Florida Governor Rick Scott gets booed at Tampa Bay Rays home opener listen04/04/11 Janelle Irwin
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The increasingly common public outcry against Governor Rick Scott continued on Friday. This time at a baseball game. Hundreds of protesters gathered both in and around Tropicana Field to protest Scott as he threw out the first pitch at the Tampa Bay Rays’ home opener.
Friday was April Fool’s Day, and several hundred Rick Scott opponents celebrated with a chorus of boos at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg. As news of Rick Scott’s throwing of the first pitch at the season opener for the Tampa Bay Rays spread, so too did the bad taste that is already in the mouths of so many Floridians. Despite speculation from Scott’s supporters that “booing” him was both rude and immature, crowds of loathing opponents carried on with their plan both inside and outside the dome. Michael Long didn’t seem to care what people thought of his booing. Unless, of course, it wasn’t loud enough.
"I think, you know, the governor is worth about $500 million, spent most of his life traveling around the corporate '...' he made his fortune stealing from Medicare. If the worst thing that's happened to him is that people boo him at a baseball game, his life has been pretty good lately and it's been a lot better than most of the people who his policies are affecting."
Signs emblazoned with Anti-Scott sentiments lined the main entrance to the Trop. The messages varied from generic pleas to impeach Scott to specific references to educational and mental health budget cuts. Aaron Carmella’s sign asked the question, “where are our jobs?”
"That was his campaign promise, it's 'let's get back to work'. Where are these jobs that he's promised? He's cut the high speed rail which was going to deliver instant jobs to this area and we've already seen what he's doing there. And what he's doing with the teachers and how the teacher quality bill is really going to affect how they're able to do their jobs, too."
Carmella works for the Central Labor Union. He protested among the others because he thinks Scott isn’t holding up his promise to be a jobs ambassador for the state. But Carmella isn’t happy about much of anything that has come of the three months of Scott’s administration.
"People need to start to... to help get their voices heard so hopefully we can usher in some change up in Tallahassee because right now they're just railroading bill after bill through without listening to what the public opinion is on it."
Scott’s first bill signing resurrected what began as Senate Bill 6, legislation that was vetoed by former Governor Crist. Tweaked here and there and re-named Senate Bill 736, Scott eagerly moved forward with the plan to tie teacher pay to student test performance and eliminate tenure for new teachers. Not surprisingly, countless supporters of public educators lined up in protest.
"Well, I can't imagine anybody would ever want to go into education after this. They want to start getting new teachers, people are just going get rid of the '...' Older people are going to...they're being forced out. We're going to take major cuts and of course health care is going to rise. We're basically not going to have a union next year because we don't have 50 percent of the people signed up. Then we can't have a union and he took away our right to have it taken out of our paychecks so it's going to be hard to get '...'. "
Curt is a Pinellas County elementary school teacher. He asked that his full name not be used because his school frowns on public protest. It’s a freedom these protesters were grateful that Scott couldn’t take away from them. Niece Jochims exercised that right too. She came on behalf of workers that help over 30,000 of the state’s mentally disabled, workers that just found out about Scott’s executive order to slash their pay by at least 15%.
"These clients are not going to have any homes to go to because providers are going to be closing because they're not able to provide service because they can't afford it. They've got to pay staff, take good care of the clients or what's worse that's going to happen is that service is going to become so bad because providers can't pay appropriately to take care of the clients. It's really, really bad. He's talking about losing jobs for hundreds and thousands of people."
Lori Moffitt is a client of a mental health agency and came to the protest with a worker at that agency who helps Moffitt find jobs. But the job coach’s employment could be in jeopardy because of state funding cuts. Moffit just lost her job at Goodwill and needs the extra help now more than ever. She is worried that help might not available much longer.
"Our people need the services. Our service for to keep our jobs for everything and all. And if we cannot keep our jobs we're protesting this."
The first protester we heard from, Michael Long helped organize the protest. He said he was happy with the turnout and glad that so many causes were represented.
"I hope that the governor and that the legislators and people who are in public office can see what's going on today. See how the people, a wide range of people from a wide range of lifestyles and political affiliations stand united against what the governor's policies and what the governor is doing and that if they hope to continue to serve in public office they should represent the people they're supposed to represent and not the corporate interests."
As it came closer to game time, some protesters took their signs inside to continue their boo-ing from the stands. Others stayed outside and continued sending their varying messages. One protester even broke away from chant long enough to say, thanks to Rick Scott, she couldn’t afford a ticket.