Politics: So, Guv: Will U P in Cup, 2?

Social Networking with Slick

Oh, how we miss you already, Charlie Crist.

Pretty soon, at the rate your successor and his Legislature friends (or should that read fiends) are moving, nearly all your accomplishments and achievements in four years as governor will be erased, vacated, rolled back, expunged, deleted, for good.

The abortion ultrasound bill you vetoed?  It’s baaaaack.  Civil rights restoration for felons?  Not so fast.  High-speed rail?  Not pulling into this station.  Allowing House and Senate leaders to raise unlimited cash?  Revived.  The volcanically-controversial teacher merit pay and tenure bill you KO’d last year?  It rose from the dead to become, last week, the very first bill signed into law by your successor.

I’m betting you’re not a Facebook friend of his, Charlie.

Speaking of which, in what was billed as his first (and perhaps last, since he prefers Twitter, which “was way easier”) Facebook town hall meeting, Slick Rick last week answered eager Floridians eager to poke their new governor with a question.  Some probably wished they could have done so with a good-sized stick.

Never mind that he has exhibited a lamentable habit of mostly avoiding the Floridians who get paid to ask him questions – that would be reporters.  With just ordinary citizens logging on, Slick could give everybody the suggestion of accessibility, even if he didn’t answer all questions, or necessarily give the few he did answer the answers they wanted to read.

There’s been much to ask Slick about after almost three months on the job:  What about that pill mill database?  Selling off the state’s official planes?  Declining the high-speed rail money?  Making state employees pay towards their pensions?  Making them piss into cups for mandatory drug testing?

Will environmental protection take a back seat to commerce and job creation?  And what about those 700,000 jobs – seems so far we’ve heard only about those jobs you’ve eliminated.

Why have you imposed a gag order on agency heads?  Why are you reluctant to speak to the media?  Why don’t you read the state’s newspapers?

(Curious, that last one.  Last week, Slick laid aside his disdain for us newspaper people long enough to pen a commentary for the Tampa Tribune pronouncing dead “ObamaCare,” as he derides it, as in:  “Elections, the president reminds us, have consequences, and one of the consequences of the 2010 election is that ‘ObamaCare’ is finished.”)

Here’s a question I don’t believe was asked during the Facebook Q-and-A, but which I’m sure rests in the minds of many a state employee about now:

Are you willing to be drug tested, too?  After all, you’re now one of us – a state employee.

Slick’s unusual interest in the subject of drug testing (for welfare recipients, for state employees) seems greater than that of a herd of alley cats stalking a sardine-packing plant.

But it’s not the outcome of the guv’s pee test that should concern us so much as the corporate beneficiary that might get the state contract to ask testees to drop trou and fill up their cups.

Solantic is a chain of healthcare clinics, the fourth largest in the nation.  There are 32 Solantic clinics in Florida and the company is said to be growing rapidly, “looking to do an IPO any day now,” writes Sarah Jones this week on her PoliticusUSA blog.

After his election, Slick – who started Solantic following the Columbia/HCA debacle that nearly bought him a federal criminal trial for defrauding Medicare – transferred $62 million in stock to a revocable trust in his wife’s name.  According to the Palm Beach Post, who recently broke the story, one of the more popular services at Solantic is – you guessed it – drug testing.

“Given Solantic’s role in that marketplace,” reported the Post, “critics are again asking whether Scott’s policy initiatives – [like] requiring drug testing of state employees and welfare recipients – are designed to benefit Scott’s bottom line.”

Jones (her piece is audaciously titled, “14 Felonies Later, Gov. Rick Scott Wants Taxpayers to Fund His Clinics”), writes:

“Perhaps in Republican circles, transferring your stock options into your wife’s name is distancing yourself from your personal profit.  Sure, Republicans hate to empower a woman like that (hence, the trust is ‘revocable’), but it’s either give the stocks to her or, heaven forbid, sell them just before you get into office.”

Jones says those drug tests will cost taxpayers $2-3 million a year, plus the costs of “inevitable” litigation.  “But it’s worth it, Scott assures us, for the peace of mind that your tax dollars won’t be paying for some drug addict to have a job.”

(The pill mill database he is against would cost only half a million in non-tax-dollar grant money.)

She goes on:  “It seems that nosing into private healthcare decisions and playing hall-monitor to state employees is what Republicans do best.  Of course, they do this best when they’re using your tax dollars to enrich their cronies and themselves.

“We have a known fraudster at the helm in Florida and he’s turning taxpayer money over to his private company.  Kinda seems like we better keep an eye on him.”

Now, you wouldn’t suppose Slick would be so bold and brazen to think he could get away with another healthcare bamboozle like the one he got away with at Columbia/HCA, would he?

Would he?

Perhaps a question someone ought to ask during his next Facebook Q-and-A.

