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Title: Oral History Interview with Reubin Askew, July 8, 1974. Interview A-0045. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007): Electronic Edition.
Author: Askew, Reubin, interviewee
Interview conducted by DeVries, Walter Bass, Jack
Funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services supported the electronic publication of this interview.
Text encoded by Mike Millner
Sound recordings digitized by Aaron Smithers Southern Folklife Collection
First edition, 2006
Size of electronic edition: 140 Kb
Publisher: The University Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
2006.
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The electronic edition is a part of the UNC-Chapel Hill digital library, Documenting the American South.
Languages used in the text: English
Revision history:
2006-00-00, Celine Noel and Wanda Gunther revised TEIHeader and created catalog record for the electronic edition.
2006-04-26, Mike Millner finished TEI-conformant encoding and final proofing.
Source(s):
Title of sound recording: Oral History Interview with Reubin Askew, July 8, 1974. Interview A-0045. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Title of series: Series A. Southern Politics. Southern Oral History Program Collection (A-0045)
Author: Walter DeVries and Jack Bass
Title of transcript: Oral History Interview with Reubin Askew, July 8, 1974. Interview A-0045. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Title of series: Series A. Southern Politics. Southern Oral History Program Collection (A-0045)
Author: Reubin Askew
Description: 157 Mb
Description: 40 p.
Note: Interview conducted on July 8, 1974, by Walter DeVries and Jack Bass; recorded in Tallahassee, Florida.
Note: Transcribed by Joe Jaros.
Note: Forms part of: Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007): Series A. Southern Politics, Manuscripts Department, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Note: Original transcript on deposit at the Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
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Interview with Reubin Askew, July 8, 1974.
Interview A-0045. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Askew, Reubin, interviewee


Interview Participants

    REUBIN ASKEW, interviewee
    JACK BASS, interviewer
    WALTER DEVRIES, interviewer

[TAPE 1, SIDE A]


Page 1
[START OF TAPE 1, SIDE A]
WALTER DEVRIES:
In Florida politics, what are the changes that have occurred in the last twenty-five years?
REUBIN ASKEW:
Well, you have already touched on what probably are the two biggest changes, and that is the advent of the two-party system and reapportionment. Reapportionment, probably, was more traumatic than even the advent of the two-party system. I came to the legislature sixteen years ago and we had, oh, as I can recall, I think that we had maybe about five Republicans in the house and no Republicans, I think, in the senate. They might have had one. And then when I got elected to the senate, there was one Republican who is now Congressman Bill Young. And with the advent of reapportionment . . . reapportionment helped bring about the two-party system, because most of the growth in the Republican Party has taken place in the urban areas. So that after the court ordered reapportionment, there was a fairly substantial increase in the Republicans presence in the senate. There was one there, and then a second one was elected. Well, there were only two Republicans out of thirty-eight senators when we first went into real reapportionment, which was in 1965. And then we went from twelve to twenty, something like that. That was at the high point, I think that we have maybe fifteen or sixteen now. But reapportionment played a part in it.
But prior to reapportionment, we had rather rigid lines within both houses that separated essentially the

Page 2
rural legislators from the urban legislators. And the whole issue was reapportionment. And of course, behind reapportionment was the tax distribution and particularly, the gas tax distribution and allocation. Race track allocation, so that there were some very, very sensitive issues that did not get resolved until such time as we reapportioned. And so, a lot of the tax questions were sort of the cohesiveness that held together the question of reapportionment. Besides, just held the question of not reapportioning. And of course, a lot of it was just personalities involved as well.
We then, when we reapportioned, and I helped lead the fight for reapportionment in both houses. And coming from an area that stood to lose by it, it was somewhat of a misunderstood issue in my own constituency, but one that I felt very strongly about. Because I could see tremendous problems in the urban areas where the state government was simply not being responsive. And I think that it was fundamental just in representation. And it developed a tremendous amount of new leadership. Younger, more aggressive, well-educated, well-motivated men and women. And it gave, really, the legislature a real shot in the arm by developing a lot of this new leadership. Which essentially could not have been developed, by the way, prior to reapportionment. And then because reapportionment broke hope in this question of urban areas, then you were able to get more Republicans in and I think that it has had a healthy effect, over all, on state politics. Because I think, really, that a two-party system has been the difference in this country. And I think that it distinguishes us from so many other countries in the world where your political party system is so proliferated that they have to put together a really weak coalition in order to have a working majority. Which creates indecisiveness and instability, which certainly isn't desirable in a world where you really

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need some type of strong leadership. And I think that the fact we have a two-party system down in Florida has helped sharpen, I think, the Democratic Party as well. Because the Democratic Party for years simply wouldn't organize, because there was no need to organize.
So that both of these, I think, have been the real major change in the last twenty-five years in Florida. And of course, both of them have come about really, in the last ten years. And I think that they have been good for Florida and then when we came along with a more aggressive, able type of legislator, meaning no disrespect to those that preceeded us, and with the determination on the part of the legislature, of which I was a part of at that time, of really staffing properly the legislative branch. Because for two many years, the legislature had to depend upon lobbyists, either from the commercial sector or the executive branch, to know what the facts were. And with the advent of the reapportionment, we then started staffing the legislative branch much better. And so, we have now adopted a new constitution. We have reorganized the executive branch, we have restructured our entire judicial system and I believe that while we still have additional reorganization in the executive branch, I think that overall, Florida government has come a long way in the last ten years.
WALTER DEVRIES:
One of the reasons, apparently, for all those changes was this group of legislators that came in in the sixties. Like the speaker of the house, Mallory Horne, we see . . .
REUBIN ASKEW:
Dick Pettigrew, probably.
WALTER DEVRIES:
Pettigrew, Don Reed and so on. They are all leaving the legislature. Now, thinking ahead over the next five or six years, is that going to have any impact on the legislature and its product?
REUBIN ASKEW:
It may well have. It may well have a very appreciable effect on

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it, because so many of the changes or "reforms," as they are sometimes labeled, came about as a result of people willing to rock the boat. And at that time, frankly, we needed boat-rockers, because there were changes that really needed to be made. For too long, you have had too much influence exerted by just a very few in Florida. And it was people like some of the people that you've mentioned. I would say particularly Dick Pettigrew, I think that he was a very, very strong leader. I think that Ralph Turlington, whom I appointed as Commissioner of Education, was also a very strong leader. Some of the people who made this possible will now be leaving and you well be getting some leadership that may be more content with finding ways to more effectively administer the programs that we have than a willingness to look at new programs. I personally believe that we need to do both. We've had a tremendous new programs in Florida and a substantial amount of change since I've been governor, but I indicated over and over when I was running that I didn't intend to be a caretaker. That I was running in order to have a program and I presented that program to the people, particularly in the area of tax reform, and we passed most of it our first year and we carried it to the people. But I don't think that you are going to have the lapse into the absolute status quo. I think that some are predicting that.
WALTER DEVRIES:
I didn't mean that you were going to go back to the era of the "Pork Choppers," but you had more changes occurring in about eight or ten years than just about any state we can find in the South.
REUBIN ASKEW:
That's right. And to a large extent, I really do think that we need to catch our breath and to review where we are and how well some of the things

