Gov. Scott braves press convention for 18 minutes

Paul Tash, the chairman and CEO of Times Publishing Co., inquired about the escalating cost of obtaining public records. The governor said that requests during his term have been unusually high, and he insisted that as the number of requests skyrocket, he will pass on the cost to those asking for documents — essentially, the press.


The administration is infamous for its hostility toward newspaper reporters and editors. Scott refused to speak to editorial boards and rejected time-honored media practices in Tallahassee, such as allowing colleague-chosen pool reporters to attend public servant functions inside the governor's mansion.


Additionally, he shirked the Sunshine Law by circumventing e-mail communications, which are records that anyone can access, assuming they have the cash.


Scott's communications director Brian Burgess recently used a TwitPic to enticed members of the media. The spokesman posed for a photo in front of a 7-foot-tall pile of public records that, after six months, still have not been given to the reporter who asked for them.


Notoriously feared St. Petersburg Times reporter and Pulitzer Prize winner Lucy Morgan asked that Scott "take another look at what it may be doing to the flow of information in this state to bottle it up, make [the press] wait months to get it and charge so much money for getting each document."


Scott replied that the administration aims to increase online access to public information, including some of the stalled requests.


Scott also spoke on health care reform, namely the state's ill-received managed care model.


He said, "We must protect the taxpayers from out of control Medicaid costs."


The governor touted economic growth, saying that Florida created 28,000 jobs in May, comparing the feat to 54,000 jobs created across the nation. The businessman also announced a proposal to link out-of-work Space Coast engineers with Canadian companies in need of their skills.


Speaking on behalf of his greatly deliberated tolerance for Central Florida's SunRail project, Scott snubbed his base by saying he will allow the $1.28 billion project to move forward.


The governor said, "Half of it's federal money. Half of it's local money."


Just months ago, he rejected $2.4 billion in federal stimulus money that would have funded a Tampa-to-Orlando high speed rail, a project which was estimated to create nearly 50,000 jobs.


Scott said of the SunRail, "I hope it's very successful."


Coming soon to a town near you, Scott plans to travel the state on yet another bus tour beginning next week. He offered no comment on the Pink Slip Rick protest outside the Vinoy.

click to enlarge Pulitzer Prize winner and attendees at the FSNE/FPA convention listen to Gov. Rick Scott's stance on Florida's public records law. - Lydia Harvey
Lydia Harvey
Pulitzer Prize winner and attendees at the FSNE/FPA convention listen to Gov. Rick Scott's stance on Florida's public records law.

click to enlarge Pulitzer Prize winner and attendees at the FSNE/FPA convention listen to Gov. Rick Scott's stance on Florida's public records law. - Lydia Harvey
Lydia Harvey
Pulitzer Prize winner and attendees at the FSNE/FPA convention listen to Gov. Rick Scott's stance on Florida's public records law.
  • Lydia Harvey
  • Pulitzer Prize winners and attendees at the FSNE/FPA convention listen to Gov. Rick Scott's stance on Florida's public records law.

Gov. Rick Scott addressed the Florida Society of News Editors and Florida Press Association convention for four minutes this afternoon, spending an additional 14 minutes answering questions from highly regarded reporters, editors, publishers and CEOs.

The luncheon, which took place at the Renaissance Vinoy in St. Petersburg, drew hundreds of newspaper staffers, a novel setting for a governor who has gone to great lengths to snuff the press since his campaign began last July.

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