Senator Phil Lewis (D., West Palm Beach)*Lewis QC
Senator Howard Forman (D., Hollywood)
Senator Howard Forman brought the same liberal Democrat philosophy to the Senate, as his predecessors, representing central and western Broward County. Howard had served several terms at the local government level and has returned to that level of service today. Senator Forman was a leading advocate for education, local government, and social services during his service in the legislature. If he would have served during a Democratic Administration, he would no doubt have also served in the executive branch of state government. I had the pleasure of working with Howard on a number of issues of concern to the fine residents of the Sunrise Communities in Florida.
Palm Beach County Commissioner Lake Lytal*
As pointed out in my book, The Golden Years…The Florida Legislature, I learned about politics at an early age in Palm Beach County. I had not met Palm Beach County Commissioner Lake Lytal before, but as a result of a student profile piece in the Palm Beach Post Times, the Commissioner sent me a personal note of congratulations. That thoughtful gesture stayed with me over the years, and after winning election to the legislature, I made it a point to send similar congratulations notes to all public school students in my district. I am sure like Commissioner Lytal, I received such wonderful feedback from my constituents for my letter writing to their school children–just good and smart politics.
Senator Bud Gardner (D., Melbourne)*
Bud was first elected to the House of Representatives from Brevard County in 1978, when I was elected to the Florida Senate. As a result, I did not have a chance to work with him very often, but I followed his impressive long career in the House and Senate, himself. He was particularly impressive as the powerful Chairman of Senate Appropriations Committee under fellow Miami-Dade County Senate President Gwen Margolios (D., Miami Beach). Bud is back in Brevard County working on his engineering practice and periodically offering legislative counsel to the Democrats in office.
Department of Revenue Executive Director Larry Fuchs
It is too seldom that we recognize career state public servants. One of the best was the Executive Director of the Florida Department of Revenue, Larry Fuchs. Although we did not really know each other well, Larry and I attended undergraduate school at Florida Southern College in the late 1960′s. Larry went on to an outstanding career with the DOR, following such outstanding Directors as Tom Herndon and Dr. Jim Zingale, among others. Larry was passionate about applying proven private sector business principles to the administration of collecting taxes. A sharp focus of his was the collection of child support, an unusual task for the agency. Larry is now retired and is a frequent consultant to public and private sector clients.
Lobbyist William “Buddy” McCue
As in all professions, only a limited number of lobbyists really stand out, in a positive way. One I certainly recall was the long time lobbyist for the respected Florida Insurance Agents Association, William “Buddy” McCue. Insurance is a complex profession with gazillion regulations. But it is also a near imperative product for consumers. So, that made Buddy a player before he even started working the halls of the Capitol. Buddy knew insurance, especially the mega complicated area of worker’s compensation, which was constantly being debated during the Golden Era of the ’70′s and ’80′s. But Buddy was special in that he was gregarious, humorous, and always truthful. We lost Buddy a few years ago, and the insurance industry and all Floridians have lost a true professional.
Lobbyist Beth Kergosien Labasky
Beth is a wonderful success story from the Florida Capitol. Susan and I first met Beth while she was lobbying on behalf of children’s issues and the Florida Department of Children and Family Services, during the Graham Administration. She was smart, industrious, and very gregarious. Over the years, she has developed her lobbying practice into one of the nation’s premier advocates on behalf of children and social issues. I am fortunate to maintain contact with Beth through Facebook, and enjoy her updates, especially on her proud association with the University of Georgia Bulldogs.
Department of Environmental Regulation Secretary Jay Landers
Jay was one of the leaders of what became known in the Capitol as “Adams Army.” Former Florida Secretary of State Tom Adams had assembled a group of young professionals bound and determined to run the state in the future, and Jay was one of the leaders of the group. He had a law degree and assisted Adams’ new boss, Governor Reubin Askew in managing the important environmental issues starting in the 1970′s. Askew appointed Landers to manage the state lands program and subsequently appointed him to head up the newly reorganized Department of Environmental Regulation. After leaving state government Jay went on to successful law and business ventures, and now enjoys his wonderful family in Tallahassee.
Judge Arden Siegendorf*
As I pointed out in my book, The Golden Years…The Florida Legislature, Judge Arden Siegendorf of Miami influenced my political career early on. My first contact, when considering a race for a legislative seat in early 1970, was with a colleague of mine at IBM, Bob Ryals. Bob was also very interested in politics and referred me to a Young Democrat he knew, then Miami City Commissioner Arden Siegendorf. The commissioner and I had lunch just off the 836 Expressway, he gave me a list of PR names that Siegendorf knew and could recommend for me. Many on that list were published last week in my Tallahassee Democrat Quorum Call segment. Tragically, I read today that later appointed Judge Siegendorf passed away about a week ago. As was pointed out in his obituary, the judge was an outstanding jurist, and a great guy. I and untold thousands of Floridians will certainly miss Arden Siegendorf.
Representative Bill Gibson (R., Orlando)*
Colonel Gibson was first elected in 1967 in the wave of new legislators from the 1962-67 reapportionment. Prior to that time, there were less than a handful of Republicans serving in the Florida legislature. The Colonel was not flashy, but there is one thing he damn well was–and that was present, at all times. He had the consecutive voting record at that time, and may still hold the record today. As a former military man myself, Colonel Gibson seemed to go out of his way to welcome me to the House of Representatives in 1974, even though we were “different flavors,” as the saying went. Representative Bill Gibson sent a wonderful example for newer members of the legislature, by always being present and on time.
60 Minutes Reporter Steve Kroft*
As I indicated in my book, The Golden Years…The Florida Legislature, ’70′s and ’80′s, I have had the chance to make contact with national media representatives over the years. It was understood then that Miami was a sophisticated news market for reporters, so it was not unusual for national reporters to have stints in Miami–like Fred Francis, Brian Ross, Richard Schlessinger, Al Sunshine, and Gary Tuckman, among others. But the one that interviewed me at my Brickell Avenue office was one of the biggest and best–Steve Kroft, later of 60 Minutes on CBS, in 1978 when he was a reporter for WPLG, Channel 10 of ABC. He was a very serious reporter, then as he is now. As I recall, I was in the middle of the fighting between Senators Dempsey Barron and W. D. Childers, and Steve was covering the story. No soft balls in that interview.
UPI Reporter Sam Miller
During the Golden Era of the Florida Legislature, the ’70′s and ;80′s, there was healthy competition among the capitol press corps, include the two major wire services, The Associated Press (“AP”) and United Press International (“UPI”). The lead reporter for the UPI covering the legislature was young Sam Miller. He was always polite and careful with his interviews. But, I also found him very serious with a consistent curiosity, particularly about the facts in an interview. As UPI began to phase out of its work in Tallahassee, Sam moved over to head up the major insurance industry association. He is today one of the most influential voices around the country on issues of interest to the insurance industry and consumers.