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that we put on the books are working. And so to that extent, I think that it's valid, but I also feel like that there are still some other things that must be done, not necessarily of a new nature, but a more effective way of doing some of the things that we've now put on the books.
For instance, disclosure. I think that the very fact that we put a law on the books for financial disclosure, you know, is really significant. It may not be all that a lot of people would like for it to be, and it certainly is far more than a lot of other people would like, but when you see who is covered by it, it is substantial. And for the first time, we are going to be requiring that. Well, it isn't as much as I wanted, and so that will be something that we will continue to work in. Now, it may well be that if we had some of the ones that you mentioned before, our chances of success might be projected to be greater than they may be now as we look at the leadership for the next two years, but the leadership for the second two years certainly hasn't been decided. And you may come up with again, some more active leadership. I have the feeling that Don Tucker, who is scheduled to be the speaker of the house in the next two years, of course, that decision will ultimately come after the election, and the final analysis. There's some question of whether he will or he won't, but assuming for the minute that he will be, I think he's going to be a great deal more active than people now assume that he will be. Senator Barron may not have that same tendency. But bear in mind that it was Senator Barron who really helped put the revised judicial article through the legislature. And I'm telling you, believe me, that was a boat-rocking job. So, I think that they will find that to the extent that Senator Barron becomes convinced of a particular program, I believe they are going to find him willing to fight hard for that as well.
So, I think some of the feeling

Page 6
now that we may not . . . that we are going to slow down, some of it may be valid. We may need to do it, but I don't think that we are going to slow down to the extent that some have projected in a few articles written lately. For instance, if some of the people now that are talking about running for the senate run for the senate and get elected, you may find that a lot of the shift in terms of capable leadership, will shift from the house to the senate, which sometimes happens. And you may find the senate a little different from what some people are possibly anticipating now.
And if I have the privilege of serving for another four years, while I intend to constantly review what we have done, I don't intend to be a caretaker for another four years either. We may not have as many programs because, frankly, we just won't need to do as much as we did before. You know, when you change basically the tax structure of the state, and when you revise the court system, and we had tremendous . . . you know, it defied our best efforts for twenty-five years . . . and when you put the environmental laws on the books that we did and really substantially changed our allocation of educational funding, you really begin to see that some of our most pressing problems are on their way now. We had no community correctional centers when I became governor, we now have thirty-three, ten more in this budget and two in conversion to prisons. We still have problems, but we have appropriated more money since I have been governor. I have never compared the statistics, but I daresay that you could compile all that we had done for several years back and it would not come close to it. And that was a fairly unpopular thing when I first started talking about it, but I think that people are realizing now that the place to find crime, one of the best places, is

Page 7
within the penal system. We still have some changes that I think must be made within parole and probation. I think that environmentally, we still need to get a better handle on our environmental organization to simplify permitting and also to maximize the utilization of manpower.
Fiscally, when I became governor, we had a bad problem. We had a projected two hundred million dollar deficit and we have had surpluses three out of four years. Now, admittedly, we have had an overheated economy nationally and inflation and when you have as much of your base on sales tax, you obviously are going to get more money, but the way that we handled it was important, because we have in effect banked, in one way or another, over a hundred million dollars each year as an average over these four years. By putting a hundred and five million in a working capital reserve fund, two hundred and fourteen million we have advanced to interstate construction on advanced construction units with the federal government, which will come back at the end of the decade in the early eighties. A hundred million dollars to front money for a revolving fund for a sewage abatement facilities, so fiscally, we have made a lot of changes.
I don't think the need for change will be nearly as great in many areas that we have broken into. Such as housing, where the first time that I suggested it, it met with less than overwhelming reaction by the legislature, and it is now becoming abundantly clear that a state does have an appropriate role. It must move cautiously so as not to overextend itself, because the state has no business getting into any type of subsidy. Only the federal government can do that. But a lot of what we were going into, workman's compensation benefits, we had one of the lowest in the nation, and it is up substantially and we've put it on a formula basis. Unemployment was the same way, we don't have it on a formula basis. But the need for change, I don't think, will be as great as

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it was four years ago. Although, with the growth facing Florida, management of its growth is really going to almost transcend anything else.
So, we've got our work cut out for us substantially, but it may be more in the implementation in the right way of what we have on the books right now, with the environmental and water use management act, and to put together its water resources districts all over the state. So, the greater challenge may not be so much in terms of legislation per se, but making work what is on the books. And see if we have any deficiencies, for instance in ethics and disclosure, that should be strengthened and not be hesitant to do it.
JACK BASS:
How do you approach the growth problem in Florida? I mean, do you view it as a problem?
REUBIN ASKEW:
Oh yes, I don't think that there is any question that when you grow a thousand a day, you may label it as an opportunity, as a challenge, but regardless of the semantics, the fact is that it is something that you have to try to come to grips with. And it's not an easy thing, obviously, because of the mobility assured by the United States Constitution. And I think that you see in Oregon an attempt that tried to limit it and it resulted in it growing substantially more. Of course, you don't know if it wouldn't have grown otherwise or whether it called it to everybody's attention and they had more growth than they would otherwise have had, but I see, essentially, trying to assure a better quality of development in such a way to where you simply don't permit a bunch of little crackerboxes all over the state. You know, in big developments, without the proper services, without quality development, with no particular regard to question of sewage, drainage, transportation, all of these things. And now, with the new Environmental and Water Management Act of 1972, see, all of these will come under

Page 9
developments of reasonable impact and they are going to require passing certain guidelines. And we are going to do our best from the standpoint of really trying to control the type of development that takes place, so that in doing so, we can maybe steer it in the right areas and to try to avoid the greater buildup of density in areas where we already have problems. So, we have some parts of Florida now that are really overly populated and we have some that can stand some growth. And the challenge, to the extent that it's possible, is to try to afford greater flexibility to develop in certain areas, but much, much tighter in other areas. To try to control it this way.
JACK BASS:
Are you concerned with the general economic standards in Florida, particularly the high percentage, in the job market, the service-related jobs?
REUBIN ASKEW:
I think that this is one of my concerns, because I think that Florida's employment base needs to be diversified, and we are trying to move in that direction. When you recognize what a large role tourism plays, and it is anywhere from ten to fifteen percent of our gross state product, depending upon who is doing the figuring on what they contribute directly to tourism. But we have a tremendous service-oriented employment and we really should try to come up with what is broadly categorized as "manufacturing." Although that is a code word to some people in terms of industry, pollution, but I think that's a misnomer. Because it depends upon what you bring in. That's why I think that it's important that Florida continue to develop economically. And it was a competitive thing before such time as we had the environmental standards.

