Sunday, April 30, 2017
TALLAHASSEE SPRING: Legislators, lobbyists and the annual 60 day screwing of the people of Florida
It's Spring. Birds are singing. Butterflies are flying. Surfers are surfing.
Is it different in Tallahassee?
Reading the news, ever wonder, is Tallahassee Spring air "foul, fetid, fuming, foggy, filthy," as John Adams sang in "1776?" Is Tallahassee corrupt, poisonous fruit of Citizens United and unlimited campaign PAC spending ("dark money?")
Longtime California House Speaker Jesse Unruh said, "Money is the mother's milk of politics." Bribe-taking Philadelphia Congressman Ozzie Myers advised an undercover FBI agent, "money talks and bullshit walks."
Yes, folks, your estimable Florida state legislature is now in session. No one's liberty, property or rights are safe, as Mark Twain tweeted, pre-Twitter.
Conniving, campaign-running "lobbyists" trade money and connections for a very valuable commodity. Result: badly-drafted, ill-advised, self-absorbed special-interest "legislation." Lobbyists' clients want their dubious desires to screw you made law. Clients include corporate interests, sheriffs, court clerks, cities and counties.
Tallahassee Spring means lobbyists influencing, cajoling, gulling and misleading partying part-time legislators.
Tallahassee Spring means decisions about writing our laws made under the influence of alcohol, advocates and anger.
Florida recently got insight into the nightly haze of drinking at Tallahassee's private Governors Club, where (since-resigned) Republican then-Senator Frank Artiles (R-Miami) used the N-word as he dissed with obscenities African-American State Senator Audrey Gibson (D-Jacksonville).
Tallahassee Spring means local taxpayers are again paying Marty Fiorentino, Republican campaign bundler, lawyer, lobbyist, who simultaneously represents developers, St. Johns County, and St. Johns County Sheriff David Shoar. Fiorintino's website falsely claims he represents the City of St. Augustine.
Tallahassee Spring means 60 days each year -- an orgy of booze, bad badinage, hungover legislators, bad decisions, rushed lawmaking.
All Floridians pay the price -- House Speaker Richard Corcoran correctly blasts local governments to hire lobbyists.
Lobbyists are hired for their connections, e.g., which legislators' campaigns they run/fund.
A longtime Tallahassee lobbyist once explained to me the difference between Democrats and Republicans: "Republicans want the money in a briefcase. Democrats want the money in a paper sack." Florida legislators are advancing proposals to "preempt" local governments.. That's right -- while Republicans claim to favor "local control," corporations and their dark money networks are euchring our estimable legislature to adopt looney laws:
o Erasing worker rights and consumer protection (e.g., well-named "Uber law," passed by both House and Senate, awaiting Governor Scott's signature);
o Sunsetting Community Redevelopment Agencies and tax increment financing;
o Blocking proper local business regulations;
o Eliminating local governments' power to regulate vacation rentals;
o Busting teacher's unions, aimed at eventually eliminating all workplace free speech, including police, fire and EMT unions;
o Increasing secrecy, gutting Sunshine and Open Records laws.
Enough. Henry Kissinger once yelled at the referee at a Washington football game, "On 'vot' theory?" "On what theory" do legislators decide what locals get to "control?"
Are we sitting ducks for the Tallahassee Spring "two-step": Big money and bad laws?
Is St. Augustine threatened by unenlightened, uninformed, ill-advised legislators from "elsewhere" in Florida?
Do legislators rubber-stamping bad laws ever learn the harm that they do? As Saint Augustine said, "An unjust law is no law at all."
Was 504 years of Florida history (mostly) dominated by dictatorial rulers, from Adelantado Pedro Menendez to Governor/General Andrew Jackson to Governor Richard Lynn Scott? Time for another Lawton Chiles, Bob Graham, Reuben Askew?
Local governments are closer to the people. So louche lobbyists and legislators work to kill home rule powers with legislative legerdemain? Enough.
We must better regulate corporations and preserve and protect our environment and history. Ask questions. Demand answers. Expect democracy. (Even in Tallahassee). Resist.
Encourage only qualified, competent, compassionate candidates to run for office.
With kindest regards, I am,