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Thursday, October 27, 2016

Florida Gov. Rick Scott removed his Harry Potter invisibility cloak and flew to Washington the other day.

There he begged for billions of federal dollars from a person he is suing, Sylvia Burwell, the secretary of the Health and Human Services Department. Burwell patiently listened to the governor and, predictably, sent him back to Florida with nothing.

Last summer the feds informed Scott that the government was phasing out a fund that reimburses local hospitals for taking care of low-income patients, basically replacing it with an expanded version of Medicaid.

At first Scott was in favor of the Medicaid move, even though it was a tangent of Obamacare. Then the governor changed his mind. Later, as an afterthought, he sued Burwell and the HHS.

The state Senate supports Medicaid expansion; the House doesn’t. Tallahassee has been paralyzed by the dispute.

In a snit, the House packed up and adjourned the session early, leaving Florida with no budget. Leaders in the Senate were furious.

Remember, these are all Republicans, ripping at each other like addled meerkats.

And where was the newly re-elected Republican governor, leader of the party?

Gone, is where he was — jetting to crucial functions such as the grand opening of a Wawa gas and convenience store in Fort Myers and the debut of a humongous Ferris wheel in Orlando.

It’s impossible to imagine any of the fully functioning governors in Florida’s past — Lawton Chiles, Bob Graham, Jeb Bush, to name a few — vanishing from Tallahassee during a Code Red meltdown of the Legislature.

But Scott isn’t a functioning governor. He is the emptiest of empty suits — no talent for leadership, no muscle for compromise, no sense whatsoever of the big picture.

When the going gets tough, Scott heads straight for the airport. This is what happens when you elect a guy with his own private jet.

Last week’s trip to Washington was pure theater. Scott’s lawsuit over the low-income health funds is a loser, and he knows it. He was trying to do something to give the impression he was awake and experiencing cognitive activity.

In fact, he has been laser-focused on the future — not Florida’s future, but his own. He’s looking ahead to a possible bid for the U.S. Senate in 2018.

(We’ll pause here while you choke on your cornflakes.)

It’s astounding but true — while the legislative process disintegrated in bitter confusion, the governor was airing TV commercials cheerily touting his imaginary accomplishments.

Yes, they were short commercials. And, yes, little of what he claimed to have done for Florida had actually happened, lawmakers having already tossed his proposed budget into the metaphorical Dumpster.

There were no tax cuts, no hefty increase in spending for public schools, no big boost for Everglades funding. Yet Scott’s commercials made it sound like a done deal.

Relax, Florida. All is well!

Perhaps that’s how it looks from 38,000 feet, though not from the rotunda of the Capitol.

It’s weird for a politician to openly resume campaigning so soon after being re-elected, but weird is the norm for the Scott administration. Since the law prohibits a third term as governor, he can only be thinking about Bill Nelson’s Senate seat.

This would be a far-fetched scenario almost any place except Florida, where Scott has already proven that, if you’re rich enough, there’s no such thing as baggage.

Currently he remains one of the state’s most unpopular political figures. He won the November election mainly because his opposition was Charlie Crist.

Yet with money from his “Let’s Get To Work” political committee, the governor has begun the uphill task of inventing a positive legacy upon which to run three years from now.

In the TV commercials, he plays the role of a hard-charging, hands-on visionary, leading Floridians to prosperity one new job at a time. He smiles. He talks. He is, briefly, visible.

Tallahassee is one of the cities where Scott showed his commercials, yet it didn’t move the needle. He was on the plane when he should have been on the ground.

While the Legislature didn’t need any help disgracing itself, Scott’s disappearing act made things worse by validating the public’s view of all state government as insular and incompetent.

As the House and Senate prepare to reconvene next month, desperately trying to salvage some credibility, the governor seems content with his role on the sidelines, essentially a cheerleader for himself.

Coming soon to a Wawa near you.

(Carl Hiaasen is a columnist for The Miami Herald. Readers may write to him at: 1 Herald Plaza, Miami, FL, 33132.) 

