Law Review brings together 5 Fla. governors to debate state’s future

Published: October 22nd, 2012

Category: News


From left, Gov. Reubin Askew, Gov. Bob Graham, Gov. Bob Martinez, Gov. Buddy MacKay, moderator UF Law alum Ben Diamond (JD 03), and Gov. Charlie Crist engaged in a discussion Oct. 12 at UF for the Allen L. Poucher Legal Education Series. (Photo by Marcela Suter)

By Matt Walker
Senior writer

Florida’s environment, education, economic development and growth management were the primary topics of conversation on Friday, Oct. 12, when five former Florida governors convened at the Phillips Center for the Florida Law Review’s Allen L. Poucher Legal Education Series.

The panel discussion, “Florida’s Future: A Conversation with Florida Governors,” featured Govs. Reubin Askew, Charlie Crist, Bob Graham, Buddy MacKay and Bob Martinez. The discussion was moderated by UF Law alum Ben Diamond (JD 03). The conversation was based on student-submitted questions and centered on what the governors viewed as the most important issues facing the Sunshine State today.

The governors reminisced and joked amicably while trading stories about their time in office and noted that many of the same issues they were dealing with as long as 40 years ago are currently facing Florida.

Graham said that during his time in office he tried to focus on three key issues: economic development, the environment and education.

“With a state moving as rapidly as Florida, we need to be thinking not just to the next election or the next decade, but for the next generations,” Graham said, “and the way in which we do that most fundamentally is an investment in education.”

Graham said the spirit of today tends to not look at the big picture, not just in education, but in many areas including the environment.

“We’re more focused on avoiding having to make any sacrifices today, regardless of what sacrifices we’re going to have to impose in the future,” he said.

Diamond guided the nearly two-hour conversation, asking the governors questions about their time in office, growth management in Florida and water and environmental issues.

The governors agreed that a mindfulness of water management and the environment in Florida are among the most crucial issues facing Florida’s future. And Crist, who was governor during the 2010 BP oil spill, pointed out the lessons that can be learned from the incident.

“What did we learn from the spill? Well, I think No. 1, the last thing you ever want to do is drill off the coast of Florida,” Crist said. “I think the greatest wakeup call of all time, in terms of how sensitive Florida is and how dependent we are on tourism as a very important part of our economy, was evidenced by the BP oil spill.”

The governors also took questions from students in the audience in which they addressed taxes on Internet goods, the importance of energy independence and voter fraud.

The Allen L. Poucher Legal Education Series was established by Betty K. Poucher in honor of her late husband, Allen L. Poucher Sr. A humanitarian who lived a life dedicated to service, Allen Poucher graduated from UF Law in 1942 and practiced law for more than 60 years. The Poucher Legal Education Series seeks to provide a venue for prominent legal, political and business leaders to discuss important issues facing our nation and world today.

The webcast of the Poucher Lecture can be viewed here,