Black Caucus Cancels Meeting With Scott

January 16, 2014

The Florida Legislative Black Caucus on Wednesday abruptly canceled its annual meeting with Gov. Rick Scott, a move the group said was meant to underscore its frustration with the governor.

The incident highlighted Scott’s at-times complicated interactions with African-Americans less than 10 months before he faces voters in the November election, though the leader of the black caucus insisted the cancellation was not politically motivated.

“We’ve got the whole summer and fall to focus on politics,” Rep. Alan Williams, D-Tallahassee, said in an interview. “The governor’s had the past three years to focus on priorities.”

Williams said the caucus respected Scott’s role as governor.

“It’s not meant to be disrespectful,” he said. “It’s meant to show our frustration.”

After the caucus agreed Tuesday to cancel, Williams sent a letter to Scott on Wednesday telling him the meeting was off. As late as Wednesday morning, Scott’s schedule still included the noon get-together, though it didn’t give a location for the meeting.

“Based on your lack of action on matters of importance to this caucus that we have brought to your attention at prior meetings, we believe another meeting at this time would be fruitless,” Williams wrote.

The letter specifically mentioned, among other complaints, Scott’s stance on the restoration of civil rights for former felons, a sweeping effort to remove suspected non-citizens from the voting rolls, Scott’s appointments and the governor’s budget vetoes.

Scott’s press secretary, Jackie Schutz, said in a written statement that Scott was “disappointed” to hear that the meeting had been canceled. He offered to meet one-on-one with black lawmakers during the hour he was scheduled to speak with the caucus, though it wasn’t clear if any legislators took him up on it.

“Governor Scott believes the best way to serve Floridians is for the Legislature and the governor’s office to work together to find solutions,” Schutz said.

The black caucus meets annually with the governor, though Scott’s tenure got off to a rocky start when, in his first meeting with the group, he suggested that he could sympathize with black lawmakers because he lived in public housing as a child. Some members of the group later said they were offended by the remark.

Scott also faced protests from Florida A&M University students after he pressured the board of the historically black school to temporarily suspend President James Ammons in the wake of a hazing death. Ammons eventually resigned after months of scrutiny that grew to include other management issues at FAMU.

by Brandon Larrabee, The News Service of Florida


7 Responses to “Black Caucus Cancels Meeting With Scott”

  1. Everett on January 20th, 2014 10:00 pm

    Well at least the Governor can’t be blamed for not trying.
    He did in fact grow up very poor in subsidized housing.
    Not sure why the Caucus folks would be offended by that.

  2. Don on January 17th, 2014 6:36 am

    Isn’t having a “Black Caucus” racism at it’s core?

  3. S A Croft on January 16th, 2014 10:04 am

    I am concerned and tired of African American Leaders using bullying tactics to force others to do their will. Convicted Felons are looked at on a case by case basis now as far as having their civil rights restored. Do they want a blanket restoration? I am also tired of Knock Out supposed games that can severely injur or kill people being called harassment or attempted robbery instead of a hate crime because it’s black on while crime. Yet the one white man who decided to try it was charged with a hate crime. Any crime is based in hate. Hate Crimes should be done away with. It someone is murdered the perp should be charged with murder. If someone assaults someone they should be charged with assault. Our leadership has lost their minds. What is happening to America?

  4. Ben on January 16th, 2014 9:22 am

    Why would felon rights and the stopping the removal of non-citizens from the voter rolls be priorities of the Black Caucus?

  5. Robert S. on January 16th, 2014 9:17 am

    @ H in Cantonment

    Agree with you.
    I fail to understand how it is objectionable to show my ID to vote.
    I consider that similar to being asked for my ID when using my credit card and am pleased that someone wants to make sure I am who I say I am.

    Florida has become a laughing stock for our misguided and messed up election system and that is embarrassing to all of us.

    If you are a citizen and if you have your Constitutional rights then you should be allowed to vote. Why would it be otherwise?

    Special interest groups always seem to have their agenda and if that is not bowed down to then it becomes big news.

    Show your ID and vote and it should be the law, no ID no vote….period.

  6. Mark Matis on January 16th, 2014 7:52 am

    Well said, M!

  7. H in Cantonment on January 16th, 2014 7:31 am

    I agree with M. illlegals, felons and DEAD people should not be allowed to vote. I also agree that all on welfare should have to pass a drug test and be tested at least every 6 months. I have to pass drug test in order to earn the money they receive while doing nothing.

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