Senate Democrats call on Governor to bring transparency, trust, action to pandemic

Janet Cruz
Florida's health and economic trends are going the wrong way, Democrats charged.

With the COVID-19 pandemic resurgent, Senate Democrats Thursday blasted Gov. Ron DeSantis‘s efforts both to slow the virus’ spread and to provide transparent leadership that could increase trust in government.

Senate Minority Leader Gary Farmer and others charged in a Senate Democratic Caucus Zoom call Thursday that DeSantis’ approach amounts to trusting herd immunity until vaccines are widely available. They contended it is not only crippling Florida’s health, but also its economy.

In addition, Sens. Victor Torres and Lori Berman and others claimed the Governor is controlling information through potential manipulations of data and muzzling information about the coronavirus crisis. They cited reports ranging from the DeSantis administration’s thwarting public records requests to long delays on delivering data, and from reports of gag orders on local health officials, to, at minimum, tacitly approving the raid on whistleblower Rebekah Jones‘s home.

All the while, DeSantis is not only going mask-less himself at campaign events, but he is hosting big parties at the Governor’s mansion, charged Sens. Janet Cruz and Tina Polsky.

Meanwhile, Florida has neither an improving health situation nor an improving economy, Farmer said.

“The Governor can sketch the rosiest of pictures and manipulate all the data that he wants, but the word is out that he does not have this virus under control and has no interest in doing so,” said Democratic Sen. Linda Stewart. “No one is advocating for a shutdown, but as the virus goes, so goes the economy.”

What the Democrats did advocate for Thursday are a new statewide plan, a statewide mask policy, more input from scientific and medical advisers, autonomy for local officials who want to do more, and new commitments to transparency and open government.

“It is time this Governor recognized that and get his head out from under the President’s behind and lead and represent this state,” said Sen. Perry Thurston Jr.

“Here’s the bottom line,” Farmer declared. “Every trend we are looking at right now, whether it be health or financial, is on a significant negative slope.”

“The pandemic is growing in the state of Florida. And as we’ve seen in other states, when measures are taken to prevent the spread, not only does the health of the residents of those states improve, but the economics of those states improves,” Farmer added.

Torres expanded the call for action and added criticism to Attorney General Ashley Moody. Torres said she needs to investigate potential violations of Florida’s Sunshine laws by DeSantis, and criticized her for instead wasting the state’s time on a partisan “frivolous” lawsuit, joining the Texas suit seeking the Supreme Court’s help in President Donald Trump‘s attempt to overthrow the 2020 presidential election.

“Our trust in the executive branch has been shaken to its core,” Torres said.

Scott Powers

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at [email protected].

One comment

  • Sonja Fitch

    December 10, 2020 at 2:49 pm

    Get out Desantis! Desantis you are willingly slaughtering Floridians! Seems as if kissing the ass of the loser president is all you can focus on!!! Shut down the state! This is the perfect time!open schools after January 5! Open businesses after February 5. Spring Break is desperately a need for our economy! BUT NOT EVEN DISNEY Is surviving financially ! Do your damn job and protect and serve all Floridians! PS Trump is going to dump you like a load of bricks! Yes I am going to laugh at you, Desantis!

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