It’s been a week now since Florida has been operating without a lieutenant governor.
I know what you’re thinking. How much longer can we survive this way?
The answer is: indefinitely.
This may be Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll’s greatest contribution to the office — to prove how useless her office really is.
Or to put it another way, to prove that in anatomical terms, Florida’s lieutenant governor is the equivalent of the male nipple.
Carroll ended two eventful years in office, years marked by an interoffice feud with allegations of lesbian romance, by resigning over yet undisclosed details of her role as a former public relations consultant to a gambling operation masquerading as a veterans’ charity.
Heckuva job, Jenny.
And a real shocker, considering that the smart money was on Gov. Rick Scott, the former hospital chief embroiled in Medicare fraud, being the first one on that ticket to vamoose on the heels of a fresh federal probe.
“She did the right thing for the state and her family,” Scott said when accepting her resignation.
I don’t know about Carroll’s family, but I can vouch for the part about her doing the right thing for the state of Florida.
Florida operated for much of its history without a lieutenant governor, who has no prescribed duties other than to become the governor if that office becomes vacant.
So it’s basically a look-busy, ribbon-cutter job that pays $125,000 a year, comes with a $100,000 chief of staff and an office crew that’s kept busy making Carroll’s travel plans, an itinerary that cost Florida taxpayers nearly $300,000 for her first year on the job.
So this is great news that we don’t have a lieutenant governor for the time being.
It’s just too bad the feds didn’t start ramping up their investigation of Allied Veterans of the World sooner. It might have flushed Carroll into the private sector early enough to spare a few of those 9,000 state jobs that were cut during Scott’s tenure.
And those were jobs with actual duties.
So it’s understandable that Scott is in no rush to find a replacement for Carroll. He has put it off until after the current legislative session ends in May.
It’s not like he’s too busy to make appointments. So far this month Scott has appointed members to the Fourth District Court of Appeal, the Board of Governors of the State University System, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the Construction Industry Licensing Board, the Suwannee River Water Management District, the Board of Accountancy, the Continuing Care Advisory Council, and the Florida Film and Entertainment Advisory Council.
But no rush on the lieutenant governor.
With any luck, the search will continue and continue. The law says the governor “shall” find a replacement. But it doesn’t say when he shall.
It could be hard finding somebody to fill Carroll’s shoes, especially since there might be an emphasis on background checking this time around. But you can count on a replacement as the next election cycle nears.
Because that will be the real work for the next lieutenant governor, to stand next to Scott when he runs for reelection in 2014. The new lieutenant governor will be expected to nod his or her head when Scott talks about all the waste he has cut out of state government.
It would be much better if we had a ballot amendment during that election that asked voters if they wanted to abolish the head-nodder’s job.