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Black caucus cancels meeting with Rick Scott

Alleges complacency on Black issues

Carla St.Louis | 1/23/2014, 9 a.m.
Governor Rick Scott learned that the Florida Legislative Black Caucus (FLBC) decided to forgo their annual meeting with him the ...

Governor Rick Scott learned that the Florida Legislative Black Caucus (FLBC) decided to forgo their annual meeting with him the old fashion way: through a Dear John letter.

South Florida’s Governor received a terse letter from the Black Caucus charging him with neglecting issues relevant to the Black community amongst other allegations.

“We want to show the Gov. that we were serious about previous meetings that we had with him that had a lack of follow up and we were concerned that previous meetings did not have any progress on issues of great concerns to our communities,” said FLBC chairman Alan Williams during a telephone interview.

“Governor Scott has been absolutely muted on working to address the concerns of many of my colleagues,” said Senator Bullard (D-39) in a press release issued as a sign of solidarity with FLBC’s controversial decision.

“From the devastating case of Marissa Alexander, to the heartbreaking plight of U.S. Airman Michael Giles, Governor Scott has indeed shown a lack of leadership and compassion for this caucus and his own state as well," continued Bullard. "The FLBC and I want to send a clear message to Gov. Scott that he cannot continue to ignore the Black community and make the claim that he is the Governor of all of Florida. He has failed us for 3 years and we will not be ignored for another.”

In a detailed letter written on January 15th, Williams wrote, “I write on behalf of the members of the FLBC to inform you that, despite great respect for the public office you hold, we have agreed to cancel our scheduled meeting with you today. 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.”

Persona non grata: Rick Scott

Williams explained that the Black Caucus wasn’t taking a position against the Governor per se, “but against administrations that does not show the adequate level of support or commitment to communities that we represent.”

Williams candidly addressed Scott’s lack of participation and inactivity pertaining to issues-at-large within South Florida’s Black community, namely affordable health care, procurement, racial diversity on a judicial level, funding for historically Black colleges & universities, civil rights for ex-prisoners, discriminatory voting practices and a series of lime-item budget vetoes that adversely impacted a large number of  communities of colors.

“Today as we recognize the anniversary of the birth of the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. we are particularly mindful that the dreams of Floridians remain unfulfilled,” acknowledged Williams. "All Floridians including the thousands of residents of the communities we serve, deserve to have access to affordable health care that can be provided under an expansion of coverage using available federal dollars."

Williams continued: "We believe you can and should do more to ensure that your administration--as well as the various staffing an judicial appointments you make--reflects the racial and ethnic diversity of Florida. The restoration of rights for individuals who have paid their debts to society is an important caucus priority. So too is the proper enforcement of voting rights and the end of the unnecessary purging of legitimate votes from voting rolls for apparent partisan gain.”

Williams also addressed Scott’s disproportion amount of spending on community developments.

“While we respect your role in protecting the state budget, we remind you that your veto actions last year cut funding from programs and services that are critical to communities we serve,” he said. “There should be proportional representation of state spending on economic development investments including advertising programs under the purview of your office. And the members of this caucus remain committed to adequate funding for all institutions of higher education, including Florida’s historically black colleges and universities.”

For more information about the FLBC, log onto http://www.flblackcaucus.com