Published: Saturday, February 1, 2003 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 31, 2003 at 11:14 p.m.
Johnnie Byrd is a rock-ribbed conservative who hates taxes and disdains big government.
And as Speaker of the Florida House, Byrd, R-Plant City, intends lop the fat off government and get it back to its basic, fundamental mission.
....which is, of course, to promote, aggrandize and otherwise glorify politicians.
What else to make of the recent news that Byrd - who is already salivating over the prospect of making major cuts in social services, health care and other government functions - has been talking to private vendors about the cost of making thousands of prerecorded, unsolicited phone calls to Floridians?
All the better to keep the constituency informed about all the wonderful things their elected leaders in Tallahassee are doing for them, no doubt.
The Palm Beach Post reports that Byrd's office has been making inquiries into what it could cost to send as many as 50,000, 30-second prerecorded calls to Floridians, the money to come out of the House expense budget.
Now, if Byrd were, say, selling soap or peddling potency pills, he would be prohibited by federal law from making mass automated phone calls to private residences. But peddling politicians is OK.
But for what purpose? Byrd's staffers suggest the mass calls would be useful for keeping Floridians informed about, say, upcoming hearings or important announcements. Rep. Doug Wiles, a Democrat from St. Augustine and, thus, a member of the loyal opposition, imagines that Byrd's mass reach-out-and-touch-Floridians scheme is intended for the purpose of "incumbent protection."
"Other than enhancing your name recognition, what else are you accomplishing?" Wiles told the Post.
Of course, by that statement, Wiles shows himself to be totally out of touch with the true mission of government today as viewed through the eyes of modern day politicians who value public relations more than public policy.
It's the promotion, stupid, not the policy.
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