‘Failing to lead’: COVID war heats up between Nikki Fried, Governor

Nikki Fried AP day 2019 (Large)
Fried is concerned about church gatherings and the unemployment claims crisis.

Any thoughts of detente in the ongoing conflict between the Agriculture Commissioner and the Governor can be put to rest.

On Friday, Commissioner Nikki Fried issued a statement slamming Gov. Ron DeSantis for “failing to lead” during the coronavirus crisis.

“Florida needs leadership now more than ever,” Fried said, “but Governor DeSantis is failing to lead. His safer-at-home order is filled with glaring loopholes as the details emerge.”

Fried said the Governor “quietly issued a second executive order that weakens stay-at-home restrictions, allowing mass gatherings on beaches and in religious institutions, creating enormous confusion for local officials, and putting Floridians and businesses further at risk after weeks of inaction.”

She was referencing an executive order this week that issued carveouts from bans on mass gatherings for churches, now seemingly put on the honor system for social distancing guidelines.

The Commissioner originally praised the Governor for making “the right call” and taking action she saw as long-overdue, but that was before the church carveout.

Fried also took issue with the unemployment claims system, which has been exposed to be critically flawed and incapable of dealing with the hundreds of thousands of Floridians suddenly out of work.

“He’s deflecting responsibility for his unemployment system fiasco, leaving millions of Floridians without the economic help they need indefinitely. At a time when our state most needs steady, accountable, transparent leadership, the Governor is unwilling or unable to provide it. Governor, you need to correct these failures now, before our people and economy are further endangered.”

Fried’s press office notes that “Commissioner Fried had first called on the Governor to issue a stay-at-home order on March 20, and joined members of Congress in calling on the Governor to increase the state’s unemployment assistance, among the lowest in the nation.”

DeSantis has vowed to take an “all hands on deck” approach to solving the unemployment claims crisis, including bringing in staffers to the Department of Economic Opportunity from other parts of the state government.

The dynamic between Fried and DeSantis frayed this year, with the Commissioner bemoaning an attempted “partisan power grab,” in which the Governor sought to move the Office of Energy out of the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

The measure passed the House, but did not get Senate consideration.

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has been a correspondent for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. In 2018, he was a finalist for an Association of Alternative Newsweeklies "best political column." He can be reached at [email protected]


8 comments

  • Thomas Knapp

    April 3, 2020 at 2:27 pm

    I’m beginning to think that Fried may actually believe the nonsense she’s spouting.

    At first I thought it was just political grandstanding in preparation for her run for governor, but surely by now she’s starting to realize that every time she starts flapping her yap she loses a few thousand more potential votes.

  • PhatDawg

    April 3, 2020 at 4:17 pm

    Actually, she’s correct. Our governor took a “strategic surgical approach” when shutting down our state out of fear he would be seen “as the bad guy” when people were out of work. He should have taken a more aggressive approach knowing what was coming down the COVID trail. All he accomplished was allowing more spread to occur for a longer period of time. A greater number of people have now been exposed resulting in higher costs to our government not to mention the personal health financial and implications of all Florida citizens.

    Thanks Gov Ron Disease-us for having no back bone to do what was needed for the people when most seem to have no ability to figure it out for themselves.

    At least she has has the courage to stand up and say something.

    • Thomas Knapp

      April 3, 2020 at 5:09 pm

      “All he accomplished was allowing more spread to occur for a longer period of time.”

      True — in much the same way that King Canute allowed the tide to come in and then go out.

      There is no “more” or “less” spread. The virus is going to become endemic. We’re all going to get it.

      The question was whether the governor should do his best to make sure we all starve to death first. Fried says he should. I disagree.

      • PhatDawg

        April 3, 2020 at 6:04 pm

        So we should allow the spread (because we’re all gonna get it) and allow people to needlessly suffer/die so you “don’t starve”? I haven’t heard of any starvation deaths related to COVID-19 as yet in areas that began their lock down before us. With that mentality, I’m glad you weren’t in charge of stopping the spread of polio. Please be my guest to volunteer at the morgue without PPE’s.

        Yes, I feel bad for those living paycheck to paycheck (been there, done that) but I’ve always been able to “figure it out.” Stop being selfish and thing of YOUR wallet when other people’s LIVES are a stake.

