For a few brief moments this Sunday morning I believed the Fort Myers daily paper had gotten one right on its editorial page.
I shoulda known.
“We Deserve Much Better” the headline screamed. And I thought ‘Yes. Yes we do.’
The people of Florida, and of southwest Florida and the readership area of the paper more specifically, do deserve much better. Our state has dysfunctional government all the way from Tallahassee down to the local courthouse. It’s manned (and womanned) by politicians who kowtow to big money contributors, by shallow minds who don’t or can’t think past their next fundraiser, by opportunists who prefer to sing from the re-election songbook instead of the public service hymnal.
It should be no surprise when this collection of misfits and miscreants cannot agree to do the will of the people, or when they categorically refuse to serve the needs and desires of the voters over those of their contributors.
Who can question why ‘our’ representative fashions a path to legitimization for fracking when others elsewhere are taking steps to ban it? Are we really surprised when ‘our’ representative files a bill to eliminate pollution clean-up standards for corporate agriculture and major polluters? Can we muster any alarm when ‘growth should pay for growth’ is tossed into the dustbin of history? Don’t we realize who these people serve and who put them where they are?
Well, gee. No. We don’t.
You mean local readers (and voters) don’t know which of our local elected officials took the cushy trip to the King’s Ranch hunting lodge in Texas when the sugar industry was wining and dining them to further its agenda? You mean readers of the Fort Myers paper didn’t read what the rest of the state did about those trips and the halting, stumbling response/denial/explanation/equivocation of those who accepted the free vacations?
Yes. That’s what I mean.
You mean that ‘our’ local paper didn’t tell us which of ‘our’ local elected officials is in office right now through the support of Big Sugar interests who stand against any meaningful Everglades restoration?
Yes. I mean that too.
You mean ‘our’ paper doesn’t examine local decisions on growth management and funding in light of which development groups funded which candidates?
You mean ‘our’ paper didn’t tell people which candidates were bankrolling their campaigns with dark money from PACs and which ones took cash directly from groups like Americans for Prosperity, the billionaire Koch brothers’ political influence group whose own agenda includes stopping the dreaded Obamacare whether or not close to a million Floridians suffer from lack of health insurance?
Yes. I’m afraid I do mean that too.
You mean the readers of ‘our’ local paper don’t even know who heads the Koch brothers group here in Florida and who his dad is? And how his dad’s votes have tracked the Koch legislative agenda both before and since his son was hired?
So you see I do agree with this morning’s headline. ‘We’ do deserve much better. We deserve to know who is funding whose campaign while the campaigns are underway. We deserve to be told which of our elected officials owe fealty to which PACs and which of them blatantly ignore the stated will of the voters to further their goals and not ours.
Unfortunately the headline did not herald an apology from the local paper for keeping its readership in the dark. It did not include a pledge to dig deep into motivations and connections of ‘our’ elected officials. It did not promise to expose the sleazy campaign secrets and actual goals of ‘our’ elected officials and those pulling their strings. It included no commitment to properly vet future candidates so an informed electorate can avoid repeating the egregious mistakes that have put us where we are.