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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Is a constitution amendment to Recall Rick Scott on the horizon?

From the Miama Herald

by Joy-Anne Reid

What can Rick Scott learn from Carlos Alvarez?

Both are Republican politicians with a salty way of dealing with the media. Both see no contradiction in cutting government workers’ pay, and simultaneously growing the size or salaries of their own staffs. And Alvarez favored a cushy stadium deal for the multimillionaire Florida Marlins at local taxpayers’ risk, while Rick Scott favors cushy deals for multimillionaires in all fields of endeavor, including letting utilities’ rate payers foot the cost of lower electric bills for big business.

That’s pretty much where the similarities end, unless you count the “hair thing.”

But Alvarez, who got booted big time by the nine in 10 Miami-Dade voters who no longer want him as their mayor, could yet teach Tricky Ricky a few things.

Sure, Alvarez fell on the outs for raising the property-tax rate, while Scott wants to set them at Third World tax-haven levels for corporations and rich homeowners.

Yes, Alvarez, the former cop, sought to protect police and fire pensions, while Governor Gollum (of Lord of the Rings fame) wants to flip all state pensions into Wall Street-hitched 401ks.

And Alvarez didn’t run his policies by the tea party overlords before letting the rest of the public in on his plans.

Still, in the end, the people’s wrath (and Norman Braman’s) proved to be the mayor’s undoing.

Democrats are salivating over the prospect of doing to Rick Scott what Miami-Dade voters just did to the county mayor. There are even a couple of bills pending in Tallahassee that would amend Florida’s constitution to subject state legislators and the four statewide officials — the CFO, agricultural commissioner, attorney general and governor — to citizen recalls.

House Joint Resolution 785 and House Bill 787 were proposed by state Rep. Rick Kriseman, who hails from St. Petersburg, the heart of what would have been Florida’s high-speed rail corridor. A companion bill has been filed by Miami state Sen. Gwen Margolis.

The thinking is: Why shouldn’t statewide officials, including the governor, face the same accountability as a county mayor?

Right now, 18 states allow citizens to try to recall their governors. If the Kriseman and Margolis amendments were to pass and get approved by voters, Florida would join states such as Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, California and, of course, Wisconsin, where recall fever has placed 16 state senators and Gov. Scott Walker on an historic precipice, with Democrats saying they’ve got at least half the signatures needed to oust eight Republicans who rammed through a bill ending teachers’ collective-bargaining rights.

Is Florida like Wisconsin?

Well . . .

Scott’s refusal to follow through on an already-approved pill-mill database that could have slowed down Florida’s ascent as the illicit scrips supermarket of the U.S. could be counted as Walkeresque overreach. His refusal to answer questions about his (or now his wife’s) ownership interest in a chain of discount clinics, Solantic, that dispense cheap meds and the potential conflict of interest in both his pill-mill database aversion and determination to privatize Medicaid services is problematic at best.

Scott junked years’ worth of legislative work on high-speed rail, citing little more than a Koch-funded libertarian think tank to claim the numbers didn’t add up; until it turned out a transportation study paid for by Florida taxpayers said rail would have turned a profit. Turning away $2.4 billion in federal money, plus 24,000 to 30,000 jobs that could have come from rail has elicited bipartisan outrage at Scott, who promised to deliver 700,000 jobs (and not in the pill-mill-trafficking industry).

On several fronts, Scott has flouted the will of a majority of Floridians and their elected representatives, just as sure as Miami-Dade voters felt Alvarez did.

And particularly in areas like education, where Moody’s Investment Services rated his proposed education cuts a “credit negative,” Scott has overreached in a fashion that’s far more potentially damaging to the interests of Floridians.

Of course, Kriseman and Margolis’ bills will go nowhere, because as mad as Republican legislators might be at Scott, they’re more terrified of the tea party, which would surely attack any Republican who steps off the reservation.

So if the public wants the power to hold their legislators and governor to the same account as they did Carlos Alvarez, citizens likely will have to put up that constitutional amendment themselves.

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