RICK SCOTT LEARNS HOW TO LOSE FRIENDS AND ALIENATE PEOPLE…. When Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) inexplicably rejected federal transportation funding for his state, apparently because he doesn’t like the president, some of the loudest criticism came from Florida Republicans, whose constituents will suffer as a result of the governor’s recklessness.
The heart of the problem was that Scott was deliberately turning down thousands of jobs in a state with high unemployment, and turning his back on millions of dollars of economic development. But part of the political problem is that the governor acted unilaterally — he hadn’t told other GOP officials what he planned to do, didn’t seek their input, and didn’t care what anyone else at any level of government thought.
Scott says he’s just acting like a CEO. Florida Republicans know this, and want him to stop.
“The governor doesn’t understand there is a State Constitution and that we have three branches of government,” said State Senator Mike Fasano, a Republican from New Port Richey who upset Mr. Scott with rough handling of his staff during a testy committee hearing. “They are talking about the attitude that he is still the C.E.O. of his former health care corporation, and that is not going to work in this state, in Tallahassee, in my district. The people believe in three branches of government.”
Republican lawmakers in Florida were hoping for a smoother transition. Instead, they say, they got top-down management from a political novice.
I’d note for context that when Scott was the CEO of a health care corporation, he appears to have committed a variety of felonies while defrauding the government. Just thought I’d mention that.
But this example helps underscore the problem when candidates vow to run government “like a business.” Voters often like this rhetoric, but Scott offers a timely reminder that government isn’t a business, and governors may be the chief executive of a state, but that’s not the same thing as a CEO.
The skills and the nature of the responsibilities are entirely different. As a CEO, Scott could simply bark orders, and those who thought he was off track could be fired and replaced. As a governor, he has pesky checks and balances, and laws to follow, though in his case, his record indicates Scott tends to look at laws as suggestions.
Those instincts haven’t changed. The governor has sold off state property without consulting anyone, killed a state database on fraudulent distribution of addictive prescription drugs without consulting anyone, and turned down billions in federal transportation funds without consulting anyone. Scott has started rolling back state transparency measures; he’s blocked media access to his administration; and surrounded himself with right-wing toadies when presenting a budget that even GOP officials consider ridiculous.
Even weak layers of accountability that exist in the private sector — a board of directors, stockholders, federal regulators — aren’t an issue for Scott. He’ll have to face voters in 2014, but the governor already conned them once, and probably has confidence he can do so again. [edited because the original sentence got it backwards]
I’d also note that party politics can forge important relationships, and Scott has no real background in the area. He’s not only new to public service, the governor didn’t work his way up through the Republican ranks, going to GOP pot-luck dinners, attending local committee meetings, making actual friends in the party, etc.
Scott effectively bought the gubernatorial nomination, bought the general election, and started running state government with authoritarian reflexes. And now he’s failing and losing his ostensible supporters.