Black caucus cancels meeting with Scott saying it would prove ‘fruitless’by John Kennedy | January 15th, 2014
In the latest sour note of an increasingly testy relationship, Florida’s Legislative Black Caucus abruptly cancelled a meeting Wednesday with Gov. Rick Scott.
Caucus Chairman Rep. Alan Williams, D-Tallahassee, said the meeting with Scott would prove a waste of time.
“Based on your lack of action on matters of importance to this caucus that we have brought to your attention at prior meetings, we believe another meeting at this time would be fruitless,” Williams wrote Scott in scrubbing the scheduled lunchtime huddle.
Williams went through a list of differences with Scott, including the support by the caucus for expanding Medicaid, making it easier to restore civil rights and the governor’s past veto of state spending aimed at black communities.
“We believe you can and should do more to ensure that your administration – as well as the various staffing and judicial appointments you make — reflects the racial and ethnic diversity of Florida,” Williams wrote.
The two sides share a troubled history.
Scott stumbled in his initial meeting with the caucus his second month in office when he pointed out to black lawmakers that he could empathize with them, since he once lived in public housing. Many lawmakers said they were offended by the multimillionaire Scott’s apparent perception that his humble beginnings, alone, would be a bridge with Florida’s black community.
The last couple of years, Scott has been on the receiving end of stern messages from the caucus. Many members complained about his policies on voting rights, judicial appointments and funding for historically black universities.
Scott’s renewed attempt to rid state voter rolls of potentially ineligible voters has become another flashpoint with black leaders. Earlier this week, a Florida NAACP leader said Scott’s action was “malicious” and aimed at removing minority voters from the rolls.
Scott spokeswoman Jackie Schutz said the governor was “disappointed” by the cancellation.
“Gov. Scott believes the best way to serve Floridians is for the Legislature and the governor’s office to work together to find solutions,” she said.