“We have a spending problem in this state,” says House Speaker Richard Corcoran (R-Land ‘O Lakes), and nobody in their right mind could argue with him.
Florida spends more stupid money than a drunken sailor on shore leave. Any state worker can — if they trust you — rattle off a Top Twenty list of publicly funded member projects, unnecessary junkets, sacred cows, and six figure people who just graduated college with a degree in kissing the right rear ends. They cost a bundle, and taxpayers would not miss them if they were gone.
Pork ‘n nonsense has been bloating the budget since Corcoran was in knee pants. An expanding economy and bipartisan support for bonding and other forms of kicking cans down the road has, for decades, kept The Piper at bay.
Lately, there are signs that The Piper is losing patience.
In Palm Beach County, the bills are coming due at the medical examiner’s office. Thanks to the heroin epidemic, business is booming at the morgue, with bodies piling up at a pace that threatens the office’s good standing in the National Association of Medical Examiners. We don’t think about the Office of Autopsy unless we’re watching CSI or grieving a loved one lost in circumstances that are unexpected, unattended or otherwise unexplained. Then, we can think of nothing else, and we darn well expect our government to provide timely and accurate answers.
On the ground in Alachua County and from the skies above the Treasure Coast, the goop and gunk that threaten our water supply and our very way of life are the subject of endless, expensive talk and turf wars. Lawsuits funded on several sides by taxpayers are easy, and profitable for many of the players. Problem-solving is harder, and lacking in a critical mass of constituents.
For anyone, anywhere, who has been rescued, comforted or inspired by a firefighter, the suicide of Indian River County Fire Rescue Battalion Chief David Dangerfield comes as a gut-punch. After a lifetime of performing heroic acts and making it look easy, he left us with a five-alarm reminder that “post-traumatic stress syndrome for firefighters is real,” and the limited supports we grudgingly provide them pales in comparison to the need.
It takes money to maintain a credible medical examiner’s office, clean water, and appropriate care for the people who care for us, so it’s encouraging to hear Corcoran take note of the difference between “pork belly fat and things that make the trains run on time.”
Environmental scientists, medical examiners and mental health professionals to minister to the very real needs of public servants in traumatic lines of work are the difference between trains that run on time, and train wrecks. Here’s hoping Corcoran will be bringing a sharp butcher knife to the pork roast.