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From Tallahassee to Miami, protestors dog Rick Scott


Protestors in his Tallahassee office, protestors at his Miami-Dade press conferences – Gov. Rick Scott is facing a state of opposition after the George Zimmerman verdict.

On Wednesday, as protestors gathered inside and out, Scott made a quick exit from a Kendall Walmart media event touting new school-supply debit cards of teachers and the upcoming school-supply sales-tax.

The protestors, mostly young Hispanic and African-Americans, want a special legislative session to address the Stand Your Ground self-defense law implicated in Zimmerman’s shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin last year. Zimmerman, acquitted July 13, didn't plead a Stand Your Ground defense, but was covered by its protections, which appeared in the jury instructions.

“Special session! Special session!” a group of 12 chanted from a sidewalk as Scott left out a backdoor.

Earlier, during the press conference, three demonstrators sat down on the floor inside the store. One held up a sign that said “Bad Apples?” In the back of the press conference stood Miami Democratic Sen. Dwight Bullard, who called for the resignation of Florida’s education commissioner in a grade-fixing flap (more here)

Scott has refused.

Meantime, inside the halls of the governor’s office in Tallahassee, a group of college-aged minority students known as the Dream Defenders are calling for a special session as well.

Yesterday, the Rev. Jesse Jackson met with the students, called for a boycott of Florida. He has likened Florida to an Old South-style “apartheid state."

Scott said he was outraged.

“He ought to apologize to every Floridian,” Scott said. “We have nearly 20 million people, we’ve got 5 million multi-lingual speakers, we’re in a 42-year low in our crime rate. We care about people all across our state.”

Scott said he wants to keep the Stand Your Ground and has noted that a task force he appointed called for the law to largely stay intact.

The task force, though, did recommend that the Legislature consider examining some aspects of self-defense law and recommended that the state fund a study “of the correlation and causation to include variables such as race, ethnicity, gender, application and fairness of the law in regards to the expansion of self defense laws in the State of Florida, including a statistical comparison with other states.”

Asked if the state should heed that finding, Scott didn’t comment, but suggested he was open to the idea.

“As you know, the speaker said he was going to hold hearings during committee week to look into this,” Scott said.

Contrary to Jackson's claims, a Tampa Bay Times analysis could find no clear racial inequities with the law. It found that those who plead Stand Your Ground in cases where a black person was killed or injured are more likely, by 14 percentage points, to "walk free." But one reason for that: African-Americans who were shot were more likely than Caucasians to be involved with a crime or armed -- thereby lending credence to a self-defense claim by the shooter.

When the victim was black in fatal cases, 22 percent of suspects were convicted while 78 were found to use justifiable force. When the victim was white, 43 percent of suspects were convicted while 57 were found to use justifiable force.

For blacks pleading Stand Your Ground fatality cases, 31 percent were convicted while 69 percent of the killings were found to be justified. For whites pleading Stand Your Ground fatality cases, 38 percent were convicted and 62 percent were justified. The overall conviction rate: 35 percent. Overall justification rate: 65 percent.

But there was no time to get into all that with Scott on Wednesday.

While talking about Stand Your Ground, the protesors found him at a side entrace. They started chanting. At least one person had a bull horn.

Staff hastened to remove Scott, who also took two more questions about another controversy: Florida Education Commissioner Tony Bennett. When the AP broke the story, Scott didn’t have much to say about it yesterday.

So how about now?

“Everything I wanted to get done this session, Tony Bennett has been a big help getting it done – whether it’s the teacher pay raise, the $1.2 billion for K-12, the performance measurements for state colleges, the debit cards we talked about today,” Scott said. “Tony’s a hard worker. He believes in accountability. He’s a big help.”

Have you spoken to him about the situation in Indiana and what are your thoughts?

“I’m not familiar with the details. Probably the best thing to do is call Tony,” Scott said.


