Et tu, Charlie? Crist sells us all out

By Howard Troxler, Times Columnist

Published Wednesday, June 3, 2009

In the defining moment of his career Monday, Gov. Charlie Crist sold the state of Florida right down the river.

He did it in a gutless fashion, too, waiting until the close of business to send out a brief announcement that he was signing Senate Bill 360.

Look. If you're going to destroy your state to get elected to the U.S. Senate, be proud of it. Do it at a news conference. Surround yourself with bulldozers and smiling developers. Order a cake.

But apparently he couldn't quite fit this one in with all those other bill-signing ceremonies he's been racking up:

The battle for Florida is finished now. It's over.

From here, it's just a matter of how soon the banks are willing to lend money to developers. Sure, the economy is bad now, but this is a long-term game. The prize was the rest of the century.

So if you live in a "dense urban area" in Florida — which this law brilliantly defines as more than ONE PERSON PER ACRE …

If you live in any of Florida's biggest counties, including Hillsborough and Pinellas, or in one of more than 200 Florida cities …

If you live anywhere that your local government labels as a "community redevelopment area" …

Or even if you have the misfortune of living where somebody wants to build a "job creation project" …

Then tough noogies for you.

The main thing is roads. Developers no longer have to make sure that our roads can handle the growth they are bringing.

Also, your local city and county have much more power to say yes to growth. This bill weakens state review.

So this will be Crist's legacy in the history books: He is the Governor Who Repealed Growth Management.

Does he care? I don't think so. I think this was a deliberate, cynical calculation.

Crist makes the money guys happy. It makes them less likely to support his Republican rival, Marco Rubio. It protects him from the right.

Then he'll run against some Democrat or other in the fall of 2010, who may or may not bring this up, to general public indifference.

He'll get away with it.

• • •

Remember: The governor would not have had Senate Bill 360 to sign had it not been passed by an equally feckless Legislature.

Here, for the first of what will be many repetitions:

Area senators voting yes: Charles Dean, R-Inverness; Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey; Dennis Jones, R-Treasure Island.

Area senators voting no: Victor Crist, R-Tampa; Paula Dockery, R-Lakeland; Arthenia Joyner, D-Tampa; Charlie Justice, D-St. Petersburg; Ronda Storms, R-Brandon.

Area House members voting yes: Kevin Ambler, R-Lutz; Tom Anderson, R-Dunedin; Rachel Burgin, R-Tampa; Faye Culp, R-Tampa; Jim Frishe, R-Belleair Bluffs; Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton; Rich Glorioso, R-Plant City; Ed Homan, R-Tampa; Ed Hooper, R-Clearwater; John Legg, R-Port Richey; Seth McKeel, R-Lakeland; Peter Nehr, R-Tarpon Springs; Ron Reagan, R-Sarasota; Robert Schenck, R-Spring Hill; Ron Schultz, R-Homosassa; Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel.

Area House members voting no: Bill Heller, D-St. Petersburg; Rick Kriseman, D-St. Petersburg; Janet Long, D-St. Petersburg; Betty Reed, D-Tampa; Darryl Rouson, D-St. Petersburg; Michael Scionti, D-Tampa.

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