Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Florida, Heaven for Lobbyists

I just read in the Tampa Bay Times that we may have more lobbyists per capita than any other state.

Okay, I made that up. However, we do have 3,235 lobbyists registered to tug on the elbows of the legislature (of 100 members) and 4,925 to pressure and pester the governor and his aides in the executive wing. These are only the registered, official lobbyists, mind you. This doesn't count the people that pay these lobbyists, either, and they are not volunteers. What's wrong with this picture?

Back in my working days (!) one of my jobs was to communicate with Pinellas County's lobbyist, or legislative liason as she was known. I would get copies of thousands of proposed bills, figure out which county employees or officials might be affected, and ask them to comment back to the lobbyist. Typical comment: What the f*ck to those Tallahassee morons trying to do to us? 

A recurring theme is for the state government to pass duties off to the local governments to pay for. The jobs they keep for themselves are largely privatized, which means a way to hire somebody's unqualified son-in-law to do something that didn't really need doing, and funnel lots of money to him as a favor to the family for contributing lots of money to the "job creator."

As the legislature goes into session, keep your wallet hidden and your eyes and ears open. Perk up when you hear the terms "privatized" or "job creation." They mean different things to different people.