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COLUMN

Happytown

Scarecrow Rick Scott falls on the Republican rails, hot chicks wash cars and Alan Grayson for President? Oh, no.

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scared crow: Gov.-elect Rick Scott falls on the Republican tracks


We were expecting the lion. 
When the haunting personage of the man who would be king (or at least governor-elect), Rick Scott, first appeared outside our rattling railcar to the apocalypse, the general tendency was to recoil at his potentially frightening demands on the not-so-great state of Florida. “Let’s get to work,” was his slightly dictatorial campaign slogan, but the glimmer in his sunken eyes suggested something more nefarious: mandatory sit-ups at 4 a.m., pleated khakis, the prevailing sense that somebody with a blood-soaked baton would always be over your shoulder glowering. Sure, he would probably 
reveal himself to be lacking in “courage,” an oversight that would lead to tedious conversations on roads paved in yellow brick, but he was still a fucking lion, right? Well, the past few weeks we’ve watched Scott wheel into this public handshake and out of that one, face devoid of any emotion other than those that look like a “hum” or “duh,” and it’s become obvious to us: We got the scarecrow.

In the months leading up to Scott’s anointment, everybody’s favorite defrauder of Medicare made it a point to sign on with whatever grumpy Republican coalition was willing to turn its powdered nose up at federal stimulus dollars. Free market would be the new name of the game in the Sunshine State, and that includes $2 billion for the amazing new railroad sash to wrap Florida’s midsection: the Tampa-Orlando high-speed rail project. He may have only committed to the pat “I’ll have to look at it more closely” stance peculiar to new politicians who’ve never looked at anything, but his supporters heard it as “I hate communist trains!”

On Thursday Dec. 9 – just one day after SunRail won its indemnity battle against Amtrak – it would seem that Scott lost some of his anti-railroad steam. Preempting a U.S. Department of Transportation announcement that Florida is getting $342 million for the high-speed rail project – thanks to the fact that real Republican governors in Ohio and Wisconsin rejected the federal funding – U.S. Rep. John Mica, R-Winter Park, and his hairpiece popped up with just the right shiny things to distract Scott’s 
pliable gaze.

“This strong commitment will help make certain that the state and local community governments and taxpayers are not left on the hook for completing construction or subsidizing future operating costs,” Mica, the new chair of the U.S. Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, declared in a statement. “It is now essential that the private sector step up to the plate and submit proposals that cover any gap in funding the balance of the estimated $2.7 billion project.”

That gap, if our math is to be believed, would be a paltry $360 million. To his credit, Scott has yet to say anything more than the same old gibberish about judging the project’s feasibility “in terms of return to Florida’s taxpayers,” according to the Associated Press; also he needs to work out that whole private investment thing. But given the substantial pro-rail smoke blowing of Mica and incoming Florida House Speaker Dean Cannon, you can expect any and all straw-man objections from Scott to disintegrate on the tracks. You can’t stop a mixed-message Republican, just like you can’t stop a speeding 
train, scarecrow.

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