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11 Comments
Nancy Smith

In the End, Transparency Was Just a Word

May 4, 2017 - 8:30am

Richard Corcoran is the date who tells you, "Buckle up, sweetcakes, I'm taking you to the best restaurant in town" ... then pulls over and hands you a ham sandwich.

Juices your expectations, leaves you empty.

Now we know the speaker was only kidding when he promised Florida a “transformational leap” in government accountability and transparency.

That lofty ethics reform package Corcoran championed in February? First chance he got, he put on his dealmaker's hat, ducked behind the curtain, and commenced conducting the  people's business out of public view.

Do individual lawmakers, let alone the rest of us, fully understand what went on back there? From what some lawmakers tell me, they were told in other words, sit tight, vote right, everything will be revealed.

Naturally, the rushed-up-hushed-up end deals didn't escape Gov. Rick Scott. In comments shown on newscasts throughout Florida, he blasted the process unfolding in Tallahassee. "I haven't seen the final budget," he said. "Have any of you? This is your tax dollars. That's not the way this should be done."

Turns out, ethics reform was just a ploy to attack and destroy Enterprise Florida and Visit Florida, the state's job incentives and tourism muscle.

“We were elected to do what is right and clean up government, put an end to the waste of taxpayer money, and end the culture of corruption,” Corcoran said in a February statement labeling Enterprise Florida and Visit Florida as "corporate welfare." 

So, “the governor cannot be surprised that we will do the right thing regardless of the consequences.”

I don't know about the governor, but I know I'm a little surprised two months later, seeing Corcoran do precisely the wrong thing for a man who wants to run for governor -- trading away his principles for the opportunity to screw the leader of his party.

For what? To show he has The Power? To make the people love him? To win? And if so, win what?

Joe Negron
Joe Negron

Remember Corcoran's adamant declaration? "The House is not prepared to bond at all," he said. He was putting his foot down. It wasn't going to happen. We won't go into debt on my watch. Period. Corcoran said that in January, he said it in February, he said it in March, he said it in April. But lo and behold, behind the curtain in May, a-bonding we will go. 

Senate President Joe Negron, the other half of the Legislature's desperate-to-win leadership team, made no such promises of ethical purity.

Yet, I have always believed the Senate president was the most important keeper of the flame for Florida's Sunshine Laws during the legislative session. It's been disappointing watching him and his leadership team making excuses, defending or downright denying the end-game budgeteering going on behind the curtain.

Negron has eased the concerns of his coastal constituents  -- even if we don't yet understand how smooth federal authorization of a reservoir will go, or whether it will indeed be the solution to algae blooms in the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie rivers.

But it's a shame he didn't see fit to do the same for his westernmost constituents, who would have felt a lot better had he checked off on the $200 million Herbert Hoover Dike fix the governor wanted. Promising farmers jobs as reservoir builders doesn't have the same ring to it as assuring permanence and safety for whole communities. Unfortunately, Negron blew off the dike repairs -- "they're the Army Corps of Engineers' responsibility," he said -- after he spent much of 2013 calling for state control of Lake Okeechobee discharges. 

It will be interesting when we finally do see the budget to speculate on the trade-offs -- how much did lawmakers have to give up for a reservoir and a stake in the heart of the governor's priorities? I shudder to think.


Reach Nancy Smith at nsmith@sunshinestatenews.com or at 228-282-2423. Twitter:  @NancyLBSmith

Comments

you have so missed the mark on this opinion piece, especially when you consider that your opinion is driven seemingly by one issue - the everglades clean up and your misguided way of doing it. it's funny - i haven't seen your credentials to make scientific edicts, nor have i seen one vote cast for you by a floridian. how quickly you jump to criticize speaker corcoran and president negron when you have never walked one step in their shoes - and thank goodness for that. you are entitled to your opinions, nancy, and good for you for always being willing and courageous enough to put them in writing - i truly admire that. but you are so way off on this one that it demands a response.

You actually made me think about this, and I must concede one point to you. I do believe you're right that I have perhaps put too much weight on President Negron's and Speaker Corcoran's main bargaining chips. The session was about so much more. Still need to go through the budget. At any rate, I appreciated you candor.

"Mea Culpa", "Mea culpa", "mea culpa"...I have "seen the light !"... "please extend your ring, for a kiss"... (SO so very easy for a media "agent" to be suppressed)... (Methinks the "Editor" enjoys a lengthy 'association' with the "mysterious" "pm",...since she "caved" so quickly....(Just saying..)

Same as Medical Cannabis. Screw the voters and play to the money. Vote the bums out

Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, a Florida Cabinet officer who is resigning after the legislative session ends in a few days, has given five top-level staffers in his office substantial raises backdated to January, according to state records. And, he uses OUR money to look good to his staff!

My Gosh!!!!.... Jeff is almost as vindictive to taxpayers (on his way out the door), as Obama was... (It must be a chronic political disease).

SO Nancy,...WHAT did you expect.....REALLY ?!? You are dealing with obfuscating, pettifoggers;...They lie, and keep lying until they are voted out,....losing their "Lobby lunches", "under the table lagniappes" and the adoration of their "fellow liars".... NO SURPRISE HERE!!!!!!! {Seeing more "breezes" variations in the comments lately....(Guess I'm "getting" to them)....}

That's the best first paragraph on a story I've read in a long time! Love your expressive writing Nancy and most of the time your messages too.

Well, welcome to the "Trump-eting" of Florida Government. Our feckless President has set the bar for all politicians. One day an adamant statement - the next day he changes his mind. Unprincipled. That's what they all are.

This should surprise no one. This is business as usual for this Legislature and this Governor. Secret budgets and sweetheart deals have always been the norm for these fools. The only tool available is to vote them all out! It will never happen because people will vote for the same fools and continue to be uninformed...

Considering the 'Sunshine Law' exempts all legislative members, their actions are not surprising as much as how long it took the pile of corruption to finally take advantage of Florida's citizens! Maybe now, citizens will react unfavorably to the disgusting actions this current legislative class has taken. As Nancy well knows, their exemption of the Sunshine Law evokes actions which most citizens would be upset over! NOW is the time to plan on November's ballot and decide to elect ALL freshmen candidates, for the betterment of our state!

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