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Weatherford teases Times/Herald with 'April Fools' daily schedule

April Fools.    

House Speaker Will Weatherford decided to have a little fun with his daily schedule for April 1, teasing the press corps and specifically the Times/Herald bureau with fake appointments.

His daily schedule, which the Times/Herald bureau uses in its dogged coverage of Weatherford and the Legislature, speaks of “secret budget negotiations,” a “third annual” retirement party for longtime Times reporter Lucy Morgan and a 5:30p.m. “review of March Madness Bracket with Team Leadership.”

Here’s an excerpt from the schedule:

7am: Secret Budget Negotiations with President Gaetz, Speaker Weatherford and Mary Ellen Klas (Press Center)

10 a.m.: Deep background interview with Michael Van Sickler for ANOTHER profile piece. Don’t forget to bring your rap sheet (Speaker’s Office)

12 p.m.: Preview of all of Rep. Williams’ introductions and announcements for the rest of the Session

4pm: Third Annual Lucy Morgan Retirement Party (TBD)

5:30pm: Review of March Madness Bracket with Team Leadership (Speaker’s Office) 

For background:

The Herald’s Mary Ellen Klas has a knack for outing lawmakers for their secret negotiations with lobbyists and other lawmakers. She’s documented several instances where legislators appear dangerously close to breaking the state’s Sunshine Law and ethics rules. 

The Times’ Michael Van Sicker wrote a sweeping profile of Weatherford last month, highlighting the Speaker’s little-known arrest after a fight in Ybor City several years ago.

The Times’ Lucy Morgan recently retired after 48 years on the job. It was her second time hanging up her hat in recent years, though she says this time it's for good.

Rep. Alan Williams, D-Tallahassee, is known to have a lot of "introductions" on the House floor, since his constituents can easily drive over to the Capitol to be honored.



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Not April Fools

In December 2000, the U.S. Justice Department announced what it called the largest government fraud settlement in U.S. history when Columbia/HCA agreed to pay $840 million in criminal fines and civil damages and penalties. Among the revelations from the 2000 settlement, which all apply to when Scott was CEO, were that Columbia overbilled Medicare for unnecessary tests and false diagnosis codes.

The government settled a second series of similar claims with Columbia/HCA in 2002 for an additional $881 million. The total fine: $1.7 billion.

As part of the 2000 settlement, Columbia/HCA agreed to plead guilty to at least 14 corporate felonies. A corporate felony comes with financial penalties but not jail time, since a corporation can’t be sent to prison. Scott himself was never indicted.


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