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Secret deal-makings by GOP angers many (Rubio-led Florida Legislature) [View All]

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seafan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-08-07 01:06 PM
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Secret deal-makings by GOP angers many (Rubio-led Florida Legislature)
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Governor Crist, it's time to put a stop to those in your party who are robbing Florida blind.

Secret deal-makings by GOP angers many

Special session meetings raise concerns

By J. Taylor Rushing, Capital Bureau Chief
October 8, 2007

TALLAHASSEE - Is it deliberate secrecy or deliberate governance?

These days in Tallahassee, that depends on who you talk to. And there is plenty of talk, about a culture of secrecy surrounding decisions by Republican legislative leaders before and during the current special session on the state budget and auto insurance - especially with another one looming this month on property taxes.

The criticism is that, in a state that values openness in its government more than most, Republicans are keeping the public in the dark by restricting deal-making to a select handful of negotiators, then sending the product of those negotiations to the full Legislature.


Last month, a joint statement by House Speaker Marco Rubio and Senate President Ken Pruitt that announced the delay of the special session even alluded to the behind-the-scenes brokering, describing "tremendous progress" among the lead negotiators on spending cuts in the state budget.

But former House Speaker John Thrasher, an Orange Park Republican, said Democrats ran the Legislature no differently before they lost control of the House in 1996. Now a Tallahassee lobbyist, Thrasher said if anything, the GOP improved the process by opening up debates on the floor of the chambers.
"They had been there so long that they would cut off debate, and they had the votes to do it. We never did that," Thrasher said. "We had morning meetings with the Democratic leadership, and my door was always open. It's just a bunch of sour grapes. Nobody's being left out."

Barbara Petersen, president of Florida's First Amendment Foundation, said the state constitution bans local city councils or county boards from operating in the same manner.

"They're cutting out not just the opposition but people in their own party. A huge number of voices are being shut out here," Petersen said. "This has been going on forever, so it's not a partisan thing, but the Legislature is holding itself to a lesser standard than any other legislative body in Florida. It's paternalistic. They're saying, 'Trust us.' And the problem is, enforcement is up to themselves."

Democrats like House Democratic Leader Dan Gelber of Miami Beach are complaining the loudest.

"People are negotiating huge issues in private, coming up with a deal and then coming to the Legislature and basically saying, 'Take it or leave it,' " Gelber said. "We've lost all sense of representing people, as opposed to just representing two guys in leadership that are running the show. And I believe the lobbying corps are in the room."


Republicans say the criticism is simple partisanship and just unreasonable.


"Somebody's got to put their foot forward and take the lead on an issue, and that's really what happened," (Senate Republican Majority Leader Dan) Webster said. "That's just building consensus. That's not secrecy."


Rubio dismissed the criticism last week, saying that even if legislation is being crafted behind closed doors, it will be voted on openly.

"Ideas generate somewhere, and obviously not everybody is going to be there when the ideas come up," he said. "The important thing is, how do ideas become public policy? That's what has to be open, and that's when people have to be included."

And this is the SAME John Thrasher who is trying to mislead signers of 2008 "Florida Hometown Democracy" ballot petition.

Florida is under assault from these LIARS and THIEVES occupying our legislature, who are railroading their greed-driven agendas through, with the sole purpose of enriching themselves.
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