Sunday, January 12, 2014

Tallahassee, corrupt?… by gimleteye

At dinner last night, I had a conversation with a Miami radiologist. Radiologists, being famous for measurements. As president of Friends of the Everglades, I'm somewhat qualified to answer the question he asked.

What had Gov. Rick Scott done that was so awful and horrendous to the chances to restore the remnant Everglades? I explained about the balance of power between federal and state interests; how the state had pushed the equation in its favor; how the only dedicated revenue source was the water management district; how one of Rick Scott's first acts was to decapitate the science staff and capacity of said water management district, thereby destroying decades of history, effort, and the "library" of knowledge so that no one would actually ever be able to say what "restoration" of the Everglades actually meant.

In other words, I could feel my dinner companion's attention wandering.

I said, think of it this way. Imagine Gov. Scott proclaims he will cure cancer now, right here in your hospital. Now imagine the first thing he does is eliminate the radiology department. That's what Rick Scott did.

Of course, the legislature is not only incurious, it is massively susceptible to the corrupting influence of the taxpayer-subsidized polluters who control -- through campaign finance -- the outcome of elections and, thereby, the "deciders". Who in Miami pays attention to what happens in Tallahassee, where every part of the public interest is relentlessly picked over by ideologues or thieves?

From a 2012 paper from the "Faculty Research Working Paper Series" of the Harvard Kennedy School of Government:
We show that isolated capital cities are robustly associated with greater levels of corruption across US states. In particular, this is the case when we use the variation induced by the exogenous location of a state’s centroid to instrument for the concentration of population around the capital city. We then show that different mechanisms for holding state politicians accountable are also affected by the spatial distribution of population: newspapers provide greater coverage of state politics when their audiences are more concentrated around the capital, and voter turnout in state elections is greater in places that are closer to the capital. Consistent with lower accountability, there is also evidence that there is more money in state-level political campaigns in those states with isolated capitals. We find that the role of media accountability helps explain the connection between isolated capitals and corruption. In addition, we provide some evidence that this pattern is also associated with lower levels of public good spending and outcomes. … "Isolated Capital Cities, Accountability and Corruption"

Soon, state GOP leaders will be deposed on what "shredding" they did of correspondence, emails, and other evidence that they defiled the mandate and will of Florida voters; that districts should be fairly drawn. They will be represented by skilled lawyers who will throw back questions with answers like the metal chaff thrown from military aircraft to send guided missiles off course.

Corrupt? Depends how you measure it. For that you don't need mathematical models: just take Tallahassee.


Anonymous said...

There is a concept in the law called "spoliation of evidence". Where one party destroys evidence after being given notice that it is to be preserved (i.e., by service of a subpoena or a request to produce documents), the trier of fact in a case can assume that the destroyed evidence supports the opponent's case and undermines that of the document destroyer. We will have to see how far the trial judge in Tallahassee will go in applying this doctrine. The House is well represented by Gray Robinson, one of the powerhouse Florida law firms. But keep your eye on Frank Terrafirma, the Florida GOP's redistricting guru. What he knows and the documents he destroyed could sink the State's defense.

Anonymous said...

Welcome to the brave new world where corporations are people and money is speech and the best democracy money can buy.
Add in a supreme court justice that had only two times the urge to ask a question since mid ninety's.
I could go on and on.
Governance is so dysfunctional for so long it appears the normal state of affairs to most people.
The only thing I can see functioning reliably in Miami the last 10 Years is garbage and trash collection. And the water is always flowing from the tap, with a Yearly quality assurance letter in my mail box. Cross my fingers!