Sunday, November 27, 2011

What's Going on Here? Stroke or Epiphany?

CEO-governor Rick Scott
 Either Rick Scott is seeing the writing on the wall or I’m having a stroke.  He sent a letter to the Tampa Tribune today (11.27.11) declaring that he now understands how the health of Florida’s economy and that of its fragile ecology are “inextricably linked.”

While I think the odds greatly favor the latter, just maybe the State CEO has had some sort of epiphany.  Or could it be that, just maybe, he’s realizing that the environment has a constituency that’s not limited to just liberals and democrats (bless their hearts) and a lot of folks are beginning to get a lot more than just nervous about his ill-advised ways.

Or maybe he’s the one who’s had the stroke.

The letter was obviously written either by someone who knows what the state really needs and the governor agrees with it, or it was written by someone who knows what the state really needs and the governor signed it anyway.

Such words out of Tallahassee, especially from an administration that to date has shown nothing but arrogance and disdain for protecting the state’s fragile natural environment and providing for reasonable management of its growth, are hard to believe.  The proof, of course, will be in what happens next.  Will the state’s environmental protections developed over decades by members of both parties be enhanced or weakened?  Will the state’s economy flourish accordingly?  Or, will we find ourselves led far down a primrose lane only to learn that it’s too late to turn around the egregious consequences of a terrible experiment gone wrong?

Lad Daniels

The letter was orchestrated with another letter released by the new chair of the St. Johns River Water Management District, Lad Daniels.  The timing and the message of the two letters are more than obvious.  It’d be a fair bet that this is the beginning of a concerted effort to turn around Scott’s pitiful poll ratings.  Just more politics.

But, hey. If it means the ol boy has seen the light, good for him and good for the state.  If nothing else, it gives folks like me a standard he’ll now have to meet.  He’s set a bar for himself and it’s a high one.  We can only wonder, though, in light of his previous cluelessness about environmental issues if he truly understands the extent of the commitment.

Here are some his statements quoted from the letter:

·       As governor, I understand a healthy economy is dependent upon a healthy environment.
·       A stable regulatory environment does not mean lower environmental standards. It means that environmental policy will be governed by sound science, not politics or one-size-fits-all solutions.
·       At the same time, willful violations of our environmental standards will not be tolerated. We will be just as vigilant about prosecuting bad actors as we are about helping businesses comply with the law.
·       The state of Florida should maintain its rights to protect our environment, and it should be done at a reasonable cost to taxpayers. We are a national leader in addressing pollution in our state's water bodies and have the most extensive monitoring and assessment program in the country. We know more about our water bodies than any federal agency or other state and are in a unique position to craft a solution that recognizes and respects the needs of our diverse landscape. We will continue to work cooperatively with our federal partners as we develop a state-led effort to restore and protect our rivers, lakes and streams.
·       Florida is committed to moving forward on important restoration projects like improving water quality in the Everglades.
·       Over the last five decades the state has acquired more than 4.2 million acres, including some of Florida's most critical conservation properties. However, now is the time to evaluate our inventory and ask ourselves if we have the right land in the right places.
·       Our state's natural resources are unparalleled. It's why people choose to live here, vacation here and bring their businesses here. In Florida, we don't have to choose between a healthy environment and a healthy economy. The two are inextricably linked, and as governor, I am working to ensure our resources are dedicated to the improvement of both.

Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it?  Be not beguiled into rapture, however, because there were also hints of further potential mischief in the letter:

·       That's why protecting our natural resources through a stable regulatory environment is key to ensuring businesses are successful and future generations will be able to enjoy all that our state has to offer.

What’s a stable regulatory environment?  Anyone want to venture a thought?

·       It also means that more of our dollars will be directed toward projects that actually benefit the environment instead of government bureaucracy, excessive salaries and benefits, and costly litigation.

Sounds good until he realizes that the engineers and scientists needed to achieve his goal of continued effective protection and preservation of Florida’s natural systems will have to be paid at a fair market rate.  Has he checked the salaries of community college presidents, airport managers, sea port managers, expressway authority managers, city managers recently?  And it isn’t exactly clear how “ …more of our dollars will be directed toward projects …” when he and Senate Budget Czar Alexander have eviscerated the budgets of the districts.  Makes no sense.

·       It means that our permit processes will be the same for Tampa residents and businesses as they are for those in Pensacola, Jacksonville or Key West, but also take into account our state's regional differences.

This has been a goal of DEP and the WMD’s for years.  Good luck, Governor.   The danger will be in creating a one-size-fits-all mandate that doesn’t, and the result will be the failure of the state’s regulatory system to reach the goals it is intended to reach, which, in turn, will lead to a disaster for the state’s future, environmentally and economically.

·       As we do with other state agencies, we will expect accountability budgeting from our water management districts, which means justifying every dollar we spend and bringing spending in line with revenues.

He still doesn’t understand that WMD’s are not state agencies and cannot be considered such by him or the legislature lest they risk causing the districts loss of their constitutionally-granted ad valorem taxing authority.  This is a bogeyman that’s going to bite him squarely you-know-where and only his and J. D. Alexander’s arrogance will be to blame.

Here’s the thing.  Words are easy currency for the politician.  It’s easy to say what people want to hear.  I – and, I suspect, you – sincerely want to hear and believe that all is going to be okay in Florida.  That its complex and fragile natural systems along with its economy will flourish under the guidance and wisdom of an enlightened leader in a position of major authority.