U. S. Senator Ed Gurney (R., Fla.)
Senator Ed Gurney served in almost every level of government before being elected to the U. S. Senate from Florida in 1968. Hailing originally from Maine, Gurney was a war hero, retiring as a Lieutenant Colonel. He settled in Winter Park to practice law and was elected to serve as a City Commissioner, City Attorney, and Mayor. He was a rare Republican elected to the Congress from the South in 1962. He won a surprise election over popular former Governor LeRoy Collins (D., Fla.) for the retiring Senator Spessard Holland (D., Fla.) seat. Gurney was a staunch supporter of discredited President Richard Nixon, and elected not to run for re-election with ethics problems of his own in 1974. Senator Gurney lost a comeback election try to future Congressman and U.S. Senator Bill Nelson (D., Fla.) in 1978.
Representative Chester Clem (R., Vero Beach)*
Chester migrated to Vero Beach from his hometown of Gainesville, when he was educated at the University of Florida. His first elected run for office (he had been an appointed municipal Judge in Vero Beach) was in 1972, and he was successful as a Republican. Chester quickly rose through the ranks in his party’s caucus, but being in the minority denied him committee chairmanships, which I believe he deserved. He did go on to run for Lt. Governor with his good friend, now Congressman Ander Crenshaw, but fell to defeat in 1982. Chester still has an active law practice in Vero Beach and with his wife, former Indian River County elected official, Kay Scott Clem, remains active in GOP politics.
Editor Steve Hull
Many in the Capitol know and have worked with communications pro Steve Hull. He has come at his trade with great experience and breadth–as a reporter, as the communications director for a successful campaign for Governor, as the Communications Director for that Governor, as a lobbyist, and as a consultant to the media industry. But I first met Steve in a different venue–I was making my first run for the state legislature and he was the editor of an important independent newspaper in my district, The Coral Gables Times Guide. I had already received glowing endorsements from the mammoth Miami Herald and the Miami News, so I was really hoping for a sweep with the Times Guide. Not–Steve endorsed my opponent, who went on to win by a scant couple hundred votes. I still kid Steve about it today.
Florida Chamber CEO Frank Ryll*
I first met Frank in the late 70′s, when he was a lobbyist for the Florida Chamber of Commerce. His boss, Louis Polatty had recruited Frank to beef up the Chamber’s presence in the Capitol, and although Frank was low key, he was smart as the dickens and of great help to me working on streamlining permitting legislation. Frank went on to become the Chamber’s longest serving CEO setting in place a solid and responsive trade association for small and large businesses alike. Frank later asked me to join him as his Executive Vice President in the Chamber with the objective of growing organizational breadth with the introduction of a Chamber Foundation and new products and services for its’ members. To his credit, Frank successfully enlisted the support-financial, political, and on issues, of the major movers and shakers in Florida business. He is now retired and enjoying his family, but I am sure, advising his long time friends in business of how to positively influence Florida government.
Dr. Pat and George Haynie
Pat Haney was a childhood friend of my wife, Susan, in Hunstsville, Alabama. She was a precocious child, according to Susan, and it shows–going on through college ranks to obtain her PhD and becoming the Vice Chancellor of the Florida University System under the recognized head, Dr. Charles Reed. Her husband, George, an accountant by trade, also had a great career in state government with the Comptroller’s Office, the Lottery, and the university system. Pat and George were some of the very talented senior leaders we were fortunate to work with in state government, and call our good friends during the Golden Era of Florida politics.
Senator George Kirkpatrick (D., Gainesville)*
The expression, “It is okay to think it, but whatever you do, don’t say it,” would be appropriate for freshman Senator George Kirkpatrick at his swearing in ceremony in 1980. The senator, who had never served in public office, was asked by a reporter about his plans and goals were in the senate? Kirkpatrick smiled at the then presiding Senate President W. D. Childers (D., Pensacola), and said, “I want his job–the Senate Presidency.” It took probably 10 years in the senate back benches for him to overcome that faux pas. Actually Kirkpatrick went on to serve a long time in the senate, both as a Democrat and a Republican. He passed away after his retirement, but his presence is still felt, particularly in the areas of solid waste management and education funding for his beloved constituents at the University of Florida.
Republican Chairman Al Cardenas
During my close campaign race with incumbent State Representative Jeff Gautier (D., Miami) in 1972, I met a bright, young Republican Cuban lawyer running against venerable Senator Claude Pepper in the Miami Beach Congressional Seat. Like most Dade Countians, I thought that Pepper was a lock for re-election, but I must say I was very impressed with his opponent–aggressive, respectful of the Senator’s service, and dogged. The election was not very close with Pepper winning, but his opponent was also a big winner…many years later. Chairman Cardenas ran the Republican Party for two term Florida Governor Jeb Bush (R, Fla.) and is now one of the high profile activists in the conservative wing of the national Republican Party.
Representative George Crady (D., Yulee)*
Over my legislative career, there have been a few members that have really focused on learning and monitoring the rule making process in both chambers. Among them have been Senate Dean Dempsey Barron (D. Panama City), House Clerks Allen Morris and John Phelps, one of my opponents, State Representative Jeff Gautier (D. Miami) and most recently, the gentleman from House District 15 in Yulee, Representative George Crady. George was first elected to the House in 1977, and was re-elected numerous times from his Northeast Florida district. Unknown to many, including his colleagues, George was a true intellectual, having graduated from Duke University. He was sometimes dismissed because he listed as his profession as owning and running a fishing camp on the St. John’s River. But for those of us that took the time to get to know George and observe his intimate knowledge of the Rules, he was an extraordinary student of the legislative process.
Lobbyist Tom Horkan*
My great friend and charter member of “First Friday,” Miami attorney Mike Fitzgerald had mentioned to me his colleague and fellow lawyer for the Florida Catholic Conference, Tom Horkan in Tallahassee. I contacted Tom because I found myself working on some very difficult legislation on defining the moment of brain death. This was a national issue related to the tragic death of Karen Ann Quinlan (but before the Terri Schiavo case) and as Chairman of the Senate Health and Rehabilitative Services Committee, I found myself facing doctors, hospitals, lawyers, churches and a very concerned public on this issue. Tom worked closely with my staff, and the help of Representative Sam Bell (D,. Daytona Beach) we were able to pass the landmark Florida legislation defining brain death, which still stands today. Tom passed on a few years ago, but he was always a wonderful friend and counselor to me.
Homestead Mayor Tad Demilly
The Mayor helped me win my seat in the Florida Senate in 1978, through the recruitment of Insurance Executive Tom Jones and Optometrist Dr. Jerry Furnari. Tad worked for Eastern Airlines, but obviously had his eye on a future in politics. He was at the center of the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew which devastated the small town of Homestead. The Mayor and City Manager impressed the national media with their quick, no nonsense response during the clean up. I have run into Tad in the Capitol now and then, and feel certain he continues in some form or fashion in public service. He is a natural.
