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Senators respond to Scott’s response on high-speed rail suit: WE’RE in charge

by Dara Kam | March 2nd, 2011

The latest salvo in a constitutional battle over who’s got the power to get a high-speed train on track in Florida came from two senators suing Gov. Rick Scott over his refusal to accept $2.4 billion in federal funds for the project.

Sens. Thad Altman, R-Rockledge, and Arthenia Joyner, D-Tampa, allege in their suit filed yesterday that Scott overstepped his authority by rejecting the funds, part of which lawmakers had already appropriated, and scrapping the project that they had created in state law.

Scott fired back today that the senators were simply miffed their “policy preferences” hadn’t prevailed in the political realm, and that the high court couldn’t micromanage the Legislature or governor to spend federal money that hadn’t been appropriated yet.

Now, the bipartisan pair issued their response to his response.

“Respondent has set up a fake argument just in order to tear it down. Petitioners are not asking this Court to direct the Respondent how to manage the construction of the high speed rail in Florida. Instead, the Petitioners are simply asking this Court to direct the Respondent that he does not have the jurisdiction or authority as granted by the laws of this State (which he is obligated to faithfully execute) to take the action he has taken in rejecting a specific appropriation of $130.8 million; federal grants amounting to $2.4 billion subject to statutory authority; dedicated funding pursuant to the Florida Rail Act of $60 million per year; and thus the entire high speed rail project,” their lawyers wrote.

Their filing this afternoon is probably the last stop for the fast-tracked lawsuit for today.

The court ordered oral arguments at 3 p.m. tomorrow to get a decision in time for the Friday deadline set by the White House for Scott to change his mind.

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24 Responses to “Senators respond to Scott’s response on high-speed rail suit: WE’RE in charge”

  1. Lew Says:

    The Governor’s behavior is unconstitutional and appears politically motivated…”The Constitutional separation of powers is the people’s bulwark against one branch engaging in the ‘politics of the moment’ in the conduct of the public’s business.”

  2. billy Says:

    I am so impressed by both sides ability to crank out these long winded legal motions in such short order. I bet the lawyers are working around the clock.
    The Senators response seems to skew over the issue of who can accept the money. Lets see if I can get this right.

    FedDOT: We want to give Florida the $2.4 billion.

    Scott: No there are better uses for it.

    FlLegislature: Give the money to the Rail Project we passed an act that says we get the money, and it should go directly to the Rail Authority.

    FedDOT: Governor Scott, what do you want to do here? You have the call.

    Scott: Nope

    FLLegislature: But we passed a law that says we get to spend the money on this project.

    FedDOT: You mean the Florida Law that doesn’t apply to the feds or our requirements for giving the money, which is the Governor’s approval?

    FLLegislature: That doesn’t matter, he has to do what we say.

    FedDot: Governor Scott?

    Scott: Nope

  3. Biill Neubauer Says:

    Well, it’s ultimately in the hands of the lawyers, as scary as that is.
    If it weren’t so serious, I should be amused at the Florida court leaping in in such a hurry. We have cases which have been in some process for months/years because the courts can’t spare time for them.
    I remember the Florida court leaping into the 2000 election to legislate from the bench, changing the election reporting date. Funny how the courts can hurry when they want to.
    The U.S. Supreme Court also got into (some say decided) the 2000 election without delay. But today they can’t seize the Obamacare bill on which EVERYBODY is interested and resolve that one.

  4. esquire Says:

    “FedDOT: You mean the Florida Law that doesn’t apply to the feds or our requirements for giving the money, which is the Governor’s approval?”

    there is no federal requirement to get scott’s approval. his approval is currently needed because the state of florida owns the rail corridor. that is the only impediment, and USDOT would LOVE to circumvent that and bring down this tea party governor, believe me.

  5. Michael Says:

    By the time there is a conclusion all the money will have gone to the lawyers.

  6. billy Says:

    @esquire

    You just contradicted yourself. They either need his approval or they don’t. If you want to argue semantics of exactly what the approval specifies then fine.

    If the feds have already allocated the money to the Rail Authority, and they want to give it to them, why are they requiring his consent instead of just sending the money along to the Rail Authority? And also indicating if he doesn’t approve then they will send it elsewhere?

