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Rick Scott seemed to think he was running against President Obama rather than Alex Sink in his run for Governor last year, and he still manages to work in his criticism of the President’s policies every chance he gets. Just yesterday it was “ObamaRail” and the “ObamaTrain” that he rejected when he threw Floridians, $2.4 billion dollars and 23,000 jobs under the train bus.

He also has a great deal of interest in repealing the Affordable Care Act, and recently said he would be spending a lot of time in Washington. For what reason? Well, he said it was to make sure Florida gets its fair share.” But wouldn’t the money for the high-speed rail project qualify as “getting our fair share?” Wouldn’t the project also create a few of those “700,000″ jobs Scott promised to Floridians before they voted? Sure it would. But Scott just trashed a nice chunk of our “fair share.” His reasoning is reckless spending and all the other nonsense talking points he and many of the Republicans in the state who now despise him along with the rest of us use all the time.

Maybe there’s a reason he doesn’t really seem to give a flying fig about Florida. Maybe his ego is so overblown that he has bigger ambitions. Maybe he’s just using Florida and his policies to prove himself to the Tea Baggers he spends all of his time with.

Maybe it seems like he’s still running against President Obama, because he actually plans to run against Obama in 2012. The thought has occurred to me before, but it just seemed crazy and so ridiculously far-fetched. Of course Scott seems to thrive on failed, far-fetched ideas and he does seem to have a rather large ego. I guess now see I’m not the only one who noticed it.

But hey, it’s not like we haven’t had failed Governors as national candidates before. It also wouldn’t be the first time an elected official tried to convince the country he was not what he “appeared” to be:

“I am not a crook!”

If so, well, good luck with that!

 

Derailed

I always thought that Rick Scott would manage to destroy Florida by the end of his term, but I was wrong. At the rate he’s going he’ll destroy it LONG before then.

In just under two months Scott has taken command of a state with Titanic potential, and actively sought out an iceberg to steer it into. Much like the Titanic, yesterday he hit the big one. Unlike Scott, at least the ship builders Harland and Wolff had a vision to try to build a bold new mode of transportation. But Rick Scott? His only vision at this point appears to be seeking revenge against the nation’s first black President (or as Scott refers to them, one of “those people.”) who dared to tackle another industry in dire need of reform: health care. We all know about Rick Scott’s experience with that, where he left behind the company he owned and ran to make the history books in the subject of Medicare fraud. Perhaps his eyes are on a bigger prize now as a one man death panel who steers patients to private clinics, like his current company, Solantic. But that’s an issue for another day.

Rick Scott managed to get elected somehow, in spite of his past business background. Perhaps people in Florida were so desperate or naive that they actually bought what he was selling. I would imagine that even his die-hard supporters have a touch of voters remorse. The GOP certainly has buyers remorse after groveling at Scott’s feet when he defeated their preferred candidate, Bill McCollum. He not only flipped off voters, maybe a couple corporate donors, and his own party, he even seems confused about his own policies with yesterday’s rejection of high-speed rail. That decision has left many scratching their heads, and may have just convinced even the former doubters that he has become the Master Of Disaster for Florida. The only groups he seems to have catered to is that small minority of ignorant Tea Partiers who probably have trouble balancing their own bank accounts and think that fairies, not taxes, fill the potholes that are big enough for them to drive their pickup trucks through. (They’ll figure it out soon enough when the next hurricane comes along and they’re forced to rely on the former disaster management crew from Wal-Mart. But again, another issue for another day.)

The other group that’s happy about Scott’s decision? Why that would be a libertarian “think tank,” the Reason Foundation, which wrote the so-called report Scott relied on to base his decision on rather than an upcoming study from the Florida Department of Transportation he claimed to be waiting for. Counted among the he Reason Foundation’s Board of Trustees is none other than David H. Koch, of Koch Industries, and yes, one more rather large can of worms.

For someone who claims to be an outsider, well, sort of. He’s an outsider to reality. He wants to run Florida like a business? Sure, a bad one, but then look at his track record. His campaign promises? Well, you’re a sucker if you believed them.