Miami Trial Lawyer J. B. Spence
As expected, the Florida Trial Lawyers have always had a powerful lobby in the Capitol. Perhaps the most powerful delegation has been that from Miami-Dade County, and during my days in the legislature, it was led by legendary J. B. Spence. Although gregarious, J. B. was a no-nonsense and tireless advocate for the plaintiffs. At one point, I was told that J. B. was thinking about running against me for the Senate. He would have been a formidable foe, and I was always happy to call him a friend. We lost J. B. a few years ago, and he will always be remembered as one of the trial bar’s elite lawyers.
Representative Sam Bell (D., Daytona Beach)*
One of Sam’s childhood friends once told me of his upbringing in Ft. Lauderdale. He was precocious for his age, so an Ivy League education was fully expected–in his case, Dartmouth and then Duke law school. Sam settled in Daytona Beach, and was first elected to the Florida House of Representatives in 1974 (along with moi). Actually Sam and I shared a suite of offices with the House Committee on Health and Rehabilitative Services (of which we were both new members). In my book about the Golden Era of Florida politics, I describe in detail some of this Floridian’s extraordinary contributions to this great state–please read about them, they will inspire you.
Senate Staff Director Ray Wilson
During my last two years in the Senate (1980-82), Ray Wilson was appointed by then Senate President W. D. Childers (D., Pensacola) Staff Director of the Committee on Corrections, Probation and Parole, which was Chaired the late Senator Joe Carlucci (D., Jacksonville). Since I had previously chaired a similar committee in the Florida House of Representatives, I followed the Senate committee with more than a passing interest. I was impressed with Ray and his staff’s work, especially since their Chairman was relatively new to the legislative process and had a tendency to “shoot from the hip.” Ray went on to a long and impressive career in the legislative arena, and probably will continue to make contributions to the state.
Senator Tom McPherson (D., Cooper City)*
Tom has had a long career in public service–ranging from Mayor of Cooper City, to State Representative and State Senator, all from Broward County. I first met Tom in 1974 when he was serving as Chairman of the House Committee on Standards and Conduct under Speaker Don Tucker (D., Tallahassee). I served with Tom on the House of Representatives Natural Resources Committee, in which he was one of the most experienced members. Tom subsequently won and lost elections, but I always considered him a friend and a very knowledgeable legislator.
Representative Hal Spaet (D., Miami Beach)*
I met Hal during my first campaign–both of us running for a seat in The Florida House of Representatives in 1972. Hal came from a well known family in Miami Beach politics–following his father (a subsequent county commissioner and municipal judge) on to the Miami Beach City Council. Hal won his seat in the House in 1978, as I moved over to the Senate, and we worked together on social issues through the Senate and House Committees on Health and Rehabilitative Services. I have lost track of Hal, but can still recall some of those rough and tumble days as first time campaigners in big, bad Dade Coundy.
Lobbyist Al Alsobrook
For the record, I have a diploma from Florida State University, and in my book, The Golden Years…The Florida Legislature, ’70′s and ’80′s, I went out of my way to publish the legendary “Lane Fenner Catch” confirming that FSU beat UF in Doak in 1966 (because I was there). With that established, I would like to throw a shout out to the Gator’s fine lobbyist during the Golden Era, Al Alsobrook. He worked the halls as hard as any lobbyist I saw, and understood that the overall goal of improving public higher ed was foremost. After leaving the legislature, I had a chance to work with Al on education issues of importance to the Florida Chamber Foundation. For Al and the great institution in Gainesville, Go Gators.
Press Secretary Don Pride
Although I have always known that Don Pride was an important leader in the Askew Administration, it was not until I recently read Martin Dyckman’s book on the former Governor that I came to understand the pivotal role Pride played. First meeting Don, I found him to be friendly and almost shy. But, as I got to know him better (particularly when we served together in the Chiles Administration in the early 1990′s), his brilliant mind became very apparent. According to Dyckman’s book, it is Don that was behind so many of the bold strokes of Askew confounding the national press, and propelling the Governor to be named one of the five best Governor’s ever, according to Harvard University.
60 Minutes Tay Voye
One of the many outstanding producers of the award winning television magazine was Tay Voye, who started in the business with WTVJ, Channel 4 in Miami (CBS, at the time). I went to Lake Worth High School with Tay, and have loosely stayed in touch with him over the years–he is now a producer of films and documentaries with North by Northwest in Washington state. I also crossed paths with Tay during the 60 Minutes program done on laetrile in the 1970′s, while I was in the legislature. As with so many of us, we cross paths at one time or another with some of the most interesting people in life, if we take the time to keep track of them.
Reporter John Sugg
John was both a reporter for the Miami Herald/Coral Gables Times Guide as well as, for a period of time, the editor. He was very kind to take an interest in my campaigns, particularly the first one against incumbent State Representative Jeff Gautier (D., Miami) in 1972. John seemed to be most interested in my launching such a serious threat, as a newcomer to South Florida politics, to such a legendary name in Miami politics–Jeff’s Uncle was the distinguished former State Senator, Bunn Gautier. Apparently John was most interested in my campaign because it started as nothing, and was marked by the involvement of ubiquitous Coral Gables Jaycees (of which both John and me were members). Although no longer with the Herald, nor in South Florida, I have heard from John now and then, and continue to wish me the very best.
Representative Tom Warner (R., Stuart)
I first met Tom in a lunch meeting with attorney (and former high school classmate) Lanning Fox in Stuart in 1987. We had met to discuss their firm representing our company, Planned Development Corporation in real estate acquisitions. It turned out that Tom was a constituent of mine at Coral Gables High School. Subsequently Tom asked me to contact Governor Graham on behalf of his wife, who was seeking a judicial appointment, which I did. Tom went on to run for the legislature, win, and become the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. He ran unsuccessfully against Charlie Crist for Attorney General and is back at the practice of law in South Florida.
Lobbyist Charlie Maddox
Charlie was the high profile lobbyist for the Fraternal Order of Police (“FOP”) in Miami- Dade County during my service in the legislature. I had a very high regard for Charlie and his members, and they returned the support during my elections. Charlie lived in Homestead, the south boundary of my House District, and his son, Scott grew up in politics as well. Perhaps Charlie’s best friend was one of my most well liked colleagues, the Honorable Tony Fontana, a former law enforcement representative from Hialeah. I see Charlie now and then in Tallahassee, and we often reminisce of the wonderful times during the ’70s and ’80′s.
