Tuesday, September 20, 2022

Gov. DeSantis’s political stunt affects St. Johns County | STEVE COTTRELL. (SAR)

Good column on our immature Boy Governor's outrageous cruelty.  From St. Augustine Record: 

Gov. DeSantis’s political stunt affects St. Johns County | STEVE COTTRELL

Steve Cottrell
St. Augustine Record - USA TODAY NETWORK

The fool adviser who suggested to Gov. Ron DeSantis that flying two planeloads of immigrants from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard using Florida public funds was a shrewd political move, is probably out on the street by now, unemployed, looking for a new job. Or was it something the governor thought of on his own? Either way, DeSantis might be looking for a new job after Nov. 8 as well. 

When I saw the first news reports, I was reminded of what Boston lawyer Joseph Welch said to Wisconsin senator Joe McCarthy during an exchange at a senate hearing on June 9, 1954: ”Until this moment, Senator, I think I never really gauged your cruelty or your recklessness. Have you no sense of decency?" 

A migrant family makes their way to a bus that will take them from St. Andrews Episcopal Church in Edgartown, Mass., to a ferry in Vineyard Haven on their way to a military base on Cape Cod last Friday.

Relocating immigrants:DeSantis touts plan to 'profile' and divert migrants from Florida. Critics claim deception.

PolitiFact:What we know about DeSantis flying migrants to Martha's Vineyard. Is it legal?

I believe the same sentiments can be applied to the governor for carrying out his Texas Two-Step stunt –– a birdbrained flimflam that may yet have legal repercussions for DeSantis, and could affect his reelection effort in ways he will come to regret. And if you think his cruel scheme had no affect on St. Johns County, you’re not paying attention to the paper trail. 

The chartered planes and related expenses –– about $615,000 total, according to reports –– were paid for from the state treasury. More specifically, the money was linked to a federal aid package –– the American Rescue Plan, approved by Congress in 2020 –– with Florida’s share designed to benefit Floridans. It seems the shady deal with Gov. Abbott in Texas was paid for with interest earned on dough state legislators have banked from the ARP bill –– legislation, ironically, opposed by Florida Republican leaders in 2020. 

Did the governor appropriate $615,000 directly from restricted ARP funds released by Congress –– a likely violation of terms for spending the money? Maybe not technically, but it was $615,000 in unregulated earned interest that will not be spent to benefit anyone or any business in St. Johns County. It bought a lot of jet fuel, but was of no direct or indirect benefit to us. Worse yet, a reported $12,000,000 remains in the governor’s relocation policy kitty, and he has pledged to spend it with all the self-discipline of a sailor on shore leave after six months in a submarine. 

If you looked up “loophole” in your handy-dandy illustrated dictionary, you would probably find a photo of a smiling Ron DeSantis handing out plane tickets and snacks to nearly 50 immigrants as they boarded planes in Texas believing they were being flown to Boston with the promise of employment and housing. But it was all a lie –– a mean-spirited lie aimed at rounding up four-dozen immigrants and transporting them from Texas to New England on Florida’s nickel. What, pray tell, did flying those immigrants to Massachusetts have to do with addressing the best interest of post-pandemic Florida? How did it aid you or your business? Your children? The schools your children attend? Your personal and family health? 

According to a spokesman at the Florida Policy Institute, the $615,000 boondoggle could have been used to help Floridians “recover from the impact of the pandemic, not support unhelpful and harmful initiatives.” The money was supposed to help ease the pandemic’s ongoing economic impacts, replace lost budget revenue for cities and counties, and improve local infrastructure. 

Yes, St. Johns County has already received millions of dollars as a result of the bill, but we have not fully recovered from the pandemic, nor have other Florida counties. So to dip into the fund’s earned interest in order to effect such a sorry ruse, is an example of government at its worst –– at a time when we need government at all levels to be at its best. 

Migrants gather outside St. Andrews Episcopal Church last Thursday in Edgartown, Mass., on Martha's Vineyard. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Wednesday flew two planes of migrants to Martha's Vineyard, escalating a tactic by Republican governors to draw attention to what they consider to be the Biden administration's failed border policies.

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As for the $12 million earmarked for the governor’s absurd relocation policy, DeSantis boasts, “I got twelve million for us to use, and so we are going to use it,” adding that he wants to “make sure that we exhaust all those funds” (on something other than post-pandemic aid for Floridians). That doesn’t sound like a governor much concerned with helping St. Johns County, does it? \

Many years ago, puzzled by national events that made no sense, I read The Sane Society by social psychologist Erich Fromm, and never forgot the following: “The fact that millions of people share the same vices does not make these vices virtues, the fact that they share so many errors does not make the errors to be truths, and the fact that millions of people share the same forms of mental pathology does not make these people sane.” 

Boy, ain’t that the truth! 

Steve Cottrell

Steve Cottrell is a former small-town mayor, chamber of commerce president and weekly newspaper editor. Contact him at exnevadacitymayor@gmail.com.

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