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Black leaders blast Gov. Scott

Erick Johnson | 4/10/2014, 9 a.m.
While hundreds of thousands Haitians were stripped of their citizenship and ordered out of the Dominican Republic, Florida Gov. Rick ...

The numbers aren’t huge, but Black leaders say Scott is desperate and needs every vote he can get in order to be re-elected. But some say his currying favor to Latin groups is an insult to the Black and Haitian Communities.

“Scott is just placating to the Venezuelan community,” Crespo said.

Black leaders are also angry that Scott has not been equally vocal against the Dominican Republican, a country that stripped 300,000 Haitians of their citizenship last September when the Constitutional Court there ruled that citizenship can only be granted to people who were born to one Dominican parent since 1929. It’s a ruling that cannot be repealed from the nation’s highest court. Many Haitians are bound to lose their jobs and lifestyles and have nowhere to go. They cannot come to United States because they are fleeing political oppression as immigration laws require.

Relations between Scott and Black leaders hit its lowest point in January, when Florida Democratic Caucus cancelled an important meeting with the governor who scheduled session on Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, Jan. 21.

“He was just grandstanding because of it was on Martin Luther King’s holiday,“ said Crespo. “He knew we had to attend celebrations so the message was clear to us. So we cancelled.”

Scott did not return a phone call or an email from The Miami Times seeking comment for this story.

At the meeting Crespo said he wanted to address issues on Medicaid, the plight of Haitians, and the clemency hearings involving Marissa Alexander and Michael Giles, who were convicted after their Stand Your Ground cases that failed in separate trials. Alexander, who fired a warning shot against her husband, was given a new trial in July after an appeals court overturned her conviction.

“The fact that he has not done anything speaks a lot to his leadership in the Black community,” said State Sen. Dwight Bullard (D-39). “In reality, he has done plenty of harm in the Black community.”

The Black Caucus plans to step up calls for Scott to address their concerns at their annual gala April 31, where Benjamin Crump, attorney for the parents of Travon Martin, Jordan Davis and Kijuan Byrd, plans to speak. Crump’s clients are all victims killed by residents who used the state’s controversial Stand Your Ground law as a defense.

Caucus leaders also plan to urge Black voters to oppose Scott’s re-election campaign.

“We’ve turned both cheeks and have been slapped twice,” Bullard said. “Blacks need to get out and voice.”

In his re-election campaign, Scott has made a number of other public attempts to score points with voters while angering Blacks leaders. In 2012, Scott tried to pin the rising flood insurance rates in Florida on Obama but failed. The Florida Senate last Wednesday unanimously passed a bill that would give homeowners options to keep insurance costs affordable.

Scott has also opposed the expansion of Medicaid throughout Florida despite calls from doctors and health officials who are treating an increasing population of Black mental care patients throughout the state who don’t qualify for the free insurance plan because they are unable to persuade insurance providers that their condition is a debilitating illness. Republicans fear Medicaid expansion will overburden Florida’s healthcare system.

Despite the opposition, Obama’s Affordable Health Care Act generated 245,000 new Medicaid signups in Florida, according to White House officials.