Recall Rick Scott


Rick Scott Petition: Impeach or Recall? Maybe neither…yet. by Melissa Gridley
April 5, 2011, 6:28 AM
Filed under: Uncategorized

Search “Rick Scott” on the popular petition website Change.org and you’ll be greeted by several disjointed petitions ranging from a plea to stop trading with Japan for the dolphins’ sake (545 signatures), to a somewhat vague effort by the Innocence Project “to support federal forensic standards to help prevent wrongful convictions” with a mere 85 signatures.

There are a few relevant petitions, including demands for a recall, a simple statement that “IT’S NOT JUST THE GULF THAT REEKS!!” which states (in all caps and with several parenthetical ‘gag me’s) that its purpose is to “demand that the Federal government IMMEDIATELY INITIATE A FEDERAL INVESTIGATION INTO THE FL DEPT OF CHILDREN & FAMILIES AND AGENCY FOR HEALTHCARE ADMINISTRATION, AND IMMEDIATELY TAKE MEDICAID ADMINISTRATION OUT OF THEIR HANDS,” and the “Impeach Rick Scott” petition, which garnered the attention of Steve Bousquet of the Times/Herald Tallahassee Bureau.

The organizer of the impeach-Scott effort is Laura Strickland, a political activist in Neptune Beach, near Jacksonville. Among the signers is Jim Patrick, 73, of Tampa, a retired Marine electrician and a Democrat.

“I didn’t vote for the man,” Patrick said.

None of the petitions has more than 1,000 signers, and that could be because several of the efforts are nearly redundant. Consolidating the votes under one heading would carry more weight and subsequently garner more attention from the State Legislature, members of which are unimpressed by the impeachment effort.

“Absolutely not,” said Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, when asked if Scott deserved to be thrown out of office. He had received at least 67 petition letters as of Monday.

“It’s silly,” said Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, who also received several dozen letters. “The governor hasn’t broken any laws,” Fasano said. “Some of us disagree with him, but those are not impeachable offenses.”

The impeachment petition is a great idea, and something many of us would like to see happen, but given state law, impeachment of Scott is highly unlikely:

Only the state House has the power to impeach a governor — by a two-thirds vote — and more than two-thirds of House members are Republicans like Scott. If he were impeached, he would be tried by the Senate, where 28 of the 40 members are Republicans.

But according to Bousquet, there’s still a ray of hope in the fight to rid Florida of its gubernatorial albatross.

Rep. Rick Kriseman, D-St. Petersburg, has filed two bills, HJR 785 and HB 787, to allow recalls either through petition or through statute. “Tallahassee always tends to make it difficult on everybody but themselves,” Kriseman said.

The proposals allow for a petition to recall a statewide official, requiring signatures be collected from each of the 67 counties, and the signatures must equal 15 percent of the total votes cast in the last election for the office. A petition to recall a member of the Florida Legislature would require signatures from 20 percent of the total votes cast in the last election for the office.

A statewide recall mechanism, which exists in 18 states, would itself require approval by 60 percent of voters in the 2012 election to become effective, but to even make the ballot, it would need to pass both chambers by a three-fifths vote.

And the “Urge FL Legislators to Pass House Joint Resolution 785 and House Bill 787” seeks to do just that; get the attention of our representatives who do have the power to put the ball in motion. It’s a much more realistic goal considering the current laws and attitudes of our elected officials.

The petition is currently only 168 signatures strong, the weakest support of any of the efforts, which may be because angry Floridians don’t see the effort as directly punitive enough to warrant attention. I think they’re wrong. We stand a better chance of getting our local and state representatives’ attention by telling them, “Hey, I won’t vote for you next election unless you support these bills” than by demanding action for which there is no legal framework and little leverage.

It’s all about leverage folks, and voters should direct theirs where it can have the most impact. Sign the petition to push through the bills that would give us the right to recall our Governor, then we can ramp up efforts to actually recall him. We can keep Florida Scott-free if we attack the issue logically, lawfully, and with a unified voice.

One step at a time, people. One step at a time.

Read Bousquet’s article in its entirety at tampabay.com.

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