Saturday, May 14, 2016

Political Enema

Cleaning out the political files is always therapeutic …

·      My files may be cluttered, but they’re nothing compared to the chaos of the Florida legislature. Our lawmakers just wrapped up another session, where the crowning achievement was passing a budget on the final day. That was an improvement over the debacle of last year when they had to return to Tallahassee like errant children in order to pass a budget. Winners in the 2016 session included public education, which got record expenditures. The big loser was the environment, left unprotected from fracking and without adequate funds for groundwater cleanup or the Everglades.

·      Then there’s the local scene, where I’m always amazed at the amount of ink given the City of Naples. The city has 6% of the county’s population, yet gets more than half of the space in the Naples Daily News. Part of that is devoted to the arts, clearly centered in the city. But much of the coverage is political – most recently the mayoral race, which seems to have tickled the fancy of the scribbling class. The coverage is misplaced. Whether John Sorey, Bill Barnett or Teresa Heitmann is elected mayor will have little effect on Collier County, where the real power is in the county commission, school board and the fire districts.

·      Quote of the week: “Hillary Clinton has more baggage than American Airlines.”

·      It’s become fashionable to politicize the environment. Latest is a commentary by the Conservancy of Southwest Florida president, who took a shot at Governor Rick Scott for criticizing President Obama’s reduction of funding for a Lake Okeechobee dyke system. The fact is there’s plenty of blame to go around. For years, both the feds and Tallahassee have been misguiding and undercutting water-management expenditures for south Florida. Damning the Republicans won’t help the cause.

·      Everyone is passionate about the presidential race, where candidates are lining up on either the far left or far right, even though over 40% of the voters describe themselves as moderates. One neighbor says if Trump wins she’s moving to Canada. Another neighbor says if Hillary wins he’s moving to Costa Rica. The real estate market might take a real hit!  

·      A good friend, a thoughtful guy, describes the choice we have: “Hillary is corrupt and Trump is dangerous.” Maybe we could draft Michael Bloomberg or exhume Ronald Reagan.

·      Climate change (if you believe there is such a thing) has become very political, particularly the remedies (if you believe there is such a thing). The Democrats would have us destroy the environment by plastering the country with solar farms and wind turbines – vast swatches would be needed to make an energy impact – and the Republicans would have us deny the problem and hope for a favorable turn in the geological cycle.

·      Show tunes for the political season: “Give ‘Em That Old Razzle-Dazzle” (‘Chicago’), “Let Me Entertain You” (‘Gypsy’), “Dad Gum Guv’ment” (‘Big River’), “I Don’t Understand the Poor” (‘A Gentleman’s Guide’) and “Send in the Clowns” (‘A Little Night Music’).

·      There are role reversals everywhere. The Republicans may have the Koch brothers, but the common-folk Democrats are winning the money race with big spenders like Warren Buffett, Tom Steyer, Eric Schmidt and Steven Spielberg. Then there is abuse of eminent domain – not by big-government Democrats, as you might expect, but by Republican Donald Trump.

·      Betting on the NCAA basketball tournament has always been a spring sport. This year handicapping the local political races might be even more fun. For example, what odds do you give on Hiller versus Brock for Clerk of Courts? How about the right-wingers versus the old guard for school board control? Or Hudson versus Passidomo for Richter’s state senate seat?

Okay, that empties things out a bit. Next I’m going to go through old tax returns.

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