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Rick Scott pleads the Fifth Amendment 75 times

"Scott started what was first called Columbia in the spring of 1987 by purchasing two El Paso, Texas, hospitals. He quickly grew the company into one of the country's largest publicly traded hospital chains, and in 1994, merged Columbia with Tennessee-headquartered HCA and its 100 hospitals.

In early 1997, federal agents revealed they were investigating the Columbia/HCA chain for, among other things, Medicare and Medicaid fraud. Allegations included that Columbia/HCA billed Medicare and Medicaid for tests that were not necessary or ordered by physicians, and that the hospital chain would perform one type of medical test but bill the federal government for a more expensive test or procedure. Agents seized records from Columbia facilities across the country in Tennessee, North Carolina, Texas, Oklahoma, Utah and Florida.

Scott resigned in the middle of the federal investigation in July 1997. Scott said he wanted to fight the federal government accusations; the corporate board of Columbia/HCA wanted to settle, and did. In 2000, the company pleaded guilty to at least 14 corporate felonies and agreed to pay $840 million in criminal fines and civil damages and penalties. The company agreed to further settlements in 2002, paying an additional $881 million in fines."


Kevin Wright

Who is funding this concerted attack on Florida? The US Justice Dept. sent teams to incite racial animosity as part of the campaign to charge George Zimmerman with some crime. George Zimmerman voted for Barack Obama. Hispanics should be outraged that Eric Holder will pit one minority against another for politics.


The Real Rick Scott

When Lindy Richardson Street interviewed in 1993 with then-Columbia Healthcare Co. CEO Rick Scott to be the company’s director of marketing and communications, she was still shaking off the effects of a distressing professional experience. To her disbelief, the federal government had indicted one of her associates at another company.

Reluctant warrior
Light on the dark side
Courthouse buzz
Warm Up
The ordeal — intensive investigations and depositions and public fallout — was draining. Street was not part of the alleged conspiracy, but its effects consumed her for months. She never wanted to confront a similar experience again.

So when Street started her interview with Scott, she told him: “I have to tell you, if you ever ask, hint at it or suggest to me, or if it smells or feels like it’s illegal or immoral, I won’t do it, and furthermore I will tell people you did.”

Street pauses.

“I never had to remind him of that conversation,” she says today. Street worked side by side with Scott from 1993 until he resigned from Columbia-HCA in 1997.

From the moment Rick Scott declared his candidacy last spring for Florida’s governorship and challenged fellow Republican frontrunner Bill McCollum, Florida’s mainstream media and Scott’s opponents, including Democrat Alex Sink, have strafed voters with relentless attacks on Scott’s character.

Their claim is tightly told with a fact: The company he founded and built into the leading health-care company in the nation over a 10-year period paid $1.7 billion in criminal and civil fines to the federal government for alleged Medicare fraud.


Media reports routinely say Scott’s Columbia-HCA Corp. “systematically” defrauded the federal government — never citing evidence that it was proven Scott or his fellow senior managers condoned or even hinted at perpetrating the alleged fraud, never citing evidence of malice and premeditation by Scott. In last week’s gubernatorial debate, Democratic candidate Sink simply repeated the mantra: “I can’t think of anything more frightening,” she said. “He led a company with the most massive Medicare fraud, cheating seniors and taxpayers … The people of Florida cannot trust you at all.”

To be expected, the state’s biggest newspapers dug into the scandal. They reported, although downplayed, that Scott was never charged with any crimes nor investigated. The Miami Herald said “federal investigators found that Scott took part in business practices … that were later found to be illegal” — citing no evidence of Scott’s personal involvement nor noting that these “practices” were widely accepted in the industry until federal regulators changed the rules.

As newspapers often do, The Miami Herald, unable to convict Scott in print, resorted to a standard journalistic practice — raise doubt in readers’ minds about Scott’s character and attribute this opinion to “experts.” Wrote the Herald last June:

“Whether or not Scott was aware of his company’s questionable conduct, the breadth of the problems raises questions about Scott’s leadership, management experts say.”

