In My Opinion

Fred Grimm: Gov. Scott should drop his ‘cloak of secrecy’

What about Batman? No one questions his secret itinerary.

Yet poor Rick Scott catches hell for his furtive ways, his peculiar refusal to disclose travel details, how he slinks around the state more like an undercover operative than an elected official.

“Cloak of secrecy” was how Steve Bousquet of the Miami Herald-Tampa Bay Times Tallahassee Bureau described the governor’s unprecedented penchant for obscuring the who, when and where of his jaunts around Florida.

Well, Superman has his Fortress of Solitude. Rick Scott has his cloak of secrecy.

The public needs to understand that super-heroes and super-pols can’t be held to the same standards as common mortals. They need their invisible time, away from public scrutiny, if they’re going to save the world from the likes of Lex Luthor or Charlie Crist.

Speaking of Crist, Bousquet noted that Scott’s predecessors, Governors Crist, Jeb Bush and Lawton Chiles, weren’t nearly so secretive. They regularly released travel and meeting details that Scott guards like state secrets. Bousquet reported that the guv blacks out the homes and restaurants where he holds meetings, the names of those with whom he meets, even members of his traveling party.

Previous governors hewed to the spirit of Florida’s Sunshine Laws. But Scott, much like Batman, prefers to operate in the murk.

Scott’s staff strips pertinent details from his itinerary by invoking the so-called “surveillance exemption” in the state public-records disclosure law. Big chunks of the governor’s daily schedule are blacked out, Bousquet was told, “to eliminate potential information out there that could be used to commit or plan some type of act against the governor.”

Scott’s legal counsel invoked 9/11, though it would seem that Jeb Bush, brother of the very president who declared the war on terror, would have had more reason to be guarded than Scott. Of course, Jeb Bush polled better than Scott, but I’m not sure low popularity ratings translate into physical danger. It’s hard to imagine anyone, terrorist or otherwise, getting much excited about Scott.

Unless world-class villains suspect what I suspect. That Rick Scott’s dull façade is a front, a mask. That no one could be that boring. Hence, the redacted daily diaries.

Like Bruce Wayne or Clark Kent or Peter Parker, the Rick Scott the public sees transforms himself during those blacked out hours to steal away and perform the real work of a political super-hero. When the public is told the governor is sleeping at an undisclosed hotel or dining at an expurgated restaurant or meeting with unnamed officials, super-pol Scott roams the Florida gloom, slashing environmental regulations, undermining teacher unions, purging foreign-sounding names from voter roles, privatizing government or performing special favors for fat-cat contributors.

The public just needs to understand that public accountability doesn’t work for super-heroes. Imagine if Bruce Wayne were forced to account for his time out of the public eye.

The likes of Batman and Rick Scott can’t get away with super-secret stuff if they’ve got to work in the sunshine.

Read more Fred Grimm stories from the Miami Herald

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