Activist Nikki Beare
In South Dade County, there were a number of vocal advocates for women’s rights, but perhaps none more effective than Nikki Beare. She screened many candidates for the National Organization of Women (“NOW”), and was a very serious candidate for the Florida State Senate in District 40 in 1976 herself. She did not win that race, but remained active and influential during my service in the Legislature through the mid ’80′s. She and her husband Dick are now retired and living in Havana, with Nikki occasionally opining on political issues through newspaper op eds.
Activist Gloria Steinem
My campaign for the Florida Senate in 1978 drew national media interest because I was running against an incumbent Senator who switched his vote (and co-sponsorship) of approving the Equal Rights Amendment (“ERA”), which failed of adoption by one vote. As a result of my previous and pledged support of the ERA, my colleague Representative Elaine Gordon (D., Miami Beach) asked me to meet with her and national women’s right’s activist Gloria Steinem, in my district. Ms. Steinem was very stern and business like during our meeting, but pledged her personal and financial support of my campaign. I won the election to the Florida Senate that November.
Reporter Lloyd Dunkelberger
I first met Lloyd after I left the Legislature, and accepted the Co-Chairmanship with former Federal Reserve Governor and former Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives Fred Schultz of the Steve Pajcic for Governor campaign in 1986. Lloyd was a new reporter with the New York Times Florida newspaper group–primarily the Gainesville Sun, Lakeland Ledger, Sarasota News Journal and the Ocala News Banner, and was assigned as a pool reporter to travel with our campaign. Lloyd is a first class reporter–aggressive, introspective, a wonderful sense of humor, but without being abrasive. I have had an opportunity to discuss possible op ed subjects with Lloyd over recent years and have found him most helpful.
Insurance Lobbyist Sam Miller
When I first met Sam Miller in the early 1970′s, he was a highly respected reporter for the venerable United Press International covering the Capitol. Today, he has moved over to the insurance industry, heading up the association of insurance member companies. Sam always had a keen eye for deceptive or desceiving legislators or staff, but I always found him respectful and tolerant of lawmakers. I have always felt there were benefits when reporters and association executives were able to move back and forth within their respective industries. Sam is an excellent example of how smart people can make major contributions in both fields.
South Dade Grower George Cooper
One of the first South Dade County growers I met when first running for the Florida Legislature in 1972 was George Cooper. George clearly stood out–at about 6 foot 3 inches, and certainly intellectually, with an ivy league degree. He and his family had grown vegetables in the fertile soil of Goulds and Princeton for almost 100 years. George had run for office himself, so he was not one with which to exaggerate a position. I was fortunate that we hit it off from the beginning, and have long considered George a good friend and advisor.
Senator Ralph Poston (D., Miami)*
He was my primary opponent in my campaign for the Florida Senate in 1978. I had served with him in the Dade Delegation and he had told me he was retiring from the Legislature after serving 14 years in the House of Representatives and the Senate. I told him that I planned to run for his open seat and he wished me well. Subsequently, it was disclosed that the Attorney General Bob Shevin was bringing charges against him for financial conflicts of interest. Poston elected to fight the charges and lost being one of the only Senators ever to be reprimanded by his colleagues for the charges. He told me that he had changed his mind and wanted to run ‘to clear his name.’ I won the election and then beat another former senator to become the junior Senator from the 38th.
U. S. Senator Mike Mansfield (D., Montana)*
Senate Majority Leader Mike Mansfield (D., Montana) did not have the typical background for achieving such extraordinary political success–he was from a small western state; he was not an attorney, but a history teacher; and he typically answered press conference questions with a simple “yes, no or maybe.” But because of his reputation for integrity, he became a U.S. Senator, Majority Leader of the Senate, Ambassador to Japan, and a trusted adviser to Presidents of both parties. I have often asked people, ‘When is the last time you heard a politician answer a question with a direct, one word answer?’ We could all do well by learning about the Senior Senator from Montana.
This is a first of its kind Quorum Call. All previous posts have been about people. Thinking about an exception, prompted me to think about a lot of subjects from the Golden Era of Florida politics, but the one that just sticks out in my mind is the location of thousands of meet and greets, just on the outskirts of Tallahassee. The mobile home industry located a deluxe trailer in a rustic setting with a picturesque lake nearby. A group of grilling cooks had steaks, baked potatoes, lush salads and all the beverages you could drink nestled under a large canopy. Legislators, judges and other VIP’s had open invitations to visit the trailers throughout the legislative session. In those days, there were no reporting requirements, and it had to be the most popular venue for lawmakers in the entire Capitol.
Senate President Lew Brantley (D., Jacksonville)*
Following the Senate Presidency of Dempsey Barron (D., Bonifay), Jacksonville Senator Lew Brantley was hand picked by Barron over Senator Bob Saunders (D., Gainesville) in 1976. The selection of Brantley by Barron was not surprising, but the independence of the new President was very much in question. It only took a few floor skirmishes to prove that the Dean of the Senate, Dempsey Barron was still running the Senate. The subsequent Senate Presidency also occurred on Brantley’s watch, when Barron unseated his good friend Senator Jack Gordon (D., Miami Beach) to put in place immensely popular Senator Phil Lewis (D., West Palm Beach) for the 1978-82 sessions. Reflecting on the Brantley administration, it is hard to think of any memorable achievements to memorialize in this post.
South Dade County Realtor Joe Accursio
One of the most visible businessmen in Homestead was Realtor Joe Accursio. He and his family ran one of the most active real estate brokerage firms in all of South Dade County, and they were very kind to support my campaign for the Florida House of Representatives in 1974. I recall an ominous phone call I got from Joe as I leaving for a campaign event to be held at his firm. Joe said I could still come to the event, but he cautioned that the attendance would be disappointing. I later found out why–Joe was pressured by my opponent to cancel the event, and because of a pending business transaction, Joe obliged. This kind of activity happens all the time in politics–it is unpleasant and downright maddening, but it is life. A candidate just has to learn to deal with it.
Senator Jon Thomas (D., Ft. Lauderdale)*
Jon originally won election to the Florida House of Representatives from the Republican stronghold of Broward County as a, no surprise here, a Republican. When he moved on to the Senate, he switched parties to the Democrats and played a leadership role on the Committee on Health and Rehabilitative Services. It was in that area that I had a chance to work with the Senator and found him very knowledgeable and involved. Jon had a niche business interest in the management of funeral homes and grew that business through acquisitions around the country. He and his family now live in Gainesville, where he is still active in his business and I am told, offering astute political counsel to friends and foes, alike.
Senator Dennis Jones (R., Seminole)*
The retiring Dean of the Florida Legislature, with over 30 years of service in the Senate and House of Representatives, was first elected in 1978, my first term in the Senate. Dennis is a Chiropractor and particularly knowledgeable on health care issues. He is very personable and seems to distance himself from some of the right wing, ultra-conservatives in his party, which perhaps is why he has become such an effective lawmaker. I have always found the Senator to be accessible and accommodating–I wish him the very best in retirement.
