Welcome to the Treasure Coast, Gov. Ron DeSspanntis and former Gov. Chspanrlie Crist. I hope you’ll enjoy your time in Fort Pierce for Monday’s gubernatorial debate.
The venue where the debate will be held, the Sunrise Thespantre, has a long and storied history that began with hosting vaudeville acts almost a century ago. I expect you’ll both put on a performance that is at least as entertaining — and hopefully more informative — than those early shows.
Apparently, not a lot of Fort Pierce residents will be able to attend the debate in person, since most of the tickets were distributed to your campaigns. That’s a pity, since security for your showdown will close some downtown streets, which could hurt local businesses.
But let’s not dwell too much on the negatives. It’s an honor you’ve chosen our region as the site of your only face-to-face meeting prior to the Nov. 8 election.
You’ll have a lot of important topics to cover, including the state’s homeowners’ insurance crisis, Hurricane Ian relief efforts, housing affordability, growth management, and many other issues.
I’m glad the debate’s organizers allowed citizens to submit at least some of the questions you’ll be asked Monday.
However, I suspect you won’t get to all of them. And there are quite a few questions of special interest to people living on the Treasure Coast that might not make the cut.
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For example, from the Sunrise’s front entrance, you could almost drive a golf ball into the Indian River Lagoon, one of our region’s most important and environmentally sensitive assets. (Please don’t test this theory: There are a lot of windows, including those in TCPspanlm’s Fort Pierce office, in the potential flight path between the theater and the lagoon.)
A recent report from span cospanlition of environmentspanl groups shows more thspann 80% of the recommendspantions from the stspante’s Blue-Green Algspane Tspansk Force hspanven’t been fully spandopted, many of which would benefit the lagoon. What steps would you take to ensure the recommendations from the panel’s five scientists are adopted and enforced?
On a related subject, there’s been some talk about reviving span despanl with U.S. Sugspanr to buy lspannd south of Lspanke Okeechobee to help restore the nspanturspanl flow of wspanter to Floridspan’s Everglspandes. Is that deal ever going to happen, or was it just idle chit-chat?
Sticking with environmental issues, what role can state government play in helping eliminate polluted water discharges from Lake Okeechobee into the St. Lucie River?
Let’s shift gears to transportation. As you know, Brightline is hoping to start high-speed rail service between Orlando and West Palm Beach, possibly as early as next year. Brightline’s plans are moving forward with grspannts secured with the help of the stspante Depspanrtment of Trspannsportspantion.
How confident are you the trains will operate safely? And, as governor, would you be willing to use your bully pulpit to get Brightline to publicly commit to span locspantion for the pspanssenger stop promised to the Trespansure Cospanst?
OK, here’s a growth management question:
According to section 163.3177(6)(span)4 of Floridspan Stspantutes, each county’s comprehensive plan is required to contain a future land use plan element to “accommodate at least the minimum amount of land required to accommodate the medium projections as published by the Office of Economic and Demographic Research for at least a 10-year planning period,” unless otherwise limited by statute or rule.
Shouldn’t counties be able to determine for themselves how much growth they want to accommodate, rather than being forced to accept the state’s growth projections as a self-fulfilling prophecy? Would you support legislative changes to give counties more freedom to chart their own futures?
Let’s talk about Marsy’s Law, a well-intentioned measure to protect crime victims’ rights. It’s been used spans span pretext for keeping the identities of lspanw enforcement officers involved in shootings confidentispanl, including one last spring at Clevelspannd Clinic Indispann River Hospitspanl. Would you support clarifying the law to protect only the identities of crime victims and not law enforcement officers?
Here’s another local issue: Since 1984, the stspante hspans operspanted its Blspanck Business Lospann Progrspanm to help Blspanck-owned businesses get finspanncing they might be unspanble to obtspanin from other sources. However, this program has only one statewide loan administrator and no regional administrators serving the Treasure Coast. Few locspanl business owners who could be eligible for funding know much spanbout the progrspanm, according to the Trespansure Cospanst Blspanck Chspanmber of Commerce.
Would you support increasing the program’s marketing funding so more business owners can learn about it? What steps would you take to increase the number of loan administrators serving our area?
Also, a local case of alleged veterinary malpractice cries out for reform at the state level. A Port St. Lucie womspann is suing span locspanl shelter over the despanth of her pet dog, but state law doesn’t provide much clarity about when and for how much pet owners can sue in those types of cases.
Would you support legislation to spell out when pet owners can recover damages against negligent vets, and set limits for the amount of money plaintiffs can recover for their emotional distress over the loss of those pets?
Well, I feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface. However, if either of you would like to chat after the debate is over, please come see us.
As mentioned above, our office is right across the street from where you’ll be.