In this edition of the Friday Files, we're looking at everything from political lies to a contest for Florida's most unpopular politician.
But first, I have a game for you to play:
This year, while no one was looking, President Barack Obama made Florida's ports more vulnerable to terrorists.
He helped kill a program established in September 2001 that did everything from run background checks on those with security clearance to ensure that security measures are being followed.
The program was cheap. And since its existence, not a single port was attacked.
Republican state Sen. Paula Dockery, a former chairman of the Home Defense, Public Security and Ports Committee, was clear in her objections, stating that the move puts "more Floridians at risk."
So, does that tick you off? Are you ready to fire off an email to Obama, asking him why he sided with the terrorists?
Well, keep your ink dry for a moment. Because it wasn't actually Obama who did this.
It was Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida legislature.
In the name of "deregulation," every legislator except Dockery voted to cut inexpensive security measures at some of Florida's most likely attack points.
Many of the state measures duplicated federal ones. But not all. In fact, an analysis by the state House's own staff made it clear that killing this program would degrade security in some cases. Another result: People with criminal records may now be granted clearances more easily.
Dockery told Scott that, while the new bill "make it less costly to do business, it most certainly makes our ports more vulnerable."
So we can debate the port measure. But it's also worth considering how policy changes are perceived depending upon who makes them. Because I guarantee you the reaction would have been different if Obama had proposed ending security measures and putting Floridians "at risk."
On the flip side, when President George W. Bush and Republicans in Congress implemented the Patriot Act, I was inundated with email from Democrats who were outraged at both the Republican White House and the local members of Congress who supported it.
Yet last week, our Democratic president voted to extend the Act — with help from many Democratic members of Congress, including U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson — and I have yet to hear a peep.
Again, just something to think about.
Now on to the barbs and huzzahs …
•An unpopularity contest. Much has been made over Gov. Scott's unpopularity. That's understandable. With 29 percent approval ratings, he is not only one of the least popular governors in the U.S., but he is also less popular than things such as Brussels sprouts and liverwurst. Still, Scott is not at the bottom of Florida's polling barrel. No, that dishonor goes to the entire Florida Legislature with its 27 percent rating, according to the same poll from Quinnipiac University. That number's not that surprising. What is, though, is that some of these guys still think they should seek higher office.
•More than 2 million. That's how many people live in Central Florida and aren't on the Workforce Central Florida board of directors. In other words: The job-training agency literally has millions of people with whom they can do business that won't raise questions about conflicts of interest. This is generally a good rule of thumb for all nonprofits.
•Go get 'em Rick. I may not be a fan of everything our new governor does, but I want to give the guv a hearty thumbs-up for his efforts to scale back Florida's state-run property insurer, Citizens Property Insurance. There is no need for Central Floridians who make smart financial decisions to subsidize second homes of oceanfront mansion-dwellers. Heck, if our governor goes after Citizens just half as hard as he went after teachers, we might make some progress!
•Malarkey madness. The online version of the Malarkey Meter — where I test political claims for their accuracy — has been going gangbusters. We've dished up everything from a "Major Malarkey" rating for Democratic Sen. Gary Siplin to a "Totally True" for Republican Sen. Don Gaetz's contention that I'm sometimes "full of [expletive]." (My wife vetted that one.) You can check out the newest one — testing Gov. Scott's claim that his budget proposed "more for education" — at orlandosentinel.com/takingnames. I won't spoil the verdict for you … except to say it rhymes with fafarkey.
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