Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Florida under Rick Scott is not a representative democracy ... by gimleteye

Florida's government is broken. While the Fair Districts movement is a massively important development for the State, it is important to understand how and why so much damage has been done at the legislative and executive branch level.

In the Tallahassee Democrat, House Minority leader Mark Pafford provided an unvarnished view of his disappointments. Term limits is high on his list of measures that need correcting.

Many thought that term limits would provide a way for breaking the good old boy system of legislative command-and-control, but it hasn't worked out that way.

Could anything be worse that the primitive system of seniority and immovable committee order as the foundation intra-party privilege? Yes, it turns out.

Florida needs to end the frightful term-limit experiment. But at the same time, we need to drastically curtail the corruption that can and does become institutionalized with permanent incumbency.

Recognize how a permanent incumbency -- which the term-limit movement was intended to address -- offers a collateral corruption. To protect against that, we must have real campaign finance reform, harsh criminal penalties for violating election laws, lobbying reform including measures to stop the revolving door between regulated and regulators, and whistle-blower protections including compensation.

Above all, we need to abandon the myth that in a complex world, the least government is the most powerful protection of the taxpayer. What we need to do is make government work for people not just corporations.


Mark Pafford reflects on eight years in the minority
James Call, Democrat Capitol Reporter 11:52 p.m. EST January 15, 2016

The House Democratic Leader talks about what's wrong with the process, how to improve it and what state workers can expect from the 2016 legislative session

Maybe it's because House Democratic Leader Mark Pafford is term-limited out of office in November. He seems almost gleeful that his time in Tallahassee is coming to a close.

Then again, Pafford has always been upbeat around the statehouse or at least when a reporter's notepad or a mic is near. So it’s unclear whether some of his more biting remarks are signs of someone who has spent eight years on the losing end of policy debates or the sour grapes of a policy wonk leaving a place he knows he will miss. Maybe it's both.


An unapologetic liberal, Pafford was elected in 2008 on the heels of the Great Recession and served not only as a member of the minority party, but also when lawmakers were forced to cut billions of dollars from the state budget.

“The government was just hacked away and now that I’m ready to get out, it’s been one hell of a ride,” said Pafford. “I’m ready to be done with this. It’s not a happy thing, but maybe some good things will come of this.”

In addition to having represented a portion of Palm Beach County for four terms, Pafford also served as a legislative assistant for Rep. Lois Frankel in the 1990s when she represented the district. He earned a public administration degree from Florida International University and enjoys fighting what he believes is the “good fight.”

This week he led the opposition in the House to a 134-page water bill. It was a lonely fight. In the 120-member House, only Rep. Jose Javier Rodriguez, D-Miami, joined Pafford in voting no.

“As a leader, I’m quite persuasive,” quipped Pafford. In an extended meeting with the Tallahassee Democrat Editorial Board last week he had predicted he would get three or four members to join his opposition. He was at times pithy, effusive, humorous, and always, candid.

“I’m a nonprofit guy,” explained Pafford. “I’m not made for this world. I should not be here before you, especially as leader, but I’ve been myself. I'm not afraid to voice my opinion and certainly not going to allow somebody to come to me and say, 'listen, do you mind not talking about this bill because it will really hurt our feelings.'

That has happened."

Two years ago, when Rep. Darryl Rouson was ousted as incoming Leader House, Democrats turned to Pafford who had served as CEO of the Marshall Foundation for the Everglades and leads the Florida CHAIN, a health advocacy organization.

Pafford said his role as the leader of the opposition is to force debate on important issues.

During last week’s discussion, he criticqued how Florida makes public policy — from how much money state workers are paid to the role of money in politics.

What state workers can expect

“The Republican leadership, they’ve owned everything, by the way for the last 18 years. They are going to basically offer a small percentage increase (in pay). They’re going to claim it’s the greatest thing since sliced bread, and they they’re going to screw the employees in their health care and their retirement.


"It’s going to be a sleight of hand," he continued. "The sad part is this state is the leanest in the nation when it comes to the workforce, and when you are trying to recruit top end folks to the state, I think we would want the best. Instead, I think the state will continue to keep a stranglehold on the throats of the people’s government.”

How to improve the process

In 1992, voters approved legislative term limits as an exercise in more responsive government. Like many of his colleagues, Pafford believes the good intentions didn't bear fruit.

"My guess is that eight years didn't diminish the number of bad decisions or people that went to jail. It may have shortened the period for those things to occur, but the process is if you don't watch it, if you don't keep an eye on it, you get what you deserve," Pafford said.

"Term limits have been detrimental. Term limits have diminished the ability of a member to get to know the process and then deliver the experience into better input for a final product when dealing with 119 other members and a Senate. So expand term limits."

The tenor and substance of Florida politics will remain unchanged, Pafford asserts, without campaign finanance reform.

"The system is so corrupt," he said. "It’s been moved away from constituents and it is basically what large business organizations in general or the NRA that has the most persuasion in terms of campaign cash. And it’s has always been like that.

The meager legislative salaries — $29,000 for House members — guarantee only candidates with money can afford to participate, he argued.

"What you are doing is, you are diminishing the opportunity for normal people, whatever that might be, to bring more reality into the process," he added. "Do I enjoy working with people who may own sports teams or who own thousands of acres of citrus? I do. I gotta to tell you, I feel better about some of these people because I’ve begun to realize that they’re friendly, and they’re nice and they get it, but I think there is a lot more room for working people.“

Flaws in the process

Having spent 13 years in politics either as a legislative or congressional aide or an elected member, Pafford has seen and studied lawmaking up close. It gets ugly.

"They’ve bastardized the process so much," said Pafford. Even though lawmakers will debate an $80 billion budget, he said no one will know the allocations until the fourth week of the legislative session. He compared it to hiding the ball so the public doesn't know what's the final product until the very end.

"You got a part-time dumbed-down Legislature who has an inability to get into details. Deal-cutting now is, ‘I don’t like this.’ The art of negotiating language is gone."

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

didnt you support that effeminate flip-flopping clown charlie crist? you have no one to blame but yourself.

Geniusofdespair said...

Reader, didn't you support the effeminate clown Marco Rubio?

Gimleteye said...

Charlie Crist was a terrible candidate for governor. For failing to cultivate credible candidates and the next generation of elected officials, the Democratic Party and its top fundraisers have no one to blame but themselves.

Anonymous said...

anon 1: you sound like a homophobe. par for the course, especially among closeted conservatives.

Was there a better option that was likely to win at the time?

Anonymous said...

Nan Rich, but the Democratic Party of Florida establishment did not want her. Furthermore, Governor Scott has done an amazing job repairing, expanding, diversifying, and strengthening our state's economy.

Anonymous said...

money controls all! Our civil servants only serve those that pay!

Anonymous said...

Last year Florida’s per capita real GDP lagged the national average by more than $10,000. Rate Rick Scott: FRAUD.