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Monday, October 24, 2016

With much chest thumping, Florida governor Rick Scott last week signed a law clipping auto-tag fees by about $25 per vehicle in the state. He used the opportunity to blast former governor Charlie Crist for raising those fees five years ago.

What Scott cynically failed to mention during the bill-signing charade was that all the top Republicans standing at his side had also supported the auto-tag hikes. It was the depth of the recession, and the state desperately needed revenue.

Scott himself is desperate to appear gubernatorial because Crist, running as a Democrat, will likely be his opponent in the November election. The auto-tag fee cut was the centerpiece of a tax-relief agenda being pushed by the governor, who trails Crist in the early polls.

Two of the GOP lawmakers who were crowing about this grand windfall for motor vehicle owners have an infinitely more important job in the days ahead. House Speaker Will Weatherford and Senate President Don Gaetz have a chance to do something truly crucial and good.

They can shape a law that saves actual lives — the lives of endangered children.

Bills that would strengthen Florida’s child welfare laws are winding through both houses of the Legislature following publication of The Miami Herald’s shocking investigative series, Innocents Lost.

The newspaper documented the deaths of at least 477 children whose parents or caregivers had a history with the state’s Department of Children and Families. During the six-year period studied by reporters, DCF consistently under-reported the number of victims in its files who died because of violence or negligence by parents and caregivers.

In 2008, for example, the state said the death toll was 79. Using DCF’s own records, Herald reporters found 103 fatal cases that year.

Then, in 2009, the state reported that 69 children whose families had prior contact with DCF had died. Reporters counted 107.

The uncounted die just as wretchedly — and as unnecessarily — as the counted.

One of the most awful, notorious cases involved Nubia Barahona, a 10-year-old Miami girl who’d been tortured and starved by her adoptive parents. Soaked in poisonous chemicals, her decomposing body was found inside a black garbage bag on a pest-control truck.

Three years after the murder, the DCF still hasn’t sent her case to the Florida Child Abuse Death Review Committee. Incredibly, Nubia’s death remains officially uncounted.

The child-welfare system has been overwhelmed and broken for a long time, but that hasn’t stopped lawmakers from hacking millions in DCF funding. But this year Florida has accumulated an extra $1.3 billion in revenues, so there’s no excuse not to take action to stop the killings.

  • Rudnicker

    Why are so many of these new Republicans cruel and beastly. Dick Cheney should be in jail for war crimes and for ripping us off for millions under the cover of Halliburton. Scott should be in jail for the biggest Medicaid fraud in history, but these guys are like Teflon because the old power brokers, like John Cornyn cover up for them. Why are we afraid to prosecute the people?

  • johninPCFL

    After living under this pompous jackass’ rule for a few years, here are three clear reasons he does not believe he needs to:
    1) he doesn’t care. After all, they aren’t rich thieves like him.
    2) they aren’t fetuses. They can take care of themselves.
    3) they belong to poor parents. The poor are responsible for their own mess.

  • Sand_Cat

    The last statement in the article is a misstatement: the GOP can and regularly does put a price tag on preventing child deaths, and – unless the “child” is inside its mother or born to at least middle-class parents (preferably upper middle and likely to vote Republican) – that price is far too high to be bothered with.

  • irishtap

    My God, what country is this?! We expect to read of such hideous – inept, governing from the poorest of countries, but this… Scott is a sinister pathogen, a vile inhumane insect. Innocent little children die from abuse and neglect while the greedy corrupt Scott and rich buddies bask in the governor’s favoritism. The GOP is now a cult where to be a member, requires you to become ‘something other than human’.


    I want to know who the people are that vote for these clowns.Do they think Scott is going to share his wealth with them,or that Scott is going to anything that will benefit the majority of Floridians.As was stated his concern is to make the rich lives more comfortable.That is the bottom line.He is not a governor of the people.He is a water boy for the corporations.

  • voice_reason

    nice talk and actinos from a man who was fined for allowing his company to commit medicare fraud….if I recall, he alos lost his job over it. Question why he was never convicted of fraud himslef…then he could be purged from the Florida voting register.

  • charleo1

    Rick Scott was one 12 or so Governors elected in the great T-Party wave of 2010. One of the most harmful political events since Florida helped elect
    George W. Bush, in 2000. Scott, like the other Republican Governors elected with him, came to the office with a very specific set of defined orders. First,
    through a number of bills, executive orders, tax cuts for corporations, and
    just flat out handed 300 million dollars to some of the largest, and most
    powerful business interests in the State. Most if not all of them, having contributed generously to his campaign. Then, he declared a budget emergency, and started cutting. He cut education, which necessitated the
    laying off of some 100,000 of the State’s teachers. And, with the construction
    industry being one of the State’s hardest hit sectors in the housing collapse,
    he also halted school constriction, and planned renovation, and turned down
    several billion dollars of Federal money to build a high speed rail line across
    the State. He cut the State’s contribution to local economies, forcing the
    lay offs of thousands of first responders, police, fire, and nurses. He cut
    payments to nursing homes, and nearly bankrupted the large community
    hospital in Miami, by withholding State reimbursement owed to Jackson Health for indigent care. He made unemployment benefits harder to apply
    for, and cut the number of weeks it was available, without extention.

  • Rod Dainjer

    Since liberty’s benefits can be hard to recognize, some people can be easily convinced to attack liberty in response to emotional appeals.