When former Gov. Charlie Crist floated a campaign promise this week to use executive orders on state contractors to boost wages for some workers and to bar discrimination against gay and transgender Floridians, Republican condemnation quickly rolled in.
GOP leaders in the Legislature issued a joint statement comparing the Republican-turned-Democrat Crist unfavorably to President Barack Obama and saying the proposal amounted to a power grab.
"Crist is lifting a dangerous page from President Obama's playbook, saying he will do an end-run around the people's elected representatives and single-handedly mandate policies through executive order," said the statement, signed by the outgoing and incoming House speakers and Senate presidents. " ... Florida needs a governor who will work with the Legislature and not force his personal agenda on Floridians with the stroke of a pen."
But it wasn't that long ago that Republicans didn't seem to have a problem with a governor using the pen to put new requirements on companies doing business with the state. In fact, back on his first day in office in 2011, Gov. Rick Scott issued an executive order essentially requiring contractors who worked with the agencies he controls to use a federal system for checking workers' immigration status.
"I hereby direct all agencies under the direction of the governor to include, as a condition of all state contracts, an express requirement that contractors utilize the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's E-Verify system to verify the employment eligibility of: (a) all persons employed during the contract term by the contractor to perform employment duties within Florida; and (b) all persons (including subcontractors) assigned by the contractor to perform work pursuant to the contract with the state agency," Scott's order read.
At the time, GOP lawmakers praised the move.
"Jobs are our No. 1 priority, and we must ensure the protection of jobs for Floridians who are legally eligible to work in our state, especially during this time when Florida is struggling with high unemployment numbers," said then-House Judiciary Chairman William Snyder, R-Stuart, in a statement still on the House's website. "I applaud Gov. Scott for taking a step he believes is necessary to achieve our overall goal -- reducing illegal immigration."
The same day, Scott issued another order to "reaffirm" a previous executive rule against discrimination -- though it was more narrowly crafted than the one Crist has proposed.
"It shall be the policy of my administration to encourage competition and ensure state contracting opportunities are provided without discrimination based on race, gender, creed, color, or national origin," the order said.
Of course, Scott was and is a Republican. But who's to say that caused the apparent change of heart among GOP lawmakers?
NIC AT HOME:
Nic Gavalas, who provided sartorial advice to some of the state's best-dressed and most-influential men for six decades, is at home after being released from a Tallahassee rehab center.
Doctors sent the 91-year-old founder of the iconic downtown men's haberdashery Nic's Toggery home after he was hospitalized for complications caused by pneumonia, his son Victor Gavalas, who runs the store, told The News Service of Florida. His father is not expected to recover, Victor Gavalas said.
"He's going home because there's nothing else they can do," Victor Gavalas said Thursday.
For more than 60 years, Nic's has been the go-to store for powerful figures including governors, Supreme Court justices and Cabinet members, as well as out-of-towners in need of a tie, an umbrella or just a little TLC from Nic himself.
"We've waited on a lot of governors and a lot of politicians and made lots of friends that turned into good customers," Victor Gavalas said. "The clothes took care of themselves, but just trying to be good to people was his main gist."
Nic's was the purveyor of the "Florida tie" that became former U.S. Sen. and Gov. Bob Graham's signature neckpiece. Graham purchased the tie during his first run for governor after celebrating his birthday downtown, Victor Gavalas said.
The tie was "a huge, huge, huge, huge" seller for Nic's "for a long time," he said.
Nic Gavalas is no longer able to speak, but well-wishers can send cards or letters to Victor Gavalas' attention at Nic's Toggery, 212 South Monroe St., Tallahassee, FL, 32301, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
TWEET OF THE WEEK: "Charlie Crist's #firstdayoffutility promises: 1. Invest in Florida's future by expanding our vital fan research and fan manufacturing sector." -- Republican consultant Rick Wilson (@TheRickWilson), poking fun at Crist's "First Day of Fairness" campaign proposal.