Commentary: Is Charlie Crist a populist or opportunist?

The Bradenton HeraldMay 20, 2010 

Freed of Republican Party handcuffs during an election year marked by voter discontent, Gov. Charlie Crist has a unique opportunity to put his stamp on Florida politics — via his veto pen and a special session of the Legislature.

Now an independent Senate candidate, the governor is already calling for a session to give lawmakers the responsibility to compose a constitutional amendment that would ban drilling in state waters, vital in light of the ongoing ecological and economic disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.

The drumbeat to allow oil rigs within 10 miles of Florida beaches should be silenced permanently. A major spill so close to shore would have had even greater catastrophic results than the Deepwater Horizon gusher, which has proven the dangers of drilling are too great.

We welcome a November vote on an amendment.

An ally of renewable energy for years, Crist also wants the Legislature to revive incentives for alternative sources — also a worthwhile pursuit in order to achieve a broad-based state energy policy.

The governor should include at least one other issue in a special session.

One of his top priorities this year should be resurrected after failing to pass muster in the regular session. Several anti-corruption bills — targeting public officials who abuse their positions — are essential in a state with a shoddy reputation for political malfeasance.

While addressing lawmakers in his State of the State address, Crist cited a distressing fact — that he has suspended 35 public officials since becoming governor. And that number continues to rise.

To read the complete editorial, visit The Bradenton Herald.

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