1. Opinion

Ruth: Taking a toll on Scott's campaign (w/video)

Published Apr. 1, 2014

It is something of a toss-up as to what is really the worse sin here: that the various hapless coat hangers in the employ of Gov. Rick Scott's re-election bid are such tone-deaf toadies? Or that they are so transparently inept in their phoniness?

It was just days ago that Mike Fernandez, one of the Scott's top-tier re-election fundraisers, charged that some staff minions had engaged in "culturally insensitive" remarks regarding Hispanics, including indulging in some bad, really bad, attempts to mimic a Mexican accent.

Fill in your own Cheech & Chong impersonation.

It is not a very smart election strategy to get sideways with a billionaire political supporter who personally has donated $1 million to the campaign and helped raise an additional $35 million, especially when appealing to Florida's Hispanic voters is critical to winning any statewide race.

Fernandez was none too thrilled to be dismissed as a dilettante gadfly and ignored by Scott's supernumeraries, especially campaign manager and former gubernatorial flack Melissa Sellers, who apparently has opined that the best way to conduct a campaign is to be in a constant DEFCON 1 state of paranoia.

And now this. Another high-profile Hispanic voice, Miami-Dade Expressway Authority board member Gonzalo Sanabria announced he was resigning from the agency in protest over the Scott campaign's "disparaging and disrespectful" treatment of Fernandez.

At this rate, even Al Cardenas, one of the state's most prominent Hispanic Republicans and a former state party chairman, might well be rethinking his vote come November.

But rather than trying to placate Fernandez and Sanabria with an apology and perhaps a well-rolled head or two, the Scott campaign doubled down.

A Scott hot-walker announced that Sanabria's real motive for resigning from the expressway authority was because the governor had informed him he would not be reappointed to a post he had held under governors Jeb Bush, Charlie Crist and Scott.

This was a classic case of "You can't resign, because you're fired."

What exactly was Sanabria's shortcoming as a board member? Scott jettisoned the Miami Lakes real estate developer because of his "votes to raise toll fees on the people of Miami-Dade."

Oddly enough, Sanabria's vote to raise the tolls took place in March 2013. It took Scott a year to get around to being properly riled up?

Who is running the fumbling Scott re-election public relations machine? Tallahassee Rose?

There is good news to be found in Scott's assault on public agencies imposing onerous financial demands on the body politic.

If an expressway authority board member can be given the boot over a toll increase, then certainly Scott, channeling his inner Ralph Nader, ought to be at the very forefront in attempting to dismantle Florida's feckless Public Service Commission. After all, the PSC has allowed the state's power companies to charge customers $1.8 billion in charges for nuclear plants that will: a) never be repaired or b) never be built.

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Can we anticipate the consumer protectionist governor now will demand most of the Citizens Property Insurance & Tanning Parlor board of directors and management lose their jobs? After all, they have dragged their feet on settling claims and foisted homeowners off on dubious carriers who have been in business for all of 20 minutes but were savvy enough to make political contributions to the governor's campaign.

And just wait until Scott ferrets out the dolt who championed the construction of a $131 million elevated tollway linking U.S. 19 and I-275 in Pinellas County. If voting for a rate increase of between 30 cents and 70 cents on the Miami-Dade expressways was enough to incur the wrath of Tallahassee's God of Toll-fire, then surely proposing an elevated toll road would have Scott fuming over yet another assault on the pocketbooks of motorists.

Irony abounds. It seems that the U.S. 19 to I-275 toll road has been warmly embraced by the governor, who has pledged to fast-track the project to completion.

Does this suggest Scott might fire himself? How does one explain this apparent contradiction?

It's simple really. In an election year, one man's toll road treason is merely another man's convenient toll road hypocrisy. Or maybe it's all Obamacare's fault, which is always a favorite Scott default position when he runs out of common sense.


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