The high-speed rail project was a good business decision that was a sorely needed “gift” to Florida, where traffic and gridlock have been a growing problem for decades. I can vouch for at least the last 30 years, but ask those who have dealt with it even longer. Of course for someone who travels by private jet as Scott does, that’s hardly a problem for him. As for the rest of us, well we can just keep on sucking exhaust fumes while we sit in traffic and spend hours moving through parking lots like I4 where it takes a large chunk out of your day to travel to a place that should only take an hour or two. Mind you, this is Florida, not the New York area or even California. We’re talking say  Tampa to Orlando.

The “gift” Florida got from the high-speed rail project brought us $2.4 billion in federal funds. The project would have created more than 23,000 jobs, some of which have already begun, where we have a 20 percent unemployment rate. Private businesses were lining up for bids on the project, bids that will never materialize if Scott gets his way. However, since the gift came from President Obama, well, Florida will just have to go without all that, even though Scott promised to create 700,000 jobs (never mind the 8700 jobs that he cut last week) and he claimed Florida would become a major attraction to the private sector and therefore prosperity for every resident. Not only has Scott doomed high-speed rail, we’re probably doomed form any other companies and jobs that may have come to Florida. People who actually know how to run a business, unlike Gov. Dictator, would probably view Florida as a really bad risk for investment as long as the Governor is a fickle operator who could pull the plug at any given moment as he did with the rail project. Of course, that’s over and above the problem of trusting a man whose first company became a textbook case on Medicare fraud.

Two days ago Scott went on (what else?) FOX-GOP-TV to proclaim “I know what needs to happen in Florida,” and “I know what our citizens need.” He was talking about one of his other “projects,” Medicaid and the repeal of the Affordable Care Act. He also blasted the “evil demon” stimulus bill, which he claims will cause dependency. (Today Scoot meets with BP claims czar Ken Feinberg over the problems of oil spill claims. Perhaps he’ll tell Feinberg  to withhold claims altogether so those whose businesses were hurt by the oil gusher don’t become too dependent on any relief?)

Does Scott “know what Florida needs? No. In fact he has proven he has absolutely no clue. While he turned down that $2.4 billion for high-speed rail, he said that he “believes Florida is better served by investments in ports, highways and other infrastructure to create long-term jobs.” What the clueless Governor fails to grasp is the not so little detail of how that $2.4 billion can be spent. One might ask Scott what part of the words “high-speed rail funds” he doesn’t understand, because the concept seems to have him stumped.

If the money isn’t used for high-speed rail as intended, Florida loses that money. In fact if Scott had bothered to study up on it, he would know that we got some of those funds because another clueless Governor turned them down as well. No, Scott may think he can use those funds any way he wants, perhaps even on himself or maybe use it for his wife’s Governor’s mansion redecorating fund for all we know. That money will now go elsewhere if Scott doesn’t change his mind. There’s a reason why, barely minutes after the news of Scott’s stupidity broke, states like California and New York were already scrambling for the funds as if billions of dollars had just descended from the heavens at their feet. High-speed rail is popular and a good thing. What happened to the Governor who recently said “he would be spending a great deal of time in Washington making sure Florida gets its fair share?” So far he’s taken our fair share and thrown it back in President Obama’s face.

As I write, Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) and yes, even Republican U.S. Rep. John Mica, who Scott managed to flip off as well yesterday are scrambling to do damage control with an end run around the decision.

There’s even talk of recall. Yesterday Representative Rick Kriseman (D-St. Petersburg) filed legislation to permit the recall of state officials. You can read and track those bills: HJR785 here, and HB787 here. The bills may offer a glimmer of hope, considering the disastrous first couple of months of Scott’s “Dictator-like” rule where he operates away from the press but in front of Tea Baggers, the only choir he preaches to.

Scott is Mr. Fiscal when it comes to the serious needs of the homeless, the elderly, the mentally ill. State workers, the unemployed, teachers, students, veterans, and countless others I’ve not listed here will get no relief from Scott. When it comes to these things, he wants to cut, cut, cut. When it comes to lavish Inaugural festivities made possible with hefty donations from private businesses of course, well that’s another story. I’m sure there’s more than a donor or two who now wish they had that money back. But they’ll just have to get in line with the rest of us.

