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?
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or at 228-282-2423. Twitter: @NancyLBSmith