In a moment, we'll run through some of the outrageous things happening in Tallahassee.
But first, a quick note to all those Rick Scott-haters who are dying for a recall election:
And I mean that in the nicest possible way.
Yes, the guy has done things that truly worry those of us who care about transportation, education, the environment and basic critical thinking.
But he won. Period. And the winner gets to stay in office. That's how our democracy works.
Also — and this is important — Florida's Constitution doesn't provide for voters to recall a governor. Or other state officials for that matter.
Short of criminal activity, he gets the four years that your friends and neighbors gave him.
So you're free to complain, speak up, call him out and scrutinize his every move. Heck, I encourage all that for all politicians.
But to try to undo an election we just had instead of waiting for the next one would make you just as fanatical as all those fringe folks screaming for the same thing about 12 seconds after Barack Obama was elected … you know, the people you hate.
Now, down to business …
Merit (sans) pay. So the jig is pretty much up on merit pay. Those pushing it always claimed their goal was to financially reward the best teachers — which sounds swell. Hey, if we can find a fair way to do so, I'm all for it. But the merit-pay plan these guys finally passed doesn't include the money needed to reward the best teachers. And merit pay without the "pay" part seems more like merit-less.
Sorry logic. Republican Sen. Mike Fasano of New Port Richey is championing a bill that would beef up penalties on public officials who commit ethical violations. Huzzah for him. Unfortunately, Fasano is also facing resistance from the likes of Democrat Chris Smith of Fort Lauderdale, who argued "you can't legislate morality." Politicians often trot out that lame line when they want to protect themselves from punishment or disclosure. (As if the threat of punishment doesn't affect behavior.) But for any of you thinking about making this feeble argument in the future, let's be clear: This isn't just about legislating morality. It's about making it easier to catch — and punish — those for whom morality wasn't an issue from the start.
Mike Haridopolos: Victim. After taking a lot of flak for the $152,000 in public money that our Senate president scarfed up for writing a book full of simplistic pablum, he must have craved a sympathetic ear. Well, he found one at Newsmax.com, where a hard-hitting interviewer asked if the hubbub was really just a "nonissue." (When liberals need a sympathetic ear, they go on MSNBC. When conservatives need one they go to Fox. When they can't get on Fox, they go to Newsmax.) Haridopolos suggested the real reason people were going after him was because he was "trying to change America." Really? So it wasn't because you were taking a bunch of tax money while telling other people they needed to sacrifice? Oh, sorry. Our bad. (You can see the video of this one yourself in the latest installment of the Malarkey Meter at OrlandoSentinel.com/takingnames.)
Haridopolos, the flip side. Here's the good news on our Brevard County legislator: He's one of the few leaders standing tall when it comes to pill mills. While Gov. Rick Scott wants to get rid of a database for heavy users of prescription drugs — something that has broad bipartisan support from politicians and law enforcement — Haridopolos is standing firm. "We have no interest whatsoever of scrapping that database," he said in a recent story by the News Service of Florida. "I strongly believe that we have to get a handle on this." Haridopolos is right. That doctors in Florida prescribe more oxycodone than doctors in the other 49 states combined is appalling. So, good for Haridopolos for having such backbone. Heck, more backbone and fewer book deals, Senator, and this may be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
The last word. Last weekend, I emceed a fundraiser for Florida House, our state's embassy and promotional place in Washington, D.C., at the Winter Park home of the late Republican pioneer, U.S. Sen. Paula Hawkins. In doing so, I gave a flattering introduction to the woman we were honoring that day, former Lt. Gov. Toni Jennings. After handing Jennings the microphone, she thanked me and then told the audience it was amazing how nice and pleasant pundits are "after you leave office." Score one for the lieutenant governor.
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