But if you talk to the people who worked at Scott’s side during his tenure as Columbia-HCA’s CEO, former Columbia-HCA board members, as well as outsiders whose companies did business with Scott or sat on opposite sides of a negotiating table with Scott, the picture of Rick Scott is far different from the one Scott’s political opponents and mainstream media have depicted.

• Stephen Braun, Columbia-HCA’s general counsel who has known and worked with Scott for nearly three decades: “He’s as honest as a Boy Scout.”

• Former Columbia-HCA board member Dr. Magdalena Averhoff of Miami: “Honorable, straightforward, sincere. Rick revolutionized medicine. He was a visionary.”

• Josh Nemzoff, owner of Nemzoff & Co. LLC., who sat across from Scott on eight sales of hospital companies to Columbia-HCA and has never been paid a dime by Scott or Columbia-HCA: “I would never use the term arrogant to describe Rick.”

Asked how Scott was different from other hospital CEOs back in the late 1980s and early 1990s, Nemzoff says: “Very simple. He’s smarter than all of them.”

• George Pillari, founder and CEO of HCIA Inc., an independent company that analyzed the efficiency of Columbia-HCA hospitals, and who worked with Scott. Asked about Scott’s ethics and honesty, Pillari says: “That’s never questioned.”


To be sure, there are at least two sides to a story. In this report, you will see a picture of Scott you likely haven’t seen. And you will see there is more context behind the alleged Medicare fraud than has been reported during this election cycle and more to the resignation of Scott from Columbia-HCA than the alleged fraud.

The Rainwater connection

To paint the picture, start with Richard Rainwater.

A Texan and Stanford MBA, Rainwater became one of America’s most prominent investment managers when he guided the wealth of the Fort Worth, Texas, Bass family into a $5 billion fortune.

In the mid-1980s, Rainwater sat on the board of Hospital Corporation of America (HCA) and was a friend of then-HCA CEO Dr. Tommy Frist.

Scott, at the time, was an ambitious corporate mergers and acquisition lawyer in his early 30s at a Dallas law firm. In 1987, having worked in health-care mergers a few years, Scott demonstrated his taste for big, bold moves when he approached Dr. Frist out of the blue with an offer to purchase HCA for $6 billion with financing from Citicorp. Frist laughed Scott away.

A few months later, Rainwater called Scott and asked Scott if he wanted to start a health-care company. Rainwater, who chose his partners carefully, liked what he knew about Scott. They had a deal.

Scott invested his and his wife’s life savings of $125,000, Rainwater invested the same amount, making them co-equals in what Scott named Columbia Healthcare Inc.

Scott and Rainwater’s plan was to build a national hospital company by acquiring two to four hospitals a year and hoping to apply the same business principles of other industries to hospitals — constantly measuring results to reduce costs and improve customer satisfaction and outcomes. Their method would be a business model that was in vogue and gaining popularity: joint ventures with physicians. Indeed, in his legal practice, Scott had become familiar with and executed a few of these deals with hospitals and surgery centers.

Scott sent out 4,000 letters to hospital administrators and owners, seeking sellers and joint ventures. His first lead came when an executive of Scott’s biggest legal client told him about a group of physicians in El Paso who were unhappy with the owners of two El Paso hospitals.

In July 1988, Scott’s Columbia Healthcare made its first acquisition — a $61 million purchase of two El Paso hospitals, with seller financing and loans from Citicorp. (A fact worth noting in this deal is that the seller of the El Paso hospitals was Nashville-based HealthTrust Inc., which was a spin-off company of HCA. In other words, the roots of Columbia-HCA were circular. As one former Columbia-HCA executive, who would not speak for attribution, said: “The policies we used went back to HCA.”)

Lili Bach

First of all there were a lot more than 12 people out there! There were more than 50 outside protesting- the 12 were inside of the press conference event.
We are calling on Rick Scott- an embarrassment to the state of FL- to call a special session not only on Trayvons Law, but to allow for Drivers Licenses for Dreamers, Paid Sick Days for workers, and Healthcare expansion to cover 1.2 million Floridians and create 100000 jobs! #ScottFree2014 #InNovemberWeRemember #VOTE

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