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It has become even more competitive now. But I think that we have to have greater economic development in order to diversify our employment base, because of the very thing that you are talking about. It is obviously one of the weaknesses in Florida's overall employment. And I think that it is reflected in the per capita income, which I think is probably the highest in the southeast, but I think it is still under the national average. You take a plant like Offshore Power Systems, which is coming into Jacksonville . . . it's a joint venture between Tenneco and Westinghouse to build a floating power station, nuclear reactors. We hope to be able to furnish ninety percent of the employment requirement of that industry, which could be up to twelve thousand people, by people in the northeast Florida area, to try to upgrade our underemployment and improve our unemployment, and in such a way to try and put more people to work in jobs other than just service-oriented. But Florida will essentially always be a major service-oriented economy because of tourism and its importance.
JACK BASS:
I want to ask you this: when you ran for governor, did you think you could win? A lot of people said they . . .
REUBIN ASKEW:
Oh, I had a feeling that I had a good chance if I properly presented myself to the people, but I was certainly not what you would call confident at the very beginning.
JACK BASS:
Were you in that situation that many people with leadership in state legislatures find themselves when they either want to be . . . to go into politics full-time or either get out . . .
REUBIN ASKEW:
Yes, I had made up my mind that I get all out or all in. Because it became a very difficult strain economically to stay in the legislature

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and to continue assuming the responsibilities I had. And I had to make up my mind to get all out or all in. And the day that I turned in my resignation, with the possibility for running for governor, I was much . . . my mind was much more made up on resigning than it was necessarily in running for governor. Although, it was my clear intent at that time to move toward it. But I asked Senator Scott Kelly, who had run for governor a couple of times in Florida several years ago, I asked him if he ever wanted to quit, you know, because a campaign has its high points and its low points. He said, "I quit a thousand times." And it really, I think, was one of the things that really put it in proper perspective for me. There was a tremendous challenge to me in running. My ambition and desire was not to be elected governor, but to be governor, and yet I had so many people say, "You can't run in the way that you are talking about." Because, you know, I made not the first commitment on the road anywhere in Florida. I made no commitments, any type of commitments as such. Oh, I backed into one commitment, probably, to appoint somebody to a board from a certain area, but not a person. And I regretted that I even did that, but I sort of got backed into it on the run, but that was just an area that I felt should have been represented and wasn't ever represented. But I really didn't promise anybody anything. I turned down money in the early parts of the campaign and that upset some of my supporters.
But I felt like it was important that if I were to win, I would be absolutely free to do the type of job, because you simply couldn't have taken some of the stands that I've taken and be committed to the very people that you have to oppose. You take, for instance, Associated Industries, which is a very influential body in Florida. You couldn't go down like we did and confront them on the issue of the

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corporate profits tax if you really had taken substantial contributions, you know, from their key leadership. So, I tried to remain free. But I was hopeful and as the campaign progressed, I got to feeling more and more that I might have a chance. And then when I came out with the tax reform program and actually advocated the tax, why then, a good portion of the capital press corps, and I think that we have one of the more perceptive and hardworking press corps in the entire nation, certainly one of the strongest. And I had some of them say, "You know, that's political suicide." But I really felt like the time had come that if a person was honest with the people and not go this same old route of "no new taxes," and then after you were elected, lower the axe. I just decided that no, I knew we were going to have generate additional revenue for the tax base in Florida. I had been chairman of the appropriations, I knew what was ahead and I really tried to tell it as it is, and it was that, I think, that played a large part in the election.
WALTER DEVRIES:
Didn't Claude Kirk have something to do with that? Four years of Kirk. Considering the environment, reapportionment occurring, Kirk occurring . . .
REUBIN ASKEW:
I think that probably that my election required several circumstances, one of which if it had not come into place, I could not have gotten elected. I think my coming along behind Kirk, you know, who was described as flamboyant. I was described as serious. Well, I have worked since I was nine years old, and I am serious. And I used to say, you know, in the campaign, "Don't you think it's time to have some seriousness in the governor's office?" And you could feel the pulse of the people. But coming along behind him, you know, I think played an important role in my winning. Because obviously, the contrast was substantial. I think the

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fact that we limited the amount of money that could be spent, played a factor. I had other people saying, "You know, that's an incumbent's dream. You can't get enough to get the necessary exposure to win." I didn't agree with that, because I had no intentions of going out and trying to get large contributions from additional sources. I think that having the primaries in the fall as opposed to May played an important role in the election.
WALTER DEVRIES:
Well, didn't the fact that in a sense you took the nomination away from the old party pros, that you did it the way it wasn't supposed to be done, set the climate for the next four years in terms of the leadership in the Democratic Party?
REUBIN ASKEW:
Yes. And I think that Lawton Chiles did the same thing. You know, I can recall the most, what I would say, electrified gathering politically I've ever been in in my life, was when Lawton and I came together at a joint meeting shortly after we both won the nomination. In a meeting in Miami, and when we came in together, you know, in that group, you could just feel it in the air. Because I think, really, that both of us represented in a different sort of way, a new attitude in politics and a new confidence in the people. You know, if a politican was willing to be honest with them and to try to properly motivate them, they would respond. And I think that Lawton did this by his walk. And I think that we did it essentially by the type of program we had, on a willingness to take on a lot of the "sacred cows" frontally, you know, and to set really a new tone. Because, if any one thing motivated me to run for governor, it was the desire to try to establish a new tone in the office. Because, you know, it had gotten to be sort of a . . . well,

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Florida itself, you've travelled around the nation, and Florida has gotten to be sort of a laughingstock. My predecessor had had his battles with the legislature, and he wasn't always wrong with them, and yet his lack of understanding of the process caused him unnecessary problems. I think that when Lawton and I got elected, I think it gave a lot of people hope that you could fight special interests and that you didn't have to join the club, you know, in order to float along with the rest of them.
WALTER DEVRIES:
If you were assessing your contributions to the state now, would that be one of them, one of the most important? That you did prove that?
REUBIN ASKEW:
Yes. And I think also that our campaign demonstrated that you could get elected without making all of the traditional commitments and promises that had been characteristic of gubernatorial campaigns. Not always characteristic, but generally characteristic.
JACK BASS:
The question is frequently asked, "Is Florida really a southern state?"
REUBIN ASKEW:
Well, I think Florida is almost a microcosm of the country, in a sense. You have a substantial part of Florida that is very, very much a southern state. You have other parts of it that really are more metropolitan, but overall, I would judge Florida as a southern state. I think that you have some people all the way down from Pensacola to Key West, you know, in Miami, up to Jacksonville, that are pretty southern. But I believe that the influx of people from the other parts of the nation has had a very good effect upon Florida. The same way that people coming from other parts of the world came to the United States. To a large extent, Florida is a melting pot of the country.