In just a few short weeks Scott has managed to turn the words “all aboard” into derailed plans for prosperity in the future, and he’s just getting warmed up. He’s moving on to several new icebergs, and if things don’t change pretty soon, we’ll all be going down with the ship.

Because uprooting and moving out-of-state is an unacceptable and pretty drastic alternative as a life-raft, for those who can still afford one.

In keeping with his habit of governing in the dark, Rick Scott topped off the unveiling of his proposed budget privately with yet another private dinner at the Governor’s mansion last night for select state legislators. At the dinner were Sens. J.D. Alexander, R-Lake Wales, Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, and Andy Gardiner, R-Orlando, and they were invited there to “discuss” Scott’s budget.

Here’s the gist of that discussion:

Rick Scott: “Just pass it.”

Wow. Dictator much Gov. Scott?

If you’ve kept up with Scott’s ego, you know that the last few days he’s been crowing that his budget should be a model for the entire nation. After a whole month of experience, Scott now feels that President Obama should also take his freely offered advice on how to govern. This probably shouldn’t be too much of a surprise, after all during his campaign he often made the mistake of thinking he was running against President Obama, and even skipped mentioning his true running mate, Alex Sink, several times in his ads. So much so that she laughed it off herself in her own ads. (I thought she deserved kudos for resisting an eye-roll on camera.)

It seems Scott is doubling down on the idea that he alone can lead the nation with his draconian budget slashing ideas according to an account of last night’s secret boys club meeting:

Later in the night that theme would be repeated when one of Scott’s top aides would suggest to all three senators that the nation will be watching to see if the Legislature enacts Scott’s “fiscally conservative” budget.

Yes, the nation is watching, but not for the reason Scott thinks it is. The nation is watching, and the nation is saying “Can you believe that those people actually elected that guy??” It’s not just that Florida actually elected the guy who was never charged with Medicare fraud, but whose former company set the record for Medicare fraud fines and is a textbook case, and now claims he wants to run the state like a business. (What could possibly go wrong in a state largely dominated by elderly residents?) It’s that combined with all that, Scott is also clueless on how to govern, and it shows.

Note to the ever-watchful nation: be afraid! Rick Scott announced last week that he would be spending a great deal of time in Washington, D.C., specifically on a monthly basis. (Gosh, I wonder if that might have anything to do with assisting the GOP in trying to dismantle the new Affordable Care Act?) If that’s the case, the “nation” may want to sleep with one eye open from now on. Don’t fall under a false sense of security if you aren’t aware of his presence. Just because you don’t see him or hear of him won’t necessarily mean he isn’t there. He operates under cover of darkness. As a resident of Florida I can tell you we have no clue what he’s up to down here most of the time. We only find out after the fact. Chances are unless you’re a lobbyist, business owner, or you’re made of money and want to throw some of it at him, you won’t either.

So by all means “nation” keep watching Rick Scott. If you’re lucky, you’ll learn from Florida’s mistake.

So much for Rick Scott’s “7-7-7″ plan to create 700,000 jobs in Florida.

This morning Scott unveiled his proposed budget at a private meeting of activists from the Tea Party. For a man who campaigned on promises to create jobs and cut spending, he seems to have only made good on the “cutting” portion of those promises. His proposed budget will cut spending by $4.6 billion.

His proposal also includes cutting 8700 jobs, but Scott prefers to call that “cutting the size of government” since it’s state positions he would eliminate. Scott’s reasoning is this:

Though cutting those state jobs would add to the state’s unemployment rate, Scott indicated that the best way to grow the state’s economy was through his “jobs budget,” which shrinks state government and cuts property and corporate-income taxes by nearly $1.4 billion.

That explanation also conveniently provides red meat for the Tea Party crowd, and was apparently the reason he chose the private “preaching to the choir” budget presentation that he did:

“As long as 1.1 million Floridians are out of work, we can’t afford a government that runs wild with taxes, regulations and excessive spending,” Scott told the enthusiastic crowd of a 1,000 conservative activists.

“Reviewing a governmental budget is much like going through the attic in an old home. You come across some priceless things you need to protect,” Scott said. “But there are a lot of odd things someone once thought we needed. Much of it we’ve outgrown. And it just doesn’t  fit anymore. Over the last month, I’ve spent a lot of time in that attic. And I’m cleaning it out.”

