In today's edition of the Friday Files, we're celebrating adoptive parents and chastising politicians who want to keep secrets from you. And we've thrown in everything from coyotes to Big Oil sycophants, just to keep things interesting.
Let's start with Attorney General Bill McCollum, who took a baffling and troubling stand last week — opposing your right to know what your elected officials are doing.
It's like Bill had a senior moment. Like he forgot he was at a debate for gubernatorial candidates and mistakenly thought he was whispering sweet nothings into the ears of the lobbyists who are funding his campaign.
But no, Bill apparently meant this. He went on to say that public disclosure just makes it so darn hard to do business in a timely manner.
All this comes from a man who not only wants to be your next governor, but who also is currently your attorney general — making him the point man for many "Government in the Sunshine" laws issues in this state.
For future reference, Bill, here's a generally good rule of thumb: If it involves the public's money and the public's laws, it's the public's business.
If you believe otherwise, maybe you should think about getting out … of public office.
• BP lovers welcome. Ocala's U.S. Rep. Cliff Stearns is host for one of Washington's most-talked-about fundraisers next week — one featuring BP sycophant Joe Barton. You remember Barton, right? He's the Texas Republican one who got mad at all the lawmakers who were picking on poor BP for that silly little oil spill in the Gulf. Barton actually apologized — to BP, mind you — and expressed irritation that the oil giant was being asked to set up a fund to help victims. Red-faced Republican leaders pounced on Barton, ordering him to retract his statements. Ever since, politicians from both parties have been running from Barton as if he were a flaming oil rig. But not Stearns. Where others see a pariah, Stearns apparently sees dollar signs. So says The Hill, which snagged a copy of the invitation to Stearns' $1,000-a-head event on Wednesday, June 30, featuring "Special Guest Congressman Joe Barton." I'm guessing oil execs are welcome.
•Making a difference. In a bit of good news, Family Services of Metro Orlando is set to celebrate its 1,000th adoption today. That's worth celebrating. There are a lot of people in this state who flap their jaws about adoption — and a lot of politicians more interested in making it harder for loving parents to adopt than helping the waiting list of deserving kids. But this nonprofit has spent the past six years doing what really counts. Let others turn adoption into a political football. Today, we can celebrate those who helped 9-year-old Melissa find a new home — particularly her new parents, Debbie and Joseph Defour, who have now opened up their St. Cloud home to five kids.
•We need answers. Kudos also to State Attorney Lawson Lamar for opening an inquiry into the construction program at the Orange County schools. I haven't been a fan of everything Lamar's done. (And that's putting it mildly.) But he's right to bring independent investigative eyes to this mess. As I wrote last week, it's highly suspicious anytime an organization starts targeting its own internal auditors — especially after the auditors say they've found potential evidence of wrongdoing. We need the full story on this one.
•Mayoral madness. Boy, did Bill Segal misplay the big and controversial vote to allow massive new growth near the Econ. Everyone from environmentalists to Mayor Rich Crotty was opposed to this project. But Segal sided pretty consistently with the developers Tuesday. Frankly, I'm surprised, because Segal's usually pretty savvy about such things. At the end of the day, not only did the aspiring mayor come out looking like another cog in the growth-at-any-cost mind-set — but he also came out a loser. (Literally, because his side lost.) Neither is a good image for a guy trying to present himself as a green, can-do leader.
•Quite the animal lovers. And finally, there was a great line in Thursday's story about the proposal to ban fox and coyote hunting in pens. It came from the hunters who claimed that, for safety's sake, they liked their hunting dogs to chase prey "in enclosed areas [to] prevent them from running into roadways." Right. 'Cuz heaven knows these guys don't want any animals getting hurt.
Scott Maxwell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 407-420-6141.
McCollum wants to keep us in the dark
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