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And I think that with them they have brought leadership and a more mellowing and tempering of views. And as a result, I think that it is still very much a southern state, but I think that it is progressive southern state.
JACK BASS:
What political impact does Florida's . . . at least compared with the rest of the South, Florida's relatively large Jewish population have on the state's politics?
REUBIN ASKEW:
Well, I think that you have . . . you had two outstanding people, you know, of the Jewish faith who have served on the cabinet of Florida, the attorney general and the secretary of state, at the same time. I think that the Jewish community has been the source of a tremendous amount of incisive state leadership and I think it has been . . . most, of course, coming out of the Miami area. I think that it has helped a great deal in furnishing an element of leadership that is needed in the state. By that I don't mean to say that I would relegate it just to Jewish people, but I think that it has had an impact toward the state being more willing to face up to some of the human problems than it might otherwise have done.
WALTER DEVRIES:
V. O. Key in his book said that if you understood the politics of race, you understood the politics of the South. Is that true in Florida?
REUBIN ASKEW:
I wouldn't think so. I would think that you would have certain parts of Florida where that may be correct. But I don't think that generally I could accept that as a valid premise in all of Florida.
JACK BASS:
Governor, we were present when you addressed, I guess it was the Florida Voters League. It was in May at the Holiday Inn and you caught some fairly heavy static afterwards when you made a reference to "boy" once or twice. Were you surprised at that?
REUBIN ASKEW:
Well, I think that first of all you have to understand a little of

Page 16
the background of that meeting, you know, because I don't think that was particularly intended to be a friendly meeting to me for political reasons. And so, when you understand that some of it was not by accident, and it certainly was not legitimately spontaneous. The one young lady felt like my reference to the term "boy" denoted something that wasn't proper. I wasn't particularly surprised, because I think in this area, black people have gotten the worst end on it a lot of times. And therefore, I think that we have to understand and appreciate if they are extra sensitive to something and then misread a situation. But anyone who knows me, I think, would know that I meant it nothing other than as a compliment, because I use the expression too much for people, regardless of color.
WALTER DEVRIES:
What do you think it will take for Florida to rejoin the national Democratic Party?
JACK BASS:
Expand that to the South, if you would.
REUBIN ASKEW:
I think that the South right now is poised, so to speak, to become very much a part of the Democratic national party. Some of the problems that have characteristically been thought of as southern problems in terms of race are not just southern problems anymore. I think that some of the other parts of the country are now facing up to a lot of the self-questioning that the South has gone through and I think come out pretty well. I think that the South is going to solve its racial problems before other parts of the country will.
WALTER DEVRIES:
Why?
REUBIN ASKEW:
Because I think that it is facing up to them and it has had to face up to them because we had a lot of them as a matter of law, whereas certain other parts of the country . . . and when I say "other parts of the country," I'm talking about other parts of the country that are urban

Page 17
where you have a large black population. Now, in some of the states where you have a minimal black population, you haven't had a problem, you probably never will have much of one. But I think the South has been willing . . . well, maybe "willing," that might be questioned, but for one reason or another, they started to face up to a lot of the problems and I think have recognized that the historic restraints have held the South back from developing itself. And I think that you are getting a greater acceptance in the South, even though it has been slow and sometimes imperceptibly so. Florida may well be one of the most desegregated states education-wise in the nation. A lot of them in other parts of the country, de facto segregation, or whatever you want to call it, by circumstance, housing or otherwise, I think that the South hasn't gotten to the point that it has developed so many urban ghettos to where it becomes almost impossible to solve the problem. And because I think that this new awareness has developed at a time when we still can do something about it before it really gets to the state where it is in some of your big urban areas, particularly the Northeast. Now, I might say also that there is a counterpart to this also. An analogous situion concerning the environment. See, because Florida, I think, has caught it at a time prior to further growth to where it can turn the corner. If it had waited another ten years, it might have created so much urban sprawl that it might have had a hard time reversing, but it will and I think it has. And I think that it will do the same things, really, in terms of race. Now, that doesn't say that we don't still have a tremendous challenge in this field, but it is a challenge that is national as well.
WALTER DEVRIES:
One of the questions that we have asked other people in Florida

Page 18
is how they think you would do in a primary against George Wallace, a presidential primary. What do you think?
REUBIN ASKEW:
I wouldn't even attempt to speculate.
[interruption]
JACK BASS:
What has been the effect of the sunshine law?
REUBIN ASKEW:
I think substantially good. I can recall that when I first opened up a conference committee in appropriations, everybody thought, "What's happening?" And yet, for collection decisions, I really do believe that it has had a good effect.
JACK BASS:
You operated in the legislature under the sunshine law and also as governor, can you give us some specific examples as to how it has effected policy making?
REUBIN ASKEW:
Well, within the executive branch, for instance, it had gotten to be fairly traditional and accepted that the cabinet, sometimes the governor and the cabinet, would just meet before each cabinet meeting and thrash out all their decisions, because it was considered improper to wash your dirty linen in public and then when they had the cabinet meetings . . . once in a while, they would have some differences and express them in open meetings, but for the most part they just got ironed out, during the Kirk administration, the cabinet met . . . up until the passage of the sunshine law . . . with regularity at the Duval Hotel every Tuesday morning for breakfast, you know, and made all the decisions they wanted to make and then they just went in and formalized them. In the legislative branch, they were, of course, covered by their own rules and particularly in the area of the senate, where prior to when a handful of us simply refused to have any more executive sessions,

Page 19
the questions on suspensions, with some exceptions . . . once in a while they would appoint a three-man committee where a senator didn't particularly want to bear the responsibility for it . . . but for the most part, it was just an executive session, thumbs up or thumbs down and an officer either got upheld or reinstated. And now, they've got a system, Fred Caul, an extremely able person, has been a special master of it, in which they hear all of it. It's changed the whole process, because public officials, I think, hadn't really been getting complete due process. From the standpoint of local government, it has had a substantial difference, because too frequently, the decisions were made and they were perfunctorily carried out in the open.
JACK BASS:
What do you think that it has meant in terms of public confidence in the government?
REUBIN ASKEW:
Oh, I think that it has substantially improved it. I think that having meetings in the open, and I have scrupulously avoided in my own case, any meetings, you know, with the cabinet that could possibly be considered violations, because I'm the one in the final analysis that has to suspend, not the cabinet members, of course, they are subject only to impeachment, but to the others. And this whole tone . . . plus, I believe that those of us, and there were a few of us in the very beginning, particularly the attorney general and myself, that disclosed all our finances to begin with. I think that the very fact that I came forward and disclosed all of my net worth, the topics of my income tax return, and I've done it every year since, and in openess, I think that it has had a lot to do with people's attitudes toward their government, and I think that even disclosure, I would concede that in a sense, it is an invasion of privacy. An extraordinary thing, but I think that in the

Page 20
situation that we find ourselves now in attempting to restore confidence in government, I think that it is going to require extraordinary steps. But I could not have secured the passage of this bill at the last session, I truly believe, had I not been willing to do that myself and I felt like I had to demonstrate the willingness personally before I was in a position to ask others to do so.
JACK BASS:
Do you think that the sunshine law makes government more effective, efficient?
REUBIN ASKEW:
Well, when you say efficient, you know, many people say that the most efficient form of government is a dictatorial one, so I don't know . . .
JACK BASS:
Does it make a more democratic form of government?
REUBIN ASKEW:
Yes. I certainly think so. Because I think that you have a greater awareness of how you spend a dollar, I think that you have to justify it. I made a mistake a couple of years ago in which . . . you understand we used to have what was called a Budget Commission, the governor and the cabinet. They drew up the executive budget. The legislature met every two years for sixty days, pretty much rubber-stamped what the governor and the cabinet prepared for them and wherein they disagreed after they left, the governor vetoed it out with great flexibility and it didn't come back for two years and it was looped. So, you really didn't have it. When I became governor I felt strongly that you've got to give it to them while they were here, but . . . tell me, what was your question again, I just rambled to another point. Bring me back on track.
JACK BASS:
You were talking about your mistake with the legislature.

