RACE TO THE BOTTOM
With all that Gov. Rick Scott has been doing to improve his re-election bona fides with minorities lately – scheduling a $1,000-a-head fundraiser with embattled New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie at the Country Club of Orlando on Jan. 18 at the same time as the city’s Martin Luther King Day parade downtown, appointing a Hispanic lieutenant governor who backed Arizona-style immigration laws, killing Medicaid expansion for the poor – it’s hard to understand why it is that the 28 legislators who make up the Florida Legislative Black Caucus would want to pull out of a meeting with the man, but that’s exactly what they did. On Jan. 15, Rep. Alan Williams, D-Tallahassee, drafted a letter to the governor that didn’t exactly conceal its frustration.
“Based on your lack of action on matters of importance to this caucus that we have brought to your attention at prior meetings, we believe another meeting at this time would be fruitless,” Williams wrote. “Today, as we recognize the anniversary of the birth of the the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., we are particularly mindful that the dreams of Floridians remain unfulfilled.”
Ouch. Among the concerns raised by the group were the governor’s partisan voter-purge attempts, Scott’s continued avoidance of rights restoration for felons who have served their time, and a frivolous veto pen that last year cut $500,000 in funding for a Holocaust center in South Florida, according to the Tampa Bay Times. But given Scott’s miserable record on all things poverty, a good game of Pin the Tail on Any Republican Policy would likely expand the list of grievances.
The governor’s office was quick to respond with pith, as it so often does.
“Gov. Scott was disappointed to learn today from Rep. Alan Williams that the Legislative Black Caucus took a vote to cancel their scheduled meeting,” press secretary Jackie Schutz wrote in a statement. “Gov. Scott believes the best way to serve Floridians is for the Legislature and the governor’s office to work together to find solutions.”
So, said Schutz, the governor would sit in his office for an hour anyway should any individual from the caucus change their mind. Guess what? Nobody came.