Congressman Bill Lehman (D., North Miami)
Known to his local constituents on the Miami Dade County School Board as “Alabama Bill,” Congressman Bill Lehman was one of the most powerful members of Congress during the Golden Era of Florida politics. He had all the attributes–smart, a bit cunning, folksy, and best known as the “king of the earmarks.” The Congressman angled toward a seat on the all important Ways and Means Committee after his surprise election in 1972, and his soon to be life time friend and senior colleague Congressman Dante Fascell (D., South Dade) helped make that happen. Lehman then sharpened his focus on transportation and the rest is history. Congressman Lehman was cut out of the old mold—‘I was sent here to represent my people.’ He did and did it well.
Lee County Property Appraiser Ken Wilkinson
Ken and I graduated together from Lake Worth High School in Palm County in 1962. After finishing college, Ken went on to work for the Florida Comptroller in South Florida, and then moved to Fort Myers to run for Property Appraiser. Ken not only won, but is now the longest serving Property Appraiser in the state. But, he is perhaps best known as the author of the Save Our Homes ballot initiative that became law several years ago. It has been controversial because it has put pressure on funding local government, but it also has hit a raw nerve with home owner retirees who are saddled with fix incomes. Ken and I had a chance to catch up on things at our recent 50th Reunion of Lake Worth High School, and he said he remains committed to continuing public service, having been re-elected this year without opposition (again).
Lobbyist Rosemary Gallagher
Among the Catholic members of the Legislature, their lobbyist for the Church, Rosemary Gallagher was both respected and loved. Among we non-Catholics that knew her and worked closely with her, our feelings were even stronger for her. She reported to my good friend Tom Horkan, so I knew I could not make an end run around Rosemary. Although deep in her faith, she did not as they say, ‘wear it on her sleeve.’ She was most often heard pleading on behalf of the poor and unserved. I seldom heard her discuss abortion or other divisive issues, but I am sure she would not duck that fight. In a word, Rosemary was a professional, but one with a big heart.
Secretary Dot Glissen
All of us who filed qualifying papers to run for state office during the Golden Years of the ’70′s and ’80′s remember the smiling, grandmotherly face of Dot Glissen. Dot so ably ran the Division of Elections in the Secretary of State’s office for many years, and upon a vacancy, was appointed by Governor Reubin Askew to become a full Cabinet member and Secretary of State. I will say she was not overwhelming when she came before the Senate for confirmation under advise and consent, but since most of us in the Senate had know her for years, she flew through to confirmation. Few people that read this post will have anything but positive and wonderful things to say about the Secretary, and they are right.
Lobbyist Kathy Betancourt
Kathy broke into the Tallahassee lobbying scene as the prime voice for popular Tampa Mayor Bob Martinez, then a Democrat. She moved over to ably represent the City of Tampa, and then University of South Florida President Betty Castor brought Kathy back to Tallahassee to lobby for the rapidly growing University. Although I represented Miami-Dade County and Monroe County in the House and Senate, I found myself working with Kathy on urban related issues quite often, and I always valued her excellent counsel. I believe I recall Kathy’s initial professional background was in education, and it showed with her adept ability to navigate and “school” the male dominated legislature during the Golden Years of the ’70′s and ’80′s.
Ambassador Allan Katz
We Floridians involved in politics over the last 35 years, have gotten to know attorney Allan Katz very well. He was the senior assistant to longtime Insurance Commissioner Bill Gunter for many years, followed by heading up one of the state’s premier insurance lobbying law firms, and finished off being elected to the Tallahassee City Commission. But probably his biggest pay off came after he was one of the first to sign on with the Presidential Campaign of junior U.S. Senator Barack Obama of Illinois. With the President’s win, Allan had his choice of plumb assignments, and the selection of Ambassador to Portugal must have been a dream come true for Allan. If the President wins re-election, it is a good bet that Ambassador Katz will contine to play an important role in the Obama Administration.
Senate Appropriations Subcommittee “C”*
In 1980, I was told that I would be named, by the incoming Senate President W. D. Childers (D., Pensacola), to Chair the Senate Natural Resources Committee. As it turned out, through the extensive influence of Senate Appropriations Chairman Jack Gordon (D., Miami Beach), I was notified that I would instead Chair the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee “C” dealing with social services and the criminal justice system. Although it was a Subcommittee, it had more funding authority than any other committee in the legislature. Additionally, I found out that among my predecessors were some of the most distinguished Senators to ever serve: Jack Gordon, Phil Lewis, Louis de La Parte, Bob Graham, Ken Myers, Ken Plante, and John Vogt. Add to that, the Staff Director of the Subcommittee was Patsy Eccles, one of the finest staff persons I ever met in the legislative process. What an honor.
Greater Miami Chamber President Lester Freeman*
Although Lester was a native southerner from Tennessee, he found himself very comfortable as the head of the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce during the Golden Years of Florida politics. Lester moved as an executive with Southern Bell into the Chamber presidency and proceeded to grow the Chamber into a business and political powerhouse in Miami. He successfully enlisted the volunteer leadership of Miami Herald President Alvah Chapman, Developer David Blumberg, Attorney Bob Traurig, and Dade County Manager Ray Goode to steer the Chamber into domestic and international business generation. Lester was also a driving force in starting and sustaining the important Miami Citizens Against Crime during the Downtown Miami Riots and the Mariel Boat Lift in the early 80′s.
Lobbyist Prentice Mitchell
Prentice has represented a spectrum of clients–first I worked with him on agriculture issues when he represented the fruit and vegetable industry–a vital part of my Miami South Dade County constituency. He then moved into representing the property and casualty insurance industry, with a particular emphasis on storm damage. Prentice combined the important attributes of a positive personality and knowledge of his client’s needs. Although I have not seen Prentice in the Capitol recently, I am confident he remains of counsel to the needs of his clients. The Capitol and legislators were well served by the professionalism and acumen of Prentice Mitchell.
Senator Dan Scarborough (D., Jacksonville)*
Although I had served in the Florida House of Representatives for four years, all of which as a Chairman of a major subcommittee, I had not met the leading candidate for Senate President in 1978, Dan Scarborough of Jacksonville. He is an impressive man–tall, muscular (former football player), full head of hair, and a wonderful smile. I had heard mixed reports of how smart he was. But perhaps the biggest shortcoming of Senator Scarborough is he could not win over the support of Senate Dean Dempsey Barron (D., Panama City) in his campaign for leading the Florida Senate. After all, Barron had a streak of about a half dozen Senate President campaigns in a row that he successfully engineered, and as it turned out, another was added in 1978 with the election of Senate President W. D. Childers (D., Pensacola)*
Lobbyist Bill Hussey
Only the more ‘seasoned’ readers will remember savings and loan associations. They were like banks that specialized in home loans, and during the Golden Years of the Florida Legislature, were represented by one of the Capitol’s best liked lobbyists, Bill Hussey. Bill is a proud FSU graduate, and was kind to purchase my book, The Golden Years…The Florida Legislature, ’70′s and ’80′s, on the era. Like so many outstanding lobbyists, Bill did not expect members to always vote with him on financial institution issues, but he did ask that you listen to his members’ positions. I always made a point to listen to Bill and voted with him more often than not. Bill Hussey was a credit to his profession.
