Governor Christie is on his way to visit my governor here in the great state of Florida. I call our governor here Governor MIA (Missing In Action). I'd like to make the case that Governor MIA is worse at governing than Christie. Here are just a few examples.
Gov. MIA ran on the platform of "Job Jobs Jobs." Here in the Sunshine State, we are woefully behind other densely populated states in terms of public transportation. You just simply can't survive without a car here. Three years ago, Gov. MIA's first act as governor was to turn down billions of federal dollars for high-speed rail between Tampa and Orlando. It was part of President Obama's plan to jump-start the economy with infrastructure projects.
A good governor would have seen a brighter future for all Floridians with commuter trains all across Florida one day, reducing the burden on highways and the environment. And, um, plus the jobs. But Gov. MIA decided that disappearing into the smog of I-4 was a better idea.
Two years ago, the electric company that serves much of south Florida, Duke Energy Corporation, paid about half the full amount of property tax they owed to Citrus county. By only paying $19 million of the $36 million owed, they immediately dispatched that county into financial ruin. Schools, police, fire, water, parks... they all took a huge hit. The utility got away with it, and then they did it again in 2013. It's all tied up in the courts, and will drag out for years.
A good governor would have gotten involved when it first occurred. He could have threatened the utility that they would see a dramatically different group of people appointed to the Public Service Commission (PSC) in the future, perhaps even including several Citrus County commissioners. One of the biggest jokes in Florida, the PSC as it is presently constituted has let the utilities get away with unconscionable rate hikes. (And the Republican legislature has handed Duke millions more of ratepayers' money for promising and then reneging on two "nuculer" power plants.) But our Governor was nowhere to be found during this devastating financial catastrophe for Citrus County.
A year ago, our state House refused the expansion of Medicaid. Long before the legislative session Gov. MIA said, admittedly only one time, that he was in favor of the expansion. Then he went mute. A good governor would have found a way to say, over and over, "The Medicaid expansion will save Floridians thousands of dollars in their health-care premiums and ensure a healthier workforce." A good governor would have harangued and threatened those House hombres who believe that What The Fox Says is the gold-studded truth. But again, he was remarkably invisible during the debate and did nothing.
Three months ago, Floridians discovered that the state website to sign up for their unemployment insurance was completely broken. For the past three months, the state has avoided paying out $22 million in unemployment claims. A good governor would have turned the Dept of Economic Opportunity inside out, hired hundreds to man the the phones, and made sure that no Floridian starved or lost their home. Yet again, our governor was missing in action.
Two months ago, the staggering effects of flood insurance reforms passed by the U.S. Congress became apparent. So did the fact that over a million Floridians have been subsidizing other states' flood insurance costs for many years. We have taken in one dollar for every four dollars paid out in the past 35 years, and we've been through many hurricanes in that span.
There are 50,000 homeowners in my county alone who do not live on the water but their house is in a flood zone. These mortgages require flood insurance, and I have two friends whose rates have quadrupled, pricing them out of their homes. And they can't sell them, because nobody wants a home that costs $11,000.00 per year to insure.
Almost all coastal cities have buildings and museums and sewage treatment plants in flood zones, and so the taxpayers will feel the effects of flood insurance rates quadrupling, even those citizens who do not live in flood zones in those cities. We've got lots of lakefront and riverfront cities, too. So this affects almost all of us living here in Florida.
A good governor would have immediately held meetings with his insurance commissioner, legislators, mortgage bankers and insurance companies. This imaginary governor would have found a way to create a Florida-only solution that lowered flood rates for all Floridians. Hmm, unsurprisingly, our Governor has been completely absent again when we needed him.
The local paper has run a few articles on how Gov. MIA has inflated the state's New Jobs statistics, taking credit for job gains that he had nothing to do with. Furthermore, there has been a disturbing trend for a year that whenever Gov. MIA has been asked about any of these issues, his only response is "My sole focus is Jobs Jobs Jobs." Seriously, this is all he will say to the press. He is so MIA that he has no idea how his disappearing act has affected most Floridians. I am convinced that he gets all his information from Fox, and most of his direction from the Kochs; he has attended two Koch-funded retreats.
There's a tie between the two governors when it comes to teacher unions and public sector employees and their pensions, as far as I can see. Then there are the voter restrictions that Gov. MIA's Secretary of State has imposed upon the state. I just heard yesterday about yet another "purge" of the voter rolls. But it's all about jobs jobs jobs. Then there is the employee purge at the Florida Department of Environmental Regulation that has happened under this governor. Long-term employees have been replaced with political hacks. Wanna pollute, destroy natural habitat, and run roughshod over wetlands? Come to Florida.
In other words, Gov. MIA is determined to support the full metal jacket of Republican ideology while pretending that he doesn't. Gov. Christie is a bully. Gov. MIA has no clue how to run the fourth most-populated state. Gov. Christie is a bully. Sorry, New Jersey, but we've got it worse. Gov. MIA is an incompetent tea party ideologue.