It's become pretty clear over the last 6 months that Governor Rick Scott considers himself to represent only one group of Floridians: The Tea Party. He's taking care of them and if yesterday was any indication, they're returning the favor.
THE VILLAGES, Florida -- About a dozen Democratic Party activists protesting Gov. Rick Scott's budget policies were peacefully but firmly ejected from the governor's budget-signing ceremony Thursday as Tea Party activists applauded.So because they wore blue t-shirts and carried signs that didn't bear the same message as the Tea Party signs, they were marched out of the meeting by uniformed deputies of the Sumter County Sheriff's Office? You gotta be impressed with the way the Constitution is interpreted by a bunch of old, white people and their hillbilly sheriff's department up there in central Flori-duh. Yeah, I know it was a "private event," but it was the budget signing, for Pete's sake, and it was being held in the town square.
A few minutes before the governor's scheduled arrival, several elderly people wearing blue T-shirts inscribed "Vote Democratic" began to take seats in the sweltering town square where the Scott staff had carefully staged a speech and bill-signing for TV cameras. Scott, who announced his budget plans at a Tea Party rally in Eustis Feb. 6, returned to his political roots for the signing ceremony.
There were scores of hand-lettered signs supporting Scott, along with American flags and lapel-stickers on the chests of many spectators, showing support for the conservative Republican's position on cutting state spending.
As we find out, they had to do it or it would have ruined the whole well-scripted affair...
Representatives from the Florida Chamber of Commerce, the National Federation of Independent Business, Bitner and Republican legislators Alan Hays of Umatilla and Marlene O'Toole of nearby Lady Lake warmed up the crowd before Scott bounced onto a stage after 1 p.m.Sometimes I wish all this didn't bother me that much. Sometimes I wish that I could read about this crap and then think about my evening dinner plans at Michael's Genuine or the way the Heat played last night. I wish the fact that Floridians are being escorted out of a gathering in a town square by the police because of the color of their tee shirt didn't make me upset. But it does. And, if you're an American and especially a Floridian, it should upset you too.
He was surrounded by red, white and blue bunting as Elvis Presley's A Little Less Conversation blared from the loudspeakers — a song he used sometimes during his campaign.
After remarks, Scott moved to a smaller stage where he sat at a wooden desk and formally signed the budget.
Charter school students were bused in to surround the governor for the signing, and were handed homemade signs to wave. When Scott was finished, a man in a tea party T-shirt began encouraging the children to chant Scott's campaign slogan, "Let's get to work."
Scott then handed out tiny replica red Sharpie pens, symbolizing his decision to veto $615 million in spending.
The entire event was broadcast over the Internet by the Republican Party, and in many ways mirrored Scott's budget proposal unveiling in Eustis in February.
It's only been 6 months, readers. Jeebus, I'm tired of this bullsh*t.
-image via WTSP
Well, the latest info from Aaron Sharockman at the St. Pete Times is interesting...
A spokesman for Gov. Rick Scott today told Politic365 today that the governor's office did not order anyone removed from Thursday's budget signing at The Villages, and that the event was meant to be public. Only, that's not true.So you have a Scott spokesman going on the record today to say that the event was public which contradicts the information that another Scott spokesman was providing while the senior citizens were being escorted out. And deputies in the middle of all this saying they're just following orders.
First, here's what Scott spokesman Lane Wright said, according to the political website. "Governor Scott did not have these individuals removed. This was a public event. It was brought to our attention that the local authorities had removed some. We don't know first-hand who was removed or why.
"We are only seeing what you're seeing in the news reports," Wright added. "It's disappointing to know that anyone who made the effort to be at such an important event wasn't allowed in."
Here's what actually happened -- the Buzz saw all of it firsthand. Sumter County sheriff's deputies were summoned by Scott staffers wearing suits and black earpieces. They told the deputies that the budget signing was a private event and that a group of Democrats standing or sitting in the last two rows had to leave.
Deputies went to tell the group -- more than a dozen people -- to leave. The deputies said the town square had been leased and that the organizers wanted the group of Democrats to leave. The group of Democrats said it was unfair.
"You all are preaching to the choir," a deputy told them. "I'm doing what I'm told."
The deputies were getting their orders from Russ Abrams, a $60,000 a year special assistant to Scott. Seeing this, the Buzz approached Abrams. He told us the budget signing was "a private event." When asked more questions, Abrams said: "I don't need to talk to the press," and then, "I don't have anything to say."
Abrams and other men wearing black earpieces then attempted to identify other people with anti-Scott intentions. They alerted deputies, who told them they had to leave the town square. [Emphasis: SFDB]
I tend to believe that a Governor signing the state budget in a town square is a public event and that Mr. Abrams who didn't feel like he had any explaining to do yesterday needs to be questioned by someone.
Meanwhile, here's another photo from the The Leesburg Daily Commercial that shows Sumter County deputies rounding up the senior citizens who looked like Democrats.
While virtually all newspapers and websites that I visited in researching this story included this incident, The Villages Daily Sun did not. In fact, the Daily Sun's David R. Corder wrote an article that read like it could have been issued by the Governor's office in Tallahasee. I extended an invitation to Mr. Corder to explain why he chose not to write about this significant event but after visiting SFDB and checking it out [thanks, StatCounter!], Corder apparently has elected not to comment. Just like Mr. Abrams.
You can bet we'll stay on top of this through the weekend.