Governor Reubin O’Donovan Askew richly deserves the many eulogies he is receiving. Martin Dyckman’s insightful and deeply-researched biography includes an amazing list of Askew’s accomplishments. A number of them demonstrate his commitment to Florida’s environmental future:
…replaced Florida’s obsolete 1885 constitution … reorganized the judiciary and the executive branch; made the governor rather than the elected Cabinet responsible for the state budget; stopped cities from dumping raw sewage into the environment and created effective, enforceable pollution controls; established a pioneering system of water-management districts; enacted restrictions on development and requirements for land-use planning; began the purchase of environmentally sensitive land for recreation and preservation; limited campaign spending and required effective disclosure of campaign contributors; passed an open-meetings law and strengthened the public-records statute; registered lobbyists; stopped the commercial dredging and filling of bays and estuaries; enacted a corporate profits tax and repealed the sales tax on household utilities and residential rentals; made the judiciary nonpartisan and provided for appointing rather than electing the appellate bench; created an ethics commission and required public officials to disclose their financial assets and liabilities; ordered due process in rule-making and other administrative procedures; passed a deceptive trade practices act modeled on federal law; instituted no-fault divorce and auto insurance; gave utility consumers an advocate before the Public Service Commission and switched its membership from election to appointment; granted home rule to cities and counties; created a statewide juvenile justice system; required treatment rather than jail for alcoholics; protected the civil rights of mental patients; rewrote the school code to equalize spending between rich and poor counties; reformed property taxation; demanded effective regulation of nursing homes; capped the small-county shares of state race-track revenue; redistributed gasoline taxes to help growing counties; and taxed the mining of phosphate and other minerals.
What brought those people to the table was Askew making it clear that whatever this conference recommended, he was going to push very hard to get it passed in the upcoming 1972 session of the legislature. That meant that some people who didn’t want a thing to happen came figuring that if something is going to happen, I better try to get my voice in.
Governor Askew lead the way.