Florida Governor Rejected HSR Funds to Make Obama Look Bad

Oct 30th, 2013 | Posted by

This story should come as no surprise, but it’s still galling to see it. A former Florida State Senator has said that Florida Governor Rick Scott promised to accept federal HSR funds shortly before publicly announcing in 2011 he would reject those funds – and that he may have done so in order to make President Barack Obama look bad:

Former state Sen. Paula Dockery, a former political ally of Gov. Rick Scott but now a critic, says Scott assured her shortly after taking office in early 2011 that he planned to accept $2.4 billion in federal economic stimulus money for a Tampa-Orlando high-speed rail system.

That was days before he announced he was rejecting the money, creating a national political stir….

When she got out the documents to start going through them, “He said, ‘You don’t have to go any further, I’ve decided I’m going to take the high-speed rail money,’” she said in her speech Sept. 20 to the Tiger Bay Club. “’Don’t say anything to the media about it but I’m going to take the money.’”

“I said. ‘Governor, that’s fabulous.’”

Dockery said she warned Scott he would get intense pressure from fellow Republicans to reject it “because it looks like Obama wins” if the project succeeds.

“There were other Republican governors who were turning down rail money,” she said in the interview. “That was kind of the national plan of the Republican governors.”

“He said, ‘Don’t worry about it.’ … His mind already was made up,” she added. “There was no misinterpretation.”

As we know, Scott did side with Republican governors Scott Walker and John Kasich in rejecting federal HSR stimulus funds. California benefited, but Florida and the nation as a whole lost out. This was at the same time that Republicans in the US House of Representatives also began their own war on high speed rail, refusing to support new funding and throwing national plans into disarray.

Republican politicians oppose HSR for several reasons. Some of it has to do with their desire to make Obama look bad. Some of it is an ideological opposition to passenger rail, or to government funding of passenger rail. But whatever the reason, the effects are devastating to the national economy and America’s ability to become energy independent and reduce carbon emissions.

HSR backers may have the last laugh, however. Rick Scott has become one of the most unpopular governors in the country, and trails former governor Charlie Crist by 12 points in a likely 2014 matchup. Crist is a moderate politician who also supported the Florida HSR project and has criticized Scott for rejecting the federal stimulus funds.

It would be a huge boost for HSR funding, which California needs more of, to see Republicans lose their bids for re-election because they opposed high speed rail.

  1. Loren Petrich
    Oct 31st, 2013 at 01:00

    I would not be surprised if that had been their motive.

    Consider the recent health-care reform. It was originally proposed by the Heritage Foundation and implemented by Mitt Romney in Massachusetts. The right wing never made a big issue out of it then. But when President Obama was developing his health-care-reform scheme, MR recommended Romneycare to him saying that it was based on capitalism and individual responsibility. But when Obama revealed it, the right wing did a complete turnaround. Though Obamacare was essentially Romneycare, the right wing demonized it as a socialized-medicine monstrosity that was not much different from the Antichrist and the Great Satan. Their hatred of it became so strong that they recently shut down much of the Federal Government because of that.

    Bill Reply:

    Wasn’t the Tea Party born out of opposition to Obama’s “death panels”? Obama’s legacy is going to be that of an unsuccessful president mostly because of one manufactured crisis after another and general Republican opposition from the get-go. It’s just interesting that it’s the Republicans who are constantly crying “boondoggle” over every HSR proposal.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    No, it was born out of opposition to the stimulus.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    It was born out of their visceral fear. Of people not rich white straight old men.

    JJJ Reply:

    You forgot a detail: Romneycare (Obamacare) was an alternative to Hillarycare, which at the time was the big socialist evil.

    Theres another example of the same thing happening: Cap and Trade. Thatw as the big right wing, free market plan to deal with global warming. Now it’s apparently marxism, even though I believe Heritage was also a strong supporter.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Odd how many Marxist Commie plots to destroy Real America emanate from Republican think tanks.

    Bill Reply:

    Especially since they don’t know the difference between communist and socialist.

    Nathanael Reply:

    They don’t even know the difference between communist and capitalist.

    Judge Moonbox Reply:

    Didn’t the Republicans criticize John Kerry for being “for it before he was against it?” (In that case, “it” being the Iraq War.) So who’s flip flopping now?

    Nathanael Reply:

    It’s hard to guess the motivations of Governor “convicted felon” Rick Scott, who was the CEO of a company convicted of the largest felony fraud ever committed against Medicare — *before* he was elected.

    With a felonious mind such as Rick Scott has, I wouldn’t be surprised if there turns out to have been an outright bribe paid to him in order to reject the money.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:


  2. synonymouse
    Oct 31st, 2013 at 10:14

    All these shenanigans are childs play in comparison to the PB-Tutor-Palmdale fiasco. What, $20bil down the crapper, amidst heavy subsidies until they have to bail and auction off.

    And a developers’ scheme being peddled as environmental – ditto for Jerry’s Peripheral Tunnel water grab.

    synonymouse Reply:

    The Democratic Party is now the party of Wall Street. Dig it.

    VBobier Reply:

    That’s BS syno…

    VOTE all the Repubs/baggers out of office on Tuesday NOvember 4th, 2014!!!

    synonymouse Reply:

    I suspect on that date you will get to vote for Jerry’s Peripheral Tunnel to send Delta water to Palmdale.

    Bloomberg is a centrist Democrat – pretty much a clone of DiFi with her $5bil.

    Apparently there’s a Democratic rush in Congress to re-write Obamacare.

    Lots of things can happen in a year. Maybe the Ayatollah will croak. And I will win at the casino. Yeah, sure.

