Rather than handing the keys of Florida over to his lieutenant governor for a handful of days in January, Rick Scott has instead chosen to delay his swearing-in ceremony as a U.S. Senator.
His reasoning was simple. Scott wants to follow through on his promise to serve Florida voters.
Good for the governor, I say. We should all be so conscientious about keeping our word and fulfilling our responsibilities. Fortunately, this means Scott will have a chance to tie up some loose ends.
For instance, calling a final meeting of the clemency board.
You might have heard the board had a meeting scheduled Wednesday, but it was cancelled so Scott could attend the funeral of President George H.W. Bush. As justifications go, that’s as good as any.
After all, no one should minimize the importance of honoring the dead. And that’s exactly why Scott should reconvene the clemency board one final time.
It will give him and the rest of the Cabinet another chance to recognize the atrocities committed against the Groveland Four. Those were the four black men spuriously accused of raping a white woman in 1949. One of the men was killed by a mob, one was killed by a sheriff while supposedly trying to escape, one was shot several times by the same sheriff and another was tortured into a confession.
The House and Senate both recognized the injustice of this horrific case, and requested Scott offer a posthumous pardon to the four men. The vote in the House was 117-0. In the Senate, it was 36-0.
That was 20 months ago. Presumably, Scott and the rest of the Cabinet haven’t been able to squeeze in the few minutes it would take to clear the names of these four men, including two World War II vets.
Those extra few days in office will also give Scott a chance to fix health care in Florida.
You remember health care, right? Back in 2010, it was Scott’s rallying cry as a candidate. He said Obamacare would destroy America, and he vowed to come up with a uniquely Florida fix.
Back then, in Scott’s first year, the number of Florida residents without health insurance was 33 percent higher than the national average, according to Census figures. The latest numbers show Florida’s uninsured rate is now 47 percent higher than the national average.
So, yes, thank goodness Scott is sticking around until Jan. 8. Even if the first 95 months didn’t turn out the way he promised, he’s still got one more month to get health insurance figured out.
He might also want to devote one of his remaining days to saving our natural resources. After all, he slashed hundreds of millions of dollars from the Department of Environmental Protection and the South Florida Water Management District and, well, our water seems ickier for the effort.
Scott also pledged to cut the prison budget by $1 billion by privatizing jobs. He missed his target by about $900 million while making prisons far more dangerous for the remaining guards on duty. So maybe he can get that fixed between meetings on Jan. 7.
No doubt about it, there’s still work to be done.
Luckily, Gov. Scott is still on the job.
Contact John Romano at [email protected] Follow @romano_tbtimes.