Photo: Gage Skidmore via Flickr

  • bobnstuff

    Why are we getting all of these jokes as leaders in the republican party? I guess money is the central factor in the party, if you spend enough you can buy any job. It’s sad to see the once great party fall is much and even sadder to have to live with the people they choose to put into power.

    • Carolyn1520

      There is no longer a GOP. It’s in name only. When the freaks were invited in to increase their voting base, they then hijacked the party. Intelligent republicans fled and all they are left with, is a few of the old guard who only want to keep their jobs and will bend in every direction to the new factions who have fractured the party. It’s nothing but a big circus now.

      • Dominick Vila

        I agree. Today’s GOP is not even a semblance of the party that nominated Teddy Roosevelt and Ike. Even the Gipper would be considered a RINO because of his determination to protect the safety net, and his efforts to solve the illegal immigration problem.
        What we have today are elected officials on the payroll of corporate America.

        • CrankyToo

          Concur. But forget Teddy and Ike – today’s GOP doesn’t even resemble the party that nominated Dubya.

        • ralphkr

          Gipper determined to protect the safety net??? Really, Dominick. Have you forgotten Raygun post presidential interview where he was asked if he had any regrets and he answered that his only regret is that he had been unable to shut down the Social Security program.

        • FireBaron

          You really have to look back to 2000. Between Karl Rove one-upping the original “dirty tricks” book and Richard Cheney (the sensors keep blocking the short version of his name) and his catering to the 1% in everything he said and did, that actually set the stage for Sarah Palin. Whoever decided to put her on John McCain’s “short list” should be taken behind the woodshed and dealt with the old fashioned way.
          Here we suddenly had a “red meat” female Republican who could do what Cheney, Rove, McCain and none of the others could – she could whip up the marginalized members of the party and form them into a new base. These newcomers, with no experience nor any idea how to govern suddenly found themselves in their county and state party leadership, by dint of bombast over their more mainstream opponents.
          Once those floodgates were opened, we have seen all sorts of folks elected who would have been laughed away from the polls even 20 years ago!
          What truly amazes me, and I have said this over and over again – Any person earning less than $100,000 a year who votes Republican is voting against their own best interest.

  • grandmanya4u

    Moron’s voted for a Moron and got it. U got to love the old Floridians. U got what U wanted _ Enjoy Don’t mention the climate change – prison time just for that.
    When the had a chance to change they opted for him a loooooser and self serving idiot.

    • Paul Bass

      I hate to be THAT guy, but I love everything you say, just let me translate into American English…

      Morons voted for a Moron and got one. You’ve got to love the old Floridians. You’ve got what you wanted, enjoy it. Don’t mention climate change, you can get prison time for that.
      When they had a chance to change, they opted for him, a loser and self serving idiot!

      Thanks for your comments!

      • FireBaron

        Once a newspaper editor, always a newspaper editor! LOL!

  • Eleanore Whitaker

    Look…when you consider just how many GOP politicians are pushing their faces out there for various key positions, does it ever occur to anyone that these are just political prostitutes? The idea behind today’s Big Money GOP is to glut every state with a GOP governor who will stick it to the middle class while they preserve wealth that helps the GOP campaign donations grow. Don’t wonder why so many Americans want Citizens United repealed.

    Now..take a look at how many GOP bulls are running for the presidency. Is this a coincidence or GOP bull egos on steroids? No. It’s the back room GOP pushing out as many candidates as they can, most of whom the back room is certain will never make it past 2 months into the campaign. But, they do one big job for the back room: The more candidates on the GOP dais, the more money pours in as campaign donations. A larger group of bulls can pull in 10 times what a single candidate can. Smell that moolah boys?

    • CPAinNewYork

      Eleanore: It seems to me that almost all politicians are political prostitutes.

      How do you tell the political prostitutes from those who are honestly trying to serve their constituencies?

      • FireBaron

        CPA, look at the PAC monies they are receiving, and which bills they have supported that you wouldn’t expect them to.

