Scott's First Days Anything But Smooth

The early days of Rick Scott's governorship have been anything but smooth. Whether it's dealing with the press or his colleagues, he's learning public life can be complicated.

It's a new day in Florida, and along with it comes a brand-new Florida cabinet.

Wednesday, Attorney General Pam Bondi, CFO Jeff Atwater, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and Gov. Scott got together for the first time. There was the standard pomp and circumstance – everything from a guest appearance by Smokey the Bear to a handful of upbeat speeches.

“Fifteen days on the job, I am as excited as I was 15 days ago!” said Atwater.

But it's what happened before the meeting that continues to make waves.

In his effort to make Florida more business-friendly, the governor asked his colleagues on the cabinet to give him complete control over their departments' regulations. Their answer? No way.

Saint Pete Times political editor Adam Smith calls it the kind of public sector shock Scott may not have bargained for.

(Adam Smith/St. Petersburg Times)
“When you're a CEO, you can snap your fingers, things get done, people take orders,” he said. “When you're in a government, you've got three equal branches of government, [and] the Legislature's not going to take orders necessarily, even if they're fellow Republicans.”

For an outsider who promised to shake up Tallahassee with his corporate acumen, reality may be setting in, but before a crowd of more than 100 journalists Wednesday, the new governor says working for the people has a distinct advantage over working for the board.

“I think it's easier,” said Gov. Scott. “Nobody comes to me with a deal, ha, so it's all public, so I think it's easier. I like the process, because everybody knows, I mean, everybody knows what I say. There's not much you don't know about me - I can tell you that!”

To that, more than a few reporters would beg to differ. They complain the governor's making another misstep in not being as accessible as a public figure should.

“Some of you think that it's always hard to get enough access with me,” Scott said. “I can just tell you the other side - my wife thinks I talk to you guys more than I talk to her.”

Aside from pushing back at the governor's attempted power grab, the other cabinet members continue to be on friendly terms with the governor. In fact, they say it's hard for them not to repeat his campaign trail mantra, 'let's get to work'.

Governor Scott isn't the cabinet's only rookie in state politics. Only CFP Jeff Atwater has served in Tallahassee before, most recently as president of the state senate.


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