By Jerry Waxman
Since the ascendency of Ronald Reagan every time conservative Republicans either run for office or stand for re-election their main talking points are how wasteful and inefficient the federal government is. Their prophecy is self-fulfilling because they prove it every day they are in office. They know how to campaign well, but they just don’t (or don’t want to) govern well. John Mica of Florida’s 7th congressional district is no exception. He’s represented his district for the last eighteen years and since January he has been the chairman of the powerful House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.
Florida’s 7th district is a masterful example of gerrymandering in that Mica lives in the city of Winter Park yet represents people in Seminole County, Volusia County and other counties as far north as Jacksonville. Somehow, strangely, the city of Sanford escapes his district, belonging instead to Corrine Brown of Florida’s District Three. District Three is another marvel of gerrymandering. It looks like a small dog with its head in Jacksonville and its hind legs down in the Pine Hills and Oakridge sections of Orlando. Its tail is interpolated into District Seven as the city of Sanford. What is not in her district is the Sanford/Orlando airport, which is about on the boundary line of the two districts. By 2002 Mica had already served on the House Transportation Committee for ten years, so these things are not done without a reason.
As part of the Republican agenda of lessening the impact of unions Mica insisted on legislation that would sharply curtail union activities as a requisite to passing the FAA Reauthorization bill in July. There was no resolution and the FAA shut down all unnecessary operations on July 22. This action caused millions of dollars in tax revenue to go uncollected, as well as the loss of thousands of jobs and construction starts, which in an economy as fragile as the one we are in is not good news for anyone. A temporary measure was passed later that extended FAA authorization until September 15th. Congress, of course, has been on vacation and is just now coming back into session, so there is a narrow window of opportunity to pass a clean bill.
During the congressional recess period Mica had to come home to face the voters and he got earfuls from many quarters. Earlier in August Dana Milbank of the Washington Post had this to report:
The usually biting chairman of the House Transportation Committee spoke with remorse about the standoff, which caused furloughs of 74,000 people, delays to airport safety projects and the loss of hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars.
“I’ve had a brutal week, getting beat up by everybody,” Mica told me, minutes after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced a deal that would end the shutdown, at least until Congress returns next month. “I didn’t know it would cause this much consternation,” he said. “Now I’ve just got to get the broom and the shovel and clean up the mess.” Switching metaphors, he said he wanted “to unclog the toilet, but it backed up. So I don’t know what to do, what to say.”
The labor unions who deal with the FAA sprang into action with a plan to deal with Mica’s dilemma, but not in an adversarial way. Spearheaded by the Communications Workers of America they visited all five of Mica’s district offices Friday with brooms, dust pans, plungers and other cleaning up paraphernalia to take back to Washington to aid him in his cleanup effort.
The group at the Maitland office was headed by Washington D.C. based CWA Mobilization Director Eileen Toback and CWA local President “Dave” Skinner. The group marched into Mica’s office and received a warm welcome from the secretary. She introduced the office’s district director, Dick Hartke, who graciously allowed several people to speak. At the end of the meeting everyone was invited to sign a guest list for a personal response from Mica. Someone said softly “just make sure you’re not going to wind up on Dan Webster’s list!” Here’s a video of Dave Skinner being interviewed. Here’s a video of the entire meeting with Hartke.
It’s probably a much bigger mess than the CWA and all the other unions think, so if you are so inclined here’s a list of all five (Really? He needs five? Talk about inefficiency and waste! ) offices so that if you are so inclined you could send him some more cleaning supplies:
Maitland: 100 East Sybellia Ave. Suite 340, Maitland, FL. 32751
Palatka: 2509 Crill Ave, suite 200, Palatka, FL 32177
St. Augustine: 3000 North Ponce de Leon Drive, Suite 1 St. Augustine, FL. 32084
Ormond Beach: 770 W. Granada Blvd. Suite 315, Ormond Beach, FL. 32174
Deltona: 840 Deltona Blvd. Suite G, Deltona, FL. 32725
Just one more thing…..someone include some disinfectant spray. Just because he may clean up the mess, you can be sure that the malodor will linger on.