Politics

Rick Scott Refuses to Reopen Florida's National Parks Because He's an Ideological Nitwit

With Capitol Hill still locked in a debt-ceiling full nelson, President Obama offered a compromise last night on one thorny shutdown issue: States can now reopen national parks using their own money. Governors in at least four states have jumped at the offer. After all, millions of tourism dollars have gone missing with icons such as the Grand Canyon closed to visitors.

That logic apparently doesn't apply to South Florida's own national treasure. Gov. Rick Scott quickly announced this morning that he will not reopen Everglades National Park. Because of reasons!

Scott cast the decision as a tough stand against D.C.'s tomfoolery. "Florida taxpayers will not foot the bill to cover Washington's failure to negotiate and compromise,'' his spokesman Frank Collins tells the Tampa Bay Times.

The governor is right, of course: The whole reason we're in this shutdown mess is because of ideologues refusing to negotiate or compromise.

There's only one way for Scott to combat a problem like that: To take his own ideological stand and then refuse to compromise or negotiate, dammit!

Scott is just as dense as that GOP rep who screamed at a park ranger for keeping veterans out of the World War II Memorial after he personally voted to shut down the government.

Everglades National Park draws nearly a million visitors a year. Those visitors pumped millions of dollars into the local economy. That's why hundreds of guides protested at the park this week.

Investing a few million bucks in state funds to open the park for a short while would pay itself back in tax revenues from all those visitors returning to Shark Valley. That's why Republican governors in Utah and Arizona -- even noted Obama-hater Jan Brewer -- are tripping over themselves to reopen their national parks.

But Scott has never let the economic reality of his state outweigh the chance to make a dumb political stand. That's why he turned down $2 billion in no-strings-attached federal cash to build a high-speed rail system that would have spurred economic development and created thousands of jobs. It's why he has supported every roadblock to helping Floridians join new health-care exchanges and turned down $51 billion to expand Medicaid for poor folks in his state.

So forget about the Everglades reopening under his watch. He'll ensure all of those tourists stay away just so he can take a worthless ideological stand against worthless ideological stands.

Follow Miami New Times on Facebook and Twitter @MiamiNewTimes.

KEEP MIAMI NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Tim Elfrink is a former investigative reporter and managing editor for Miami New Times. He has won the George Polk Award and was a finalist for the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting.
Contact: Tim Elfrink