Well, at least we are dead last in education funding. (No wait... damn you Alabama!) You know, if Rick Scott is truly in a race to drag us to the bottom, he can't even do that right.
Oh well, yesterday's news may help us get closer to the top of the trash heap.
Little background, if you've ever been to Orlando, you know our tolls are sky high. That's because most of the board appointments for the Xpressway Authority have a history of being extremely corrupt: developer deals, cronyism, huge monetary payouts, etc. It happens so frequently that there is a major scandal every few years. The grand jury for the last corruption case in 2009 called the board hopelessly corrupt. Two years before that, board members were again in Court because of a huge fundraising scandal.
Naturally, when Rick Scott arrived, he appointed the absolute worst person possible to on the board: Scott Batterson.
The man just convicted of bribery, more counts to follow, and looking towards at least 15 years in prison.
Batterson was on the payroll for a mega-developer, Jim Palmer, who wanted $30 million for the use of his land from the Xpressway Authority. This was taxpayer money, mind you, and the offer was obscene. Hoeever, Scott Batterson was the one who was to "negotiate" with Palmer.
Only Rick Scott, (and a few corrupt politicians like my own Rep. Jason Brodeur (R), thought this was a grand idea.
Scott was repeatedly warned not to put Scott Batterson on the Xpressway Authority. Every media outlet, watchdog group, and the two honest board members made waves over Batterson's appointment back in 2011. Rick Scott ignored them all and appointed him anyway.
Once on the board, Batterson did not disappoint. He started making backroom deals, including offering a $5 million dollar contract to a consulting firm in exchange for hiring some of his buddies. Worse, he did this in a bar in direct violation of the law, and KNOWING he was being watched.
And it got worse:
Investigative records released by Ashton's office last month appear to show Batterson and a handful of others plotted to take over the authority and its nearly $300 million in annual toll collections to win contracts for friends and further their own careers.
His "coup" involved forcing out the Director, who was put on by Charlie Crist to clean up the agency. He teamed up with another Rick Scott appointee, Marco Pena, (who resigned in disgrace), and the horrible Noranne Downs, who for some reason is still serving on the damn board!
Charlie Crist said it best:
“This is just the latest example of how shady Rick Scott’s Administration is – and how lobbyists and special interests get special treatment while we all foot the bill,” the email says. “There’s likely more to this story, as is usually the case when Scott or his cronies are involved.”
For every scandal involving Scott, please donate $1 or 1 hour to the Crist campaign. I realize this involves thousands of dollars or hours, so feel free to make it much less. We can't go on like this.