Representative Jim Eckhart (D., Miami)*
Jim and I were elected together in 1974 and served along side each other in the Florida House of Representatives for a number of years. Jim was a very smart attorney with a Coral Gables practice, but was a very low key lawmaker. Over the years, his interest gravitated to agriculture issues, which were of paramount importance to our South Dade County multi-member legislative district. After his retirement from the legislature, Jim went to work for Agriculture Commissioner Doyle Connor in Tallahassee for many years. We lost Jim a few years ago, but I will always remember him as a wonderful colleague and a rock solid Floridian.
Senate President John Vogt (R., Cocoa Beach)*
By all accounts, newly elected Senator John Vogt of Brevard County in 1972 was a potential star in the Democratic Party. He was a bright University of Florida graduate in engineering from Lake Wales, active in the Young Democrats, and with family lineage in Florida politics. With my election to the House of Representatives in 1974 and the Senate in 1978, I found myself working very closely with John on issues affecting social services and the environment. About the time of my retirement in 1982, John was being courted by Senate strongman Dempsey Barron (and John and my opponent) to become Senate President. John acquiesced to Barron and served as Senate President as well as switched parties to run as a Republican for Congress. The Senator is one of those about whom you can’t help but wonder, “What if…?”
Lobbyist Ron LaFace
We lost Ron over the weekend, and all who knew and worked with him are deeply saddened–I am so proud to have been one. Ron was one of the most gregarious and approachable lobbyists in the Capitol. Susan and our family were fortunate to be house guests with his family, and I can say I was always so comfortable in his presence. Ron was very bright and one of the most knowledgeable lobbyists, especially in representing my constituents at Wometco Enterprises in Miami and the Wolfson family. Ron’s first law firm assignment was at the prestigious downtown Miami law firm, Walton Lantaff, with a fellow young lawyer named Richard Pettigrew (you may recall he went on to become a legendary Florida Speaker of the House of Representatives). Ron set quite a standard for lobbyists today–I only hope his leadership will be emulated.
Lobbyists H.G. Cochran and Buddy Gridley
H.G. and Buddy represented the beer industry and, no surprise here, they were among the most popular lobbyists in the Capitol. Seldom a week went by without legislators bellowing over the where abouts of the “Beer Fairy,” in the halls of the Old and New Capitol. The issues affecting the alcohol industry were controversial and many–from age restrictions, to litter concerns, to recycling, and probably most important to the beer industry, to sources of local taxes. In all cases I can recall, both H.G. and Buddy were professional with reasoned responses to legislators. Buddy is of counsel to the industry today, and few have had such a positive on lawmaking as H.G. Cochran and Buddy Gridley.
Senate Counsel Steve Kahn
During the Senate Presidency of W. D. Childers (D., Pensacola), legal Counsel Steve Kahn became a major player in Florida lawmaking. His astute counsel was even more evident because of the President’s close relationship with Pensacola attorney Fred Levin and the continuing battle between Childers and the powerful Senate Dean, Dempsey Barron (D., Panama City). Add to all that intrigue, was the fact that 1982 was a reapportionment session, with the Senate representation for another decade riding on many of the decisions. As Chairman of the Senate Health and Rehabilitative Services Committee (“HRS”) and the funding Subcommittee on HRS and Corrections (one of only two Senators to ever chair both at the same time), I found myself in contact with Steve more than normal. I found him to be sagacious, calm and very reassuring. Florida was well served by the legal leadership of Senate Counsel Steve Kahn.
U. S. Senator Dick Stone (D., Miami)
Senator Dick Stone is largely by-passed today when talking about the Golden Era of Florida politics, even though he held some of the highest offices in the state at the time. I first met the Senator when I was campaigning for the House of Representatives, like he, from Miami. He had won election to the State Senate in the big class of 1966, and won election state wide as Secretary of State in the early ’70′s. He won his election to the U.S. Senate with high promise, but was overly identified to his discredit, with many of the Republican leaders at the time. Although his name has cropped up now and then for service as a Washington lobbyist or as minor counsel to Presidents, his contributions have gone largely unnoticed. He is, like more than you would expect from the Golden Era, a talent positioned to do great things for this country–but didn’t.
Representative Bill Sadowski (D., Miami)*
We lost Bill to a tragic airplane crash during the first term of the Chiles-MacKay Administration. It was such a tragic and emotional loss–bright and articulate public servant, wonderful family man, likable across both sides of the isle and a proud Floridian. Bill was from Miami and took his law degree from the University of Florida with honors. He served as an aide to his long time friend, former Representative Sandy D’Alemberte (D., Miami) and won his seat in the Florida House of Representatives in 1976, during my second term in the House. Bill was an unabashed liberal, which most of his colleagues understood and accepted. He was very principled and firm in his convictions. What a role model he would be today for public servants.
Dr. Jim Zingale; Executive Director, Florida Department of Revenue
Senator Jack Gordon (D., Miami Beach) introduced me to Dr. Jim Zingale, the noted state economist and tax expert in the late 1970′s. Jim was staff to the Senate at the time, and not surprisingly moved on to an outstanding career in state government, ultimately rising to the vaulted position as Executive Director of the Florida Department of Revenue. Jim was unusual in that he had a wonderful personality and a very quick wit–seldom found in career public servants. Jim’s strong professional credentials kept him in good stead, whether his bosses–the Florida Cabinet–were Republican or Democrat. But, Jim was not afraid to confront difficult assignments, ranging from collecting overdue payments as well as forecasting Florida’s tumultuous revenue for budgeting by the legislature.
Admiral Phil Ashler (D., Pensacola)*
Phil Ashler earned a number of titles–Florida Insurance Commissioner and Fire Marshall, Secretary of the Florida Department of Commerce, elected member of the Florida House of Representatives from Escambia County, but the title he preferred was that of Admiral in the United States Navy. Phil entered the political scene in Florida in the 1960′s when elected along side a fellow member of the Florida House of Representatives, Reubin Askew. Both with military backgrounds, they bonded quickly, and Governor Askew later appointed the Admiral to the Florida Cabinet in the 1970′s. I worked with Admiral Ashler during my public service in the legislature, but also in the 2000′s as he was a distinguished board member of a national corporation, of which I served as an officer. We lost the Admiral a few years ago, but his mark as a gentleman, scholar and proud military man will always be in our memories of him.