Page 21
REUBIN ASKEW:
O.K., so what happened was that it used to almost be a charade anyway. Everybody would come up and there was a PR pitch. I used to sit through it as a legislator as well, and when I became governor, I said, "You know, I don't have the time to waste on a bunch of superficial questions. I need to just meet with these department heads, look over their budget and ask them some hard questions." And I said, "In order to try an eliminate a bunch of speeches, I will just go in and meet with them myself, since the new constitution placed that whole responsibility in the governor and not the cabinet." It was no reflective decision, so the sunshine law, of course, wouldn't affect any singular public official in terms of him making his own decisions. It goes to collective decisions. And so, I just made up my mind that that was a better way to do it. Well, the press just jammed the room out here, you know, big lights. They had never paid so much attention to it. And of course, what I was trying to do, to have a more effective budegtary process, was completely overshadowed by the fact that here I was having a secret meeting with a department head, you know. Finally I just realized that I had made a mistake. That the importance, really, of trying to convey what I wanted to convey was more important than worrying about whether I was putting the department head on the spot by asking him a hard question and making him respond. So, I walked out into the office and I think that they thoroughly expected me to make some type of defense of it, and I just walked out and said, "I've made a mistake." I said, "I really shouldn't have done it, because it didn't work out like I had pictured." I said, "It's all open."
Well, no one stayed. I think that one reporter stayed, all the cameras disappeared, you know, but I learned

Page 22
from that, that frankly it is to my advantage to make people justify in public what they are asking me. Because all of my decisions become public. And I have found, really, that in this process, now, we have hearings and we have some pretty good disagreements among my own department heads, you know, during the last session. You can't have somebody sitting with you all during the day and I can't feel that I can't talk to anybody without somebody sitting there, because it becomes impossible to administer. But I think that whenever you can, it's obviously to the advantage of the person making that decision to let the public know what the input was in the making of that decision. Sometimes I have been criticized by some of the press because I have had a couple of meetings with the president and the speaker of the house from time to time in the legislative session. Sometimes, that type of meeting, where none of the three of us can make a collective decision, it becomes . . .
[END OF TAPE 1, SIDE A]

[TAPE 1, SIDE B]

[START OF TAPE 1, SIDE B]
REUBIN ASKEW:
. . . together, and they have to ventilate a little, you know, to where you simply wouldn't get that. So, there may be some exceptions. Since that time, I've not even particularly attempted to do that. Because I found, really, that I was bearing the brunt for some decisions, when sometimes other people were unwilling to more clearly demonstrate what their position was. But the point is, that I think it has been probably the single biggest good effect upon government since I have been in politics. I think that, in and of itself, and I believe that it is the single biggest thing that could help in Washington. The problem is that politicians, it just scares them to death. It is a traumatic thing to think that they have to justify their decisions publicly, but really, I have the feeling that with the exception of legitimate national defense and maybe some

Page 23
others that I'm not aware of, they should open up the federal government and people would feel that they have a greater part in it.
WALTER DEVRIES:
Does the size and kind of the state capital press corps that you have have any bearing on this? Apparently, it is the first or second largest in the country, coming to the state house.
REUBIN ASKEW:
It's not only the size, but you've got some pretty sharp people. And they follow it and follow it closely. They had that even before we opened up. But I think that opening it up enables them to do their job so much more effectively.
JACK BASS:
Governor, several years ago you and John West, Bob Scott, Linwood Holton were all featured in some interviews that David Gillespie did for a Presbyterian magazine, and what role did religion play for you and mean in your political decisions and your political life?
REUBIN ASKEW:
Well, first of all, I cannot separate my faith from any other part of my life. And I think that if I attempted to do it, it would reflect a lack of understanding or commitment to it. I don't believe that you can compartmentalize your faith. I think that your faith has to be at the center of your life and from it must emanate all of your decisions. As far as attempting to impose any religious dogma as a result of it, I really don't believe that I have done that. But the approach to any decision making, I just don't think that you can separate your faith nor would I ever try to.
JACK BASS:
To what extent do you think that religion plays a role in southern politics? A number of people have remarked that it is a factor and that particularly the large fundamentalist groups that dominate in many of the southern states, less so in Florida than some of the other states, that it has a very significant political effect. Do you perceive

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this?
REUBIN ASKEW:
Well, I think that . . . I don't believe that this is peculiar, just say for Florida, that the people would like to know what type of person they are electing. And I think that faith plays an important role in it, not necessarily what you profess, but how you live that which you profess. And I think that you are going to find that in the years ahead, nationally, people are going to be concerned about that. Again, not the particular faith, you know, but the type of person. I think that more and more, the electorate is going to look beyond what a politician says and to see what he has done and how he has lived.
JACK BASS:
When you talk about faith, that you couldn't separate your own religious faith and religion from decision making, how did that effect, say, you decision in entering the busing controversy in '72?
REUBIN ASKEW:
I think that my faith would have gone much more into my fundamental feeling that I have about the race question per se, rather than just any question of busing.
JACK BASS:
But that was one sort of controversial decision, when you took what was generally considered to be an unpopular position.
REUBIN ASKEW:
It was a very controversial position that I took and I think it largely reflects my feeling of which my faith is a part of, you know, that God meant all of us to have a chance. As far as the device of busing, I don't think that my faith tells you what is right or wrong in that regard, nor did I attempt to pass judgment on this question. I just felt that I needed to share with the people of Florida why I felt as I did and why I thought it was important that we not do anything that would limit our ability to dismantle a dual system of public schools and to work toward the equality of educational opportunities for every child. I am a product

Page 25
of the public school system and I feel that it is important for every child, regardless of their color, place of residence, that they have a chance to rise above their own beginnings. And I saw in it, a real question, not just to minority groups, but to people generally who were not born into a situation that would guarantee them an adequate education in the event that the public schools fell apart.
WALTER DEVRIES:
How do other politicians react to you when you take those sorts of stands? People who have been in this business a long time. You take very deliberate, controversial public positions, which any politician in his right mind wouldn't take and . . .
REUBIN ASKEW:
Well, when I first advocated reapportionment, coming from northwest Florida, which was a somewhat comparable thing and I had a great deal of advice from friends that I shouldn't take that position, but I have always felt like, you know, that . . . I have an expression that I have to explain, that "I haven't lost a thing in politics." And by that, I mean that I don't have to be in it. That it is very much a part of my life, but if I really don't believe that I'm making a contribution and being honest with the people whose trust they have placed in me, then I really shouldn't be there. And I know that many times, political expediency would dictate something otherwise, but I just have had a lot of them say, "Well, I agree with what you are saying, you know, but I certainly don't want to run the risk of taking that position." But here again, it depends on how bad you want to be in politics. I simply don't want to be in politics that badly. I mean, as much as it means to me to be governor, I simply would not want to be governor if I really didn't feel like I could level with the people.
And I think Don, without necessarily quoting me, because it sounds somewhat self-serving . . . but there was a poll taken about ninety days after the

