lucius_gantt_1.jpgMany Republicans in office or seeking office oftentimes compare themselves to Ronald Reagan. In Florida, GOP hopefuls tend to say they are like former Gov. Jeb Bush. But high-ranking Republicans and Tea Party puppets are nothing like Reagan and no Florida Republican can go to sleep and dream about being Bush.

The current governor, Rick Scott, could easily be dubbed Ricky Houdini. A master of government magic, Scott is an expert illusionist and some of his greatest tricks have involved black businesses.
More black businesses participated in Florida contracting opportunities to provide goods and services to state government under Bush’s term as governor than during any other gubernatorial term.
So what did Scott magically do? Slick Rick turned a very successful executive order to create diversity in state contracting, first issued by Bush, into an executive joke.
Under Bush’s “One Florida” initiative, all departments in his administration were required to spend some money with disadvantaged and minority firms. Tricky Ricky “confirmed” Bush’s executive order but encouraged departments to talk about diversity in spending but not to worry about spending with black and other minority business people.
“One Florida,” “Front Porch” and other diversity in business programs, for all practical purposes, have magically disappeared since Scott became governor.
Instead of making it easier for every citizen to participate in state purchasing transactions, Tricky Ricky magically made it harder for minorities to get a state contract.
At one time, all a minority business had to do was to go to a government purchasing agent and try to sell that agent and his or her agency a product or service, just like white vendors and contractors do.
Today, a black business owner has to prove he or she is black to be considered by state agencies as a qualified vendor. Black and other minority vendors have to be “certified” and all white business persons interested in doing state business have to do is show up.
In government magic, black businesses are only black for one year. After a year, they turn into another color and have to go through the certification process over and over, year after year.
Tricky Ricky has turned programs created to help MBEs — minority business enterprises — into programs designed to block or inhibit black companies from seeking state contracts.
If “certification” was so necessary or so great, why doesn’t Slick Rick require all business to go through the ridiculous certification process?
In other words, if a black company can compete with any other company, why should the black business be the only one that must be “certified”? A newspaper is a newspaper, so why should black media companies have to be “certified” to be considered for state advertising placed by the Florida Lottery, the Department of Transportation or any  other agencies?
Speaking of the Department of Transportation, how can DOT receive and spend federal dollars to build super highways across the Sunshine State and ignore the federal guidelines for minority business participation?
Yes, Ricky is tricky but all of the federal and state elected officials are in the same magic show. The elected officials that you voted for, including the black elected officials, allow this government magic and witchcraft to take place.
I know you don’t like for me to write like this but it is true.
Not too long ago, Florida’s black legislators met with Gov. Scott to go over important issues. Now, Tricky Ricky is “the jobs governor” but did the black legislators question him about minority contracts for minority businesses that hire minority employees?
I don’t know because I wasn’t there but I was told that the black legislators who are lawyers asked for more black lawyers to get appointed jobs as judges. South Florida legislators talked about immigration reform for Cubans and Mexicans but mentioned little or nothing about the plight of immigrants from Haiti, Africa and other places with refugees of African descent.
I heard voting laws were mentioned as being important to black elected officials who want to remain in office for as long as they can.
One very good Rick trick is to turn exotic vacations into “trade missions.” The governor and his friends pick a country they want to visit and they make taxpayers pay for the vacation by calling it a trade mission.  Why can’t the governor and the black elected officials have a “trade mission” in Liberty City, in Overtown, in Frenchtown and in the ghettos and barrios of other Florida cities?
The way to be a jobs governor is to create jobs in communities where there are few jobs to be had. Black businesses hire black employees. If you are not playing tricks, one way to create jobs for black citizens is to help black businesses.
If it is not a trick, Gov. Scott, why can’t black contractors get contracts and subcontracts to build and repair Florida’s roads and highways? Why can’t black contractors get jobs building multimillion-dollar clinics in Florida for the Veterans Administration? Why can’t black media companies get more state advertising?
Hispanics are the flavor of the month because Hispanic elected officials stand up and speak out for Hispanic businesses.  Ask Scott and the black legislators why Hispanics get designated contracts from agencies like the Florida Lottery and blacks do not. Why do white business associations get state and federal grants to improve business opportunities and black business associations do not?
Only a magician can make you think government programs are for everybody when they really are only for the friends and campaign contributors of elected officials.
Only the elected officials for whom you voted can make you think they are fighting for you when they are really fighting for themselves.
I wonder if I can call that black magic.
Black businesses and black people must unite and fight the government warlocks and witches. We must put a stop to the government magic show and the lead magician, Ricky Houdini, who has made everything for black businesses in Florida disappear.
Who would have ever thought that government magic would be so tragic?

Lucius Gantt, a political consultant based in Tallahassee, is author of the book Beast Too: Dead Man Writing. He may be reached at