Representative Fred Lippman (D., Hollywood)*
During the late 1980′s there were few lawmakers in Tallahassee as powerful as Representative Fred Lippman of Hollywood. He helped engineer the uphill battle to elect fellow Broward County Representative Tom Gustafson (D., Ft. Lauderdale) Speaker of the House of Representative, and with that came almost unbridled power. I worked with him on the landmark legislation created by the Health Care Commission I chaired from 1982-84. I first met Fred while interviewing for the pharmacist screening endorsement in South Florida–Fred was a long time and very successful pharmacist in Hollywood. After being elected himself in 1978, Fred teamed up with his Broward colleague, Senator Ken Jenne (D., Hollywood) to form a blockbuster tandem advancing progressive issues.
Representative Ed Healy (D., West Palm Beach)*
Ed and I were elected together to the Florida House of Representatives in 1974. I always considered him a ‘throw back’ to a John Kennedy Democrat–bright, personable with a liberal bent. Representative Healy had a successful insurance practice in downtown West Palm Beach and was very popular with his elderly constituents. I had the pleasure of working with him on social issues, from mental health care to care for the elderly. Ed took a break from the legislative process after his initial several terms and returned to provide outstanding service some 20 years later. Ed Healy passed on while still serving his second separate terms, and was honored by his colleagues in the Legislature, with state flags flown at half staff, prior to burial. He served his constituents long and well.
Layton Mayor Del Layton
Parked on the U. S. Highway 1 Overseas Highway between Marathon and Key West sat a police car with the logo of the City of Layton on it The police car was parked immediately in front of Layton City Hall. The town was incorporated by wealthy investor and Keys’ landowner, Del Layton. The Mayor of Layton–you guessed it, was Del Layton. Mayor Layton was an active Democrat during my service and representation in the Keys (1078-82) as a member of the Florida Senate. Several outstanding restaurants in Layton were known for their world famous key lime pie.
U.S. Senator Bill Nelson*
The Senior Senator from Florida, Bill Nelson and I served together in the Florida House of Representatives from 1974-1978. Our families become good friends earlier in that time span, spending some weekends together at the beach in Cocoa Beach and canoeing on many of the beautiful tributaries in North Florida. Susan and I hosted several fund raisers for Bill and Grace in both Miami and Vero Beach. He has served with great distinction in the Florida House of Representatives, the U.S. Congress, The Florida Cabinet as Insurance Commissioner and Fire Marshall, and the U.S. Senate, for almost 40 years. Bill is a man of great faith in God and totally dedicated to public service.
Lobbyist Jim Woodruff
Jim was the highly respected lawyer and lobbyist for Tampa Electric Company (“TECO”). He had the enviable combination of brains and personality, and as expected, was at the center of all energy issues in the legislature during the Golden Era of the ’70′s and ’80′s. He and his wife Patsy often entertained Susan and me in Tallahassee as well as in their hometown of Tampa. Jim epitomized the important role of the lobbyist–be available, a truthful source of information, and supportive of a legislator’s position when they can. You will notice that I said nothing about campaign financial contributions–to my knowledge Jim never gave me any nor did I seek any from him. When is the last time you heard that statement from a legislator?
Representative Dixie Sansom (R., Merritt Island) and Lobbyist Jerry Sansom
I began working with commercial fishing lobbyist Jerry Sansom shortly after Speaker Don Tucker (D., Tallahassee) appointed me to the House of Representatives Committee on Natural Resources. I did not always vote with Jerry, but I found him to always be available, helpful and a major information resource on fishing the waters of Florida. It was during a field visit aboard a commercial fishing boat with Jerry in the middle Keys, after being elected to the Florida Senate and again appointed to the Natural Resources Committee, that I met his wife, Dixie. She was an accomplished reporter and very savvy about Florida politics. As you can see from her title above, Dixie went on to serve with great distinction in the Florida House of Representatives, representing Brevard County, after I left the legislature in 1982. The Sansoms are a family making major contributions to their state in the finest traditions of public service.
Miami Dolphin Karl Noonan *
I met Karl in the real estate business in the early 90′s in Miami. We formed a real estate syndication company for group purchases of improved real estate–primarily apartment buildings. Karl, as my sports fan readers know, Karl was a consensus Associated Press All American end from the University of Iowa who went on to become an All Pro receiver for Hall of Fame quarterback Bob Griese and the Miami Dolphins. Karl was very kind to support my political campaigns and helped draw attention to me when few noticed. Karl continues in business, primarily in North Carolinainvestments. I often kidded him saying the wrong guy ran for office–I think Karl would have been as popular in public office as his former teammate and my chairmate on the floor of the Senate from 1978-1982, Dick Anderson.
Senator David McClain (R., Tampa)*
Senator David McClain followed his late father into the Senate in 1970, representing Tampa as a Republican when there were very few. I had a chance to get to know him and work with him on the Senate Committee on Health and Rehabilitative Services and Appropriations Subcommittee “C,” funding heath care and the criminal justice system. David was very smart and yet cunning in that he left the impression that he was distant and not following the debate. Over the years, I found him to be very supportive of many issues in the areas of disabilities and mental health, and when we did disagree, we agreed to it in advance. I had a pleasant ‘catch up with you’ chat with David at the recent Senate reunion in the Capitol. He is yet another example of a strongly partisan Republican Senator conducting himself in a civil and productive manner about issues with an equally partisan Democratic Senator, during an earlier time in Florida politics. Senator McClain is a friend and served his Tampa district with distinction.
Lobbyist Dick Jones
Dick was one of the most popular lobbyists in the Capitol during the Golden Years of the ’70′s and ’80′s. He represented Florida Power and Light Company after a successful career in politics and the automobile industry. He and his wife, Pat, hosted legislators every year at their wonderful Northeast Tallahassee home, and some of the Session’s most important bills were often resolved right in their residence. Dick passed a few years ago, and as expected, the Presbyterian Church in Tallahassee was packed with Dick’s old friends and some of the most powerful politicians from both the Florida and Washington Capitols. His civility and sense of humor will always be his lobbying hallmark.
Lobbyist Dick McFarland
Dick has an outstanding, but very straight faced sense of humor. I remember one committee meeting when he was ably representing the Florida Bar Association but became faced with an unexpected tough question and quipped back to a Senator, “Sir, in responding to your important question, I feel like I am standing on a slab of granite rock with my foot firmly placed on a slippery banana peel.” He said this without even cracking a smile. Dick has been a mainstay in the Capitol for many years commanding the attention of the lawmakers, especially those of greater intellect. One more recent client of his has been the Florida State University, which has needed a barrister of his elk to navigate the Gator infested halls of the Capitol. As you can tell, Dick has always been a favorite lobbyist of mine over his many years of service.