BEDSIDE MANNER

The cover of March’s Florida Trend features a wide-eyed, head-slightly-tilted-to-the-side Slick, sitting with hands clasped together, spouting a 300-megawatt, toothy, Cheshire cat grin.  Looking kinda like he was sitting at the hospital bedside of your ailing grandma, listening earnestly to her relate her fears about her Medicare coverage for her stay.

Just before wheeling her out to the hospital exit and dumping her to the curbside.

PEEVE OF THE WEEK

To kill a mockingbird might be a prudent and tempting thing to do, especially if that mockingbird were outside your window, running through its extensive and unending repertoire.  At 3 in the morning.

There’s one down the block that’s been doing just that for the last few weeks.  And he’s since been joined by one or 2 others.

The bachelor male, we are told, warbles to attract a female (but at 3 in the morning?  Come on!  The lady birds have got to be all asleep.  Like all birds should be!).

Individual males have repertoires ranging anywhere from 50 to 200 (!) songs.  I believe the one I’m hearing possesses a total at the far range of this.  (And I’m convinced he’s run through every single one of them.)

Yep.  Killing a mockingbird starts to look downright tempting.

Go ahead.  Report me to PETA.  And the Audubon Society, for that matter.  See if I’m scared.

I’m not a bird hater.  Truth is, I love birds and their music.  But there’s a right time for bird singing.  The middle of the night ain’t it.

Have you ever wondered what the other birds in the neighboring trees must be thinking?  It might go something like this:

– “There goes that damn Morey again!”

– “What an infuriating pest he is!  Why can’t he do his mating in the daylight like all the rest of us?”

– “Yeah, I need my sleep.”

– “Me, too.”

– “We all do!  We gotta be up at daybreak for another full day of seed-scouring and worm-hunting.”

– “Meanwhile, he’s wide awake, trying to find some action.”

– “A fucking showoff, that’s what he is.  Just because he’s multi-lingual while we can only sing one tune, it’s like he’s gotta throw it back in our faces.”

– “He’s got my call down pat.  I woke up the other night thinking I was chirping in my sleep – but it was him!”

– “Me, too!  He mimicks me better than I ever could.”

– “He mimicks all of us!  There’s not one of us he can’t mimick, the son-of-a-bitch.”

– “You see the nest me and the wife are building?  She’ll be laying eggs soon and she’s already worrying that his all-night carousin’s gonna keep the young’uns awake after they’re hatched.”

– “Somebody oughta shoot him, I tell ya.  This is one time I wouldn’t mind one of them two-legged ground walkers popping out to load some birdshot into him.”

– “Or maybe one of the cats around here could snag him.”

– “We ought to gang up on him when he’s asleep and give him a taste of his own medicine!”

– “Would serve him right, the bird brain!”

Take one guess as to what bird species – of all the thousands they had to choose from – is our state bird.  (And it’s not the pin-striped Tallahassee do-do.)

Atticus Finch, in Harper Lee’s novel, says that it is a sin to kill a mockingbird because “they don’t do one thing for us but make music for us to enjoy.  They don’t eat up people’s gardens…they don’t do one thing but sing their hearts out for us.”

OK, I’m down with that.  As long as one’s not singing his heart out at 3 in the morning.

AND I DON’T MEAN MORE PLEDGE BREAKS

I truly hope our friends in public broadcasting are using this not-so-calm-in-the-eye-of-the-storm period to brainstorm for viable alternatives to federal subsidies.

Especially now that congressional Repubs – all in a lather over a perceived liberal bias at NPR and looking to wave red-meat evidence of their budget-cutting at their constituents (even though dropping NPR wouldn’t amount to a drop of amoeba pee in a bucket) – are on the attack.

Cheered on by their amen choir at Fox News Propaganda, the Repubs are on a gleeful war path with their budget hatchets unsheathed.  Those in the House voted March 17 to kill NPR’s funding (the measure stands little chance in the Senate).

Pontificated House Majority Leader Eric Cantor:  “This bill is about making sure that we are spending taxpayer dollars the way that the people that earn them would spend them.”

If the people who earned them had any choice in how they were spent, Mr. Cantor, it’s doubtful you and your colleagues would get paid a salary at all.  Maybe you guys would have to resort to holding pledge breaks and giving away “U.S. Congress” totebags and coffee mugs.

What a titillating sight that would be.

OVERHEARD

…this week in Miami, between one old fart and another:

“They had some sort of a music conference here this weekend, didn’t they?”

“Yeah.  I heard some of it.  Ridiculous.”

That event, O.F., brought a “ridiculous” influx of amply-needed revenue to the local economy, plus created jobs.  Exactly how much stimulus did your wallet do for us in those same three days?

Now you can go back, sir, to your 8-track tape of “The Best of Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass” and paging through your “Up With People” Polaroid scrapbook.

About Charles Branham-Bailey

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