Otto: Can anyone tell we don't have a lieutenant governor?
Jennifer Carroll, left, abruptly resigned as Rick Scott's lieutenant governor in March after authorities questioned her ties into internet cafes that authorities say are fronts for gambling. THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
It's only been a few weeks, and I haven't checked the social receptions circuit, but by most accounts Florida seems to be hanging in there without a lieutenant governor. Some are suggesting that we also are making it without a real governor, but that sounds a little snarky. The fact is — like it or not — the man is on the job. You can almost see the tears in people's eyes when he goes through the villages and towns in his royal coach, waving that little Queen Elizabeth wave of his and throwing beads to the crowds. Oh, wait a minute … wrong parade. Those are the other pirates.
Of course, without a lieutenant to rub shoulders with the people, that means much of the glad-handing going on at the highest levels is being done by the current governor of Florida. And that can be a little creepy when you think about it. So far, except for those highway patrol guys who stood around the shrimp bowl while the lieutenant governor was doing whatever schmoozing goes on in those circles, nobody seems to miss her. Actually, I was hoping she would play on my beepball team of celebrities who will play the Lighthouse for the Blind in a few weeks. The game — 2 p.m. May 4 at Steinbrenner Field — is a contest where you try to hit a ball that beeps while you're blindfolded. She never responded and I'm not holding my breath she will. I've asked the governor to play, but for some reason his office hasn't responded either. I can only assume he's busy taking up the tasks of the lieutenant governor. The question going around is whether we even need a lieutenant governor. The salary of about $125,000 isn't that much by political pork standards. But it turns out, according to records, it cost taxpayers another $300,000 to ensure her security when she traveled … and she loved to travel. She traveled so much that the governor's office (unlike the Washington politicians) had to give her a budget. There was no sequestration in Tallahassee. When she traveled overseas to places such as Africa and Trinidad, the costs were picked up by Enterprise Florida, a public-private partnership where the money gets fuzzied away so nobody really knows the costs. So now what? The lieutenant governor's only real function was to take over the governor's job if he had to leave office for some reason. Right now that fate would fall on the state attorney general, making our own Pam Bondi the governor of Florida. I suppose they could always rent out the lieutenant governor's office and maybe convert it to a Starbucks or something useful. The governor has apparently not decided what to do, although he does need the space to store his money for the coming campaign. As for replacing the former lieutenant governor? A smart move would be to bring in one of the Republican gubernatorial wannabes, such as say, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam. That would almost guarantee that Putnam would disappear from view until the election was long past.