The whole country knows that Gov. Rick Scott turned down $2.4 billion in federal stimulus money for a high-speed train between Tampa and Orlando (and many are blaming that move for his current dismal 29 percent approval rating). But another train project, this one with deep emotional significance for some of his constituents, has also gotten the ax.
Adding to his long and fast-growing list of vetoed expenditures, yesterday Scott vetoed two proposals: one that would allow the Tampa Bay area transportation authority to get back funds it hadn't spent and another that would have given a quarter-million dollars to the Holocaust Documentation and Education Center in Hollywood. One intended purpose of the grant? To restore a train car that was used by the Nazis to transport Jews to their eventual deaths.
Scott did approve $150,000 for the Holocaust Museum in St. Petersburg, but the rail-car restoration project, which would have revealed the car's original serial numbers and provided educational materials, will have to get its money elsewhere.
Eleanor Sobel, a Democratic state senator from Hollywood, decried the move:
"A small funding source would help restore the car to reveal the original serial numbers and provide educational materials so survivors and their families could trace this horrendous experience. The Governor's veto seems to show a lack of respect and understanding for history," Sobel wrote in a press release.
Sobel says she will continue to seek state funds for the Holocaust Documentation Center during the next legislative session.
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This isn't the first controversy over Nazi-era rail cars we've seen in Florida. When the high-speed rail project was still a possibility, Allen West's congressional predecessor, Ron Klein, wanted to ban French rail carrier SNCF from bidding on the project because of its past role in transporting Holocaust prisoners.