Police groups back Alex Sink for Governor by Jim Ash

Posted: October 8, 2010 in News and politics

Police groups back Alex Sink
for governor

 

Jim Ash • News Journal Capital Bureau Chief •
September 14, 2010

 

TALLAHASSEE — The Florida PBA this morning broke
one tradition — endorsing Republicans for
governor — but kept another, not mincing words,
very much intact.

The Florida Police Benevolent Association and
another powerful law-enforcement union, the
Fraternal Order of Police, today held a joint press
conference at the Capitol to tout their endorsements
of Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, the Democratic
nominee, and her running mate, former Gainesville
prosecutor Rod Smith.

Veteran PBA executive director David Murrell came
down on Republican nominee Rick Scott like a ton of
bricks. Scott’s plan to slash the state budget by $7
billion and cut the state workforce by 5 percent,
(which could cost as much as 8,400 jobs,) would
mean fewer prisons, fewer prison guards and the
bad old days of early prison release, Murrell said.

Murrell went a step further, saying the cuts would
put serial killers like Danny Rolling, and “Ted Bundy
wannabes, out on the street.”

“Under his plan, if you want an officer to come and
respond to your personal emergency, forget about
it,” Murrell said.

Before he was elected to the Florida Senate, Smith
gained national fame as the prosecutor in the
Rolling case. The “Gainesville Ripper” was executed
in 2006 after being convicted of killing five students
in Gainesville in 1990.

One of the most detailed planks of Scott’s budget
proposal calls for, “paying competitive, market-
based salaries for corrections’ staff,” competitively
bidding health care contracts for prisoners and
forcing inmates to grow their own food. The Scott
campaign figures the moves would wring $1 billion
in savings from the corrections budget.

In a written statement, the Scott campaign called on
Sink to, “disavow these inaccurate scare tactics.”

The campaign cited federal statistics that it says
show Florida’s daily cost of housing a prisoner is

 

$71.93, higher than the $48.45 that Texas pays and
far higher than the $36.83 that Mississippi pays.

“The unions are lining up behind Tallahassee
politician Alex Sink who will continue wasteful
policies at the expense of taxpayers and protect the
status quo,” said Scott spokesman Chad Colby.

The last time both police unions endorsed a
Democratic ticket was 20 years ago.

Incoming House Democratic Leader Ron Saunders of
Key West predicted that the union endorsement will
be valuable for Sink. He also took a shot at Scott’s
record as former CEO of hospital giant
Columbia/HCA, which paid $1.7 billion in federal
fines after being accused of Medicaid fraud. Scott
said he did nothing wrong and was never the target
of the investigation.

“It shows that there’s concern about his history,”
Saunders said. “The PBA probably has better access
to background checks than we do.”

 

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