        • CPAinNewYork


          Would you agree that, since all politicians accept contributions, which are nothing less than “investments” or bribes, all politicians are political prostitutes?

          Would you agree that the way to stop that situation from continuing is to pass a law to ban all contributions and finance all elections through a governmental agency?

          Finally, would you agree that such legislation has zero chance of passing in the United States?

          • Insinnergy

            Most of the politician’s may actually go for it just so they don’t have to spend 75% of their day every day soliciting funds. That must be a huge drag… on everything.

            I’m from New Zealand. We ditched the two-party system for Mixed Member Proportional voting over a decade ago as it’s fairer and more inclusive.

            Here’s a fairly long summary on our process, and financial spending caps on elections and election activity for those that are interested. Links at the bottom.

            New Zealand and Mixed Member Proportional Voting (MMP)
            There are two votes made by voters, one for their local Representative, one for the Party of their choice. The representative with the most votes from each electoral area becomes gains a seat in Parliament. Directly elected representatives make up 71 seats out of 120.
            4 out of the 71 seats are reserved for Maori representatives (indigenous people).

            The remainder of 50 seats are divided up to ensure the percentage of seats that each Party gets matches the percentage of the Party vote they received across the entire county. This means even a small party can have seats in parliament, without winning an electorate race, as long as the voting public supports them.

            This is often the case, for example where you like your local representative who is from say the conservative party, and want them representing you personally, but you align your political interests strongly with the environmental party. In this case you would vote for your local conservative rep., but give you Party Vote to the environmental party. As long as the environmental party won at least 1 seat, or 5% of the party vote, they will gain seats in the final parliament to ensure their percentage of seats matches the percentage of party votes they received.

            There are currently seven parties with seats in Parliament.
            Eight other parties did not gain 5% of the party vote or win an electorate seat, entitling them to no representation in the 51st Parliament.
            Voter turnout at the last election was 78%.

            Election Boundaries
            Boundaries are set by a non-partisan governmental agency prior to each election period.

            The Political party with the most seats, or a functional multi-party majority using agreements with smaller parties, forms the government (one house, straight up or down vote on almost everything) and the Majority Party leader becomes the Prime Minister (there’s no separate election for the head of state).

            Political Party Spending Limits
            (In terms of the last election in 2014)
            During the three month regulated period prior to election day parties and candidates have limits on how much they may spend on election campaigning. It is illegal in New Zealand to campaign on election day itself.

            For the 2014 election, every registered party contending the party vote is permitted to spend $1,091,000 plus $25,700 per electorate candidate on election campaigning during the regulated period, excluding radio and television campaigning (broadcasting funding is allocated separately). A party contesting all 71 electorates is therefore permitted to spend $2,915,700 on election campaigning. All electorate candidates are permitted to spend $25,700 each on campaigning over and above their party’s allocation.

            Registered parties are allocated a separate broadcasting budget for radio and television campaigning, and broadcasting time on Radio New Zealand and Television New Zealand to make opening and closing addresses. Only money from the broadcasting allocation can be used to purchase airtime; the actual production costs of advertisements can come from the general election expenses budget.

            The Electoral Commission sets the amount of broadcasting funds and time each party gets. The initial election broadcasting allocation was announced on 6 June 2014 for the last election (2014). Two parties who were allocated broadcasting funds and time failed to register by Writ Day, so their funding and allocation of time for closing address were redistributed to the remaining parties. ACT Party did not receive any redistributed funding as they had lost their only MP since the initial allocation.

            Third Party Lobbyist Group Spending Limits
            Third party promoters, such as trade unions and lobby groups, can campaign during the regulated 3 month period. The maximum expense limit is $308,000 for those groups registered with the Electoral Commission, and $12,300 for unregistered groups.

            Election Day
            Voting is always on a Saturday.
            Advance voting is available for 2 weeks prior.
            Campaigning is prohibited on election day. All election advertisements must be removed or covered by midnight on the night before the election. Opinion polling is also illegal on election day.


