A budgetary Sharpie blots out the Smurfs in the Villages, UCF takes over Orlando (or at least it should), the Casey Anthony trial ties up valuable talking-head resources and, hey, Jon Huntsman, welcome to our closet!
Published: June 2, 2011
Though we have been known to shuffle around the intellectual safety of our cube farm with scissors wildly clacking in one hand and a red Sharpie stabbing in the other, that's usually just because it's Friday afternoon and we have some aggression to work out. One thing's for sure: It's not because we're governor.
Still, last Thursday was not a Friday at Happytown™ HQ, and retirement community The Villages is clearly less a snarky cube farm than a lazy Floridian petri dish for grouchy old people and their sexually transmitted diseases. So Gov. Rick Scott's budget-signing veto-cartwheel on May 26 - the one that caused some noted Republicans to blast the "hypocrisy" of their hyper-bald leader - doesn't get the same pass we do. Rather, his supposed $615 million in spending cuts, which he delivered in front of a "Promises Made, Promises Kept" banner to a rapturous audience full of hearing aids, was, at best, political theater for the aged.
The lion's share of Scott's touted cuts came in the form of environmental land buys - or rather, potential environmental land buys, meaning there's no guarantee that cutting that $305 million will result in pocketing $305 million. Moreover, Scott suggested that legislators take that imaginary cash and plug it back into Florida's flailing educational system, the very educational system that Scott originally hoped to snip by another 10 percent.
Anyway, while Scott sputtered out the words "earmark" and "special interest" to the doting Smurfs of the Villages, he neglected to amplify some of the core programs at the other end of his veto marker: $4.7 million in public television and radio funding, $12 million for the National Veterans Homeless Support Group (just before Memorial Day, natch), $1.7 million for the Florida Alliance of Boys and Girls Clubs. How are those for special interests?
Closer to home the Orlando Sentinel highlighted cuts that would more directly affect the people you know: $3.4 million from a proposed redevelopment of Pine Hills, $900,000 from the fabled Parramore Renaissance at Carver Square, $6 million from the University of Florida medical school at Lake Nona and nearly $22 million from various University of Central Florida expansion projects. Nice!
"I'm sure most Floridians believe as I do that spending $250,000 on education materials for our kids is more important than spending a quarter of a million dollars to learn how to catch rainwater," he said, referring to an environmental program at the state's prisons designed to reuse rainwater, according to the St. Petersburg Times. "Where I'm from, rainwater can be caught with a $2 bucket."
Yeah, and where you're from, a snowball doesn't stand a chance, Mr. Scott.
Ever notice that anything Orlando can (or should) do, UCF can do better? While the city embarked on the erection of a $480 million, well, erection for the Orlando Magic, in the form of the shiny new Amway Center, UCF planned, funded and built an entire new town center, complete with retail, restaurants and a new basketball arena - for $180 million less than it cost the city to build the Amway Center alone. When the UCF football team started to chafe at the fact that the city wasn't upgrading the aging Citrus Bowl stadium, where the team had played its home games for three decades, UCF's president, John Hitt, took his ball and went home - literally - and built a new stadium right there on campus.