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COLUMN

Happytown

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Did you hear that crash, Orlando? Rick Scott was in town again! And this time he brought his buddy, Florida’s chief financial officer, Jeff Atwater, along for the well-insured ride! The couple made a pit stop at the OPD Gun Range and Training Center on Nov. 3 to talk to their constituency about the perpetual climb of auto insurance premiums among Florida drivers. It’s too bad we can’t give you any direct information on it – we weren’t allowed in. That’s right Happytowners, Governor Scott has no idea what the word constituent really means. In fact, when asked why we were denied access after showing our memo (sent from Rick Scott’s press office, no less), they mentioned it was “select constituents only” meaning if you had a shiny badge, lots of camera equipment or a fancy lanyard you would be able to join the elected brass and a handpicked cadre of insurance fraud victims around an oak table at the gun (fun!) range.Had we managed to get inside, we might have heard our shiny-headed gubernatorial hood ornament rattle off uninformed nonsense about how personal injury protection is an “outrageous” $910 million “tax on Floridians,” and how it was, in a roundabout way, keeping people from getting jobs or staying in their houses. (One day later, Atwater released a presser proclaiming that seven fraud perpetrators – or crash fakers – were arrested in Orlando and Miami).

Instead, we were told to head across the street (and not get hit!) where folks from the group Pink Slip Rick and some of the Occupy Orlando protesters were gathered holding signs saying things like “Rick Scott is the 29 percent,” alluding to his recent approval rating and the main reason for his sudden common-people lovin’. When we asked Florida Watch Action’s Susannah Randolph her thoughts on the ordeal, she simply stated that it’s “fitting for a fraudster like Scott to give us lessons on the ins and outs of PIP fraud.”

Randolph’s sentiments were bolstered last week when a Suffolk University poll showed that 49 percent of Floridianswere on to the Republicans’ own version of a faked wreck, saying they believed that Republicans were intentionally holding back economic recovery in an attempt to direct next year’s general election. The same poll found that Scott’s performance alone was rated “negative and damaging” by 37 percent of Florida voters. There’s no personal injury protection for that, now is there?

Speaking of recurring Republican damages, there’s a palpable game of chicken in the lead-up to January’s legislative session in Tallahassee. A Nov. 2 report by the Associated Press appeared to state what none of us were expecting: “Gov. Rick Scott and legislative leaders appear ready to scale back the number of substantial issues they plan to tackle in 2012.” Wait, where have we heard this before? Was it last year when Republicans sheepishly trotted out intentions to go easy on social issues as a means of addressing the state’s economic woes? And how did that work out for us? Hmm, a record 18 drafted pieces of legislation limiting women’s reproductive health doesn’t sound very easy.

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