In case you missed it, Monday's Miami Herald carried another winner from the independent investigative unit Broward Bulldog. This is the operation, headed by former Herald reporter Dan Christensen, that for the last five years has been filling the void left by the cutbacks in newspaper staffs. It is the outfit that reported on the mysterious Saudi Arabians who blew out of Florida just before Sept. 11, 2001. Their disappearance disturbed former Florida Gov. and U.S. Sen. Bob Graham, who has been pushing to learn what the FBI knew about this situation, and especially why the committee investigating Sept. 11, that he co-chaired, was never advised about it. And, just as interesting, the government has been stonewalling.
Monday's story, bylined by Francisco Alvarado, deals with a lobbyist close to Gov. Rick Scott, who managed to quickly reverse the state's position on the controversial Watson Island development in downtown Miami. This is a project long opposed by environmentalists, who seemed to be winning until the developer hired a lobbyist friendly with Scott. Like most things political, it requires some reading, and a dash of thinking, so check out the report.
This is not the first time Broward Bulldoghas embarrassed Scott. It also broke the story of the governor’s “blind” trust for his investments after he took office, an operation actually being run by one of his cronies, whose eyesight is pretty good.
Coincidentally, today’s Herald also addresses the campaign ads run by Scott accusing his opponent, Charlie Crist, of selling judicial appointments in return for large contributions from Ponzi master Scott Rothstein. The Herald called it “half true,” meaning that Crist appointed Rothstein to a Judicial Nominating Commission, but the Herald, after interviewing other members of the commission, found no evidence that Crist appointed any judges because of Rothstein’s influence.
Actually, compared to Scott, Crist’s term as governor was largely free from scandal, whereas almost everything Scott does seems tainted by political influence, the Watson Island incident just being the latest example.
Crist’s problem is that he is perceived as a man who changes parties, and will say anything to anybody to get elected. If Scott were opposed by any of our past political notables, this would not be a close election. And, by the way, what happened to Florida along the way? We had the recently buried Reubin Askew (pictured above) in the 1970s, a man of impeccable integrity, eulogized as perhaps the best governor in the state’s history. And then there was Bob Graham, in the same league, and still a force for truth and sanity in American government. And there’s Lawton Chiles. We can’t recall any controversy during his terms as U.S. senator and governor. And most recently, Jeb Bush, who appears to be sorely missed, even by those who may not have voted for him.
Where are our men of honor today? Has Florida become suddenly a dumb place, or do our people just not give a damn?