Miami Herald: Miami legislator files complaint against Florida House speaker

Sep 10, 2009

This article was ppublished by the Miami Herald on September 20, 2009

Comparing House Speaker Larry Cretul to a dictator, a Miami state representative Wednesday filed a formal complaint alleging that his fellow Republican broke House rules by reshuffling committees without a vote of the full chamber.

Rep. J.C. Planas acknowledges that his complaint is rare, ultra-wonky and unpopular with some fellow Republicans. But he said someone needed to stand up and stop current and future leaders of the House from acting like strongmen.

“The fact that Hugo Ch├ívez in Venezuela reshuffles the legislative deck so he can get his items passed is something that’s bad enough,” Planas said.

“But the fact that the members of a committee can be shuffled this way in Tallahassee, Florida, should be completely unacceptable.”

Cretul’s spokeswoman, Jill Chamberlin, said the speaker had no comment on Planas’ allegations nor his complaint.

At issue: Cretul’s Aug. 24 announcement that he would eliminate some committees that lawmakers sit on, including a major budget council and a committee upon which Planas sits.

“While some people who lost committees are understandably upset, I’m convinced Speaker Cretul acted within the rules,” said Rep. Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel.

Planas, a candidate for Miami-Dade circuit judge, said he’s not taking revenge on the speaker for removing him as chairman of the Public Safety & Domestic Security Policy Committee and membership in the Criminal & civil Justice Policy Council. He says he’s trying to make sure that the rules are followed.

Miami-Dade delegation chairman, Rep. Juan Zapata — who also lost chairmanship of a committee — said he backs Planas’ efforts.

Planas said he wants a full vote of the House to approve the new committee structure.

The complaint is the latest drama to involve the House speakership. Cretul, an Ocala Republican, was elevated to the post after predecessor Ray Sansom resigned amid a criminal probe into his handling of the budget.