Page 26
busing issue and of course, some of us succeeded in putting a second question on that referendum and that is, "Do you favor equality of educational opportunity and not going back to any dual system of public schools?" Well, a lot of people overlooked that question, but I thought that it was important to me, because it passed by a little larger vote than the anti-busing amendment passed. And we were the first state in the nation that had had segregation as a matter of law, that had voted three to one not to go back to it. You know, which I felt was somewhat significant. And a poll was taken just to see what the reaction of the people was, and I think about 72% of the people said that even though they disagreed with me, they respected my courage and willingness to speak out on it. Again, I say that not for quotes, but it's a Hamilton poll, where you can just read it for yourself. But I had people in Pensacola tell me for years, you know, that "I don't agree with you, but you are honest and you are sincere and you're trying to do a job for us and that's all we can expect."
One of the toughest political issues I had during my whole political career was on the question of whether to convert or not to convert the Pensacola Junior College into a four-year degree granting institution. And I had just been elected senator and they were all over me. Because the community overwhelmingly, with the prodding of the faculty at the community college, says, "Make us a four-year college." And I had the whole legislature against me. I had one public official in all of the county, one guy on the city council, who favored my position, and he was really for it, because the city manager was against it and he was always against what the city manager was for. But again, I made up my mind then that I would be taking the easy way out and selling young

Page 27
people short for years to come if we wound up in anything in west Florida other than a university in real name as opposed to a hybrid four-year college that might get secondary budgetary considerations and we would destroy one of the best junior colleges in the nation. And we would began a series of moves that would start converting other junior colleges, you know, and we would destroy what I felt would become one of the best community college systems in the nation. I felt strongly about it and I won it, we finally won over the community. But I had all types of people telling me that I had just completely removed myself from politics.
WALTER DEVRIES:
How many times have they told you that?
REUBIN ASKEW:
Well, a good bit, but I . . .
WALTER DEVRIES:
So, what do you think about all that conventional wisdom?
REUBIN ASKEW:
I think that it's wrong. Because I believe that one of the fundamental responsibilites of people in public service is to have a willingness to lead and not simply just to respond. I think a public official must be responsive, but he also must have enough confidence in the people, in their choice of him or her, that he should share with them why he feels like he does to try and help them reconcile their views. And I feel strongly against government by poll, you know, to find out exactly how the people feel without having the benefit of the information that goes into public decisions. And this goes to the whole heart of a representative form of government, you know, because you elect people and you place a certain trust in them. Now, if they are not responsive to your satisfaction, you have an opportunity to show that by dramatically removing them.
JACK BASS:
Do you believe in polling as a tool in decision making?

Page 28
REUBIN ASKEW:
No, I've never used it.
WALTER DEVRIES:
But a good poll would have told you that the conventional wisdom was wrong, that the people indeed wanted that leadership.
REUBIN ASKEW:
Let's put it this way. I have felt very deeply that ever since the day I got in politics, I have felt like that is shortsighted. I would much rather rest my case with the people and be judged on the totality of my service than worrying about whether every decision meets with a majority favorable reaction. And I think that more and more people are looking at the person rather than just how they take a position on every issue. And that's how I'm willing to be judged. When I first ran, you know, there were efforts to close down the public school system and when I first ran for the legislature, I took positions against closing the public school system, what was then called the Last Resort Bill. And people just said, "Well, you won't get elected, not over here." But I came within a few votes of beating five people in the first primary and won decisively in the second and I've never had a close election. Again, I don't want to be quoted on that, because that sounds self-serving, but I'm telling you why I feel that if you have enough confidence in the people and can properly present yourself and your views they will respond if they feel that you are talking straight to them. And I think that is essentially what leadership is about.
JACK BASS:
Governor, we are talking in terms of a book to be published in 1976, and how do you feel that the Democratic Party nationally should treat George Wallace?
REUBIN ASKEW:
I don't know. That's a question that a lot of people are thinking about. I really don't know.
JACK BASS:
Do you think that there will be a southerner on the ticket in 1976?

Page 29
REUBIN ASKEW:
I don't know that either.
WALTER DEVRIES:
What do you think it will take to get the South back, what kind of candidate for president?
REUBIN ASKEW:
Well, I think to present a candidate that is acceptable to the South.
WALTER DEVRIES:
What does that mean?
REUBIN ASKEW:
Well, it means that you are not going to have anybody that is considered exceptionally liberal, in the classic terms that most people quote it today, and to be acceptable in the South. I just don't think that's going to happen. And everybody in the South knows that.
JACK BASS:
And yet, a Gallup poll taken earlier this year showed that Ted Kennedy was running about the same in the South that he is in the rest of the country, may be slightly below, but it's close.
REUBIN ASKEW:
Well, there may be a rationale for that that can be explained. Because you have a certain element in the South that would, but it is not anywhere approaching a majority, I'll tell you that. I think that right now, between now and the time that you publish your book, you probably are going to do an awful lot of revisions in terms of conclusions, because you are going to find that so much is going to happen that it is impossible at this point to predict what may be the outcome in 1976.
JACK BASS:
Let's assume that you get reelected by a very comfortable margin, what do you think that would mean insofar as Florida voters are concerned?
REUBIN ASKEW:
Well, I think that it would probably be an endorsement of our administration.
JACK BASS:
But beyond that, how do you think they perceive that administration?

Page 30
REUBIN ASKEW:
How they perceive it? I think they perceive it as one that has been responsive to them and one that did what it said it was going to do. This is one of the things that I hear so much as I go throughout the state, you know, that "you did what you said you were going to do." When I first got elected, Jack, people said . . . and then I called an immediate special session in January and got the corporate profits tax passed as a constitutional amendment, but we couldn't get the three-fourths vote until the regular session to have it as a special election. But I had a lot of people, much to my consternation, that supported me, that said, "Look, you are elected now. Make a good college try at it, you know, but you don't need a special session right away." It disturbed me because I don't do much guessing, but that's one I had to do. And it really disturbed me because I said, "You weren't listening to what I was saying. We are going to have a special session and I'm going to strike while the iron is hot." And then after we finally got the vote, and it was difficult. It took a three-fourths vote. And then they said, "Well, just let it simmer and then vote on it in 1972 instead of a year earlier." It required a three-fifths vote to put it as an amendment on the ballot at the next general election and a three-fourths statutory vote to move it up to a special election in between. And a lot of people said, "Look, stop while you are ahead, you know." But then we fought, and we got it right on then. I just felt like that was what I told the people I was going to do and I did everything I could to accomplish it and we accomplished it. And I think that has meant a great deal to the people of Florida, almost more than the question of the corporate profits tax, is that someone did what they said they were going to do. But I never intended to do anything but that, if given the chance.

