Rick Scott vs. The Media: Reloaded

Just because I’m in the lab, doesn’t mean that I’m not keeping up with all things political here in Florida and there are certain triggers that can be distractions. Things that I’m compelled to write about because I’ve got the expertise or because I feel I have something to contribute the conversation. There are subjects that I just feel strongly about and I just can’t wait to hit publish on this thing.

- When Senator Rubio goes to Afghanistan and does a great job documenting his visit.

- When “the powers that be” want Mayor Jacobs to fold on a promise to build the performing arts center, when we don’t have any money.

- When they finally decide to make the dog-gone Alafaya Trail wider on the approach to Avalon Park.

There was one article yesterday in the Orlando Sentinel political blog, regarding one of my favorite topics, one that I have been talking about for almost a year now and one that I have the solution to.

How does the media deal with a multi-millionaire Governor that doesn’t want anything to do with them?

I tested the waters with the Scott administration before the inauguration. I interviewed with the Naples Daily News (Scott’s hometown newspaper) and questioned the very purpose for holding such a lavish celebration during hard times. “It is to buy support, and to look at it any other way is naive,” I said. I basically walked right on to the pages of Scott’s hometown newspaper and “tried” him.

His team’s response “no”.

No fancy rebuttal with statistics or rhetoric about the occasion. Just a one word reply. It was a reply through E-mail at that.

So, here we are. What is the media suppose to do for the next four year’s when the Governor puts up the velvet rope in Tallahassee and all you can do is fish quotes out of Twitter townhalls?

Two of my senior colleagues Dick Batchelor and Lou Frey (both first class guys, that I’ve shared segments with) were both on WMFE Intersection and suggested a course of action that I disagree with. Take the questions to other members of the cabinet with higher political aspirations. Is that really the way to go?

You’re going to ask the Commissioner of Agriculture about Rick Scott’s plan for education?

You’re going to ask the Attorney General Pam Bondi about the Governor’s plan for bringing businesses (and jobs) to Florida?

I don’t believe that playing telephone with economic policy is the way to go. I’ve got a better plan and it’s going to be a lot easier and effective than asking the CFO what the Governor thinks about the everglades.

49% and 35%

The percentage of the vote that he took on election day and his current approval rating. People forget in this whole mess that half the state didn’t vote for him. It’s tough but it will only be a matter of time until the Governor has to start playing ball with the media to properly communicate his message. Heck, I do media monitoring everyday and he is consistently getting slammed by every paper and television outlet in the state. It might be that the real solution to a media shy Governor is time. So, put up with the vague releases and social media smoke screen for a while longer, it will eventually disappear.

Unless, he does what he says he can do, then you guys will just have to deal.

Time is the only solution that will get the velvet rope in Tally removed

I’m also still working on a big project and I think it’s gonna turn out pretty well. I will write again next week.

Naples Daily News Article- Pay whatever it takes to get next to the Governor

I’ve had the chance to speak with reporters from all over, since the elections have ended (its part of my work). Last week, I had the chance to speak with Rick Scott’s hometown newspaper.

From the Naples Daily News,

UPDATE: It was picked up by the Treasure/Palm Coast paper as well.

I threw some heat at the donors for this inauguration, because some of them were holding Alex Sink signs 45 days ago. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m happy that the leftovers will be going towards Operation Wounded Warrior and I want Governor-elect Scott to succeed and succeed quickly. We need to get people back to work.

I’m also hoping his communications team can return volley better than a one word E-mail.

NAPLES — The money is rolling in and some political experts say Florida should be prepared for an inauguration like one they may not have seen before.

Gov.-elect Rick Scott, a Naples businessman, had raised more than $1.15 million as of Dec. 6 for his Jan. 4 inauguration, according to recent contribution reports. That money will be used to pay for a variety of festivities – a youth concert on Jan. 3 and an inaugural ball on Jan. 4 – surrounding his inauguration.

“It’s a higher price than past inaugurations you saw,” said Frank Torres, an Orlando-based public affairs consultant.

Gov. Charlie Crist in 2004 shifted plans from a $2.4 million inauguration to more low-key events, after he was criticized for approving a plan to solicit donations of up to $500,000 for the celebration. Crist said in 2004 he instead planned to keep the costs below $1 million.

Crist also canceled his ball because “with the state of the economy he said it wouldn’t have been appropriate,” Torres said.

While the ball is back on for 2011, officials with the inauguration said it won’t be an entirely glitzy affair. Instead, Francis Rooney, former United States ambassador to the Vatican, told the Daily News in November the inauguration will be an inclusive and broad-based event.
The Honorable Francis Rooney and his wife Kathleen Rooney at their home in Port Royal in Naples on Nov. 17, 2010. The couple has been chosen to put on the inauguration for Rick Scott in Tallahassee.

The Honorable Francis Rooney and his wife Kathleen Rooney at their home in Port Royal in Naples on Nov. 17, 2010. The couple has been chosen to put on the inauguration for Rick Scott in Tallahassee. Greg Kahn/Staff

But an event of that scale comes at a cost, and Scott’s inauguration is on track to exceed the amount that Crist had intended to spend in 2004. While the Scott camp set a $25,000 contribution cap, the inauguration still has a bevy of big-name donors contributing to the festivities.

Thirty-seven contributors – including Rooney, who serves as chairman of the inaugural committee – each have contributed $25,000 to the event.

But Peter Bergerson, a political science professor at Florida Gulf Coast University in Estero, said Floridians shouldn’t expect to see too many individuals on the inaugural contribution list.

“Lots of companies and corporations (contribute), some that have direct association surrounding the inauguration themselves,” Bergerson said. “You’re going to have lots of different categories.”

