Friday, December 27, 2013

Governor Ad Hoc

#76 of My Stupid State

For this entry, let me begin with an illustration that will seem trivial, but in reality, is a perfect picture of why Rick Scott is unfit to govern.

One of Scott’s earliest veto-pen slashes was to a $50,000 request to conduct a “rainwater study.” Scott dismissed the project by saying that you could catch rainwater in a two dollar bucket. 

The plan in question, though, was a way to determine if the Department of Corrections could save up to 25% on water costs by catching rainwater. It wasn’t a study to just see “how you can catch rainwater,” to which the solution would indeed be a two dollar bucket. 

You may or may not think that study was useful, but here’s the point: Scott vetoed this project because he had no idea what it was for, and didn’t care enough to find out.

What does this mean in the larger picture? 

Scott has been rightly pilloried for making many other veto cuts, and with each of those, it’s harder to say whether it is more because he has the lack of the tin man (no heart) or the lack of the scarecrow (no brain). Cuts to rape crisis centers. Cuts to meals for senior citizens. Cuts to disabled children. The list goes on.

His comment on the rainwater study, though, is illustrative because it offers what may be his most explicit reasoning on record for why he made any particular cut. The sum of the matter is, these cuts, and many other ridiculous actions by Scott, are best explained by him not having any real understanding of what he is doing – and not caring enough about the people of Florida to even try to figure these things out.

Basically, Scott makes it all up as he goes along. We could call it Government Ad Hoc.

A Miami Herald posting captured an aspect of this poignantly:

Scott (since his time at Columbia/HCA and beyond) has a reputation as a delegator, he puts people in positions of authority and then generally follows their advice. Some who have known him over the years say there's a drawback to that: He's most influenced by the last guy in the room advising him.

 Yet another posting likewise illustrated Scott’s ad hoc method of governance:

Last Tuesday at a Miami Freedom Tower event, Scott ceremonially signed a law cracking down on firms that do business in Cuba and Syria. But he then issued a letter that called the very law he signed unenforceable and unconstitutional because it infringes on foreign trade.

Need more? Here’s one of my favorites. Scott vetoed a bill – passed unanimously by the mostly Republican Legislature – that would have exempted groups like Meals on Wheels from requiring an expensive ($45) background check on volunteers, that would have to be paid out of their own pocket. Scott’s thoughtless reasoning was that the bill would put older people at risk.

Really? Since when has Meals on Wheels started delivering danger instead of food?

The obvious question is: Is someone this clueless, someone whose decisions are this ad hoc, fit to govern? 

The obvious answer is: No.

Now I’m not saying a governor should not delegate responsibility. No executive officer, whether a President or a governor, can be an expert in all things, or have time to make every decision. That’s why a President has a Cabinet, and a governor has a staff.

However, at the same time, an executive officer owes it to the electorate to at least become familiar with the issues that impact the lives of tens of thousands, or even millions of people, before making a decision – and not simply swiping a pen thoughtlessly, or listening to the last person in the room.

It a recent internal poll by Scott’s administration, Scott was blasted hard on the point that he is perceived as not caring for people. Crist won that point of perception handily, and I am sure Rich and Nelson would do so as well.

It’s not hard to see why. It’s also not likely Scott can fix that, because he is clueless as to how to do so. It’s just not in his nature to care, and he has had no practice doing it, not as head of HCA, not as head of Solantic, not as governor. His actions speak much louder than his photo ops.

Photo ops? Yes. Photo ops of him serving at soup kitchens won’t work, when his policies have done so much to keep the people who are there in the same conditions. 

Dressing casually didn’t help him; he still looks (and acts) like Mr. Burns from The Simpsons, no matter what he wears. 

Getting on social media didn’t help him – he’s no less adept at being evasive on there than he is in person, and his boilerplate responses just make him look more like a machine oblivious to the realities of what everyday citizens are having to endure under his clumsy watch. 

Workdays? An obvious filch from Bob Graham won’t help, because Graham acted human. Scott, in contrast, when he does a workday, looks like something from District 9 trying to pass as a human. It’s an obvious attempt to ingratiate himself with the people he’s shafting, and no one will forget that at the end of the day, he goes right back to his millionaire lifestyle, and leaves behind the minimum wage job at the donut shop without ever once living the life of a minimum wage worker who has to get by on scraps when the workday is over. 

And now he also tripped the light fantastic at Disney over the holiday – while thousands of unemployed people are about to lose their electricity and phone because of his busted DEO website.

Clueless? That’s putting it mildly.

Recently, Representative Perry Thurston called Scottdown for his reckless gutting of the Department of Children and Families. Up to 40 children have died during Scott’s reign, in good measure because DCF workers haven’t had the resources to do their jobs competently. The Scott administration’s boilerplate response was, “We are prioritizing spending on critical services as we craft the budget, and vital child protective services will not be reduced…''

Really? They already have been reduced; that’s the problem. This doesn’t even address Thurston’s concerns; it dodges them. And there’s so much more that proves Scott’s incapability to govern soundly, to the extent that there are times when it seems he goes out of his way to appear insensitive and incompetent:
Cutting funds to rape crisis centers – during Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

Cutting funds to the disabled – then attending the Special Olympics as though he were a dignitary.

Proposing cutting programs to the homeless while also professing to “care completely” about the problem of homelessness.

Authorizing the expenditure of $600,000 for cosmetic redecorating of the governor’s mansion, after cutting the jobs of state workers and so many other great needs over the prior several years.

Spending $400,000 for a state business logo, under the same conditions.

Vetoing $5.7 million for mental health programs, while leaving intact $10 million in funding for the production of violent films.

Claiming he had “nothing to do” with a voting limitation bill that he signed himself.

Insulting African-American legislators and students by telling them he grew up poor, just like they did.

Praising a charter school that got an F rating for its elementary school.

Refusing to close the online sales tax “loophole,” even though he admits it is unfair to brick and mortar businesses.

Asking that a study be done to determine if it really is dangerous to text while driving.

Rejecting an increase in a voluntary fee for auto tags concerned with state wildflower preservation, because it was a “fee increase.”

How much more of this type of ad hoc government can Florida stand?


As a close, I’d like to give a word of thanks to The Seminole Democrat, for the chance to write in this forum, and also for the My Stupid State series, which (along with the archive at was a very helpful source for compiling a listing of reasons why Rick Scott does not deserve re-election (and for research for these postings). I’ll have that list ready for publication very soon.

Happy New Year, all.

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