Sunday, January 13, 2019

ST. AUGSTINE RECORD EDITORIAL: DeSantis comes out swinging

1. Good editorial, good actions by Gov. Ronald Dion DeSantis. He's acting to restore integrity to government. Impressed.
2. I am especially Impressed by Governor's suspension of Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel and Okaloosa County School Supt. Mary Beth Jackson under Florida Constitution, Art. IV, Sec 7 (see full text down below) What do you reckon?
3. Action Alert: Please ask Gov. DeSantis to order an independent forensic audit and investigation of Sheriff David Shoar, then suspend him under Art. IV, Sec 7. Thank you.
4. The $700,000 embezzlement by Shoar's Finance Director requires a Grand Jury. So does the September 2, 2010 homicide of Michelle O'Connell and the ensuing nearly nine year coverup.
5. Here's what our Florida Constitution, Art. IV, Sec. 7, says about our Governor's power to suspend Sheriff Shoar:
SECTION 7. Suspensions; filling office during suspensions.—
(a) By executive order stating the grounds and filed with the custodian of state records, the governor may suspend from office any state officer not subject to impeachment, any officer of the militia not in the active service of the United States, or any county officer, for malfeasance, misfeasance, neglect of duty, drunkenness, incompetence, permanent inability to perform official duties, or commission of a felony, and may fill the office by appointment for the period of suspension. The suspended officer may at any time before removal be reinstated by the governor.
(b) The senate may, in proceedings prescribed by law, remove from office or reinstate the suspended official and for such purpose the senate may be convened in special session by its president or by a majority of its membership....
(c). (snip--section re: elected municipal officer indicted for crime may be suspended from office ....)

RECORD EDITORIAL: DeSantis comes out swinging
Posted Jan 13, 2019 at 2:01 AM

Rumors flew after former Gov. Rick Scott left in the middle of inauguration events for Gov. Ron DeSantis. Scott’s people said he needed to get ready for his own swearing in. But those close to both say it
was much more about swearing — period.

Seems Scott and DeSantis had a tiff that led to some behind-the-scenes verbal fisticuffs. Now we have a good idea of what happened and why.

DeSantis has come out of his first week in office swinging, and Rick Scott took much of it on the jaw.

Scott, you’ll remember tried everything to name three new Supreme Court Justices. The courts intervened and DeSantis gets to do the picking.

Scott also used his last days in office to pay back political debts in the form of appointments to boards and committees. The News Service of Florida reports Scott made 84 political appointments the two days prior to DeSantis’ inauguration.

To his credit, DeSantis recalled all 84 appointments. He said some may stick, but it’s a good bet the vast majority will not. This is in-your-face politics — or is it a turn away from political politics?

One of the appointees was Carlos Beruff, a South Florida developer known for dirty dealings and contempt for environmental regulation. He’s currently facing an ethics complaint for actions on the Southwest Florida Management District. One of his developments is charged with moving an eagle’s nest — another for destroying a county-owned conservation area.

His appointment was to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Committee. Imagine a bigger joke ... or a more up-yours act for a retreating Rick Scott.

DeSantis was also quick to tackle the growing environmental woes of Lake Okeechobee and its drainage to the Gulf and Atlantic — the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie Rivers respectively.

One of his first bombshells, and likely to become one of the more remembered, was this week’s request for the resignation of the entire South Florida Water Management District.

It recently approved a lease agreement with sugar company Florida Crystals on land to be set aside for the new reservoir OK’d by the legislature in 2017 — 16,000 acres for a nearly million-dollar annual lease. The issue was posted on the SFWMD agenda the night before approval.

And that’s only the last travesty of the group.

Who was on that board? All eight members were Rick Scott appointees.

DeSantis has given an early nod of approval for House Bill 239 which would set up a total ban of fracking in Florida.

He’s going full guns for the environment, or at least appearing so. What we may take from all this is DeSantis is moving in a direction the Republican legislature has handily avoided. He’s making wary friends in both the state Democratic Party and environmental groups.

His committee recalls and outright firings also point to Rick Scott’s pandering until his last day — attempting to leave the state infested with his lapdogs and cronies, all in great shape to help him rule from Washington, D.C.

What his quieter critics are now hoping to see in his vowed fight to restore the everglades (he wants an initial OK of $2.5 billion for projects) is he begins to hold Big Sugar accountable for its part of the muck and the mess, rather than putting the cleanup completely on the shoulders of the taxpayers.

Some of the blame for Lake Okeechobee mess is, as Big Sugar says, the fault of private septic tanks. DeSantis’ team is already looking at some type of matching fund program for conversion to sewer systems.

It’s a great start for both the environment and a little partisan healing. We watch it unfold with cautious optimism.

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