W. Dexter Douglass, Esquire
Dexter Douglass is an attorney’s attorney. Most jurists recognize the former General Counsel to the late Florida Democratic Governor Lawton Chiles, legal counsel to the legendary 2000 presidential vote count (representing Vice President Al Gore) and in one of Florida’s highest profile indictments, representing former Florida Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mallory Horne against the Federal government. I worked with Dexter when we were both on the staff of Governor Chiles in the early ’90′s. Although his brilliance was apparent, even for a non lawyer like me, I was most impressed with his down home personality. He grew up in the south and graduated with honors from the University Florida School of Law. Dexter is still active in providing legal and political counsel to public figures who are smart enough to seek it.
Representative Elaine Bloom (D., Miami Beach)*
Elaine had the distinction of winning and re-winning election to the Florida House of Representatives with some 30 odd years in between. She and I were first elected in 1974–she upsetting incumbent Representative George Baumgartner of North Miami. Elaine was singled out in her first term by Speaker Don Tucker as a possible running mate if he ran for Governor in 1978, as was widely expected. With many members of the Dade Delegation at odds with the Speaker, Elaine became somewhat ostracized and had a difficult couple of years in the House. When Tucker decided to seek an appointment by President Carter to the Federal Government, Elaine decided to run for the Senate seat being vacated by Senator George Firestone (D., Miami). Although she was the choice of the lobbyists in Tallahassee, her opponent, Representative Paul Steinberg (D., Miami Beach) out worked her in the Miami Beach condominiums and he won the seat. She came back to the House in the 2000′s.
Representative Gwen Cherry (D., Miami)*
Gwen was elected to the Florida House of Representatives in 1970. I first met her in 1972 while I was campaigning for a House Seat. She was very friendly and seemed most interested in children’s and mental health issues, both of which were of interest to me. After I got elected, I did not have a chance to work with Gwen before she died in a tragic automobile accident in the late 70′s near Doak Campbell Stadium at the Florida State University. She was memorialized in the House of Representatives and her name is still recognized today as one of the leaders of the woman’s movement and African-American issues. She was a lawyer, professor, and skilled legislator who was lost way too soon in her promising professional career.
Senate Secretary Joe Brown
Few outside the legislature understand the critical importance of their staff. I have previously profiled Dr. Allen Morris and his Emeritus Clerk of the House Colleague, John Phelps, two of the best administrators with whom I have worked. In the Senate, I worked with another of my profilees, the powerful Howard Walton. At the same time, the Secretary of the Senate was rock solid and hard working Joe Brown. The Secretary was always available for either big or small, simple or complex challenges of any of the Senators, regardless of party affiliation. Joe retired a
A Special Florida Family*
Senator Randolph Hodges (D., Cedar Key) served as Senate President during the delicate and critical transition of control of the Florida politics by the Pork Chop Gang (of which he was a proud member) to the new, urban, and progressive legislators of the Golden Era (’70′s and ’80′s). President Hodges was followed into public office by his son and former Judge, State Representative Gene Hodges (D., Cedar Key)–one of the best liked members of the legislature, during my tenure. One of Gene’s sisters married Don Duden, who went on to assume the number two position in the Florida Department of Natural Resources. All in all, the Hodges family was special in Florida political history and to my family as well.
Health and Rehabilitative Services Secretary Ollie Keller
Most would have described the Senate Confirmation hearings on Governor Reubin Askew’s selection of Health and Rehabilitative Secretary Ollie Keller in 1976 as the “Battle of the Titans.” That is because the President of the Senate was Askew’s long time colleague and the Dean of the Senate, Dempsey Barron, who strongly opposed the appointment of Keller. Askew, a former U.S. Army Paratrooper, was not known for running from a fight, so it was “Prime Time,” in the Florida Capitol. Barron won and Keller stepped down from head of the mammoth agency to take a teaching job at the University of Florida.
University of Miami President Tad Foote*
Tad Foote followed a legendary University of Miami President, Dr. Henry King Stanford (profiled in an earlier Quorum Call), but certainly held his own as a visionary President of the acclaimed University in my legislative district. Tad married the daughter of former Arkansas Senator J. William Fulbright, so he had access and connections at the highest levels of government. But after being named the head of one of the country’s leading private universities, he set a course for even greater academic excellence. President Foote was very kind to name me to the UM School of Business Visiting Committee, so I had a chance to witness the University growth first hand. The only blemish on his record was the sometimes out of control athletic program, which ironically, led to several football national championships. But, all in all, Tad Foote was an outstanding president at the “U.”
U. S. Senator Paula Hawkins
Senator Paula Hawkins was dubbed, “The little old lady from Maitland,” after a turbulent but brief career on the Florida Public Service Commission. She defeated a good friend, former Senator Gerald Lewis to win a Public Service Commission seat, and that upset convinced her that no election was out of her reach–that was until 1986, when she was defeated by two term Governor and immensely popular Bob Graham. Senator Hawkins was not terribly effective in Washington, but she was colorful and unpredictable, which made her fun to cover for the press. I met the Senator on a number of occasions, but her comments and observations to me were not notable.
Judge Bill Gladstone
I first met the Judge at a Board Meeting of the Miami Mental Health Association. He stood out as an obvious intellectual and Susan and I went on to become good friends with he and his wife, Marilyn. Bill ran for a new seat on the Circuit Court with his eye on the family court in 1972, and won. Judge Gladstone went on to an outstanding career on the Bench, forcing people’s eyes open on the unmentionable blights in disadvantaged families. When I was in the Legislature, I felt Judge Gladstone’s wrath for the pitiful level of funding for mental health services in Florida. He was a provocative thinker who did not shy away from a fight. It is said so often, but is really true with Judge Bill Gladstone, ‘Boy could we use him today.’
Secretary of Commerce Bill Sutton*
In Miami, the Sutton name is both recognized and respected. Judge Ruth Sutton and the former Secretary of Commerce Bill Sutton are perhaps the best known members of the family. Bill is a career banker and one of the best, rising to the presidency of the Florida Bankers Association. I first met Bill through the Florida Chamber of Commerce, and subsequently worked with him on Governor Chile’s Recycling Business Ventures program (as reported in a previous post to this Blog) as well as an advisor to my employer, Fringe Benefits Management Company in Tallahassee. Bill ran unsuccessfully for a seat in Congress from Tallahassee, but remains active in business and political affairs.
Sarasota Tax Collector Barbara Ford Coates*
I have had the good fortune of meeting and working with public sector employees all the way from the President to Governors, Senators and to entry level clerks. One of the very best public employees I have gotten to know and work with is the Honorable Barbara Ford Coates, long time Tax Collector from Sarasota County