        Yes, it’s gonna be rough, more so for some than others. I’m too am out of work but I can prioritize my financial obligations. Not to mention, there are a ton of lenders and service providers that are putting payments on hold to help us financially. There are tons of organizations and groups offering food handouts. Every taxpayer will be getting cash shortly. Use it to buy a ton of Ramen Noodles. You’re not going to starve.

        Our grandparents were asked to sacrifice and go to war. They had to put up with so much more regarding lifestyle changes, food/consumer products rationing, and a myriad of other hardships. We’ve been asked to stay at home, sit on the couch and the government will send you money. I think I know I can handle it and I believe you should be able to as well. If not, you’ll just prove Darwin correct.

        • Thomas Knapp

          April 3, 2020 at 6:19 pm

          “So we should allow the spread”

          We don’t get to “allow” or “not allow” the spread. You might want to look up what “flattening the curve” actually means. We may be able to slow it down or speed it up. There are costs/benefits to doing either, and feel-good “lockdown orders” that don’t do either of those things aren’t substitutes for actually doing those things.

          “I haven’t heard of any starvation deaths related to COVID-19 as yet in areas that began their lock down before us.”

          No, we’re 60-90 days from people starting to starve, because we’re 30-60 days away from crops rotting in the fields as the migrant workers who pick them are refused permission to get here and start doing so.

          You’re an ignoramus, but I don’t think your ignorance should be a death sentence.

          • PhatDawg

            April 3, 2020 at 9:35 pm

            “feel-good “lockdown orders” that don’t do either of those things aren’t substitutes for actually doing those things.”

            AMEN BROTHER! It should have been instituted sooner and ENFORCED!

            “No, we’re 60-90 days from people starting to starve, because we’re 30-60 days away from crops rotting in the fields as the migrant workers who pick them are refused permission to get here and start doing so.”

            Ok so, here’s a shocking bit of news for you- THEY ARE ALREADY HERE! If you happen to live near or know anything about Florida’s agriculture industry, you’d know we have HUGE communities of farm laborer’s in south and central Florida. Second epiphany- pretty sure they would be deemed “necessary/essential employees” for A) yeah, we need the food and B) so crops don’t rot in the fields. Pretty sure they’ll screen the workers daily for symptoms before they hit the fields and the veggies will get an extra dose of cleaning/disinfecting beyond what is already done to limit the spread of E. coli and such. Relax, there will be turnips for everyone!

            “You’re an ignoramus, but I don’t think your ignorance should be a death sentence.”

            Dear sir, you are entitled to and may express your opinion about me freely thanks to the wonderful democracy we live in. However, I’m pretty certain I won’t die of ignorance because my opinion and perception of reality differs from yours.

            I do whole-hardheartedly wish you the best of luck during this unprecedented global crisis. While I do find this repartee quite amusing, alas I must sign off. I’m headed out to the local food bank volunteering with final preps for tomorrow’s distribution. What pray tell are YOU doing to help others? Besides, I’m sure you’ve heard a battle of the wits with an unarmed man just isn’t fair.

            BAHAHAHAHAhahahahahaaaaaa……. 😉

            Peace out – Shalom – Toksa – Masalama

      • Chad Lee

        April 3, 2020 at 11:58 pm

        I have to agree that it is going to become an endemic and everyone is going to get it. Leveling the curve will help prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed but the measures are going to cause a lot of pain for families due to lose of jobs and income. I know some people now who are a week or two away from running out of food with no income coming in unless the stimulus money arrives soon or they can fix the unemployment system.

  • Thomas Knapp

    April 3, 2020 at 9:48 pm

    “I’m headed out to the local food bank volunteering with final preps for tomorrow’s distribution. What pray tell are YOU doing to help others?”

    Thanks for all you do. I’ve donated money and canned goods to various projects to help people who need it. That’s about all I can do, since I’m among the population that actually needs to self-isolate.

    “THEY ARE ALREADY HERE!”

    More than 200,0000 of them are sitting in Latin America while their visas are delayed.

    Most Americans aren’t inclined to get off their asses and do that kind of work. Can’t say as I blame them — I spent some of my formative years on a subsistence farm and have a little bit of an idea of what it’s like. But we get one shot at these harvests. There aren’t any re-winds or do-overs. If the crops don’t get picked in April, May, and June, we don’t eat in July, August, and September.

Comments are closed.


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