            All in all, it seems to work well.
            Personally if I had to listen to electioneering for more than 3 months, including limitless media advertisement spending, I’d probably:
            a. Hate all parties.
            b. Not vote.





          • dtgraham

            How is it determined which of the seats in the New Zealand parliament become one of the 50 that are represented by proportional party representation, and not by the individual MP that was actually elected? Can two MP’s represent one electoral area? One directly elected, and one assigned to that area due to proportional representation? How does PR work in those electoral areas?

          • Insinnergy

            Basically a “Seat” in parliament went from being a direct relation to a geographical area, to simply a measure of voting power.
            Essentially the elected Member then belonged to the electorate that voted them in rather than the “Seat”… The Members are called “The Member from ……..”.
            The seat they are sitting in in Parliament is just one of the 121 seats and gives them one vote.

            Between the 1993 and 1996 elections, the Electoral Commission redrew the electorate boundaries of New Zealand (in a non-partisan fashion) based on population to reduce the number of Electorates from 91 to 70.

            This would generally have caused political parties to get rather upset, as it consolidates the population down to a smaller number of elected representatives and hence some of their members who formerly had a seat, end up without a seat… however three key things allowed the political parties to get behind the change:
            1) They had no choice. A binding referendum had been put to the voters, and it had to happen.
            2) An additional 50 “List” seats were added to parliament, meaning that every party would end up with more MPs in parliament overall. I believe the numbers were worked out according to the way other countries implemented it.
            3) The Electoral Commission is relentlessly non-partisan. In fact they would be horrified at even the slight implication they may be favouring one side or other. Everyone just accepts this, including the politicians who just accepted their decisions on areas and moved on.

            Once the boundaries were redrawn, Parties were asked to list all of their members standing in the next election in a “Party List” in order of priority. Being high on the “List” indicates your importance within the party.

            During an election, as each Party List member successfully wins a physical electorate seat, they were removed from the Party List until all electorate seats have been assigned.
            This leaves the 50 “List” seats that do not relate to a geographical area.

            These are assigned Proportionally to the percentage of the party vote each party received so that the total proportion of the Electorate plus List seats in Parliament equals your Party Vote percentage across the country. In practical terms: Whomever is left on the Party List is given an assigned “List” seat in order of priority.

            This is the critical part because it means that 2 parties can never control the system, and you can never get a situation where a party gets less than 50% of the vote, but wins outright anyway. No matter which electorates are won, the overall balance of Parliament is reset to match the party vote. This also means that unless you can swing 50% plus across the country (very tricky with 8-12 parties trying for your party vote) then you must make deals with other smaller parties in order to “win”. For their support they will extract large concessions. This allows smaller parties to advance their agendas despite not winning large amounts of seats.

            With FPP in the past we had had situations where the National Party got 37% and the Labour Party got 42% of the overall vote count across the country, but because of the way the electorates were won, National won the election.

            This is very similar to the problem gerrymandering causes in the US. In a state, one side may get 60% of the overall number of votes, but end up with 3 out of 10 representatives, because of where those votes were made, and the proportionality of the people in those electoral areas.
            Adopting MMP for a state would zero most of the effect of gerrymandering (making redrawing boundaries to win a lot less attractive) but may be clunky due to fractions.

            Hope that answers your question. 🙂

          • dtgraham

            Interesting. I suppose you would have to reduce the number of geographical seats in order to make room for the floating non-geographical proportional seats. That makes sense, but a proportional member from the same party could help out with constituent work in a certain electoral area, as directly elected members would serve a larger area than before.

            Getting rid of FPP is necessary where you have a number of parties, or even three—if two of them come from one side of the political spectrum and cause a vote split, allowing a minority political philosophy to assume power. It’s the way the rest of the British Commonwealth has gone except England and Canada, but big change (probably PR) is coming to Canada soon. It’s why I was interested. It’s also widely predicted that coalitions will be attempted later this year for the first time. That’s par for the course for NZ, and elsewhere in the Commonwealth.