Most people would value education as one of those “priceless things you need to protect.” Well, not so the Tea Party types who no doubt fit education into the “it doesn’t fit anymore” category if you’ve observed the mindset, behavior and the misspelled rally signs of Tea “Baggers” and the rich corporate leaders who seek to keep them very much uneducated and in the dark. As evidenced when he began touting his “worse than Jeb” ideas on what to do about education in Florida, Scott hinted that he didn’t value education so much either, and he made that quite clear today when he also announced his proposal to cut education. In one of the largest cuts in his budget, Scott wants to eviscerate education by slashing it by $3.3 billion.

Yes, you read that correctly: $3.3 BILLION. The cuts would come from K-12, community colleges and state universities. However, none of the cuts come from charter schools.

Also “cleaned out from Florida’s attic:”

Department of Community Affairs: ($668 million and almost all the employees), Department of Children and Families: ($178.5 million), Justice Administration: ($489 million, plus $39.5 million in cuts to the court system.) Scott also made cuts in Veterans Affairs, Environmental Protection, Law Enforcement, Legal Affairs, Juvenile Justice, Transportation, Elder Affairs, and Health among others. A list can be viewed here.

Among things he increased funding for: adding $629 million for the Executive Office Of The Governor.

Looking at Scott’s budget, it’s not too surprising to see that he chose to give the first look to Tea Party activists. Why a private meeting? Well, why not? That’s the way Scott operates. “We the people” don’t matter once the votes are counted. (Although Scott’s working on the problem of “fair elections” too, since he’s quietly trying to get rid of those pesky Amendments 5 & 6 that the voters clearly wanted, and some members of the legislature are helping him out.) But you wouldn’t know that from listening to Scott. His explanation for the private budget presentation was this:  “I do things different. The world does not revolve around Tallahassee…that’s why I’m announcing my budget in the real world.” Ah yes, The “real world.” In Scott’s neighborhood, reality is a gated community of lobbyists and COC members and business leaders where he merely commutes to Tallahassee and his day job: Florida. It’s just a business, as he’s been so quick to point out.

Over the weekend Scott gave another explanation. In his radio address he said this:

“In the days ahead, the special interests and those who support big government solutions will attack my budget. They don’t recognize, as you and I do, these times require a bold new path.”

The “special interests” will attack my budget. Really? Does he mean these special interests? They may want to help him plan his budget, but attack it? Not so much.

Sure, as he says “you and I” recognize these times require a bold path.

Unfortunately the path that the clueless Rick Scott is leading Florida down isn’t just bold.

It’s dangerous.

From The Reid Report:

Police in Miami (Miami-Dade County) are asking for the public’s help finding a missing child. If you’re in South Florida and have seen him, please contact police. His name is Octavius Howell and he’s just 11 years old. A little national media exposure wouldn’t be a bad thing, either.

From the Herald:

Octavius Howell, just shy of 5-foot tall and 80 pounds, was last seen Friday at the Madison Middle School at NW 10th Avenue and NW 90th Street.

He was wearing a red polo shirt and khaki pants.

People with information are asked to contacted Miami Detective Javier Soto at the Miami-Dade Police Special Victims Bureau’s Missing Persons Unit, 305-418-7201 or 305-476-5423.

The bureau issued a photo of the boy to accompany its plea.

Joy-Ann Reid writes that this case has gotten little attention beyond that of HelpFindTheMissing.org and a Justice for Cayleee (Caylee Anthony) web-board, adding:

It’s almost axiomatic that black missing children get far less media attention than those who are white, and while all of these cases are important and urgent, I think we all can do more to make sure that media exposure, which is so helpful in solving these cases, gets shared equally.

I couldn’t agree more, so please help spread the word.

 

Take This Door And Shove It?

 

Well, he DID say “these doors are open.”

Florida Senate President Mike Haridopolos, the self-proclaimed “open door policy” man and champion of tightening everyone’s belt but his own, has a brand new website! (And no, I don’t mean the new Mike Haridopolos Fan Site Florida Senate website.) It’s quite fitting for the guy who seems to aspire to personify the smarmiest character ever played by his lookalike William Devane.

