Romano: In Florida, cheaters (your legislators) still want to prosper

John Romano | Tampa Bay Times | 08/17/2015

Every once in a while, legislators get so wrapped up in their own hubris that they drop their guard and reveal just how little they actually care about you.

Or, to put it another way, welcome to the great redistricting fiasco of 2015.

It doesn't matter if you don't understand — or don't care — about the intricacies of redistricting. Those legislative and congressional maps are critically important, but they are also highly wonky and thus easily ignored.

The interesting part of this saga is the utter lack of remorse, responsibility, shame or character exhibited by so many in the Florida Legislature. It is that apparent indifference to the normal rules of society that should really be turning heads.

So for those incurably truculent in Tallahassee, here is the reality of what happened:

You cheated.

You got caught.

And now you're pouting.

Really, is there anything more pathetic? Not the idea that lawmakers tried to game the system for the good of themselves and their party. Heck, you almost expect that. In this case it was Republicans, but it could just as easily have been Democrats.

What's infuriating is their arrogance. These are elected officials who willfully ignored constitutional amendments passed by a vast majority of Florida voters, and now they want to blame the state Supreme Court for calling them out on it?

Rep. Richard Corcoran, R-Trinity, had the temerity to argue it was the court that was ignoring the Constitution. And, seemingly oblivious to the Legislature's demonstrated lack of trustworthiness, Sen. Tom Lee, R-Brandon, is outraged that justices want all future map discussions held in public.

Here's what I wonder:

Why is it so inconceivable for anyone in Tallahassee to actually apologize to voters?

To express regret that political consultants were quite obviously involved in drawing maps that, by law, are supposed to be apolitical? To acknowledge that their own power-hungry missteps are costing taxpayers money for yet another special session?

I'm not saying every lawmaker is guilty of cheating, lying and obfuscating, but as a legislative body they must all take some responsibility in the ensuing shame.

Because, contrary to what they might want you to believe, there are not two sides to this story. Yes, it is difficult to draw maps that meet a variety of conflicting requirements. But that doesn't excuse covert meetings with political operatives, deleted records, maps submitted under false pretenses and all the other shenanigans they orchestrated.

You cheated.

You got caught.

End of story.

The problem is that most lawmakers neither fear, nor respect, their constituents. Not so coincidentally, that attitude is at the heart of redistricting. Maps are drawn in such partisan ways that practically 90 percent of the Legislature is guaranteed re-election.

This is why lawmakers rarely care or listen to you. This is why they ignored the Amendment 1 environmental requirements in the budget. It is why they don't care that nearly 58 percent of voters approve of medical marijuana, and why they don't care that local school boards continually beg them to change educational policies.

They are arrogant.

They are shameless.

Sadly, they are our legislators.


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