Will the flood insurance crisis turn out to be Bill Foster’s “McCain” moment?

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In late September of 2008, in the heat of the general campaign for President of the United States, Republican nominee John McCain did the unthinkable: he floated the idea of suspending the campaign in the midst of the global economic meltdown. This was just days after global financial institution Lehman Brothers collapsed. 

Obama didn’t play the game. He said at the time, “It’s my belief that this is exactly the time that the American people need to hear from the person who in approximately 40 days will be responsible for dealing with this mess. It’s going to be part of the president’s job to deal with more than one thing at once.”

When asked by reporters if he thought McCain’s move was a political stunt, he unsurprisingly, politely demurred.

It is, in fact, “the president’s job to deal with more than one thing at once.” It’s the president’s job to deal with several things at once, actually. That’s why campaigning is so important — so we can all learn how well each candidate can deal with different pressures at different times.

Indeed, it is the role of most elected executives — including mayors — to do more than one important thing at a time. 

And so we are all left wondering if we are approaching a similar, desperate “McCain” moment for St. Petersburg mayor Bill Foster. Why else would he choose now, of all times, to make one of his only trips — ever — to Tallahassee and plead a case on flood insurance rates. Like the timing of McCain’s call to suspend campaigning, the timing here is beyond suspect. From the Michael Van Sickler Times article

…Pinellas County Commissioner Susan Latvala said Foster had shown little interest in flood insurance until last week. She said Foster hasn’t coordinated with county officials, who have been lobbying Congress for weeks hoping for a delay in the law.

“He’s going off in his own direction as he always does,” Latvala said.

Let’s not even get into the murky connections between the Pinellas Realtors, who are pushing to delay flood insurance rate hikes, and the Foster campaign, which they have endorsed and funded.

No one is questioning the importance of the issue — flood insurance rates are set to rise dramatically, and Foster is calling for a delay. This being the result of federal law, Senator Bill Nelson has already filed the appropriate legislation. Foster is in Tallahassee to address the Florida cabinet and ask Attorney General Pam Bondi to “consider taking legal action solely for the purpose of hitting pause to give us time as a state a county and a city to come up with an equitable solution addressing affordability.”

The question everyone asked Senator John McCain in those late campaign days of 2008 was, Where were you when everyone was systematically deregulating the banks that drove us to financial ruin?

A similar question could be asked of Mayor Bill Foster as he visits the the Florida capital and his “friend in the governor’s mansion” —  the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act was passed a year ago. Where were you then, Mr. Mayor? And why did you wait 40 days before an election to decide it was important?