Commentary: Florida's leaders fail BP oil spill victims

The Miami HeraldJuly 22, 2010 

If what was on display in Tallahassee Tuesday qualifies as leadership then Florida is a rudderless ship in perilous seas. In just two hours the Legislature convened, decided to not even debate Gov. Charlie Crist's proposed constitutional amendment banning oil drilling 10 miles off Florida's coast and adjourned.

Granted, Gov. Crist was wrong to abruptly call the special session last week after letting the idea languish since first proposing it May 6. The last-minute call was an act of political grandstanding that lawmakers rejected from the get-go.

But the legislative leadership's curt dismissal of several responsible requests to expand the session to bring economic assistance and tax relief to Panhandle businesses and property owners hurt by the BP Gulf oil gusher is a worse offense. They put political payback to the governor before the welfare of Floridians hit by a disaster not of their own making.

House Speaker Larry Cretul was especially callous in brushing aside Senate President Jeff Atwater's attempt to add economic relief to the agenda. Instead, he created six committees to study economic relief proposals and then appointed some of the House's least experienced lawmakers to chair them. What does this say about Mr. Cretul's concern for Panhandle residents who have seen their tourist season fizzle because of the oil churning in the Gulf?

To read the complete editorial, visit www.miamiherald.com.

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