Romano: Did anyone know Jennifer Carroll had done such a 'fantastic' job?

Published March 19, 2013

Like a lot of people, I'm a sucker for a good plot twist.

Something so radical, so ingenious, it takes you completely by surprise. Something along the lines of The Sixth Sense. Or The Usual Suspects.

So imagine my delight upon reading a New York Times story on Sunday that included former Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll offering this self evaluation of her job performance:

"I believe I did a fantastic job.''

Nope, can't say that I saw that one coming.

I mean, it's not a hard and fast rule, but when "Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigation'' and "resignation'' are in the same sentence, the term "fantastic'' is typically not the first description that comes to mind.

Of course, I could be misreading the situation. It's entirely possible that Carroll did a fantastic job the past two-plus years, and I haven't paid close enough attention.

Just to be sure, I searched newspaper headlines to find blockbuster accomplishments I might have missed during Carroll's tenure.

"Ex-Carroll staffer calls for her impeachment, says she created hostile work environment'' Florida Times-Union, Sept. 28, 2011.

The staffer also described the atmosphere in the office as "juvenile school.'' Not quite a scandal, but certainly an embarrassment for Gov. Rick Scott's administration.

"Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll, mainstay at low profile events, looking for bigger role in 2012'' St. Petersburg Times blog, Dec. 12, 2011.

This was Carroll acknowledging she had little input in the 2011 legislative session. Um, did anyone notice a difference in 2012?

"Scott is like MLK, Lt. Gov. Carroll says'' Tallahassee Democrat, Jan. 15, 2012.

Not even touching that one.

"Senator takes lieutenant governor to task'' Northwest Florida Daily News, Feb. 7, 2012.

One of Carroll's official roles was serving as a military liaison to lobby on behalf of Florida bases. Incoming Senate President Don Gaetz was not impressed.

"Task force claim untrue'' Tampa Bay Times, May 4, 2012.

Heading a "stand your ground'' task force, Carroll claims progun advocates were the only volunteers to apply for the panel. This claim was debunked, and the task force offered no meaningful changes for the law.

"Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll apologizes for antigay remark'' Miami Herald, July 26, 2012.

Carroll seemed to suggest she was too attractive to be a lesbian.

"Carroll leaves unfulfilled expectations in her wake'' Orlando Sentinel, March 14.

Some officials said they were shocked by her resignation, some said they were saddened, but it was hard to find anyone who thought it was the wrong move.

Granted, these headlines were cherry-picked. I skipped some that touted her appearances at Chamber of Commerce breakfasts and speeches at various schools.

Nevertheless, there didn't seem to be many stories about her tenure being "fantastic.'' Or "marvelous.'' Or "terrific.'' Or even "spiffy.''

Naturally, Carroll is entitled to her own opinion. And she knows better than anyone what she accomplished behind the scenes for a governor with a dramatically low approval rating.

But I can't help wondering if a lack of humility or self-awareness wasn't part of the problem.