    StevieB Reply:

    Is this the same logic as the infant who learning dada proceeds to call every male dada?

    Nathanael Reply:

    Better the party of Wall Street than the party of apocalyptic End Times death cultists.

    The Republican Party needs to vanish entirely and it can’t happen soon enough. Once it’s gone, we can have a legitimate second party.

    Neville Snark Reply:

    Syno, do you think it’s not possible to build anything in the US, now, with a lot of political shenanigans? (HSR or other big things). Do you see other countries as more able? Which, and why?

    Neville Snark Reply:

    that is, without a lot of political shenanigans..

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    ya think it was possible to build things in the past without a lot of political shenanigans?

    Neville Snark Reply:

    Definitely not – that’s the point of my question.

    Mark A Reply:

    My goodness Synonymouse. How you make a leap from this post to your ridiculous conspiracy theory is very instructive as to how warped your mind is. Wow.

    nick Reply:

    it isn’t his fault it’s the Pelosi PB Bechtel mind rays you know – the Pelosi ones !

  3. Alan Kandel
    Oct 31st, 2013 at 12:22

    Thank goodness Florida East Coast Industries had the presence of mind to institute faster speed passenger rail initially between Miami and Orlando and subsequently to Jacksonville! It may not be true high-speed but should be a marked improvement over conventional Amtrak service in Florida when completed.

    Brian_FL Reply:

    It will be a 1000 times better than existing Amtrak service. If they expand to Jacksonville and Tampa, there will be no big need for Amtrak here in Florida. Except for AutoTrain and a few hundred out of state riders everyday on 2 daily trains from up north.

    Here is a link to an interesting news story out of Tampa. The secretary of FDOT, had this to say about AAF expanding in the future:


    “Tampa is the “natural progression” for a future extension of the All Aboard Florida commuter rail service being developed between downtown Miami and Orlando International Airport, Florida Department of Transportation Secretary Ananth Prasad said Wednesday.”

    FDOT to me has always seemed supportive of rail transit but has been unable to execute due to political decisions. In the video interview, Sec. Prasad mentions how FDOT has worked to make the public/private partnership with AAF succeed. It would not surprise me to see AAF someday in a few years lease land in the median of I-4 down to Tampa. FDOT and Sec. Prasad are probably playing a key role in the 200 million dollar state grant the Orlando airport authority asked for to pay for the new AAF train station at the airport.

    Alan Kandel Reply:

    I stand corrected about AAF to Jacksonville. I thought it was already a done deal, Thanks.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Existing Amtrak service in Florida is better described as “Florida to the Northeast” service. Despite ever-increasing prices, it’s getting more and more popular; currently 300-600 passengers a day, it will probably be more as time goes on.

    If FECI/AAF does go to Tampa, frankly I think Amtrak would be quite happy to stop serving Tampa and let the Tampa passengers change from Amtrak to FECI/AAF in Jacksonville or Orlando; Amtrak currently serves Tampa in an extremely inconvenient manner.

    Unfortunately, there is no evidence that FECI/AAF has any real intent to build to Tampa or Jacksonville.

    Brian_FL Reply:

    Perhaps down the road in a few years Amtrak would connect with AAF in Jacksonvillle. Not sure what the schedules would look like but AAF is proposing to operate 6am to 8 pm departures. Amtrak might have to adjust their schedules to meet AAF in Jacksonville at a decent hour.

    As for future expansion, AAF has been quite clear that their priority now is to get Miami to Orlando up and running. There has been some recent “controversy” here about Tamcpa possibly being left out. The response from AAF has been that nothing has been decided, either for or against expansion. It really is just to soon to expect them to commit. If the initial service is successful, I do expect AAF to expand to both Tampa and Jacksonville.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Amtrak (when on time) currently arrives at Jacksonville from the north at 6:55am and 9:23am, and leaves for the north at 5:08pm and 10:57pm.

    If AAF extends to Jacksonville and operates from 6am to 8pm out of Jacksonville, there will be no problem with connections whatsoever.

  4. Brian_FL
    Oct 31st, 2013 at 12:39

    I always assumed that Gov Scott made his decision for purely partisan reasons. This report just confirms that. One big reason why Crist leads Scott by 12 points is because of Scott’s decision to kill HSR. A good majority of Floridians that live in Central and South Florida do support HSR as they understand what our future here will look like in 20 years without a viable alternative to car travel! Even the republican state government here in FL approved 300 million in spending in support of the HSR project in 2010. So HSR does have bipartisan support at the state level – except for the tea party crowd that came into being back in 2010. Florida is very much a purple state – not all dems or repubs. But a mix of both overall.

  5. nick
    Oct 31st, 2013 at 14:47

    Good news from across the pond the bill to allow the release of further monies to proceed with the planning of HS2. The vote was 350 to 34 with cross party consensus (see TeaBaggers it is possible!) with the coalition Tory and LibDems with strong support from labour mp’s, particularly from the more northern counties. Apart from the pending court case re the lack of environmental review to date (sounds familiar eh!), the next hurdle is in March 2014 when the vote to proceed will take place. Currently this is looking likely. The projected cost with contingency is £42.6 billion plus trains.

    Jon Reply:

    …which, by strange coincidence, is the same as the estimated cost of CAHSR phase 1.

  6. synonymouse
    Oct 31st, 2013 at 18:49

    @ D.P.

    nec plus ultra


    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Thanks, I’ve seen this fellow’s work before at Railway Preservation News, although not this particular set. Some great shots there, some of my favorites include these:





    And people wonder why some of us rail enthusiasts love steam as much as we do. . .

    Don’t tell my wife I included this one:


    Nathanael Reply:

    I love the US mail truck on the rails. Must be a really rural area…

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