On the old TV show Dallas, family patriarch Jock Ewing once memorably screamed at his son Bobby: “So I gave you power, huh? Well, let me tell you something, boy. If I did give you power, you got nothing! Nobody gives you power. Real power is something you take!”
The 2017 version of that story is playing out now in real life, with Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran in the starring role. He is taking every chance to show who has the power. It’s his way, or no way, and that’s not likely to change.
His latest joust is with the mayors and leaders of cities and counties throughout the state. He is pushing measures through the House that basically would let all those leaders know who is in charge. Hint: it ain’t them.
There was a telling quote from Corcoran in Steve Bousquet’s story on this subject in Tuesday’s Tampa Bay Times.
“Our founders got it right. When they set up a Constitution, they basically said that the federal government exists with these enumerated powers,” Corcoran told the newspaper. “What’s not enumerated, all of it, belongs to the states. Every bit of it.”
Repeat that last sentence: Every bit of it.
The contradiction, of course, is that Corcoran and fellow Republicans routinely rail against mandates coming from the federal government or court rulings. But they apparently have no problem turning Tallahassee into a Mini-Me of sorts that bosses cities and local municipalities around and doesn’t care how they feel about that.
That includes prohibiting them from raising taxes without satisfying Tallahassee’s demands. They want to restrict the right of cities to pass laws that could affect businesses. One bill would prevent cities from regulating the rentals of private homes.
That’s specifically aimed protecting companies like Airbnb in case cities decide to act on local complaints about quiet neighborhoods that can be disrupted by tourist churn. Tallahassee is in charge now. Local zoning ordinances? Ptooey!
This is the natural progression of the tone Corcoran has brought to the Speaker’s chair. His fights with Gov. Rick Scott have been in the headlines for months. He took a no-prisoners approach with lobbying and legislative reforms. He is even trying to reshape how the state Supreme Court is run.
Don’t act surprised. He has vowed to reshape Tallahassee, and that requires equal parts of determination and power. No one doubts that he has plenty of determination.
He seems to be taking it.
Every bit of it.