Rick Scott clones, the black caucus and judgesby Dara Kam | November 1st, 2011
Black lawmakers gave Gov. Rick Scott a wish-list including minority business loans, more money for public schools and historically black colleges and restoration of rights for felons during an hour-long meeting this afternoon.
The most heated part of the session came during an exchange about putting more black judges on the bench. Rep. Darryl Rouson, D-St. Petersburg, pointed out that, of the 36 judges Scott appointed, just two are black, and one of those was a reappointment.
Scott agreed the courts need more minority representation but then used the opportunity to bash the courts, which have ruled against him in two recent cases involving drug testing of welfare recipients and a prison privatization plan. He said he wants judges who “think like me.”
“I remember in civics class I learned about the three branches of government. It appears there are only two. And maybe there’s only one,” Scott, a lawyer, said, adding that the legislature passed those bills, Scott signed them into the law, and judges ruled that they were wrong. “That’s not the way it ought to be. So what I’m not going to do is appoint people that think differently than I do…activists that think that they’re the legislature.”
Sen. Arthenia Joyner objected to Scott’s standard.
“Unless you back off of your ‘think like me’…we have monolithic thinking and there’s no room for a diversity of thought and then we all become Scott clones,” Joyner, a Tampa lawyer, said.
“I don’t see the problem, myself,” Scott joked before conceding, “the words ‘think like me’ might not be the best ones.”
Most of Scott’s responses to other issues included requests for more information on programs and policies to demonstrate how effective they are.
Later, Sen. Audrey Gibson said Scott, who campaigned for governor on his business acumen, should already have the data.
“Surely as the governor of the state of Florida he has all the information at his disposal to make appropriate decisions,” Gibson, D-Jacksonville, told reporters after the meeting. “How in the world can you put together a budget for the state of Florida and policy when you are asking for information that you purport not to have? I just think that particular part of it was something short of a sham.”