"A Rodeo of Phonies and Pimps" | New Times Broward-Palm Beach

Bob Norman's Pulp

"A Rodeo of Phonies and Pimps"

A fine Monday-morning quote comes from Carl Hiaasen:

"I once referred to a past Legislature as a festival of whores, which in retrospect was a vile insult to the world's oldest profession. Today's lackluster assemblage in Tallahassee is possibly the worst in modern times, and cannot fairly be compared to anything except a rodeo of phonies and pimps. It's impossible to remember a governor and lawmakers who were more virulently anti-consumer, and more slavishly submissive to big business."

That's quite a superlative for Rick Scott's Florida coming from Hiassen, who has been covering the pimp rodeo for more than 30 years now. More from his weekend column:


The House is swiftly moving to deregulate 20 different types of business, including intrastate movers and telemarketers -- two occupations that aren't exactly famous for being scrupulous and undeceptive.

Deregulation is estimated to cost the state about $6 million in revenue (and who knows how much it will cost consumers in rip-offs), but just think of all the terrific new jobs it will create. That's what supporters claim. Seriously.

Just what Florida needs -- more telemarketers!

Bills are also sailing through the House and Senate that will allow Florida Power & Light to raise your



electric rates for the next five years while at the same time giving the utility a controlling grip on the state's future solar energy market.

GOP leaders who otherwise love to cheer free-market capitalism have already voiced support of the monopolistic bill, which gives FPL and four other major utilities exclusive rights to develop solar projects, eliminating pesky bids from smaller firms.

FPL achieved this coup the old-fashioned way, by hiring 30 lobbyists and donating about $4 million in campaign contributions to certain lawmakers and candidates for governor.

Renewable energy would be good for Florida, but competition among providers would actually hold down electric rates. Not happening.

More bad news: If your home is one of 1.3 million insured by Citizens -- the state-run pool that was established after Hurricane Andrew -- your premiums could soon rise by as much as 25 percent.


He's just getting warmed up.

But to benefit themselves, lawmakers resurrected and decriminalized a scummy little gimmick called "leadership funds," which allow special interest groups to give gobs of money to special campaign accounts controlled by the leaders of both political parties, who can spread it around as they see fit.

Outlawed by a long-ago Legislature, leadership funds are simply a sanitized way of buying votes, slightly less sleazy than taking cash in a paper bag.

This time around, donors to the politicians will be listed by name, which is supposed to make us all feel not quite so betrayed.

Basically Hiaasen describes a full-court press by the robber barons with Scott, our esteemed fraudster-in-chief, at the point. Read the full column here.

-- Supt. Jim Notter had his obligatory puffball interview in the Sun-Sentinel this weekend, in which he pinned the problems at the School Board on... the teachers union.

Wait a minute -- I thought district staff was the bogeyman of the moment.

Oh, that's the one being used by Ann Murray and Jennifer Gottlieb. I guess Notter can't use that because he is staff.

The newspaper didn't make Notter account for the fact that hundreds of millions of dollars had been wasted, the overbuilding of classrooms prompted by campaign-financing lobbyists and contractors, or the $2 billion in debt he's leaving to taxpayers. Nah, it's all the Broward Teachers Union fault.

Notter backhandedly said discord with the union was his own biggest failure, but that discord, of course, was caused by BTU President Pat Santeramo, not himself.

So what about the massive corruption at the board that he enabled as superintendent?

On this point, Notter threw out the old "rotten apple" ploy. Here's what Notter said:

The arrest of two board members, the sentencing of one of them, the other still waiting to go to trial, the most recent 2011 grand jury report... absolutely has had a negative impact. It's very difficult to come through things like that because the public has a knack or an affinity or a view of things that if one person is doing it, then all nine are doing it... All of a sudden it became, "The whole board is corrupt" and "The whole district is corrupt" and it's typically not that way in our profession. We don't punish the whole class because one kid is disruptive. It's counterintuitive to us as a culture and it was very, very difficult, if not impossible, to overcome.

Notter is incapable of telling the truth, a trait that served him well as superintendent for the, yes, thoroughly corrupt School Board. He now says he's going to enjoy the sunset during his retirement and possibly become some sort of education advocate.

So long as he remains 2,000 feet from a Broward County school or the K.C Wright building, that's just fine.