Page 31
JACK BASS:
If you get reelected by a substantial margin and the polls indicate a very strong probability of that, and you are not satisfied with anyone that comes forward in the Democratic Party for national leadership, and Florida being as you say, a microcosm of the country and one of the early states with a presidential primary, do you see any circumstances under which you would seek the presidential nomination?
REUBIN ASKEW:
No. No, I don't.
JACK BASS:
I understand that in '72 you sent word to George McGovern that you were not interested in being on the ticket.
REUBIN ASKEW:
Yes, I did.
JACK BASS:
Would there be any chance that you might reconsider the second spot depending upon whom the nominee and circumstance . . .
REUBIN ASKEW:
I wouldn't think so. I sent it to Senator McGovern because he had been saying some very nice things publicly and I felt that it was one thing to be turned down by Muskie and Humphrey and Kennedy, but to be turned down by a political unknown would not have particularly helped him, so that's why I sent word that I told him . . . I would not have run with anybody, period. Because I had just become governor and I had no intentions of being diverted from the job I had been given. He then, you know, when he was searching for a replacement to Eagleton, he called me and asked me to run with him and I then reiterated my position. I was never asked at Miami. I had just gone up to North Carolina for a vacation and he called me early on the morning that I left and I told him that I would not do it, gave him some advice, and then he called me up that afternoon in North Carolina and offered it to me for the first time in a clear fashion. But I really had no intention of getting involved in

Page 32
national politics.
JACK BASS:
How about in the future?
REUBIN ASKEW:
I would doubt that I would get involved.
WALTER DEVRIES:
Don't you see an increasing role, though, for some southern governors in the national . . .
REUBIN ASKEW:
Well . . .
WALTER DEVRIES:
Like Bumpers and yourself and . . .
REUBIN ASKEW:
That's right, and there are those who are desirous of it, you know.
WALTER DEVRIES:
But isn't that a significant development in and of itself?
REUBIN ASKEW:
Oh, yes. From a different standpoint too. What they are talking about now is different from what it used to be, in other words, a "throw a bone to the South" type of thing to bring them in. I think that it is more of a recognition that the South has become a factor in terms of contributing leadership as opposed to just balancing the ticket. I think that it is possible to have a presidential candidate from the South. You know, Lyndon Johnson, of course, came in by way of the vice-presidency and in many respects is considered a westerner as opposed to a southerner, although most of us in the South consider both Oklahoma and Texas as southern states. But I think that you will find a greater acceptance and I think that one of the important consequences of Governor Wallace's forays into the North showed that he was not a regional candidate and that he has the ability to be a national candidate. And it wasn't until he was successful in some northern states, both in wins and near-wins, that people realized that he had a candidacy of possible national proportions. So, I don't really see at this point where a presidential

Page 33
candidate who can capture the imagination of the people, I think, will win next time regardless of what part of the nation he is from. You had Muskie as a front runner and he had been a vice-presidential candidate and he was from Maine, one of the smallest states in the nation. You had McGovern who is from one of the smallest states in the nation who won the presidential nomination. You had Agnew, Maryland is a fairly small state, so that I really do believe that in the final analysis next time, the people will respond to a person that can motivate them regardless of where he or she may be from.
WALTER DEVRIES:
And television is the way to do that, is that right?
REUBIN ASKEW:
Yes, but I think . . .
WALTER DEVRIES:
Is that it in your case?
REUBIN ASKEW:
Yes, but I also think that people are somewhat suspect of being packaged. I think a few years ago you could package a candidate, you know, like a bar of soap. I don't think that you can do that anymore, as much as you once could. There's always a certain element of it, but I think they are more interested in seeing a candidate in free discussion as opposed to just a commerical recitation. But television has obviously revolutionized politics in the country, because it's brought it into the home and you no longer have your delivery of large ethnic groups and large city groups, you know, in the traditional coalition that for many years held the Democratic Party together. I think that it has had the effect of going into the home, and I think that these telethons have had a good effect, a positive effect, on the Democratic Party. Because it is reestablishing the traditional grassroots appeal of the Democratic Party to people and I think that's what the Democratic Party has got to do.

Page 34
It's got to move more toward the center. I think that it has got to try to recapture the grassroots support that it has traditionally enjoyed and it must do so, I believe, based upon issues and hopefully avoid any proliferation of its party.
WALTER DEVRIES:
We're writing a book on southern politics. Is the South as a region that much different from the other regions of the country? Can you detect the difference say, among your colleagues at the National Governors Conference?
REUBIN ASKEW:
Well, I think that you might well have a little stronger affinity of people within the South as a region than you might have in any other one.
WALTER DEVRIES:
What holds them together?
REUBIN ASKEW:
Oh, I think traditional affinity. I think you have this sort of in the New England states, you have this close feeling in New England as you do in the South. The others, you don't necessarily have that. And I think that it is just the traditional feeling of regionalism, but I believe that that now is giving way, because of the recognition that it's important that the South be an integral part of national politics. Almost individually, in addition to its any impact as a region.
WALTER DEVRIES:
You see that happening?
REUBIN ASKEW:
Yes. But here again, in the final analysis, it has to be judged at the polls, you know, political parties by sense are not debating societies. We've got lots of amateur dinner clubs. The ultimate test of a political party is its success at winning, which is its justification for existence, you know, as an integral part of furnishing leadership for a party and stability of checks and balances within the poltical structure. And I think that the South is moving into it and it may be this time, or it may be next time, but it is not so much crystalized as

Page 35
a separate section. The South is economically developing and there is a breaking down of so many of the characteristics that maybe distinguished the South from other parts of the country. I think that they are now being broken down.
WALTER DEVRIES:
There are two states where the Democratic Party seems to have been revitalized and strangely, it's Arkansas and Florida, where you had four years of Claude Kirk and four years of Winthrop Rockefeller. Right?
REUBIN ASKEW:
True.
WALTER DEVRIES:
Four Republican years in those states to completely revitalize the party in terms of younger, more dynamic and energetic people being involved in the process.
REUBIN ASKEW:
But I think a lot of it was the personality too, of Dale Bumpers. I think that he is an exceptionally . . .
WALTER DEVRIES:
But it also created a climate there again for Dale Bumpers, in that he came literally out of nowhere, Charleston, Arkansas. He wasn't supposed to win either. He didn't believe in the conventional wisdom either.
REUBIN ASKEW:
I know.
WALTER DEVRIES:
He took on the sacred cows. Does that suggest something to you about a pattern?
REUBIN ASKEW:
Possibly. I think that the same thing happened in Wendell Anderson's case. Wendell Anderson took on the same things that I took on in Florida. He had a different situation than Dale and myself, because as people said, we literally did come out of nowhere. But I think that the climate was ripe in 1970 and I think that we have had with these Republican preceeding administrations . . . because Arkansas has been substantially a Democratic state more than any other state in the South,

