Bob Graham column: The sad state of our state (reprinted from the St. Pete Times)
Bob Graham, the former Florida governor who also served in the U.S. Senate, wrote a column for the St. Petersburg Times.
As the Legislature enters its second half, there has emerged a disturbing pattern of ignoring many of Florida’s core values. Over the last half-century these values have given Florida government — whether in Republican or Democratic hands — a stability and predictability that is now threatened.
What are some of those at-risk values?
Florida is a treasure which we have the privilege of enjoying with the responsibility to preserve and enhance that treasure for future generations.
For most of Florida’s history, up until the mid 1960s, our state was treated like a commodity. If you didn’t like it you changed it: land into water; water into land. The business of the state was business, and our enormous natural resources were just another input. The quality and safety of our coasts, fresh waters, open lands and the Everglades were regularly and enthusiastically sacrificed on the altar of growth.
Riding over the horizon were two merging armies. Emerging Democratic leaders, such as Reubin Askew of Pensacola and Lawton Chiles of Lakeland, who were in the vanguard of the recently reapportioned Legislature, joined forces with young Republicans like Nathaniel Reed of Hobe Sound and Warren Henderson of Sarasota, who were appalled at the change they had seen in their newly adopted state.
These armies had a common mission: to reverse the damage commoditization had done to Florida and replace it with a culture of conservation and intergenerational responsibility.