The expression “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer” has been variously attributed, including to Sun-tzu, the ancient Chinese general and military strategist; Niccolo Machiavelli, Italian Renaissance historian and political theorist; and Don Vito Coreleone, the noted fictional olive oil importer. Regardless, it is a pretty good piece of advice. Or, if you are Gov. Rick Scott, you could make an enemy a tax collector. This week, Scott announced he had chosen Mike Fasano, the veteran Republican state lawmaker, to replace Pasco Tax Collector Mike Olson, a Democrat, who died in June after suffering a stroke. Fasano, once the angry young conservative of Pasco Republican politics, has over the years taken an increasingly populist stance. He has become a thorn in the side of, among others, for-profit utilities and property insurance companies. Since tea party favorite Scott took office, Fasano, an ally of former Gov. Charlie Crist, has been the media’s go-to guy when looking for a Republican opposed to one of the governor’s proposals.
If the governor is to be believed, however, that is why he decided to name Fasano tax collector. The governor hailed Fasano as a fierce advocate for the “little guy and gal.” Mike Fasano is a genuinely nice guy, but he is also an astute politician. Still, it will be interesting to see how he will handle being tax collector. A county tax collector, for the most part, just takes in taxes and fees mandated by state law. There would seem to be little chance for helping the little people in that role. That doesn’t necessarily mean Fasano won’t try.