The next installment of the soap opera that is the Orlando-Orange County Expressway Authority -- "As the tolls hike" -- is set to air today at 2 p.m. when the board holds its next meeting.

When we last left this group of warring and plotting pols, they had successfully ousted their executive director in a coup that looks so orchestrated, State Attorney Jeff Ashton is now investigating for possible violations of the Sunshine Law. ("State Attorney to investigate Orlando Expressway Authority Board members.")

Now, with Max Crummit gone, the trio of board members who forced this respected leader out -- engineer Scott Batterson, Florida Hospital exec Marco Pena and DOT District Secretary Noranne Downs -- is scheduled to go about the task of finding a replacement.

Among those said to be a leading contender is State Rep. Steve Precourt ("State lawmaker Precourt seeks expressway authority job"), marking the second time he has sought the gig, which pays around $225,000.

(I'm always amused at politicians who yap and complain about bloated government, yet are so eager to gorge at the public trough themselves.)

The last time Precourt expressed interest, there were questions about conflicts of interest ("Expressway candidate has ties to engineering firm.") And this time, newspapers statewide have asked additional ethics questions, since the legislature has supposedly cracked down on legislators trying to cash in on public dollars immediately after serving in the legislature. ("Precourt in mix for Orlando toll road job, but new ethics law could nix it." - Tampa Bay Times.)

I'm not sure either of those concerns crosses any technical lines. But I am pretty convinced that a majority of the board doesn't care one lick about perceived ethical questions. They seem intent on dragging this government agency back to the days when it was widely reviled and viewed as a political cesspool. ("Culture of Corruption Dominated Expressway Authority, grand jury says.")

Board Chairman Walter Ketchum and Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs fought a losing battled to keep Crummit - the guy who cleaned up much of the mess - and seem to be outnumbered.

Also, there is increasing talk about Republicans liking the idea of Precourt leaving early to give his intended replacement, Eric Eisnaugle, a headstart on the seat and the speaker's race for ... wait for it ... the 2020-2022. ("Eisnaugle for 2020 House Speaker?") (More on that in tomorrow's column.) 

So, it will be interesting to see what happens. And remember: It's all fun and political games - until somebody gets their tolls jacked up.

Usually, that somebody is you.