  7. Kevin Says:

    The Obama administration is more than willing to let this poor excuse for a Governor have enough rope to hang himself with. Why are we only hearing from two state senators on this issue? What about the republican controlled house of reps.? I can’t imagine the rest of them don’t have an opinion on the subject. This is the same legislature that lobbied for the money being quiet while this federal criminal tells them go screw themselves. How can they stand there and let this follicly challenged Napoleon do this to their project. What does Sen. Rubio have to say about it? How about giving the money to the counties who are hosting the high speed rail and bypassing the state and the governor?

  8. Jason Says:

    > why are they requiring his consent

    LaHood doesn’t care about Scott’s consent as much as he cares about making sure that whomever accepts the funds has the unambiguous legal authority to spend them and move forward. They just don’t want to give the funds to Florida, then watch them be tied up in legal limbo.

  9. Unreal Says:

    @Kevin
    “How about giving the money to the counties who are hosting the high speed rail and bypassing the state and the governor?”

    Well if you read the Senators’ response, they indicated that the money is supposed to go right to the Rail Authority and not into the Florida Treasury.
    I would be willing to bet if they gave the money to the counties, the counties wouldn’t want to spend it on the rail project either. They would want to spend it on their health departments more than likely.
    And Hairidopolous already said that he supports Scott. I think the GOP realizes it is a complete failure of a project, and if Scott can ‘derail’ the funding and direct it elsewhere, they will probably vote to kill the Rail Act.

  10. AJLind Says:

    *** Why does Orlando / Tampa deserve the high speed rail?

    Why not Orlando to Miami?

    Why not Orlando to Jacksonville?

    Why not Orlando to Tallahassee?

    These JOKERS who call themselves senators (Altman and Joyner) should say “Good-bye” to their careers especially Altman – just like Crist he is a traitor to the Republican party.

    Altman’s district – a beeline from Cocoa to Orlando – stands to benefit from this rail project.

    I personally believe that Governor Scott should appoint a commission to investigate whether or not Altman and/or Joyner colluded and/or if they violated ethics rules.

    SAY GOOD-BYE TO YOUR CAREER SENATOR ALTMAN – YOU’RE DONE – HOPE SOME NICE LOYAL REPUBLICAN CANDIDATE OUT THERE WOULD LIKE ALTMAN’S DISTRICT? ***

  11. esquire Says:

    @billy

    because it is NOT a general federal DOT requirement for the governor’s approval as you directly stated and implied. in this unique instance, the USDOT cannot circumvent scott because the state owns the proposed right-of-way. could the USDOT give the money to florida despite scott? absolutely. will they? absolutely not, because they cannot build in that right of way and would have to start from scratch.

  12. Jason Says:

    @AJLind:

    Nice try on the divide-and-conquer tactic, but it won’t work. Tampa-Orlando-Brevard/Canaveral-Miami is first, simply because that’s the corridor FDOT and Florida’s rail agencies have been studying for eternity, and Tampa-Orlando is first of the first because it’s the segment that was ready for funding when the money appeared in Washington.

    AFAIK, Orlando-Miami’s preparation for submission as a “shovel-ready” project was either already underway, or was scheduled to begin simultaneously with the commencement of Tampa-Orlando construction. I think it’s safe to say that Orlando-Jacksonville will quickly be put on the table once Orlando-Miami is nailed down, but might be a little harder to get funded by Washington. Not impossible, but probably not quite the slam-dunk Orlando-Miami will be if Orlando-Tampa is already under construction or done.

    One important thing to keep in mind — accepting the funds for Tampa-Orlando and building it IMPROVES our odds of getting Orlando-Miami funded, because once Orlando-Tampa is nailed down, Orlando-Miami will connect South Florida to ALL of Central Florida instead of just Orlando. Orlando-Miami WITHOUT Tampa would probably get a “good” rating, but Orlando-Miami WITH Tampa will almost certainly qualify for “Very Good”, if not “Excellent”.

    This isn’t about Tampa-Orlando vs Orlando-Miami. Everyone, from FDOT on down, has always known that Florida HSR might survive with just one, but really needs both to thrive.

