Late yesterday afternoon in downtown Orlando, a crowd estimated at around 75 people held a rally on behalf of high-speed rail, whose future is in serious doubt following Governor Rick Scott's rejection of $2.4 billion in federal funds for a Tampa-Orlando route 8 days ago.
On Monday, supporters of the project held a rally in Tampa, where nearly as many critics as supporters of the issue also made their voices heard (The Orlando Sentinel reports that there were only two people last night showing their support in public for Scott).
On a more substantive level, Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio is leading a team, led by her City Attorney, Chip Fletcher, to present a package to the Governor that would insure that the state would have no liabilities if a local government agency was to shepherd the project in lieu of the state government. Those officials working on the plan are keeping an extremely low profile, realizing that with the odds stacked against them, there's no sense in any details being leaked out helping the cause, as Lakeland Mayor Gow Fields told the St. Pete Times, "Right now we have gone as far as we can. We have to await an answer until we know what's next."
It's interesting to note that after the immediate shock and anger about Scott's decision (amongst several Republicans, we should add), the high profile GOP members are now rushing to stand by Scott's side, seeing that Scott's decision delighted Tea Partiers, the most important and influential wing of the Republican Party of Florida in 2011.
Senate candidate Mike Haridopolos was the most notable flip-flopper, coming out days after Scott's announcement to say that he stood right by his Governor's side.
Haridopolos, who is intent on discouraging other Republicans from entering into the GOP Senate race next year that he's already running hard for, told reporters yesterday that he has no intention of putting a hold on fundraising for that seat when the Legislature's regular session cranks up in 12 days. Although historically legislators are banned from raising money during the session, apparently that doesn't include federal offices, which is why the Senate President says there's no reason for him to stop.
He said he might - but only if Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson does so as well. Say what?
"Ask him the question if hes going to stop raising money over the next 60 days.You get that answer, then Ill answer, Haridopolos told reporters when pressed on the issue. Im not asking him to stop raising money for his whole, entire career, which hes been doing. Im asking him to stop raising money for 60 days. Is he so addicted to raising money for the next 60 says that hes got to have it?"
Well, played Senate President. The issue was about your fund-raising during the session. not about what your possible opponent is doing for himself next year.
Anyway, back to rail.