Another popular category of donor, Bergerson said, is the one that is “contributing to have some degree of access to the governor.”

Bergerson said a business like U.S. Sugar Corp., which donated $25,000 to the inauguration, could fall into that category. A “contribution to Scott inaugural festivities gives them an entry to have their voice heard,” Bergerson said.

U.S. Sugar isn’t the only big contributor. Several health-care related companies — like Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida and Naples-based Health Management Associates — have donated $25,000.

But the health-care industry isn’t the only one contributing to the Scott inauguration. Several Florida corporations, such as Tampa-based energy company TECO; Florida Crystals Corp., a West Palm Beach-based sugar producer and the Florida Optometrists Association have contributed to the inauguration.

Those corporate contributions often are construed as a way to get close to the governor or other members of the executive branch.

“Scott campaigned that he wouldn’t be beholden to special interests,” Bergerson said. “So supporting inaugural festivities is a way … in which corporations that have business with the state have a way to present their side of the issue.”

More simply, Torres said, these corporate contributions are “political greasing of the wheels at its finest.”

“It is to buy support, and to look at it any other way is naive,” Torres said.

Officials with the Scott camp say that assertion is incorrect. When asked if contributors were donating because they were looking for an “in” with the governor or other members of the executive branch, Scott spokeswoman Bettina Inclan answered with an unequivocal “no.”

“My comment to your question on the contributions is ‘no,’” Inclan said in an e-mail.

The inaugural committee hasn’t set a fundraising goal, but Inclan said no public funds will be used for the dozen or so events surrounding the Jan. 4 inauguration. Any money left over once all the inaugural bills are paid, Inclan said, will be donated to the Wounded Warrior Project, which provides programs for wounded service members from recent global conflicts.

The powers that be will pay whatever it takes to get close to him...

Central Florida Politics with Frank Torres turns 1 year old!

One year ago yesterday, I wrote my first post on Central Florida Politics with Frank Torres. It wasn’t called that and the blog was attached to my business website, but it was a day that launched one of the most satisfying projects I’ve ever been involved in. I wanted to use this little blog to write about what people were thinking, but because they were a journalist or involved in political operations couldn’t say. Let’s take a quick look, a year ago…

- No one knew who Rick Scott was
- Tim Tebow was still a gator
- Charlie Crist was still a Republican
- Tiger Woods was about to enter the worst time of his life
- Teresa Jacobs wasn’t in the Orange County Mayor Race
- The unemployment rate? Well that has pretty much stayed the same

Bloggers can be very cynical and offer little useful information, if any at all, and while I offer plenty of jokes and funny pictures, I try to make sure that there is a little substance with each post. I think the reason why this blog works is because I love writing on it, and I tend to color in the missing spaces that often get overlooked.

Some of my favorite posts?

- When I wrote how important it would be for Marco Rubio to win the Senate race, despite where he came from and what his parents did.

- My first mayoral debate analysis. I went to half a dozen more but that first televised debate was my favorite.

- My experience with the census

- Jimmy Buffet comes to save us from the oil leak in the gulf.

- Can you believe Charlie Crist checking out
the ladies
on the beach was one of my most popular posts?

- and my last minute pep talk before the elections.

Thanks for keeping this blog relevant, its great being able to bring it to you. Lets hope that I’m celebrating many more.

Happy Birthday!

Some Final Words Before, Tuesday..

I’ve been on the trail for almost a year….

I’ve met a lot candidates…

Been to more events than I can count…..

Attended or watched about 2 dozen debates or candidate forums…

I’ve spoken or debated with Republicans, Democrats, Independents, Tea party members (both real and fake), Libertarians, even a self-proclaimed member of the surfers party. Pro-lifers, Pro-choicers, supporters of Big Government, Small Government, No Government, Pro-Rail, Anti-Rail, Drill Baby Drill, Baby please don’t drill, Drill baby drill but not within 3 miles.

I’ve heard all of the candidates running for office discuss everything from sex education in schools, to nuclear weapons in Iraq. From Developing Innovation way to developing the Moon and planet Mars. Health care, Care of Veterans, Health care centers for Veterans (thank god for that!).

I’ve been to swanky cocktail parties, and mingles in million dollar homes and exclusive clubs, to laid back bbqs and low country boils in backyards. I’ve seen upsets, set-ups, campaigns that exceed expectations and campaigns that fail to meet them.

I observed text messages, Taliban Dan, HCA/Columbia, Flag Football Fields, Mike Tyson, Escalades, Credit Cards, Tapped Phones, Health Care Flip Flops, Charlie Crist Flip Flops, The Pelosi Agenda, Obama-math, trips to Cuba, trips to Vegas, Witches from Delaware, Ruth Chris, “Your favorite candidates, favorite candidate”, flying planes on 9/11, flying on the taxpayers dime, using the taxpayers dime to pay for drinks, “your a lobbyist”, brick-layers, bomb throwers, Lynx buses, the aquifer, good mailers, bad mailers, good ads, bad ads, rental car surcharges, Jeb Bush, W. Bush, Hilary, Bill, NBC, CBS, FOX, CF 13, and…..In the middle of this tornado of political warfare that has been spinning around us for the few months.


All of this is done, so that you can drive to the polls, wait (Hopefully, a short one) and fill in bubbles.

Its your right as a citizen living in the greatest country in world and whether you love it or hate, you owe it to yourself and the soldiers risking their lives protecting our freedom, to exercise it.

No post tomorrow, but please check me out on FOX 35 for election night coverage and my complete wrap up on Wednesday.

Thank you so much

Have a great election day guys!