  13. Mr. K Says:

    This is going to cost millions in subsidies every year. Just like Tri Rail and just like Miami Metrorail. We taxpayers will pay for it.

  14. Educator Says:

    BECAUSE gas will average at least 5.00 per gallon and public transportation is the way of the future (for Americans, the rest of the world already has it in place). This is no longer the world where the USA rules, soon China’s need and ability to pay top prices for oil will impact our ability to get the huge amounts we have become used to. We can drill from now til the year 3000 and not come up with the oil needed to maintain our current consumption. The Nazi Govna is truly showcasing his small mind for the world to see.

  15. billy Says:

    @esquire

    Just to be sure i understand your point.

    The State passed the Rail Act which allowed for the development of the rail project. So there are current statutes dictating the development of the rail. There is a separate Rail agency set up that has already been approved by the DOT for direct funding.
    They want to give them the money. But they won’t, not because Scott has any say in the matter, but because the State owns the land. The state is under obligation to development the rail.

    Under your theory, Scott is irrelevant to the issue, and whether he approves it or not, the DOT won’t give the funding because of a right of way issue?

  16. Educator Says:

    Do you backwoods folks really think that the Supreme Court is in any rush to consider those who have a problem with the health care which will finally cover all Americans? If you do then you also believe that the Appeals Court in San Francisco is going to pay attention to the appeal by that silly AZ. Govna., the one they were “going to” hear in the fall 2010.
    WAKE UP! The Feds will crush these 3 renegade Nazi’s soon, Fl., WI., NJ.
    AZ has learned what her position as Gov. really is.

  17. Metal Rules Says:

    This stupid power play, to aussage the egos of senator(s) and govenor alike will do nothing but waste taxpayer money either way it goes. I’m no big fan of Scott, but it seems to me he’s pushing the feds to guarantee the sure to happen cost overuns. The senate seems to be more focused of “we’re in charge here” rather than safeguarding very thin public resources. NJ Governor Chris Christy squashed a tunnel project for the very same reason. jersey taxpayers where going to get stuck with a FIVE BILLION DOLLAR bill above and beyond what the state agreed to contribute. So for me, No thanks to this rail project.

  18. Eric Says:

    I guess we’re not losing enough money on Metro rail, Tri rail and Amtrack.
    Now we need another, even deeper, money pit to dump tax money into.

    The fact that the Nation is broke, and is going to print this money, seems to have gotten lost here.

    Even drunk sailors stop spending when they run out of money.

  19. Debbie Says:

    We need this hi-speed rail. Disney could help with the cost because they will benefit from this as well. This would join south and central Florida. I have bee here for almost 30 years and this is the closest we have ever got to have a speed rail.

  20. Mary Says:

    while they quibble over billions, KING SCOTT is spending 500,000 on this lawsuit because his edict bypassing the Florida legislature and laws passed when Christ was governor.

  21. Constitutionalist Educator Says:

    @Educator,

    Read this slowly,

    First, never start a sentence with “Because”. Where were you educated? How can you call yourself an educator the way you write, and act? You sound like an uneducated clown!

    Second, forget you and the San Fran”sicko” appeals court. The US Supreme Court will have the final say on the unconstitutional Obamacare legislation. There is a concervative majority on the bench. Thank You Reagan for appointing concervative justices. Thank You too Mr. old and young Bush for your concervative appointments.

    Thank you too Governor Scott. We do not need this train. This is not Educator’s socialist Europe. We are not as geographically concentrated as Europe or Japan, and the project would fail. Moreover, miles of track would leave us vulnerable to terrorism. Educator cannot think this far. If public transit is so wonderful in Europe, why does gasoline cost so much more? Gas taxes have to subsidize and force people into the trains. Forget that, and forget you too Educator! Go read “The Economist”, a respectable international journal, and educate yourself before shaming your profession.

  22. Educator Says:

    You’re a silly old man. Your world has changed and you just can’t face it. Poor you.

  23. Dirk Says:

    The chinese are already charging interest on this money,please somebody take it.

  24. linda Says:

    Our Washington government is scrambling to keep from shutting down because we are broke and yet they want to dole money out for projects like this. Someone has to say the buck stops here and start thinking rationally. Also, some of the oil producing nations get AID from US…why?????

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