If However one can promise 700,000 jobs over and over again in order to get elected, proffering the conclusion that the state’s unemployment levels and thus its economy will improve, only to claim later that such a conclusion must be the result of delirium or unsavory political trickery of the liberal press, then why should we believe that we are now about to enter wonderland?

Rick Scott has been a resident in Florida only since 1997.  His whole professional life has been buying and selling hospitals, and shutting them down.  He was the CEO of a corporation that was fined over 2 billion for defrauding the United States Government.  Here’s what Wikipedia has to say about it:

On March 19, 1997, investigators from the FBI, the Internal Revenue Service and the Department of Health and Human Services served search warrants at Columbia/HCA facilities in El Paso and on dozens of doctors with suspected ties to the company.[20]

Following the raids, the Columbia/HCA board of directors forced Scott to resign as Chairman and CEO.[21] He was paid $9.88 million in a settlement. He also left owning 10 million shares of stock worth over $350 million.[22][23][24]

In 1999, Columbia/HCA changed its name back to HCA, Inc.

In settlements reached in 2000 and 2002, Columbia/HCA plead guilty to 14 felonies and agreed to a $600+ million fine in the largest fraud settlement in US history. Columbia/HCA admitted systematically overcharging the government by claiming marketing costs as reimbursable, by striking illegal deals with home care agencies, and by filing false data about use of hospital space. They also admitted fraudulently billing Medicare and other health programs by inflating the seriousness of diagnoses and to giving doctors partnerships in company hospitals as a kickback for the doctors referring patients to HCA. They filed false cost reports, fraudulently billing Medicare for home health care workers, and paid kickbacks in the sale of home health agencies and to doctors to refer patients. In addition, they gave doctors "loans" never intending to be repaid, free rent, free office furniture, and free drugs from hospital pharmacies.[4][5][6][7][8]

In late 2002, HCA agreed to pay the U.S. government $631 million, plus interest, and pay $17.5 million to state Medicaid agencies, in addition to $250 million paid up to that point to resolve outstanding Medicare expense claims.[25] In all, civil law suits cost HCA more than $2 billion to settle, by far the largest fraud settlement in US history.[26]

So, his letter sounds hopeful.  So what?


  1. You wanted feedback..

    My personal thoughts on the subject...
    Common sense must prevail in the environmental world in the State of Florida.
    We badly need oversight on the conditions we have created by overbuilding and not using the best planning for the good of the environment, thus the citizens of the state..We must use the wisest methods of creating communities that will help, not hinder, our fragile state.
    Having said that, I applaud the efforts of the Water management Districts scientists, but not necessarily the entire system. The politics of the management have been horrific and self-serving. Many good things have come out of the Districts, the research and acquisition of sensitive lands is wonderful but we also need to look at the common sense of construction and planning for the protection of all of our lands. You are correct in the differences of in the regions of the State..and we must recognize those differences in the laws governing the type of construction of not only new buildings, but the infrastructure of any development as well as the already built systems. The careful look at the older systems that are inefficient is as important as the new....

    Thanks for letting me ramble..My personal frustrations of those that do not care to see the whole picture of the state and it's problems frustrates me to no end!!! Using common sense is the only answer, but it seems to be a lost art.

  2. Has anyone caught on as to why the persone in Tallahassee is referred to as "CEO.
    That is because that is all the experience he has ever had. He has bought, sold and shut down hospitals,putting millions in his pocket in the process. Also, in the process, he has proceeded to cost thousands of everyday people their jobs, their future and their sons and daugthers futures.
    Folks, he is in this for one thing only, money.
    He is "The Music Man", swooping in to town, taking every dime he can from the citizens and then leaving on the next train out of town.
    I cannot believe any word coming out of his mouth or from the mouths of his minions.
    He doesn't care one bit about the folks in the WMD's who sweat everyday, both in and out of the office. He doesn't care about those who have to trudge through the woods and poison ivy. He is safe in his castle, with his moat and body armor.
    The WMD's should be a separate entity, governed by and reporting only to the PEOPLE OF FLORIDA, eho pay their salaries. The WMD's should and must not come under the dictatorship of a CEO. People should use common sense, yes. But to use common sense you have to have it in the first place.

  3. Woody said,

    Actually both comments above have the ring of truth. Working consistently with WMD's has shown me some inefficiencies that do need to be sorted out. I am not convinced that the way to do that is fire 150 people per District and simple start over with those left "doing the best they can to fill the voids, because most-assuredly, there will be more than one void.

    As to the "nobility" of our "CEO", does anybody really think he spent at least $75M of his own money just to help out the people of Florida? Can someone tell me what the largest philanthropic donation on record is, because in obvious ways, if he were noble and Sonny's letter indicates there are strong reasons to believe otherwise, this $75M would be one of the largest offerings ever and all for just you and me! WOW! So as Sonny so elaborately stated in closing "So what!"

  4. Has anyone caught on as to why the persone in Tallahassee is referred to as "CEO.
    That is because that is all the experience he has ever had. He has bought, sold and shut down hospitals,putting millions in his pocket in the process. Also, in the process, he has proceeded to cost thousands of everyday people their jobs, their future and their sons and daugthers futures.

    Aeron Chair

  5. A wolf in sheeps clothing! I believe it is “political window dressing”. In the meantime he supports selling off a significant acreage of our preserved land to support reduced government and education rather than to increase estate and other taxes reduced or eliminated by republicans in the past 10+ years.

  6. To: Sitbackandrelax;
    Please look at the second comment above, first paragraph. If you don't have anything to say please don't just copy someone else. Be original.