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COLUMN

Happytown

Rick Scott's never gonna give us up, Social Security's never gonna let us down, Linda Chapin's always gonna run around and deter us

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Never Gonna Give: Rick “Ghastly” Scott (geddit?) lets us down by turning Florida into a one-stop shop for development interests


Well, it finally happened. After rubbing our Happytown HQ heads for months, trying to come up with a canon of cartoonish comparisons for the man who would become our dumb state’s next governor (hello, Nosferatu), we found ourselves speechless as we watched, mouths agape, as Rick Scott was (Rick)rolled out of the crypts of controversy and into the public gaze for his first press conference on Friday, Jan. 7. Even with the litany of vacant stutters, the reported press-corps orders to stay seated and mind the velvet rope, the gaming/gambling flip-flop (Scott was fer it Thursday, agin’ it Friday) and the frightening “We need to be more like Texas” rhetoric, it was hard to find any humor in that nervous 15 minutes of sweaty-headed incompetence. What we learned: Rick Scott is better than you because he has his own private plane, transparency is a slogan, not a right, and teachers are fucked.

Altogether more revealing, though, was the reiteration of last week’s appointment of two key agency heads: attorney and St. Joe Company vice president, Billy Buzzett, to the Department of Community Affairs and shipbuilding executive (and attorney), Herschel Vinyard, to the Department of Environmental Protection. The pro-business 
move was universally heralded by the Chamber of Commerce as a stroke of political genius, naturally, especially because part of Scott’s master plan is to get rid of those agencies as we know them and consolidate all development concerns into one little administrative kiosk of “yes” stamps and incentive baskets. This is where paradise meets pavement, Joni Mitchell.

Anyway, not all conservation interests were pleased with the Buzzett choice. Dan Lobeck, a Sarasota attorney and president of the grouchy tree-huggers group Control Growth Now opined to the Lakeland Ledger that “If there were ever a case of the fox guarding the henhouse, this is it,” adding that growth management as we know it 
is over.

Well, obviously.

Less convincing were the comments coming from more mainstream environmental groups. Eric Draper, executive director for the Audubon Society of Florida sheepishly referred to Buzzett in the Tampa Tribune as “kind of [representing] the greener end of the development community.” Manley Fuller, president of the Florida Wildlife Federation, told the same paper that Buzzett was a “friend,” though the kind of friend you sort of hate but sometimes fuck, or something. (Nobody seemed to know much about Vinyard except that at one time he was against offshore drilling.) Neither comment comes off so much as a valid assessment as it does tacit acceptance: a “Please work with us,” if you will. And coupled with Scott’s freeze on regulations – basically all “job-killing” regulations – maybe that kind of pinched-nose handshake is all they can hope for? It is.

In our gubernatorial exasperation, we took to our handy e-book of Florida statutes and typed in, for fun, “Recall governor, please.” Turns out Florida is not one of the 18 states that have voter-recall provisions for the governor’s office; only municipal offices are subject to mass dissatisfaction. This, dear readers, is the wrong Orange County for that kind of luck … and Gary Coleman is 
dead. Sigh.

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