            I also like that New Zealand has gotten rid of the House of Lords and doesn’t even pretend to be bicameral. Pretend governing is all the Lord’s chamber is. What a worthless appendage that is. Again, except for Britain and Canada, it’s been done away with in the Commonwealth that I’m aware of. It’s called the unelected Senate in Canada and their function is basically limited to catching clerical errors, recommending minor procedural amendments to passed legislation, and studying societal issues. Expensive way to accomplish very little.

            Like you, the gerrymandering to me is also incomprehensible. How can political parties in power be entrusted with electoral work of this nature? Like New Zealand’s Electoral Commission, Elections Canada is also relentlessly nonpartisan and takes care of these things. You have to have an unbiased third party.

          • dpaano

            You’ve got it covered…sounds like a great plan, but it would never get past the Senate or House as it stands now!

          • dpaano

            Unfortunately, I have to agree with you on that one!!! If we did away with Citizen’s United (which really isn’t) and go back to basic funding (not from PACS), we might be able to get back normal. And, yes, there is Zero change of passing legislation…especially with the Republicans in power in both the Senate and the House!

      • Eleanore Whitaker

        How do I tell political prostitutes from those honestly trying to serve their constituencies? I study their political pimps. Men like Adelson, Charles and David Koch and Karl Rove…these are humorously dictatorial indoctrinators of self-aggrandizing ideology I consider political pimps.

        Koch pimps send out men like Cotton, Gowdy, Issa, Inhofe, Ryan, Walker and Christie to bring big time money into the GOP political pimps coffers. The joke is that it is a turnkey operation.

        It goes like this. Bring on a dozen or so GOP candidates to fill a “slate” (the slate is really their political prostitute stable.). The more political “hookers” they send out there, the bigger the take on billionaire campaign donations. Then, the hookers in their stable are given their number in the pecking order, according to which GOP hooker brought in the most to the Koch pimps bank account.

      • dpaano

        I don’t think you can nowadays….can you?

  • adler56

    You were way too easy on this skinhead loser.

  • Dominick Vila

    Gov. Scott is not as dumb as he sounds. What he wants is lots of Federal funding, with no strings attached so that he can manage it and spend it as he deems appropriate. This is not surprising considering his pre-gubernatorial record, when as founder and CEO of Columbia HCA he engaged in fraudulent claims and ended up getting the largest fine for fraud in U.S. history. Not so surprisingly, those who regard a crooked record as a prerequisite for elected office voted for him enthusiastically…twice!

    • FireBaron

      That means he could probably win if he ran in Louisiana or Net Jersey, too!

      • JSquercia

        Sadly I would have include New York in that list .What with our leaders in both the Senate and Legislature undr indictment .

        • FireBaron

          Yeah, but I bet Scott is smart enough to NOT be found out as “Customer 123” in some high-priced “escort service” database.

          • Steve Batchelor

            What hooker in her right mind would want to hook up with Skeletor?

  • CPAinNewYork

    So, with all this hatred directed at Rick Scott, how did he get re-elected?

    Who voted for him?

    • Dominick Vila

      Every Republican in my neighborhood, and my Republican relatives, voted for him in huge numbers. In Florida, and in most Southern states, you only need an “R” after your name to win. Qualifications, record, and vision are optional.

      • dpaano

        So sad, but soooo true! When will they EVER learn?

    • highpckts

      In one local town even their newspaper is GOP owned and prints only good things about the GOP! No Liberals allowed! Unbiased news at it’s best!

      • CPAinNewYork

        Then, why don’t the liberals start their own newspaper?

        Freedom of the press means that the OWNERS of the newspapers are free to print what they want to print.

    • johninPCFL

      Old, scared people easily swayed by fictional arguments.

  • Lynda Groom

    The voters picked him and now they can suffer along with those who didn’t. Elections do indeed have consequeces and Florida is the prime example.

    • Wayneo

      The same is true here in Kansas. I did not vote for Brownbutt but many of my neighbors did. Now I fear for my state’s economic future.