for the doors.
If you weren't looking for him, you might have never noticed the young man lingering behind. He was the one whose shirt and tie clashed just as boldly as his past and future....
Not everyone believes in the warming of Rick Scott's heart.
While it is true he supported expanding Medicaid, critics point out that he was nowhere to be seen while zealots in the Florida House were voting it down.
And while it is fact he pushed for teacher pay raises, that didn't require much arm-twisting when dealing with a rare budget surplus.
So what's a conservative with a corporate image to do? Just how does Gov. Private Jet convince voters that he truly is a man of the people?...
Start with the statistics.
Democrats in Florida have an undeniable advantage. They currently outnumber registered Republicans by more than a half-million voters.
Then consider the trends.
Democrats in Florida are showing signs of life. They just closed the gap on Republicans in the state Legislature, and in recent years have handed critical electoral votes to both Bill Clinton and Barack Obama....