No, the website DirtyHari.org is completely devoted to “opening the doors” to Haridopolos in all his hypocritical glory, and chronicles everything from those “silly” overlooked financial disclosures right down to every last measure  he voted to ban and subsequently sidestepped.

The new site was launched yesterday by Progress Florida and Florida Watch Action:

The site serves as an exposé “devoted to holding Senate President Mike Haridopolos accountable to the people of Florida, not just the banks, utilities, oil companies, HMO’s, big developers, and other corporate special interests who bankrolled his state senate campaign and rise to leadership.”

In conjunction with the site release, today at 11:00 AM members of Organize Now delivered hand sanitizer to attendees of a $10,000 a plate “private strategy meeting” in Orlando where Haridopolos was discussing his candidacy for the US Senate election in 2012 with wealthy supporters.  “Our message is simple: Sen. Haridopolos needs to clean up his act,” said Mark Ferrulo, Executive Director of Progress Florida.

That “sanitized” private strategy meeting reportedly raised $1 million for the U. S. Senate campaign that Haridopolos jumped into in less time than it took to remove those office doors after he was sworn in as Florida Senate President, the job which, according to Saint Petersblog,  Haridopolos told the crowd was his “political priority at least through the spring.” Just the type of statement you would expect from one of the elected officials who seek to thwart the will of the Florida voters who have the nerve to demand fair elections. Surely voters didn’t expect him to actually DO the job he was elected to?

If ever we needed to restore a little “Sunshine” to Florida’s ethically challenged backdoor politics it’s now when we have Gov. who ignores the people AND the press, and a Senate President with only part-term priorities who rips down office doors for the cameras, then holds his meetings privately in the president’s box at football games, the Governor’s mansion, and who knows where else?

Haridopolos didn’t want those office doors?

If he wasn’t “unhinged” before, he certainly is now.

From the Exxon Valdez to BP, little has changed in evaluating data on oil spills. A little “political will” as mentioned below would be good right about now.

Just released from The University Of  Florida:

Oil in Gulf of Mexico:  Biologists cite need for critical data to determine ecological consequences

Twenty years after biologists attempted to determine the ecological damages to marine life from the Exxon Valdez oil spill, scientists dealing with the BP disaster find themselves with the same problem: the lack of critical data to determine the ecological consequences of human-induced environmental disasters, a University of Florida researcher said.

Writing in the Feb. 4 issue of the journal Science, Karen A. Bjorndal,  a University of Florida biology professor and director of the Archie Carr Center for Sea Turtle Research, and other biologists said the United States needs “strategic national research plans for key marine species and ecosystems based on evaluation of cause and effect and on integrated monitoring of abundance and demographic traits.”

“It is sad to see that we are in the same place now,” said Bjorndal, adding that not much has changed since the Valdez oil spill when it comes to getting the data needed to assess and restore a marine ecosystem after an environmental disaster. She hopes it will provide an impetus for action.

“We know how to create these research plans — what is needed now is the political will and leadership to do so,” she wrote.

“Achieving mandated recovery goals depends on understanding both population trends and the demographic processes that drive those trends,” Bjorndal’s article states.

Her team argues it “is not too late to invest funds from BP to support teams of experts to develop effective strategic plans that identify, prioritize and provide methodologies for collecting essential data.”

The team identified seven elements that need to be included in most of the plans.

“In the wake of the BP oil spill, the need for this policy shift is as clear as it is compelling. The largest offshore oil spill in U.S. history should provide the impetus and opportunity to effect this policy shift.” Bjorndal wrote in her article.

Co-authors of the article, called “Better Science Needed for Restoration in the Gulf of Mexico,” are Brian Bowen,  Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology, University of Hawaii; Milani Chaloupka,  Ecological Modeling  Services, University of Queensland, Australia; Larry B. Crowder,  Center for Marine Conservation, Duke University; Selina S. Heppell, Department of Fisheries and Wildlife at Oregon State University;  Cynthia M. Jones, Center for Quantitative Fisheries Ecology, Old Dominion University; Molly E. Lutcavage,  Large Pelagics Research Center, University of Massachusetts; David Policansky, National Research Council, Washington, D.C.;  Andrew R. Solow, Marine Policy Center, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and Blair E. Witherington,  Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

 

 

 


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