Page 36
and I think that . . . again, I would concede that so much of my election was just time and circumstance. Which to a large extent, is a lot of politics to anybody, not just for Dale and me.
JACK BASS:
What role does organized labor play in Florida?
REUBIN ASKEW:
I think that it is playing an increasingly important role. I don't think that it is anywhere near a factor as it is in a lot of your other states, because labor is really not monolithic in Florida. You have some competent labor leadership, but it's still, you know, it really isn't that cohesive at this point and . . .
JACK BASS:
Is it getting stronger?
REUBIN ASKEW:
I think so. I think that one of the things that is going to make labor a great deal stronger is collective bargaining among public employees. I think that you are going to find substantial leadership that is going to be emanating from the public sector, but labor has, I think, improved its image a great deal in the last several years and has worked toward that. And of course, we are a right-to-work state, in which we have a great deal of non-labor union as well. So, you don't really have so much of the . . . well, it just isn't a highly unionized state as you find in some of your states in the Northeast, the Midwest.
JACK BASS:
Governor, I would like to ask you one more theoretical question about '76, and that is, if the Secretary of State of Florida put your name on that ballot, under the Florida law, is there anything that you just might do nothing.
REUBIN ASKEW:
Well, I don't think that is going to happen.
JACK BASS:
He has his obligations under the law, doesn't he?
REUBIN ASKEW:
Well, the law may be different by the time that '76 comes.

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WALTER DEVRIES:
About the state legislature, it appears to us that because of the better staffing, the salaries and the offices and so on, and the various services that the legislature has, it's probably one of the best equipped in the country.
REUBIN ASKEW:
Yes, I think that it is the best in the nation.
WALTER DEVRIES:
Can you see if that affects the outcome of the legislation passed? Is there a distinguishable difference between equality which it now has, say with 1966 to '67, when you were in the legislature?
REUBIN ASKEW:
Well, I don't know that you would say the quality in drafting, not from a drafting standpoint, but certainly the quality of the type of legislation. I saw some pretty poorly drafted bills come out of this last session, the last few days when you have . . . I've always sort of felt that they ought to go home for about a week before they come back for their last week, or take a few days off before their last day, you know, because they get in all these conference reports and they come out with some very intricate legislation. But it has so improved that you can hardly distinguish it. When I came to the legislature, for instance, we didn't even have copies of veto messages. We didn't even have copies of the previous bills concerning veto messages. You only met once every two years, so you took up all the other bills and . . . I was appointed to a committee, having taken a position on reapportionment, that had never even met. That was my committee and then when I called that meeting, I had a guy on a very controversial bill concerning some land in the Florida Keys, Burnie Pappy, who is now deceased, was interested in and Collins had vetoed the bill and I got together and held a hearing. And our committee recommended sustaining the governor's objection and he had already evidently worked the floor and thought that he had the commitments on it and we upheld the governor. But that was the first time that they had ever had copies of the bill.

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Until '47 or '48, they didn't even have copies of bills before them and we had no legislative reference bureau, we had no offices. Our office was a desk on the floor and we had a few extra desks up off the top thing, we had one secretary and so what you did was, you just came over here and made a lot of hectic decisions without a great deal of work. We had some effective inter-committee work. And now you see, the very fact that your bills come up to where they have to delete, you know, scratch through what's there, underline the new part and you can look at that now and say, "What is the change?" Before you get a substantial rewording, you have to get the statute books out, but before, you could have a four-page bill and change a couple of words and made an amendments, and then you try to figure what was in that bill. And yet now we have adopted a procedure which many states are adopting now, where you can look at it just like that and you can find out what difference it has made. So, the process mechanically is substantially better, but toward the last of the session, we still experience some problems in putting together conference reports. And I think they are looking to the question of meeting for awhile ever so often, rather than just jam it up in one period of time.
Plus, I'm not at all sure that Florida should stay on an annual budget. I think that if they went into a biennial budget with a critical anuual review, it might be better, rather than to have all my department heads constantly involved in budgets to where they don't even have any time to devote to the substantive aspects of their program. They are either working on next year's budget, submitting this year's budget, filing an operating budget, or amendments to the budgets. But you see, the federal government, they work under a lot of continuing resolutions which are not particularly good either. But I

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think that we can make some improvements in our budgetary process and this is one of the things that I am going to be examining if I am reelected.
JACK BASS:
Do you think that legislative salaries are sufficient?
REUBIN ASKEW:
I think, yes, I think they are. You know, when you say sufficient and your book comes out in '76, I don't know whether I would want to say in '76 that they are sufficient, but I would say that right now they are sufficient. But I also feel like the legislature has got themselves having to do too much work and it makes it difficult for good people to stay in, but increasing the salary may not be the answer to that.
[interruption]
WALTER DEVRIES:
. . . increased in their relationship to the executive branch, but the executive branch has also increased in strength, hasn't it?
REUBIN ASKEW:
Oh yes. Well, the executive branch . . .
WALTER DEVRIES:
One didn't take away from the other, that's what I . . .
REUBIN ASKEW:
Well, the executive branch didn't increase as much as the office of governor increased.
WALTER DEVRIES:
All right, but you've got the budget function and you've got . . .
REUBIN ASKEW:
You see, in executive reorganization, the office of governor in Florida, which was a strong one to begin with, you know, you've got a couple of states in the union which, South Carolina for instance, where the legislature even appoints the judges, you know, so you have some differences there. And incidentally, that was a fundamental thing that we did when we came in, on the appointment of judges. I relinquished voluntarily the right to initiate judgeship appointments, to take them out of politics and set up nominating commissions, to where I am kept just to the three. And now, we put that in the constitution when we revised the articles. But I think that . . . tell me again what your

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question was.
WALTER DEVRIES:
Well, I think that the power flowed from the cabinet to the executive while . . .
REUBIN ASKEW:
Well, that's true and both have substantially increased. But more so the office of governor. The governor and the cabinet collectively, in effect, the responsibility has been substantial because of all the environmental responsibility that it is giving them collectively. And ninety percent of our controversial decisions on boards that we sit collectively on are environmental. But the office of governor, the whole budgetary process was a substantial increase. All of your health and rehabilitative services programs. So, most of the functions of state government are under the governor.
WALTER DEVRIES:
That cabinet is unique. Do you think that it ought to be done away with?
REUBIN ASKEW:
Well, I think that there is strength in the visibility that it affords, but I think that sometimes certain members are too sensitive toward any change that can make the system even better. From the standpoint of a governor, it really is very difficult to spend time becoming acquainted with very minor items in order to preside over meetings of the governor and cabinet. At a sacrifice of time that could be spent on much more major decisions regarding the office of governor itself. That's why the fact that we meet only twice a month substantially helped me. When we were meeting every week, it was very difficult as far as time commitments are concerned.
WALTER DEVRIES:
O.K., thank you very much.
END OF INTERVIEW