Saturday, August 13, 2016

Most Tone-Deaf Governor In Florida History, Rick Scott, Continues Historic Run Of Mistakes ... by gimleteye

It's been a very bad summer if you are a small business owner, vote Republican, and live anywhere near the toxic water puking out of Lake Okeechobee along the rivers to both Florida coasts.

Your governor is ignoring you.

He's too busy raising money, or trying to, for Donald Trump to pay attention to your needs. Here is a newspaper editorial by Gil Smart, for the Treasure Coast Palm, that helps forecast why the November elections will be a disaster for Scott, for Trump, and the GOP.

By the way, Florida Senator Marco Rubio didn't believe that the toxic water catastrophe afflicting Florida's taxpayers and voters would have an impact on his March presidential primary chances in his home state. We tried to tell him. Rubio barely carried 15% of the Florida primary vote.

For a well-known politician -- hailed by Time Magazine only a few years earlier as "The Republican Savior" -- to lose that badly should send a message.

Despite the millions that Big Sugar is spending to protect their Iron Wall, the privileges in the Farm Bill that Grover Norquist calls "cronyism in its undiluted, inexcusable majesty", the wall is coming down. Voters: keep up the pressure.

Gil Smart: We delivered your letters to the Governor Who Didn’t Care
Treasure Coast Palm: Yesterday 7:15 p.m.

More than 12,000 signed copies of Treasure Coast Newspapers' letter to Gov. Scott and personal letters written by Florida residents and Florida Rep. Gayle Harrell, R-Stuart, were delivered to Gov. Scott's office Wednesday in Tallahassee by Treasure Coast Newspapers columnist Gil Smart and visual journalist Leah Voss (not pictured.)

This week visual journalist Leah Voss and I lugged more than 3,600 of your letters on our algae crisis to Tallahassee. We wanted to deliver them to Gov. Rick Scott's office, maybe even hand them to Gov. Scott in person — though I was pretty sure that wasn't going to happen.

For weeks, I'd been asking Scott's communications staff for an interview and telling them that we planned to bring the letters even if we couldn't get one. My messages elicited one of two responses: either they were completely ignored, or Scott's staffers said, "We'll check the governor's availability and get back to you." Of course, no one ever did.

So when we arrived Wednesday morning, I wasn't exactly expecting Scott to waltz out of his office and accept the print letters. Sure enough, said the secretary, Scott wasn't available.

But he was there. Colleagues on Twitter pointed out that as we cooled our heels in the reception area, he was being interviewed on CNN, from Tallahassee. In his office? I don't know. But he was in Tallahassee; I suppose he simply had bigger fish to fry, better things to do than dealing with complaints from you, his constituents.

Indeed, he was so disinterested his office couldn't even spare a senior functionary. Instead, Janice Johnson was dispatched to accept the letters on the Governor's behalf. She identified herself as "Consumer Service Analyst."

She was very gracious, but she's not exactly high up the food chain.

Your letters, your concerns — your anguish — didn't merit anything more.

And that's a pretty clear indication of how seriously the governor takes those concerns, isn't it?

Because look, this wasn't about me; I'm just some pesky scribe. Ever since we published our open letter to Gov. Scott on the front page of our newspapers on July 2, and launched a concurrent online petition drive, this has been about you — us, our community. In addition to the 3,600 print letters, 8,595 of you signed the letter digitally.

This has been about the algae that's choked our waters, endangered our health, hammered our businesses and imperiled our future.

You clipped that open letter from the front page and added your voice to the chorus calling on Scott to use the power of his office to acquire land south of Lake Okeechobee. Many of you added long, heartfelt missives about how the crisis affected you and fouled this beautiful place that you love.

Your concerns deserve to be taken seriously.

But at this point, let's just say I'm not confident Scott will spend much time poring over your letters.

"Were you really surprised?" asked the cynics. Or maybe they're just realists who have seen this movie before.

After all, we're talking about a governor who declared a state of emergency for Martin and St. Lucie counties in late June, and never actually came to see that emergency for himself.

At the height of this summer's algae crisis, as our green waters were making national and international news, U.S. Sens. Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio came to town. Scott stayed away — he couldn't be bothered.

He can talk a good game, though that usually involves him blaming the federal government for not spending more money to fix the dike around Lake Okeechobee. But when it comes to listening to what his actual constituents want, well, that's not on the agenda.

Maybe he's not on board with the whole "Buy the land, send it south" business. But neither is Rubio. Say what you want about Marco (I have and I will); call his visits pure political theater. But at least he came to see it for himself. And that's worth something.

Meanwhile, state Sen. Joe Negron of Stuart, the incoming Senate president, unveiled a plan to buy land south of Lake O this week. It might work, it might not; maybe this, too, is election-year theater, but at least it's responsive to the wishes of Negron's constituents.

But Scott, the Governor Who Didn't Care?


Our community, the Treasure Coast, is small in numbers, lacking in clout (Negron's position notwithstanding), and apparently unimportant in the grand scheme of things to a governor who looks to be angling for a place in the Trump administration.

Yet at the same time, Negron's proposal, the ads taken out by the sugar industry to counter what it calls "misinformation," the discomfort of some other elected officials with the sustained, energetic activism — all these things indicate a movement that's getting harder to ignore.

So keep pushing. And one day perhaps even the Governor Who Didn't Care will be forced to do so.

Gil Smart is a columnist for Treasure Coast Newspapers and a member of the Editorial Board. His columns reflect his opinion. Readers may reach him at, by phone at 772-223-4741 or via Twitter at @TCPalmGilSmart.


Anonymous said...

Rick Scott is a putz BUT Florida voters elected him, twice.

Anonymous said...

Scott is a creature of the state Schale describes, "a state, not a place". It's why Scott so often looks out of place. All his places look like the interior of Marriott hotel lobbies.

Anonymous said...

The electorate in Florida take the prize with this criminal. Not to mention his pawn Pam Bondi. Did you see her at the Trump rally. The two of these people are as vile as Trump.

Anonymous said...

Is "Tone Deaf Governor" euphemism for a "Dictator"

David said...

I don't care about Rick Scott either way, but are there any incumbent politicians that meet or exceed your high standards? I remember when Carlito was mayor and was recalled, you guys were gushing all over yourselves about how great Gimenez was. Now he can't wipe his ass without you looking to make are he does the coccyx wipe, and beat the shit out f him if he doesn't. Not quarreling, just asking. Who measures up in your mind?